I am really looking forward to the ‘Neven Maguire Food Festival’ in aid of Target Lung Cancer, an appeal being run by St James’s Hospital Foundation. I am delighted to to be the Ambassador for this appeal and this festival takes place on September 1st at Clontarf Castle and is a real celebration of all the best of Irish food.
I will be cooking a three course meal on the night and chatting about how food inspires me and my passion for cooking.
We will have a host of food producers there on the night with stalls and I can promise you that you will be amazed but the quality, flavour and taste of what will be available on the night. People know I am so proud of the producers that we have in Ireland and it is nights like this where so many are under the one roof that we can really appreciate them. Dunnes Stores have very kindly agreed to sponsor the wine on the night so there will be a nice glass or two when you enter. We will also have a fantastic raffle with one of the prizes dinner bed and breakfast for two at MacNean House and Restaurant.
My mother, Vera, was my inspiration and encouraged me to cook at a young age. She died of lung cancer in 2012, and we miss her every day. As ambassador for Target Lung Cancer, I have met the dedicated members of the clinical team as well as the scientists. I was very moved when I met with some of the patients being treated for lung cancer at St James’s. I listened to their positive experiences and saw first hand the great connection that the clinical team have with their patients.
It is obviously a very emotional thing for all my family and I am delighted to be able to help in any way to raise awareness and help to raise much needed funds so that new medication can and new treatments can be developed so people can have more hope with this disease. I have designed some recipes for patients undergoing cancer treatment and I am sharing a few of these recipes below.
Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup with Ham
I like to use leftover ham hock in this soup, but you could use shop bought or even bacon would work well. It keeps well for 2–3 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month, but it may need to be blitzed with a hand blender when reheating, as it may split.
900g (2lb) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 red chilli, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
1.25 litres (2 ¼ pints)
vegetable or chicken stock
4 tsp tomato purée
400g (14oz) can coconut milk
225g (8oz) cooked, shredded
sea salt and freshly ground
handful of fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
crusty bread, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Place the sweet potatoes in a baking tin, drizzle over half the sunflower oil and roast for 25–30 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and chilli and sweat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved roasted sweet potato with the stock and tomato purée, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the liquid has slightly reduced and all of the vegetables are completely tender.
Reserve 3–4 tablespoons of the coconut milk as a garnish and pour the remainder into the pan with most of the shredded ham hock, again holding a little back to garnish. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Season to taste and ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Add a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and scatter over the rest of the shredded ham hock and the coriander leaves to garnish. Serve hot with crusty bread on the side.
Crème Pots with Seasonal Berries
“This is just one of the many great puddings that has firm Spanish roots, and is very simple to make, it’s actually quite light, with all the flavour of the caramel and none of the sticky sweetness. It’s similar to the French crème brûlée, except it’s not cooked in the oven.
6 egg yolks
150g (5oz) honey
40g (1 ½ oz) cornflour
900ml (1 ½ pints) milk
1 cinnamon stick rind of 1 lemon rind of 1 orange
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
Seasonal berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, to serve
Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl with the honey. Using a hand-held whisk, beat for 5 minutes, until thickened. Tip in the cornflour and mix until well combined.
Place the milk in a small pan with the cinnamon stick, lemon and orange rind. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes.
Strain the milk, discarding the cinnamon stick, lemon and orange rind, then gradually whisk the warm milk into the egg and honey mixture. Place in a clean pan set over a low heat. Cook gently for 10–15 minutes, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat.
Leave to cool, then pour into individual dishes or ramekins and chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight is best) to allow the custard pots to firm up.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the tops evenly with the Demerara sugar and caramelise with a blow torch or under a preheated hot grill. Arrange on plates with a nice selection of seasonal berries to serve.