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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chicken with Chorizo Sausage & Sweet Potato Wedges

This recipe for chicken roasted with chorizo and peppers is perfect for a light lunch with friends. The chicken is baked with sweet roasted peppers, spicy chorizo sausage and red onions in a tangy Spanish-style tomato sauce and the sweet potato wedges make a great alternative to normal potatoes and will count as one of your 5-a-day veg.

Chicken with red wine, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, peppers
& the tasty spicy Chorizo sausage 
 My Ingredients:
For the Chicken Dish -
1 large chicken, cut into 8 pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbls olive oil
100g chorizo, peeled and diced
3 peppers, deseeded & cut in chunky strips
2 red onions cut chunky
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
100ml glass red wine
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 lemon, juice & zest

For the sweet potato wedges:
2 large sweet potatoes cut into wedges
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

My Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat half of the olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides for 4-5 minutes. When all the chicken pieces are nice and golden-brown, remove them and set aside.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same frying pan and cook the chorizo for 2 minutes. Add the peppers, red onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and red wine and stir all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour all of this into a roasting tin and place the chicken pieces on top.
3. Sprinkle the lemon zest and juice over the chicken. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked, turning the chicken pieces over halfway through.

Cut the sweet potato wedges chunky
4. Meanwhile toss the sweet potato wedges in the oil and thyme then season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve the chicken with some dressed rocket salad and the wedges on the side.

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

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Donegal TDs in Food Coast Cook-Off Together!

Donegal Food Coast 'Cook Off' pitches two opposition TDs against each other!


Two local Donegal TDs are lined up for a face-to-face "Cook Off" on Friday 9th March, in Redcastle, Co Donegal, to help promote "The Food Coast - Donegal's Good Food Initiative".


The evening will begin with Community Chef Brian McDermott demonstrating a classic fish dish using Greencastle fish and other Donegal produce.  Next up will be TDs Pádraig MacLochlainn and Charlie McConalogue going head-to-head to cook a main course using local ingredients from a mystery basket of produce.  The Dáil deputies will be assisted by two students from the Letterkenny Institute of Technology's Tourism School.


Michael Tunney, CEO Donegal County Enterprise Board & Community Chef Brain McDermott
with
 TDs Pádraig MacLochlainn and Charlie McConalogue 
It isn't the first time the TDs have met in a competitive cooking event, with Charlie McConologue coming out on top on the previous occasion when he cooked an omelette in under 42 seconds.


The event is being organized by the Donegal County Enterprise Board food initiative "The Food Coast"  and will take place in Redcastle Hotel at 7pm as part of Enterprising Donegal Business Week 2012. The evening will finish with a tasting of local produce.


"It should be great fun" says Michael Tunney, Chief Executive of Donegal County Enterprise Board.  "Chef Brian McDermott always provides superb demonstrations that showcase local produce and we're expecting great things from Charlie and Pádraig".


Brian McDermott has achieved national recognition as The Community Chef where he works with community and sports groups to raise awareness of healthy food made from fresh local ingredients.  Cooking professionally for 20 years, Brian has worked in product development with Kerry Group before setting up his own award-winning restaurant "Finnegan's".


The Community Chef Brian McDermott  
He launched his first book, "Reunite with Food", in October 2011 and he has a weekly radio slot with BBC Radio.  The common theme of his work is using fresh local ingredients that help keep us all healthy and that support the local economy at the same time.


'The Food Coast - Donegal's Good Food Initiative' is a campaign to help establish Donegal as a county with a vibrant food culture and food economy.  The initiative has four main goals - to  encourage new food businesses, support existing food businesses, promote the sourcing of local produce and drive awareness locally and nationally of the fantastic food we have on our doorstep in Donegal.  The initiative is open to anyone with an interest in the County's food sector, from start-up businesses to part-time food producers, from on-farm artisan food producers to manufacturers, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs.


Organised by the Donegal County Enterprise Board


To attend the Free Cook-Off & Demonstration or for further information about Enterprising Donegal Business Week 2012, contact Celine Carroll, Donegal County Enterprise Board on 074 9160735 or email ccarroll@donegalenterprise.ie  Alternatively, you can visit the Donegal County Enterprise Board's website at www.donegalenterprise.ie and register online.


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

Friday, 17 February 2012

Pancake Tuesday & an Old Fashioned Pancakes Recipe

Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday - depending on your people's history, when I was a wee boy, was a very important day in the family calendar. It was the day when you had to tell the rest of the family exactly what you were giving up for Lent, which started the next day, on Ash Wednesday.

The reason for making such a declaration was so that all your brothers and sisters could keep an eye on you and each other and make sure you weren't breaking your fast!

In general it was Sweets that we gave up for Lent, but we were allowed to put any presents that were given to us into a big jar or box to keep for the 40 days duration of the fast. We were allowed to 'break Lent' for St Paddy's day which usually left you with a sore tummy after gorging on your stash of goodies.


Pancake Tuesday was a serious day in the religious calendar. It marked the day before Jesus went into the desert to think about his future and fight temptation. So that's what we had to do too!
Because many people went off meat, eggs, tea, milk and other things like this during Lent in the older days, Pancakes were made and ate for all meals during this day to use up any food products that needed using up.

Pancakes were probably the first thing I ever learned to make from my mum and I still enjoy making them, with sweet or savoury fillings, for any reason. There is not much difference between Crepes & Pancakes, a thicker mix and a smaller pour is about it!

One of my neighbours make her Pancakes with buttermilk and duck eggs, which are I must say Delicious!! If you don't have any buttermilk add a dash of lemon juice to the milk. This gives a wee zing to the flavour and also helps create a lighter batter by reacting wih the baking powder.


This is a simple recipe for Old Fashioned Pancakes:

My Ingredients:
350g flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
pinch salt
pinch sugar
2 eggs
300ml milk
60g butter, melted
a little oil for the pan

My Method:
1. Put the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder and give it a quick whisk to lighten it and smooth any lumps (much handier than sieving).


2. Add the salt, sugar, milk and eggs


3. Whisk together until creamy making sure there are no lumps.



4. Pour in the melted butter and whisk into the mix. The butter lifts the taste of the pancake and helps them get a lovely golden-brown colour in the pan.


You will need a good heavy-based frying pan. Pre-heat the pan to medium for perfect pancakes.


Pour them gently but quickly on to the pan
I don't let the pancake mix stand because the mix tends to thin as it stands - that's just fine if your making very thin crepes.  Just rub a little oil on the pan with a kitchen towel.


5. Pour 3 or 4 scoops of the pancake batter onto your hot pan. You don't have to shake or stir the pan, just let the pancakes find their own place.



6. Let them cook until the bubbles start to rise and just start to pop on top of the pancake. This means they are ready to turn.




7. Cook on the other side for about 1 minute and that's them ready!!


Get them off the pan and repeat the process until all the mix is gone. A tea-towel over the top of the pancakes will keep them warm. That is if you can keep little hands off them in the first place!



Enjoy with your favourite spreads. I love my pancakes with real Butter and home-made Jam or an equal mix of peanut butter and honey!

Here's a link to my Crepe Suzette Story and Recipe http://www.irishfoodguide.ie/2011/03/crepes-pancakes-crepe-suzette.html

Pancakes in the Old Days - The Irish Cultures & Customs Website
Here is a link to a website with a nice nostalgic piece of Irish Pancake history that I found this morning. It tells the Irish pancake story from a time back quite a few years more than my memories and from a family of Irish living in London in the 40's & 50's. Lovely.



zack

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Viewmount House - February's "Just Ask" Restaurant of the Month

Just Ask! is a public awareness campaign run by Bordbia, The Irish Food Board, that aims to encourage consumers, when eating out, to look for information on where the food on their plate comes from and to encourage chefs to provide this information on their menus.”


In recent years, here in Ireland, the publicity generated by chefs in kitchens demanding better produce to work with in the first place have heightened the standards expected by customers in restaurants. Although often more expensive to buy because of the scale of operation, locally sourced produce, especially meats, are finally becoming the norm and the expected on Irish menus.

Restaurants are encouraged to provide transparency to customers by crediting the local suppliers for their product and providing supplier (particularly meat) details and country of origin information on their menus.

Each Month Bordbia pick one Just Ask Restaurant of the Month based on these criteria
and this month’s recommendation is: VM Restaurant, Viewmount House, Co. Longford.

Viewmount House Head Chef Gary O'Hanlon
Head Chef, Gary O’Hanlon, spoke here to Bordbia:

"Our menus show "VM’s" dedication to sourcing locally produced foods and we use them to name-check all of our suppliers.  Meat suppliers include Thornhill duck from Cavan, Wild Irish Game from Longford and Co. Wicklow, dry aged beef from Donald Russell, Co. Longford and rare breed pork from Jana Reinhaart. 

Traditional Irish Food with a modern Twist
 Kettyle Meats, Fermanagh supply us with their ‘free to roam’ chickens.  Seafood suppliers include Albatross of Killybegs, Co. Donegal and John Rogan of Rathowen, Co. Westmeath who supplies us with organic smoked fish.  Free range eggs are supplied by O'Halleran's of Kenagh, Co. Longford and fruit and vegetables are supplied by Shanley's of Longford Town and by Viewmount's own gardens."

The VM Restaurant at Viewmount House, Co Longford
Click Here for more details and the  Viewmount House website.



If you are own an Irish Restaurant you can check to see if you fit the criteria to be considered for a JUST ASK recommendation Click HERE

Thanks to Bordbia for Just Ask info & details 

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

Monday, 13 February 2012

Absolut Oysters & Vodka for Valentines Day

This is a wee thing we make every now and then and always for Valentines Day! This year it was even more special as those lovely people from ABSOLUT vodka sent me out one of their new limited edition bottles of ABSOLUT MODE.

Absolute Oysters & Vodka for Valentines Day
The lovely Emma Shannon told me that the bottle reflects "the world of fashion, through twelve facets wrapped with a band in midnight blue silk cloth with text embroidery. Inspired by the timeless fashion photographies that became popular after World War II, and the experimental films of the sixties for beauty giants L’Oreal and Elizabeth Arden, the bottle reflects the faces of fashion surrounding it." ...And tasty vodka it is too!!!

The very Classy looking ABSOLUT MODE  Vodka

This simple oyster starter dish is great for parties and reflects the tastes of the classic vodka-based hangover cure, the Bloody Mary. It uses almost the same ingredients but I use some freshly grated Ginger instead of Worcester Sauce to round up the flavours. You can double up the ingredients depending on the numbers.



My Ingredients:
12 Oysters
1 peeled Tomato
1/2 that amount of finely chopped Celery
1 teaspoonful of freshly grated Ginger
knob of Butter
juice of 1/2 Lemon
2x 35ml shots Absolut Vodka
Tobasco Sauce

My Method:
1. Open the oysters, loosen & turn.
2. Melt the butter in a small pot. Toss in the celery and cook until soft. Add the tomato & ginger and soften quickly stirring all the time.
3. Add the lemon juice and Vodka. Tip up to the gas and Flambee (or tip up to a lighter if you don't use gas) to burn off some of the alcohol and concentrate the flavour.
4. Splash in a few dashes of Tobasco sauce and take it off the heat.
5. Divide and spoon the hot reduction over the cold oysters and serve immediately!

It sound strange but it tastes Great! Yum!
For more on the Absolut Vodka see http://www.absolut.com/mode

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!
Zack

Bord Bia Amenity Horticulture Quality Awards 2012

Something for the calendar for this Friday, 17th February:


The Amenity Horticulture Spring Seminar 

& the Bord Bia Amenity Horticulture Quality Awards

The National Amenity Horticulture awards recognise and promote excellence across the industry of Garden Centres. Research carried out on behalf of Bord Bia has found that 43% of people are willing to spend money on their garden and that gardening, plants and flowers are seen as a credible and acceptable treat in recessionary Ireland.  35% of respondents claimed that the economic downturn has not had any effect on their buying habits.

The National Botanic Gardens, Dublin
The College of Amenity Horticulture is located at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin. Having the college located in The Botanic Gardens provides students with a unique training opportunity. There is a strong tradition of training at the National Botanic Gardens dating back to 1812. 


John Mulhern, College Principal, says "Our aim is to train students for employment in the amenity horticulture industry. We provide our training in association with OPW, Dublin Municipal Parks departments and the Golfing Union of Ireland. Currently we are providing training for 380 students between all our courses. There is a balance of both school leavers and mature participants among the students."

The College of Amenity Horticulture is non-residential with students finding accommodation in the locality. While on courses students are trained in the theory and practice of horticulture and get an opportunity to work in a practical way alongside skilled horticulturalists as part of their training. Graduates of our courses contribute in many sectors of the horticulture industry, such as, landscape design and construction, garden centres, parks, estate gardens, grounds maintenance and greenkeeping.
Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said “Quality Award recipients pride themselves on delivering above and beyond consumer expectation. They have to make significant investments in training, infrastructure and procedures to attain a Quality Award and consumers can benefit greatly from identifying them before they plan a trip to the local garden centre or engage a landscape contractor.”
Carol Marks,  Bord Bia said “The research has shown that the garden is viewed as an extension to the home with people seeing it predominantly as a place to relax but also a place for entertaining, eating and for children to play. As a result of the economic downturn people are spending more time at home and many are now engaging more with the Horticultural Industry.”
Last year at the 2011 ceremony, Bord Bia presented Quality Awards to 86 horticultural businesses, which have successfully achieved the standards as set out by its Quality Assurance Programmes. This included fifty garden centres who achieved star ratings from 2 to 5 star gold, 12 Quality Approved Landscape Contractors, and twenty four Quality Approved Nurseries.

Ticket prices are:
  • Seminar only - €50
  • Gala Awards Presentation Dinner only - €75
  • Seminar & Awards Dinner - €120

For Full Details visit the Bord Bia Events section here


Don't Forget to feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!
Zack

The Irish Food Guide is...

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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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