Saturday, 28 March 2015

Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns!

Hot cross buns are traditionally baked to be eaten during Lent, the 40 days before Easter. The bun acquired mythical properties over the centuries and early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was also known as the Good Friday Bun.

The most famous story says that the origins of the Hot Cross Bun date to the 12th century when an English monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday. Throughout history the bun has received credit for special virtues, among them that of ensuring friendship between two people sharing a bun. An old rhyme states, "Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be."

Another tradition holds that a hot cross bun should be kept hanging from the kitchen ceiling from one year to another to ward off evil spirits. Healing properties were also attributed to it. Gratings from a preserved bun were mixed with water to provide a cure for the common cold.

There are loads of delicious ways to eat this legendary treat: you can slice them, toast them and butter them! I love them toasted with real butter and strawberry jam! This recipe is an old family one and it makes about 10 buns - but we always double it up!

Hot Cross Buns

My Ingredients:
450g bread (strong) flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp mixed spice
75g butter
7g fast action dried yeast (generally 1 sachet)
50g caster sugar
1 egg
275ml warm milk (40 seconds in microwave will do)
200g dried raisins or currants (I don't like the traditional dried mixed fruit - but if you do, use that instead)
grated rind of an orange

My Method:
1. Put the flour, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and give them a quick whisk to mix. Add the yeast, sugar, beaten egg and milk and stir together into a soft dough.
      2. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a mixer to make these buns give it five minutes on low with the dough hook. Add in the dried fruit and the grated orange rind and knead for another minute.
        3. Roll out the mix slightly and cut the dough into 10 pieces. Roll these into balls on the table using the flat of your hand and place on a baking sheet or tray. Leave their own width again between each bun so they will have room to rise.
          4. To make the cross mix 1 Cup flour with about 3 tbls cold water to make a basic soft dough. Roll it out really thin and cut into little strips. Dampen with a little water and stick to the top of each bun. Take a length of plastic wrap and brush with a little cooking oil. Place this loosely on top of the buns (oiled side down) and leave in the kitchen to double in size - about 20 minutes depending on the weather and the warmth of the room. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 390ºF (360ºF if a fan oven) for 20 minutes.
            Hot Cross Buns were traditionally brushed with a sugar & water glaze when they're still hot, but I prefer to brush them with local honey from the Saturday country market in Leghowney, near Donegal Town!

            And Here's my recipe for Hot Cross Buns with American Cup measurements



            Thursday, 26 March 2015

            Major Food Tourism Workshop in Donegal Town - Free Registration

            The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s Longest Defined Coastal Touring Route. Irish people and visitors to the west of Ireland who travel the route, find it really inspiring, renewing, relaxing and invigorating. 

            From its northernmost point in Donegal to its southernmost in Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way offers one of the world’s most diverse and spectacular coastlines. You can immerse yourself in the culture, music and food found in the towns and villages along the way, climb the most breathtaking heights and experience a landscape that revives the soul. 

            In response to the greater emphasis our international visitors now place on food as part of their overall holiday experience, Fáilte Ireland, Ireland's National Tourism Development Authority, has developed Ireland’s Food Story – a resource packed full of engaging content and inspirational advice to help people in business to capitalise on this growing trend.

            Fáilte Ireland has recently asked all their Food Champions to host workshops to help people in the tourism business along the route to develop their Food Story using the new Failte Ireland Food Story Toolkit

            Let's Talk Food on the Wild Atlantic Way is a workshop on how Food Tourism can enhance your marketing and drive sales to your business.

            As there are four Food Champions in County Donegal and here being the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way, we decided to host one central Donegal Workshop to avoid duplication. 

            Sliabh Liag sea cliffs are on the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal

            Let's Talk Food on the Wild Atlantic Way will provide practical tips and advice on how to write a food story for your business and how it can deliver additional business.

            Workshop Content:
            • Food and the Wild Atlantic Way – how and why it’s important to your business
            • Examples of the food experiences your target market wants
            • Marketing tips to create, promote and deliver your food story 
            • Examples of how other businesses have used local food to gain stand out and drive revenue 
            • Ireland’s Content Pool – How to access the free collection of images, video and copy to use in your marketing material

            This three-hour workshop is open to everyone who is interested in building and promoting their business on the Wild Atlantic Way. It will be especially beneficial to managers, marketing managers, business owners and the people who write content for your website, social media, brochures, advertising etc.

            This Free Workshop is fully subsidised by Fáilte Ireland and takes place at: 
            Donegal Town Community Enterprise Centre, in Donegal Town
            on Wednesday 22nd April from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

            Directions to Donegal Town Community Enterprise Centre

            To Register email

            or contact any one of the four
            Donegal Failte Ireland Food Champions
            Mary McGettigan 087 1777140 (A Taste of Donegal Food Festival)
            Hugh O'Donnell 087 7975704 (Kitty Kelly’s Restaurant Killybegs)
            Zack Gallagher 086 6632079 (The Irish Food Guide)
            Donal Doherty 087 2195577 (Harrys Restaurant & Harrys Shack)

            This is a great opportunity for people in business and potential new businesses to learn from and work with some of Failte Ireland's Food Champions and to make the most of this amazing country we live in.

            I look forward to seeing you there!


            Wednesday, 4 March 2015

            Seven Irish Food Producers celebrated at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Awards

            Seven Irish Food Producers were celebrated this afternoon, at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Awards and Lunch which were hosted at l'Ecrivain in Dublin by top chef and avid Irish food promoter Derry Clarke.

            The Irish Food Writers' Guild (IFWG) was formed in 1990 to promote high professional standards of knowledge and practice among writers about food, nutrition, food history and other allied matters and to assist in the forging of links and networks between professionals in the food industry.

            The IFWG Food Awards are considered one of the most prestigious of their type in Ireland. They are also unique in that the members of the Guild are the sole nominating and decision-making body and no company or individual can enter themselves for these awards.

            Each year they present awards that celebrate homegrown producers, organisations or individuals, whilst also celebrating the heroes who have devoted and are continuing to devote their lives to supporting and promoting Irish food. Now in its 21st year, the annual Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards is a firm favourite on the Irish culinary calendar. 

            Food provenance and authenticity were top of the agenda at this year’s Irish Food Writers’ Guild Awards, as seven food producers were awarded and honoured for the high standard and impeccable quality of their products, as well as for their unwavering dedication, devotion and commitment to Irish food. At the event in Dublin today, special mention was also given to producers who embraced sustainable practices and techniques.

            Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers Guild, Lizzie Gore-Grimes - Picture courtesy Aoife Carrigy

            Lizzie Gore-Grimes, Chairperson of the IFWG said, “The origin of food and drink products is becoming an increasingly important and influential factor for consumers; more and more we are seeing ‘local’ and ‘homemade’ as key factors in their decision-making process. What’s more, as the consumers’ knowledge and interest in food provenance grows, so too does the need for complete transparency on the part of the producer. The stronger the story behind the brand and the more that is known about its origin, the greater the connection between the consumer and the product.

            “All of our winners are flying the flag for food provenance this year. They come to the market with products that are real, authentic and bursting with honest-to-goodness quality. The quiet success of these seven winners is in no small part due to the richness of their produce, the strength of their story and the passion of the people behind them." said Lizzie. "What may initially have started as a labour of love for our award winners is now reaping the rewards today. All of our winners are wonderful ambassadors for Irish food, and I am certain that they will remain key players in maintaining Ireland’s enviable reputation on an international stage.”

            The 2015 awards were held  at Derry Clarke's much-celebrated l'Ecrivain Restaurant and the Guild presented seven awards at an event which was attended by some of the biggest names in Irish food!

            The winners at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Award are:

            On the Pig’s Back
            Home Made Pates & Terrines. Farmhouse cheeses, Charcuterie. Stall in the English Market in Cork, and Cafe-Deli in Douglas, Co Cork.
            (@PigsBackCork on Twitter)

            Skeaghanore West Cork Duck
            Fresh farm ducks, hand reared and fed a 100% natural cereal-based diet by Helena & Eugene Hickey in Ballydehob, West Cork.
            (@SkeaghanoreDuck on Twitter)

            Wild About Foods
            Artisan chutneys, preserves, syrups, seasoning rubs, cocktail bases and wild pesto made fresh from ingredients sourced locally, foraged in the wild or grown in Malcolm and Fiona Falconer's permaculture gardens in Co. Wexford. (@WildAboutFoods on Twitter)

            A special Irish Drink Award was presented to 
            Richmount Elderflower Cordial
            Husband and wife team, David and Martina Burns,make Elderflower Cordial from pure, natural ingredients without any concentrate or artificial sweeteners, flavourings, additives, colourings, or sulphites in Co Longford (@ElderflowerLfd on Twitter)

            The Guild’s Environmental Award, where the Guild recognises the integrity of the production methods went to Foods of Athenry
            Family Bakers of Gluten Free products and wheat & spelt in their second and separate bakery, all containing no preservatives , additives or hydrogenated fats.
            (@FoodsOfAthenry on Twitter)

            Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse
            was honoured for her notable contribution to Irish food. Originally from Sweden, Birgitta origionally studied marine biology and started up Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna in 1989. It produces award winning smoked organic Salmon, Trout, Eel and Mackerel.
            She is Chairperson of Slow Food Clare, Chairperson of IASC and a member of Good Food Ireland. They opened their Visitor Centre in 1995 to showcase their own products and other local gourmet products and crafts. It has become a popular tourist attraction in the North County Clare area and welcomes over 30,000 visitors from all over the world each year.
            Brigitta is at the forefront of promoting Irish Food and is very involved with Failte Ireland's drive to make Food Tourism an major component of the future of modern Irish Tourism.
            (@BurrenSalmon on Twitter)

            Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves
            won the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to growing on the home farm and the consistent innovation of her range of artisan Irish preserves over 20 years.
            Veronica was taught how to make preserves by her mother-in-law Nancy and many of the recipes used today are family recipes passed down through the generations.
            All her preserves are made using traditional cooking methods using the highest quality ingredients and produced in small batches by hand to maximise control procedures and taste; no artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives are used. Although this means that production is labour intensive it results in a unique and distinctive flavour.
            This continuing dedication aimed at producing a superior product has brought success in the shape of national and international Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards over the last ten years.
            Crossogue Preserves remains a family owned operation with an experienced and dedicated team. Veronica's aim has always been to produce quality products with efficiency and to offer excellent customer service.
            (@CrossogueP on Twitter)

            The Awards are supported by Bord Bia which was commended by the Irish Food Writers' Guild for its tireless support of the Irish food industry both in Ireland and abroad.


            Thursday, 5 February 2015

            Customer Service Excellence Course for the Agri-food Sector in the North West

            The lifting of the USA embargo on Irish meat as well as changes to the Milk quota creates opportunities in the Agri-Food sector. The quality of Irish produce is respected globally. It is important to offer not only Produce Excellence but also Customer Service Excellence right through the supply chain. By providing both, the sector will be much stronger and those who apply it will have a competitive edge.

            Customer Service Excellence Ireland together with AIB, Skillnets and BASICC (Ballybofey and Stranorlar Integrated Community Company Ltd) are running a 4 night Customer Service Excellence Course for the Agri-Food sector. 

            This course is subsidised but a nominal fee of €25.00 per person will apply to cover some of the cost of delivering the course.

            The course dates will be:
            • Monday the 23rd February
            • Monday the 2nd March
            • Monday the 9th March and
            • Monday the 16th March
            Time: 6 – 9pm

            Venue: The BASE Enterprise Centre, Railway Road, Stranorlar. Co Donegal
            Cost: €25.00 per person

            Participants will gain increased skills and knowledge about how to offer the very best customer service through their work and the positive impact this has on sales and repeat business. 

            The training workshops are interactive and involve the entire group and their experience. 
            Customer Service Excellence Ireland Certificates will be issued to all who attend.

            Places are limited, to avoid disappointment book your place now by contacting:
            Donna Maskery
            Tel: 087 607 5555 or email

            For more info see


            Sunday, 1 February 2015

            WIN a Valentine Hamper from Hampers & Co

            This Competition is Now Closed

            Hampers & Co. is a Luxury online Hamper & Gift retailer, set up by Emer Purcell, that ship their hampers all over the world. For over 21 years, they've sourced, designed, packaged and delivered beautifully presented hampers of exceptional quality for both individual orders & Corporate clients.

            Read on to find out how you can Win a Valentine Hamper from Hampers & Co, that will delivered in time for Valentines Day, anywhere in Ireland or the UK!

            Emer and her team work very closely with their producers to create a wonderful selection of Irish Food Hampers & Gift Baskets. On their website you will also find great Irish cheeses, delicious Irish chocolates, superior Irish relishes & preserves & melt in the mouth Irish cakes & biscuits.

            They source their wines directly from boutique vineyards so they won’t be found on any supermarket shelf.
            They also take time and considerable care when combining foods & culinary gifts & only use products that they feel will be enjoyed by the recipients.

            Hampers & Co. source all their products from exceptional, award-winning and high quality Irish Artisan food Producers and from small indigenous international food suppliers.They also use eco-friendly biodegradable packaging which can even be washed down the sink!

            So whatever the reason for giving a gift – business, baby, birthday, anniversary or just because, they guarantee to provide a gift or hamper that will be remembered and very much appreciated. If you're ordering a hamper on behalf of your company, it is reassuring to know that when you “Create Your Own” bespoke Hamper or Gift to your unique requirements, there’s no danger of your clients or staff receiving the same gift from another source, or in the following year, or at the next conference event!

            WIN a Valentine Hamper from Hampers & Co.
            We all love a bit of romance and there's no doubt that we all blossom with a little sprinkling of it. Did you know that taste & smell completely bypass the reasoning and logical part of the brain that's why when you give a gourmet food gift accompanied by a fine wine you don't just give a gift you give an experience.

            Emer, at Hampers & Co., has given us a wonderful Valentine Hamper to give away here on the Irish Food Guide Blog and they will deliver it anywhere in Ireland and the UK! Allow the seductive & aphrodisiac properties of decadent chocolates and more to seduce your Valentine this February 14th.

            To get yourself in to the Draw Click the Hampers & Co. Facebook Like button and/or their Twitter Follow button below and tell them how much you'd like to Win the Valentine Hamper. All new Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers will be entered into the Draw.

            Like Hampers & Co. on Facebook

            Follow Hampers & Co. on Twitter

            The Draw will take place on Sunday 8th February and the winner will receive the prize of the Valentine Hamper, delivered by Hampers & Co., before Valentines Day!

            Check out their amazing range of hampers and gifts, for every occasion at any time of year, on their website at


            Monday, 26 January 2015

            Who will represent Ireland and the UK in S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015?

            The first selection of finalists of the International S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 have been made.

            Out of 3,620 participants in 191 countries and 20 world geographic areas there will only be 20 finalists. Four local chefs will now have to take part in a cook-off with 6 other chefs based around the British Isles to decide who will represent the region, identified in the competition as the UK/Ireland Geographical Area.

            Mark Moriarty, Maria Elena Martinez Otero, Sarunas Godovan and Stephen Holland were chosen by ALMA Cooking School (the world's leading international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine), and were picked from thousands of applications received from professional young chefs working in kitchens around the world.

            What’s next? Each candidate will now cook a dish for their local jury members who will choose one winning entry to represent Ireland and the UK. Once chosen, the 20 Final Chefs will be paired with a young designer picked by Vogue Italia. The 20 chef/designer duos will then begin work on a unique collaboration that will see each designer create a unique piece inspired by the chef’s dishes.

            The final dishes and designs will be presented, in June, at a Grand Final event held in Italy during Expo Milano 2015 where the winning entry for the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 will be announced. There will also be a special prize awarded to The Best Chef/Designer Couple.

            The four Irish chefs who will cook it out with some of the best young chefs in the UK and Ireland to see who will represent the region in the Final are:

            Mark Moriarty is Sous Chef at Restaurant The Culinary Counter in Dublin.
            Mark's dish is Celeriac Baked in Barley and Fermented Hay, Cured and Smoked Celeriac

            Maria Elena Martinez Otero is Chef de Partie at Restaurant Four Seasons Hotel (InterCont) in Dublin
            Maria's dish is Smoked Orange,Chocolate Heart, Green Tea Crumbs and Ricotta

            Sarunas Godovan is a Chef at Restaurant Tankardstown House in Slane, Co Meath.
            Sarunas' dish is Turbot on the Bottom of the Sea

            Stephen Holland is Exec Sous Chef at Restaurant Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.
            Stephen's dish is Glenarm Whiskey Cured Salmon, Pickle Vegetables, Pistachio Bites

            You can see the full list of 10 Chefs that were chosen in the UK/Ireland Geographical Area HERE

            Congratulations to them all for getting through to the Geographic Finals and we wish them the best of luck in the challenge to become S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015.


            The Irish Food Guide is...

            My Photo

            The Irish Food Guide Blog 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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            Best Blog of an SME 2014

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