ArchiveDecember 17, 2005

Slow Food Cork Festival 2005

Slow Food Ireland ran an Art Competition recently with the Cork schools to raise awareness of the Cork Edible School Gardens Project.

The children were asked to design menu covers featuring seasonal vegetables which were then used to decorate the tables at the Cork Slow Food dinner in the City Hall during the Slow Food Cork Festival 2005. Clodagh McKenna, leader of the Cork City Convivium and presenter of Winter Food on RTE 1Radio, dreamed up the idea and Norah Porter liaised with the schools. The response was phenomenal, over 1200 children responded from various schools around Cork City. Supervalu sponsored the competition with great enthusiasm and the teachers were thrilled to have an excuse to highlight the importance of the seasons to the students. The competition coincided with the Healthy Eating week so it helped to reinforce the message. The winners, their teachers and parents all came to Café Paradiso recently for the presentation of prizes by Cathal Deevy of Supervalu.

They tucked into Sandy Hyland’s biscuits, blackberry cordial and home-made vanilla icecream.

Emily Conway from Sunday’s Well Girls National School, Blarney Road, won in the 4-8 age group category. Her picture was the sweetest thing –a happy little girl carrying two baskets of seasonal fruit surrounded by a border of carrots and apples. Her teacher Marcella O’Sullivan and the principal Nori O’Sullivan both came along to celebrate with her. They can’t wait until Spring to get started on a vegetable garden at the school. They also have plans to re-establish a strawberry patch on Strawberry Hill, where strawberries were always traditionally grown.

Recently they bought pumpkins in the English Market and made roasted pumpkin soup with the students. They are totally into raising awareness of the importance of eating healthy food , and have already banned crisps, juices and chewing gum from school lunch boxes. The children can however, have a sweet treat once a week, usually on Friday. They have introduced a ‘Water is cool in school’ scheme and have already won the LM Prize two years ago.

Eight year old Suzanne O’Keeffe from St. Columba’s Girls National School in Douglas was also a winner. This was an outstanding class project. Her teacher Aideen Phipps brought in a huge variety of vegetables and asked her class to categorise them and use them for printing, with spectacular results. This school also has a healthy school lunch policy and has already developed a sensory garden. Plans are now underway to develop an edible school garden with the children to teach them growing skills, the principal Michelle Cashman told me.

Lorna McCarthy from Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Ballinlough won in the 9-12 category, her teacher Margot Murphy and principal Mary Twomey were delighted. Craig O’Shea from St.Anthony’s National School, Ballinlough won in the 9-12 year category. Craig’s picture included some broccoli trees and a banana moon.

These schools explored the food pyramid and Craig’s teacher Fiona McCarthy and principal Flor O’Sullivan are enthusiastic about the Green Schools project.

Finally, Andrew de Juan from St Peter’s Community College in Passage West showed me his winning entry, it was a lovely colourful drawing of fruit. His teacher Alison Burns and principal Denis Aherne were justifiably proud.

It was music to my ears to hear that so many schools are putting enormous efforts into creating an awareness of the importance of eating healthy food and having lots of fun in the process.

This week I’ve decided to include lots of fun recipes for children to cook for Christmas.

Sandy Hyland’s Slow Food Snails
Makes 24
1¾ lb (795g) unsalted butter
455g (1lb) castor sugar
1 tablesp. (15ml ) vanilla extract
5g salt (pinch)
1¾ lb (795g) plain flour
12oz (340g) walnuts, chopped

White Chocolate to decorate.

Cream butter, salt and sugar, add the flour and chopped walnuts.
Chill the mixture in the bowl.
To shape – roll the dough into a sausage shape, break off lengths and roll into snail shapes.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 20 minutes.
Cool on the tray.
You can make cute snail faces and horns with melted white chocolate.

Teeny Weeny Sticky Toffee Puds

Makes 12 approx.
8 ozs (225g) chopped dates
½ pint (300ml) tea
4 ozs (110g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
3 free range eggs
8 ozs (225g) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bread soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee, preferably Expresso

Hot Toffee Sauce
4 ozs (100g) butter
6 ozs (170g) dark soft brown, Barbados sugar
4 ozs (110g) granulated sugar
10 ozs (285g) golden syrup
8 fl ozs (225ml) cream
½ teaspoon pure Vanilla essence
12 x 3inch (7.5cm) 5 fl oz moulds or large muffin tins or 

1x 8 inch (20.5cm) spring form tin with removable base *

Set the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.

Soak the dates in hot tea for 15 minutes. Brush the muffin tins or cake tin with oil and place oiled greaseproof paper on the base.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the sifted flour. Add the sieved breadsoda, Vanilla essence and coffee to the date and tea and stir this into the mixture. Divide between the ramekins and cook for 30 mins approx or until a skewer comes out clean.
*(an 8 inch tin (20.5cm) will take 1-1½ hrs to cook) 

To make the sauce: 
Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla essence. Put back on the heat and stir for 2 or 3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.

To Serve
Pour some hot sauce on to a serving plate. Put a warm sticky toffee pudding on a hot plate, pour some more sauce over the top. Repeat with all the others. Put the remainder of the sauce into a bowl, serve with the pudding as well as softly whipped cream.

Chocolate Christmas Tree

We had the greatest fun testing this recipe; it was Fionnuala’s pride and joy and she was so proud of the result that she wouldn’t let us sample it for several weeks. It still tasted delicious then, so it could be make well in advance of Christmas. Children could make it with a little adult supervision.
9ozs (250g) of best quality chocolate 
4oz (110g) Rice Krispies.
3-4 ozs (85-110g) dark chocolate for assembling the tree 
3 teaspoons icing sugar


Christmas cake decorations, e.g. 
Santa, robin, holly etc. 

Prepare the trays to make the branches of the tree. Cover 3 baking trays or large Swiss roll tins with tin foil. Draw out crosses on the foil. Leave 2 or 3 inches (5 or 7.5 cm) between each cross. The measurements of the crosses are: 2 ¾ inches (7 cm), 3½ inches (9 cm), 4 ¼ inches (11 cm), 5 ¼ inches (13 cm), 5 ¾ inches (14 cm), 6 inches (15 cm), 62 inches (16 cm), 6 ¾ inches (17 cm), 7 inches (18cm).

Prepare a serving plate for the tree: it must be rigid, absolutely flat and strong enough to support the tree. Cover with tin foil. Mark one of the 7 inches (18 cm) crosses on this base. 

When all the preparation is done, melt the chocolate very carefully in a very low oven or in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir in the Rice Krispies, mix well. Using a teaspoon, drop small teaspoons of the chocolate mixture along the marked crosses (do the base board first and put in the fridge to set while you do the others, in order of size from the biggest to the smallest). When all the crosses have set absolutely firmly (30 minutes approx.), melt the remaining chocolate over a low heat. Put a teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the centre of the cross on the base board, and stick the next largest cross on top so that the points are in between the points of the previous cross. 

While that is setting (supported with a matchbox if necessary), drop another teaspoon of chocolate on top of the second cross to form a basis for the next layer. Refrigerate for a few minutes. Meanwhile stick the remaining 8 crosses together in pairs in the same way and allow to set. Add another teaspoon of melted chocolate and put the next largest pair of crosses on top, angling them so the branches are arranged alternately. Continue to assemble until the tree is finished, however do it gradually: it is essential that each section is completely set before topping with another layer. 

To serve: Decorate the board with Christmas decorations and dust the tree lightly with sieved icing sugar. 

Potato Wedges with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Sour Cream
Serves 4-6
6 large 'old' potatoes eg. Golden Wonder or Kerrs Pinks
Olive oil or beef dripping (unless for Vegetarians)-duck or goose fat are also delicious
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8. Scrub the potatoes well, cut into quarters lengthways or cut into thick rounds ¾ inch (2cm) approx. Put into a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and toss so they are barely coated with olive oil. Roast in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes depending on size. 

Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
Serve immediately in a deep bowl with a little bowl of sweet chilli sauce and sour cream on each plate.
You could also use deep fried potatoes.

Home-Made Lemonades

We always keep some chilled 'stock syrup' in the fridge so its simplicity itself to make a variety of lemonades. They contain no preservatives so they should be served within a few hours of being made. Many different types of citrus fruit and flavoured syrups may be used.
Oranges and Lemons
Makes 2.7l (4 1/2 pints)

4 lemons
2 orange
500ml (16fl oz) approx. stock syrup 
1.5l (2 1/2 pint) approx. water

Sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm
Juice the fruit and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.

Makes 1.2l (2 pints)

5 limes
700ml (1 1/4 pint) water
300ml (1/2 pint) stock syrup

Sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm
Make and serve as above. Taste and add more water if necessary.

Ruby Grapefruit Lemonade
Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
Freshly squeezed juice of 4 ruby grapefruit
450ml (16floz) stock syrup
Water or sparkling water to taste
Juice the fruit, add the syrup and add water or sparkling water to taste.
Serve chilled with mint ice cubes.

Honey and Wholegrain Mustard Bangers

Makes 32
1lb (450g) good quality cocktail sausages (about 32 sausages)
4 tablesp. Irish honey
1 tablesp. English mustard
3 tablesp. Irish grainy mustard (eg. Lakeshore mustard with honey)
1-2 tablesp. Chopped rosemary

Mix the honey with the mustard and chopped rosemary. Cook the sausages in a wide frying pan over a medium heat . Toss with the honey and mustard mixture.

Provide cocktails sticks and lots of napkins.

Lisa Bowskill’s Mini Muffins

Makes 12 muffins or up to 36 mini muffins
10oz (275g) plain flour
1 level tablespoon baking powder
3oz (75g) caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 medium eggs
8floz (225ml) milk
4oz (110g) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6

Place paper muffin cases in muffin tin. Hand whisk together sugar, eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Sieve flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into beaten mixture. It should look like lumpy batter. Add filling of your choice. 

Divide mixture between 12 cases or put just over 1 teaspoon per mini muffin case. Fill almost to the top. Bake at the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Reduce baking time to 15-20 minutes for mini muffins

Add 4 tablespoons of cocoa with 6 oz (150g) mixed chocolate chips (white, milk and plain) 
Add 4 oz (110g) fresh blueberries, roughly chopped 
Add desired amount of chocolate chips 
Add 2 cooking apples, peeled and chopped with 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
Add 2-3oz (50-75g) dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dates) with ½ teaspoon mixed spice (optional) 

Ice-Cubes with Mint, Herbs, Lemon Verbena, Flowers and Berries

Fill ice trays with 
1. Sugared Cranberries 
2. Redcurrants and Mint leaves 
3. Lemon Segments 
4. Pomegranate Seeds 
5. Star Anise

Summer Parties 
Fill ice trays with mint, lemon balm, sweet geranium or sweet cicely leaves into each one 
Raspberries and Mint 
Fraises du Bois 
Violas or violets, rose or marigold petals 
Use in drinks or homemade lemonade.
Fool Proof Food

Puffy Toasted Cheese

When my children were small this superior toasted cheese often saved the day if they were ravenously hungry. It is made from ingredients one would nearly always have to hand.
Serves 2

2 slices of white bread
1 egg, preferably free range
4 ozs (110g) grated Irish cheddar cheese
2-1 teaspoon English mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper

Butter the bread and place the buttered side down on a baking sheet. Whisk the egg in a bowl with a fork, add the grated cheese and the mustard and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread this mixture onto the slices of bread and bake in a hot oven 230C/450F/regulo 8 for 15 minutes approx. or until puffy and golden on top.

Note: a teaspoon of chopped chives or a tiny dice of crispy bacon is also delicious added to the above.

Hot Tips

Midleton Farmers’ Market –
The Market will be open on Friday December 23rd from 9.30-1 this year instead of Saturday 24th. The Market will reopen on Saturday January 14th 2006.
Douglas Farmers’ Market – last market before Christmas also on Friday 23rd December 
9-1.30 - Chickens, Cakes, Bread, Fish, Pickles, Sauces, Cheeses………

Some Cookbooks for Christmas -

Potato by Lyndsay and Patrick Mikanowski 
The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard 
Wagamama Cookbook and DVD – Hugo Arnold
The Delia Collection: Baking by Delia Smith
Eggs by Michel Roux Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver 
Best of Irish Festive Cooking by Biddy White Lennon 
Celebrity Chefs Dish of the Day – Petsavers
Serving a City – the story of Cork’s English Market - by Diarmuid O’Drisceoil and Donal O’Drisceoil
Second Helpings by Paul Flynn 
Kitchen Diary by Nigel Slater – A Year in the Kitchen 
Real Flavours – The Handbook of Gourmet and Deli Ingredients by Glynn Christian
Foodalicious – Second Helpings - from Marie McGuirk -can be ordered for €14 including post and packing from An Grianan, Termonfeckin, Co Louth by cheque or postal order payable to Marie McGuirk. 

Classes at An Grianán – not just cookery but a wide range of lifestyle and craft classes - www.angrianá  - gift vouchers available.

Pig Out Day Courses with Frank Krawczyk – showing how to use every single part of a pig to produce a huge range of pork delicacies - enquiries to Frank at Derreenatra, Schull, Co Cork. Tel 028-28579


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