With Thanks to...

With Thanks to...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

This Week’s Guest Chef – John McIntyre

This Week’s Guest Chef  is John McIntyre.

Chef at The Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant, Donegal Town


Born in Dublin, John McIntyre started cooking at the tender age of fifteen and learned the value of fresh, locally sourced produce from that early age. A keen sea-fisherman, John also loves trying out old recipes, putting a modern twist on the dish using ideas from abroad intertwined with traditional methods. He worked in Greens of London and Killakee House in the Dublin Mountains, reputedly the most “haunted restaurant in Ireland”, but it didn’t worry John!

John is now the Head Chef at the Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant in Donegal Town. This stone floored restaurant serves a selection of Seafood & Traditional Irish dishes, served with a modern twist. The Olde Castle Bar has, over the last few years, built a great reputation for it's food - recieving many accolades including Gastro Pub of Co Donegal in 2010. It is also included in the Bridgestone Guide.

The Olde Castle Bar's Seafood Platter for Two

John's Chargrilled Fillet Steak & King Prawns with a Basil Béarnaise
“Always get your meat from your local butcher and ask if has it been hung for at least twenty-one days. This will ensure tenderness and flavour,” says John. “I season my meat with cracked black pepper and sea salt – these bring out the flavour in the meat. I’m using Basil instead of the traditional Tarragon for this sauce as I think it works great with the Prawns.”

Basil Béarnaise Sauce

3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine
5 Peppercorns crushed
2 tablespoons shallots finely-chopped
1 tablespoon Basil chopped
1 tablespoon water
3 Egg yolks
300ml unsalted butter melted
Sea Salt, to taste
A little Garlic butter is needed to cook the prawns

Method:
1. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, wine, peppercorns, shallots, and Basil. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon of water. Cool.
2. Add the egg yolks and whisk, over low heat (use a double-boiler), until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. In a steady stream, add the butter until the sauce thickens. Season with a little salt. Strain the sauce through a sieve and set aside.

Fry the seasoned steaks on a hot pan for 2 minutes each side. Leave them aside for two or three minutes to relax the meat before serving. This will let the juices balance themselves in the meat after cooking. Toss the peeled Prawns in a little garlic butter on the same pan for one minute and pour over the steak. Serve with the Béarnaise sauce.

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this post!
zack

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cooking Tips for the Perfect Irish Steak!

"...there is no flavour without the fat."

Irish Beef and Irish Steak are second to none on the world's stage of top quality meats. Our cattle are predominately grass-fed and this is something that other countries recognise as 'special' in Irish meats. I believe that this is the main reason that our beef is the tastiest meat on the planet! 
Sirloin Steak

A good steak is one of those dishes that can simply make or break any restaurant. If butchers owned restaurants, we'd all be happy! So Buy your Meat from a local Butcher!

Here are my tips for Buying a great Steak.

1. When choosing a steak, Sirloin (sometimes called striploin) is a fine choice due to its tasty, melt-in-the-mouth succulence. A good steak has just the right amount of fat and nice marbling. Rump steak and Rib-eye are slightly cheaper than Sirloin but I think they are better steaks for barbequing or frying, with much more flavour.
2. Age of the steak is important, as the hanging process develops the flavour and tenderises the meat. So ask your butcher how long the beef has been hung for. As a rule, 21 days is a minimum and 35 days as a maximum hanging time is a good range to go for.
3. Good, well hung beef should be a deep red colour.
4. Check that the beef has good marbling - little streaks of fat running through the meat. This melts when heated, helping the steak to baste itself from within as it cooks.
5. There is no flavour without the fat! A good layer of creamy-white fat around the top of rump and sirloin steaks is essential, as is a little fat through the meat.

Ribeye Steak
Five steps to cooking the perfect steak at home

1. Take the steaks out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temperature. Heat your griddle or frying pan over a high heat.
2. Lightly brush the steak with a little olive oil, or Donegal rapeseed oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper just before cooking.
3. Don't cook off more than two steaks at a time and keep them spaced well apart. If you add too many steaks to the pan at once, the temperature will drop and the steak will stew, rather than fry.
4. Don't turn the steaks until good seared markings are achieved, then turn them over and cook on the other side (see timings, below). I always lift the steak up on it's fatty edge and sear that too until it crisps - yum!
5. Let the steak rest for about 2 minutes (under loose tinfoil if you want) before serving, to allow the juices that have been drawn to the surface to relax back into the meat.
Fillet Steak
 Cooking Times for Steaks.

These timings are based on cooking a Sirloin steak that's about 2cm (3/4 of an inch) thick. Cooking times will vary depending on the type and thickness of the steak, and how hot your pan is. Be adventurous and try cooking your steak a little less well done than you normally would. I guarantee that you’ll never eat a well-done steak again once you’ve tasted a really juicy medium!

Blue: 1 minute each side
Rare: 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
Medium: 2½   minutes each side
Medium-well done: 3 minutes each side.
Well Done: 5 minutes each side - but do try to eat your steak a little less done than you usually would and you'll discover the real taste of Irish Steak!

Juicy Medium Rare - Just the way I like it!



zack

Monday, 13 June 2011

Forget New York – if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!

Dublin based Itsa Bagel have made it into this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Industry Finalists for 2011.


Company owners, Peaches & Domini Kemp, have a long career in food in Ireland. Training in Leith's and Ballymaloe respectively, as well as working in Dublin's top restaurants, the sisters opened their first store in 1999 on Dublin’s Liffey Street.

The Itsa Bagel ethos received widespread critical acclaim and is one of Bridgestone’s 100 best restaurants in Ireland in its 2011 guide, concentrating on organic and local Irish produce, good service and tasty casual food.


They followed this with the opening of five branches of itsa bagel, the Feast Catering company and then by opening itsa4 restaurant in 2005.  Their partnership with the stylish Brown Thomas Group has lead to further success with both Table Restaurant in Brown Thomas Cork and their more recent venture The Restaurant at Brown Thomas Dublin.


“We started this food company with the aim of serving you the best and freshest of everything, every day. We bring you the tastiest filled bagels, salads, soups, coffee, tea and goodies in Dublin.” say the Kemp girls.  “Only the finest ingredients are used by our chefs and we prepare almost all the food ourselves including our goodies & soups. Our restaurants and our full service catering division, are all operated at the highest possible standards by our outstanding team of staff.  With us, food comes first.”


Itsa currently employs 83 staff and had revenue of €5.8 million last year. The winner of the Ernst & Young Awards will be announced at a televised awards ceremony on October 21st

You can find out more abou itsa here at http://www.itsa.ie/home/

Follow them on Twitter at @itsa_bagelstore

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Cookbook-Domini-Kemp/dp/0717147428

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Irish National Anthem, IFG style, on Google Les Paul Guitar!

My first foray into uploading to youtube ...
is the Irish National Anthem played on the Google "Les Paul" Guitar Doodle !


This Google Logo doodle has become the most popular that Google has ever had and they have decided to
give a permanent Link
http://www.google.com/logos/2011/lespaul.html
to the Google Les Paul Guitar so that you can try out your own tune. Strum with the mouse or use the Keyboard to play notes and chords! Enjoy...

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this post!
zack

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cutting up a Chicken - step by step!

For all us chefs and busy cooks out there, cutting up a chicken is a piece of cake! 
But like anything in life...
If you don't know how- you don't know how!

So... here is a step by step, on how to cut up a chicken.

This method is used for almost all types of chicken dishes and even for a quicker way to roast the tender juicy bird! A good, strong, sharp knife is required.

1. Trim off the Wings by cutting through the elbow joint where it bends


2. Cut the skin between the Leg and the thigh


3. Turn the chicken over and cut the meat following the hip bone and making sure you gently cut around the piece of meat known as the 'oyster' - it's in the small of the back - take your time.


4. Push the leg backwards to break the leg joint


5. Cut through the joint and follow the back bone down to the tail to complete the cut.
Repeat this sequence with the other leg.



6. Next feel for the breast bone and make a cut to one side tight up against the bone.
When you feel the wishbone tap the back of the knife sharply to cut through it.


 7. Cut through the meat, using gentle strokes against the bone following back towards the shoulder.
Keeping the point of the knife in tight to the bone all the time, cut clear at the neck of the chicken.


 8. To take off the knuckle on the wing, put the point of the knife on the bone and using the base of your hand, give the back of the knife a good sharp bang. This will cut the knuckle clean off!


 9. Repeat this sequence with the other breast



 10. Cut each breast into two or three pieces.


11. To cut the leg in two, cut through the joint where it bends. A little practice will make this faster.


12. Using the point of the knife, cut through the knuckle on the leg as you did with the wing.


And there you have it! All cut down into handy pieces for cooking and serving.


Don't forget to feed the fish at the bottom of this post!
zack


Friday, 3 June 2011

This Week’s Guest Chef – Enda O’Rourke

Enda O’Rourke, @VillageTav on Twitter, of The Village Tavern, Mountcharles, Co. Donegal



Enda O’Rourke is one of south Donegal’s best-known chefs and owns the Village Tavern & Rerstaurant in Mountcharles. He trained in the Killybegs Catering College in 1987/88 and has spent most of his working career dedicated to the food profession. 


Enda has received many awards and accolades throughout the years for his food and he was instrumental in bringing the foodie taverns of the southwest of Donegal together under the recently launched Donegal Good Food Taverns banner.


This recipe is one of his popular Summer Salads and is available on the “Specials Board” at the Village Tavern  where Enda creates some of the best seafood in Donegal.

Donegal Bay Lobster & Watermelon Salad


"Poached Lobster makes a fantastic salad and is a great change from the usual grilled offerings" said Enda. "I am lucky that we have local fisherman from the nearby port of Inver that deliver this product fresh to my kitchen. Rocket Salad is a fantastic salad leaf and is easily available from all good local supermarkets."

"We grow our own salad leaves in our garden at the Tavern" he said.  "Watermelon oozes with freshness and for me is the taste of summer! Finally, the lemon and black pepper dressing with a hint of orange bring this dish together! Serve it all with thinly sliced red onion and vine cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!"


Enda's Donegal Bay Lobster & Watermelon Salad  

 Ingredients:
1 lobster (ask your local fisherman to get you one, its worth it!)
1 watermelon.
1 red onion
3 cherry tomatoes
A handful of fresh rocket leaf,
1 lemon
Donegal rapeseed oil
white wine vinegar
1 orange
Dijon mustard
black pepper
salt to season
marie rose (pink) sauce to garnish

Method:
  1. Gently simmer the lobster for 20 mins over a light heat. When it’s cooked drop it into iced water to cool quickly. This stops the cooking process so the lobster does not get tough.
  2. Mix your rocket leaf, red onion and cherry tomatoes together and chill. To make the dressing use 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Season with pepper and salt and add the juice of a lemon and orange to the oil.
  3. Add a spoon of Dijon mustard and whisk it all together.  Coat the rocket salad evenly with the dressing.
  4. Set on your plate and place the shelled lobster meat on top. Neatly arrange the thinly sliced watermelon and salad on the plate and finish with a spoon of marie rose sauce.
Great for summer evenings and Barbeques!

You can contact Enda @quennelles on Twitter
on Facebook: Follow This Link
or at The Village Tavern, Mouncharles, Co. Donegal on 074 97 35622

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this post!
zack

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Avoca Garden Cafe is Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month of June

The Avoca Garden Café at Mount Usher Gardens, Wicklow

has been awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month for June. Located in the picturesque gardens of Mount Usher Co. Wicklow, the Avoca Garden Café prides itself on seasonality using the best of local produce and regional artisan food suppliers. This is quite evident in their menus.
This award comes at a busy time for the Avoca Garden Café as the Mount Usher Gardens will be busy as part of the Wicklow Garden Festival from 11th- 20th June.
Andrew Holmes, Head Chef at the restaurant, insists on using as much local produce as possible. "I'm delighted for all involved!" he said when he was told of the award. "It's a pleasure to get the opportunity to work with the best local produce here at Avoca and to continue to build a close relationship with our artisan suppliers".  

Andrew is keen to acknowledge his food suppliers. They are, after all, "the people who provide the basic ingredients and help to make the The Avoca Garden Café one of the favourite eating establishments in the region". He sources their beef, lamb, sausages and bacon from local butcher, Niall Dowling in Ashford and organic pork from Gold River Farm.  Their fresh fish is supplied daily and direct from Atlantis Seafood, Kilmore Quay. Free range chicken is supplied by Bertram Salter of Carlow Foods and their eggs come from Martha and Gary Crocker’s organic farm in Wicklow!
 All fruit and vegetables used in the café are sourced locally from Ann Kuntz of Kilcoole, Gold River Farm in Aughrim, Keoghs fruit farm in Enniskerry and Kearns Farm at Newcastle. All the breads and pastries are homemade, on the premises, by Andrew and his team.
John & Bernie Hempenstall’s Wicklow Blue Brie will always be among the range of Irish farmhouse cheeses offered!

Bernie Burke of Tara Co. Meath supplies the ice cream from her families’ Jersey cows which complement Avoca Garden Cafe's homemade apple crumble. Other suppliers from around Ireland include Living Foods Company, Wicklow - Ian McIntosh from Tyrone's Organic Five-Mile-Town goat’s cheese and Smoked Duck and Smoked Salmon from Anthony Creswell's Ummera Smokehouse based in Co.Cork. 

Just Ask! is a Bord Bia campaign which aims to encourage consumers to look for information on where their food comes from when eating out and encourages chef’s to provide the information on their menus. According to recent research from Bord Bia, 81% of Irish diners believe it’s important that restaurants use local produce with 72% deeming it important that the origin of meat is listed on the menu.
Georgina Campbell's Ireland Guide said, "The great thing about the menus at Avoca is that they change with the seasons and showcase a wide range of local producers, as well as observing the fundamental principle of traceability. The Mount Usher Gardens provide a magical setting for the café which I’m sure will be incredibly busy during the upcoming Wicklow Garden Festival".
Wicklow County Tourism celebrates the 22nd Wicklow Gardens Festival in 2011. Running from Saturday 11th - Sunday 19th June, it features a variety of private and public gardens each with their own unique theme and design- from Robinsonian and Formal to Victorian and Modern.
Each garden will be open to the public during the festival (for the hours stated on their individual pages) and will host various organised events such as talks, exhibitions, live music, picnics, workshops and more. www.visitwicklow.ie/gardens
As part of Bord Bia’s Just Ask! programme, restaurants listed on Georgina Campbell’s ireland-guide.com website are invited to submit copies of their menus and sourcing statements.  On a monthly basis, a Just Ask! winner is chosen by Georgina Campbell in agreement with Bord Bia. In addition, an overall Just Ask! annual award winner is selected as part of the Georgina Campbell Awards which will take place during October.
To get involved in Just Ask! or to find out more, see www.bordbia.ie. With so many great value restaurants right on your doorstep, eating out is still on the menu!
Visit Avoca Garden Café this month during Wicklow’s Garden Festival 11th to 20th June
Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this post!
zack
@irishfoodguide on Twitter

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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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