Tuesday, May 25, 2010

National Fish & Chip Day

Chish & Fips in Country Living Magazine (c) Jack Caffrey

Happy National Fish & Chip Day! It's officially our first here in Ireland and what perfect timing with such fantastically sunny summery weather. Chish & Fips (as they are called in our house) are half price today from the 190 members of the Irish Traditional Italian Chipper Association. Phew, thats a bit of a mouthful! I know what I'll be tucking into later...what about you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gathering of Food Bloggers

food, photos, bloggers, butchers, pigs & swag

We will have to come up with a portmanteau (get me! it's the posh word for joining two names, mainly celebrity couples, together) for the recent gathering of foodie bloggers. It is such a great and enthusiastic group of people with a shared love and interest in all things, well, food.

The event was hosted by Bord Bia and was organised by the faces behind their tweets, Maeve and Klara along with the one and only, good mood food blogger Donal Skehan. The day kicked off with bloggers and tweeters brief shreeks at each other as they put faces to names (or in my case, got completely bamboozled with real names, tweeting names, blog names, faces...). Then we all settled down to David Owens presentation where he spoke on behalf of Bord Bia on all things Irish pork and the Quality Assurance Mark. Our pork industry took a hard knock in 2008 with the dioxin scare, but Bord Bia have since been doing an amazing job rebuilding consumer confidence within Ireland and throughout the world.

They didn't have to do much to persuade our room full of fascinated foodies as we drooled over Maura Dufficy's cooking. Maura cooked several pork dishes, but the one that got my tummy rumbling was the marinaded pork belly which thankfully we were served at lunch time. Yes, they fed us too. These gorgeous people at the Food Board (which is the translation of Bord Bia by the way, for any non Irish speakers) know how to throw a party! You can see some snaps of the food we ate over at the consumed foodies blog. I was quite clearly too busy eating to take any.

Douze points goes to the toughest presentation slot of the day given to Damien Mulley of social media fame. He had to keep our attention while the tongues were hanging out of our heads from the tantalising smells of all things Pork. He did a great job giving us top tips on how to feed our egos with increases in new followers, general admiration and the attention we all expect and deserve (!). Then once our tummys were full, we also gladly listened to Eoin Purcell, a publishing industry analyst. Eoin got our pig tails wagging about becoming the next big thing in the food book world. He was frank about us not being able to necessarily retire on our scooped earnings here in Ireland and the fact that the publisher obviously hoped that they would (!).

Two other presentations that were actually in very stark contrast to each other, were Lorraine from Blazing Salads who is a shine to all things fabulously vegetarian and then the GMIT butchery lecturer, Pat Conway. My god, is this man a butcher?! He could cut you into 6 or 8 different parts in under five minutes. Thankfully he used Mr Porky to demonstrate. Check out some photos of him in action over at The Daily Spud.

Finally the day ended on a high with a food styling and photography presentation from Erica Ryan and Jocasta Clarke. As I said before, I hadn't ever met fellow stylist Erica, so it was lovely to meet her at last. I think she did a fantastic job and had lots of oohs and aahs from the audience on the day (and ever since with lots of tweeting going on). It's funny that you forget what you do on a daily basis is actually fascinating to other people. Erica had put together a comprehensive list of food styling tips and secrets, and likewise, reading through I thought, oh yeah, I guess this is impressive. Even though Erica and I have never met and both picked tips up as we went along I imagine (rather than doing the same course or anything), it's funny how we seem to do all of the same things (yes, kitchen roll and cotton buds are my best friends too).

Anyhow, as if we weren't overwhelmed by all that we had been pampered with already, we turned to leave to find tables brimming with what has been endearingly tagged as 'food swag'. I came home with a gorgeous rosemary plant from Living Flavour (which I have already used over on my home blog), some yummy looking smoked trout from Goatsbridge which I have yet to feast on, chutney from sheridans cheesemongers (I was one of those unfortunates who missed out on the cheese sadly though), lovely shoots from Good4u which I have been nibbling on non-stop and a delightful oat and ginger cookie from fabulous blogger Lilly Higgins, who totally standard pushed with ultra cool, machine sewn packaging!

So my head is still spinning from it all. A really fab day, packed full of pork, info, tips, recipe ideas, food swag, all round good feeling and of course lots of great new foodie friends. I have updated my blogroll over on the right (and will do so over at friendly cottage soon also) to include as many irish food bloggers as I could steal in a hurry from the great list Donal compiled. Let me know if I've missed you out! I promise to follow you all too...

...and a portmanteau? floggers? boodie floggers? foodles? bloodies?...Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For the Love of Pork

I'm very excited about the food bloggers event coming up this Thursday. The fabulous Donal Skehan has organised it on behalf of Bord Bia - you can read all about it on his blog. An army of food bloggers and tweeters will be attending so it will be exciting to put faces to names. I am also really looking forward to catching up with food photographer Jocasta Clarke and meeting fellow food stylist Erica Ryan for the first time.

Bord Bia sent out pork packs to the first of the attendees who have been busy cooking, eating, blogging and tweeting about Pork since the weekend. Here is my offering from a feature I styled for Food & Wine Magazine. Recipe by Hugo Arnold & Shot by Cliona O'Flaherty.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Superquinn Cookbook

Superquinn turns 50 this year and are publishing a fab new cookbook as part of the celebrations. I have just finished working on the shoot for the book where we shot 50+ recipes. And yes, ate them all too. I was in good company with friends Photographer Harry Weir and Writer Orla Broderick. Together with our new BFF's from Superquinn, Bruce & Alison and David the designer from the publishers Harmonia, we had really great fun.

It has been a tough few weeks though...think 12 hours of food shopping, 40 dishwasher loads, 15 crates of props & equipment and I'm not even going to think about the calories consumed! The shoot days were ultra busy so we didn't even have time to take many behind the scenes shots. You'll get the picture with the few we managed to snap the other day though. So anyhow, as I tweeted, it's been emotional...

On my knees praying and checking my biccies aren't burnt.
Lovingly tending to some luciously lovely leeks.

Harry being happy from a height.
checking out the goods on the big screen.

Orla, David, Harry & Alison tucking into pies for breakfast.
Me unknowingly snapped in action.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wexford Food Fair 2010

Keep the diaries free for Wednesday May 19th for the second Wexford Food Fair. The exhibitors list is brimming with Wexford pride with companies like Thai Gold, Wexford Home Preserves, Phelim Byrne's Cookery Academy, Greens Berry Farm and a couple of neighbours of mine down home, Stable Diet and Zanna Foods.

Yes, being a Wexford lass, ok yella belly as we're called, I'm proud to promote and be part of it. In fact this year I'm hosting fun interactive food workshops with 8-10 year old local school children (God help me!) on behalf of Safefood, which I am really excited about. My cutsie morning slot getting down with the kids is going to be big news and no way will I let it be overshadowed by the evening demonstrations from celebrity chefs (& friends) Neven Maguire and Phelim Byrne. Put down the milk lads, the apron is on and the knives are out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Homemade Jammy Dodgers

Uuummmmm...This is Neven Maguires recipe for Homemade Jammy Dodgers. I tested them for his latest book and got to make them again recently for a Country Living magazine shoot.


Makes about 16-18


73g (3oz) plain flour plus extra for dusting

25g (1oz) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

Finely grated zest of 1 lime 50g (2oz) butter, softened


100g (4oz) raspberry or strawberry jam

Quarter tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp crème de cassis

To make the shortcake, sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the lime zest. Then beat in the butter with a wooden spoon to give rough crumbs. Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft, smooth dough. Wrap in Cling flm and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the jam flling, place the jam, vanilla extract and crème de cassis in a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat for eight to 10 minutes, until melted and slightly thickened. Allow to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 3mm (one eighth inch). Stamp out about 32- 36 circles using a 4cm (1.5 in) fluted cutter and arrange on baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper. Using a 1cm (half in) plain nozzle (metal is best) stamp out holes in the centre of half of the circles. This will allow the jam to show through later. Bake the biscuits for eight to 10 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden.

To assemble, spoon a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto the centre of each unstamped shortcake. Dust the remaining shortcakes with icing sugar and then place on the jam-topped biscuits, pressing down lightly so that the jam squeezes out just a little bit through the hole. Arrange on plates to serve.

me making shortbreads.
photographer jack caffrey shooting the boxed up jammy dodgers.