CategoryRecipes

A Weekend in London

I spent a few days in London recently, ostensibly the purpose of the trip was to work with my editor to finalise the revised edition of the Ballymaloe Cookery Course which hopefully should be in the shops by Christmas.

I so love London, its easy to get to, bouncing with energy, great exhibitions, shows and theatres. I love the parks, the secret town gardens, (I went to see the hidden town gardens behind Spenser House this time) and of course the food.
I always want to try the new ‘best thing’, but also want to pack in old favourites.
The deal this time was that we had to break for lunch and I even managed to nip out for breakfast on a couple of occasions and I tagged a weekend on as well for good measure.
Baker and Spice is one of my favourite breakfast spots, delicious crunchy granola, thick unctuous yoghurt, real handmade breads, brioche, croissants and Danish pastries, good butter in a slab, gorgeous jams and marmalades.
The same can be said for La Fromagerie, Patricia Michelson’s iconic cheese shop and grocery. You sit at a communal table and feast on whatever the kitchen has been moved to cook that day, depending on the season and availability.
Breakfast too is a feast. The damson jam and marmalade were sublime as was my neighbour’s freshly boiled egg and soldiers. The walk-in cheese room, cooled and humidified, has arguably the best selection of cheese in best condition in London.
Next door is the Ginger Pig where those who seek out superb quality meat reared responsibly do their shopping. The meat is dry aged, dark and properly hung, lots of rare breeds. It gives me great joy to see prime roasts of beef sitting on the counter at room temperature with a tag to tell you how long it has hung for, 2,3,4,5 weeks and you pay accordingly. There’s no point in whingeing that we can’t get well hung meat. It costs the butcher more to hang the meat for longer. We need to be prepared to pay more for better quality and traditional butchering and local meat reared and nurtured by local farmers. Those who rear animals for real flavour need to be appreciated and rewarded for their efforts. There must be a difference in return, otherwise why bother.
Londoners queue up at the Ginger Pig in Moxon Street and at Borough Market and pay up to three times our normal prices for prime meat, not just beef and lamb but prime pork from traditional breeds and proper dry cured bacon like it used to be, not luminous pink from nitrates but dark, firm and dry.
The quest for real food in London is gathering momentum. There are now at least fifteen Farmers Markets in the London area. By 10 o’clock on Saturday morning the afore-mentioned Borough Market is like Patrick Street on Christmas Eve. The choice is unbearable and one needs to plan one’s campaign with military precision to make the best use of time. Pop into Brindisa first to order a ration of pata negra, the exquisite cured ham made from the acorn fed Iberico pigs from the oak forests of Andalucia. It will knock you back £16.50 for 100grams, its all hand cut so you’ll need to come back in 20 or 30 minutes to collect your precious packet. Meanwhile pick up some pimentons de Padron, some smoked paprika, a piece of fig and almond wheel and some fine sherry vinegar. If you want to enjoy a famous Brindisa Chorizo and Rocket sandwich you ‘ll need to be fast, there’s normally a queue by 9am which will last virtually all day.
Brindisa Tapa Bar on Southwark St. serves both breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday from 8am. 
Just across the road is Neal’s Yard Dairy, Randolf Hodgson’s Emporium of British and Irish cheese and several delicious homemade butters, good milk and thick unctuous yoghurt. 
For those who fancy a little sweet nothing, Konditor & Cook do a range of yummy cookies, bikkies and tiny cakes decorated with rude or romantic messages. Shoppers are prepared to queue for half an hour for the Monmouth Coffee Shop which sources its beans directly from farmers where quality is a priority and workers are paid a living wage also. There are several other terrific little cafes on the periphery of the market and don’t miss Roast-to-go, where they sell ‘pigs in blankets’ and other yummy snacks.
Jane Scotter has the best biodynamic veg in the market, you can pick up some elephant garlic from the Isle of Wight garlic stall, another stall simply sells a variety of sea salt and peppercorns from, yet another specializes in teas. Flour Power City has its bread from around the world and famous chocolate brownies piled high. There’s fish, shellfish, cured meats, pates and terrines and rare breed meats, including Andrew Sharpe’s Herdwick and Swaledale lamb and mutton from the Cumbrian hills in the Lake District, another has goose, duck and traditional breed eggs- it’s a foodlovers delight. If you can’t make Borough on Saturday, Marleybone High Street market on Sunday morning is smaller but the quality is superb.
I also had a delicious lunch in Olivo in Elizabeth Street, freshly made pasta with grated bottago (dried mullet roe), and pizza with Mozzarella, bresaola and rocket. Otto Lenghi on Upper St in Islington was another find, a deliciously stylish food shop with a café behind, unbearingly tempting salads, gorgeous sweeties, huge fluffy meringues, coffee hazelnut, raspberry and rose petal and chocolate. Cup Cakes with a fresh cherry on top, fig and blackberry galette…
In a weekend of many highlights the experience that topped them all was lunch at Petersham Nurseries Café. The salad of green and white asparagus with sarais, ricotta, anchovy and mint dressing was delicious, but most memorable was the Guinea Fowl with
Farro and Rosemary Aoili and the slow cooked Milk fed Lamb with borlotti beans and lovage salsa verde. I’ve managed to persuade Skye Gyngell to come to teach a one-day Guest chef course at the school on Saturday 8th September 2007, her food is truly sublime and truly, truly delicious. I can’t wait! – here are a few more of Skye’s recipes from her book ‘A Year in my kitchen’ published by Quadrille.

Mackerel Fillets with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cream

– Skye Gyngell
Horseradish works well alongside oily fish. You really need to grate it freshly, though this may bring tears to your eyes! Mackerel needs to be exceptionally fresh to be delicious. Ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you – if the fillets are quite large, allow two per person, if small then you will need to allow three. Mackerel also tastes best when it is very hot, so don’t let it sit around before serving.
Serves 4

4-5 mackerel, filleted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
12 slow-roasted tomato halves

Horseradish cream:
200ml crème fraiche
1 tbsp. freshly grated horseradish
1½ tsp Dijon mustard

To serve
1 tbsp very finely chopped curly parsley
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle


Start by making the horseradish cream. Put the crème fraiche in a bowl and stir in the freshly grated horseradish and mustard. Season with a pinch of salt and a tiny amount of freshly ground pepper. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate, but bring back to room temperature before serving.)
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Season the mackerel on both sides, but a little more generously on the skin side. Heat one large (or 2 smaller) non-stick ovenproof frying pans over a medium heat, then add the olive oil. When the pan is hot and lightly smoking, add the mackerel fillets, skin side down, and cook without turning or moving until the skin is golden and crunchy. Put the pan into the hot oven and cook for just under a minute, then remove.
To serve, layer the roasted tomato halves and mackerel fillets on warm serving plates, placing a dollop of horseradish cream on the bottom and top fillets. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil around the plate and serve immediately.

Slow-roasted Tomatoes
6 plum tomatoes
10g caster sugar
10g sea salt
10g freshly ground black pepper
Turn your oven on to its lowest possible setting – probably 100C/gas ¼. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay them, cut side up, in a single layer on a large baking tray. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and pepper, then sprinkle all over the cut surface of the tomatoes. Roast, undisturbed, in the oven for 3-4 hours until they shrivel up – their pointy ends turning up like Turkish slippers. Remove and set aside until ready to use. Slow-roasting itensifies the flavour, giving the tomatoes a deliciously sweet, earthy taste.

Pan-roasted guinea fowl with parsley sauce – Skye Gyngell
Serves 6

6 guinea fowl supremes 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little light olive oil, for cooking

Parsley sauce
150g curly parsley, stems removed, plus extra to serve
500ml double cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1½ tsp finely grated lemon zest, or to taste

First make the parsley sauce. Put a pan of well salted water on to boil (it should be as salty as the sea). Plunge the parsley leaves into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and refresh in iced water (to keep your parsley a beautiful, bright colour). Drain and set aside.
Pour the cream into a heavy-based pan and bring almost to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to bubble to reduce by about a third, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the blanched parsley leaves and boil for a moment longer. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender until you have a beautiful fine texture.
Add a generous grating of nutmeg and the lemon zest, then season well with salt and a good grinding of pepper. Your sauce is now ready; keep it warm.

Preheat the oven to 220/Gas 7. Season the guinea fowl generously with salt and pepper all over. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and heat until smoking. Pour in about 1 tbsp olive oil, then brown the guinea fowl in batches. Lay two supremes in the pan, skin side down, and leave to colour for 3 minutes – resist the temptation to play with them. Transfer to a baking tray (without turning) and brown the rest of the supremes in the same way.
Finish cooking the guinea fowl in the oven for 8 minutes or until the skin is crisp and crunchy and the breast meat is succulent, moist and cooked through. Leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
Arrange the guinea fowl supremes on warm plates, on a bed of swede puree if you like, and ladle the warm parsley sauce generously over the top. Scatter over chopped parsley and serve.

Strawberry Granita

- Skye Gyngell
Serves 6


125g caster sugar
250ml water 
375g Irish strawberries
Juice of ½ lemon
Pouring cream, to serve (optional)


To make the sugar syrup, put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the sugar syrup has cooled.
Hull the strawberries and puree in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice. Pass through a sieve into a bowl. When the sugar syrup is completely cool, combine with the strawberry puree.
Pour the mixture into a shallow freezerproof container and place in the freezer for about 2 hours until partially frozen.
Remove from the freezer and stir up the mixture with a fork, dragging in the frozen granita from the sides. Don’t beat it as you would a sorbet – the texture of the granita is not the same, it is meant to be icy and crunchy. Return to the freezer until set.
To serve, scoop the granita into glasses. If you are feeling really decadent, you could add a drizzle of cream.

Pizza with Mozzarella, Bresaola and Rocket


Brush the pizza base with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella, season with cracked pepper and salt.
Slide into the oven. Cook for 1½ - 8 minutes, depending on oven. Lay 5 pieces of Bresaola on top.
Put a medium bunch of fresh rocket in the middle and drizzle with olive oil.


Foolproof Food

Doune McKenzie’s Cheese Biscuits

A brilliant recipe for using up left over bits of cheese, add a little blue cheese if available.
Any bits of left over cheese eg. Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, Coolea, Cashel Blue … a little soft cheese may also be added but you will need some hard cheese to balance the flavour.
Weigh cheese then use equal amounts of butter and plain white flour.
Grate the cheese - rinds and all. Dice the butter. Cream the butter and stir in the flour and grated cheese and a little salt, form into a roll like a long sausage, about 1½ inches thick. Alternatively whizz in a food processor until it forms a dough, shape using a little flour if necessary. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 -2 hours until solid. 
Remove, unwrap, brush with egg wash and roll in sesame seeds, or a mixture of sesame and nigella seeds. Cover and chill again for another hour.
Slice into rounds - about one-third inch thick. Arrange on a baking tray, cook in a preheated oven 250ºC/475ºF/regulo 9 for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. 
Leave to cool for a couple of seconds then transfer to a wire rack. Best eaten on the day they are made as they soften quite quickly.
Serve them just as they are, or use them as a base for a variety of toppings – perhaps a sliver of cheddar and a dollop of Ballymaloe Country Relish or Ballymaloe Jalapeno Relish. Goats cheese and sundried tomatoes are also delicious, or simply top the goats cheese with a dab of pesto and a slice of cherry tomato. They are also yummy sandwiched together with cream cheese, chives and cucumber pickle.

Hot Tips

When in London don’t miss -

La Fromagerie – 2-4 Moxon St. London WIU 4EW Tel 020 7935 0341
Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon St. London W1U 4EW, Tel 020 7935 7788
Baker and Spice – 54-56 Elizabeth St. SW1W 9PB, Tel 020 7730 3033
Tapas Brindisa, 18-20 Southwark St. SE1 1DJ, Tel 0871 4263056
Ottolenghi – 1 Holland St. Kensington, W8 4NA Tel 020 7937 0003(also in Notting Hill and Islington)
Olivo – 21 Eccleston St. SW1W 9LX Tel 0871 0753940
Petersham Nurseries Café – Richmond, Surrey. Tel 020 8605 3627

Covent Garden – there are lots of wonderful tempting little shops tucked away in the streets around Covent Garden – at 28-32 Shelton Street, WC2H 9JE – Cath Kidston’s beautiful vintage inspired floral tableware and home accessories – oil cloth, fabric by the metre for curtains and tablecloths, clothing, aprons, picnic sets…..
www.cathkidston.co.uk  Tel 020 7836 4803 
Next door at 32 Shelton Street is the Pout Shop with their delicious award-winning cosmetics – much loved by celebrities - great gifts beautifully packaged. www.pout.co.uk  Tel 020 7379 0379
Neals Yard Remedies is also nearby at 15 Neal’s Yard with their range of organic skin care and natural remedies www.nealsyardremedies.com  Tel 020 73797222

Delicious Gourmet Food Store now open on Well Road, Douglas, Cork – www.delicious.ie . Free parking to rear of store. 
Prepared meals, starters and desserts, breads, cakes, jams, cheeses……specializing in gluten Free and wheat free products – Tel 021-4936846

Growing Awareness Events
The aim of Growing Awareness is to ensure that everyone has access to food grown and produced in a way that restores respect for the earth, respect for food and respect for farmers and growers – check out their forthcoming events on www.growingawareness.org

The 5 tier Food Pyramid

Just last week the Irish Heart Foundation issued a press release ‘reaffirming the established position that consistently eating a wide variety of fresh foods including lots of fruit and vegetables, regular consumption of fish and wholegrain foods and eating less fat, sugar and salt is the best nutritional approach for remaining heart healthy and keeping a healthy weight.’

Nutritionists urge us to use the 5 tier Food Pyramid to plan healthy meals, yet confusion abounds. The pyramid has colour photos of many highly processed foods which surely gives a mixed message. This was brought home to me the other day when my ten year old niece Fiadh who is very ‘real food’ aware contacted me to ask why the Food Pyramid was encouraging people to eat lots of obviously processed food.

Layer 5- The layer at the base indicates the foods that we can tuck into free of guilt, like bread, cereals and potatoes. Sliced bread is scarcely a healthy option to encourage people to eat in volume, nor are bought breakfast cereals which invariably contain high levels of salt and sugar. Potatoes can indeed be a healthy option, its best to buy unwashed Irish potatoes rather than washed imported potatoes. Check that they haven’t been grown with excessive nitrogen which dilutes the flavour and affects the keeping time. 

Layer 4 - On the green layer there are fruit and vegetables. When possible, buy organic produce. Fresh fruit and lots of vegetables are indisputably good for us but again there’s not much point in buying lots of jet lagged produce that has flown half way round the world and has residues of pesticides and herbicides. Freshly squeezed orange juice takes seconds to make and delivers infinitely more vitamins and minerals than the pasteurized concentrate sold in bottles and tetra packs.

Layer 3- The middle layer has milk, cheese and yogurt. We are urged to go easy on dairy products, just 3 portions a day, I’m sure that’s good advice but it also depends on the quality of the milk, cheese and yoghurt. I am a great believer in the value of unpasteurised milk from a clean herd that is guaranteed TB and brucellosis free. I feel fortunate that I was reared on raw milk and we now have a Jersey cow that we milk for the family, so that the children and grandchildren can have access to raw milk. A growing number of people both here and in the US are demanding unpasteurised and non-homogenised milk. Check out the Campaign for real (raw) milk on the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation – www.westonaprice.org. There ought to be freedom of choice as there is in so many countries. In London I bought fresh milk in bottles in the Pimlico Market from a farmer from Devon. In the centre of Paris there’s always a queue at the stall at the Sunday Market in rue Raspail selling unpasteurised organic milk, cream, yoghurt and crème fraiche. Live yoghurt is indeed a wonder food but that can scarcely be said for most commercial yoghurt made from skim milk powder and artificial sweetener and syrupy fruit purees. Look out for Glenilen Yoghurt or Ardsallagh Goats Milk Yoghurt or make your own, even a child can make it.

Seek out unprocessed cheese, a valuable, nutritious and delicious addition to our diet. 

Layer 2 - On the next layer of the pyramid, are eggs, fresh fish particularly oily fish, eg mackerel (in season in July, August and September) and meat.

The Irish Heart Foundation wisely urges us to eat less meat, keep it lean and think a pack of cards when we are choosing portion size – 2 ozs meat and 3 ozs fish. They may be right but most Irish men would give a ‘quare look’ at that much meat put down in front of them.

Again the quality of the meat and fish really matters from the point of view of nutrition and flavour. I personally find excessively lean meat dull, dry and flavourless – I far prefer to eat meat less often and to choose an organic bird or joint with a nice covering of fat. 

There are also ‘eggs and eggs’. I’m thrilled that the number of people keeping a few hens in their garden again is growing steadily. The quality of the eggs laid by genuine free range hens fed on scraps and organic meal, is quite different. According to research done in UCC among other places, they are significantly lower in cholesterol than intensively produced eggs.

Beans and pulses are also magical food, high in complex carbohydrates, low in fat, rich in minerals and an inexpensive source of protein and fibre, they also have a low glycemic index. Baked beans in tomato sauce are definitely nutritious but contain significant quantities of sugar and salt.

Layer 1 - And so we arrive at the top layer of the pyramid where we are rightly advised to go easy on cakes, biccies and high sugar drinks and snacks. We are urged to use low fat spreads, vegetable oils and very little butter. Surely, good Irish butter is more natural than margarine and spreads which are highly processed and made with addition of emulsifiers and preservatives and a containing a higher level of trans fats.

And while we are on the subject, why is no Irish dairy farmer making organic butter or cream. I really feel strongly about buying Irish and local and resent having to buy organic butter from Denmark. After all, we have the natural resources to produce the best dairy products in the world in Ireland, we can grow grass like nowhere else in the world.

Bought biscuits similar to those in the photo contain a long list of ingredients one wouldn’t normally have in the kitchen cupboard – emulsifiers and stabilizers…they contain high amounts of sugar, and sometimes chemically hardened fat, why aren’t we encouraging people to bake their own simple biscuits with wholesome ingredients - try these delicious flapjacks.

Oatmeal Biscuits

These nutritious biscuits keep very well in a tin. Children love to munch them with a banana. Don't compromise - make them with butter, because the flavour is immeasurably better.
Makes 24-32

1 lb (450g) rolled oatmeal (porridge oats)
12 ozs (340g) butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar

Swiss roll tin, 10 inches (25.5cm) x 15 inches (38cm)

Melt the butter, add the golden syrup and pure vanilla essence, stir in the castor sugar and oatmeal and mix well. Spread into a large Swiss roll tin and bake in a preheated moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, until golden and slightly caramelised - about 30 minutes. Cut into 24-32 squares while still warm.

Note: Make half the recipe if a 9 inch (23cm) x 13 inch (33cm) Swiss roll thin is used.

Variations
Chocolate Briskies
Cut the oatmeal biscuits into squares. When cool, dip diagonally into melted chocolate.

Coconut and Oatmeal Biscuits
Substitute ¾ oz of unsweetened desiccated coconut for 1 oz of oatmeal in the above recipe

Coconut and Chocolate or Raisin Biscuits
Add 1 oz chopped chocolate and or 1oz raisins to the above recipe. Reduce the oatmeal by 1 oz .

Oatmeal and Banana Crunch
For an instant pudding, cover an oatmeal biscuit with slices of banana, put a tiny dollop of cream on top and eat. Simply Delicious!

Oatmeal and Apple Crumble
Loose crumbs may be scattered over some stewed apple for an instant crumble.

Haricot or Flageolet Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

Serve as an accompaniment or as a vegetarian dish.
Serves 4-6

1 cup dried haricot beans or flageolet beans
Bouquet garni
1 onion
1 carrot
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ozs (170g) chopped onion
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 14 oz (400g) tin tomatoes
1 large sprig rosemary chopped, approx 1 tablesp.
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, strain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni, carrot and onion, cover and simmer until the beans are soft but not mushy - anything from 30-60 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add salt. Remove the bouquet garni and vegetables and discard. 

Meanwhile sweat the chopped onion gently in olive oil in a wide saucepan until soft but not coloured, approx. 7-8 minutes add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, add the chopped tomato and their juice, add the cooked beans, and chopped rosemary. Simmer for 10-15 minutes add some of the bean liquid if necessary and season well with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.

Note: The mixture should be juicy but not swimming in liquid.

Gratin of Haricot Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

Put the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish. Scatter a mixture of buttered crumbs and grated cheese over the top and put into a hot oven or flash under a grill until crisp and golden on top.

Haricot or Flageolet Beans with Tomato and Rosemary with Chorizo

Add 1 chorizo, sliced, to the tomato base with the beans and rosemary.
Granola
A toasted grain cereal.
Serves 20

12 ozs (340g) honey
8 fl ozs (225g) oil eg. sunflower or arachide
1 lb 1 oz (370g) oat flakes
7 ozs (200g) barley flakes
7 ozs (200g) wheat flakes
3½ ozs (100g) rye flakes
5 ozs (140g) seedless raisins or sultanas
5 ozs (140g) peanuts/hazelnuts, or cashew nuts split and roasted
2¾ ozs (75g) wheatgerm and /or millet flakes
2 ozs (55g) chopped apricots, ½ cup chopped dates etc. are nice too

Mix oil and honey together in a saucepan, heat just enough to melt the honey. Mix well into the mixed flakes. Spread thinly on two baking sheets.

Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 20-30 minutes, turning frequently, making sure the edges don't burn. It should be just golden and toasted, not roasted!

Allow to get cold. Mix in the raisins or sultanas, roasted nuts, toasted seeds, chopped dates, apricots and wheatgerm. Store in a screw top jar or a plastic box, keeps for 1-2 weeks.

Serve with sliced banana.

Crunchy Granola with Berries and Yoghurt Layered in a Glass

A cool way to serve breakfast in a glass – bursting with goodness and totally yummy.

Serves 2

250ml (8flozs) natural yoghurt (see recipe)
2 tablespoons honey
110g (4ozs) granola (see recipe)
110g (4ozs) blueberries, raspberries, frais du bois or even sliced banana

2 straight squat glasses, about 12.5cm (5 inches) tall

Mix the yoghurt and honey together. Divide about on third of the granola between the 2 glasses, top with on third of the yoghurt. Sprinkle half the berries over the top, then a layer of granola and finally yoghurt. 

Garnish with a few berries and perhaps a sprig of mint. Provide long-handled spoons

Divine Homemade Yoghurt


Makes 1.8 litres (3 pints)
Making one’s own yoghurt is very simple and satisfying thing to do.

2.4l (4 pint) full cream milk
150ml (1/4 pint) double cream
225g (8oz) live natural yoghurt

Place milk in large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and reduce by at least half, better still a third stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and pour the milk into a thick delph or pottery bowl. Add the cream and stir well. Allow to cool. When the milk has cooled to the point where you can hold your clean finger in it for a count of ten, add the yoghurt and stir well. If the milk is too hot when the yoghurt is added, it will kill the live bacteria. Cover with a tea towel or cling film. We leave it beside the Aga or put it in the cupboard over the boiler in the office. Sometimes it takes days to thicken. It will keep in the fridge for a week to ten days – Divine.

We serve this with apple blossom honey and toasted hazelnuts.
Tip: Don’t bother to make this with low fat milk
Foolproof Food

Beginners Wholemeal Bread

This is a more modern version of Soda Bread, couldn’t be simpler, just mix and pour into a well-greased tin.
This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs) stone ground wholemeal flour
75g (3ozs) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg, preferably free range
1 tablespoon arachide or sunflower oil, unscented
1 teaspoon honey
425ml (15fl ozs) buttermilk or sourmilk approx. (put all the milk in)

Sunflower or sesame seeds optional
Loaf tin 23x12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey most of the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approx, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Health Bread
Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Hot Tips 

The Irish Heart Foundation has linked up with the Restaurants Association of Ireland Panel of Chefs, and Euro-Toques who have provided tempting and easy to cook recipes which are available in a booklet free to the general public by calling 1850 364 364 

‘For a Happy Heart, portion size matters’ , is the theme once again for the Irish Heart Foundation annual ‘Happy Heart Eat Out’ campaign will take place for the month of June. We are focusing on portion size as its not just the quality and variety of food that’s important, but also how much we eat. The Irish Heart Foundation has also produced a colourful Eat Out pack available to eateries wishing to participate in the campaign www.irishheart.ie  or tel 01-6685001 or email jmorrissey@irishheart.ie

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

One of the most talked about restaurants in America today is in the centre of a working organic farm just 30 miles north of mid-town Manhattan up the Hudson River in the Pocantico Hills. Its called Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The farm is one of the many owned by the Rockefeller family. The beautiful Norman style stone barns were originally built in the 1930’s by John D. Rockefeller Junior as part of a vision of an economically sustainable family estate, and have been painstakingly renovated under the direction of David Rockefeller and Peggy Dulany.

The object of the exercise is to create a multi-purpose educational centre, restaurant and café so people can become more connected to the food they eat and learn about the reality of nature and food production. 

Locals can come and bring their kids to wander around the farms, watch the sheep and the happy lazy Berkshire pigs ranging freely. Kids who presume eggs come out of cardboard cartons are enchanted to watch the Rhode Island hens, Cornish White Chickens, Bourbon Red and Bronze turkeys scratching and foraging. They can peek into see where the eggs are laid in the nesting boxes at the back of the ‘egg mobile’ which moves around the fields after the sheep, to ensure that the poultry have a continuous supply of grass.

There’s also a herd of Finn Dorset sheep, rabbits and honey bees.

The educational centre runs regular classes in the vegetable garden and greenhouse. Locals can watch the sheep being shorn of their woolly winter coats and learn about spinning and curing the fleeces for sheepskin rugs.

The similarities between Stone Barns and the Ballymaloe Cookery School also set in the centre of an organic farm with pigs, Jersey cows, hens, geese, ducks and bees was uncanny.

I’d been looking forward to visiting ever since I met Adam Kaye in a chance encounter a few years ago. Dan Barber and his wife run the restaurant and café with a huge team of passionate young people. Can you imagine what a joy it is for a chef to have a restaurant in the middle of a farm with all that wonderful seasonal produce at his doorstep to cook with. Irene Hamburger showed me around the farm as the last of the snow was melting after the St Patrick’s weekend blizzards, and then Dan cooked me a Taste Menu which celebrates the season at Stone Barns. The restaurant is in the converted dairy. First we had two little tiny raw fresh carrots and two equally weeny bok choy to nibble on. This was followed by a plate of charcuterie, then came some sesame cardoon lollipops.

Dan is an enthusiastic proponent of sous-vide cooking, so the hake and coddled egg and the Berkshire pork that followed had been cooked in this way. Fans of this type of cooking which was invented in France about 30 years ago say that all the flavour is sealed inside the plastic bag in which it is cooked, usually immersed in lukewarm water. The texture stays soft and tender, the colour scarcely changes and despite all of that I don’t love the result.

I can see how sous vide is certainly convenient for chefs and many top chefs are now experimenting with it, but I find the texture very strange, fish feels and to my palate tastes on the wrong side of underdone, pork, duck and chicken the same. I’ve decided I miss the texture and the caramelisation of the juices that happens when food is grilled or roasted.

The Troisgros Brothers in Roanne in France have used this method to cook foie since the 1970’s and many other three-star chefs have used sous-vide very successfully in their kitchens, and it is widely used in industrial food production. Dan’s food was very interesting but I was somehow expecting something much simpler.

When I walked into the beautiful dining room I was delighted and amazed to find the original Shanagarry Pottery on the tables, it looked so beautiful on the linen runners on the oak and walnut tables. Irene told me they searched long and hard for something handmade, yet simple and sophisticated, so they chose the elegant original black and white and stone pottery designed by Philip Pearce in the 1960’s.

Stone Barn is just a 40 minute train ride from Grand Central Station in New York on the Metro North Hudson Line to Tarrytown, well worth a detour. For more information www.stonebarns.center.org  

Blue Hill at Stone Barns 630 Bedford Road Pocantico Hills, New York 10591
Telephone 001 914 366 9600 Fax 001 914 366 7020

Berries and Semolina Pudding

– 8 portions
Dan Barber – blue hill at stone barns

1 quart whole milk
1/2 orange – zest
1/2 lemon – zest
1 vanilla bean – split and pulp removed
1 cup semolina
5 farm fresh eggs - separated
1/4 lb butter
6 oz sugar
4 cups strawberries – quartered or any other seasonal berry found at the
farmers market

preheat oven to 325

1. in a medium saucepan and over low heat, combine milk, orange and lemon zest, and vanilla bean pulp, and bring to a boil
2. gradually whisk in semolina until mixture thickens
3. add yolks and butter. once butter has melted and is completely incorporated, remove from heat. transfer batter to a large mixing bowl
4. in a separate bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. whisk until soft peaks are formed
5. fold egg whites into semolina batter
6. butter a 9” x 13” bcking pan and dust with semolina. add pudding
7. bake for 30 minutes at 325
8. remove pudding from oven and cool until ready to serve
9. to serve: cut pudding into 8 portions and top with seasonal berries

Summer Salad

Dan Barber – blue hill at stone barns
6 farm fresh almond soft-fried eggs (recipe to follow) (or lightly poached)
3 cups mixed micro or baby greens – arugula, beets shoots, kale, whatever you can find at your farmers market

1 cup mixed herbs – parsley, tarragon, chervil, thyme, mint, cilantro, chives – again, whatever you can find at your farmers market
1/2 cup shelled and roasted pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
salt and peper
pepper

1. in a large bowl, toss together the baby fennel, pistachios, greens and herbs. add lemonette to taste and season with salt and pepper
2. to serve: divide salad into individual bowls and top with poached egg
lemon vinaigrette
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lemon oil (recipe below)
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1. in a medium bowl combine mustard and lemon juice. slowly whisk in lemon oil and olive oil.
season to taste.

lemon oil
1 qts canola oil
4 pc lemon zest
1/4 bunch lemon thyme
1/4 stick lemongrass
in a medium saucepan combine all ingredients. place over a very low heat for 1 hour. do not let
oil boil. remove from heat, cool and strain. refrigerate until ready to use.

Almond Soft-Fried Egg

6 large eggs
3/4 cup Panko style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable/Peanut oil for frying

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, gently add the eggs and cook for 6 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs and immerse in a bowl of ice water until cold: carefully peel and set aside.
In the first of three medium bowls, combine the Panko, almonds, parmesan, salt and pepper. In the second bowl, whip the eggs until smooth; in the third bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.
To coat the eggs; first roll the cold, soft cooked eggs in the flour, shaking to remove any excess.
Dip the eggs in the beaten egg mixture, then in the crumb mixture, rolling until completely coated.
Repeat with a second coating of beaten egg and crumb mixture. Using your hands, press the crumb mixture around the eggs to secure the coating. You can prepare the eggs to this stage and store refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
To cook the coated eggs; heat about 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a medium saucepan. Carefully add the eggs and cook, turning, until golden brown and heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with greenhouse salad, fennel and apricots.

Pistou of Summer Vegetables

Serves 12
Ingredients
1/2 lb. Asparagus, cut into 1/2” pieces and blanched
1/2 lb. Fava beans, blanched and cleaned
1/4 lb. Peas, blanched
1 bunch Basil, cleaned and blanched
1 cup Olive oil
2 cups Vegetable stock
1 Shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup Chopped herbs

Procedures
1.Combine blanched vegetables. Place half of the vegetable in a blender with the blanched basil. Puree adding olive oil.
2. In a large saucepan, sweat shallots until translucent. Add blanched vegetables. Add puree of vegetables. Add vegetable stock until desired consistency. Season to taste.

Fettucine with Irish Asparagus

The season for fresh Irish asparagus is May and June so now is the time to make this deliciously rich recipe. Look out for it at your nearest Farmers Market or greengrocer. Don’t attempt to use out-of-season asparagus which has been flown around the globe.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) fettucine or fresh noodles
16 spears of fresh Irish asparagus, trimmed
250ml (8fl oz) cream
75g (3oz) butter, diced
150g (5oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

First cook the pasta: Bring 4.8 litres (8 pints) water to the boil, add 2 tablespoons dairy salt or sea salt and tip the pasta in all at once and stir well to ensure the strands are separate, then cover the pan just long enough to bring the water back to the boil. Cook until al dente (fresh pasta 1-2 minutes, dried pasta see instructions on packet, but test 2-3 minutes before suggested time).

Drain the pasta immediately. Don’t overdrain. Fresh pasta and all long pasta, should still be wet and slippery. 

Meanwhile cook the asparagus in very little water for 4-5 minutes or until almost cooked when the tip of a knife pierces the root end easily. Drain.

Next make the sauce: Heat the cream in a wide saucepan or sauté pan, add the butter and simmer over a medium heat for a minute or two until the cream and butter are incorporated and slightly thickened. Add the cheese and lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste and add salt. Toss in the drained pasta.
Slice the still warm asparagus at an angle, keep the tip intact. Scatter over the top of the pasta, toss gently and serve immediately in hot pasta bowls. 

Foolproof Food

Crunchy Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are comfort food, vary the fruit according to the season. Now is the time to use lovely fresh Irish rhubarb.
Serves 6-8

1½ lbs (675g) rhubarb, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths
1½ -2 ozs (45-55g) sugar

Crumble
4 ozs (110g) white flour, preferably unbleached
2 ozs (55g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
2 ozs (55g) chopped or slivered unpeeled almonds
2 pint (1.1L) capacity pie dish

Stew the rhubarb gently with the sugar in a covered casserole or stainless steel saucepan until about half cooked. 

Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn into a pie dish. Allow to cool slightly while you make the crumble. 

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar and almonds. Sprinkle this mixture over the apple in the pie dish. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with whipped cream and soft brown sugar.

Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Variation: Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble.

Stew two-thirds the amount of rhubarb with the sugar, stir in one-third sliced strawberries and proceed as above.

Hot Tips

Good Food Ireland Guide Book and map now available online and good bookshops-
Places to eat, stay or visit – www.goodfoodireland.ie  Tel 053 9158693 Email:reservations@goodfoodireland.ie  

Bewley’s launches exclusive Cup of Excellence coffees
Cup of Excellence coffees are some of the world’s finest and rarest coffees, which have at last arrived in Ireland, sourced and roasted exclusively by Bewleys in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Nicaragua – available in extremely limited quantities. Each country’s individual Cup of Excellence coffee is now being featured at Bewley’s Grafton St. in Dublin. 

New Gubbeen Cheese Oatcakes

From grass to cattle to milk to cheese & biscuits. Over the past 30 years cheesemakers, Tom and Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen Farm Dairy, Schull, West Cork, have created their award winning cheeses. Now they have combined their skills with those of fellow artisan, Baker Robert Ditty in Northern Ireland – they are putting together the finest rolled oats from Co Armagh with Gubbeen Cheese and have produced delicious Cheese Oatcakes – available nationwide or call Giana at 028-28231 –overnight delivery available - cheese@gubbeen.com  www.gubbeen.com  

Learn How to Grow your own Organic Vegetables

Beginners Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables with Rupert Hugh Hones at Ballymaloe Cookery School on 8th & 14th May Tel 021-4646785 www.cookingisfun.ie 

The Greenbox, Ireland’s first ecotourism destination plans to host a series of events to celebrate International Biodiversity Day on May 22nd.

This year’s theme is biodiversity and climate change. To celebrate the day, the Greenbox ecotourism project, in conjunction with the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim, is organizing a series of awareness-raising events. 

Seminar on climate change and biodiversity in the Organic Centre 
Guided peatland walk in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark 
Screening of the film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (Academy Award winning documentary that has sparked a global debate about climate change) in Manorhamilton and a pub quiz. 
Contact: Ollie in the Greenbox office, Tel 071-9856898, info@greenbox.ie  or www.greenbox.ie

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.

Clodagh McKenna, and the rise and rise of the Farmers Market

You all know how delighted I am by the rise and rise of the Farmers Market movement, not only in Ireland but all over the world – UK, US, Australia, New Zealand…… Everywhere there seems to be the same craving for fresh local food in season.

Ordinary food retail is static while the demand for artisan and specialist foods continues to escalate. There’s a growing awareness of food miles, animal welfare issues and the impact of our carbon footprint on the environment. There is substantial growth in the demand for organic produce and local is the sexiest word in food, from California to Auckland. 

The Country Market movement has been producing this kind of food for their many devotees for years, safeguarding the old food traditions of our country. In recent years the farmers markets have increased the number of options and added to the long established markets in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and of course the much-loved English Market in Cork City.

It’s now almost twelve years since I first visited the farmers market in a parking lot in San Francisco. I was so inspired, it seemed the perfect solution for local people desperate to source local food. The farmers and food producers can get the full price for their products which enables them to earn a sustainable living on the land when selling directly to their customers.

Inspired by Sybille Krauss’s San Francisco Market, my mother-in-law Myrtle Allen and Caroline Robinson (now chairman of the Irish Food Markets Traders Association), Frank Hederman of Belvelly Smokehouse, and a few other members of the Cork Free Choice Consumer Group, started Ireland’s first ‘new age’ farmers market on the Coal Quay in Cork in 1996. It was great fun and necessitated an early start, leaving Shanagarry at 6.30am in the morning. Caroline Robinson still trades there and has an ever-increasing band of loyal customers on Saturday morning for her beautiful produce. There are now over 115 farmers markets in Ireland. The Midleton Farmers Market which is celebrating its seventh birthday at the Whit Weekend, has now moved across the road into the Fair Green, a serviced paved area provided by the Town Council. 

Clodagh McKenna, acclaimed cook, presenter and food writer, did a 12 week Certificate Cookery course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in January 2000. She worked alongside Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House and became more and more passionate about good food and the Slow Food Movement. Her regular columns on food and her radio programmes, reflect her commitment. Over the past year Clodagh has travelled the length and breadth of the country, visiting farmers markets with David Hare’s ‘Inproduction’ television crew, meeting stallholders, producers and customers and generally recording the buzz and excitement that characterizes the farmers’ market scene. Fresh from the Farmers Market, the 8-part series sponsored by Bord Bia will start on Wednesday 25th April at 7.30pm on RTE 1, The Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna, published by Collins to accompany the series, is already in the shops. The series was launched in Dublin recently by Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan who was fulsome in her praise and support for the Farmers Market initiative. 

Speaking at the event, Angela Kennedy, Chairman, Bord Bia, commented “The farmers market system benefits small food producers and farmers, providing unique direct access to consumers for their produce. The farmers market system also has strong potential to benefit a growing number of farmers who choose to sell direct to consumers and to retain profit within the farm gate.”

This new television series will give a great boost to the markets movement and here are some delicious recipes from Clodagh’s book.

Roast Asparagus, Knocklara and Mint Salad

Roasting the asparagus really intensifies and sweetens the flavour as it removes the natural moisture. Knocklara is a beautiful goat’s cheese, similar to feta, made by Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz in County Waterford.
Serves 4

850g (30 oz) asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
75g (2½ oz) hazelnuts, chopped
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1lemon
Mixed salad leaves, (eg. rocket, cos, frisee or oak’s lettuce)
250g (9 oz) Knocklara (or feta), crumbled

Toss the asparagus and chopped hazelnuts in 2 tbsp olive oil. Salt lightly and place on a baking tray. Cook in a preheated oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, pepper and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the green leaves together with the cooled asparagus and toss gently together. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle the cheese over the top and serve.

Mini Pavlovas with Sweet Geranium-Infused Rhubarb

Makes 4 small or 1 large
3 egg whites
175g (6oz) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Whipped cream

For the rhubarb:
150g (5oz) rhubarb, cut into 5cm (2in) sections
50g (2oz) caster sugar
2 sweet geranium leaves (see tip)
70ml (2½ fl.oz) water

Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff, and then whisk in the sugar gradually until the egg whites have a glossy shine. Fold in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 heaps on the baking paper and, with a spoon, shape and swirl each one into a circle, leaving a dip in the centre.

(Alternatively, you can make 1 pavlova by spooning the meringue onto the baking paper in one heap.) Cook in a preheated oven at 150C,300F. Gas Mark 2 for 40 minutes until the meringue is pale brown and dry on the outside but soft in the inside.

Meanwhile, stew the rhubarb gently with the sugar, sweet geranium leaves and water in a covered pan, until the rhubarb is cooked but not mushy. Leave to cool.

Arrange the individual pavlovas on 4 serving plates. Place a big dollop of whipped cream in the centre of each one and then arrange the rhubarb on top. Serve with the sweet stewing liquid.

Tip: If you don’t have any sweet geranium leaves you can use lemon balm leaves instead, but it’s well worth hunting them out or growing your own. Use any spare leaves as a decorative garnish.

Courgette and Lemon Salad

Every year there is a glut of courgettes at the market. This is a very simple but really delicious way to use them up. I particularly love eating this salad with roast chicken.
Serves 4

3 medium courgettes
Juice of 1 lemon
50ml (2 fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the courgettes very thinly, using a mandolin if you have one. Place a saucepan of water over a high heat, and when the water comes to the boil, drop in the courgettes and cook for about 1 minute (just to blanch them). Drain in a colander and wrap them in a clean tea towel to dry them off.

Arrange them on a serving dish, pour over a drizzle of olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Cashel Blue, Caramelised Onion and Thyme Pizza

Once you’ve got over the scary thought of making your own pizza base, you’re free to experiment with all different types of toppings, such as classic fresh tomatoes with cheese or spicy chorizo and Parmesan. However, my favourite topping is this combination.
Makes 1 pizza, serves 2

6g (⅓ oz) fresh yeast
200ml (7 fl.oz) tepid water
100g (3½ oz) plain white flour
20g (¾ oz) butter
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly
50ml (2 fl.oz) olive oil
150g (5oz) Cashel Blue cheese, or other strong blue cheese
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the fresh yeast into a small bowl and cover with 100ml of the water and leave to dissolve for 5 minutes. Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre and pour the dissolved yeast into the centre. Then add a pinch of salt and mix in the flour from the sides. Add approximately 100ml of water and mix into a dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough by pushing the dough away from the back of your hand until you reach a light consistency. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for approximately 3 hours to allow the dough to rise.

While the dough is rising you can get your toppings ready. Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add in the butter, when the butter has melted add in the onions, cover and leave to sweat for about 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, turn up the heat and stir the onions until they become lovely and brown. Tip the onions into a bowl and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. When the dough has risen tip out onto a floured board and roll out to make a circular pizza shape, I like my pizzas thin so I roll it to about 5mm (¼ in) thick. Then brush the pizza base with some olive oil, spread the onions out all over the base, crumble the blue cheese on top, and sprinkle over the finely chopped thyme. Season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Mairead’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hazelnut Toffee Sauce

Clodagh’s sister Mairead gave her this recipe as she thought it would be a great seller at the market, and it was!
Serves 6

350g (12oz) fresh dates, stoned (use dried dates if you can’t find fresh)
300ml (10 fl.oz) boiling water
100g (3½ oz) butter
300g (10oz) dark brown sugar
3 medium eggs
400g (14oz) self-raising flour, sieved
½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda

For the hazelnut toffee sauce:
600ml (1 pint) double cream
250g (9oz) dark brown sugar
100g (3½ oz) butter
30g (1oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Place the dates in a saucepan with the boiling water, and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes or until the dates are soft. Drain and then whiz the dates in a blender until they have a smooth consistency.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until creamy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the blended dates, then fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.

Grease a 20cm (8in ) spring form tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Pour in the mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 170C/325F/gas mark 3 for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pour half of the cream into a saucepan and stir in the brown sugar and butter. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently. When the sauce looks golden, stir in the remaining cream and half of the hazelnuts.

Turn out the cooked sponge onto a serving dish. Pour over the hazelnut toffee sauce and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on top. Delicious served with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Aubergine Dip

Creamy and spicy, this aubergine dip is similar to the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush. It is fantastic served with toasted pitta bread.
Makes approx. 150ml (5 fl.oz)

1 large aubergine
50ml (2 fl.oz) olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 garlic clove, peeled
50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 black olives, pitted
Salt and freshly grated black pepper

Place the aubergine in a roasting pan and drizzle some olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat it in the oil. Cook in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool. Chop into large chunks.

In a frying pan, dry-roast the cumin for 2 minutes or until you can smell the aroma from the spice. Place the aubergine, garlic, grated Parmesan, olives, cumin seeds and a splash of olive oil in a blender, and blend to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

ny market you visit in Ireland will have this for sale. Its really easy to make, keeps well and, most importantly, tastes great with a cuppa.
Makes 9-12 depending on how big you cut your squares

175g (6oz) butter
2 tbsp. golden syrup
250g (9oz) dark chocolate (55-79% cocoa solids), cut into pieces
280g (10oz) rich tea biscuits
85g (3oz) raisins
85g (3oz) chopped roasted hazelnuts

Lightly grease a 23cm (9in) cake tin.

Melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave or in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a very low heat, then stir until smooth.

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, but leave some slightly larger chunks, and tip into the melted chocolate mixture with the raisins and hazelnuts. Stir well.

Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down well to get a smooth, even surface. When cool, chill in the fridge, then serve cut into squares.


Hot Tips

For further information on country markets and farmers markets near you visit
www.irelandmarkets.com  www.bordbia.ie  


Biodiversity Day at Irish Seedsavers, Scariff, Co Clare on 20th May 12-5
will be a celebration of the work at the ISSA, preserving native varieties of heritage fruit trees, grains and seeds.
Workshops will be running throughout the day on Native fruit varieties, 
vegetable seed processing, rare Irish grains, planting organic garden, 
bee keeping, rare poultry, horse ploughing, cob building, children's 
activities including nature walks, wildlife drawing and a puppet show. 
There will be live music and a full organic cafe and coffee shop open all day. This event will be advertised locally as well as nationally.
Shuttle buses from Scariff to the centre.
www.irishseedsavers.ie  
 

Easter Chickens Hatch in the Office

Such excitement, we’ve just been watching the first three little chicks slowly emerging from their shells – it takes them several hours to struggle free. At first they seem wet and bewildered but soon dry out and fluff up in the warmth of the incubator. I invested in this far from essential piece of equipment a few years ago as part of my ongoing campaign to educate the cookery school students on the 12-week Certificate Course (prospective cooks and chefs) about how food is produced and where it comes from. We also use it on the ‘How to keep a few chicken in your garden’ course as an option for those in urban areas who would like to keep a few hens but daren’t let nature take its course for fear of being dubbed the neighbour from hell when the cock wakes the neighbours at 4.30am in the morning. 

We have hatched out several batches of chicks by now – it takes about 21 days from start to finish and delights everyone from my grandchildren to the grannies. 

Easter has always been about eggs, which have, since ancient times been a symbol of fertility, rebirth and resurrection. During Lent people fasted rigorously, the hens went on laying and so the eggs piled up. They were preserved in a variety of ways. I certainly remember buckets of eggs submerged in Waterglass. These were used for cakes. The simpler buttered eggs didn’t last so long but had a delicious curdy texture and are certainly worth doing if you have access to fresh free range eggs. Ideally they should be warm from the nest. Really fresh free-range organic eggs are a wonderful whole food but for many people a forgotten flavour. Now at last they are starring in their own right on menus from coast to coast in the US. But not just any old egg, really fresh eggs from now rare breeds. Some are names familiar to many of us, for example Rhode Island Reds, Leghorn, Marrans, Light Sussex, others are less well known – Buff Orpington, Plymouth Rock Bantams, Frizzlies, Cochins, or the little Aracuna whose blue shells continue to delight. 

Fortnum and Mason, a mecca for gourmets in London, sell the eggs of these fancy fowl individually for those who want to present their dinner party host or hostess with a unique edible gift – much more fun and delicious than a dodgy bottle of wine. Here are some of my favourite recipes …………………….. 

Chorizo and Parsley Scrambled Eggs

This is so good for breakfast but also makes a delicious tapa.
Serves 4

6oz (175g) chorizo, finely chopped
6 free range eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablesp olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the chorizo. When the fat starts to ooze out add the beaten eggs and stir gently over a low heat until just set. Add lots of freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley. 
Serve in an earthenware dish with some crusty bread.

Warm Salad of Gubbeen Bacon with Poached Egg and Gabriel Cheese

A gorgeous little salad which totally depends on good ingredients. Make it with battery produced eggs and indifferent bacon and you’ll wonder why you bothered.

Gubbeen bacon is cured and smoked by a brilliant young artisanal producer called Fingal Ferguson, son of Tom and Giana Ferguson who make the famous Gubbeen farmhouse cheese on their farm in West Cork. If you can’t lay your hands on this, look out for the best quality smoked bacon you can find.
Gabriel cheese is a hard cheese made by their near neighbour Bill Hogan. A good nutty Parmesan may be used instead.
Serves 4

a mixture of organic salad leaves
170g (6oz) smoked Gubbeen bacon lardons
4 eggs free-range organic 
Caesar Salad dressing 
25g (1oz) freshly grated Gabriel cheese, alternatively use Parmigiano Reggiano
freshly chopped parsley

First make the Caesar dressing.- you will have more than you need for this recipe but it keeps for several weeks so save it in the refrigerator for another time.

Fill a small saucepan with cold water, add a little salt. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat, crack the egg and allow it to drop gently into the water. Cook in the barely simmering water for 4 to 5 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is still soft. You may cook the eggs separately or together depending on the size of your saucepan.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan, add a little olive or sunflower oil. Cook the lardons of bacon until crispy and golden.

To assemble the salad. 

Put a little caesar dressing on the plate. Quickly arrange a selection of lettuce and salad leaves on top. We also add a little freshly cooked asparagus or chicory in season or some chard or beet greens. Sprinkle the hot sizzling bacon over the salad, top with a poached egg. Drizzle some caesar dressing over the poached egg and salad leaves. 

Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese (use a microplane or a fine grater) and a little chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 x 2oz (55g) tin anchovies
1 clove garlic, crushed
a generous pinch of English mustard powder
2 teaspoon salt
½-1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
½-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
6fl oz (175ml) sunflower oil
2fl oz (50ml) extra virgin olive oil
50ml (2fl oz) cold water

We make this dressing in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together. As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.

Ham and Egg Pie

This lovely old-fashioned picnic pie comes from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home by Rachel Allen, published by Collins.
Serves 6-8

200g (7oz) Shortcrust Pastry, made with –
125g (4¼ oz) flour
75g (3oz) butter
Pinch of salt
½-1 egg

Filling:
15g (½ oz) butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 eggs
75ml (2¾ fl.oz) double cream
150g (5oz) cooked ham or cooked bacon rashers, sliced into 1 x 2cm (½ x ¾ in) pieces
1 tablesp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas Mark 4.

Roll out the pastry and line a 25cm (10in) ovenproof plate. Trim the pastry so that it is a bit bigger than the plate, then fold up the edges slightly so that you have a slight lip all the way around. This will prevent the cream from running off the plate when you put it in the oven. Place the pastry on its plate in the fridge while you prepare the filling ingredients.

For the filling, melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the onions and cook over a gentle heat until soft. Whisk two of the eggs in a bowl, add the cream, the cooked onions, chopped ham and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour this into the pastry case. Carefully break the remaining eggs onto the tart, trying to keep the egg yolks intact.

Bake for 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven until the custard is set in the centre and the eggs on top are just cooked. Serve warm or allow to cool and pack for a picnic. Cut slices of the tart straight from the plate.

Foolproof Food

Boiled Eggs with Soldiers and Asparagus

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have some space to keep a few free range hens are blessed indeed. The eggs laid by my happy, lazy hens are completely perfect - white curdy albumen and rich yellow yolks. When you have access to eggs of this quality, treat yourself to a boiled egg - absolute perfection but sadly a forgotten flavour for so many people. Little fingers of toast called dippies or soldiers are the usual accessory but during the asparagus season in May a few spears of fresh green asparagus make a deliciously decadent dip.
Serves 2

6-8 spears of fresh Irish asparagus
2 fresh free range eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few pats of butter
1 slice of fresh white pan loaf

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, bring the water back to the boil and simmer gently for 4-6 minutes, according to your taste. A four minute egg will be still quite soft, five minutes will almost set the white while the yolk will still be runny, 6 minutes will produce a boiled egg with a soft yolk and solid white.

Meanwhile toast the bread, cut off the crusts and spread with butter. Cut into fingers. Immediately the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups on large side plates. Put the cooked asparagus (see below) and soldiers on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

To cook asparagus
Trim the stalks of the asparagus, cook in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes or until a knife will pierce the root end easily. Drain and keep hot. 

Wild Garlic Frittata

A frittata is an Italian omelette. Unlike its soft and creamy French cousin, a frittata is cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! It is cooked on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. This basic recipe, is flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you may add almost anything that takes your fancy. In Spring we often add Wild Garlic to the basic frittata for a delicious variation.
Serves 6-8

10 large eggs, preferably free range organic
1 teasp salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
85g (3oz) Gruyére cheese, grated
30g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 teaspoon thyme leaves
4oz (110g) wild garlic leaves chopped
30g (1oz) butter

Wild Garlic flowers for garnish

Non stick pan – 22.5cm (10inch) frying pan

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, chopped wild garlic (keep back a little for sprinkling on top after) and grated cheese into the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 12 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny.

Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set but not brown the surface. 

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate. Sprinkle with a little chopped wild garlic and the wild garlic flowers.
Serve cut in wedges with a good green salad.

Besançon Rhubarb Tart

Serves 10-12
Pastry
8 ozs (225g) plain flour
6 ozs (170g) butter
Pinch of salt
1 dessertsp. icing sugar
A little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind

Filling
1lb (450g) or a little more rhubarb, cut into small pieces
6-8 tablesp. Castor sugar
½ pint (300m) cream
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablesp. castor sugar 
1 teasp. pure vanilla essence 

1 x 12 inch (30.5cm) tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way (see recipe) and leave to relax in a fridge for 1 hour. Line a tart tin (or tins), with a removable base and chill for 10 minutes. Line with paper and fill with dried beans and bake blind in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, paint the tart with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes. Arrange the cut rhubarb evenly inside the tart shell. Sprinkle with 6-8 tablespoons castor sugar. 

Whisk the eggs well, with the 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla essence, add the cream. Strain this mixture over the rhubarb and bake at 180C/350F/gas mark 4, for 35 minutes until the custard is set and the apples are fully cooked. Serve warm with a bowl of whipped cream.

Hot Tips

Buttered Eggs are available from Moynihan’s Poultry Stall at the Princes Street side of the English Market in Cork – Tel 021- 4272614

Cork City Slow Food Convivium – Chocolate and Coffee Evening
Next event will be Tuesday, April 24th at 8pm in the Aga Show Room, behind the Clarion Hotel. Chocolate will be supplied by Emily and Sarah Hehir of Cocoa Bean, Limerick, Coffee will be supplied by John Gowan of Cork Coffee Roasters. Members €10, Non €15. Bookings Phone 021 4505819 Email: jacquesrestaurant@eircom.net  or simonekelly2@eircom.net  

Slow Food Clare
Sunday 6th May – Kilrush Community Garden, Shorthorn Beef Barbecue Contact -Michael Gleeson gleesoncoore@hotmail.com 

Four Rivers Slow Food Convivium
Wednesday 9th May Visit to Flahavans Mill in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford at 7.30pm – see the manufacturing process, learn about the history of cereal production in the area, experience the success story of a small local food manufacturer. www.flahavans.com  Contact Donal Lehane to book – lehane@iol.ie  Tel 087-6780014, 051-396288

Denmark longs for Real Food

This week I was in the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen speaking to a group called the Belly Rebellion about how to set up a Farmer’s Market. In Denmark people spend less than 8% of their income in real terms on food – the lowest in Europe. 

Food retail is controlled by two supermarket chains and most of the local shops are also controlled by the multiples so it is virtually impossible for most people to source fresh local food. 

Two years ago the movement called The Belly Rebellion was launched by a group of concerned women. Farmers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, politicians, chefs, dinner ladies, mothers……explored how they could set up a localized food system and an educational programme on the connection between wholesome nutritious food and good health. 

There is a deep craving among a growing number of people for real food and a frustration about how difficult it is to source it. There are now a variety of initiatives around the country. The growth of the movement is steady but for many including founder members Camilla Plum and Katrine Klinken, not quite fast enough so they organised a day long conference on Farmer’s Markets at which my daughter Lydia Hugh-Jones and I were speakers. We told them about the Irish Farmers Market movement and in particular about the Midleton and Mahon Point Farmers Markets that we have personally been involved in. The Danes are deeply envious of Ireland which now has over 300 Farmers Markets. Other speakers included -

Camilla Hersom – chairman of the Danish Consumer Cooperation who spoke about how to minimize the rules and regulations and minimize the hassle.

Fie Hnasen Hoeck, former director of a supermarket chain in Denmark spoke about the role of the supermarkets and stressed that they are not suited to selling small speciality type products

Mikhail Hansen, a chef, and chairman of an organization of producers/consumers on the Danish island of FYN spoke about the market and festival he arranges every year on the Island. His challenge is to cope with the huge numbers who turn up.

John Higson, a Swedish Irish man who founded the first new food market in Sweden, also spoke at the Conference. His market was called The Street and created a prototype for others to follow. John, whose background is in marketing, was originally inspired by a visit to Bath Farmers Market in the UK. He visited many others and eventually honed his ideas.

His next project was to buy a space in an unfashionable area close to the river in Stockholm bordering the park. He and his team linked up with local producers and set up a mobile restaurant to serve local food. Then he held a week-end market in conjunction with lots of other events. There was a stage for performances. It soon became the hippest coolest place to go at the weekends. Between 10 – 40,000 people turn up to get a bit of action – all eat and buy local food. Great bands and street performers perform for free for the exposure and this attracts more people. Every weekend there’s a different event – one weekend everyone was invited to empty out their attics and sell all their junk – it was a huge success. John is up for anything that will attract people to the STREET. The underlying object of the exercise is to sell local food. The whole idea has been such a success that now large companies such as Nokia are hiring out the space to launch new products. John’s latest scheme is a web site called www.bondensegen.se  designed to link restaurant chefs and shop owners directly with the producers. He has established a distribution network around the country and a fleet of refrigerated vans to deliver directly to the local restaurants thus solving the twin problems of distribution and delivery. Chefs get weekly updates of what’s in season. Both chefs and producers get feed back from regular questionnaires about customer requests, crop capacity, emerging trends……..A very interesting concept that could be repeated in many other countries. John is happy to shape his ideas with anyone interested in promoting locally produced food. 

Karin Hvidtfelt is a market organizer in Denmark, she spoke about the practicalities of organizing and running markets in Copenhagen.

There was a general consensus that Denmark is ready and eager to have a Farmers Market movement. Much to the delight of the organisers, it looks like its already underway, five or six people decided to start a market in their local towns after last Saturday’s event. 

Here are some of Camilla Plum’s recipes

Tjälknöl

Serves 6
1.3 kg (3lb)frozen leg of lamb
3 handfuls of herbs to bake with the lamb; fresh bat leaves, rosemary, sage, fresh basil, lovage

Brine:
1.2 L (2 pints) water
1 dl (3½ oz/100g) coarse salt
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 whole, peeled garlic bulb, cut in thin slivers
A big handful of lovage leaves
A big sprig fresh oregano

Preheat the oven, to 75 degrees celsius. Wrap the frozen meat in tin foil, with the herbs. Wrap twice, so no juice can leak out. Put the package into a roasting tin and put it in the oven, on the middle shelf for 12 hours. While the meat is slowly cooking, boil the brine, leave the herbs in, and cool it, until needed. When the meat is cooked, heat the brine, unwrap the meat and place it in the brine.

The brine should cover the meat, so put it in a snug container, made of plastic, stoneware or stainless steel, just large enough to fit. If you do not have a suitable container, you can put the whole thing in a plastic bag, and close it tightly. Let the meat and brine cool, but do not put it in the fridge.

After 3-5 hours you can lift the meat from the brine. Slice it thinly, and eat it lukewarm or cooled, but its most delicious when it has not been in the fridge at all. You could of course heat it gently wrapped in foil, but it is not supposed to be eaten hot.

Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 4 days. They are delicious in sandwiches.

Serve with Dill cream, new potatoes, and a crisp green, herby salad.

Dill Cream

1, 5 dl.(4¾ oz/140g) fresh goats cheese
1,5 dl (5 fl.oz/150ml) single cream
big bunch fresh dill, chopped, with the stalks (save some for the top)
small bunch chopped tarragon leaves, no stalks
1 tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp, coarsely ground, black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp. salted capers

Mix all ingredients, except the capers, to a smooth cream. Let it sit in a bowl on the kitchen table for half an hour, Adjust seasoning. The capers and dill can be sprinkled on top of the cream, or on the meat, as desired.

This is also very good in a potato salad, with smoked mackerel, and fried fish. 

Horseradish Cream for smoked salmon

Serves 5-6
2.5 dl (8oz/225g) creme fraiche
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 dl (3½oz/100g) freshly and finely grated horseradish root

Mix and adjust seasoning after 1 hour. Eat with toasted rye bread, smoked, thinly sliced salmon, and a green salad.

Ballymaloe Potato and Spring Onion Salad
Serves 4-6

2 lbs (900g) freshly cooked potatoes - diced, allow about 2½ lbs (1.1kg) raw potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions or 2 teaspoons chopped onion
4 fl ozs (120ml) French dressing
4 fl oz (120 ml) Mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The potatoes should be boiled in their jackets and peeled, diced and measured while still hot. Mix immediately with onion, parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in the French dressing, allow to cool and finally add the mayonnaise. Keeps well for about 2 days.

Note: This potato salad is also delicious without Mayonnaise. Potato salad may be used as a base for other salads, eg. add cubes of garlic salami, cooked Kabanossi sausages or cooked mussels.

Hot Potato Salad

Serve with sausages, boiled bacon, hot terrine, hot spiced beef or pate. Can be accompanied by red cabbage.
Serves 4-6

Ingredients as for potato salad above plus the following:
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons chopped gherkins

Make as above, but omit the mayonnaise. Add the eggs cut in 3 inch (5mm) dice, gherkins and capers if used.

Piped Potato Salad

1 generous litre freshly mashed potato
Add French dressing, finely chopped parsley, chives and mayonnaise to the stiff potato to taste. Pipe onto individual leaves of lettuce or use to garnish starter salad or hors d'oevures.

Potato and Thyme Leaf Salad
Serves 6 approx.

Scant quart cooked potatoes peeled and cut into 5mm (1/2 inch) dice
125ml (4fl ozs) fruity extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tablespoons thyme leaves and thyme flowers if available
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Coat potatoes in a good extra virgin oil while still warm. Season to taste. Sprinkle liberally with fresh thyme leaves. Garnish with lots of purple and mauve thyme flowers.

Coooks Book

Allegra McEvedy’s Colour Cookbook – published by Kyle Cathie

Allegra McEvedy believes that ‘Each season has a palette of colours associated with it, and if you eat by colour, by season you will naturally be giving your body what it needs at that time of year. 

The book contains a chapter for each season , with its own palette of colours, and recipes that use ingredients that are at the top of their game. At the beginning of each chapter there’s a run down on what it is exactly that each season’s produce can do for you, and why adding it to your diet will make you, and those you cook for, feel bouncier and bonnier than ever before.

Buy this Book from
 
Prune Date and Honey Powerbars 
Like a modern flapjack, but crumblier.
You can swap the suggested ingredients for whatever you have in the cupboard – apricots or figs instead of dates and prunes, walnuts for almonds, and use whatever seeds you have knocking about. The key to the flavour is the ratio oats:butter:honey.

Makes about 14 depending on the size you cut them.

160g butter
6 tablespoons clear honey
300g oats
80g flaked almonds
70g sultanas
70g dried apricots, chopped
80g dried prunes, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon linseeds

Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/gas 3

Melt the butter with the honey.

Toss all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, then pour in the melted butter and honey. Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with buttered greaseproof paper and pack the mixture into it, pressing it down with the back of a spoon.

Cook for 45 minutes or until slightly brown. Take out of the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting into oblongs. Cool to room temperature before taking out of the tin.

*NB The Powerbars may be sometimes be a bit crumbly because of the varying absorbency of the dry ingredients. Allegra doesn’t mind this, but if you do you could make a note to add a bit more butter next time you are making them.

They will keep for 5 days in an airtight container.

Foolproof Food

Wild Garlic Soup

Wild garlic is plentiful in the countryside just now, take the opportunity to make this delicious Spring soup.
Both the bulbs and leaves of wild garlic are used in this soup and the pretty flowers are divine sprinkled over the top of each soup bowl. 

55g (2ozs) butter
140g (5ozs) diced onions
280g (10ozs) peeled diced potatoes
2 cups of wild garlic chopped, use both bulb and leaf 
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1.2L (2 pints) home made chicken stock
125ml (4 fl ozs) cream or creamy milk 
Garnish: Wild garlic flowers

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes, onion, and wild garlic and toss in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add a little cream or creamy milk to taste. Serve, sprinkled with a few wild garlic flowers.

Hot Tips

‘007 Licenced to Bake’
The Guild of Foodwriters in UK are welcome entries from Ireland to this year’s GFW Children’s Cookery Competition – Cook It! The theme of this year’s competition is ‘007 - Licenced to Bake’ and one of the dishes must be baked to encourage the traditional skills of pie, cake or biscuit making amongst children. Closing date is 12th April – 6 lucky finalists will cook off in the BBC Good Food magazine kitchens on Thursday 24th May. Fabulous first prize of a trip to Paris.
www.gfw.co.uk/campaigns/cookit_main.html

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.

The Real Magic of India

For me, the real magic of India, comes not just from the stunning temples, palaces and vibrant colour but from the myriad of street foods, cooked on the little stalls and portable kitchens in every city, town and village all over the country. 
 
India is the world’s largest democracy and the economy is growing at a rate of 9% a year. 

In the 12 months since my last visit, the change is palpable. The number of new cars on the roads is increasing at a rate of 20,000 a day. In large cities like Mumbai and Delhi flyovers are being built at a frantic rate, but the traffic is fast becoming unbearable. Everywhere the roads are being dug up to make way for high tensile cables and there are acres of glitzy malls under construction. 

Tuc tuc’s and rickshaws are being eased out of city centres, they don’t fit in with the new cosmopolitan image that these cities are so anxious to portray. Needless to say, I don’t go to India to visit the latest Mac Donalds or KFC. They are all there and many more besides, desperate to get a piece of the action in this fast-growing economy. I’m looking for the quintessential Indian experience.

Tourist numbers are also at an all time high but sadly many travelers never get a real taste of India, scared by the prospect of a bout of ‘Delhi Belly’ they steer well away from street food and rarely venture into the roadside dhabas where I’ve had some of my most delicious and inexpensive bites. This is simple food by Indian standards and challenging by Western hygiene standards but most is freshly prepared from food brought in the morning market. It is cooked as you wait, some like naan breads and dosa are cooked in a Tandoor oven or in a iron tava others like samosas, bajiis, pakoras catchoris and pooris are deep fried in huge iron woks called Kad. Idli of south India are steamed and served with little bowls of sambar. The Indians love to snack, some poorer families don’t have any kitchens, few rural families have ovens. So all cooking is done over wood fires or with dried cow pats. In villages, towns and cities breakfast, lunch and evening meals come from street stalls, that specialize in just one or two items . 

Hard core foodies who want to enhance their Indian gastronomic experience need to develop a sixth sense survival strategy. First observe the stall quietly, not quite so easy when you are conspicuously white and foreign. As ever, its best to gravitate towards the busier stalls. If locals are already queueing up its likely to be the best choice in the area. Ask for the food to be cooked in front of you, rather than accepting an item that was cooked earlier. Much of Indian food is vegetarian. If it contains meat it will be referred to as non veg, Chicken or mutton (meaning goat) are the most usual meats. In some areas close to the sea, local fish can be very good. 

As far as street foods are concerned. Calcutta or Kalcota as it is now known, was by far the most vibrant and varied. We headed for the office area near Dalhousie Square just before noon when all the government clerks spill out of their offices and take a break from filling in dusty ledgers.

Just behind the office area and all around the corner there are food stalls on both sides of the pavement. The variety is staggering and affordable. As we wander down the street the vendors are gearing up for the imminent onslaught. One is chanting a puja around his stall. Several have little auspicious garlands of limes and chilli hanging from their umbrellas to ward off evil spirits. One romali roti maker feeds his first stuffed ‘handkerchief bread’ to the brazier as he murmurs a prayer, presumably to ask for a busy lunchtime trade. Indians of all ages and creeds are exceedingly devout.

All the ‘mise-en-place’ is done, bread dough made, vegetables chopped, pickles and chutneys at the ready. Big pots of mutton and chicken biryani are steaming hot ready to serve.

Other stalls are piled high with the ingredients for an ‘egg toast’ with chopped onion, green chilli, fresh coriander added to the beaten egg. It is fried on a hot tava in a little sizzling oil on a hot tava, then cut into quarters, sprinkled with pepper and coarse salt. Can you imagine how delicious that is. The skill and speed at which they work is astounding. Several are doing vegetable and non vegetable versions of the famous Kolcata Kati roll. 

Other stalls are piled high with flaky triangular Shingaras (Bengali savoury samosas) and moghlai parathas, stuffed with mince.

Another vendor is selling roast hard boiled eggs with pickles and chatt masala, yet another roti and gravy. Cauliflower is in season so yet another has crispy little cauliflower fritters which have been dipped in a gram (chickpea flour) batter laced with chilli powder and turmeric, so moreish. Many of the foods are served in little leaf baskets on banana leaves or in recycled newspaper bags.

Juice Wallahs have their stalls piled high with watermelons, pineapples, pomegranates and mangos. Tea shops making sweet chai and spicy marsala chai are also doing a roaring trade. 

There was much, much more, chickpea stews, dahls , fresh and cooked, vegetable salads, always spiced up with a hot sauce and served with a segment of lime.

Indians have an incredibly sweet tooth, several other stalls are providing a variety of sweet meats. One chap is piping thin spirals of a batter into hot oil to make Jalebas. When they are crisp they will be dropped into a heavy syrup to provide a tooth-wrenching sweet, but other favourites are the famous Rosagulla made from casein.

Sadly while we were there the Times of India carried a lead story that the Indian government planned to ban street food in Delhi. 

This may well be the beginning of the end for this kind of food which provides a livelihood and inexpensive nutritious food for literally millions of Indians of every class and creed every day.

Here are a few examples of some of the street foods I enjoyed.

Indian Spiced Vegetable Pakoras with Mango Relish

Serves 4-6
Vegetables
1 thin aubergine cut into 3 inch (5mm) slices
1 teasp. salt
2 medium courgettes, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) slices, if they are very large cut into quarters
12 cauliflower florets
6 large mushrooms, cut in half

Batter
6 ozs (170g) cups Chick pea or all-purpose flour
1 tablesp. chopped fresh coriander
1 scant teasp. salt
2 teasp. curry powder
1 tablesp. olive oil
1 tablesp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 fl ozs (175-250ml) iced water

Vegetable oil for deep frying
Garnish: Lemon wedges and coriander or parsley 

Put the aubergine slices into a colander, sprinkle with the salt, and let drain while preparing the other vegetables.

Blanch the courgettes and cauliflower florets separately in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and dry well. Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry. 

Put the flour, coriander, salt and curry powder into a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil, lemon juice and water until the batter is the consistency of thick cream. 

Heat good quality oil to 180C in a deep fry. Lightly whisk the batter and dip the vegetables in batches of 5 or 6, slip them carefully into the hot oil. Fry the pakoras for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning them with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a moderate oven (uncovered) while you cook the remainder. Allow the oil to come back to 180C between batches. When all the vegetable fritters are ready, garnish with lemon wedges and fresh or deep fried coriander or parsley. Serve at once with Mango relish.

Mango Relish

2 fl ozs (50ml) medium sherry
2 fl ozs (50ml) water
2 fl ozs (50ml) white wine vinegar
2 tablesp. sugar
2 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 teasp. salt
Pinch of ground mace
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablesp. lemon juice

Put the sherry, water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, salt and mace into a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the mango, pepper, and lemon juice, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Spoon into a screw top jar and refrigerate until required.

Chai

250ml (9fl oz) full fat milk
2-3 cardamom pods
2.5cm (1inch) piece of cinnamon
3 peppercorns
3 teaspoons loose tea leaves
500ml (18fl oz) boiling water
sugar

Put all the ingredients except the tea leaves and the sugar into a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Bring back to the boil, add the tea leaves, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 1-2 mins. Turn off the heat and allow the leaves to settle. Serve in tea cups.

Cauliflower Fritters – from India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj – published by Kyle Cathie

Phoolkopir bhaja

Serves 4
For the batter:
150g flour
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ajowan seeds
Salt

Sunflower oil for deep-frying

300g cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florettes

Make a thick batter of all the batter ingredients and batter as needed to achieve the consistency of thick custard.

Heat the oil in a deep kadhai or frying pan until it is nearly smoking.
Dip each cauliflower florette in the batter and gently add to the hot oil. Reduce the heat to allow the cauliflower to cook through. Do this in batches, a few at a time, frying until golden, then drain on absorbent paper.
Serve hot with Pineapple Chutney or tomato ketchup.

Potatoes and Green Pea Samosas – from India’s Vegetarian Cooking by Monisha Bharadwaj

Mutter ke Samose

Serves 4 (makes 12 samosas)
Samosas are very popular all over the world and can be served as a snack, a main meal or a picnic treat. In India they are served with tomato ketchup, sweet and sour tamarind chutney or a spicy mint relish. The potatoes in this recipe need to be cut up finely, almost the size of a fingernail. They should retain their shape but melt in the mouth. Although they are traditionally deep-fried, Monisha bakes hers.

2 tablespoons sunflower oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
300g potatoes, peeled, cut into small cubes, boiled and drained
150g frozen green peas, cooked and drained
Salt
500g frozen ready-to-use filo pastry

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the cumin seeds until they turn dark, for a few seconds. Reduce the heat.

Add the spice powders and stir in the potatoes at once as the spice powders will scorch easily. Add the peas and salt and cook until well blended, for a couple of minutes.

Line a baking tray with tinfoil and preheat the oven to 220C/gas 6.

Lay a sheet of pastry on a flat surface. Fill with a bit of the potato and pea mixture. Fold the pastry to make a triangle and continue similarly for the rest of the filling. (Folding technique: lift the top centre corner and fold over the filling to be in line with the bottom edge, making a triangle shape. Now lift the right bottom corner over to the top and then the top left down again. Carry on until you have a triangular parcel).

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning over once to cook both sides.
Serve hot.

Foolproof Food

Indian ‘French toast’

Serves 4
4 thickish slices of good white bread
3 - 4 free range eggs
1 green chilli chopped 
4 tablespoons of freshly chopped coriander 
1 small onion chopped 
rock or sea salt 
freshly ground pepper

First lightly toast the bread (in Calcutta it was chargrilled over charcoal). Whisk the eggs in a flattish dish; add salt, finely chopped onion, green chilli and coriander. 

Dip one slice of bread into the egg, turn over to make sure it is saturated on both sides. Slap it onto a hot pan with a little sizzling oil. Cook until crispy on both sides. Cut in quarters, sprinkle with rock salt and serve. 

Hot Tips

Launch of Diversity Awards 2007
The launch of the Diversity Awards 2007 will take place on Monday 22nd March at the Stephen's Green Hibernian Club. 
Funded by the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform, under the 'National Action Plan Against Racism' (NPAR), the mission of the Diversity Awards is to recognise and celebrate the initiatives, policies and practices taken by both companies and individuals who embrace diversity within the Irish Hospitality and Tourism Industry. 
The Diversity Awards were first launched in 2006, and were met with great success. Now in their second year the Diversity Awards will be open to applications within a range of categories. 
For more information email Helen at info@ihi.ie  http://www.thediversityawards.com 

Burrenbeo Information Centre and Café Beo reopen after winter break

The Burrenbeo Resource Centre and Cafe Beo - located in Kinvara - is now open, Wed - Sat, 10am to 6pm daily. Featuring: Images of the Burren - a stunning collection of photographic images of the Burrens rich heritage, Multilingual factsheets and other free Burren information, free broadband internet access, as well as an extensive range of Burren reference books to browse through while you relax with a cup of the best (fair trade) coffee in the Burren!

Diploma in Speciality Food Production – at University College Cork
2 April – 16 May 2007. This course is for individuals who are starting a speciality food business and also for those involved in this sector including producers, retailers, culinary specialists, buyers, food designers and journalists. For details contact Mary McCarthy Buckley, Food Industry Training Unit, University College Cork. Tel 021-4903363 email:m.mccarthybuckley@ucc.ie

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.

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