We Love Cooking! + travel

:: Sadhbh's Cookclub- Delicious Beef Pho!

This was the piece I wrote for my feature in the Irish Independent Weekend Magazine, about the fantastic cookclub I attended recently:

Bright and bubbly Sadhbh McCarthy hosted one of her regular dinner parties as part of her cook club with a celebration of some of her favourite recipes for pals, Brid, Fiona, Karen, Peter and Colm. Sadhbh who works as a European policy advisor, chose her menu which was a hearty mix of cultures, based around a refreshing and aromatic starter of Vietnamese beef and noodle soup, Beef Pho. A dish which she fell in love with on a trip travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Shanghai and was determined to recreate it when she came home. The soup caused a friendly heated debate as some of the more apprehensive guests were unsure about the addition of red chilli. However the debate quickly dissipated when Sadhbh helped by Peter, presented a glowing platter of hot sizzling Thai Fish Cakes straight from the pan. Originally a Rick Stein recipe, Sadhbh adapted it using her own blend of curry paste and spoke encouragingly about being flexible when cooking Asian dishes as long as you keep the base flavours.

All the ingredients used for the recipes were sourced from the indoor Honest2Goodness farmers market in Glasnevin, run by Sadhbh’s friend Brid Carter. The pair met through a combined love of good food and Brid provided the secret ingredient for a wonderfully tender pork belly and added an extra zing to the dish by using her own blend of 5 spice powder sourced from the market.

Dessert was provided by Sadhbh’s son Jamie, who is training to become a chef in DIT, he made a mouth-watering cheesecake topped with summer berries adapted from a Bill Granger recipe which was accompanied by a smooth berry coulis which cut through the creaminess to add another dimension to the dish. It was a unanimous decision around the table that the addition of Moonshine Organic Cream Cheese from artisan producers Gerry and Mary Kelly in Mullingar set the standard when it came to adding an extra creaminess to the dessert.

Wines were carefully selected by trained sommelier and wine obsessive Colm Carter who works alongside Brid at the market every Saturday. He chose Domaine de l'Amandine Cotes du Rhone 2007 for the starter, a Vina Marro, Crianza 2006 Rioja Doca for the rich pork belly and a fruity Oddero Moscato d'Asti 2007 to go with the cheesecake.

I hadn't intended on interrupting by staying the whole evening, but Sadhbh and her friends fully welcomed me with a glass of wine and in a true case of Irish hospitality I found myself polishing off dessert with a full belly! Sadhbh summed up the fantastic evening by sharing her ethos on her cook club which was to “Cook with love and a desire to share and enjoy the experience”.

Pho Bo – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
(from Annabel Jackson’s Street CafĂ© Vietnam)

To serve 4
450g fresh flat rice noodles or rice sticks
225g beansprouts (blanched briefly to soften slightly)
8 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
225g beef fillet, thinly sliced

For the broth
1.7 litres beef stock or canned beef consommé
115g piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 sticks cinnamon bark
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
3 pieces star anise
1 teaspoon each caster sugar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons nuoc mam (Vietnamese equivalent of nam pla (fish sauce)

To serve:
Hoi sin sauce and chilli sauce
2 limes, cut in half
2 fresh red chillies, thinly sliced
Bunch of fresh ngo gai (if available) – this is a Vietnamese herb
Bunch of fresh Thai Basil

To make the broth: bring the stock to boiling point. Add the ginger, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and star anise. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce. Strain the broth and return to the pan. Keep hot over a low heat.
Bring a pan of water to the boil, and warn through fresh noodles or cook rice sticks until al dente. Drain and divide among individual bowls. Add a handful of blanched beansprouts and some shallots and coriander to each bowl and top with the beef (still raw). Ladle the hot broth over the food in the bowl (this will cook the beef slightly).
At the table, each diner can add hoi sin, chilli sauce, lime juice, fresh chilli ngo gai and basil leaves to taste.

- I will be posting the rest of the delicious recipes from the dinner party this week!

basil, beef, beef stock, cake, caster sugar, chilli sauce, cinnamon, coriander, coriander seeds, dessert, fish sauce, ginger, hoi sin sauce, lime, ngo gai, red chillies, rice, star anise, stock, and more:

:: Sadhbh's Cookclub- Delicious Beef Pho! + travel