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How to Cook a Turkey & my Favourite Stuffing Recipe

The turkey is the centre-piece of the traditional Christmas Dinner and it's also great for any other special occasion, like Thanksgiving in the USA, which is why cooking it properly is so important. Mess it up and not even the best side dishes will save you! 

Turkey is becoming very popular because it is relatively low in cholesterol and high in vitamins that boost the immune system. It's also very juicy and tasty if cooked right! 

So here are some tips on how to prepare & cook your perfect Turkey! 

A juicy & tender whole roasted turkey really does add to the sense of occasion at Christmas or Any time!
1. First things first. Buy a Fresh Turkey if you can. Don't buy a turkey that has been pre-stuffed as mishandling or incorrect cooking can cause bacteria to multiply inside the stuffing.

2. It's so important that if you are buying a frozen bird, that you thaw your turkey completely before cooking. If it’s done improperly, bacteria can multiply to a point where even oven temperatures won't be able to kill all of them off. This can cause food poisoning. 
The safest thing to do is to thaw your turkey in the fridge, but if you don't have the room, put it into a roasting tray in a cool room, covered with a dry cloth until it defrosts. You should leave the turkey in its original wrapper until you're ready to cook it.

3. If you're placing the turkey in the fridge (raw meat should always go the bottom shelf) also put it on a tray to catch all the juices that may leak out.  It takes approximately 2 days for a 15 pound turkey to fully defrost.

4. Don't wash your Turkey. The water splashing around will spread more bacteria than you are washing off it.

5. Add some extra flavour by loosely filling the cavity of the bird with some peeled vegetables like carrots, celery, onion & garlic which work great together. 

6. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with real butter and season it with sea-salt and ground black pepper. Cover the complete bird with streaky bacon to add more flavour and to keep it from browning too much. Don’t forget to cover the legs too!

7. Loosely cover the complete bird with tin foil and scrunch it up around the edge of the tray. Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door! Every time you open the door the temperature drops and all the moisture escapes increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.

8. Have your oven pre-heated to 180°C (170°C for a fan oven), 365°F, Gas mark 4, so that the turkey is going into a hot oven.

The easiest way to calculate Turkey Cooking Time is to convert the weight to Pounds (lbs) and Cook the bird for 20 Minutes per pound with another 20 minutes Extra added to the total cooking time. 
To convert from kg to pounds multiple the kilogram weight by 2.2 

A 5kg Turkey x 2.2 = 11 pounds
11 pounds x 20 minutes = 220 minutes 
PLUS add the 20 minutes Extra
equals 240 minutes (4 hours) Total Cooking Time

9. About half an hour before the turkey should be done, remove the foil from the breast to crisp up the skin.

10. Test the turkey using a sharp pointed knife by inserted the knife the meaty area above the top of the leg. Push in the blade and the gently ease down on it. Juice from the turkey will run down the blade.
If the juices run clear then it is cooked. If there are traces of pink in it give it another half an hour in the oven and test it again.

If you have a cooking thermometer ensure that the centre of the thickest parts return a minimum temperature of 65°C.

11. After you take the turkey out of the oven let it rest, under tinfoil, for about 15 minutes before carving. This lets the hot juices relax and spread evenly through the meat, giving a moist and juicier bird.

12. Relax, Don't Panic and Enjoy!

My Favourite Stuffing Mix

This is a stuffing recipe that I have used for years. It is versatile and adaptable and can be used with any type of meat. This makes enough for 8 people - generous portions!

This is my recipe but you can add whatever herbs you like to your stuffing!

My Ingredients:
250g (10oz) butter
200g (8oz) diced onion
100g (4oz) diced red onion
100g (4oz) grated carrot
1 tblsp chopped thyme
1 tblsp chopped parsley
1/2 tspn cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic diced
1 tablespoon of Mixed herbs
300g (12oz) white breadcrumbs made with crusts and all
300g (12oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs made with crusts and all
Use Gluten Free Bread if you wish

My Method:
1. Simply place the butter and all other ingredients, except the crumbs, on a medium heat and cook gently, stirring, until the onions and other veg are soft.

2. Add the breadcrumbs and mix in well until the crumbs have absorbed all the butter and juices.

3. If the stuffing feels a little dry (depending on the type of day, the weather, the heat of the kitchen or one of another hundred amazingly uncontrollable conditions) I tend to add a little splash of my favourite white wine at this stage and mix well and then add a little of the cooking juices from the cooked turkey just before serving.

Enjoy your Turkey!


Make Your Own Christmas Pudding and Whiskey Custard

Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding because of the abundance of prunes in it! This rich tasty pudding is made of a mixture of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and suet (beef or mutton fat) and traditionally boiled or steamed. Vegetarian suet may also be used.

The pudding is dark and can be saturated with whiskey or brandy, dark beer, or other alcohols. They used to be boiled in a "pudding cloth," but today they are usually made in pudding bowls.

People have always stirred lucky charms into their Christmas pudding mixture for good luck, similar to those in Halloween Barmbracks. These charms included silver coins (for wealth), tiny silver wishbones (for good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), a gold ring (for marriage) or an anchor (for safe harbour) and whoever got the lucky serving, would keep the charm!

Ready-made and cooked puddings are available in the shops but they will never compete with the pleasure that comes with making your own Christmas Pudding!

So, here's my easy to make Christmas Pudding recipe with a whiskey (or brandy) custard cream too!

My Ingredients:
125g ready-to-eat prunes, chopped
225g raisins
225g currants
225g sultanas
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
50g chopped almonds
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
225g demerara sugar
225g suet (I use vegetable suet rather than beef suet)
125g fresh white breadcrumbs
125g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 eggs
150ml Stout
1 tbsp black treacle
35ml Irish Whiskey

It sounds like a lot of work - but the Christmas Pudding is very easy to make!
My Method:
1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.

2. Whisk the eggs, stout, whiskey or brandy and black treacle together and stir into the mixture.

3. Cover and leave to stand overnight in a cool place.

4. Butter three x 600ml pudding bowls and put a circle of grease-proof paper in the base.

5. Pack the mixture into the bowls and smooth the top. Leave about 2.5 cm space to the top of the bowl.

6. Cut a double layer of grease-proof paper into a 30cm circle. Cover each pudding with the paper and tie with string around the edge. Tie another piece of string across the top of the pudding so that it can be easily lifted in and out of the pan.

7. Put the bowls into a heavy-based saucepan (placing an up-turned plate in the bottom of the pot first, to raise the pudding bowls off the bottom of the pot). Pour boiling water around the edge until it comes two-thirds of the way up the sides of the bowls. Cover with a lid and simmer for 3 hours. Top up the pot with boiling water to the starting level every hour.

8. Lift out the puddings after 3 hours and let them cool. Put on a new grease-proof or parchment cover and then cover tightly with foil.

9. Store in a cool dark place until Christmas. The puddings will keep for up to six months.

10. To serve cut into portion sizes and heat in a microwave, on full power, for 1 minute until piping hot. Warm two tablespoons of whiskey or brandy in a small saucepan. Set alight and carefully pour over the pudding. Serve with my flavoured custard cream (see recipe below).

Christmas Pudding with a Brandy Custard Cream!
Whiskey Custard Cream
This is a very simple and tasty Christmas cream that I prefer to serve with my Christmas Pudding more than anything else!..

Whip 250ml cream until it holds a figure eight shape and stir it into 250ml of cold custard. You can make this yourself or buy it pre-made. Pour in 35ml (one shot) of Irish Whiskey (or brandy) and add a pinch of grated nutmeg and stir until smooth.

This can also be served over warmed mince pies for a delightful change to the usual! Enjoy!

Animated version of Gay Byrne's Christmas Cake Recipe

This is Irish TV Personality & Legend, Mr Gay Byrne, giving a spoof Christmas Cake Recipe where he gets to tasting the whiskey (that's supposed to be for the cake) just a little too much!

Gay, affectionately known as Gaybo, is one of the most famous Irish TV personalities and one of the founding fathers of modern Irish television journalism. He hosted and produced the RTE Late Late Show, which has broadcast every Friday night since it's first show in 1962 until he retired in 1999!

The Late Late Show is Ireland's most popular and prestigious television show and is also the longest running chat show in the world.

Gay sometimes tells a story about him making a Christmas Cake, where he follow a recipe and as he cooks it he makes regular tasting checks on the quality of the whiskey, with humorous results!

I pasted Gay's face into a Santa Claus suit and used a little bit of PhotoShop to make this wee animation to go along with the story. It's the best I could do in an hour but I had a laugh myself at the finished film clip!

So sit back and listen to...

Gay Byrne's Christmas Cake


For more from Zack see

How to Make a Real Irish Coffee

I thought you'd like to have this recipe for my Irish Coffee, as Christmas is around the corner and you might have far too much Irish Whiskey lying around the house but they're delicious at any time of year!

The important rules for making a perfect Irish Coffee are:

1.  Whip the cream before you start!
2.  Make sure your Coffee is hot and strong.
3.  Heat the Glass with boiling water before you assemble the drink, but place a teaspoon into the glass before you add the hot water and this will stop the glass from cracking.
4. Pour out the water and 3/4 fill your glass with hot strong coffee.
5.  Stir in the sugar until dissolved, but don't take too long doing it!
6.  Add the whiskey and stir it well so that the coffee is still turning gently when you are putting the cream on top.
7.  Never mind about pouring the cream over the back of a spoon or any of that nonsense! Simply dip your teaspoon into a glass of hot water and quickly, but carefully, scoop the whipped cream and place it on top of the hot coffee. The hot spoon will make it slide on to the Irish coffee.
8.  Three or Four teaspoons of lightly whipped cream will be sufficient and it will float perfectly on top of your Irish Coffee if you have followed all of the above simple steps.

You can right-click on this picture below, save it as a image, Print it out on card and stick it on your fridge for Christmas. By New Year's Day you should have perfected the recipe and method for making a yummy Irish Coffee!



How to prepare a 'stress-free' Christmas Dinner

The LYIT 'Chef Academy' will launch this evening (15th December) across all LYIT social media platforms. The 'Chef Academy' will launch with a live stream video from Tim Dewhirst, LYIT Culinary Arts Lecturer and also, Nicola Dunnion, Head of Department of Tourism & Sport on the link below. 

The LYIT 'Chef Academy' aims to spotlight careers and opportunities available in the Culinary Arts industry. Over the coming months, LYIT's 'Chef Academy' will showcase cooking demonstrations in the state-of-the-art Killybegs facilities. 

Also, the LYIT's on-campus restaurant, in Killybegs, will offer fine dining menus at reduced rates and a targeted educational promotional campaign will begin in post-primary schools across Donegal. 

Additionally, as part of the programme, students enrolled at the Killybegs campus will have the opportunity to enter cookery competitions in 2022. 

The main purpose of the ‘Chef Academy’ is to spotlight a career in Culinary Arts. This evening at 7pm, Tim Dewhirst, LYIT Lecturer in Culinary Arts, will be live from LYIT's professional kitchen and will provide a cooking demonstration on 'How to prepare a ‘stress-free’ Christmas Dinner'. 

This is one of many videos to come from LYIT’s ‘Chef Academy’. We hope you enjoy this helpful guide from the very experienced and talented chef, Tim Dewhirst. 

Tonight's live stream will showcase "How to prepare a 'stress-free' Christmas Dinner". 

Chef Tim will show you how to prepare all aspects of the Christmas Dinner, in a stress-free way!

And you can watch it LIVE TONIGHT at 7pm on YouTube at this link: 


Hasselback Potatoes with Pestle + Mortar Green Pesto & Bacon

Pestle + Mortar Sauces, part of Galmere Fresh Foods based in Galway who have been in business for over thirty years, have brought out a range of Pestos using 100% Irish grown Basil. They sent me a couple of samples and I must say, they really are delicious!

Planted in May 2021 and harvested by hand, their Pestos are bursting with this Bord Bia Origin Green approved fresh basil flavour. Their basil requires no pesticides and is extremely fresh due to on-site cultivation, providing us a minimal carbon footprint and year-round access to Irish basil. Pestle + Mortar Award Winning Green Pesto is made fresh in Galway, with hand-picked Irish grown basil and sweetened with mature Irish cheddar and Grana Padano cheeses.

The company have recently paired up food stylist Jennifer Oppermann, to create a selection of simple but tasty recipes that highlight how tasty this time-honoured simple sauce can be! I'm going to share with you their recipe for Hasselback Potatoes with Green Pesto. Quick and easy to make, this tasty traditional Swedish side dish is crispy on the outside and tender soft on the inside. They are are similar to potato crisps but the slices are still all attached to the base of the potato. 

Hasselback Potatoes with Green Pesto & Bacon


  • 12 Small to Medium Potatoes, Maris Pipers Work Well
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp. Paprika
  • 80g Bacon Lardons Finely Sliced
  • ½ Tub Pestle + Mortar Green Pesto
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Basil, Parsley or Thyme to Garnish


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°. Cut a thin lengthwise slice off the bottom of each potato, so that it stays flat on your chopping board – this makes it easier to slice the potatoes.
  2. Lay two wooden spoons, or chopsticks, on either side of the potato, lengthwise, so that as you’re slicing, you don’t slice all the way through, it should look like a concertina. Repeat this process with the potatoes until they are all sliced.
  3. Place the potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle them in olive oil, paprika and sea salt. Put the tray in the centre of the oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown. Baste them with the oil halfway through cooking. Check them with a knife to see if they are fully cooked.
  4. Heat a pan and add the lardons, cook evenly until golden, pat them with kitchen towel to remove any excess grease and set aside.
  5. Remove the roast potatoes from the oven and arrange them in a serving dish. Sprinkle the lardons over the top and drizzle the pesto over the potatoes. Garnish with fresh herbs if you wish and serve immediately.

The Pestle + Mortar range is available in the refrigerated section of selected Tesco Ireland stores, Spar Shops and in Joyce's of Galway. 

You can check out more of their recipes at


New Eco-Friendly Heinz Beans packaging design by four Irish Artists will remove 30 tonnes of plastic from Irish supermarkets

Heinz, in Ireland, has partnered with four well-known Irish artists from each province on some beautiful limited-edition designs of their new eco-friendly packaging, which will remove 30 tonnes of plastic from Irish supermarkets. 

The exclusive designs are available on Heinz Beanz multipacks from now and all proceeds will go to their charity partner Barnardos!

The four artists: Fatti Burke; Linda Fahrlin; Jacky Sheridan, and Fuchsia Macaree each represent an Irish province – Munster, Connacht, Ulster and Leinster respectively.

With magical beanstalks, cute smiling beans, a homage to the country’s much-loved ‘Cowboy Supper’, and beautiful illustrations of Ireland’s landscape, the limited-edition designs are sure to be a hit with loverz of Heinz Beanz.

The beautiful limited-edition designs celebrate Heinz’s move to replace the traditional plastic shrink wrap packaging with the new Eco-Friendly Sleeve Multipack across all its Beanz, Soups and Pasta multipacks in Tesco.

Each of the four designs also reveal quirky stats about baked bean consumption in that province. For example, did you know that over 50,000 people from Leinster have put baked beans in a smoothie?!

100% of proceeds from each €4 multipack will go towards Heinz Ireland’s official charity partner, Barnardos Ireland, helping them to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences.

Elaine McCague, Senior Commercial & Marketing Manager, Heinz Ireland said: 

“Our new Eco-Friendly Sleeve uses no glue, the paperboard is fully recyclable and comes from sustainably managed forests. Best of all, rolling it out will result in the removal of 30 tonnes of plastic from Ireland’s supermarket shelves every year. It comes as part of Heinz’s global pledge to aim to make 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

“The artists were given free reign and creative freedom to bring the iconic Heinz Beanz colours and iconography to life in a way that remained true to them, and the results are absolutely outstanding. It confirms what we already know; there is a huge wealth of talent in Ireland, and we’re so proud to be showcasing that on our new Eco-Friendly Sleeve."

Mary Gamble, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Retail at Barnardos Ireland said:

“Barnardos is delighted to see this exciting and creative campaign launch across Ireland, with all proceeds from the Heinz new eco-friendly multipack sleeve directly supporting our services. Barnardos sees the extreme challenges facing vulnerable children and families all the time, and even more so at Christmastime. We encourage everyone to pop onto to purchase the new Heinz eco-friendly multi pack so that you can help us to continue to be there for those in need over the weeks and months to come.”

The limited-edition multipacks are on sale via now, with the standard Eco-Friendly Sleeves being rolled out across all Heinz multipacks in stores during November.

Irish Food Writing Award Winners 2021

 The inaugural Irish Food Writing Awards were held this evening (Wednesday 10th November) in Fallon and Byrne in Dublin city centre, with a later reception hosted by the Merrion Hotel in their Cellar Bar. 

Over 200 entries across 16 categories were received from Irish food and drink journalists, writers, bloggers and photographers from throughout the island of Ireland. Nine of twenty seven international judges (which included Rene Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen, food broadcaster Jay Rayner and Tom Parker Bowles) attended the awards event, travelling to Ireland with the support of Tourism Ireland.

Irish Food Writing Awards founder, journalist Suzanne Campbell, said “this is the inaugural awards for journalists and food writers in Ireland to award and push for high standards in food writing and food media. We were overwhelmed with the amount of entries, the quality of the international writers who wanted to be involved as judges and our sponsor companies without which the awards wouldn’t have happened. Myself and a colleague Paul O’Connor set this up just this year; it’s a non-profit enterprise, and seeing the joy on peoples’ faces tonight at the awards was worth all the planning and changes we had to make because of the pandemic. It has been a tough eighteen months for the food sector and for journalists so this is a lovely way to acknowledge the hard work of writers and food media”


Irish Food Writing Award Winners


Food Podcast Award winner – Spice Bags Podcast from Dee Laffan, Mei Chin and Blanca Valencia

This award is sponsored by Safco Fine Foods and judged by BBC radio broadcaster on food and drinks Nigel Barden.


Writing on Sustainability in Irish Food Award – winner: Michelle Darmody for work in The Examiner

This award is sponsored by the National Dairy Council. The work submitted for this really important award was judged by Rene Redzepi, chef and founder of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen and Sustainability food and travel writer Catherine Mack


Restaurant Writing Award – winner: Joe McNamee for work in The Examiner

This award is sponsored by Fallon and Byrne. Judged by Tom Parker Bowles and Xanthe Clay.


Food Photography Award

This award was sponsored by Hussey Veg and this award has two categories both of which were judged by Conde Nast photographer Joann Pai.

Professional category winner – Al Higgins

Amateur category winner – Rosie Morgan


Online Writing Award winner – Caroline Hennessy for

This award is kindly sponsored by Pestle + Mortar. UK food broadcaster Andy Clarke judged these entries and was looking at not just blogs but also twitter, instagram and how the writers used social media platforms


Writing on Irish Food Producers Award winner: Katy McGuinness for work in the Irish Independent

This award is sponsored by Aldi Ireland who work with small Irish food producers through their Grow with Aldi programme. The judges on this category were Mark Hix and German based food writer Christie Dietz


Investigative Writing on Food Award winner: Niall Sargeant for work published in

This award is sponsored by Drummond House Garlic. These entries were judged by UK food journalist Joanna Blythman


Emerging Voice in Irish Food Writing Award winner: Maeve L’Estrange for work published in the Dublin Inquirer

This is a really important category as it is to reward newer voices in Irish writing on food and drink. We teamed up with the members of the Irish Food Writers Guild on this award who judged it


Cookery Writing Award winner: Lilly Higgins for work in the Irish Times

Sponsored by Ardkeen Grocer - The judges of this award were Trish Deseine and French Elle Magazine writer Esterelle Payany 


Wine Writing Award winner: Aoife Carrigy – The Irish Independent

Sponsored by Whelehans Wines and judged by Fiona Beckett and Marie-Dominique Bradford of Trois Fois Vins in Paris


Spirits Writing Award winner: Oisin Davis for work published in Food and Wine Magazine

This award was sponsored by Powerscourt Distillery and judged by food and drink writers Colman Andrews from New York and Rachel McCormack from Scotland


Beer Writing Award winner: Breandan Kearney for work published on Good Beer Hunting

The aim of this award is to encourage and popularise more writing on beer in Ireland. It is sponsored by Bru Brewery and was judged by drinks writers Robb Walsh and Richard Croasdale from UK beer magazine “Ferment”.


Food Writing Award winner – Corinna Hardgrave

This award is sponsored by Bord Bia and was judged by American food author Adrian Miller and British author and food writer Sophie Grigson


Writing on International Cuisines in Ireland winner Mei Chin for work in The Irish Times and The Times (UK) newspapers

Sponsored by the Irish Curry Awards and judged by British food writer Anjula Devi


Magazine or Food Supplement Award winner: Food and Wine Magazine

This award is sponsored by Invest NI was judged by UK food writers Charlotte Pike and Claire Finney


Outstanding Achievement in food and drink writing award.

This award was presented posthumously to wine writer and broadcaster Tomás Clancy. It was accepted by his wife Claire Kearney and sons Tomas and Liam Clancy

Sponsored by James Whelan Butchers


Cookbook of The Year Award winner: “FX Buckley the Dublin Steakhouse” by Katy McGuinness and Stephen Buckley

Sponsored by Gather &Gather and judged by Jay Rayner and Dr Annie Gray of BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet


The awards, established by Suzanne Campbell with Paul O’Connor, are kindly sponsored by The National Dairy Council, James Whelan Butchers, Aldi Ireland, Whelehans Wines, Pestle + Mortar Sauces, Bord Bia, Brú Brewery, Drummond House Farm, Safco Fine Foods, Invest Northern Ireland, Powerscourt Distillery, Gather & Gather, Hussey’s Fruit and Vegetables, The Irish Curry Awards, Ardkeen Quality Food Store and Fallon & Byrne. Also kindly supported by Tourism Ireland and hotel partner The Merrion Hotel. 

The Irish Food Writing Awards were established to recognise and celebrate the high quality of food and drink writing from throughout the island of Ireland, across print, broadcast and online.

I was a Finalist, no win tonight! But it was great to meet up with good food people again! 

1st ever Irish Food Writing Awards takes place tonight

International chefs and food writers fly in to Dublin this week for the inaugural Irish Food Writing Awards. Chef and broadcaster Mark Hix, the Guardian's wine critic Fiona Beckett, US food author Adrian Miller and several more international writers are visiting Dublin to take their seats at the Irish Food Writing Awards which are taking place in Fallon and Byrne, followed by the Merrion Hotel tonight, Wednesday 10th November. 

Suzanne Campbell and Paul O'Connor who founded the Irish Food Writing Awards 

The international guests are part of a twenty seven strong judging panel which include some of the world's top names in food and drink such as Rene Redzepi from Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, broadcaster Jay Rayner and The Telegraph's restaurant critic Tom Parker Bowles. The judges reviewed over 200 entries to the Irish Awards which were established this year to reward excellence in Irish food and drinks writing, podcasts, online content and photography. Journalists from the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Sunday Business Post, The Examiner, The Farmers Journal, Image Magazine and Food and Wine magazine have all entered the awards in categories ranging from "Restaurant Writing", "Writing on Irish Food Producers" and awards for writing on wine, spirits and beer.  

The winners will be announced tomorrow evening, Wednesday 10th November with regular updates on twitter with the hashtag #IFWA21. An award will also be given for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food & Drink Writing, and the Irish Cookbook of the Year has been chosen by Jay Rayner and Annie Gray from the BBC's Kitchen Cabinet programme.

The awards, established by Suzanne Campbell with Paul O’Connor, are kindly sponsored by The National Dairy Council, James Whelan Butchers, Aldi Ireland, Whelehans Wines, Pestle + Mortar Sauces, Bord Bia, Brú Brewery, Drummond House Farm, Safco Fine Foods, Invest Northern Ireland, Powerscourt Distillery, Gather & Gather, Hussey’s Fruit and Vegetables, The Irish Curry Awards, Ardkeen Quality Food Store and Fallon & Byrne. Also kindly supported by Tourism Ireland and hotel partner The Merrion Hotel.

The Irish Food Writing Awards were established to recognise and celebrate the high quality of food and drink writing from throughout the island of Ireland, across print, broadcast and online.  In all categories, entries were accepted from the nominees themselves, or by a third party and were open to writers, journalists, bloggers and photographers.

I'm a finalist in the Online Writing Category and I'm looking forward to seeing many colleagues I haven't seen in almost two years! Wish me luck! 

Keep an eye on the awards on Twitter at @Irish_Writing #IFWA21

Insta @IrishFoodWritingAwards

An Irish Whiskey Pumpkin Pie for Halloween

The original Jack O Lanterns were carved from turnips, potatoes or beets and has been a popular tradition here for centuries! Immigrants from Ireland brought the Jack O Lantern tradition with them when they went to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America,  were easier to carve into the perfect Jack O Lanterns and they made great pies too!

In recent years, Pumpkin Pie is becoming a popular Halloween dish here in Ireland, as coffee shops and restaurants have been adding this sweet, mousse-like dessert dish to their seasonal menu. I'm adding another little piece of Ireland to the Halloween story, by flavouring my Pumpkin Pie with a little Irish Whiskey. You can use whichever brand is your own favourite!

The first recorded recipe for pumpkin pie was published as a 'Pompkin Pudding' in 1796, in a book called American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. This cookbook is considered to be the first Cookery Book to be published by an American, in America. Only four copies of the first edition are known to exist!

The first American Cookbook: American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, 
published by Hudson & Goodwin of Hartford, Connecticut, USA, in 1796

Pumpkin Pie is made in the same way as a Baked Cheesecake or a Custard Tart and is flavoured with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. If you've never eaten some, you could be excused for thinking that it might taste like a savoury vegetable quiche - but it's really more like a sweet cheesecake in a pastry crust! The Gingernut biscuits add flavour and also help to make the base crunchier. The evaporated milk gives a richness to the pie and the Irish whiskey works just perfectly with the spices to give it a yummy taste sensation!

You can make this recipe at any other time of year by substituting Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato instead of pumpkin. Their texture and taste are almost the same when flavoured and cooked. In the US, you can buy canned puréed pumpkin for use in cooking.

Becky Pumpkin - Butternut Squash - Sweet Potato

This recipe makes one 10" x 1.5" Pumpkin Pie

To Make the Pumpkin Puree:
Cut a medium-sized pumpkin into wedges and discard all the seeds. Cook the pumpkin in a 160*C oven for 30 minutes or in the microwave on high power for 12 minutes. Scrape off all the cooked flesh and purée it quickly in a blender until smooth. (If you are using canned pumpkin purée you'll need to spoon it onto a clean tea-towel and squeeze away as much liquid as possible.) You'll need 400g prepared Pumpkin Purée for the pie.  

The Puréed Pumpkin, a Splash of Irish Whiskey & Crushing the Gingernut Biscuits

Sweet Pastry and Base
250g Plain Flour
100g Butter
75g Light Brown Sugar
1 medium egg
a little Cold Water
100g crushed Gingernut Biscuits

1. Rub the butter into the flour until it's like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in. Break in the egg and quickly pull the pastry together adding a little cold water if needed. Roll it out and line a floured  10" Pie Dish (about 1.5 " deep). Trim off any extra pastry.

2. Crumb the Gingernut biscuits in a blender or by placing them in a sandwich bag and rolling them with a rolling pin until fine. Sprinkle the biscuit-crumb over the pastry base, pat it down and refrigerate until needed. Crush the Gingernut Biscuits and gently press them onto the Sweet Pastry.

Crush the Gingernut Biscuits and gently press them onto the Sweet Pastry

The Filling
3 Medium Eggs
160g Light Brown Sugar
1x 410g can Evaporated Milk
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
A pinch of ground Cloves
1/2 tsp Salt
400g Your Pumpkin Purée
35ml Irish Whiskey

1. Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them well. Add the brown sugar and mix in for 30 seconds until they're thick and creamy. Add the can of Evaporated Milk and mix well for about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin purée along with the flavourings and mix everything together until smooth. Lastly add the whiskey and stir it into the filling.

2. Carefully pour the mix into your Pie Dish and tap the side of the dish a few times to help raise the air bubbles to the top. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 160°C for 40 minutes.

3. Check the pie as you would when testing a sponge cake. It should be soft, but responsive to the touch when it's cooked - giving you a little spring in the centre when gently pushed down.  Leave the pie aside, in the dish to set, until cold.

Zack's Irish Whiskey Pumpkin Pie

To turn it out, put a flat plate on top of the pie, turn it over tap the bottom of the baking tin. Lift off the tin gently. Now put your serving plate on the base of the pie and turn it back over! 

It's now ready to serve with a little fresh cream to which another little drop of Irish Whiskey has been added.



The Ultimate All Ireland Sandwich with Ingredients from all 32 Counties!

Following a competition run by Heinz Ireland and held during this summer to design the Ultimate All Ireland Sandwich, the public nominated their favourite locally made foods and fillings and the final recipe has just been announced!

With the final fillings chosen by David Adams, Head of Heinz Ireland and Dee Laffan, food writer and presenter, the 32 Winners of the Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise All-Ireland Sandwich Competition Ingredients have been released just ahead of the All-Ireland Football Final, being held this Saturday 11th September!

And the Winning Ultimate All Ireland Sandwich Fillings are:

  1. St. Tola Divine, a spreadable version of the award-winning goats cheese representing Co. Clare
  2. Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese, representing Co. Cork
  3. Sourdough bread from Emilie’s Bakehouse, representing Co. Kerry
  4. Irish butter from Glenstal Foods, representing Co. Limerick
  5. Mature Cheese and Red Onion crisps from O’Donnells Crisps, representing Co. Tipperary
  6. Blaa from Walsh’s Bakehouse, representing Co. Waterford
  7. Cheddar from Coolattin Cheddar, representing Co. Carlow
  8. Cucumbers from Welgro Produce, representing Dublin
  9. Chilli jam from Gibney’s Preserves, representing Co. Kildare
  10. Smoked trout pâté from Goatsbridge Trout Farm, representing Co. Kilkenny
  11. Microgreens from Edmundburry Greens, representing Co. Laois
  12. Honey roast ham from Herterich Artisan Meats, representing Co. Longford
  13. Sourdough bread from The Home Bakery, representing Co. Louth
  14. Organic lettuce from Meade Farm, representing Co. Meath
  15. Shaved New York-style pastrami from Carrolls of Tullamore, representing Co. Offaly
  16. Turkey slices from Green Farm Fine Foods, representing Co. Westmeath
  17. Tomatoes from Wexford Tomatoes, representing Co. Wexford
  18. Salami from Guastalla, representing Co. Wicklow
  19. Smoke roasted organic salmon from North Coast Smokehouse, representing Co. Antrim
  20. Onion jam from Burren Balsamics, representing Co. Armagh
  21. Drumlin garlic cheese from Corleggy Cheeses, representing Co. Cavan
  22. Crispy onions from Scotts Crispy Onions, representing Co. Londonderry
  23. Wild Irish tuna from Shines Seafood, representing Co. Donegal
  24. Black garlic butter from Abernethy Butter, representing Co. Down
  25. Fresh free range eggs from Cavanagh Eggs, representing Co. Fermanagh
  26. Mushrooms from Monaghan Mushrooms, representing Co. Monaghan
  27. Bresola from Ispini Charcuterie, representing Co. Tyrone
  28. Salad leaves from An Garraí Glas, representing Co. Galway
  29. Boxty from McNiffe’s Bakery, representing Co. Leitrim
  30. Sea salt from Achill Island Sea Salt, representing Co. Mayo
  31. Sundried tomatoes from Ballagh Farm Shop, representing Co. Roscommon
  32. Hummus from Sweet Beat, representing Co. Sligo

And all held together with dollops of Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise!

Here's our good buddy and Ingredients judge Dee Laffen with the finished Ultimate All Ireland Sandwich!

I think I'm gonna have to make one of these for Sunday to watch the match with!!!

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