ArchiveMay 2003

Alastair Hendy’s – Home Cook

Alastair Hendy’s name may not be familiar to many over here but readers of the Sunday Times who were devastated when his column was discontinued, are thrilled to find his lively prose, tempting recipes and evocative photos in the Mail on Sunday You Magazine. He also writes in a myriad of other magazines and publications.
I’m a fan and even more so since we met at Tasting Australia in Adelaide a couple of years ago. He and Kevin Gould, two culinary whizz kids were so kind to me and included me in many of their trips and events even though I was old enough to be their granny.
Alastair is an entirely self-taught eclectic cook, passionate about food and the quality of ingredients. He has written for numerous magazines and presented a 20-programme series ‘No Meat Required’ which was screened on Carlton Food Network. He takes beautiful photographs – he’s an inveterate traveller spending much of his time in India, South East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia), Sri Lanka, Europe, USA, Central and South America and North Africa, all of which have influenced his eclectic cooking style.
His latest book ‘Home Cook’ with more than 150 recipes is described as an honest, fuss-free up-to-the-minute cookery bible that shows you how to magic a proper dinner with one hand while downing a glass or two with friends with the other. Well I found lots of really tempting recipes from favourite comfort snacks to exotic Pad Thai Noodles and White and Dark Chocolate Tira Misu. We also greatly enjoyed Honey Roast Drumsticks and Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad.
Home Cook by Alastair Hendy, published by Headline in 2004. 

Delicious Shrimp pad Thai noodles

300g dried rice stick noodles, or other rice noodles
5cm white radish or 4 regular radishes, finely shredded
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp castersugar
fish sauce
2 hot red chillies, sliced into rings
500g uncooked tiger prawns
2 big handfuls beansprouts
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 large eggs
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
6 spring onions, cut into short lengths
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tsp ground dried chilli or chilli flakes
handfuls of coriander leaves

The secret here, as with all stir-frying, is to have all your stuff ready for the pan, then it’s a simple process of slinging things in when you come to cook. First, soak the noodles. Toss the radish with the rice vinegar in a small bowl, and leave for about 30 minutes, then lift up from its vinegar bath and put on one side. Stir the sugar, 2 tbsp of the fish sauce and 1 tbsp water into the vinegar. Pop the chilli rings into small dipping bowls filled with fish sauce ready for serving. Now, display everything – including the prawns and beansprouts – in little piles or in bowls by the hob, ready for the off.
To cook, heat about 1 tbsp oil in your wok and swirl around, then crack in the eggs and scramble them: once they begin to set, keep scraping up and jumbling over until they start to gain a little golden colour, then scrape out into a small bowl. Next, heat 2 tbsp of oil in the wok and chuck in the garlic. After about 20 seconds, chuck in the prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink. Throw in the shallots, then stir in the vinegar mixture and let it bubble up, then tip in the noodles, vinegared radish, spring onions and peanuts and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the noodles have absorbed the liquid. Chuck in the beansprouts, sprinkle over the dried chilli, and once more stir through. Pile on to plates and scatter with coriander. Zing it up by adding rings of chilli and dribbles of hot fish sauce as you eat.
The Ballymaloe Cookery School

White and dark chocolate tiramisu

Makes 6 pots or you could put it all in one dish
2 medium eggs
caster sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
250ml double cream, plus 2 tbsp.
100ml strong, freshly brewed coffee
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur, or other coffee liqueur
1 packet sponge finger biscuits
1 tbsp.shelled hazelnuts, roasted and ground
100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
150g dark bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

Using a hand whisk, beat the eggs with 2 tbsp of the sugar until pale, then beat in the mascarpone and the 2 tbsp. double cream until the mixture is smooth. Mix the coffee with another 2-3 tsp of sugar and the liqueur, then dunk each sponge finger briefly into this. Layer the soaked fingers into the base of each dish or pot, about four per serving. Dribble a tbsp. more of the coffee mixture over each, sprinkle with hazelnuts, then spoon the mascarpone on top, gently pushing down to fill any gaps.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. As soon as it has melted, allow it to cool, just a little. Meanwhile, beat the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then beat the white chocolate into the cream. Spoon on top of the mascarpone, level off and refrigerate until needed.
To serve, melt the dark chocolate (in the same way as the white chocolate), then once cooled a tad, pour over each serving, and take to the table straightaway. Delicious.

Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad

3 tbsp unsalted skinned peanuts
500g free-range pork fillet (or chicken breast)
3 tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and finely shredded
3 large mild red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp Asian dressing (see recipe)
½ large cos lettuce or other crisp leaves, torn up
handful each of basil, mint and coriander leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and shredded
4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Scatter the peanuts over a roasting tray, then toast in a 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 over for about 15 minutes, shaking once or twice, or until evenly brown all over. Then crush them to chunky crumbs. They’ll keep like this, sealed in a tub, for a good month or more – so do extra if you make lots of South-East Asian things.

Slice the meat into 1cm thick sections and toss with the five-spice powder. Then mix the sugar with the fish sauce, soy sauce, lemongrass, chilli, garlic and shallot, tip this over the seasoned sliced pork, and stir through. Leave to marinate for about an hour if you can – although the results are still damn good if you’re time-poor and have to sling it straight in the pan. Next, toss the Asian dressing with the torn-up cos leaves, herbs, cucumber, spring onion and toasted crumbled nuts.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and fry the marinated port without moving for about 1 minute, then turn and fry for another minute, then sling over any remaining marinade and cook until varnished brown and sticky. To serve, fold the pork with all its caramelised bits and bobs through the dressed salad leaves and other ingredients. And dig in.

Asian Dressing

This is the dressing that turns bland into fantastic. It’s dairy free, oil free and – not that this ever dictates what I eat – it’s healthy, so a great one if you’re clocking the calories. It has to be a classic now. It’s simply what the Vietnamese use as a dipping sauce. Add a handful of crushed and toasted peanuts on top of any pile of bits and pieces tossed with this and you’re off. A little goes a long way, so use more sparingly than, say, a French dressing. And add a drop of oil, if you prefer. And if you want to use it as a dipping sauce, dilute with 1 tbsp of water.
2 small red bird’s eye chillies (finely sliced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed in a press)
3 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp each of fish sauce, lime juice and rice vinegar

Whisk together all the ingredients (or shake up in a screw-top jar) until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to stand for about 20 minutes to allow the chilli and garlic to do their thing. Easy.

Foolproof Food

Honey Roast Drumsticks from ‘Home Cook by Alastair Hendy’

This recipe evolves at home constantly – and every family has their own version. You can add some grated ginger if you have some.
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on or off
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. runny honey
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Lay the chicken across a roasting tin, then salt and pepper it. Next, dribble, spill and sprinkle over the remaining flavourings and oil, and then jumble the chicken pieces around a bit so they become well coated. Leave them like this until you’re ready to cook. Jumble through again just before you roast them.
Roast the tray of chicken in a 220C/ 425F/gas 7 oven for 35 minutes, remembering to turn the pieces over midway. Then remove the tin from the oven, cover with foil and leave on one side for 10 minutes, the meat will carry on cooking a little and will have time to relax and become succulent. I know they’re only legs but this relaxing time makes all the difference.

Hot Tips
4th Annual Slow Sea Food Festival at Baltimore – Sunday 30th May on the The Pier in Baltimore, West Cork.
Music all day by the ‘Cheesemakers’, over 20 Irish Producers selling their own food. Buffet using fresh fish caught at Baltimore and produce from local growers. It coincides with ‘The Baltimore Wooden Boats Festival’ and ‘David Owen’s Oyster Festival’ – so lots and lots of reasons to come! Contact Clodagh McKenna on 023-52977 or  

Galway Student in a league of his own 
At Irish Pork competition

Simon Tracey of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology cooked the winning dish for the Irish Pork Competition Final. The aim of the competition and cookery course, co-ordinated by Bord Bia, The Panel of Chefs of Ireland, the IAPP and the IFA, is to increase the presence of Irish pork on menus throughout Ireland and to educate students with regard to Irish Pork ‘from Farm to Fork’. 

Catering students from 8 IT Colleges nationwide participated in the final of the cookery competition, in which they cooked their chosen pork dish. Simon, from Ballinasloe was awarded a certificate, a trophy and a €1,000 cash prize. He also received sponsorship to the value of €2,000 for a pork related project to be carried out as part of his college course. All five finalists received a €250 book voucher and a gold medal. As part of the training course, students saw how pigs are reared, how a processing plant operates. They also received a presentation on Bord Bia’s Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme and a presentation on Research and Development in pig production by
Teagasc. One hundred and twenty students from colleges nationwide were involved in a series of information open days on pork production and processing. 

St Tola Organic Goat Cheeses – are produced by Siobhan Ni Ghairbhidh at Inagh in Co Clare – Siobhan was trained by Meg and Derrick Gordon, the original St Tola Cheesemakers –their commitment is to produce local organic hand crafted goat cheeses, whose flavours represent the characteristics of the locality. These cheeses are made on a daily basis and they are committed to organic farming and traditional cheese-making methods. They are finding pressure from cheaper processed substitutes and pressure on price rather than quality. They have ample supplies of the St Tola range and are listed with all the main wholesalers in Ireland – they are dependent on like-minded customers who are committed to quality regional foods, and whom they ask to support them by insisting on getting St Tola from their cheese wholesaler, or else contact them directly Tel 065-6836633 Fax 065-6836757

A Family Celebration

This is the Holy Communion and Confirmation season. All over the country excited children and frazzled parents are preparing for the big day. Celebrations seem to gather momentum and become even more elaborate every year, a far cry from my childhood when one came home for a family breakfast of rashers and eggs, shared with grandparents, perhaps a favourite aunt and uncle and a neighbour or two and the godparents. There were presents of course, a little prayer book with a gold and white embossed cover, a little miraculous medal surrounded by a pleated white ribbon and a pretty blue or white rosary beads to treasure as special memento of the day.

The idea of collecting enough money to buy bike or a playstation was a long way off at that stage. 

A special meal to celebrate these special occasions – understandably many people choose to go to a favourite restaurant with family and friends - everyone can relax but if the party of extended family and friends continues to expand, this can prove to be an expensive option, so why not decide to do your own Communion or Confirmation party. With a little planning and some help from the pals it needn’t be a marathon task – no point in being a martyr. Decide on the menu and then delegate – friends are usually delighted to be invited to bring along their ‘signature dish’ or luscious pud.

A family celebration such as this often involves several generations so lets think of having something yummy for everyone.

However, its important to remember it’s a day for the children, not just for adults, so the menu must be designed with that in mind. Choose dishes that can be made ahead and don’t need last minute attention. It’s a neat idea to do a few little bites to pass around when people arrive from the Church. Make some zingy homemade lemonade for the kids (use sparkling water instead of still) and some bubbly for the grown ups.

The canapés could be as simple as really good smoked salmon on brown bread or a tasty pate on crostini,

Dips are also easy to whip up – how about Tortilla Chips with Guacamole and Tomato Salsa, Cumin pitta crisps with Tstatsiki or Hummus bi Tahina.

Both kids and adults love Spicy potato wedges with a garlicy mayonnaise dip.

Kids of all ages love sausages – serve some plain and toss the rest in a mixture of honey, wholegrain mustard and chopped rosemary – simple and lip smackingly good.

For main course – a white soda bread pizza with tomato and mozzarella and pepperoni topping or mushroom and marjoram topping would disappear with double quick speed. Chicken goujons with chips and sweet chilli sauce would get a similar reception from the kids- the grown-ups might even sneak a few. A big bubbly stew with scallion champ or a tagine with couscous, or a chicken and mushroom pie would be delicious and easy to produce.

Alternatively, a poached salmon with homemade mayonnaise and perhaps a few simple salads – tomato and mint, cucumber pickle, egg mayonnaise and potato and chive salad would be light and summery.

For pudding you’ll need to have lots of really good quality ice-cream for the kids and embellish it with a generous bowl of new season Irish strawberries or maybe make a fresh strawberry sauce to serve with vanilla ice-cream. Sticky toffee pudding or a buttery rhubarb tart would be perfect for a cooler day and then there must be a celebration cake or a meringue gateau – how about almond meringue with strawberries and cream.

If all this seems too much like hard work why not find a good caterer to take over and provide the food, or even order the desserts and cake from one of the many little great delis springing up all over the place - see Hot Tips.

Gratin of Chicken and Broccoli

Serves 4-6
This is one of those dishes that can be mouth-watering or a complete disaster. Its success depends on the broccoli being carefully cooked so that it is bright green and just tender.
1 x 32 lb (1.5kg) chicken*, free range if possible
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, sliced
sprig each of thyme and tarragon
a few peppercorns
2 pint (300ml) homemade chicken stock
1 lb (450g) broccoli florets
4 ozs (110g) mushrooms, sliced
scrap of butter
6 fl ozs (175ml) milk
3 pint (150ml) cream
2 teasp. tarragon or annual marjoram
1 oz (30g) Buttered crumbs, see below
1 oz (30g) grated mature Cheddar cheese
Lasagne dish 10 x 8 inch (25.5 x 20.5cm)
Put the chicken into a saucepan or casserole with the onions and carrots add a sprig of thyme, tarragon and a few peppercorns. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1-13 hours or until the chicken is tender. 

Meanwhile cook the broccoli florets in boiling salted water until al dente (see recipe). Drain and refresh under cold water, keep aside. Saute the mushrooms in the butter on a hot pan season with salt and freshly ground pepper and keep aside also.
When the chicken is cooked remove the meat from one side and carve into bite sized pieces. Keep the rest for another recipe,* or double the rest of the ingredients.

Strain and degrease the cooking liquid, add the cream and milk, bring to the boil, add the tarragon or annual marjoram, simmer for a few minutes, thicken to a light coating consistency with roux, then add the chicken to the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Butter an ovenproof lasagne dish, put a layer of broccoli on the base, scatter the mushrooms on top and cover with the creamy chicken mixture.
Mix the Buttered Crumbs with the grated cheese and sprinkle over the surface. Reheat in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 15-20 minutes and flash under the grill until the top is crunchy and golden. Serve immediately.

Buttered Crumbs

3 oz (8g.) butter
2 oz (15g) soft white breadcrumbs
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool.

Sausages with Honey and Grainy Mustard

1 lb (450g) good quality cocktail sausages

2 tablesp. Irish honey
2 tablesp.Irish grainy mustard (eg. Lakeshore mustard with honey)

Mix the honey with the mustard. Prick the sausages, coat with the honey and mustard mixture, cook in a preheated oven 200C/400F/regulo 6 for 20-25 minutes or until cooked and golden.
Baste several times during cooking.

Home-Made Lemonade

If you keep some chilled 'stock syrup' made up in your fridge all these fresh fruit drinks are simplicity itself to make. They contain no preservatives so they should be served within a few hours of being made. Many different types of citrus fruit may be used.
Stock Syrup
Makes 825ml (28fl ozs)
450g (1 lb) sugar
600ml (1 pint) water
To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.

4 lemons
2 orange
500ml (16fl oz) approx. syrup
1.4L (2½ pint) approx. water – use sparkling mineral water
sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm
Juice the fruit and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.

Almond Meringue with Strawberries and Cream

We use this all-in-one meringue recipe for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines Day, or simply for a special dessert, its particularly delicious with strawberries, but raspberries, loganberries, peaches, nectarines, or kiwi fruit are also very good.
Serves 6
1½ ozs (45g) whole unskinned almonds
2 egg whites, preferably free range
4½ ozs (125g) icing sugar
½ pint (300ml) whipped cream
½ lb (225g) strawberries
Little sprigs of mint or lemon balm

Blanch and skin the almonds. Grind or chop them up. They should not be ground to a fine powder but should be left slightly coarse and gritty, (you could cheat and use nibbed almonds!)

Mark 2 x 7½ inch (19cm) circles on silicone paper or a prepared baking sheet. Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free from grease. Mix all the icing sugar with the egg whites in the bowl, whisk until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Fold in the almonds quickly. Divide the mixture between the two circles and spread evenly with a palette knife. Bake immediately in a cool oven, 150ºC/300ºF/regulo 2 for 45 minutes or until crisp. Turn off the oven and allow to cool. The meringue discs should peel easily off the silicone paper.

To assemble

Slice the strawberries. Sandwich the meringue discs together with the fruit and whipped cream. Reserve a little fruit and cream for decoration. Decorate with rosettes of whipped cream and strawberries. Garnish with little sprigs of mint or lemon balm.

Note: If you chill for an hour before serving it will be easier to cut.
The meringue discs will keep for several weeks in a tin.
Basic Beginners Recipe –
Potato Wedges
Roasted Potato wedges with rosemary and garlic. Instead of Rosemary and Garlic you could dip the potato pieces in flour seasoned with Cajun spices or use one of the ready prepared sachets of seasonings for potato wedges which come in a range of flavours. 

2 lbs (900g) old potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders, or Kerrs pink.
Extra virgin olive oil
12-14 cloves of garlic
Rosemary sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200F/100C
Scrub the potatoes well. Cut into quarters or eights lengthwise depending on size. The pieces should be chunky rather than skinny. Put into a roasting tin with the garlic cloves, drizzle with a little olive oil, toss to coat, sprinkle with salt and a few rosemary sprigs. Roast for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with garlic mayonnaise or a sour cream dip or your own favourite dipping sauce. 

Hot Tips

The Emporium Café at Stephen Pearce Gallery, Shanagarry, Co Cork – as well as providing delicious coffee and snacks, Mamie and Elaine also do outside catering, special occasion cakes, tempting meals to take away….021 4646343

Cuddigans Foodstore, Church Street, Cloyne, Co Cork – our much loved Mr. Cuddigan’s butcher shop is now home to Siobhan Cronin’s foodstore – you can buy a range of tasty ready meals all made on the premises – soups, main courses, desserts, cakes, breads and pastries – special orders welcomed – 021-4652762. 

Others to look up - O’Callaghans Deli, Mitchelstown, Cinnamon Cottage – Rochestown, Cork –The Granary, Midleton

Around the Country - Country Choice, Nenagh, Jim Tynan Portlaoise, Goyas in Galway, The Gourmet Parlour, Sligo ….. see the Bridgestone Shoppers Guide for lots of suggestions.

In Dublin –

It’s a Bagel - Pamela Black and her colleagues will cater for a Bagel Party – 01-8740486, 01-2360644 –

The Butlers Pantry in Blackrock – Eileen Bergin and her team supply a wide range of delicious goodies - 01-2885505

Tim Dickson of Hooper Dickson Catering Co caters for Holy Communions and other special occasions – 01-6267349 

Other Dublin caterers - Sarah Peelo at YUZU Catering Tel 01-8349748  Sarah O’Riain 087-2101861, Rachel Hegarty at Personal Chefs – 01-888 1272 

Joan O’Connell – 01-8532063

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School –
Simply Delicious Food Fast 26-28 May, Discovering Tapas 28 May, Guest Chef Rory O’Connell 29 May, Taste of Thailand & Vietnam 30 May, Vegetarian 3 June, Sushi 6 June – for details of these and all our courses 021-4646785.  

A book worth seeking out - Eat to Live by Sue Radd and Dr. Kenneth Setchell

Published by Newleaf 2003 in Ireland ‘Its not only what we eat that makes us sick – but what we don’t eat!’
Tel 021-4646785.

No farmers, no food

Bord Bia do trojan work to promote Irish food, both at home and abroad – they come up with so many exciting ideas that I often wonder whether they all stay awake at night dreaming up new ways to entice us to buy and try fresh Irish produce. Regular readers of this column will know that I too regularly exhort people to think fresh, local and seasonal and above all to think Irish as you fill your shopping basket – farmers and food producers are really having a tough time. We all seem to assume that cheap food is our right and so the primary producers are often forced to produce food below an economic level because of our unreasonable expectation. Nobody in business can continue for any length of time if they can’t cover their costs and make a reasonable profit to reinvest. If this continues, more and more farmers will be forced to sell the farms they love, otherwise they will be forced to intensify further, in which cases we will all be losers. The result will inevitably be less good quality, less flavour, poorer texture and often less nutritious. Also – sounds a bit melodramatic – no farms, no food – maybe a while off, but in the US 1000 acres of land a day are being lost to farming. In Ireland between 1991 and 2000 there was a drop of around 29,000 in the number of farmers.

On a happier note, back to Bord Bia who have encouraged our butchers shops to stock minced pork on a regular basis – its great value for money, it has all the high nutritional value of other meats and while it can be used in all your favourite mince dishes, it has the added advantage of combining really well with all the current popular flavours - ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, chilli etc., so you have available to you a host of delicious dishes. Especially good are the Chinese style dishes with minced pork like Spring Rolls, Chinese Dumplings, Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

So how about experimenting – for more information and recipes contact Bord Bia 


Minced Pork Sticks with Sesame Dressing

450g (1lb) minced pork
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teasp. ginger
1 tablesp. soy /fish sauce
1 tablesp. basil, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
salt and black pepper
1 tablesp. oil
1 tablesp. sesame oil
1 tablesp. Dijon mustard
½ tablesp. rice vinegar
1 tablesp. sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablesp. soy/fish sauce
½ teasp. sugar
1 chilli, chopped
2 tablesp. basil, chopped

Mix all the pork stick ingredients together and shape onto 12 skewers. Brush with oil and grill until fully cooked, 10-15 min. Mix the dressing together. Serve the sticks with the dressing, noodles and lime wedges.

Pork Burgers with Red Pepper and Mango Salsa

450g (1lb) minced pork
1 onion, finely chopped and sautéed in oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
a handful of coriander and scallions, chopped
salt and black pepper
Red Pepper and Mango Salsa
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 red pepper,diced
a handful of coriander and scallions, chopped
2-3 tablesp. oil
1 chilli, chopped
½ teasp. sugar
juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon
salt and black pepper

Mix the burger ingredients together. Shape into 4 burgers. Grill until fully cooked, 8-10 minutes. Mix the salsa ingredients together. Serve with the burger, bap and salad leaves.

Homemade Sausages with Bramley Apple Sauce

Makes 16 approx. - Serve 8
1 lb (450g) good fat streaky pork
2-4 teaspoons mixed fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram and rosemary or sage
1 large clove garlic
1 egg, preferably free range
2½ ozs (70g) soft white breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little oil

Mince the pork. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the crumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg then mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning correct if necessary. Divide into 16 pieces and roll into lengths. Fry gently on a barely oiled pan until golden on all sides. They are particularly delicious served with Bramley Apple Sauce and Potato Cakes.

Note: For Breakfast you may want to omit the herbs and garlic.

Bramley Apple Sauce

The trick with Apple sauce is to cook it on a very low heat with only a tiny drop of water so it is nice and thick and not too watery, always worth having in the freezer in little tubs in case you feel like a juicy pork chop for supper.
1 lb (450g) cooking apples 
1-2 dessertspoons water
2 ozs (55g) approx. sugar (depending on how tart the apples are)

Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut the pieces in two and put them in a stainless or cast-iron saucepan, with sugar and water. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the apples break down in a fluff. Stir and taste for sweetness.
Serve warm and cold.

Penne with Pork Sausage, Cream and Basil

Serves 8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion (6ozs approx.), finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
250g Italian sausages or minced belly of pork, skinned and crumbled
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
300ml double cream
500g dried pasta
1 handful fresh basil, torn or watercress
salt and black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Heat oil in large frying pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally over medium high heay, until just golden, - 5 minutes. Add minced pork and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring frequently to break up meat, until it browns, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the cream and simmer until just thickened – 1-2 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add the pasta to the hot sauce. Add the torn basil leaves. Toss well to coat, adding reserved water as needed. Serve immediately with Parmesan.


Penne with Pork Sausage, Cream and Basil al Forno

Turn into dishes and bake 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 al forno for 15-20 minutes until slightly crisp on top. Serve with a good green salad.

Darina’s back to basics

Oatmeal Biscuits
A bikkie anyone can make, even complete beginners

This nutritious recipe makes 24 or even 32 biscuits, which keep very well in a tin, the children love to munch them with a banana, don’t compromise, make these with butter, the flavour is immeasurably better.

1 lb (450g) oatmeal (porridge oats)
12 ozs (340g) butter
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar
1 tablesp. golden syrup
1 teasp. pure vanilla essence

Swiss roll tin 10 inch x 15 inch (25.5cm x 38 cm)

Melt the butter, remove from the heat 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 moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 until golden and slightly caramelized about 30 minutes approx. Cut into 24-32 squares while still warm.

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

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!
Loose crumbs can be scattered over some stewed apple for an instant crumble.

Hot tips

For free-range organic chickens contact Dan and Anne Ahern 021-4631058, also available at Midleton Farmers Market.
Organic Pork – Available at Midleton Farmers Market, or from Caherbeg Free Range Pork Ltd. Tel 023-48474, Gubbeen Smokehouse, Tel 028-27824.

Le goÛt du terroir

Despite the war and the Saars scare, 1,200 people winged their way to Montreal recently to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Cooking Professionals. This net-working festival for food writers, cookery school owners, teachers, caterers and chefs is held yearly somewhere on the North American continent. The fact that there was a record turnout for the 25th Annual conference reflects the fact that in the US, record numbers of people are, buying cookbooks, enrolling for cooking classes, because they want to be able rustle up something delicious for their family and friends. In this time of fiscal restraint ‘Eating in’ would appear to be the new ‘Eating out’! The exception were the French cooking schools which target the American business, they saw their business decimated this year when France took an anti-Iraq war stand. 

So what do IACP members do when they get together for a conference. The answer is pack much more than is physically possible into a few days. Delegates start to network furiously at breakfast from 7.30am onwards each day. Then there are keynote presentations, this year it was on the Politics of Food, moderated by RW Apple Junior, of the New York Times. A coffee break for more networking, followed by a myriad of simultaneous concurrent workshops on a variety of subjects. The theme of this year’s conference was Le Goût du Terroir, which rather inadequately translates into The Taste of the Soil. The concept of terroir really means much more in French than soil. It denotes an understanding of history and a powerful sense of place. Terroir is all about flavour, provenance and locale. Several of the sessions dealt with how our food is produced, the farm to table connection and the dilemma of cheap food. Others dealt with topics such as how to make your culinary business grow, what cookbook and magazine editors want today, behind the scenes in a test kitchen, food styling on location, the art of food photography, planning culinary tours …..

There were sessions on pairing food with wine , tea with chocolate and Washoku – the harmony of food.

Other sessions dealt with specific ingredients, spices, chocolate, farmhouse cheese, duck, foie gras, or particular cuisines, a taste of Sweden, the Philippines, or the Turmeric Trail. In the midst of it all the great diet debate and a session on trends in the supermarket industry.

Altogether there are 60 sessions over 3 days, so it is totally impossible to participate or absorb all the information, so one ends up buying the tapes of the sessions one couldn’t get to. 

In the evenings it was a frenzy of eating out. Montreal is a beautiful city on an island, a mixture of old and new. Downtown bristles with skyscrapers, many seem frivolous, almost perky with playful shapes and uncorporate colours.

The city above ground is mirrored by another whole city underground so one can avoid the freezing winters and wander around in coatless comfort- just as well because I arrived coatless and full of optimism to be met by the last snow shower of the season. Fortunately, I resisted the impulse to buy a coat- two days later the temperature was in the 60’s

Up to relatively recently, the food scene in Montreal was determinedly French, chefs had resisted the food trends sweeping across from America and even Toronto. Cajun, Tex Mex, Franco Asian, Pacific Rim & Cal-Ital came and went in other cities, but the diners of Montreal remained resolute – they stuck to their French culinary traditions.

However, in recent years this attitude has changed dramatically after the recession of the early 1990’s , restaurateurs were forced to re-examine, streamline and experiment. Immigration continued to grow, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Turkish, Portuguese, Mexican, Indian, Creole, Greek, Szechuan, Japanese. 

Innovation and intermingling of styles, ingredients and techniques was inevitable and the city culinary landscape is all the richer for it. 

My best meals were at Milos, a Greek seafood restaurant where the food was so delicious it made me wish I could head for a Greek island . The interior was just like a taverna in an Aegean fishing port - white washed walls, bleached wooden floors, blue tiles, Greek vases and a mouthwatering display of the freshest fish you can imagine.

With the basket of grilled bread came a dish of fragrant olive oil, just as we were about to dip our bread, the waiter snipped some fresh Marjoram into the oil- a simple and truly delicious touch wonderful for restaurant or for home entertaining. 

We were a table of avid foodies , so we shared a wide variety of dishes, a starter plate of Taramasalata, Tsatsiki and Kephalotyri cheese in a crispy batter, chargrilled squid, crab cakes, paper thin slices of courgette and aubergine with tsatsiki

A super rocket salad with feta and olive oil balsamic avgotarlio, the salted and pressed mullet roe which I found addictive and huge shrimps from Lake Messalogi.

After we shared all this, there was no room for main course so we went straight onto pudding. Various halva and filo pastries- the galaktoboureko was particularly delicious. 

Finally, we nibbled some Greek cheeses and a truly delicious Anthotyro, a soft cheese from Crete which was drizzled with honey and served with candied tangerine peel.

Other good meals at Anise and Toque, but the most memorable was at Pied de Couchon where chef Martin Picard serves truly authentic French peasant food, comforting bourgeois dishes with an edge of wit and sophistication. The look is rustic, sleek with hewn wood tables, brick oven and industrial chic ladies room. This restaurant is not for the faint hearted, certainly not a destination for vegetarians- this place is unashamedly for raging carnivores – the emphasis is on meat and not the wimpish cuts, the restaurant challenges its customers.

Pig’s trotters, lamb shanks, pig’s ears, beef cheek, a wonderful pot au feu, home cured meats, rillettes, terrines – all home made . The menu also included some Quebec specialities , a comforting poutine - chips smothered with gravy with cheese nuggets and a delicious sugar tart-brilliant food and seriously hunky waiters.

On a tour of old Montreal we visited the not to be missed Montreal institution, Schwartz charcuterie, to sample the best smoked meats (Romanian style) and liver sandwiches, served with pickles and coleslaw. Schwartz’s salt the brisket for 8 days and then smoke it for 7-8 hours - real Montreal Hebrew deli food. Then on to sample bagels in Fairmont and from there to Chinatown to see Johnny Chin make Dragons beard cookies – a real character. We all crammed into his tiny shop, while we watched he took a blob of warm semi solid corn syrup, tossed it in corn flour then folded and refolded like a conjurer so fast we could scarcely see what he did. Within seconds the blob of sugar was transformed into strings of sugar, like the finest spaghetti – 13 pulls resulted in 8192 strands. (1 – to the power of 12)

Then he pulled off little pieces and wrapped them around sugar peanuts, chocolate and coconut sesame. The result Dragons Beard cookies which you pop into your mouth all in one go, the strand of sugar coating melting on your tongue, then just chew the delicious filling – a magic little confection not to be missed, if and when you get to Montreal.

Jambon Persille

Jellied Ham with parsley

Serves 12 – 16

a nice piece of ham or oyster cut about - 6 lbs (2.7kg)
2 dry white wine and 2 water or all wine
2 onions, stuck with 1 clove each
2 carrots
1 stick celery
1 small bay leaf
few sprigs of thyme
10 peppercorns
parsley stalks (keep the leaves for later)
4-5 teasp. approx. gelatine
2 ozs (55g) parsley

Soak the ham or gammon in cold water overnight or at least for a few hours, discard the soaking water, cover with fresh water and blanch and refresh three or perhaps four times, depending on how salty the ham or bacon is. Add all the remaining ingredients except the gelatine and parsley. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2-22 hours depending on the blanching time - a skewer should go through easily. Remove the ham, strain the liquid through a fine sieve or one lined with muslin, degrease and allow to cool. 
Cut the ham into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes approx. Measure the liquid and allow 4 teaspoons of gelatine for each pint - you won't need much more than a pint. Put 4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid into a small bowl, sprinkle on 4 rounded teaspoons of gelatine and allow to sponge for a few minutes while you bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Put the bowl into the simmering water to dissolve the gelatine. When the gelatine is clear add a little of the measured liquid, stir well and then mix with the remainder, finally stirring in the finely chopped parsley. Pour the liquid over the ham and then fill into an oiled bowl or terrine (it should be about 4 inches (10 cm) deep. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

In France it is traditionally made in a round bottomed bowl but it could be made in a rectangular terrine also. Serve in slices with summer salads. 

Darina’s Top Tips

Ham hocks 
Lots of chefs are incorporating them into their menus – cheap and delicious. Ham hocks could be substituted in the Jambon Persillee recipe – available from pork butchers and from several stalls in the English Market in Cork.

Everyone is talking about the new Good Things Café in Durrus in West Cork. (027-61426) Chef/owner Carmel Somers knew Jane Grigson , worked with Sally Clarke in London and at Markwicks in Bristol. Creative, contemporary cooking, using the finest West Cork artisan ingredients. Open 11-5 for lunch, coffee, teas and snacks but plans to open for dinner in June, closed Tuesday and Wednesday during May. The Café is in what was formerly the Butterfly House.

Rhubarb In season

Rhubarb is really in full season now and the first Irish strawberries have just come on the market. Make a Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote or tarts and pies while the rhubarb is still at its best.

As a very special luxury look out for seakale, a country house vegetable, rarely found in shops, but inquire from your local Farmers Market, or better still go along to the garden centre and ask for it. Cook simply in boiling salted water and serve with Hollandaise sauce – sublime!


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