Mother’s Day


I’ve only just discovered how Mother’s Day came about.  I’d often wondered but just recently came across a piece about an American lady called Anne Jarvis who conceived the idea of Mother’s Day in the early 1990’s after the death of her own mother. She imagined it as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers make for their children and how it’s not until we have our own children that we truly begin to appreciate the heroism of our own mothers. We may whinge and argue and at times be totally unaware of how unreasonable and obnoxious we are particularly during those tumultuous teenage years but the penny drops pretty quickly during those first days when you bring home a new born babe and struggle to snatch a few hours sleep not to speak of keeping all the balls in the air.

I can’t imagine how young mothers (and fathers) manage to juggle as the responsibilities of motherhood and a job nowadays – heroic ‘is truly’ an understatement and if ever a celebration was justified its Mother’s Day.

Anna battled for a number of years to get Mother’s Day officially recognised and in 1914 her persistence paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in the US.

What originally started as a personal celebration quickly became highly commercialised much to the disappointment and disgust of its originator who disowned the festival altogether and actually lobbied the US government to remove the holiday from the American calendar without success.

Of course a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates or some perfume and a hand-made card are always greeted with delight but how about the gift of a few hours off. Maybe a couple of gift tokens to do the ironing, wash the dishes or cook the supper even  breakfast in bed with a little posy of flowers on the tray.

Here are a couple of delicious one pot dishes that would make an easy family supper or Sunday lunch and our absolute favourite chocolate cake from 30 years at Ballymaloe.

Shermin’s Thai Chicken Curry


Arjard would be a nice accompaniment.


Your Mum and all the family will love this recipe which Shermin Mustafa Thompson shared with us.



Serves 4-6


350g (12oz) chicken thighs free range and organic

400ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cups) coconut milk

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) green curry paste

1 Thai green chilli, pounded (optional – if you like a hotter curry)

175ml (6fl oz/3/4 cup) chicken stock

1/2 aubergine, cut into 1cm (1/2inch) cubes or 20-24 pea aubergines

2 kaffir lime leaves

1/2 tablespoon (1/2 American tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon) palm sugar or a little less of soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) fish sauce (Nam Pla)

20 basil leaves

1 large red chilli, pounded

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) soya sauce (optional)


Remove the skin and bone from the chicken thighs, cut into very thin strips.


Heat the wok on a low heat. Pour 110ml (4fl oz/1/2 cup) coconut milk into the wok. Add the green curry paste and a pounded green chilli, and mix well. Add the chicken strips, increase the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken changes colour, then add the stock, remainder of the coconut milk, aubergine dice, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and fish sauce, half the basil leaves and pounded red chilli.


Stir constantly on a medium heat until the curry boils and foams up.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, otherwise the sauce may separate – it should be cooked in about 10 minutes. Add the remainder of the basil leaves.  Taste for seasoning, add a dash of soya sauce if necessary.  There should be lots of sauce in proportion to the meat.  Serve hot with steamed rice.


Note: If using pea aubergines, add 1-2 minutes before end of cooking.


Arjard (Cucumber salad)


Serves 4-6


1 cucumber, quartered and sliced thinly

2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly, lengthwise

1 red chilli, seeded and sliced in rings

1 green chilli, seeded and sliced in rings



4 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 4 teaspoons) sugar

6 tablespoons (6 American tablespoons + 6 teaspoons) water

6 tablespoons (6 American tablespoons + 6 teaspoons) white malt vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. When cool, pour the marinade over the cucumber.


Baked Hake with Smokey Maple Baked Beans and Aioli – Paul Flynn

Everyone loved this dish which Paul cooked at a recent class at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.


Serves 4


4 fillets of hake (1 per person)

1 glug of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic sliced

1 knob of butter

4 thick slices of smoked bacon diced

1 large onion diced

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) tomato purée

1 teaspoons of smoked paprika

300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) of chicken stock

1 tin (400g/14oz) butterbeans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of maple syrup

salt and pepper


Heat the oil over a gentle heat and add the garlic.  Carefully cook until golden, but no more, this will give you a roasted garlic oil, if you take it too far the garlic will burn.


Add the butter, bacon, and onions.  Cook slowly for 15 minutes and add the tomato purée, smoked paprika and the chicken stock.  Finally add the beans and cook for 5 more minutes, stir in the maple syrup, salt and pepper and serve.


Pan-fry the hake for 5-7 minutes, it may need more time depending on thickness.




Aioli is essentially a posh garlic mayonnaise.  The flavours are made more subtle and rounded by the blanching of the garlic.  The addition of olive oil gives it authenticity and an extra dimension.  We use this with any Mediterranean style dishes i.e. anything with olives, red peppers or basil.


This will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.


8 garlic cloves, blanched (cooked vigorously for three to four minutes in boiling water, then cooked for another three to four minutes in fresh water)

1 teaspoon English mustard

2 egg yolks plus one whole egg

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

juice half a lemon

275ml (9 1/2fl oz/generous 1 cup) groundnut oil

50ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) crème fraiche

salt and pepper


To make the aioli, whizz the garlic cloves, mustard and egg yolks and whole egg in a food processor until smooth. Add the vinegar and lemon juice and whizz briefly to combine. With the machine running, gradually trickle in the groundnut oil and then the olive oil to form a smooth rich mayonnaise. Fold in the crème fraiche, season and set aside.


Blathnaid’s Chocolate Cake


We have numerous chocolate cake recipes but this one given to me by my sister Blathnaid Bergin after much persuasion is our absolute favourite – it’s quite a mission to make but well worth the effort.



Serves 10 – 12


225g (8ozs) plain white flour

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon bread soda

2 level teaspoons baking power

225ml (8fl ozs/1 cup) milk

75g (3ozs) chocolate – we use 52%

150g (5ozs/1 1/4 sticks) butter

275g (10ozs/1 1/4 cups) soft light brown sugar

3 eggs, organic and free-range

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



200g (7ozs) plain chocolate – we use 52%

250g (9ozs/2 1/4 sticks) butter

4 egg yolks

150g (5ozs/generous 1 cup) icing sugar, sifted


Chocolate Ganache

150g (5ozs) plain chocolate, chopped – we use 52%

300ml (10fl ozs/1 1/4 cups) cream


2 x 9 inch (23cm) tins


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


Grease the tine with melted butter, dust with flour and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper.


Put the milk and chopped chocolate into a saucepan, warm gently until the chocolate melts, allow to cool. Sieve the flour, salt, bread soda and baking power into a bowl.    Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract, add to the creamed mixture bit by bit alternating with flour.  Add the cool milk and chocolate and fold in the remaining flour.  Divide between the two prepared tins.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes approximately.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, turn out carefully and cool on a wire rack.


Meanwhile make the filling.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot water.  Allow to cool slightly


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter in a bowl for at least ten minutes at the highest setting until it is white and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and icing sugar. Beat vigorously for a further five minutes.


When the butter mixture is thoroughly mixed, take 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of it and add slowly to the melted chocolate. Then slowly pour the melted chocolate down the side of the mixing bowl and fold in quickly and gently until fully combined and smooth.


To make the chocolate ganache

Put the chocolate in a large bowl. Bring the cream to the boil, pour over the chocolate and leave for 8-10 minutes or until cool. Then whisk the chocolate and cream gently until it reaches soft peaks – careful not to overwhisk or it will be too stiff to spread and may turn into chocolate butter. (Use as soon as possible otherwise it will become too stiff to spread).


To Assemble the Cake

Split the cakes in half with a sharp serrated knife. Spread a little of the chocolate filling onto each cake and sandwich the base of the cakes together. Ice the cake with the soft chocolate ganache and decorate as desired.  We use chocolate curls and dredge them with unsweetened cocoa and icing sugar.


Hot Tips

Seaweed Sprinkles – If you can’t make it down to the beach anytime soon then Seaweed sprinkles from Wild Irish Sea Veg are a brilliant condiment to use – you can sprinkle them over salads, or stir into soup, sauces …..

For more information:


Cookery Demonstration – Darina and Rachel Allen will do a fundraising demonstration in aid of East Cork Rapid Response at Garryvoe Hotel on Thursday, 10th April 2014 at 8.00pm.

Tickets €25 per person are available from the following:

John: (083) 179 5945 or Eoghan: (087) 706 1727


Date for your Diary

West Waterford Festival of Food, 10th – 13th April 2014 – a Celebration of Local Produce and Culinary Excellence!



About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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