CategoryBook Review

Cake

There’s a frenzy of baking going on around the country – the revival of interest has been further whipped up by the ICA, TV series ‘The Great British Bake Off’, and Rachel’s Allen’s ‘Cake’ programme which really takes the mystery out of baking.  Millions tuned into watch the ‘The Great British Bake Off’ – it’s become a national phenomenon.  Baking equipment is flying off the shelves in kitchen shops as people in both islands rediscover the joy of home baking.

People who have never whipped up a bun or cupcake in their entire lives are rapidly gaining the confidence to produce gorgeous cakes and tortes.

Baking is all about confidence and accurate recipes.  As ever one needs to start with good quality ingredients.  Use good Irish butter rather than margarine or any of those other spreads.  Butter is a shortcut to flavour, pure natural and better for us.  If one puts time and effort into making something it might as well be delicious.  It’s also worth remembering that baking is an exact science so it’s really important to have an accurate scales and to measure each ingredient carefully. Chucking in fists of this and that may accidently produce a brilliant confection but more often than not the result is more likely to disappoint.

If you’ve never baked a thing in your life, start with something easy like a tray bake that merely needs to be stirred and baked, like flapjacks.

ICA members have been perfecting and sharing recipes since 1910 when the association was founded to improve the standard of life in rural Ireland through education and co-operation effort.  They feel very strongly as I do that ‘in today’s busy modern lives, the importance of a family meal cannot be overstated.   It is around the family table that we learn so much about our values, where we right the wrongs of the day and discuss our problems and hopes for the future’.

 

Cake is Rachel’s ninth book, her fail-safe easy to follow recipes thoughtful tips and down to earth advice have won her a myriad of fans over a few short years.  Her new book ‘Cake’ had me really licking my lips – there really are cakes for every occasion, plus cake pops, beetroot brownies, white chocolate anniversary cake and banoffee blondies.

 

There are a ton of new baking books but here I include recipes from Rachel Allen’s ‘Cake’ published by Harper Collins and Aoife Carrigy’s ‘The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cookbook’ published by Gill & Macmillan both of which are carefully tested and will produce pleasing presents.

 

 

Madeleines

 

Madeleines are the quintessential delicate treat. The airy batter is baked in the traditional shell- shaped moulds to make a cake that is just crisp on the outside and elegantly light in the middle. This recipe is quick and easy to make, but there are many twists you can give to this recipe which are all delicious variations on a classic theme which are available in Rachel’s ‘Cake’ book.

 

Makes 12 madeleines

 

1 egg

50g (2oz) caster sugar

50g (2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

50g (2oz) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract icing sugar, for dusting

12-hole madeleine tray

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

 

Brush a little melted butter over the madeleine moulds (making sure to coat every ridge) and dust a little flour into each one, tapping out any excess.

Place the egg and sugar in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Using a hand-held electric beater or the food mixer with its whisk attachment, whisk on a high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is pale, thick and mousse-like and has grown almost three times in volume.

 

Sift the flour and baking powder into the whisked egg and sugar and carefully fold in, then fold in the melted butter and vanilla extract, taking care not to over-mix. Either pouring the batter directly from the bowl or using a tablespoon to spoon it in, divide the batter between the madeleine moulds, filling each almost to the top.

 

Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden and lightly springy to the touch. (Try not to overcook them or they will be dry.) Remove from the oven and carefully remove each madeleine from its mould using a palette knife, then place on a wire rack to cool, if you must, as there are few things more delicious than warm madeleines served straight from the oven with nothing more than a light dusting of icing sugar.

 

Taken from Cake by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins


Hazelnut Praline Triple-Layered Cake

 

A triple-layered praline cake makes a fabulous birthday treat. The three layers of sponge are lightened with a good amount of whisked egg whites. For the filling, praline crumbs are mixed into a divinely rich custard cream. The cake is topped in a thick, snowy-white American frosting, crisp on the outside and fluffy and marshmallow-like beneath. As it’s covered in icing, the cake will keep for 3–4 days in an airtight container. If you don’t have an airtight box big enough, you can use a large mixing bowl upturned over the cake.

 

Serves14–18

 

375g (13oz) plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

225g (8oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

675g (1⁄1 2 lb) caster sugar

325ml (11⁄1 2 fl oz) milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

9 egg whites (about 250ml/9fl oz)

 

For the praline

100g (3⁄1 2oz) caster sugar

100g (3⁄1 2oz) hazelnuts (skin still on)

 

For the custard cream

25g (1oz) caster sugar

3 egg yolks

175ml (6fl oz) milk

15g (1⁄2oz) cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100ml (3⁄1 2fl oz) double or regular cream

 

For the frosting

4 large egg whites

250g (9oz) caster sugar

pinch of salt

 

3 x 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tins

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, then butter the sides of the cake tins and line the bases with a disc of baking parchment.

 

First make the sponge.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add 450g (1lb) of the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add about a third of the sifted flour along with about a third of the milk and continue to mix gently, in thirds, until all of the flour and milk is well mixed in, then stir in the vanilla extract.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites until foamy, then add the remaining sugar and whisk until the meringue holds stiff glossy peaks. Mix in a quarter of the meringue to the cake mixture, then carefully fold in the rest until fully incorporated.

 

Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides
of each tin with a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cakes from the tins before placing on a wire rack to cool completely. (The sponge can be made up to a day in advance and kept in an airtight container.)

 

To make the praline, first line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside. Place the sugar in a frying pan and scatter the hazelnuts over the sugar. Place the pan over a medium heat to allow the sugar to caramelise, swirling the pan every so often to ensure it caramelises evenly. Cook until the sugar has completely melted and is a deep golden colour and the hazelnuts are coated evenly.

 

Transfer the coated nuts to the prepared baking tray. Before the caramel has a chance to harden, set apart about 10 hazelnut clusters (with 4–5 hazelnuts in each cluster) for decorating. Using two forks, spread apart the remaining hazelnuts and leave the praline to cool completely. Once cool break up the praline using your hands, then place the pieces (but not the reserved clusters) in a food processor and whiz until it resembles slightly coarse breadcrumbs.

 

To make the custard cream, place the sugar in a saucepan with the egg yolks, milk, cornflour and vanilla extract and whisking all the time bring just to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Then cook, continuing to whisk, until thickened. Immediately remove from the heat before transferring to a bowl to cool completely. In a separate bowl, whip the cream just until it holds stiff peaks. Add the praline to the cooled custard and mix in, then carefully fold in the whipped cream. Cover the praline custard cream and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

 

You can now assemble the cake. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or plate. Spread with half of the praline custard, then cover with a second cake. Spread the other half of the custard cream over the cake, then top with the third cake. Use a pastry brush to brush off any excess crumbs from the cake.

 

Next make the frosting. First place a palette knife in a jug or bowl and put the kettle on. It makes it really easy to frost this cake if you can use a palette knife that has been dipped in hot water. Place all the frosting ingredients in a heatproof bowl, add 2 tablespoons of cold water and set over a saucepan of simmering water. (The bowl should sit snugly over the pan, with its base high enough above the water that it does not come into contact with it.)

 

Whisk slowly by hand until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Continue to heat and whisk until the mixture reaches 60°C (140°F) when measured with a sugar thermometer – this will take about 4 minutes.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can gauge whether the mixture is ready by how it feels and looks: it should be hot to the touch, glossy white in appearance and starting to thicken.

 

Quickly remove the bowl from the pan and pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Alternatively, whisk in the original bowl using a hand-held electric beater. Whisk on a high speed for about 3–5 minutes or until the frosting is very thick, glossy and has cooled.

 

Pour boiling water into the jug or bowl holding the palette knife. Before the frosting has a chance to cool and therefore set, spread it with the hot, wet palette knife over the top and all around the sides of the cake, covering it as evenly as possible. You can go for a smooth appearance or a slightly peaked look by tapping the flat side of the palette knife over the frosting. As you pull it up, it should create little peaks. Do this all over the cake.

 

Decorate around the top edge of the iced cake with the reserved hazelnut praline clusters.

 

Taken from Cake by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins


Cake in a Mug

 

I’m not a microwave girl myself but I though this sounded intriguing.

 

Muriel Kerr, Leitrim: fun-loving granny

 

This quick-fix treat is a big hit with children, allowing you whip up an individual chocolate cake in three minutes. It’s a delicious dessert for somebody who lives alone and fancies a little bit of chocolate heaven. I make it in a one-pint Pyrex jug but a large mug does the trick.

 

Serves 1

 

4 dessertspoons flour

4 dessertspoons sugar

2 dessertspoons cocoa

1 small egg, beaten

3 dessertspoons milk

3 dessertspoons light oil

2–3 drops vanilla extract

1 handful chocolate chips

 

Equipment

large mug or 600ml (1 pint) Pyrex jug

microwave

 

Combine flour, sugar and cocoa in a mug. Stir in the egg, milk and oil, then add vanilla drops and chocolate chips.

 

Cook uncovered in the microwave on high (1,000W) for three minutes.

 

Allow to cool, tip out on to a plate and tuck in.

 

Taken from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cooking by Aoife Carrigy published by Gill & MacMillan

 

Parsnip Cake with Walnuts and Raisins

 

Anne Gabbett, Limerick: dairy farmer’s wife and home economics teacher.

 

This cake came about from a seasonal surplus of parsnips from the garden. I decided to try baking them into a cake much along the lines of a carrot cake. It turned out delicious and is now a family favourite.

 

Makes 2 x 900g (2lb) loaves

 

300g (10 1/2oz) parsnips, peeled

250g (9oz) soft butter or margarine

125g (4 1/2oz) soft brown sugar

125g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar

3–4 drops vanilla extract

350g (12oz) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

4 eggs, beaten

200g (7oz) golden sultanas

125g (4 1/2oz) walnuts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

Topping (optional)

125g (4 1/2oz) cream cheese

50g (2oz) butter

250g (9oz) icing sugar, sieved

125g (4 1/2oz) walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons apricot jam

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Equipment

2 x 900g (2lb) cake tins

 

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.

 

Grease two loaf tins or line with baking parchment.

 

Finely grate the parsnips and set aside. Cream butter or margarine with both sugars and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.

Mix about a quarter of the beaten eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, and then fold in some of the flour mix. Continue, alternating egg and flour mix, until all combined. Fold in grated parsnip, sultanas, walnuts and nutmeg, mix well and pour into prepped loaf tins.

 

Place in centre of preheated oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, until the centre springs back when touched or an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to rest in tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire tray to cool.

 

To make the topping, beat cream cheese, butter and sieved icing sugar until light and spreadable. Mix in chopped walnuts. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread with apricot jam and then with cream cheese mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

 

This mix also makes be delicious muffins, which will bake in about 20 minutes.

 

Taken from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cooking by Aoife Carrigy published by Gill & MacMillan

 

 

 

The irrepressible Antony-Worrall Thompson

We have just had the irrepressible Antony-Worrall Thompson here as our guest chef at the school. Antony has a loyal Irish following who came to see him demonstrate some of his latest recipes, including the secrets of GI food.
Well known from his many television programmes Antony is one of the few established chefs who ‘walk the walk’ as well
as ‘talking the talk’. Now owning five restaurants the Greyhound, the Lamb, Barnes Grill, Kew Grill and Notting Grill, he is also passionate about organic farming and rears his own middle white pigs at home in Henley-on-Thames and serves the pork in the restaurants. He also has an extensive vegetable garden producing a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs.

Antony presents six television programmes a week and had to rush back on Friday evening for his regular appearance on Saturday Kitchen in the morning which he has been presenting since 2003. He is the resident studio chef and main presenter for BBC2’s Food & Drink programme and also appears on the ever popular Ready Steady Cook. Earlier this year he was one of the favourite participants in the programme ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.

Antony has written several cookbooks including the more recent Healthy Eating for Diabetes, and Well Fed, Well Bred, Well Hung – how to buy and cook real meat. The Saturday Kitchen Cookbook, Barbecues and Grilling with Jane Suthering, and top 100 Beef Recipes are all hugely popular. He is currently working on a children’s cookbook and is increasingly in demand by broadcasters to comment on and discuss serious food issues such as diabetes, obesity, nutrition and the eating habits of children.

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School we have a special ‘claim’ on Antony as his lovely wife Jay who hails from Dublin was a former pupil of ours who went to work for Antony in London on completion of the 12 week Certificate Course. They live with their two children and an assortment of animals in the countryside on the banks of the Thames. 

As well as his energetic professional lifestyle he manages to find time for his art, antiques, tennis and swimming (he swum the Channel when he was sixteen.) 

Have a look at www.awtonline.co.uk  to join the awt club or visit the awt shop and catch up with this busy chef at the various events he is involved in.

Spiced Lentil Salad with Prawns and Mint Yogurt
Serves 4
200g (7ozs) puy lentils, cooked until just tender, drained and kept warm
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
20 raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact 
2 handfuls (about 50g/2ozs) baby spinach leaves
100g (3 ½ ozs) green beans, blanched
freshly ground black pepper

Mint Yogurt Dip
2 x 150g (6ozs) tubs low fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons freshly chopped mint

In a bowl, mix the warm lentils, spring onions, vinegar, chilli, ground spices, coriander and 1 tablespoon oil. Add pepper and set aside.

Mix the remaining oil, turmeric and some pepper in another bowl and turn the prawns in the mixture to coat them. Preheat a non-stick frying pan. Cook the prawns for 3 minutes, turning once, until opaque. 

Mix the dip ingredients together.

Divide the spinach between four plates, top with the lentils, green beans and prawns and drizzle with the dip.

Almond and Apricot Pavlova Slice

Serves 8–10
3 tablespoons ground almonds
5 large egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
250g (9ozs) golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon natural almond extract
25g (1oz) amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g (4 ½ oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, diced

Filling
300g (11ozs) low fat Greek yogurt
1 ripe peach, stoned and thinly sliced
1 medium mango, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large orange, segmented and all pith and membrane removed

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line a shallow 35cm x 25cm baking tray with non-stick baking parchment to come at least 3cm up the sides.

In a dry non-stick frying pan, toast the ground almonds over a medium heat, stirring all the time until golden.

Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff then whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until you have one spoonful left. Mix the cornflour into that and whisk into the egg whites until stiff and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar and almond extract and finally fold in the toasted almonds, amaretti and apricots.

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking tray and level the surface. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Cook for 25 minutes until pale golden and crisp on top. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow to cool.

Remove from the tray, trim the edges and cut across the shorter side to make 3 equal pieces. Spread each piece with yogurt and layer on the fruit. Sandwich together, press down gently, then cut in slices to serve.

Spicy Pork Ribs

Serves 4
1.5kg (3lbs 5ozs) trimmed pork spare rib chops
chicken stock to cover 
5 x 10p coin sized slices of fresh ginger
2 chillies sliced in half 
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 spring onions, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce 
180ml (6 ½fl ozs) ketchup manis
1 egg, beaten lightly
35g (1 ¼ozs) plain flour 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
125ml (4 fl ozs) rice wine 
115g (4 ozs) packed brown sugar 
50g (2 ozs) yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons loosely packed chopped fresh coriander 
3 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes 
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika pepper 

Place the ribs in a large saucepan with the ginger, chillies, garlic, spring onions and soy sauce. Cover with chicken stock and simmer for 1 and half hours or until the ribs are tender. Allow to cool in the stock. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. 

Blend 3 fl oz of the ketchup manis with the egg and flour in a large bowl. Add ribs; stir to coat in soy mixture. 
Heat oil in wok or large frying pan; stir fry the ribs in batches until browned all over. Remove and set aside. 

Cook remaining soy sauce and remaining ingredients in wok; stirring until sugar dissolves. Return ribs to wok; stir fry till heated though. 

Serve with steamed rice.

Mackerel or Seabass Flaked with Vegetables and Scrambled Egg

Serves 4
4 very fresh mackerel fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
4 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water, sliced
2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, peeled and grated 
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped 
2 tablespoons sake 
2 tablespoons caster sugar 
2 tablespoons mirin
5 tablespoons soy sauce 
4 free range eggs, beaten 
55g (2 ozs) mangetout blanched 
55g (2 ozs) extra fine beans, blanched 

Scrape the mackerel flesh from the skin with a spoon and chop roughly, set aside.

Heat three quarters of the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and carrot and cook without colour for 5 minutes. Add the shitake, ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the mackerel and cook for one minute until it turns opaque. Add half the sake, three quarters of the sugar, the mirin and soy sauce and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Meanwhile beat the eggs with the remainder of the sake and the sugar, season. Heat a little oil in a wok until very hot, then pour in the eggs and cook very fast until set like scrambled eggs, add the beans and the mangetout. 

Place on a dish and top with the mackerel. Serve with rice if required. 

Asian Chicken and Lettuce Rolls

Serves 4
400g (14ozs) chicken mince 
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced 
2 spring onions, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, crushed 
1 teaspoon grated ginger 
1 teaspoon sesame oil 
25g (1oz) water chestnuts or beansprouts, chopped 
2 tablespoons chopped coriander 
2 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts 
1 carrot, finely diced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce 
2 teaspoons clear honey 
16–20 romaine or cos lettuce leaves 
200g (7ozs) brown basmati rice, cooked, to serve
lime wedges, to serve 

Mix the chicken mince with the chilli, spring onions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the mince mixture for about 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with the back of a fork until golden brown. 

Add the water chestnuts, coriander, cashews, carrot, oyster sauce and honey, stir to combine and continue to heat until the chicken is cooked through. 
Serve the mince with the lettuce leaves, cooked rice and lime wedges to squeeze. 

Prawns in Chilli Sauce

Serves 4
12 raw jumbo prawns, shell off, tail on 
4 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
2 tablespoons groundnut oil 
4 spring onions, half chopped, half shredded
1 chilli, seeded and cut in fine julienne 
1 tablespoon grated ginger
½ tablespoon grated garlic
1 tablespoon chilli jam or paste 
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
2 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with a little water

For the sauce 
200ml (⅓ pint) boiling chicken stock
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 

Toss the prawns with the mirin, seasame oil, salt and pepper, marinate for 20 minutes. 
Combine the sauce ingredients. Place the shredded spring onions and the chilli in ice water. 

Heat a wok then add the groundnut oil, add the chopped spring onions the ginger and garlic and fry stirring continuously for 2 minutes to release the aromas. Add the chilli jam or paste and continue to combine. 

Now add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes, remove the prawns and keep warm. Add the sauce and bring to the boil add the coriander and cornflour paste and cook to thicken. Return the prawns to the pan and heat through. 

Serve immediately.

Spicy Sardines with Chickpea and Avocado Salad

Serves 4
For the Chickpea and Avocado Salad
yolk of 1 hard-boiled egg, sieved
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon small capers, drained and rinsed 
1 x 400g (14 ozs) tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped into chunky dice
salt and ground black pepper

For the Sardines
25g (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
1 fresh red chilli, diced
2 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for drizzling
8 sardines, cleaned, flattened out and backbone removed and washed thoroughly
juice of 1 lemon

To make the salad place the egg yolk in a bowl, beat in the oil and vinegar and stir in the onion, garlic, parsley, capers, chickpeas and avocado. Season to taste.

To cook the sardines heat the butter in a small pan, add the chilli and shallots and cook until softened but not coloured. Fold in parsley, coriander, garlic, chilli, shallots, season with salt and ground black pepper, sprinkle with olive oil and spread over the flesh side of the fish.

Roll up the sardines and secure with wooden cocktail sticks, (ensure that you have soaked the cocktail sticks in water first, to stop them from burning).Place in a pre-heated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and cook for 5-8 minutes. Place the sardines on to a plate and drizzle with oil and lemon juice. 
To serve, place a pile of avocado salad onto each serving plate and place two sardine rolls on top.

Foolproof Food

Baked Apples with Fruit and Nuts

Serves 4
4 large Bramley cooking apples
115g (4ozs) soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons sweet mincemeat
55g (2ozs) flaked almonds or chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
25g (1oz) unsalted butter
apple juice for basting

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Remove the centre core from the apples, leaving 5mm (¼ inch) uncut at the bottom. Run the tip of a sharp knife round the circumference of the apple, just to pierce the skin. This stops the apples bursting in the oven.

Combine the remaining ingredients except the butter and juice, and spoon it into the cavities of the apples, place any excess in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Place the apples on the fruit in the dish, dot the top with butter and pop in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Every 10 minutes add two tablespoons of apple juice to the bottom of the dish and spoon the juices over the apples. 
Serve piping hot with double or clotted cream.

Hot Tips

Four Rivers Slow Food Convivium
Sunday Slow Food Lunch at Dunbrody, Campile, Co Wexford on 20th May
Wine reception at noon followed by relaxing lunch of local produce. Meet with local growers, farmers, meat producers and chefs from local restaurants. Children welcome. Booking essential. Contact Donal Lehane – lehane@iol.ie Tel 087-6780014, 051-396288

The Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork
Has just celebrated 35 years in business – visit the shop for a terrific range of kitchen utensils, pottery, knitwear….. have coffee and cake or a tasty snack in The Café at the Back of the Shop – Tel 021-4652032

The Café at the Stephen Pearce Gallery– Tel 021-4646807
Another place for a treat in Shanagarry – morning coffee, delicious light lunches, afternoon tea – this busy little café is run by Maura Walsh and is highly popular with locals dropping in as well as pottery shoppers.

St Patrick’s Day 2007

Let’s have some delicious bacon and cabbage and parsley sauce for St Patrick’s Day. All over the world Irish emigrants are celebrating. Many, particularly in the US, will be tucking into corned beef and cabbage and turning their thoughts towards Ireland. For the past few weeks, I’ve had innumerable phone calls from foreign press wanting to know how we celebrate St Patrick’s Day and what special foods we eat in Ireland. 
 
In fact, many Americans still think we live on corned beef and cabbage and are amazed to discover that the majority of Irish people don’t eat corned beef and cabbage from one end of the year to the other. Last year and again this year, I will be in Philadelphia for St Patrick’s Day.

Why Philly? Well apart from the fact that it’s a lovely town with great food and a large Irish contingent, its home to QVC, the mammoth shopping channel. The studios are in Westchester, and I join a large group of Irish people who go over to sell their products every year, Waterford Glass, Galway Crystal, Belleek, Irish tweeds, linen, jewellery, perfumes, pottery. …. Stephen Pearce from Stephen Pearce Pottery came last year also. For the past few years I’ve been selling my book on Irish Country Cooking which the Irish Americans love to have to remind them of the food of their childhood. We cook up a variety of traditional dishes. Irish Stew of course, and Beef with Stout, Champ and Colcannon, lots of soda bread, spotted dog and treacle bread, Kerry Pies, Roscommon Rhubarb Tart, Scones with homemade jam and cream, porter cake, carrageen moss pudding …..

I have a short slot of maybe five or six minutes on air, but I’m joined by one of the QVC hosts – brilliantly skilled sales people who could unquestionably sell billions of gallons of oil to the Arabs. Even if one is on a maiden voyage or camera shy, they manage to generate enthusiasm and excitement for the product. People telephone in from all over the country with nostalgic memories of forgotten flavours, often looking for mislaid recipes from the days of their happy childhood in Ireland.

It’s a thrilling experience racing against the clock. They suddenly tell you – that’s it, you’re sold out and they’re on to the next product. The books are then beautifully wrapped and posted all over America to people who want to recapture the forgotten flavours they yearn for.

This year I will again be selling my Irish Country Cooking book which is the US edition of Irish Traditional Cooking.

Back here in Ireland its easier to find a Thai Chicken Curry, fajitas or fried Halloumi than it is to find a bowl of Colcannon or Irish Stew. In fact, the dreaded breakfast roll, or ‘belly roll’, as its now being dubbed, is fast becoming our national dish.

Traditional foods are part of our national food culture, lets serve them proudly at least on St Patrick’s Day.

Buy this Book from
 

Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage 
I had a magical Irish country childhood. I grew up in a tiny village...... 
Read some more..............

Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Cathie.

Beef with Stout

Use your favourite stout for this recipe. In Cork we use Beamish or Murphy, but even Cork people have divided allegiances!
Serves 6-8

2 lbs (900g) lean stewing beef, eg. Chuck
seasoned flour
3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil
2 thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry English Mustard
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1 strip of dried orange peel
a bouquet garni made up of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 4 parsley stalks.
4 fl oz (125ml) Beamish, Murphy or Guinness
¾ pint (425ml) beef stock
8 ozs (225g) mushrooms
½ oz (15g) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the meat into 1½ inch (4cm) cubes and toss in seasoned flour. Heat some oil in a hot pan and fry the meat in batches until it is brown on all sides. Transfer the meat into a casserole and add a little more oil to the pan. Fry the thinly-sliced onions until nicely browned; deglaze with the stout. Transfer to the casserole, add the stock, sugar, mustard, tomato puree, orange rind and bouquet garni. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer in a very low heat, 150C/300f/ regulo 2, for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile wash and slice the mushrooms. Saute in a very little melted butter in a hot pan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside. When the stew is cooked, add the mushrooms and simmer for 2-3 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Note: This stew reheats well. You may need to add more sugar to the recipe if you find it a little bitter.

Leek Champ

I came across this lesser known recipe for Champ in Ulster, but it is now also firmly entrenched in Co. Cork.
Serves 4

1 lb (450g) potatoes
¾lb (350g) leeks
1-2 ozs (30-55g) butter
8-10 fl.ozs (250-300ml) milk
salt and freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until cooked through. Meanwhile wash and slice the leeks into thin rounds, melt 1 oz (30g) butter in a heavy pot, toss in the leeks, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover with a butter wrapper and the lid of the saucepan. Cook on a gentle heat until soft and tender. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, drain immediately. Bring the milk to boiling point, peel the potatoes and mash immediately. Beat in the buttered leeks and their juices and enough boiling milk to make a soft texture. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Kerry Pies

Mutton pies, made in Kerry, were served at the famous Puck Fair in Killorglin in August and taken up the hills when men were herding all day. The original hot water crust pastry was made with mutton fat but we have substituted butter for a really delicious crust.
Serves 6

450g (1lb) boneless lamb or mutton (from shoulder or leg - keep bones for stock)
275g (9 1/2oz) chopped onions
275g (9 1/2oz) chopped carrots
1 teaspoon parsley 
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
300ml (8fl oz) mutton or lamb stock
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pastry
350g (12oz) white flour
175g (6oz) butter
125ml (4fl oz) water
Pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt to glaze

2 x 15cm (6 inch) diameter tins, 4cm (1 1/2inch) high or 1 x 23cm (9 inch) tin

Cut all surplus fat away, then cut the meat into small neat pieces about the size of a small sugar lump. Render down the scraps of fat in a hot, wide saucepan until the fat runs. Discard the pieces. Cut the vegetables into slightly smaller dice and toss them in the fat, leaving them to cook for 3-4 minutes. 

Remove the vegetables and toss the meat in the remaining fat over a high heat until the colour turns. Stir the flour into the meat. Cook gently for 2 minutes and blend in the stock gradually. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Return the vegetables to the pan with the parsley and thyme leaves, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and leave to simmer, covered. If using young lamb, 30 minutes will be sufficient; an older animal may take up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Dice the butter, put it into a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Pour the liquid all at once into the flour and mix together quickly; beat until smooth. At first the pastry will be too soft to handle but as it cools it will become more workable. Roll out to 2.5-5mm (1/8-1/4inch) thick, to fit the tin or tins. (The pastry may be made into individual pies or one large pie.) 

Fill the pastry-lined tins with the slightly cooled meat mixture. Make lids from the remaining pastry, brush the edges of the base with water and egg wash and put on the pastry lids, pinching them tightly together. Roll out the trimmings to make pastry leaves or twirls to decorate the tops of the pies, make a hole in the centre and egg wash carefully.

Bake the pie or pies at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes approx. Serve hot or cold.

Porter Cake

1 lb (450g) white flour
8 ozs (225g) butter
8 ozs (225g) brown sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
1/2 teasp. bread soda
2 teasp. mixed spice
1/2 pint (300ml) stout, Guinness, Beamish or Murphys
1/2 lb (225g) sultanas
1/2 lb (225g) raisins
4 ozs (110g) cherries (halved)
4 ozs (110g) mixed peel
rind of 1 orange

9 inch (23cm) round tin

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Melt the butter, sugar and stout in a saucepan. Add the orange rind and all the fruit except the cherries. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is lukewarm.

Sieve the flour, breadsoda and spice into a mixing bowl. Add fruit to the flour and add the cherries. Beat the eggs, add gradually, mixing evenly through the mixture. Cook at 180C/350F/regulo 4, on the middle shelf for 1 hour 10 minutes approx. If you wish you may later pour 4 tablespoons of stout over the cake when its cooked. Keep for 2 or 3 days before cutting.

Country Rhubarb Cake

This delicious juicy Rhubarb Cake, based on an enriched bread dough, was made all over the country. Slow traditional food which originally would have been baked in the bastible or baker beside an open fire. My mother, who taught me this recipe, varied the filling with the seasons – gooseberries, bramley apples, plums, blackberry and apple….
Make with the first of the new season’s rhubarb.
Serves 8

350g (12oz) flour
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon breadsoda
50g (2oz) castor sugar
75g (3oz) butter
1 egg, preferably free range and organic 
165ml (5 1/2fl oz) milk, buttermilk or sour milk
700g (1 1/2lb) rhubarb, finely chopped
Egg wash
175-225g (6-8oz)) granulated sugar

Castor sugar for sprinkling
Softly whipped cream
Moist brown sugar

1 x 25.5cm (10 inch) enamel or Pyrex plate

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4

Sieve the flour, salt, breadsoda and castor sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter. Whisk the egg and mix with the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in most of the liquid and mix to soft dough, add the remainder of the liquid if necessary. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface, turn out the dough and pat gently into a round. Divide into two pieces, one should be slightly larger than the other, keep the larger one for the lid. Meanwhile dip your fingers in flour. Spread the smaller piece onto the plate. Scatter the finely chopped rhubarb all over the base, egg-wash the edges and sprinkle the rhubarb with the granulated sugar. Roll out the other piece of dough until it is exactly the size to cover the plate, lift it on and press gently to seal the edges. Make a hole in the centre for the steam to escape, egg-wash and sprinkle with a very small amount of sugar.

Bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/gas mark 4, for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the rhubarb is soft and the crust is golden. Leave it to sit for 15-20 minutes so that the juice can soak into the crust. Sprinkle with castor sugar. Serve still warm with a bowl of softly whipped cream and some moist brown sugar.

Foolproof Food

Mollie Keane’s Potato & Bacon Cakes

The late Mollie Keane, the indomitable Irish writer - author of Good Behaviour and countless other books on the life of the Irish Ascendancy - included this recipe in her book Mollie Keane's Nursery Cooking.
Serves 4

4 rashers of streaky bacon, rinds removed, chopped
1 lb (450g) mashed potatoes
1 oz (30g) plain white flour
salt and pepper
butter or dripping for frying

Fry the bacon without any additional fat until crisp. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Stir the bacon into the mashed potatoes with the flour, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into four cakes. Heat the butter or dripping in a frying pan, add the cakes and fry for about 5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp.

Hot Tips

St Patrick’s Day Farmers Market
Will be held from 10am – 5pm on Emmet Place Cork. (the Square by the Opera House)

New Aga Showroom in Cork
Now open at City Quarter, Lapps Quay – beside the Clarion Hotel and Irish Examiner Offices. Showing Aga and Rayburn cookers and the AGA Cookshop range of accessories.

BBC Goood Food Summer Festival 13-17 June, NEC Birmingham

This year the festival will be co-located with BBC Gardeners World Live and BBC Good Homes Live – one ticket can be bought for all three shows – ticket hotline 0970 380 0139 or book online www.bbcgoodfoodshow.com

Ballycotton Light

Doug Jeffords from Nashville did the 3 month Certificate Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School ten years ago, a great music lover he comes back every year to attend the music weeks at Ballymaloe House. On his recent visit he launched his CD Ballycotton Light which includes some of his own compositions along with his own favourites – Ballycotton Light is available from the Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House.

Kitchen Garden Cooking for kids – by Stephanie Alexander

In Australia, many of the top culinary icons I met were women, Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer and the incorrigible, and irrepressible Cherry Ripe.
Stephanie Alexander opened Stephanie’s Restaurant in Melbourne in 1976, a landmark establishment later credited with having revolutionized fine dining in Australia.

From 1997, along with several pals, she set up and ran Richmond Hill Café and Larder, a neighbourhood café renowned particularly for its superb cheese.

Stephanie is one of Australia’s most highly regarded authors. She’s written innumerable cookbooks and her signature publication – The Cook’s Companion has established itself in almost 400,000 homes world wide, including pride of place in the library in the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

I am full of admiration for Stephanie in so many ways, not least for her work in spearheading the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College in 2001. 

The programme’s aim was to introduce inner-city kids to the joys of healthy, homemade food. Since then, she and her team have worked with hundreds of primary school children, teaching them to grow edible organic produce in the school grounds, and to turn their harvest into wonderful dishes such as muffins, homemade pastas, vegetable-rich winter soups and decorated tea eggs.

Unlike other cookbooks for kids, Stephanie’s recipes do not assume that a child’s palate is unsophisticated or unable to appreciate complex tastes. Although the recipes are simple, Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids incorporates a wide range of interesting ingredients, with a particular emphasis on those that are healthy and inexpensive. Stephanie also arranges her menus seasonally to encourage an appreciation for fresh (even home-grown!) produce, rather than packaged and pre-prepared convenience foods.

Stephanie’s philosophy is that there is no such thing as special food for children: if food is good, then everyone will enjoy it regardless of age. In Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids, Stephanie gathers together 120 recipes, all specially written for children, with simple instructions, a list of equipment needed for each recipe, a colourful layout and lots of fast, fun facts for curious minds. But while all of these recipes can be negotiated by a couple of eight year olds in aprons with a bit of adult supervision – the dishes are anything but standard kids’ fare: alongside the muffins and slices are homemade pastas, Indian curries, Asian tea eggs and vegetable-rich winter soups.

The book also tells the story behind the recipes – the inspiring tale of the Kitchen Garden at Collingwood College. In 2001, Stephanie initiated a garden and cooking programme in a large inner-city Melbourne school. Since then the programme has given hundreds of primary school children the opportunity to plant, grow, harvest, cook and eat the very best kind of food – freshly grown, organic, unprocessed and delicious.

Stephanie’s book will appeal not only to mums and kids but also to the growing number of teachers who are developing kitchen gardens and school food initiatives.

Kitchen Garden Cooking for kids – by Stephanie Alexander
Published by Lantern, an imprint of Penguin Books

Buy this Book from

Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad

This delicious salad can be made up to an hour before your wish to eat it and kept refrigerated, but if made too far in advance the cabbage and daikon will lose their crunchy texture. On another day you could use prawns or poached fish instead of chicken.
Serves 6 or tasting for 12

Poached chicken fillets
2 spring onions (scallions)
1 x 2cm piece fresh ginger
2 skinless chicken breast fillets

Dressing
3 cloves garlic
1 long red chilli (use disposable gloves if you can)
¼ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
⅓ cup fish sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar

Cabbage Salad

1 carrot
1 daikon (Chinese radish)
½ cabbage
1 small red onion
20 mint leaves
12 stems coriander 

Trim the outside layer from the spring onions and cut off the tops and ends, then cut the rest into 4 pieces. Peel and slice the ginger. Fill the saucepan with water, add the spring onions and ginger, then bring to a simmering point over a high heat. Carefully slip the chicken breasts into the saucepan and allow the water to return to a simmering point, then use the ladle to skim off and discard any froth that rises to the top. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the liquid for 5 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time. Use the tongs to transfer the chicken breasts to the plate. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate until needed.

Now make the dressing. Peel the garlic. Place the cloves on the chopping board and flatten with the side of a large knife. Finely chop the garlic and place in a large bowl.

Slip on the disposable gloves and slit the chilli in half lengthways. Scrape the seeds into the rubbish bin. Slice the chilli as finely as you can and place in the garlic bowl. Discard the gloves. Wash and dry the chopping board and knife. Juice the lime. Add the lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, oil and sugar to the garlic bowl and stir.

Make the cabbage salad. Soak the coriander in a small bowl of water. Peel the carrot and daikon. Using the food processor or a vegetable slicing gadget, shred the carrot and daikon and add to the dressing bowl. Cut away the thick stalk from the cabbage, then cut the cabbage into 2 or 3 pieces. Using the large knife, shred the cabbage and add to the dressing bowl. Peel the red onion and cut it in half lengthways, then place the flat sides on the chopping board and slice each half into fine rings. Add to the dressing bowl. Place all vegetable scraps in the compost bucket.

Using your fingers, shred the cooked chicken breasts.

Add the chicken to the bowl with the dressing and vegetables.

Lift the coriander from its soaking water. Rinse the mint. Dry the herbs by rolling in the tea towel. Set aside 6-12 leaves to use as a garnish, then roughly chop the rest and add to the bowl.

Use a large spoon to mix all the ingredients together, then spoon into serving bowls and top with the reserved coriander or mint.

Chargrilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers with Pita Breads

Makes 10 small burgers
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ onion
1 lemon
15 stalks parsley
10 sprigs thyme
500g minced lamb
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 small pita pocket breads
½ cup yoghurt

You will need 2 baking trays and a frying pan. Chopping board and knives. Mortar and pestle.
Preheat the oven to 150C and put one of the baking trays in the oven to keep warm.
Heat the frying pan over a medium heat. Tip in the coriander seeds and stir with a wooden spoon until they start to smell fragrant. Tip the seeds into the mortar. Toast the cumin seeds in the same pan until they, too, smell fragrant. Add these seeds to the mortar and wipe out the frying pan with a piece of kitchen paper.

Using the pestle, grind the toasted seeds to a coarse powder. Tip the powder into a large bowl. Set out the chopping board and knives. Peel and chop the onion finely (or grate it) and tip into the bowl. Juice the lemon and grate the zest, adding both to the bowl.

Rinse the parsley and thyme, dry by rolling in the tea towel, then chop. Add the herbs to the bowl. Now add the lamb and salt, along with a good grind of black pepper. Make sure your hands are very clean, then use your hands to mix everything together very well.

Heat the frying pan over a medium heat and add a tiny dash of the oil. Take a walnut-sized piece of the mixture and fry it in the frying pan for a couple of minutes. Using a tongs, lift this sample out of the frying pan. Allow to cool a little, then taste it to decide if the mixture needs more salt or pepper.

Form the mixture into 10 equal balls. Flatten each ball a bit with the back of a fork and place on the cold baking tray. Using the pastry brush, brush the lamb burgers with the oil. Heat the chargrill pan over a medium-to-high heat. Place the burgers carefully on the hot grill – do not try to move them once they have been placed. Turn after 8-10 minutes and cook the other side for about 5 minutes.

As the burgers are cooked, transfer them to the baking tray that has been in the oven.

While the burgers are grilling, brush the pita pocket breads with oil, then place on the oven rack to warm through. This should take 5-8 minutes. Serve the burgers and warm breads at the table, where your guests should open their pita breads, spoon in some tabbouleh and then top with the lamb burger and a dollop of yoghurt.

Tabbouleh

Serves 6
½ cup cracked wheat
3 tomatoes
1 long cucumber
2 spring onions (scallions)
1 clove garlic
10 stalks parsley
15 mint leaves
1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the cracked wheat in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 10 minutes, then tip into the strainer. Press out as much liquid as possible with the back of the tablespoon.

Tip the cracked wheat into a thick tea towel and roll it like a sausage. Two people are now needed to each hold one end of the tea-towel sausage, and to twist in opposite directions to squeeze even more liquid from the grains.

Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the cracked wheat, then unwrap the ‘sausage’ and carefully shake the cracked wheat into the bowl.

Set out the chopping board and knives. As you chop the following ingredients, place them in the bowl with the cracked wheat. Cut the tomatoes into small dice using the serrated knife. Peel and dice the cucumber. Trim the outside layer from the spring onions, cut off their tops and ends, then finely slice the rest. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Rinse the parsley and mint and dry by rolling in the second tea towel. Chop the herbs and add to the other ingredients. Juice the lemon. In the small bowl, mix the oil and lemon juice to make a dressing, then add to the medium bowl. Mix everything together and taste for salt and pepper. Spread the parsley evenly throughout. Transfer the tabbouleh to the serving bowl and serve.

Orange and Cardamom Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 10
125g butter
¾ cup castor sugar (170g)
2 large oranges 
2 eggs
125g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom

Cream Cheese Icing
60g pure icing sugar
60g cream cheese
30g butter

You will need a 12 hold muffin tray and 10 cupcake cases (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190C. If using cupcake cases , drop one into each of the holes in the muffin tin. Otherwise, weigh the butter, then melt 1 tablespoon into the small saucepan and use the pastry brush to grease the holes of the muffin tin.

Set out the chopping board and knife. Cut the remainder of the butter into small cubes and place in the bowl of the food processor. Add the sugar and run the motor for 1 minute.

Juice the oranges and place the juice in a medium bowl. Grate the zest from the oranges and add the zest to the bowl. Crack the eggs into the same bowl, then lightly whisk to combine. Sift the flour and ground cardamom into a second medium bowl.

With the food processor running, and working quickly, add about one-third of the egg and juice mixture, then add about one-third of the sifted flour. Immediately add another one-third of the egg mixture and another one-third of the flour, then the remaining egg mixture and flour and process until smooth and creamy.

Spoon the batter evenly into 10 holes of the greased muffin tin, filling each hole about two-thirds full. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked. To test the cakes, remove from the oven and insert a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, the cakes are done.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Wash and dry the bowl of the food processor and place the sieve over the top. Tip the icing sugar into the sieve and use a spoon to push the icing sugar through. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes, then tip into the food processor, along with the butter, and process until smooth and creamy.

Remove the cakes from the oven. Allow them to cool for 1 minute in the tin, then turn the tin upside-down and bang the bottom of the tray to release the cakes. Place right side up on the wire rack to cool completely. When the cakes are cool, use the spatula to spread a little icing on top of each cake and serve.

Hot Tips

Cooking for Kids with Rachel Allen – 
Half day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School - 2pm on Friday 13th April – Tel 021-4646785 to book.

Chinese New Year 2007 is The Year of the Pig – 
To expand your repertoire of Chinese cooking have a look at some Chinese cookbooks recently on the shelves –
Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong – published by Penguin Michael Joseph
Shows how Chinese cooking has never been easier . Using the freshest produce, simplest cooking techniques and step-by-step photographs, the 14 chapters containing over 100 recipes are each devoted to one main ingredient – be it chicken, rice, stocks or seafood.
The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-ta-Hsiung – Originally published in 1999 this classic has recently been reissued by Kyle Cathie – a wonderful overview of Chinese ingredients and useful sources.
China Modern by Ching-He Huang – also by Kyle Cathie
100 cutting-edge, fusion-style recipes for the 21st century. In China Modern, Ching-He Huang explores new influences from the rest of the Far East as well as the West, looking first at familiar recipes and giving them a makeover as well as traditional home cooking from the less well known provinces such as Hunan and Sichuan.

Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority
Will be running a series of continuing professional development programmes in all areas of tourism and hospitality in 2007 – courses are run nationwide – for details of courses in each area – Cork 021-4313058 carmel.barry@failteireland.ie  Dublin 01-8847766 ruth.campbell@failteireland.ie  Galway 091-561432 agnes.odonnell@failteireland.ie  Midlands 01-8847766 ruth.campbell@failteireland.ie 

Foolproof Food

Stir-fried Pork Fillets with Honey and Ginger

From Simple Chinese Food by Kylie Kwong
Serve as a meal for 4 with steamed rice or as part of a banquet for 4-6
If possible, marinate the pork overnight for better flavour!

600g (1lb 4oz) pork fillets, cut into 5mm (¼ in) slices
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and cut into 10cm (4in) lengths
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 limes, halved

Marinade
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons finely diced ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil 

Combine pork with marinade ingredients in a large bowl, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the marinated pork and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat remaining oil in the wok, add remaining pork and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Return reserved pork to the wok with spring onions, vinegar, soy sauce and water. Stir-fry for a further minute or until pork is just cooked through and lightly browned.

Arrange pork on a platter and serve with lime halves.

Skye Gyngell and Petersham Nurseries

2006 produced a raft of terrific cookbooks, some truly inspirational, but for me the most exciting ‘new’ talent to burst onto the culinary scene in the past few years is a wild young thing called Skye Gyngell.

When I say ‘young’, Skye is not exactly a teenager but she’s still got that wonderfully endearing hippy-like quality, the infectious enthusiasm of youth. She is completely passionate about food, real food, slow food, food fresh from the garden. Skye is totally seasonal in her approach and adores her vegetable and herb patch and draws much of her inspiration from it.

Not long before Christmas I went to her restaurant at Petersham Nurseries near Richmond, I can’t remember when I was last so enchanted by a restaurant experience. It’s a 45 minute taxi ride from central London, you can’t get a tube to Richmond but you may find it difficult to get a taxi to take you along the long winding lane beside Richmond Park in South West London . When you arrive, you emerge into what is truly a magical enclave of good taste.

Alongside fabulous plants, trees and shrubs there is antique garden furniture to break your heart and destroy your bank balance, old tools, beautiful containers and a fascinating mix of other enchanting artefacts and accessories sourced by the owners, Gael and Francesco Boglione.

The restaurant is in one of the greenhouses in the nursery, in fact it now spills into several. The eclectic mix of tables and chairs sit on the good earth in the midst of the tumbling plants and beautiful antique objects all for sale. It is the perfect setting for the café.

Skye is Australian by birth, she worked in a number of Sydney’s culinary hot spots, also in Paris and London and is Vogue’s acclaimed food writer. She also writes regularly for The Independent on Sunday. The café at Petersham Nurseries is rapidly acquiring a reputation for superb food in an outstanding setting. In 2005 she gained the restaurant its first award: Time Out’s Best Al Fresco Restaurant Award and early last year it received Tatler’s Most Original Restaurant Award.

We started with a glass of fresh raspberry Prosecco and then a variety of delicious dishes with fresh vibrant flavours. A plate of Mezze included a roasted tomato and red pepper puree, a tangy beetroot puree and a gorgeous unctuous chick pea puree with a salad of fresh and wild leaves, a few slow roasted tomatoes and a fresh lemony goat cheese – delicious original flavours.

Skye Gyngell Teaches at the Ballymaloe cookery school

www.petershamnurseries.com info@petershamnurseries.com Tel 004420 8940 5230 café@petershamnurseries.com Tel 0044 20 8605 3627

‘A Year in my Kitchen’ by Skye Gyngell, published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd. www.quadrille.co.uk

Slow Cooked Pork Belly with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise.

This is a deliciously rich and unctuous winter dish. Skye likes to serve it with braised lentils, but it is also very good with lightly cooked Asian greens, such as pak choi.
Serves 6

2kg piece belly of pork (organic, free-range)
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1 tsp cloves
1 red chilli
3cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp chopped coriander, roots and stems
100ml tamari (or soy sauce)
75ml maple syrup
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve:
Braised lentils

Put the pork belly into a large cooking pot (or pan) in which it fits quite snugly and add cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat and remove the pork from the pan. Drain off the water and rinse out the pan.

One-third fill the pan with cold water and place over a medium heat. Add the pork, this time along with the spices, chilli, ginger, garlic and chopped coriander roots and stems. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the meat, add some more water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer very gently for 1½ hours until the meat is cooked and very tender. If you have the rib end, the meat will have shrunk back to expose the tips of the bones. With a pair of tongs, carefully remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat up under the pan to high and add the tamari and maple syrup. (If you don’t want the sauce to taste ‘hot’, remove the ginger and chilli at this point.) Let the liquid bubble until reduced by half, this will take about 20 minutes. As the sauce reduces, the flavours will become very intense, forming, a rich, dark sauce.

In the meantime, slice the pork belly into individual servings – one rib should be enough per person. Season the ribs with a little salt and pepper. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and add the oil. Heat until the pan is starting to smoke, then add the pork ribs and brown well on both sides until crunchy and golden brown on the surface. Strain the reduced liquour.

To serve, lay a rib on each warm plate (or soup plate) and spoon over the reduced sauce and warm braised lentils. Serve at once.

Braised Oxtail with ginger, five spice and garlic

‘I love slow-cooking cheaper cuts of meat and oxtail has a fantastic ability to absorb the wonderful aromatic flavours in this recipe. The result is a sticky, fragrant and beautifully rich meat dish that literally melts in your mouth. A sweet potato puree works really well with this dish or, if you want something a little gentler, steamed rice would be perfect.’
Serves 3-4

1kg oxtail, cut into large pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Bunch of coriander, washed
1 tbsp Chinese five spice powder (preferably freshly prepared)
2 x 400g cans good quality chopped tomatoes
1 litre chicken stock
50ml fish sauce
50ml tamari (or soy sauce)
75ml palm sugar or 5 tbsp maple syrup

Put the oxtail into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then pour off the water. Rinse the oxtail thoroughly under cold running water and set aside to drain.

Place a large cooking pot or flameproof casserole over a medium heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the onions, ginger, chillies and garlic. Turn the heat to low and sweat gently for 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

Meanwhile, separate the coriander leaves from the stems and set aside for garnishing if you like. Finely chop the root and stems and add these to the pan with the five spice powder. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes to release the beautiful aromatic flavours.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a gentle simmer, then return the oxtail to the pan, ensuring that the pieces are fully submerged. Braise very gently for 1½ hours or until the oxtail is really soft and sticky.

Add the fish sauce, tamari and sugar or maple syrup. Turn up the heat just slightly and continue to cook for another 20 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning and flavours a little if you need to. Serve piping hot, garnished with coriander leaves if you so wish.

Sautéed Savoy Cabbage with Chilli and Garlic Oils

Savoy cabbage is a lovely, vibrant winter vegetable that works really well with slow-cooked dishes and vegetable purées, as well as simple grilled white fish
Serves 4

1 medium Savoy cabbage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Chilli Oil – see below
1 tbsp Garlic Oil – see below
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ tbsp very finely chopped curly parsley

To finish
1 medium red chilli, finely shredded
Or a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, plus 1 tablesp very finely chopped curly parsley

Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage, retaining those that you can as the dark outer leaves are really beautiful when cooked. With a sharp knife, remove the fibrous central core of the outer leaves and then slice the leaves crossways into fine ribbons. Slice the rest of the cabbage in half lengthways and similarly cut into ribbons (there is no need to remove the core as it is quite tender).

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a very generous pinch of salt. Plunge the cabbage into the boiling water and allow to return to the boil. Immediately tip the cabbage into a colander, drain well, then place in a warm bowl.

Drizzle the chilli and garlic oils over the cabbage and add the lemon zest and chopped parsley. Toss to mix, then taste and add a little seasoning if needed. For an extra kick, scatter over some shredded red chilli. Alternatively, add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with chopped parsley and a good grinding of pepper. Serve straight away while piping hot!

Chilli Oil

Skye says ‘I use this oil to give a dish a gentle kick, not an intense overwhelming heat. I therefore use the large red chillies, which are fairly mild in flavour, and always remove their seeds.

To prepare, halve 4 large chillies lengthways and remove the seeds. Slice lengthways into very fine strips, then cut across into tiny squares (almost mincing the chillies). Place in a bowl, add a pinch of sea salt and then pour over 200ml olive oil. Use within 1 or 2 days.

Garlic Oil

I am drawn to strong, clean flavours in food and love the gutsy punch of chopped raw garlic. I’m not afraid to throw raw garlic on to many dishes, especially if its rawness is slightly tempered by a really good quality olive oil. I often fold a spoonful or two of garlic oil into lemon mayonnaise or flavoured yoghurt to give it a kick. And a bowl of borlotti or white beans really comes alive if you stir in a spoonful or two just before eating.

To prepare, peel 10 garlic cloves, chop them very finely and place in a bowl with a good pinch of sea salt. Pour over 200ml extra virgin olive oil and stir to combine. Use the oil immediately, or within a day or two.

Blood Orange and Rosemary Jelly

A lovely, light, palate-cleansing dessert, this is jelly as it should be …wobbly, cool and not too sweet. Blood oranges are one of my favourite things. These beautiful, blackberry-scented jewels are usually around from December to March, but they are at their best during January and February – just when winter seems almost too barren to bear. You will need about 10 oranges to obtain the amount of juice you need, depending on their size. As the flesh of blood oranges varies in colour and pattern, so will the depth of colour of this jelly.
Serves 4

600ml freshly squeezed blood orange juice
100g caster sugar
3 rosemary sprigs
3½ sachets of leaf gelatine (or 11g sachet powdered gelatine)
Sunflower (or other neutral flavoured) oil, to oil

To serve
Blood orange slices and a little freshly squeezed juice

Put the orange juice and sugar into a saucepan. Lay the rosemary sprigs on a board and bruise to release their flavour by pressing them firmly with the handle of your knife, then add to the saucepan. Immerse the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water and leave to soften for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, place the saucepan over a gentle heat to dissolve the sugar. As the juice begins to warm through, it will take on the flavour of the rosemary. When the sugar has completely dissolved and the juice comes just to the boil, take off the heat. Remove the gelatine from the cold water and squeeze to remove excess liquid, then add to the hot orange juice and stir to dissolve. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, to remove any pithy bits and the rosemary.

Lightly oil 4 individual pudding bowls and pour in the jelly. Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge to set – this will only take 1 or 2 hours. I like to serve these jellies on the day they are made, as they continue to set if you leave them in the fridge for longer and can become too firm.

To serve, place slice of blood orange on each serving plate and squeeze over a little more juice. To unmould each jelly, briefly dip the base of the mould into warm water, then run a little knife around the rim and invert on to the plate. Serve straight away.

Foolproof Food

Parsnip Purée with thyme, mustard and crème fraîche

 Sweet and nutty in flavour, this is a lovely winter purée. It works well with simple grilled meats and with slow-cooked rabbit and chicken dishes.
Serves 4

1kg parsnips
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thyme sprigs
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp. crème fraîche
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and roughly chop the parsnips. Place in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a good pinch of salt and the thyme sprigs. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the parsnips are really tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Discard the thyme sprigs.

Tip the hot parsnips into a blender and add the mustard, butter, crème fraîche and nutmeg. Whiz to a smooth purée. Check for seasoning – you’ll probably need to add a little salt and a generous grinding of pepper. If the purée needs to be warmed through, return to the pan and stir over a low heat to reheat before serving.

Cooks Book

Larousse Gastronomique – in 4 paperback volumes

Since is original publication in 1938, “Larousse Gastronomique” has withstood the test of time and trend, to remain the world’s most authoritative culinary reference book.
Recently published in four paperback volumes by Hamlyn – Fish & Shellfish - Vegetables and Salads - Desserts, Cakes & Pastries - Meat, Poultry & Game – indispensable for the cook’s library.

Watch out for some nice fresh herrings and cook them simply as follows – from Larousse Fish and Shellfish.

Fried Herring
Choose small herrings weighing about 125g (4½oz). Clean, trim, score and soak them in milk for about 30 minutes. Drain. Coat with flour and deep-fry in oil at 175c (347F) for 3-4 minutes. Drain well on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve them with lemon quarters.

Grilled Herring
Clean and trim medium-sized herrings. Brush them with oil or melted butter, season with pepper and cook under a moderate grill. Sprinkle with salt and serve with maître d’hôtel butter or a mustard sauce.

Hot Tips

Green Box scoops tourism award
The Green Box is Ireland’s first integrated sustainable and ecotourism visitor destination. It recently achieved a ‘highly commended’ award for ‘Best New Destination’ at the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards, which were part of the World Travel Market 2006, held in London in November. www.greenbox.ie  info@greenbox.ie  www.responsibletravel.com  

M E G A B Y T E S by John & Sally McKenna

An up-to-the-minute selection of news and reviews which will tell you everything you need to know about who and what is happening in contemporary Irish food.

1_The Megabytes Awards for 2006
http://www.bestofbridgestone.com/mb/dc6/aw.html 

2_The Megabytes Talents for 2007
http://www.bestofbridgestone.com/mb/dc6/ta.html 

3_Ten New Things to Taste in 2007
http://www.bestofbridgestone.com/mb/dc6/tt.html 

4_The 2007 Bridgestone 100 Best Guides and Website http://www.bestofbridgestone.com/mb/dc6/bg.html

Halloween Dates from an Ancient Celtic Festival

Halloween dates from the ancient Celtic festival Samhain which was the first day of Winter on November 1st , it later became All Souls Day which was an important date in the church calendar. The night before Samhain is Hallowe’en or All Hallow’s Eve, and this was traditionally the night for the festivities. As children we always had a Hallowe’en party and had the greatest fun planning it for weeks before. We made black witches’ hats, scary masks and polished up our collection of ghost stories. Trekking from house to house we gathered ‘monkey’ nuts and apples and a few coins if we were lucky. Hollowed out turnips were used to make lanterns with eerie toothless faces and we put these on the gate post of the house where the party was being held. 

Nowadays the children can buy their readymade Hallowe’en outfits, pumpkins abound, ‘trick or treat bags’ can be bought and its very easy to organize a party for children or adults. Hallowe’en is an excuse to play all sorts of old-fashioned games – like snap apple and dunking for apples and to indulge in some divination. 

To get everyone in the spirit of things, drape twists of black and orange crepe paper all over doors and window frames. Weave cobwebby tangles of grey wool and make broomsticks from autumnal twigs and leaves. 

For the feast make some Witches’ Bread or Barm Brack and hide a ring, pea, stick and rag inside so your guests can predict their fortune. Colcannon is another traditional Hallowe’en dish - don’t forget to put a little bowl on the windowsill for the fairies and to ward off evil spirits. After hollowing out a pumpkin for a lantern you could use the cut away flesh from inside to make some warming Pumpkin Soup. Warm apple cake fresh from the oven with cream and soft brown sugar is irresistible, or easier still some Baked Apples would be delicious. Have fun and remember don’t eat any blackberries after Hallowe’en because the devil or the púca might have spat on them!

Colcannon

Songs have been sung and poems have been written about Colcannon. It’s one of Ireland’s most famous traditional potato dishes. It’s comfort food at its very best and terrific for a party.
Serves 8 approx.

450g (1lb) Savoy or spring cabbage
1.35kg (3lb) 'old' potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
250ml (8fl oz) boiling milk approx.
30g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper
55g (2oz) butter approx.

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for 'old' potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.

Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Cook in a little boiling salted water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter. If using kale, remove the central rib. Cook the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender. This may take 8-10 minutes, depending on the type and maturity of the kale. Curly kale is sweetest after it has been mellowed by a few night frosts.

When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk, and the finely chopped scallions into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade.) Then stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. For perfection, serve immediately in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the centre.

Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for 20-25 minutes approx. Cover while reheating so it doesn't get too crusty on top.

Halloween Barmbrack

This delicious tea brack recipe was given to me by Lana Pringle, who lives in Shanagarry. Lana makes her delicious cakes by hand and cooks them in her old Aga.
Halloween is a terrific time to have a party. In Ireland a barmbrack is a must for the festivities. The work “barm” comes from the old English “beorma”, meaning yeasted fermented liquor. “Brack” comes from the Irish “brac”, meaning speckled – which the cake is, with dried fruit and candied peel. Traditionally a Halloween Barmbrack is made with yeast but for easy entertaining this tea brack is much less stressful to make. Halloween has always been associated with fortune telling and divination, so various objects are wrapped up and hidden in the cake mixture – a wedding ring, a coin, a pea or a thimble (signifying spinsterhood), a piece of matchstick (which means that your husband will beat you!).

400g (14 oz) dried fruit, raisins and sultanas
50g (2 oz) cherries
50g (2 oz) chopped candied peel - see recipe
110g (4 oz) soft brown sugar
110g (4 oz) granulated sugar
450g (15 fl oz) tea 
400g (14 oz) plain white flour
1/8 teaspoon of baking powder 
1 egg, free-range and organic
3 tins 10 x 15 x 7.5cm deep (4 x 61/4 x 3 inch deep)
or 2 tins 25.5 x 38 x 6.5cm deep (5 x 8 x 21/2 inch deep)

Put raisins and sultanas into a bowl, cover with tea (Lana occasionally uses a mixture of Indian and Lapsang Souchong, but any good strong tea will do) and leave overnight to allow the fruit to plump up. Next day add the halved cherries, chopped candied peel, sugar and egg and mix well. Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in thoroughly. The mixture should be softish, add a little more tea if necessary 50ml (2 fl oz). 

Grease the tins with melted butter (Lana uses old tins, heavier gauge than are available nowadays, light modern tins may need to be lined with silicone paper for extra protection.)

Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes approx.

Lana bakes her barmbracks in the Aga, after 40 minutes she turns the tins around and gives them a further 10 minutes approx.* Leave in the tins for about 10 minutes and then remove and cool on a wire rack. 

*If you are using two tins the barmbracks will take 1 hour approx.

Irish Apple Cake

Apple cakes like this one are the traditional sweet in Ireland. The recipe varies from house to house and the technique has been passed from mother to daughter in farmhouses all over the country for generations. It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates. These are much better than ovenproof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily - worth remembering, as a tart with a soggy base is not attractive! In Ireland all apple cakes are made with cooking apples.
Serves 6 approx.

8 ozs (225g) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 ozs (110g) butter
4½ ozs (125g) castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free-range
2-4 fl. ozs (50-120ml) milk, approx.
1-2 cooking apples - we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
2-3 cloves (optional)
egg wash

Ovenproof plate 

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs, add 3 ozs (85g) castor sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 1½ ozs (45g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top, this is easier said than done as this 'pastry' is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx. or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with castor sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

Book of the Week –

This recipe for Pumpkin Soup comes from The Festive Food of America by Martina Nicolls published by Kyle Cathie with wonderful photographs by Will Heap. It is a vibrant collection of both the traditional and more unusual foods that are cooked on festive occasions throughout the year. Be it Creole cooking in New Orleans where Mardi Gras is (still) celebrated in grand style to a warming feast at Hallowe’en , and from Labour Day fare to Thanksgiving, the Americans know how to feast .


Buy this Book from Amazon

This is Martina’s description of Hallowe’en festivities in America.
“All Hallows’ Eve, 31st October is the night witches fly on broomsticks across the moonlit sky, Jack-0-lanterns (hollowed-out pumpkins with grinning, demonic faces lit by candles) flicker mysteriously in dark windows and children all over America dress in spooky costumes and frightening masks. They go from house to house asking for ‘Trick or Treat’ – custom evolving from pagan Celtic fire festivals to frighten away evil spirits returning from the dead. These pagan rituals eventually became secularised, and developed into children’s games. They were probably brought to America by immigrants, particularly the Irish in the late 19th Century. A treat is asked for or a trick is played. Bags of sweets and cookies are quite acceptable and if not forthcoming the wicked witches’ curse will descend upon the house and its unfortunate occupants. The evening usually ends with ghost stories around the fire and mugs of hot Pumpkin Soup”

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkins were introduced to the early settlers by Indian tribes and are traditionally made into pies and soups. This is a beautifully coloured soup.
Serves 8-10

1 large orange pumpkin
1kg piece of pumpkin, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Small bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3-4 celery leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
85g butter
1.6 litres of chicken stock
350ml single cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
225g croutons
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Slice the top off the pumpkin to make a lid, scrape out the seeds and stringy bits and carefully scoop out 1kg of flesh for the soup. (Use a separate piece of pumpkin if you prefer.)

Sauté the onion, spring onions, celery leaves and garlic in 50g of the butter until tender but not brown.
Add the pumpkin chunks and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer, stirring until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pureé in a food processor until smooth. Return to the pan, whisk in the cream and remaining butter and heat thoroughly without boiling. It should be satin smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Warm the hollowed-out pumpkin in a preheated oven, 180C/350F.gas 4, for 15 minutes. Pour in the hot soup, sprinkle with parsley and serve the croutons separately. Or, if preferred, serve in bowls.

Foolproof food

Witches Bread with Chocolate and Raisins

450g (1lb) flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon bread soda, sieved
1 level teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
50g (2oz) dark chocolate roughly chopped
50g (2oz) raisins
400ml (14fl oz) buttermilk or 350ml (12fl oz) + 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7.

In a large bowl sieve the flour and bread soda and add the salt, sugar, chocolate and raisins. Make a well in the centre and pour most of the buttermilk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the side of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn the dough onto a floured board. Wash and dry your hands.

With floured fingers tidy up the dough gently and flip over and tuck it in underneath. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm (11/2in) deep. Cut a deep cross on it and prick in the centre of the four segments to let the fairies out. 

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6, for 35 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack. Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter. 

Variations 
Make 8 – 10 mini witches, don’t forget to cut a cross in them also. 

Hot Tips

Cuthbert’s Polish Bread
Look out for Cuthbert’s sliced white Polish bread in shops in East Cork. Small local bakers really need our support to help them to compete in a very tough marketplace. This is a real find – bread like it used to be and ‘a little taste of Poland’. 

‘Tots to Teens’ the latest in the BIM series of health information leaflets aims to inform parents of the positive benefits of including fish in children’s diets. It is available from GP’s, dietitians and fish retail outlets, and on request from BIM 01-214 4100 or visit www.bim.ie/wellbeing  

First Cross Border Organic Food Conference
National Organic Week runs from 6 - 12 November. One of the flagship events is the first all Ireland Organic Food Conference on 7th November at The Landmark Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. 
The event has been produced by Atlantic Organics Ltd, a new organic food company which was set up with EU funding support. The Conference is for everyone in the 32 counties involved in organic food, from production and processing through to retailing.
To register contact Atlantic Organics Ltd on Tel: 071 98 54014 or email: lucie@atlanticorganics.com  For further information visit www.atlantico

The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham

I’ve always thought that every family should produce its own ‘cookbook’ so that the grown children can reproduce the much-loved comfort food of their childhood – Granny’s Apple Cake, Mammy’s Gravy or Lamb Stew, Auntie Betty’s Queen of Puddings ….

Most families, even those who think they have a limited repertoire, would have 30 or 40 dishes. The great thing is to get started, just buy a hardback copy book and write out one at a time. Involve grandparents, aunts, uncles, particularly those who are retired, and encourage them to include a little anecdote here and there, maybe add a photo or two – you never know.
When her sons inherited their father’s childhood home, once a commercial building for storing and packing pilchards, in a Cornish fishing village, Lindsay Bareham thought it would be a helpful idea to record some of the recipes and memories of this extraordinary place. It started as a notebook for her sons’ eyes only, with lists of favourite ways of cooking monkfish, mackerel and sole and how to make mayonnaise to go with the gift of a handsome crab or crayfish, but it then took on its own momentum and became this very special book, full of recollections and anecdotes and fabulous holiday food.

Buy From Amazon The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham, published by Penguin Michael Joseph, 2006.

Slow-Braised Lamb with Flageolets

Serves 6
2 large onions
12 shallots
12 garlic cloves
350 g (12 oz) flageolet beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water or 2 x 400g (14oz) cans flageolet beans
2 bay leaves
4 branches of rosemary or a small bunch of thyme
2 branches of sage
Salt and pepper
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine or half-wine, half water
2 x 400g (14oz) Italian tomatoes
1 lemon
1 shoulder of lamb or 2 half-shoulders
2 tablespoons anchovy essence

Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions. Trim the root end of the shallots, peel and separate the sections, leaving the shoot-end intact. Smack the garlic cloves with your fist to loosen the skin, and then peel it away. 

Tip the canned flageolet beans into a colander or sieve, rinse under running water and drain. If using dried flageolets, boil them in plenty of unsalted water for 15 minutes and drain. Tip the beans into a large casserole or ovenproof earthenware dish. 

Push the sliced onions amongst the beans with the shallots and herbs and all but two of the peeled garlic cloves. Season very generously with pepper but lightly with salt. Pour over the wine, tomatoes and their juice, breaking up the tomatoes a bit, and squeeze over the lemon juice. 

Trim away any flaps of fat from the lamb and make several incisions in the fleshy parts with a small sharp knife. Peel and slice the two remaining garlic cloves and post the slivers in the gashes. Smear the anchovy essence over the lamb (this adds a subtle, salty pungency) and push the joint into the beans. 

Cover the casserole or use foil to make a lid and cook for 4 hours in the lower part of the oven at 275ºF/140ºC/Gas 1. Remove the lid, increase the oven temperature to 425ºF/220ºC/Gas 7 and cook for another hour. 

Serve directly from the dish, carving the meat in chunky pieces. Serve with green beans.

Arabian Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6
1 kg (2¼ lb) similar-sized potatoes
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons sultanas
Pinch of saffron stamens
4 carrots
1 chicken stock cube
400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas
400 g (14oz) can Eazy fried onions or 2 medium onions and 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
600 g (1¼ lb) roast lamb or chicken
2 tablespoons couscous
1 lemon
50 g (2 oz) bunch coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas 6. 

Boil the unpeeled potatoes in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain, return to the pan and cover with cold water. Leave for a minute or so, drain and remove the skins. Crush the potatoes into chunky pieces. 

Meanwhile, place the sultanas in a cup, add the saffron and just cover with boiling water. Leave for a few minutes to soften. Trim and scrape the carrots, then grate on the large holes of a cheese grater. Dissolve the stock cube in 500 ml (18 fl oz) boiling water. 

Drain the chickpeas, rinse with cold water and shake dry. If using Eazy fried onions, tip them into a spacious, heavy bottomed pan placed over a medium heat and stir in the ground coriander and 2 teaspoons of cumin. Cook, stirring to distribute the spices, for a couple of minutes before adding the carrots. Stir thoroughly, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. If using fresh onions, peel, halve and finely chop them and cook for about 15 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil to soften before proceeding with the recipe. 

Tear the lamb or chicken into bite-sized chunks and stir into the pan. Add the sultanas and their saffron soaking water. Stir in the couscous and then the stock. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until the couscous has hydrated and thickened the mixture. Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Coarsely chop the coriander and stir into the mixture. 

Tip into a suitable gratin-style, ovenproof dish. Spoon the crushed potato over the top. Season with the remaining cumin and dribble with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes until the potatoes are crusty and the filling is piping hot and bubbling up round the edge.
Thai Mussels
Serves 4
2 kg (4½ lb) mussels, cleaned, broken and unopened shells discarded
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small unwaxed lemon
2 red bird’s eye chillies
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
200 ml (7 fl oz) coconut cream
Freshly milled black pepper
50 g (2 oz) bunch of coriander

Leave the mussels in a colander to finish draining while you prepare the broth. 

Peel, halve and finely chop the onion and garlic. Using a zester or potato peeler, remove the zest from the lemon in wafer-thin strips. Chop quite small. Trim and split the chillies, scrape away the seeds, slice into thin strips and then across into tiny scraps – don’t forget to wash your hands to remove the chilli juices that will burn eyes and other sensitive parts. 

Heat the oil in a large pan with a good-fitting lid. Stir in the onion, lemon zest, garlic and chilli and cook, adjusting the heat so nothing burns, for 6-7 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the nam pla, coconut cream and juice from half the lemon. Season generously with black pepper. Chop the coriander, including the stalks, which should be sliced very finely. Add the stalk half of the coriander to the pan. Simmer for a couple of minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice. 

Tip the drained mussels into the pan, stir a couple of times with a wooden spoon, clamp on the lid and cook at a high heat for 5 minutes. Lift off the lid, have a look to see if the mussels are opening – it doesn’t take long – and give the pan a good shake or another stir, trying to bring the already opened mussels on the bottom to the top. Replace the lid and cook for a few more minutes. Check again that all the mussels are open, returning the lid for a couple more minutes if necessary, add the rest of the coriander, give a final stir and then tip the contents of the pan into a warmed bowl. Do not eat any mussels which haven’t opened.

Crab Bruschetta

Serves 4
1 red chilli
200 g (7 oz) approx. dressed crab, preferably with some chunky white meat
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
4 slices sourdough bread
1 big garlic clove

Trim and split the chilli. Scrape away the seeds; slice into skinny strips and then into tiny pieces. Stir the chilli into the crab. Add half the lemon juice and stir in 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a steady trickle. Stir in the coriander; season lavishly with black pepper and lightly with salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more lemon juice. Toast the bread; rub one side vigorously with peeled garlic and dribble with the remaining olive oil. Spread the bruschetta with crab. Cut the slices into quarters and serve.

Gooseberry Frangipane Tart

Serves 8
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
Pinch salt
100 g (3½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt or water
400 g (14 oz) gooseberries
2 tablespoons sugar
100 g (3½ oz) ground almonds
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/Gas 5. 

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your food processor). Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Either quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles damp breadcrumbs or pulse in the food processor. Stir or briefly pulse the yoghurt into the mixture, until the dough seems to want to cling together. Form into a ball; dust with extra flour if it seems too wet, adding a little extra yoghurt or water if it seems too dry. To avoid shrinkage when the pastry is cooked, cover and leave for 30 minutes before rolling. Butter a 20 cm loose-bottomed flan tin and roll out the pastry to fit. Cover with tinfoil and weight it with rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, top and tail the gooseberries and place in a saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and not quite enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat immediately and cook for 1 minute. Drain the gooseberries and leave to cool. Blitz the ground almonds, butter and caster sugar in a food processor for 1 minute. Add the eggs and pulse briefly until blended. Arrange the gooseberries in the pre-baked pastry case, pour over the frangipane and bake until the top is firm, risen and golden, checking after 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the collar. 

Serve in wedges.

Foolproof Food

Snotched Herring or Mackerel

2-3 herring or mackerel per person
This is arguably the best way of cooking fresh-from-the-sea herring or mackerel. It is certainly the simplest. ‘Snotch’ is a Cornish term which means slashing the fish two or three times in the middle of both sides so that the plump middle of the fish cooks as quickly as the thinner ends.

The fish need to be gutted and scaled but heads and tails are left intact. If cooking under the grill, lay the fish on foil generously spread over the grill pan to avoid smelly washing-up. (The foil is also useful for wrapping up bones, etc. after you’ve finished.) Place the pan under a very hot grill. As the fish begins to cook, the slashes will gape open. The softer, more delicate herring takes 2-3 minutes a side, mackerel probably double that, but don’t overcook. Serve with lemon wedges and brown bread and butter. Gooseberry sauce is lovely with grilled mackerel. Make it by simmering topped and tailed gooseberries with a little sugar until very soft and then cooking them with a scoop of clotted cream until thick and sauce-like.

Hot Tips

Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Best of the Best

Published for the first time this year, this guide will alternate with its comprehensive big sister Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Guide which is widely regarded as the must-have glove compartment accessory for independent travelers in Ireland. Far from being restricted to five-star hotels and restaurants, Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: The Best of the Best offers a true Irish experience through a cross-section of the very best hospitality at all price levels.

Gardening Course with Brian Cross at Ballymaloe House 3-5 September 2006.

Brian Cross, one of Ireland’s most knowledgeable and successful gardeners will conduct an exciting short course from Ballymaloe House – the course will include visits to the best gardens and nurseries of the area and discussions on design and plant material. Tel 021-4652531, email:res@ballymaloe.ie  www.ballymaloe.ie  Ideal gift for a garden lover.

Greenbox – short leisure breaks in Ireland’s North West
Healthy Hen Parties, Golf & Gourmet Breaks, Teddy Bear Weekends – www.greenbox.ie
Greenbox supports low impact, culturally sensitive, community orientated Irish Tourism.

Peter Gordon, chef of Sugar Club comes to Ballymaloe

I am so excited – Peter Gordon, chef of Sugar Club fame and one of my great heroes, has agreed to be guest chef at the Ballymaloe Cookery School this year. We met originally on a foodie trip to Barcelona about 8 years ago – I was struck by his passion for food, his curiosity and his self-deprecating humour. Even though he was a super star among London chefs, he was totally grounded, not a universal trait among celebrity chefs – altogether a nice guy.

New Zealand-born Peter is co-owner and head chef of London's Providores and Tapa Room, and is renowned as a leading light of the Antipodean fusion-style of cookery. 
Peter began his career at the age of 17 as an apprentice in Melbourne. With this grounding he spent the next year travelling around south-east Asia, India and Nepal - an experience that was the catalyst to his development of the fusion style of blending East and West cuisines.
Back in New Zealand in 1986, he became head chef of the original Sugar Club in Wellington. Its success convinced the owners to transplant it to Notting Hill in 1995, where he was again appointed head chef. The Sugar Club quickly became one of the hottest tickets in town and picked up a Time Out award only a year later. The best-selling Sugar Club Cookbook followed soon after alongside monthly columns for glossies and several TV appearances.

He left the Sugar Club in 1999 and two years later got together with Anna Hansen and they opened the Providores and Tapa Room to the same critical and public acclaim as the Sugar Club. He also set up the annual charity event Who's Cooking Dinner? in 1999 to raise money for leukaemia research. Like everything else he's been involved in, it's been a roaring success.

Peter also opened a restaurant, dine by Peter Gordon in Auckland, New Zealand in 2005 in the gorgeous 5 star SKYCITY Grand Hotel. Peter now travels to lovely New Zealand 4 times a year to implement seasonal menu changes assisted by his head chef Cobus Klopper and restaurant manager Julie Woodyear-Smith. The menu in New Zealand is based on exceptional regional New Zealand ingredients (fresh wasabi, Wagyu beef, manuka honey, kumara, baby paua (black abalone), avocado oil, native herbs…) combined with the finest ingredients from around the world. 

Peter and Michael, partners since 1988, have also invested in a new vineyard in Kurau, North Otago, called Waitaki Braids. The wines will be made by famed New Zealand winemaker Michelle Richardson. The area is an exciting new region, which will soon develop a reputation for its Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and other cool climate varietals. 

Peter also consults for Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Lamb, Foods from Spain, London’s Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the fantastic changa restaurant in Istanbul and PUBLIC restaurant in New York. Although he is a flag waver for eclectic and exciting Fusion Food, he is also passionate about traditionally made British Cheese and judges at the annual British Cheese Awards, organized by friend and fellow New Zealander Juliet Harbutt. 

We are delighted to welcome Peter to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on 17th July 2006 to teach a 1 day course – www.cookingisfun.ie  Tel 021-4646785. Here are some recipes from Peter’s book ‘Cook at Home with Peter Gordon’ (Hodder & Stoughton)
Learn to Cook  with Peter Gordon at Ballymaloe
Buy this book from Amazon

Duck, ginger and peanut spring rolls with ginger dipping sauce

from Peter serves these spring rolls as canapés.
Makes 12-15

2 large duck legs, approx. 500-600g (18-20oz)
2 teasp. salt
2 ‘thumbs’ of ginger, peeled and finely minced
100g (3½oz) roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 cup coriander leaves
8 spring onions, finely sliced
10 x 15cm (6in) square, spring wrappers
1 egg, beaten, to seal the wrappers
300ml (10fl.oz) soy sauce
50ml (2 fl.oz) cider vinegar
50ml (2 fl.oz) light honey

Put the duck legs into a saucepan, cover them with cold water, add the salt, bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 60 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the liquid. Remove and discard the skin, then take the flesh off the bones and shred it finely. Mix it with half the ginger, all of the peanuts, the coriander and spring onions then taste for seasoning. Separate the spring roll wrappers, then stack them on top of each other to prevent them drying out. (They separate best at room temperature.) Have them in front of you in the shape of a diamond. Brush the egg-wash along the corner furthest away from you, then place a heaped tablespoon or so of duck mixture, shaped into a fat sausage, running left to right in the centre. Roll the edge closest to you tightly over the filling, then fold each side (left and right) over it, overlapping slightly. Roll it away from you towards the egg-wash until you have a firm, sealed spring roll. Place it on a tray lined with clingfilm. Continue until you have used all the mixture.

Make the ginger dipping sauce: put the remaining ginger, the soy, vinegar and honey into a saucepan. Simmer to reduce by half, then strain.

Deep-fry the rolls in oil at 180C, 6-8 at a time, until golden.

Marinated Salmon and Cucumber Salad

Makes a perfect light lunch or early supper on a hot day.
Serves 2 as a small snack

¼ teasp. wasabi powder
20ml (2 dessertp) lemon juice
250g (9oz) salmon fillet, boned and skinned, thinly sliced into 8 pieces
⅓ cucumber, seeded and coarsely grated
½ teasp. caster sugar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
50ml (2fl.oz) soy sauce

Dissolve the wasabi in the lemon juice and mix it with the salmon. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes, stirring once. Meanwhile mix the cucumber with the sugar and put it in the fridge. Just before serving, drain and discard the liquid from the cucumber, then mix the cucumber with the marinated salmon and spring onions and serve in small bowls, with the soy sauce drizzled over to taste.

Salad of spicy chicken, coriander and peanuts with green yoghurt sauce

This salad will need to be kept cold so if you are bringing it on a picnic put it in a coolbox. Can be adapted by adding chunks or ripe mango or pear, more or less chilli or some fresh Thai basil.
Serves 6

3 chicken legs, skinned and boned
3 chicken breasts, skin and wing bones removed
2 hot red chillies, stems removed, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teasp. ground coriander seeds
1 teasp. cumin seeds
100ml (3½ fl.oz) cooking oil
50ml (2fl.oz) Thai fish sauce
50ml (2fl.oz) water
2 cups coriander leaves, picked from the stems
1 cup mint leaves
8 spring onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely crushed
300ml (10 fl.oz) Greek style yoghurt
1 cup peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas 8

Put the chicken legs and breasts into a bowl. Place the next 8 ingredients into a blender (not a food processor) and puree to a paste. Pour the paste over the chicken pieces, mix well, then place them in a roasting dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn them over and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish and leave it to cool. Drain the juices from the roasting dish into a jug.

Meanwhile, put half of the coriander, the mint, spring onions and garlic into a food processor, roughly chop, add the yoghurt and blend well, add a pinch of salt, then place in the fridge in a clean bowl.
Cut the chicken into chunks, mix it with half of the roasting dish juices, the remaining coriander and the peanuts and mix well. Leave to chill for a few hours.

To serve, simply spoon the yoghurt mixture on top of the chicken, and you’re ready.

Foolproof Food

Mango, banana, cardamom and yoghurt lassi

Lassis are to be found all over India, they are often plain, sometimes salted and are always a refreshing drink to accompany a spicy meal.
Serves 4

500ml (18fl.oz) plain yoghurt
200ml (7 fl.oz) cold water
1 large ripe mango, peeled, then the flesh taken off the stone and roughly chopped
1 banana, peeled and sliced into 8
½ teasp. ground cardamom
Juice of 1 large lime or lemon
100ml (3½ fl.oz) runny honey
1 cup ice cubes

Put the yoghurt, water, mango and banana into a blender and puree for 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients, and puree for another 30 seconds. You can either drink it now, or pour it into a Thermos with a few extra ice cubes to keep it cold.

Tomato, basil and ginger dressing

This light dressing goes particularly well with grilled duck, cold roast pork, poached chicken and grilled tuna. It is also good as a salad dressing or poured over grilled vegetables. Once again, you will need a blender and very ripe sweet tomatoes.
Enough for 8 main course servings

200ml (7fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
400g (14oz) ripe tomatoes, washed and quartered
A generous handful of basil leaves
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely grated (optional)
1 teasp. salt
1 teasp. freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender, in the order above, and process to a reddish pink puree. It will take around 45 seconds. Taste for seasoning, then serve. This will keep in the fridge for 1 day, but remember to serve it at room temperature.

Ginger Crème Caramel

The addition of ginger to crème caramel is a match made in culinary heaven. The creaminess combined with the refreshing bite of ginger is fantastic.
Serves 6

400g (14oz) caster sugar
100ml (3½ fl.oz) water
600ml (1 pint) milk
400ml (14 fl.oz) double cream
80g (3oz) stem ginger, finely sliced
7 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170C/400F/gas 6

First make a bain-marie: fill a roasting tin with 3cm (1¼ in) hot water and place it in the oven on the middle shelf. Now bring half of the sugar and all the water to the boil in a saucepan and continue to boil until it caramelises. Do not stir or the caramel may crystallise. When the caramel has turned a dark golden colour, pour it very carefully into the ramekins and leave it to set. (A handy hint: to clean the saucepan, put boiling water into it and boil for a few minutes to dissolve any caramel left behind.) Put the milk, cream and ginger into a saucepan and slowly bring it to the boil, pour it slowly into the egg mixture while whisking gently then divide it among 6 x 300ml (10 fl.oz) ovenproof ramekins. Sit them in the bain-marie and pour in more hot water to come three-quarters of the way up their sides. Cook for 35 minutes, then test them by inserting a thin knife into the centre: it should come out clean but if it doesn’t cook them for 3-5 minutes more and test again.

Take the ramekins out of the bain-marie and leave them to cool before covering them and placing them in the fridge to firm up over at least 3 hours.

To serve, run a blunt knife around the sides of each ramekin then gently shake it from side to side. Invert it on a plate and tip out the crème caramel with the syrup.

Warm walnut whiskey and sultana cake with mango and mascarpone

This cake may be served warm as a pudding, with afternoon tea or even as a wedding cake, covered with marzipan. It will also keep in an airtight tin for 3 days.
Serves 10-12

200g (7oz) walnut halves
250g (9oz) raisins, currants, muscatels or a mixture
280g (10oz) butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm (¾in) chunks
400g (14oz) light brown sugar
3 eggs
120ml (4fl.oz) Irish whiskey
350g (12oz) flour
3 teasp. baking powder
2 large ripe mangoes, stoned, peeled and cut into chunks
200g (7oz) mascarpone

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3

Line a 30cm cake tin with non-stick baking parchment. Put the walnuts and sultanas in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring it to the boil, then simmer rapidly for 10 minutes. Drain them in a colander, discarding the liquid, and return them to the pan. Add the butter to the pan and stir over a low heat until it has melted. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar for 30 seconds, then stir in the walnut mixture and the whiskey. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir to incorporate. Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and bake it in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes. The cake is cooked when a thin knife or skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cook in the tin. Turn out. Spread the mascarpone over it and scatter on the mango. 


Hot Tips

The Irish Cookbook by Carla Blake has just been published by Mercier Press – This is a revised and updated edition of Carla’s much-loved book which was first published in 1971. In this book traditional Irish dishes are adapted to suit present day tastes and lifestyles. The book includes plenty of modern recipes using our finest fresh seafood, farmhouse vegetables, prime Irish meats and cheeses. Carla passionately believes that tasty food that is good for you can be achieved by anyone. 

Carla is well known for her weekly column in the Irish Examiner and many of her readers have visited her wonderful garden in Conna over the years. A founder of the Irish Food Writers Guild, Carla has been writing about food since 1974. She is featured in the dictionary of Munster Women Writers 1800-2000 which cites her journalism as a unique record of 1960’s and 1970’s Irish social history. The Irish Cookbook €9.99.

India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj

Every now and then I come across a food writer who really excites me. I have just discovered an Indian cook called Monisha Bharadwaj. I should have known about her earlier, because she has already written several award-winning, books ‘Indian in 6’, ‘Stylish Indian in Minutes’, ‘The Indian Kitchen’. By sheer coincidence there was a review copy of her new book ‘India’s Vegetarian Cooking’ on my desk on my return from India. I quickly flicked through the pages and was immediately gripped – its my kind of food. The majority of people in India are vegetarians and so India is blessed with the most imaginative and tasty vegetarian cuisines in the world, infinitely varied from region to region. Travelling around India as a child, Monisha was introduced to the staggering variety of Indian cuisine: aged six, she had sampled Gujarai thali in Rajkot, by eight she was familiar with the tandoori dishes of Amritsar and by twelve the family had covered most of South India with its hot Kanjeevaram idlis and chutneys. Growing up in cosmopolitan Mumbai, she had the opportunity to sample (and cook) food from all over India.

Buy this Book from Amazon

Monisha lovingly guides us through the subleties of regional Indian cuisine using simple, delectable vegetarian recipes. She illustrates the regional differences between the diverse corners of India and links the cultural, religious and horticultural detail to the recipes. There are notes on choosing chillies for heat and for flavour, on different varieties of rice or lentils, and on the spices used in quintessential Indian vegetarian cooking. 

Indian cuisine is one of the most popular forms of cooking in the world today but, as Monisha shows, the myriad regional varieties of healthy and exotic recipes have yet to be discovered by many Western kitchens. The history, tradition and ritual associated with food – all so essential a part of Indian life – come alive in the comprehensive celebration of India’s vegetarian fare. 

From the finest Gujarati thalis to the choicest tandoori-cooked foods in the north and the steaming hot idlis and chutneys of the south. From the west comes a stunning array of fresh vegetables and from the east delicious sweets good enough to tempt even the most ardent calorie counter.

Encompassing the entire range of Indian cooking, from Dal Bukhura (Black Beans Cooked in Butter and Cream) in the North, to Kirla Ghassi (Bamboo Shoots in Coconut Milk) in the South, via everything from chapattis to chutneys, this is an inexhaustible guide. Whether you want a snack, a quick lunch or a lavish meal this book will bring a sense of adventure to your kitchen.

Here are some recipes from India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj
Published by Kyle Cathie

Buy this Book from Amazon

Green Peas with Cumin and Ginger

- Vatana Bhaaji
This a fresh looking and great tasting stir-fry. You could fill into wraps, add a few sliced tomatoes and eat for lunch. Or sprinkle a bit of coconut on top for variety and also stir in a few spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt for an instant summer salad.
Serves 4

2 tablesp sunflower oil
½ teasp cumin seeds
300g (11oz) green peas
½ teasp. turmeric powder
2 fresh green chillies, slit down the middle but kept whole with the stalk
Pinch of sugar
Salt
2cm (¾ inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled

Heat the oil in a kadhai or saucepan and add the cumin seeds.
As they sizzle, add the green peas and stir. Sprinkle in the turmeric and add the green 
chillies. Stir for 1 minute.
Pour in a couple of tablespoons of water, add the sugar and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook without a lid until the peas are soft and done.
Remove from the heat, grate the ginger on top and gently fold it in with a wooden spoon.
Serve warm.

Sweet Star Fruit Preserve – karambal ka murabba

Preserve and pickle-making are traditional skills passed down from mother to daughter. Monisha remembers her grandmother making a variety of mango preserves every summer – hot, sweet and salty. This star fruit preserve can be stored for about a month in the fridge.
Serves 4

2 large juicy star fruits (carambola), sliced
100g (3½ oz) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of saffron strands

Put the star fruit with half the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan. Pour in 150ml (5fl.oz) water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the fruit is tender but holds its shape. Strain the fruit out of the syrup and reserve.

Add in the remaining sugar to the cooking liquor in the pan and cook until it becomes a syrup of single thread consistency. Test this by putting a drop of syrup on a plate and dabbing it with your finger – it should feel sticky and thick.

Add the lemon juice, saffron and cooked fruit to the syrup and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cool completely and store in a clean, airtight glass in the fridge.

French Beans with Mustard – farasbeechi bhaji
This stir-fry is from Maharashtra. The beans must be chopped quite finely to get the best flavour – you could use runner beans equally well. Cooking without a lid on the pan keeps the beans green and fresh looking.
Serves 4

2 tablesp. sunflower oil
1 teasp black mustard seeds
½ teasp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
300g (11oz) French beans, finely chopped
Salt
1 tablesp lemon juice
3 tablesp desiccated coconut

Heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds. As they pop, add the cumin and onion. Stir and fry until the onion is soft. 
Add the French beans and salt. Pour in a few tablespoons of water and cook uncovered until the beans are tender.
Take off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and serve hot, sprinkled with the coconut.

Salted lassi with ginger – adrak ki lassi

This is a wonderful drink in the summer. Ayurveda, the Indian system of holistic health, suggests that ginger is good for stimulating the appetite. It is also called ‘maha aushadhi’ or great medicine because it has so many health properties. It is best to peel ginger lightly: the essential oil to which it owes its efficacy lies just beneath the skin.
Serves 4

1 teasp cumin seeds, dry toasted and crushed in a mortar
300ml (10 fl.oz) cold water
200g (7oz) natural yoghurt
1 teasp finely grated fresh ginger
Salt

Combine all the ingredients, whisk well and serve chilled.

Indian Rice Pudding – chaaval ki kheer

Kheer is a generic term given to puddings that resemble creams. They can be made with nuts or fruit and always have a milk component. They are considered food for the gods. Rice kheer is made all over India and this is the northern version. In the south, cooks add slivers of coconut. Broken basmati rice is available commercially.
Serves 4

150g (5oz) broken basmati rice (this gives a better, sticky texture to the pudding)
600ml (1 pint) full fat milk
4 tablesp ground almonds
150ml (5fl.oz) evaporated milk
Sugar to taste
2 tablesp chopped pistachio nuts
½ teasp powdered cardamom

Bring the rice to the boil with the milk in a heavy pan, then allow to simmer for 1 hour or until mushy. Mash the rice roughly with a whisk while still on the heat.
Blend the ground almonds into the evaporated milk and add to the rice. Stir until thick and creamy.
Add the sugar and pistachios. Sprinkle over the cardamom powder and stir well. Serve chilled or warm, depending on the weather; delicious warm on a winter’s evening.

Spiced Turnips – shalgam masala

Turnips are commonly used in the north, either in stir-fries or pickles.
Serves 4

2 tablesp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teasp ginger-garlic paste, see below
2 fresh green chillies, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 teasp cumin powder
1 teasp coriander powder
½ teasp turmeric powder
Salt
300g (11oz) turnips, peeled and diced
1 teasp jaggery or brown sugar

Finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Heat the oil in a kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the chillies.
Add the tomatoes, the spice powders and salt. Stir until well blended.
Mix in the turnips. Add about 150ml (5fl.oz) hot water and stir well.
Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the turnips are cooked.
Stir in the jaggery or sugar, lightly mashing the turnips as you go.
Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve the turnips piping hot.

Ginger-garlic paste
These are almost always used together in Indian cooking. 
Take equal quantities of each and whiz in a blender until smooth. 
You could make a big batch and freeze in thin sheets between layers of plastic, but make sure to put in containers away from other food in your freezer. Then break off a piece when you need it and add straight to the pan.

Cauliflower and Potatoes in spices – aloo gobi

This combination of cauliflower and potato is common all over India but in the Punjab, it is quite a speciality, served with a roti and a lentil dish.
Serves 4

3 tablesp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, sliced
½ teasp ginger-garlic paste (see Spiced Turnip recipe)
2 fresh green chillies, chopped
150g (5oz) potatoes, peeled and cubed
100g (3½ oz) fresh tomatoes, chopped
150g (5oz) cauliflower, washed and cut into florettes
½ teasp turmeric powder
1 teasp garam masala powder
Salt

Heat the oil in a kadhai or heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and fry until soft. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few seconds.

Add the chillies and the potatoes. Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking. Add the tomatoes and allow them to soften.
Tip in the cauliflower, turmeric, garam masala powder and salt. Mix well. Reduce the heat and cook, adding a few spoonfuls of water if it begins to stick to the pan. When the vegetables are completely done, in about 20 minutes, remove from the heat and serve.

Note: You could cook the vegetables for a little less time and have them hold their shape if you prefer

Foolproof Food

Cucumber and Yogurt Raita

This cooling relish is good served with spicy food.
¼ medium sized cucumber
½ tablesp. onion, finely chopped 
½ rounded teasp. salt
½-1 ripe tomato, diced
1 tablesp. chopped coriander leaves, or ½ tablesp. parsley and ½ tablesp. mint 
¼ pint (150ml) plain yogurt
½ teasp. ground cumin seed

Peel the cucumber if you prefer, cut in half and remove the seeds then cut into ¼ inch (5mm) dice. Put this into a bowl with the onion, sprinkle with salt and allow to degorge for 5-10 minutes. Drain, add the diced tomato the chopped coriander or parsley and mint to the yogurt. Heat the cumin seeds, crush lightly and add to the raita, taste and correct seasoning. Chill before serving.


Hot Tips 

Ballincollig Farmers Market – every Wednesday in the Village Shopping Centre Ballincollig from 10-2.30

Euro-Toques Small Food Initiative-
Over the past two years Euro-Toques Ireland have coordinated the Small Food Initiative; a project which aimed to bring small food producers and chefs from the border and cross border region together in the hope that they would establish contact and potentially supply links. The project is funded by the Irish Cross Border Area Interreg through the Interreg 111A Programme Ireland/Northern Ireland - www.goodfood.ie  

Café Now open at Stephen Pearce Gallery, Shanagarry, Co Cork
10-5 Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday – serving morning coffee, lunches, afternoon tea– delicious home baking. 021-4646807

Inn by the Harbour, Ballycotton, Co Cork – chef Eugene Bellard is doing Pub food with a twist – all home cooked using local produce including fresh fish from the harbour – daily specials – lunch 12.30-3.30 Monday – Saturday, Dinner 6.30-9.00 Thursday, Friday and Saturday – open Sunday 12.30-6.30 - booking advisable. Tel 021-4646768
Bed and breakfast also available.

Ryans on the Mall, Riverside Way, Midleton– open 8.30-6 Monday to 
Saturday – breakfast, lunch, snacks…Tel 021-4639960

Antony Worrall Thompson’s GL Diet

During all the years I’ve written for the Irish Examiner, I’ve seen innumerable diet fads come and go, but have never advocated any regime. I simply encourage readers to seek out fresh naturally produced local food in season. Nothing I’ve seen or read has changed my mind, but the more I learn about the mass production of food and the problems associated with the intensive production systems and factory farming, the more convinced I am that organic is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Antony Worrall Thompson, one of the UK’s best loved chefs, presenter of Saturday Kitchen and co-presenter of BBC Food and Drink Programme, is passionate about organic food, good animal husbandry and the importance of local producers.

Antony and his Irish wife Jay own four restaurants in London, including Notting Grill and Kew Grill. Both restaurants specialize in organic meat, fruit and vegetables, often supplied from their own farm. Antony is a keen proponent of healthy eating since he was diagnosed with Syndrome X, a pre-diabetic condition. He vowed to reverse this condition by eating well, losing weight and giving up the ‘smokes’.

He structured his diet on the sound principles of the Glycaemic Index – the G. I. measures the speed at which foods are broken down by the body to form glucose, the body’s source of energy. High G.I. foods break down quickly and leave you looking for the next food fix. Low G. I. foods break down more slowly and leave you feeling fuller, longer. It is these low G.I. foods that form the core of the diet.

The G.I. Diet makes all the calculations for you by listing all foods in three traffic light colour categories: red light foods which you avoid if you want to lose weight; yellow light listings are foods that are to be used occasionally; and green light foods – eat as much as you like.

In short, The G.I. Diet will not let you go hungry or feel deprived. It is simplicity itself .

It made perfect sense, so Antony embarked on this new exciting way of eating and of course wrote a book about his experience of the diet. He made it his mission to prove that one could still eat yummy, healthy food without it being boring.

The book ‘Antony Worrall Thompson’s GI Diet’ has to date sold over 350,000 copies. Little did Antony realize when he started to write the book that it would be the diet of 2005. 

The GL (Glycaemic load) Diet is the next exciting extension of GI principles. As it is a more precise calculation of GI and portion sizes, it allows an even bigger range of foods in your diet with more generous portions. 

Researchers have found that not all carbohydrates are the same, which means that you can’t group all the carbohydrate-containing foods together, as some diets do. Some carbohydrates are digested more slowly – they are said to have a low GI – which means that our blood sugar levels don’t yo-yo up and down and we feel satisfied for longer. It is when our blood sugar dips that we feel hungry and prone to having a fit of the munchies.

So, basing a diet around carbohydrates with a low GL without eliminating any of the important food groups means we can lose weight while enjoying a wide range of foods and a balanced diet.

The GL (Glycaemic Load) Diet Made Simple is the third book in Antony’s series, based on the GI diet. It takes the diet one step further by balancing foods on the plate, looking at portion sizes which the GI doesn’t do. For instance, carrots have a medium GI but its rating is based on 500g which of course you wouldn’t eat in one portion. The GL calculates the glucose effect of a normal portion size, say 80g, which means that the glycaemic load is in fact very low.

The real success of this diet is not just about losing weight but more important keeping it off.

The front of the book gives lots of clear information on GI and GL food tables so you don’t need to do any complicated calculations.

Even if one doesn’t have a propensity towards diabetes or syndrome X, this book is worth buying because choosing foods that release their energy slowly into our systems, rather than sugar laden goodies that give us an instant boost and then fizzle away, must be a good idea. 

Buy Antony Worrall Thompson’s GL Diet From Amazon    published by Kyle Cathie.

Energy Bars

Wholesome bars of goodness, these make a great snack with a glass of semi-skimmed milk. Wholegrain crispy rice is available in some supermarkets and health food shops.
Makes 12

25g (1oz) desiccated coconut
150g (5oz) ready to eat dried apricots
50g (2oz) dried cherries, cranberries or blueberries
2tbsp vegetable oil
2tbsp peanut butter
3tbsp clear honey 
1tsp natural vanilla extract 
100g (3½oz) whole rolled porridge oats
50g (2oz) wholegrain crispy rice
50g (2oz) raw cane soft brown sugar
25g (1oz) sunflower seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
50g (2oz) good-quality dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, melted (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Spread the coconut on a baking tray and cook for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Alternatively, dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan.
Finely chop the apricots and cherries or whiz in a food processor.
Put the oil, peanut butter and honey in a heatproof bowl in the oven for 1-2 minutes or in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, just until they are easy to mix. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate until well combined then press firmly into a lightly oiled shallow 19cm square tin. Bake for 20 minutes then press lightly again. Leave to cool in the tin.
If wished, drizzle with melted chocolate and leave to set, then cut into 12 bars. 

Seared Scallops with Crushed Minted Peas

The secret to cooking scallops is to turn them in olive oil to moisten, then get the pan very hot before you add them. For a special presentation thread them onto rosemary stalks before cooking.
Serves 2 

4 large fresh scallops (or 8 small ones)
1tsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper 
PEAS
15g (½oz) unsalted butter
6 spring onions thinly sliced
175g (6oz) frozen peas 
150ml (5fl.oz) vegetable stock
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint leaves

Wash the scallops and pat dry on kitchen paper. Turn them in the oil and season with pepper. Set aside while you prepare the peas. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and soften for 1-2 minutes. Add the peas and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir the mint through then pulse in a food processor until roughly crushed. Return to the pan season with pepper and keep warm. 

Put a small non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the scallops and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side (no longer or they will become tough). Remove from the pan and serve at once on top of the crushed peas. This is delicious with chunky oven-baked chips. 

Fiery Quinoa

Quinoa is a South American Seed which can be used as a (gluten-free) alternative to rice or couscous. This is a tasty snack on its own with a green salad, or serve it as an accompaniment to grilled meats. Toasting the quinoa in a dry frying pan until it starts to pop enhances its flavour.
Serves 4

250g (9oz) quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
2 bay leaves
1tsp dried crushed chillies
400g (14oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
4tbsp freshly chopped parsley 

Put the quinoa in a non-stick frying pan and dry-fry over a medium heat, stirring frequently until it starts to pop.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until lightly golden if it starts to stick add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water.

Add the garlic, bay leaves, chillies and tomatoes to the onions with an equal quantity of water and bring to a simmer, stir in the quinoa. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Stir in the parsley.

Prawn and Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Soak beansprouts in cold water for 5 minutes then drain thoroughly – it really improves their crunch! You can replace the rice noodles with other noodles such as soba (buckwheat).
Serves 4 

100g (3½oz) thin rice noodles
250g (9oz) cooked peeled prawns
150g (5oz) beansprouts
150g (5oz) sugar-snap peas, roughly shredded
4 spring onions, shredded
2tbsp freshly chopped coriander 
1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan.

Dressing
75g (3oz) coarse peanut butter
1tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
1tbsp clear honey 
½ tsp crushed garlic 
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2tbsp rice vinegar

For the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with 2 tablespoons hot water from the kettle.
Put the noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave to soak for 5 minutes then drain thoroughly and refresh in cold water. Drain thoroughly once more.
Combine all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, add the drained noodles, stir the dressing through and serve at once. 

Savoury Mince with Lentils

Mince is so versatile and easy to use and combining it with lentils reduces its GI as well as giving added interest and texture. This savoury dish is good as a simple meal with vegetables but also great spooned over a jacked potato – either a sweet potato or a traditional one – or with pasta. This recipe is also good for freezing.
Serves 6 

400g (14oz) very lean mince beef
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2tbsp tomato puree
400g (14oz) tinned tomatoes
200g (7oz) green lentils, rinsed
2tbsp freshly chopped parsley 
2tbsp freshly chopped chives 

Put the beef and onion in a large non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently until they are well browned. 
Add the mustard, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and tomato puree and stir well. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Add the tomatoes with 1 tin of water and bring to a simmer. 

Stir in the lentils, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes until well cooked and reduced to a rich sauce. Add the chopped herbs just before serving. 

Pork Fillet Stroganoff

Using yogurt instead of double cream dramatically reduces the calories in this dish – the cornflour is added to stabilise the yogurt as it’s warmed. Serve with noodles or brown basmati rice and a green vegetable or salad.
Serves 4 

1tbsp vegetable oil
500g (18oz) pork tenderloin, cut into thick strips about 1 cm wide 
15g (½oz) unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 
250g (9oz) closed cup mushrooms, wiped and thickly sliced 
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
1tbsp Dijon mustard 
1tsp paprika 
150g (5oz) 0% fat Greek yogurt 
1tbsp cornflour mixed with 100ml cold water 
Freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add the oil . Add the pork and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan. 
Add the butter to the pan, then the onion, mushrooms and thyme and pan fry until just softened. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mustard and paprika. 
Return the pork with its juices to the pan and mix well. Combine the yogurt and cornflour mixture and fold through the meat to warm through. Season with pepper.

You may like to add a little extra water for a thinner sauce or another tub of yogurt for a creamier sauce.
Foolproof Food

Crunchy Breakfast Cereal

A healthy alternative to shop-bought products. Choose from the variety of fruit spreads available in health food shops to vary the final flavour slightly.
Serves 4 

100g (3½oz) whole rolled oat flakes
100g (3½oz) rye flakes
25g (1oz) brazil nuts, roughly chopped 
25g (1oz) whole almonds, roughly chopped 
100g (3½oz) fruit spread (with out added sugar)
50g (2oz) plain bran cereal such as All-Bran
2-3 Bananas, to serve
100-150g (3½-5oz) Berries of your choice, to serve 
Semi-skimmed milk or low-fat natural yogurt to serve 

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large roasting tin. Whisk the fruit spread with 4 tablespoons of boiling water to make a smooth puree then stir through the cereals, seeds and nuts until well mixed. Spread out evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes, stir well and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until golden. Leave to go cold then stir in the All-Bran. Store in an airtight container. 

Serve with roughly chopped banana, berries and milk or yogurt. 


Hot Tips

Second Wise Woman Weekend 26-28 May 2006 , Dromahair, Co Leitrim
A weekend of learning, discovery, celebration and fun. www.wisewomanireland.com  info@wiseowmanireland.com  Tel 071-913 4913 or 086-8286303

Hegarty’s Cheddar Cheese –
This delicious mature cheddar is available in Cork in the English Market at On the Pigs Back and Iago, The Quay Food Company in Kinsale, and in Sheridans and Superquinn in Dublin – look out for it.

Irish Foodwriters Guild (IFWG) Awards
Four Irish speciality food businesses were honoured by the IFWG for the excellence of their produce. The Awards Ceremony took place at L’Ecrivain Restaurant in Dublin.

Valerie and Alan Kingston won their award for their Glenilen Farm range of artisan dairy products produced on their small farm in Drimoleague, West Cork.

Ballycross Apple Farm, Bridgetown, Co Wexford – award for their range of artisan, pure, natural fruit juices.

Brady Family Ltd, Timahoe, Co Kildare – for its quality Irish hams.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dublin Jack and Betty Hick for traditional hand-crafted pork products. 

Third generation family firm Keelings of Co Dublin , won an accolade for the production of quality Irish-grown peppers. Until this year, 95% of peppers on the €28 million home market were imported. Producing 1,500 tonnes of peppers a year under glass, Keelings created 50 jobs and consumers have peppers on their table a day after harvesting.

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