When Mary Donnelly asked me to host a cooking demonstration for charity my first instinct was to do a one pot easy entertaining dish like a chicken or lamb curry. But then I thought of Mary’s hand-reared pigs and what a shame it would be not to include a cute little piggy on the menu. So I’ve come up with a dish that although it’s not a case of throw everything in together and give it a stir, is still very easy.
Being my first forray into the cookery demonstration world I agreed to do it only if Mary would come to my side of the worktop and be my commis chef for the night. I have to say we worked very well together and the whole evening was wonderfully relaxed and a great success.
We showed how the Jus-Rol pastry bites that we used for starters (1. cranberry, brie & bacon and 2. caramelised red onion, goats cheese & pesto) were made completely the day before and then reheated in the oven for 5 minutes and we also demonstrated how to make them from scratch.
The mains which centred around Mary’s lovely pork was supposed to be made using pork steaks as per the recipe I include here, however Mary (in her wisdom) decided that we needed to have 2 big pork roasts instead! The joints had been pre-scored by the butcher for crackling and I drizzled them with olive oil, scattered over crushed sea salt and bunged them into the oven for a half an hour before our guests started to arrive. The roasts continued to cook away merrily (on a wing and a prayer) as starters went in and out of the oven for another hour and a half. The juices rendered from the pork served as a wonderfully flavoursome base for the creamy honey and mustard sauce.
Probably the biggest success of the night were the Spiced Parsnip & Apple Cakes as this was an entirely new experience for everyone present. I had used the basis of a Nigel Slater recipe for spiced parsnip mash, added some softened apple and allowed to cool before forming into cakes with a little flour and reheating by crisping them up on a frying pan.
The beauty of this side dish is that you can make the mash the night before, form the cakes and just fry them on the night. Try to keep the apple bitey so that nice little chunks of flavour burst through to meld with the pork.
For dessert I produced a Black Forest Roulade / Christmas Log made that morning using the recipe from Tuesday’s blog this week and Mary had come armed with a cheese board, 2 fruit laden pavlovas, 2 apple and almond crumbles and some magnificent hand made petit fours.
We had 34 guests and Mary had suggested that if they would like to bring along a favourite recipe I will try them out and put them up on the blog in the New Year. Thanks to everyone who came and for your generous contributions and raffle prizes etc. I have to say that we were all very impressed with Erin Donnelly & her sister Orla on the night as they mingled, photographed, hosted drinks, served food, organised the raffle and scrubbed pots til midnight. I know that everyone present wishes Erin Donnelly all the best for her Hope Foundation visit to Calcutta and I know that she’s very thankful to all as she raised over 700 euro on the night.
The following picture is what it might have looked like had we stuck to the recipe and used pork steaks!
The quantity given here should stretch to 5 or 6 people. The pork recipe is heavily based on The Avoca Cafe Cookbook recipe with slight changes and the addition of Mary’s honey.
Creamy Honey & Mustard Pork
You will need:
2 pork steaks (total of 1 kg weight)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
250 ml chicken stock
250 ml apple juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
220ml (small container) double cream
Slice the pork steaks and then chop into bite size pieces.
Heat the oil in a large pan or casserole dish over a medium/high and quickly brown the meat.
Sprinkle in the flour and give a good stir for a minute and then gradually add in the chicken stock.
Add the apple juice, honey and wholegrain mustard. Bring to just under the boil and then reduce the heat down to a low simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Add the cream and turn up the heat to heat through but do not bring to the boil.
Serve with the spiced parsnip and apple cakes.
Spiced Parsnip and Apple Cakes
You will need:
1 cooking apple
1 tbsp garam masala
Qtr tsp cumin
1 tsp ground corriander
3 small shallots
1 tbsp olive oil
Flour and oil for frying
Peel and chop the parsnips into even size chunks and put into a pan of water to boil.
Peel and finely chop the shallots.
Heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan and add the shallots to soften over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
Peel and chop the cooking apple into small chunks and cook in a saucepan with a little splash of water until softening but still holding some bite.
Add the spices to the softened shallots, turn up the heat and stir well for 1 minute.
Drain the parsnips when soft enough to mash and add the spiced shallots and softened apples.
Use a masher to combine with a little more butter if necessary.
Leave the mash to cool.
Use some flour on your hands and shape scoops of mash into palm sized cakes.
Heat the oil to medium/high and fry the cakes on each side until browned and crispy.
Til next time, Sheila.