Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Event: The Innocent Big Knit 2012...

Innocent Big Knit 2012

Innocent drinks, those tasty little drinks; are helping to keep more older people warm this winter with the return of the innocent Big Knit 2012 in aid of Age Action Ireland. Innocent drinks are asking you to get knitting to help knit 80,000 woolly little knitted hats from now until the end of November 2012. The people of Ireland are being urged to knit a little hat to reach their target and help raise essential funds for Age Action Ireland. The woolly hats will be placed on bottles of innocent smoothies and will be sold in shops nationwide. For every woolly hat wearing smoothie sold, innocent will give a generous 25 cent to Age Action Ireland to help keep older people warm during winter.

Eamon Timmins of Age Action said “We have up to 2,000 excess winter deaths in Ireland each year. They do not die from hyperthermia, but from cardiovascular and respiratory illness – cold-related conditions. They die because they cannot afford to heat their homes to a safe level. The money raised from the innocent big knit will help address this crisis by enabling our volunteers visit more older people in their homes to carry out some DIY jobs and ensure they are well. It will also help fund our annual winter warmth public education campaign which informs people how they can stay well, warm and healthy at home.”  

The Big Knit campaign, which has been running annually since 2008, have helped raise over €60,000 for Age Action and have knitted over 180,000 little woolly beauties with designs ranging from a classic bobble hat to Jedward hats and Santa hats. This year innocent urges everyone to cast on and help knit 80,000 little woolly hats to raise €20,000 and much needed awareness for Age Action.

Ali Gibbons of innocent drinks added “Working on the Big Knit to support Age Action is the most exciting time of the year for innocent, it is great fun to knit a little woolly hat for such a worthy cause. We urge people to grab some wool, needles, a friend and go bananas knitting. We want the nation knitting for warmth.”

Everyone can get involved from novice to champion knitters. For more information, knitting instructions and a variety of knitting patterns visit The Big Knit.

Hats should be sent to: The innocent Big Knit, Fruit Towers, 120 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 by Friday 30th November 2012.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Best Buy: Kilbeggan Porridge

Kilbeggan Organic porridge was established in January 2011 as a family business by the Lalor Family to produce organic oats grown on the family farm Ballard Organic Farm. Organic oats have been grown at Ballard Organic Farm for several years and because the crop is of such a high standard, Pat Lalor decided to develop the grain into porridge which is now sold across Ireland, UK and America.

Kilbeggan Porridge oats comes in two distinct types porridge oatlets also called creamy porridge and jumbo oats. Both products come from the same oat grain with jumbo oats being the whole oat, where as the oatlets variety is the jumbo oat cut up into three to four smaller pieces. Kelbeggan jumbo oats are coarser meaning it takes longer for the body to breakdown the oats keeping you fueled up until lunchtime.

Both types of oats come in four different sizes; 500gr, 1kg, 3kg and 25kg with a full list of stockists here.

* * *

Darina Allen's Flapjacks using Kilbeggan Organic Oats

These nutritious oatmeal biscuits keep very well in a tin. Children love to munch them with a banana. Don't compromise - make them with butter, because the flavour is immeasurably better. This is the recipe that I use when I want to prove to people who swear they can't boil water that they can cook. We often drizzle them with melted chocolate as an extra treat - Darina Allen

Makes about 24

- 350g (12oz) Butter
- 1 Tbsp Golden Syrup 
- 1 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract 
- 225g (8oz) Caster Sugar
- 450g (1lb) Kilbeggan Organic Oats

Swiss Roll tin 25 x 38 cm (10 x 15in)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4.

2. Melt the butter, add the golden syrup and vanilla extract, stir in the sugar and oats and mix well.

3. Spread evenly into the Swiss roll tin.

4. Bake until golden and slightly caramelised for about 30 minutes.

Cut into squares while still warm - they will crisp up as they cool.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recipe: Dermie's Spanish Baked Eggs with Tomato & Gubbeen Chorizo...

One of my favourite healthy weekend breakfast recipes is Spanish Baked Eggs with Tomato & Gubbeen Cherizo. There is nothing more delicious than taking them fresh out of the oven and serving them alongside toasted golden sourdough. It really is just the perfect treat for these mild Autumn weekends keeping you fueled for the day ahead...


(Serves Two)

Shopping List:

- 20g Country Butter.
- 300g Organic Tomatoes (organic tinned tomatoes are fine).
- 1 Diced Onion (Shallot even better!).
- 1 Clove Crushed Garlic. 
- 2 Tbsp Organic Cream.
- 8 Generous Slices of Gubbeen Chorizo.
- 50g Parmesan Cheese (Optional).
- 2 Large Organic Eggs.
- Salt & Black Pepper to season.

The Magic:

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190°C.

2. Sweat the onions and garlic over a medium heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan.

3. Add the tomatoes, cream, chorizo and cook for a further minute. Allow to cool slightly before pouring into the ramekins.

4. Half fill each ramekin with the mixture with four slices of chorizo in each ramekin and top with the egg.

5. Sprinkle with some cheese on top and season with salt and pepper.

6. Place in the oven for 8-10mins for a runny style egg at Gas Mark 5 or 190°C.

7. Serve with lightly toasted golden sourdough bread and a mug of freshly brewed rich coffee.

Dermie's Top Tips:

1. If you are using tinned tomatoes sprinkle them with some sugar and mix well before using in this recipe.

2. If you want to give your baked eggs an extra kick, add a tiny few chili flakes to the tomatoes at the start of the recipe.


Photography by Neil Danton.
Fancy a chat about this recipe? Email Dermie.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dermie Meets: Catherine Fulvio's Eat Like An Italian...

Italy has always been associated with style, fashion, and elegance from Dolce & Gabbana to Valentino, from Vespa to Ferrari. Yet the greatest style of all can be found not just on the Italian high streets, but in warm homes of many an Italian kitchen. This month I chatted to culinary star Catherine Fulvio about the inspiration behind her latest cookbook 'Eat Like An Italian' and the importance the Italian's place on sourcing real local food which is a theme throughout each recipe in her latest cookbook. 



One beautiful summer’s evening, Catherine Fulvio was shopping in her husband's home place of Sicily when she was suddenly stopped in her tracks by a new furniture store. In the window lay a marvelous dark long mahogany dining table with matching chairs and fine vintage Italian china. Catherine was so taken by the dining table that on her way home later that evening, she simply had to take another look at this magnificent dining table, once more.

On returning, Catherine describes her surprise to see that the staff had sat down to enjoy the dining table by having dinner together like a family. The staff were oblivious to life beyond their own company and the enjoyment of their meal. For Catherine, this scene describes the Italian culture where they live to eat and not just eat to live - where work fits around life and where food is slowly enjoyed.  

The scene in the shop window inspired Catherine to write her third cookbook which takes the readers on a Mediterranean journey through over 100 great Italian inspired recipes. Each recipe is accompanied by a short introduction on the inspiration behind each dish including short notes on how to incorporate local Irish seasonal produce into each Italian recipe.

Simple suggestions including making 'Orecchiette With Fennel Sausages and Broccoli' using locally sourced Crowe's Farm Italian Sausages from Tipperary, or 'Rigatoni Alla Vesuviana' made with slices of locally sourced Burren Smokehouse produce; Catherine's book is filled with tips on bringing a taste of Italy home to Ireland using the best very best local Irish ingredients.

Catherine, who is married to an Italian, has a unique insight into Italian life around the dining table of her Sicilian in-laws. For years, Catherine has been impressed with the amount of time Italians put into their meals. Time in preparing their food, time in cooking their food but most of all, time in enjoying their food. Catherine explains "modern Italians are busy people, like anybody else in the world but they do maintain a healthy relationship with food. If they have the time or they are lucky enough to live near their work, Italians definitely prefer to eat a warm meal at home".

Although married to an Italian husband inspired many of Catherine's recipes giving her a love of Italian cuisine, it was growing up on a working farmhouse in Co. Wicklow which made Catherine very well aware of the importance of local produce. Catherine explains "whether it is beans picked straight from your garden or produce bought locally from a farm down the road, locally grown food is by far fresher and therefore tastier". Italian cuisine places great importance on fresh local ingredients by taking time to produce their meals, coupled with enjoying long, leisurely dinners with family - all of which are illustrated chapter-by-chapter throughout Eat Like An Italian


Eat Like An Italian is available to buy in all good bookstores and is packed with over two hundred pages of mouth-watering recipes, food photography and lifestyle shots. The book includes recipes from Italian breads to nuts, beans and legumes; as well as salads, sweets, desserts and even some delicious drinks for that special Italian themed dinner party. One of many delicious recipes from the book is for 'Farfalle with Red Pepper Sauce' which Catherine shares below.

Catherine Fulvio's Farfalle With Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 4



- 350g Farfalle
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Oil
- 3 Shallots, Finely Chopped
- 1 Tsp Tomato Purée
- 100ml White Wine
- 2 Red Peppers, Roasted and Chopped
- 50g Crème Fraîche
- 200ml Fresh Cream
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 100g Ricotta Salata (or Feta), crumbed, to serve
- Chives to garnish


1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and saute the shallots until softened. Add the tomato Purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the roast peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche and cream.

3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove half the sauce and blend it to a puree, then mix both back together again. Season to taste.

4. Toss the drained, cooked pasta into the sauce, sprinkle over the crumbled ricotta salata and garnish with some chive lengths on top.


Catherine’s Eat Like an Italian cookery class will be held on Sunday November 18th at Ballyknocken Cookery School. A selection of recipes from Catherine’s new cookbook “Eat Like an Italian” hands on classes with light lunch and tastings. A full list of upcoming classes and signed copies of Catherine's new book can be found here.

Quesadillas with Parma Ham, Sundried Tomatoes, Cheese & Jalapeño Pepper Relish...

September marks back-to-school time, leaving mums deciding what to give their kids after school to keep them filled up until dinner. A quick snack which is perfect for just that are delicious quesadillas or as my nephew Eóghan calls them the 'posh toasted sandwich'. Quesadillas are simply browned tortilla wraps with cheese and a selection of your favourite ingredients. In these quesadillas, I added some Ballymaloe Jalapeño Pepper Country Relish which gives them a real kick!

Serves 2-4.

Shopping List:

- 4 Soft Wheat Tortillas.
- 8 Slices Parma Ham.
- 1 Sliced Red Onion.
- Handful of Sundried Tomatoes.
- Handful of Finely Grated Cheddar Cheese (or some soft cheese).
- 8 Tbsp Ballymaloe Jalapeño Relish.
- Drizzle of Olive Oil

The Magic:

1. Place a dry frying pan over a medium heat.
2. Place all your ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
3. Make a half moon shape out of your tortillas and lightly fill one half moon while folding over the other half moon to meet & press down to seal.
4. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side ensuring the cheese is melted and the outside is golden colour.
5. Cut the quesadillas into triangles and serve with a dollop of jalapeño relish.
6. Serve hot & enjoy.

Food Images Neil Danton
Fancy a chat about this recipe? Email Dermie.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Product of the week: Sarah's Wonderful Honey...

Sarah's Wonderful Honey range has been developed to add something new to the world of honey in the supermarket aisle. All created by Sarah and her mum, Eilis, from their lovely home in Owning, a small village in County Kilkenny. Sarah's range of honey is 100% pure honey with an exciting twist including: Sarah's Zesty Honey with Ginger; Warming Honey with Cinnamon; Zingy Honey with Lemon; Joyful Honey with Orange- and of course not forgetting Sarah's Tasty Honey with delicious Walnuts.

Sarah's honey range can be found dotted throughout a number of stores across the country; from artisan stores to the leading multiples including Supervalu and Dunnes Stores, as well as online here. Sarah's honey has experienced phenomenal success with a recent venture into world famous food markets including: Selfridges, Harrods, and Dean and Deluca with further expansion into France, Germany, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Japan and even China. 

Yet another Irish success story of how a business has gone from humble beginnings in County Kilkenny to now being shipped internationally. The next time you are shopping keep an eye out for Sarah's range and give her delicious recipe for Sarah's Honey and Cinnamon Baked Apples with Walnuts a try:


Sarah's Honey and Cinnamon Baked Apples with Walnuts


- 6 medium apples.
- 1 tbsp sugar.
- 3 tbsp Mileeven honey and Cinnamon.
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted.
- 6 oz. chopped walnuts.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, or in a deep bowl in the microwave.
3. Add sugar and Mileeven Honey and Cinnamon to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.
4. Add melted butter, whisk until smooth.
5. Stir in walnut pieces.
6. Core apples and cut a shallow slit around the center of each apple, just through the skin.
7. Fill each apple with 1 to 2 tsp of the filling mixture.
8. Arrange in a high-sided baking dish just large enough to hold the apples.
9. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Note: If filling begins to blacken, cover the apples with foil and continue cooking.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Product of the week: Pure Brazen Stocks...

In an ideal world, we would of course all absolutely love to be able to make our own stocks for soups, casseroles, or risottos but in reality how many of us really have the time to make fresh stock? Finding the time to make soup in itself is a chore; not to mention trying to make vegetable stock. Instead we reach for harsh stock cubes which appear to completely dominate the marketplace; little cubes, full of nasty chemicals, additives and preservatives.

It took two Irish entrepreneurs to shake up the category in the supermarket in January 2012. RTÉ Dragon's Den winners Darragh and David took their innovative idea of fresh stocks to the retailing market arena with investment from Dragon Niall Farrell. The product range has achieved an overwhelming response from the public with more stores rolling out their range on a month-by-month basis. Pure Brazen is such a simple idea producing Beef, Chicken, Vegetable and Fish stock that you wonder why it has not already been done in Ireland.

There is no doubt that their innovative product line will find their way into all multiples across Ireland before too long. Until then, you can pick up Pure Brazen in Avoca and in selected SuperValu outlets around south country Dublin. More information about Pure Brazen can be found here. Keep an eye on Pure Brazen Facebook page and website this week for Dermie's rustic Mushroom Soup recipe using Pure Brazen vegetable stock. If you are wondering what to have for dinner tonight try Green Saffron's Rogan Josh recipe below.


 Recipe: One Pot Rogan Josh Curry by Green Saffron


Serves 4-6 


- 500g Onions (thinly sliced)
- 60g Butter (or 3 tblsp vegetable oil)
- 1 Packet Green Saffron Rogan Josh Spice Mix
- 8 Cloves Garlic (finely chopped or blitzed)
- 60g Ginger (grated or blitzed)
- 1kg Stewing lamb, cut into cubes
- 450ml Pure Brazen Chicken Stock
- 400g Tomatoes
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 600ml Natural, plain yoghurt (or one large pot)


1. Heat the ghee, butter (or clarified butter, oil) in a large casserole dish or saucepan on medium.

2. Next, add the packet of Green Saffron Rogan Josh Spice Mix and fry until you hear crackling (this will be pretty much instant), then add the sliced onions and fry until golden.

3. Stir in the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the lamb cubes and fry for a further 15 minutes.

5. Add the yoghurt, tomatoes and sugar. Simmer on a low heat with the lid off for 30 minutes.

6. Finally, increase the heat and stir. Then add in the stock and cook on a gentle heat until the lamb is tender. (approx. 1.5hrs) …simple!

7. Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve with Indian Basmati rice.