With Thanks to...

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How to Roast Chestnuts without an Open Fire

"Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". Those immortal words from the famous Nat King Cole song always pop up around the middle of November and indicate the beginning of the build-up to the Christmas season and all that goes with it!

In Ireland we don't really have a tradition of eating roasted chestnuts, but like everything else, the world is becoming a smaller place and we can now get our hands on anything, if you really want it.

Edible chestnuts do not grow in Ireland. Most of the chestnuts that are eaten around the world are imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. They are known as 'Marrons' in France.

I got my local veg-man to get me a bag of sweet chestnuts to try out and did some research on how to cook them. They taste different from what you'll expect and also, don't be disappointed if many of them break up when you're taking them out of the shell - that's happens in real life!




How to Roast Chestnuts without an Open Fire

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

1. Using a small, sharp pointed knife, cut a cross into the flat-side skin of each Chestnut. This helps to prevent the chestnut from exploding while cooking.


2. Drop them into cold water, to soak, for 15 minutes. This helps them steam and stay moist.


3. Place the Chestnuts on a roasting tin, cut side up and bake until the skin splits open and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes.


4. Put the cooked chestnuts in a dry towel and press gently to crush open the shell. Peel the shell back and eat them straight away!



If they start to get cold they become very hard to peel. Only a few of mine came out looking perfect and that was because I peeled some very carefully! You can pop the chestnuts back into the oven and warm them up a little again, to help peel them.



You can serve them out in paper bags or newspaper cones if you wish. You can also boil chestnuts for 15 minutes and peel them before you add them into your Christmas Stuffing. Give them a go either way!

You can find my favourite stuffing recipe here: 10 Tips for the Perfect Turkey & My Stuffing Recipe

Zack

The Simpsons co-creator, Sam Simon, saves Irish "Gay" Bull

Benjy, a clinically declared Gay Charolais Bull, from Co Mayo, Ireland, farmer, has escaped the butcher’s block after Sam Simon, the co-creator of The Simpsons cartoon, stepped in to pay the balance of the animals retirement home payments.




The bull had failed to impregnate any of the cows in a Mayo farmer’s herd showing more interest in the other bulls on the farm!

Mr Simon pledged to pay the €6,250 (£5,000) needed to save Benjy, after a crowd funding campaign was set up by the Animal Rights Action Network (Aran.) Another €5000 had already been raised through donations and Mr Simon offered to make up the balance.




Sam Simon, who is suffering from terminal cancer and is donating his $100m fortune to charities, is a long-time animal activist and his contribution will allow Benjy the Gay Bull to live out his days at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in England. Plans are being made to transport the grateful bull to his retirement home in December.

Sam Simon, along with Matt Groening and James L Brooks created the cartoon series, The Simpsons, in 1989. He led the original team of the popular animation's writers.




Mr Simon was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago and was given only three months to live, though he continues to fight the disease. He is well known as a philanthropist with a special interest in animal protection.

Zack

Monday, 10 November 2014

Help make sure our local Irish Seafood is named correctly

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) are inviting input into Ireland's Fishery and Aquaculture Products Commercial Designation List. All EU Member States are required to publish a list of the commercial designations together with their scientific names of fishery and aquaculture products, accepted in their territory.




This list must indicate the scientific name for each species, its name in the official language or languages of the Member State and, where applicable, any other name or names accepted or permitted locally or regionally.

Commercial designations must be used when marketing fish in the EU and are provided to consumers at the point of retail.

The inclusion of the common names or local names of fish or aquaculture products in the commercial
designation list helps ensure that consumers are provided with accurate and consistent information and are then able to make informed choices. This is where we can all help out as there are many different names used for the same species of fish, in different parts of Ireland.


Sprat, also know in Donegal as "Sprit"

For example, here in Donegal we use both the names "Sprit" and "Sprat" for that small tasty oily fish, Sprattus sprattus, which is a member of the Clupeidae family that includes Herrings and Sardines. It may only be a small variation in the name but if these local names are not recorded, they will get lost.

Irish White Fish, Oily Fish and Shellfish, in Gaelic. pic Somethingfishy.ie

On the 13th December 2014, the current legislation S.I. 320 of 2003 and its associated list of commercial
designations will be replaced as EU Regulation No. 1379/20131 will apply from this date. Therefore this is
now an appropriate time to ensure that the commercial designation list includes all the relevant
species. See http://www.fsai.ie/uploadedFiles/Reg1379_2013.pdf Articles 35-37 for name references.

The FSAI invites all interested parties to submit their comments on the draft Fishery and Aquaculture
Commercial Designations List that accompanies this consultation.

Submissions to the Consultation
If you are making a submission, please state whether the views expressed are personal or are
being made on behalf of an organisation. If the views of an organisation are being submitted it
should be made clear what organisation is being represented.

The Closing Date for Submissions is 26th November 2014

Submissions may be e-mailed to: consultation@fsai.ie
or may be posted to:
Consultations, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Abbey Court, Lwr Abbey Street, Dublin 1.
See also www.fsai.ie/consultations/

Zack

Monday, 3 November 2014

Six Irish Cookbooks shortlisted for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2014

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held on Wednesday 26th November and this year six Irish Cookbooks have been shortlisted for the Avonmore Cookbook of the Year award.


The Irish Book Awards and dinner has become a major event in the Irish literary calendar, bringing together the entire literary community – readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and even librarians!

The six Irish Cookbooks shortlisted for the Avonmore Cookbook of the Year 2014 are:

The Happy Pear - David and Stephen Flynn
(published by Penguin Ireland)

All Things Sweet - Rachel Allen
(published by HarperCollins)

The Nation's Favourite Food Fast - Neven Maguire
 (published by Gill & Macmillan)

From Lynda's Table - Lynda Booth 
(published by DCS Publishing)

Back to Basics - Kevin Dundon
(published by Mitchell Beazley)

The Extra Virgin Kitchen - Susan Jane White
(published by Gill & Macmillan)

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held on Wednesday 26th November 2014 in the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Dublin 4. For more info see www.irishbookawards.ie

Good Luck all!

Zack

Monday, 27 October 2014

Opportunity to Purchase the last batch of Ireland's Glebe Brethan Artisan Cheese

If you’re looking for something special for your cheeseboard this Christmas, this is the year to give pride of place to one very special Irish cheese: the Comte-style Glebe Brethan Irish Artisan Cheese, made from the unpasteurised milk of a herd of Montbeliarde cows in Co Louth. 




The cheese was a Winner of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Award in 2012 (http://www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/2012-awards.html) and for good reason: it’s creamy yet complex, with a nutty character coming to the fore as the cheese matures.

Other Awards for Glebe Brethan Cheese include:
• 2010 Gold Medal at Irish Cheese Awards
• 2006 Gold Medal at World Cheese Awards
• 2006 Gold Medal and Award for Best New Cheese at British Cheese Awards
• 2006 Euto-Toques Cavan Crystal Food Award
• 2006 Bridgestone Guides Megabytes Award
• 2005 Double Gold medal winner at International Food and Wine Exhibition

Sadly, its maker David Tiernan passed away in February 2013 and the cheese is no longer being produced. However the last of this precious cheese is still being sold in the lead up to Christmas, through Sheridans Cheesemongers, from La Rousse Foods (trade only) and directly from the Tiernan family farm.

The late David Tiernan, creator of Glebe Brethan Cheese

Glebe Brethan is a versatile cheese that is as happy on a mixed cheeseboard as it is in a sourdough sandwich (perhaps with some slices of smoked venison from Coopershill House, another IFWG Food Award winner), grated into a potato rosti or cubed onto salads. 

At the 2012 IFWG awards ceremony, Derry Clarke of l’Ecrivain choose to press it into a potato terrine and serve it with a cream of onion soup (see www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/2012.html for menu). A nice idea for a Christmas starter perhaps? 



Irish farmhouse cheese is a sector that simply did not exist 40 years ago, and yet – thanks to the pioneering spirit of many single-minded cheese-makers – it has grown to become one of the leading lights of today’s Irish food story. David Tiernan will be remembered as having played a significant role in recent chapters of that story. And in a country that now boasts more types of farmhouse cheese per capita than our French neighbours, there is no other Irish cheese quite like Glebe Brethan. Savour some of this great cheese, while you still can!
More information on David Tiernan’s contribution to Irish food can be found at www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/april-2013.html, and on Glebe Brethan cheese at www.glebebrethan.com.

To order Glebe Brethan directly, contact Mairead Tiernan at tiernans (at) glebebrethan (dot) com on www.glebebrethan.com/contact.htm or Telephone on 087 693 6107


Zack

Monday, 20 October 2014

Dublin Beekeepers’ Association to host Dublin Honey Show on 8th November

The Dublin Honey Show, the highlight of the beekeeper's calendar, will be held on Saturday 8th November 2014 at Christ Church, Rathgar. As well as competitions for beekeepers there will be best quality natural Co Dublin honey for sale, free lectures, a craft fair and refreshments.


The County Dublin Beekeepers’ Association is one of the largest and oldest beekeepers’ associations in Ireland. It runs a popular beekeeping beginners’ course every year and hosts a number of activities for members.


The Dublin Honey Show is the highlight in the Dublin beekeeper’s calendar. Beekeepers compete for awards for different honeys, wax, mead, cakes, candles and other hive products.



  • At 12:00 noon, senior Dublin beekeeper Keith Pierce will give a talk on ‘Beginning with bees’. This will prove an excellent introduction to the craft for aspiring beekeepers.
  • At 2pm, ecologist and former TD Mary White will speak on the topic ‘Bees Work for Man but Does Man Work for Bees?’

The day will also include an Artisan Craft Fair in the hall where you can come any buy your Christmas gifts.



The Dublin Honey Show runs from from 10:30am to 4pm on Saturday 8th November and the entry charge on the door of only €2 goes to their chosen charity, the Royal Hospital Donnybrook.

For more see: www.dublinbees.org 

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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

“My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food.

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