We always have a very Cosmopolitan Group

The students clapped and cheered – there were even a few wolf whistles Aliona Mc Kinnon from Ukraine, Bright (Yu Long Bao) from LiaoNing Province, China and Agnes Stawosz from Krakow, Poland had just finished a command performance at the cookery school. We always have a very cosmopolitan group, the January course was no exception. There were 7 nationalities so there was a lively interchange of culture and ideas. Some students are total beginners when they come to the school others already cook well and are particularly knowledgeable about their own cuisine but unfamiliar with ours.
When one is away from home for a period of time, one craves comforting familiar food. Our foreign students seek out ingredients from their homeland and cook us lots of delicious dishes. The other students are curious to learn their secrets.
So I asked them to demonstrate some of their specialities to the other students and teachers.
Aliona was born in Uzbekistan and later moved to the Ukraine so she has memories of both cuisines. She demonstrated a variety of family dishes from both countries and a delicious carrot salad which she learned from her Korean aunt when she was a child. 
Bright comes from China, he too is passionate about food and delighted his fellow students with his friendly banter as he cooked.
Agnes who comes from Poland is also a natural cook and teacher and her food too was utterly delicious. 
Its such a joy to see the students demonstrate confidently. – “By your pupils you’ll be taught” – and I greatly enjoyed it too.

Korean Carrot Salad

Aliona McKinnon inherited this recipe from her Aunt Svetlana.
Serves 6

5 medium carrots
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3 teaspoons chopped coriander

Grate the carrots, slice the onion and chop the garlic and coriander finely. Fry the onion in olive oil in a large frying pan until golden. Add the carrot and stir. Put this mixture in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, mix everything together and add salt and pepper if required. Serve as a starter or as an accompaniment to the Plov.

Aliona’s Oliv’ie – Russian Salad

Serves 10-12
5 potatoes
2 carrots
100g (3½oz) bacon or any other meat
4 medium preserved cucumbers (salted and marinated)
400g (14oz) frozen peas or 1 x 400g tin of peas, boiled
4 eggs, hard boiled
250g (9oz) 1 small onion
250g mayonnaise, about 1 pint thinned to a coating consistency with water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil the potatoes, carrots (unpeeled) until almost cooked. Boil the meat until cooked. Cut the potatoes, carrots and meat into ¼ inch (5mm) cubes. Chop the onion and egg finely and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add enough mayonnaise to coat the ingredients. Taste and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve as a starter or an accompaniment.

Aliona’s Plov

In Uzbekistan everyone has their own recipe. This is Aliona’s way of making Plov.
Serves 8-10 

1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into 2cm cubes
4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into 3cm sticks
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
Lots of salt and pepper
1 level teaspoon turmeric
1 whole garlic bulb
3 ½ cups rice, washed

Fry the cubed meat until brown in the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and carrots. Add the spices and chopped garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add enough water to cover, bring to the boil and cook until the meat is tender – about 15/20 minutes approx. Add the washed rice and 200ml more water and boil rapidly until the water evaporates. Sprinkle turmeric over the top and place a whole bulb of garlic in the centre of the rice mixture. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Use a heat diffuser mat. Cook for 30/40 minutes, by which time the rice should have absorbed all the liquid. 

Serve with the Korean carrot salad and thinly sliced onion rings.

Ekra – Vegetable Stew

This recipe is from Uzbekistan. Aliona’s father gave her the recipe.
Serves 15-20

300g onion, chopped
1kg aubergine, cubed
300g carrots, grated
300g red pepper, cubed
300g tomatoes, grated and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 chilli peppers, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil

Fry the onion until golden then add the carrots, pepper, chilli, aubergine and tomatoes. Mix a little water with the tomato paste and a little salt and pepper and put in a saucepan with the vegetables. Place the pan on the heat, boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Taste and add salt, pepper, water or paste if necessary.
Serve as salad or as an accompaniment. Keeps in a jar for months in the fridge. 

Aliona’s Ukranian Apple Cake

Serves 8
3 free range eggs
200g (7oz) sugar
3-4 apples
50g (2oz) butter
30g (1oz) sugar
160g (5½oz) plain flour
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon to taste

20-25cm deep pie dish

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas Mark 6)

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a mixer. Peel the apples and grate into slices (Aliona uses the side of a box grater). Brush the deep pie dish with butter and spread the apple on top. Dot with butter and sprinkle a little sugar over the apples with a little cinnamon. Add the flour to the egg and sugar and mix gently. Add the vanilla extract and pour the liquid over the apples. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon. Cook in the pie dish for 30-40 minutes approximately. Serve with softly whipped cream.

Bright’s Stir Fried Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Oyster Sauce

Serves 6
200g (7oz) wild mushrooms
1 medium carrot, halved, thinly sliced
2 thin slices ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced at an angle
600ml (1 pint) water
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
1 dessertspoon arrowroot in water to thicken the juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
salt, freshly ground pepper, sugar

Bring the water to the boil in a wide saucepan. Trim the mushrooms and scald in boiling water for a few seconds. Remove the mushrooms from the water with a Chinese sieve (Zhao Li) and put the mushrooms aside with a little of the water.

Heat a wok on the highest heat, add the olive oil (for a Chinese stir fry always add the oil to a very hot pan.) Stir fry the sliced carrots, ginger, chopped garlic and chicken for a few seconds and then add the water, Chinese five spice and oyster sauce. After 2 minutes, add the sliced mushrooms and the spring onion. Toss well. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and taste. This dish is a salty Chinese stir fry.
Add the arrowroot liquid into the juice. Don’t add it directly onto the hot pan or the arrowroot will burn immediately.) Mix the arrowroot through the dish, the juice should thicken quickly and coat all of the ingredients. Turn off the heat and sprinkle a little oil around the hot pan and turn over again. This step is to give Chinese dishes a fresh and light colour.

Remove to a hot plate and serve immediately.

Agnes’ Pierogi and Uszka

300g (11oz) strong white flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoons oil
1 level teaspoon salt

Sieve flour into a bowl, add salt. Boil the water. Let it cool down a little. Mix egg yolk into the flour. Add oil into the hot water and pour into the flour. Mix it until it comes together as a dough. Cover and leave to rest for 15mins. Meanwhile make the filling.

Meat filling
500g meat (chicken, lamb, pork)
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic 
2 tablesp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the meat until tender. Chop onion and garlic. Cook it in olive oil until coloured (don't cover). Whizz meat in a food processor, add the onion, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, mix it well.

Mushroom and cabbage stuffing
1 jar sour cabbage (sour kraut)
50g (2oz) dried mushroom (you can use Chinese mushrooms), chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 table sp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak mushroom (few hours before cooking) in cold water. Chop the cabbage finely Rinse and cook until almost tender. Cook mushroom till tender. Chop onion and sweat in olive oil until golden. Drain the mushroom and chop finely. Mix mushroom, cabbage and onion together, season with salt and pepper.

Roll dough to a thickness of 5mm, stamp out circles with a glass or scone cutter (6 cm). Use a smaller cutter for uszka.

Put a little stuffing in the middle of each circle and seal the edges, you should get half moons).

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, cook the pierogi or uszka for few minutes till tender. Melt some butter on the pan and fry pierogi until golden on the both sides. 
Serve uszka in the Barszcz. No need to fry.

Agnes’ Barszcz

A delicious Borsch like soup, quick and easy to make
Serves 6 approx

750g (1½ lbs) beetroot, grated
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin or caraway seeds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
850mls (1½ pints) chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sugar

Wash and peel the beetroot. Grate it on the largest part of the grater. Chop the onion and garlic. Mix with the beetroot, add the vinegar, sugar and cumin. Leave to marinate for at least half an hour.

Bring the stock to the boil, take off the heat and fold in beetroot mixture, leave for half an hour (minimum). Strain through a very fine sieve. Heat it, season with salt and pepper add more vinegar and sugar if necessary. 

VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL, (it will spoil the colour). Serve with homemade uszka. 

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Sernik – a (baked cheesecake)

Serves 10-12
110g (4ozs) sweet short crust pastry
1 kg white cottage cheese (available from Russian shops)
250g (9oz) unsalted butter
250g (9oz) castor suger
7 free range eggs (separated)
100g (3½oz) sultanas
candied peel (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream flour

25cm square cake tin
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4)
Line the tin with greaseproof paper and line with sweet short crust pastry. Put cheese into food processor till it is creamy. Cream butter with castor sugar. Then add cheese and egg yolks (one spoon of cheese one egg yolk). Add chopped candied peel, sultanas, vanilla extract. Next whisk in egg whites and fold into cheese mixture. Next stir in flour gently. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Leave to rest for at least half an hour before serving.

Fool-proof food

Bright’s Celery and Cashew Nut Salad

Serves 6
1 head of fresh celery
600ml (1 pint) water
3 teaspoons salt
200g (7oz) cashew nuts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sugar

Slice the celery diagonally into pieces the size of a cashew nut. Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Salted water preserves the colour of the celery.

Add the celery to the boiling water and immediately turn off the heat. Leave the celery in the hot water for 3 minutes.

Drain off the water. The celery should still be crisp. Heat the oil in a frying pan and swirl to coat the base of the pan. Add the cashew nuts and stir constantly for 1 minute taking care not to burn the nuts. When the nuts are golden and smell toasted add the celery to the pan. Toss well and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of sugar to taste.

Serve hot or cold. 

This very simple salad is a completely delicious, fresh tasting and crunchy. Eat on it’s own or as an accompaniment to cold meats or warm chicken.

Hot Tips

Wednesday 26th April 2006, 7.30 Gourmet Store, Schull
Denis Cotter, Chef of the Year 2006, from the famous Café Paradiso, Cork, will be Cooking for Slow Food Members at The Gourmet Sore, Schull to celebrate the relaunch of Desmond And Gabriel Cheese made by Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry

Opening talk by John Minihane author and photographer.
Booking essential – booking call: 028 27613

More information on Desmond and Gabriel Cheese
Call Bill: 028 28593
Slow Food Information: Giana: 028 28231

Cookery demonstration by Darina Allen at the Garryvoe Hotel on Monday May 8th at 8pm to raise money for the families of the ‘Maggie B’ Fishing Vessel Sea-Tragedy Fund. Tickets €20 each. For details telephone: Ballymaloe Cookery School 
021 4646785


About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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