Month: April 2013

Food Memories & a Recipe for Black Sticky Rice with Banana & Coconut Cream

My life is peppered with food memories, I suspect most of our lives are. From crisp potatoes, boiled, peeled and then deep fried before being eaten with a sprinkle of salt, that I used to love when I was a child. Marietta biscuits with butter, two biscuits pressed together so that the butter would squirt out of the holes like hair. Homemade fudge, buttery rich. I always tried to make it but could never work it out (I didn’t know about thermometers then). Stewed rhubarb and stewed apples, big bowls full, supplied by fruit from the orchard nearby. Everything good or significant that I have eaten, I can remember. For my confirmation lunch, I remember the vegetable soup, and my shock as I watched my grandfather add white pepper to it. My first slice of pizza in Rome when I was 19, with potatoes and taleggio, I remember how bright it was outside the big window as I sat down and ate it. I remember how delicious it was, every last bite. I remember my …

Recipe: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

This dessert was one of the best things that I ate in Thailand. Not the most complex by any means, or in any way challenging. For comfort, straight forward deliciousness and a dish that makes you feel brighter about life as you leave an empty plate behind, look no further. I ate it many times in Thailand. I couldn’t resist it. However, I usually had to order it holding my nose with a lemon sucking face while trying not not barf, for it was almost always served from stalls that sold its vicious smelly neighbour durian. DURIAN. Does anything smell more foul? Yes, rotten meat, cadavers and sewers but durian smells of all three. It is like a demon that has digested them and is burping it for your displeasure. Walking down the streets of Bangkok admiring beautiful colours, delicious smelling street food, watching passing monks gilded in orange robes, I would suddenly feel squeamish and sure enough shortly after I would see a durian stand. Spiky green fruit, bloated and proud. If they were …

Rhubarb Cordial

Recipe: Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

There is a lot to be said for the sunshine and a big bright sky. It brings cheer after a long harsh winter – and I know I haven’t experienced most of it – but London has become a dour place, and it seems as though as a city, it has been suffering from a severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, what joy the sun brought with its big sky and warm sunshine. Everyone was cheerful and the parks were full. I was inspired to cook something bright and joyful. I wanted fruit and I wanted a refreshing non alcoholic drink. My mind turned to rhubarb cordial. I love homemade cordials, I have one in my book and make many at home all the time. I finish them off with sparkling water and ice and sip as I work. After work, they sometimes end up in a cocktail. The cordial I made is a fresh version to be consumed within the week. If you want to preserve it so that it lasts a few months, use …

Waterford Festival of Food 2013: FergusStock with Fergus Henderson, a Banquet in Lismore Castle and a Week to Recover

I never thought that I would be having a drink with Fergus Henderson in the pub where I used to try to under age drink when I was 16, but there you go. You never know what life will throw at you. Waterford Festival of Food has just whizzed by. One of the rare festivals that I never miss, it is always superb, combining the best of community activities, local producers and chefs with some of the best food talent around. Last year Angela Hartnett cooked at The Tannery, and this year, it was the turn of FergusStock with Fergus Henderson. 120 were in attendance and 120 were on the waiting list for a superb feast. We started with the now famous bone marrow with sourdough toast and parsley salad, followed by a terrific ox heart and beetroot salad, with the ox heart sliced thin and slightly crisped. It was so tender and full flavoured. Whole roast brill was next, tender and buttery before the show stopper, a half pot roast pigs head (a marvellous …

Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup)

I have returned to London for a short stretch, and minutes off the plane it seems, I have contracted the brutal head and chest cold that has been taking London down. I was doing so well, I have not had one cold this winter. For relief and to fight it, I need something simple, firey and potent to blast the germs out. I also need something cheerful and bright. My life is full of lemon, honey & gingers. I now also need to introduce Prawn Tom Yum Kung soup. This recipe is another from Thailand from my class at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This is an authentic recipe and is full of flavour. I think it is also the perfect thing for a cold. There are two ways of making it, one is clear and one is milk with some more firey heat. In Thailand they use tinned milk which is quite sweet and lighter than coconut milk. I am going to work on a coconut milk version, and for …

Finish with your reserved coconut cream. And that is it, your Seafood Thai Green Curry is ready to serve.

Recipe: Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry Recipe Step by Step with Photos

Green curry is misunderstood in many places outside of Thailand. Often perceived as a mild curry that you would give most chilli phobics (certainly in the UK and Ireland), it is often bland and dull, full of green peppers and mushrooms and to my mind, unless you are somewhere very good, not very interesting. In Thailand, green curry is hot. Very hot and aromatic. Packed with flavour (which is the signature for most Thai food in my experience), you can choose the heat level you want if you make it yourself, so when we made this at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market, we went for a compromise medium heat which was just perfect and not medium for our palates at all. Hot, so fresh and really delicious. Several things make this recipe flavourful: fresh homemade coconut milk and cream, fresh pounded curry paste (you must – so much better than shop bought), the wonderful herbs and aromatics, the fish pounded to a paste with fish sauce (which Thais use instead of …

Thailand: Farm to Fork (via a Cooking Class) on the Outskirts of Bangkok

On our first morning in Bangkok we hopped on a bus and drove to the outskirts of Bangkok. It didn’t take long, maybe 45 minutes, before we arrived at a farm that grows herbs, fruit and some vegetables. We were to collect some ingredients that we would be using in our Thai cooking class not long after. Everything grew on extended narrow beds, lined with little irrigation canals. The heat was scorching. 40 degrees centigrade plus and as we all know, the melting temperature of an Irish person is 14 deg C. I persevered with my fan, driving some air towards my face and soaking up all of the smells, tastes and colours. It is very hot and the crops are watered using a hose deployed from a little boat which was a joy to see. I grew up in a farming area in Ireland and watering the crops was not something our local farmers had to worry about, at any time of year. We tried lots as we went, first some papaya, which was …

Thailand: Offering Food to the Monks in Amphawa & a Heavenly Street Food Breakfast

At dawn, all over Thailand, the local buddhist monks travel from their temples to the markets and past shops and houses, where local people offer food / alms in exchange for blessings. Each monk carries a large silver lidded bowl, wrapped in orange and with a shoulder strap. When the bowl is full, they return to the temple, where the food is shared. Some monks have temple boys that travel behind them with yellow shoulder bags, so that they can carry more for them. Many of the monks are very elderly, and they can walk a considerable distance, depending on the location of the temple. The monks eat twice a day, strictly. I arose at 5am to offer food to local monks that might be passing my hotel. We had arranged that the hotel would provide us with some food packages containing items that might be useful (a temple I visited today had food packages that contained detergent and paracetamol). At home or at food stalls, the monks would get cooked food, ours contained several …

A Postcard from the Floating Market at Amphawa, Thailand

I am sitting on my balcony at very early o’clock in Amphawa, Thailand. Very sleepy and watching the sun rise over banana and coconut trees and the most beautiful tiny shipyard, where they are building four gorgeous houseboats. It is already very hot. Jet lag is deep in my bones, but I will ignore it. I am here for the Thailand Academy food trip where I am exploring in and around Bangkok for a few days with some other food writers & bloggers. Last night, steeped in sleepiness, we went to the Floating Market. Amphawa is a small town about an hour from Bangkok and it is famous for this market. Boats and stalls line a narrow canal. The boats function as mini restuarants, issuing divine smells and displaying seafood of such bright colours. Cooked to order over coals, I wasn’t long waking up in the beautiful hustle and bustle. People are singing, everyone is eating. What surprises me most is that most of the visitors are from Thailand. Everyone is tucking in. So, I …