Friday, October 26, 2012

Love Irish Food Week: The Story Behind Avonmore...


In Ireland we grow grass like no where else in the world. Our Irish climate allows the grass grow lusher for even longer - allowing our cows to graze for longer than our European counterparts. At the heart of Ireland's milk production are Avonmore who take great care in sourcing the very finest Irish milk from a group of local farmers. 

All of Avonmore's milk is sourced from "happy cows" because the happier the cow the better the milk. Avonmore recognises that every cow has rights meaning local farmers have to sign up to the their charter promising freedom from hunger, thirst, injury, disease, fear and distress.

Avonmore ensures that from glass to grass, world-class-quality is adhered to every step of the way. Recently I chatted to Gina Bowes, Digital Marketing Manager for Avonmore as part of Dermie's Love Irish Food Week about the story behind the brand.

Coffeebreak with Gina Bowes, Digital Marketing Manager Avonmore



Gina, Avonmore, how did it all start?

The ‘Avonmore’ brand name originates in County Kilkenny, Ireland. It refers to Avonmore Foods, which along with Waterford Foods, merged to create Glanbia plc, the international cheese and nutritional ingredients group which owns the “Avonmore” brand in Ireland.

In 1967 the Avonmore Creameries Federation was formed when 36 small co-operative societies and Unigate Limited came together to establish a new milk processing facility in Ballyragget, Co. Kilkenny.

Avonmore was founded by people who foresaw that farmers could help themselves through their own multipurpose co-operative society. Their plan to grow and expand the business evoked the word more, hence Avonmore.

How many do you employ?

Glanbia who own Avonmore employees 4,500 people.

How has love Irish food helped your business?

We are very proud of our Irish heritage and were one of the founding members of Love Irish Food in 2009. We passionately believe in creating the freshest tastiest Irish products across our product range of milk, cream, butter, custard, cheese & soup for our customers to enjoy.

We celebrate the fact ingredients are made in the Republic of Ireland so when consumers see the Love Irish Food logo on Avonmore products they know they are supporting a true Irish brand.

We encourage shoppers to look for the Love Irish Food logo to support Irish brands and have peace of mind that the cow to carton journey was made in their country’s back garden.

What makes your product different to competition?

Avonmore has been a favourite of Irish families since the sixties. With a wide range of products for all the family to enjoy - life tastes better with Avonmore!

We take great care to help our customers get the finest quality, freshest products every time. We only source the best, so our ingredients come from a select group of farms that supply only our dairies & naturally traceable back to our local Irish farms.

Describe Avonmore in five words....

Fresh, Tasty, Delicious, Scrumptious…..Irish!

What does the future hold for Avonmore?

We are continuously looking at ways to improve our products & innovate while maintaining the highest quality standards. In 2012 alone we launched our new Avonmore Heart Active Milk, launched our delicious new Avonmore Dessert Cream and improved our tasty fresh Avonmore Soup range. 

We are also excited to be shortlisted for an Eircom Spider award for our Peak Fresh Campaign and have recently sponsored the Avonmore Cook Book of the Year as part of the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards with winners announced on 22nd Nov.

So watch this space …exciting times ahead!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Love Irish Food Week: Simplee Seasonings...

Simplee seasonings was founded in February 2011 by Edel, a lover of growing fresh herbs in her garden. Edel would always grow far too many and they would all die before getting a chance to even eat them. One day, she decided to chop them up and put them in a big bowl of sea salt.

The result was a fragrant herby flavoured seasoning that soon was being requested by all her friends and family. Before too long, jars were bought and gifts were given. The word spread so far about Edel's salt that she started to get some local shops asking to sell her fresh herb salt. 


In February 2011, she repackaged her homemade seasonings and started selling to butchers and supermarkets in the Cork area. More flavour combinations were begging to be created. Earlier this year, Edel spent her evenings in the kitchen coming up with different spices, fruit and herb combinations.

After many tastings, cook-offs, trials and debates, four new products were invented:

- Garlic sea salt
- Lemon pepper
- Sweet & smoky sea salt
- An all purpose salt free seasoning.

Simplee loves meat, seafood, vegetables, eggs, chicken.... the list goes on!

Coffee Break With Edel Cooney, Founder Simplee Seasonings...


Where did you come up with the idea for your business?

The idea for Simplee came about by accident. I grew herbs in my garden a few years ago and suddenly there was more herbs than I knew what to do with. I couldnt cook with all of them and I thought it would be a terrible waste to let them die.

My hot press was full so I thought to myself, salt is a great natural preservative, why dont I put them in salt? So I did and the result was a fragrant, aromatic seasoning I started using myself at home. Friends and family started asking for pots and I sold a few in a couple of local shops.

When I was made redundant from by banking job in 2010, I decided to make a go of it full time. Using my redundancy cheque, I created another seasoning (chilli salt), re-packaged and rebranded my seasonings and it went from there.

How has the Love Irish Food initiative helped your business?

We joined Love Irish Food in October 2011. I had been aware of them for a while and I really liked what they were doing.

People are becoming ever more conscious of what they are putting in their shopping baskets and buying Irish is a way for people to support local industry, and fight back against the recession.

Having a Love Irish Food label on our packaging is an instantly recognisable way for us to prove that we are a 100% Irish business.

Before I joined Love Irish Food, I was worried that they would not take a very small start-up company like ours seriously, but I could not have been more wrong.

All the staff have been incredibly supportive since day one and have given us so much advice and opened up new avenues to us that we would never have gotten on our own.

What makes your product different to the competition?

We like to think that we give people real solutions to making meals at home. A couple of twists of any of our seasonings add flavour in a very quick, easy to use way.

Our seasonings have all been dreamed up in my and my husbands heads, so what we do is very unique. If you create a meal with Simplee, its sure to be original.

What does your product go well with?

We have a range of eight seasonings and we deliberately do not have instructions on our packaging. You could put a twist of chilli salt on your scrambled eggs or make a crust for roasting fish with our salt free seasoning. If you can dream it up, you can make it.

We love that our products are versatile and are suitable for every level of cooking. We often receive emails from people telling us what they have done with their seasonings (things we never would have thought of). Sweet & smoky salt on grilled cheese sandwiches was a particular favourite I quickly tried out for myself.

What's in store for Simplee in the future?

We have just received a listing in Dunnes Stores and our Simplee range is currently being stocked in 30 of their shops.

Simplee is also in the process of diversifying. In the next two weeks, we will be launching a brand new product for Christmas, so watch this space!

Describe your product in five words...

Simple, natural, exciting, Irish & tasty!

More information about Simplee Seasonings can be found here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love Irish Food Week: Meet Kinsale Gourmet...


Kinsale Gourmet would like to introduce you to their exciting new range of ready meals of restaurant quality made in Ireland’s ‘Goumet Capital’ Kinsale, Co. Cork. Founded in July 2012, Kinsale Gourmet make delicious, simple, natural, Irish food using the very best of local Irish ingredients in their meals.

You will not find any nasty artificial additives, colourings or preservatives in any of their food. Just wholesome, fresh, natural ingredients you can trust. All their meals are frozen within minutes of being handmade to seal in their delicious natural goodness.

Coffee Break With Miriam Crowley Marketing Manager Kinsale Gourmet...



Where did you come up with the idea for your business?

Owen O' Brien is the Director of Kinsale Gourmet and has a strong background in catering. Through his experience in the industry he spotted a niche in the market for restaurant quality frozen ready meals that are produced in Ireland.

How has the Love Irish Food initiative helped your business?

Kinsale Gourmet launched in June 2012 and so we joined then. The initiative is a great platform to be seen by a wide demographic across Ireland. We are very proud to be part of Love Irish Food and that the Kinsale Gourmet range is 100% Irish. Having the Label on our products is attractive to consumers who are conscious of product origin which is a growing market trend across Ireland.

What makes your product different to the competition?

Kinsale Gourmet is the first 100% Irish range to incorporate the super-food sea-vegetable Dillisk into each consumer ready meal. There are numerous health benefits associated with sea-vegetables and in particular Dillisk/Dulse. Dillisk is rich in potassium, high in zinc and is one of the greatest sources of iron a person can have in their diet.

Another reason we stand out from the crowd is because we have a ‘freshly frozen policy’. This means our gourmet meal is frozen within minutes of being handmade, naturally sealing in the amazing taste and goodness, allowing the customer to get as fresh a meal as possible made by award winning chefs. The beauty of Kinsale Gourmet is that there is no need to go around the supermarket looking for ingredients or side dishes!

What does your product go well with?

A nice bottle of wine might accompany the meals too... if that’s what you fancy!

Describe your product in five words...

Frozen Restaurant Quality Ready Meal.


Watch out for Kinsale Gourmet November special offer. When you buy a Kinsale Gourmet meal you get a free terracotta ceramic dish. Kinsale Gourmet are expanding their number of retail outlets nationwide each week so keep an eye out in the frozen section. More information about Kinsale Gourmet can be found here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dermie's Love Irish Food Week: The Story Behind Ballymaloe Relish...


Day two of Love Irish Food Week is a feature on Ballymaloe County Relish. Twenty years ago, Yasmin Hyde, daughter of Ivan and Myrtle Allan, started producing one of Ballymaloe’s favourite recipes under the name Ballymaloe Country Relish. Today the brand is the number one relish brand in the country and is sold right across Europe and America.

The range has expanded to include Jalapeno Pepper Relish, Cranberry Sauce, Mint Jelly, Apple Sauce, Salad Dressings, Pasta Sauces and Cheddar Melt. All these products are made in Little Island in Cork supporting the local community using the very best quality natural ingredients with absolutely no artificial additives.

A number of months ago, Neven Maguire visited Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Relish to get an insight into the making of one of Ireland's most iconic brands.


Coffee Break With Maxine Hyde:

Maxine Hyde, daughter of Yasmin Hyde is the Marketing Manager for Ballymaloe Relish and is growing the business into new markets both in Ireland, across Europe and America. Maxine is an avid supporter of Irish produce and passionately believes in keeping manufacturing jobs in Ireland. Last week I chatted to Maxine about how it all started, why Love Irish Food is so important and her plans for the future of the brand.

Maxine, Ballymaloe Relish where did it all start?

My mum, Yasmin Hyde started Ballymaloe Relish in 1990, she saw a business opportunity using her mother's Myrtle's recipe to preserve the glut of tomatoes from her husband, Ivan's glasshouses. Myrtle served Ballymaloe Relish in the restaurant at Ballymaloe and it was loved by everyone. Yasmin saw the potential to produce it for shops and restaurants not only because of the taste, but because of the natural shelf life and versatility in usage. Fast forward 22 years later, Ballymaloe Relish is the best selling Irish made condiment in Ireland, found nationwide in all good food stores, and on restaurant menus throughout the country.

How many people do you employ?

There are currently 18 people employed by Ballymaloe Country Relish in Little Island, Co. Cork some of whom have been employed by the company since its foundation.


How has the Love Irish Food symbol helped your business?

We joined Love Irish Food at the beginning in 2009 when Irish made products were facing a huge challenge to compete with imported products manufactured in places with much cheaper cost bases and factories with huge scales of production. The Love Irish Food symbol has helped Ballymaloe Relish open a network of Irish producing food companies.

What makes your product different to the competition?

What competition?! ;-)

What are your future plans for Ballymaloe Relish?

We are always aiming to keep product quality as our number one goal. I am aiming to try to build more export markets for Ballymaloe Relish. The brand is constantly seeking to innovate and we are about to launch the Pasta Sauce range, as well as bringing out a delicious new pickled beetroot line. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for more details.

Describe your product in five words...

Delicious & Versatile, 100% Natural Ingredients.

Boo! Win 1 of 10 Spooky Ballymaloe Halloween Jars... 


...click on the image above to be taken straight to the competition page muahahaha!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Love Irish Food Week: Meet The Broderick Brothers...


Barry and Bernard are brothers who make delicious cakes and sweet things which all started in their mum Ina’s kitchen who is well known in the community for her delicious cakes and treats. Broderick’s handmade snacks are produced using only the best quality ingredients including real locally sourced Irish butter and the finest Irish oats.

The wide range of cakes and snack bars includes traditional favourites such as Handmade Rocky Road and Chocolate Brownies as well as more unusual flavours such as Handmade Chocolate Cranberry Nut Bar and Yoghurt, Mango and Papaya Nar. Recently, Neven McGuire caught up with the two brothers to find out a little more about their business:


Coffee Break With Barry Broderick...


Barry tell me how you come up with the your business idea?

Well we come from a background of supplying high quality desserts to cafés, restaurants and hotels. We stated to notice people were eating more products "on the go" and that there was a gap in the market for a high quality product using premium ingredients such as Belgian chocolate and butter and some innovative recipes. So we set about developing a range of tasty treats such as the Chilly Brrrr or (Belgian chocolate brownie with caramel nuts and chocolate chips) and the chocolate heaven (peanuts Belgian chocolate and caramel) using local Irish butter and caramel we made ourselves in the kitchen. The business has grown from our kitchen to selling in across Ireland, France, Belgium, UK and further across Europe.

Why did you join Love Irish Food?
 
We joined Love Irish food in 2009 and we found it to be a great help. We feel that Love Irish Food is doing a fantastic Job of educating the Irish consumer of what an Irish Manufactured product is as opposed to an imported product branded as an Irish product. In turn the symbol helps promote Irish Jobs and business.

How many direct jobs are linked to the company?

40 local jobs in Walkinstown, Dublin.

What is the best way to enjoy your bars?

Our product goes well with a hot beverage "on the go" to bring that Café moment mobile. Or get some delicious ice cream and either break up the tiffen, rocky road or Brownie (could be heated) and create your own dessert or my favorite - break up some brownie with some nuts and vanilla ice cream and caramel or Duluce de Leche sauce on top to create your own sundae! Yum.

Sell me your Broderick's bars in five words... 

Chunky chocolate treat for me!

More information about the bars can be found here.

Dermie's Love Irish Food Week 22nd - 29th October 2012...


 

One trusted way of ensuring that the produce you buy in the supermarket has been manufactured in Ireland is by looking out for the ‘Love Irish Food’ symbol. The Love Irish Food initiative was formed in 2009, by a group of Irish brands which guarantees that the product is manufactured in the Republic of Ireland and more importantly that the brand uses ingredients from Ireland where these are available.

Love Irish Food estimates that by switching from just two imported food and drink products a week to two Irish manufactured brands, Irish households could generate over €300 million per year for the economy.

The initiative is directed by one of Ireland's leading economists Jim Power who explains “the symbol informs consumers that the brand has at least 80 per cent of the value added in Ireland, using Irish inputs where possible. The symbol is not intended to send consumers on a guilt trip, but rather to provide customers with more information in order to make an informed choice when they shop”. 



Behind every Love Irish Food brand is a home grown story of 180,000 Irish workers either directly or indirectly employed in the Irish agri-food sector and every euro spent on Irish goods will help support and sustain those jobs.  

“Of course consumers have the choice to import, but we believe that by choosing an Irish brand where possible, we are supporting jobs for ourselves and our children” adds Jim Power.

The Irish agri-food sector plays an integral role in rebuilding the Irish economy with top class quality and value inherent in Irish brands. Ireland has the potential to be world leading in food innovation and production with the continued support of brands such as those in Love Irish Food.

All you have to do is look to Waterford where Flahavan’s has shown the positive impact that a local Love Irish Food business has on their local community. The people of Waterford have witnessed the contribution that small Irish food companies play at a local level in helping to keep local communities vibrant with employment.


All this week I posted about one Love Irish Food brand daily. I met those behind the brand who told me about how their brand has benefited from the support of the Love Irish Food logo and how their business has impacted positively on their local community.

Monday: Meet The Brodericks
Tuesday: The Story Behind Ballymaloe Relish
Wednesday: Meet Kinsale Gourmet
Thursday: Simplee Seasonings
Friday: Avonmore - From Grass To Glass.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recipe: Deep Indulgent Chocolate Moments...


One of my favourite stalls in Cork's English Market is The Chocolate Shop run by Niall and Rosemary Daly who are on a mission to stock the widest range of the world's finest chocolate. Any time you pass, Niall is enthusiastically educating customers about chocolate surrounded by an array of the world's finest artisan truffles. It was while sampling one of these delicious truffles that I came up with the inspiration for this recipe. When invited to dinner parties I sometimes arrive with some of these tasty truffles, wrapped elegantly in a nice box with a hand written note.

***

Ingredients:

- 150g Milk Chocolate Drops.
- 150g Dark Chocolate Drops.
- 300g Double Cream.
- 1 Tbsp Lime.
- 1 Tsp Sea Salt.
- 100g chocolate, some ground pistachio nuts and coca powder to decorate.

 Method:

1.  Pour the cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan over a gentle heat until the cream reaches the simmering stage. 

2. Remove from the heat and then pour over the chocolate. Stir gently until you have a smooth silky texture.  

3. Add the freshly squeezed lime, along with a delicate pinch of sea salt to the mixture. Pour the mixture into a wide bowl, scraping down the edges with a spatula and allow to set in fridge for 3 hours. 

4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Pour the chilled mixture into a piping bag and make evenly shaped rounds onto the lined tray. Although I just dip a melon ball or use a spoon dipped into boiling water and shape the truffles.

5. Coat your truffles in coca powder or pistachio nuts immediately after shaping.

6. For coating a truffle, you will need to melt 100g milk or even white chocolate which looks very stylish for 8-10 truffles. Coat one truffle at a time and hold over the bowl of melted chocolate. 

7. Pour the chocolate over each truffle until evenly coated leaving a nice silk smooth finish. 

8. Place on the lined baking tray and allow to set in the fridge for an hour. These will keep for up to fives days and freeze well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dermie Meets: Domini Kemp - How I Like To Cook


Domini Kemp is the founder of ITSA in Dublin and is the weekly food columnist with The Irish Times. She chats to me about the success of ITSA, family and her third cookbook 'Domini At Home How I Like To Cook'. Domini lives in Sandymount, Co. Dublin with her journalist husband Garvan and two children Lauren and Maeve. 

 

 ***


The moment Domini answers the door of her South Dublin home, I am instantly welcomed with a warm smile and a friendly disposition. A highly driven business woman her home acts as an office, a photo studio and a place where family and friends drop by for dinner.

"I work from home a lot as I spend vast quantities of time on the phone and the computer. We have about 12 different food businesses throughout Dublin - including bagel shops, cafes, tea rooms and The Restaurant in Brown Thomas, Dublin as well as our restaurant, Table in Brown Thomas in Cork". Domini explains.

Despite the economic downturn and the devastating effects of a terrible winter in 2010, ITSA is thriving and along with her sister Peaches she continues to expand the chain. Recently ITSA acquired ʻDubh Linnʼ tea-rooms in Dublin Castle and plans are in place to grow the company through seeking innovative concepts.

For over a decade, Domini and Peaches have put the same amount of care and absolute devotion into every aspect of ITSA's food and quality of ingredients. It is not just good quality food and exceptional customer attention that has placed ITSA firmly ahead of the competition but as Domini explains "ITSA's success is down to hard work, building a great team of managers, always trying to improve what we do and never getting complacent".





The success of ITSA lead to an offer of a weekly recipe column in The Irish Times which she has complied into her third cookbook. "This book is another collection of my favourite recipes, a greatest hits collection, if you will. All of my books are similar in that they are aimed at home cooks and have just changed with the times" Domini explains.
 
Domini is always looking for the shortest, tastiest and most efficient route to a great dish. She comes up with her own recipes but takes inspiration from other cookery writers, simplifying what sounds daunting and eliminating any unnecessary steps without compromising on flavour. "Call it plagiarism, call it lazy, call it practical... it's how I like to cook" she writes in the introduction. "I don't like food to be overly handled or fussed with. If too many hands have been on your food, it just won't taste as good".

Domini's no fuss instructions will have you whizzing dishes together in no time, whether it is her 'Getting it into Them Family Favourites' like tandoori chicken or her 'Fancy Casual' recipes like posh chicken Kiev, then this book has it all - in the shortest, tastiest and most efficient route possible.

Domini At Home: How I Like To Cook is published by Gill & Macmillan and is priced at €22.99 in all good bookstores.

***

Domini Kemp's Chickpea Soup With Curry Prawns
(Serves 4)


Ingredients:

- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Onion (Peeled and Finely Chopped)
- 2 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and Finely Sliced)
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 x 400g Tin Chickpeas Drained
- 1 Litre Vegetable Stock
- 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Crushed
- 200ml White Wine
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Bunch Chives (Finely Chopped)

Curry Garnish:

- Knob of Butter
- 1 Tsp Curry Powder
- 8-12 Prawns
- Salt and Pepper

Method:

1. In a large saucepan, sweat the olive oil, onions and garlic together until soft. Season well and do not allow to brown. 

2. Chuck in the other ingredients (except the chives) and heat through. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and then mix in a blender. Return to the saucepan and check for seasoning.

3. For the prawn garnish, I use cooked frozen tiger prawns, defrosted thoroughly and patted dry. 

4. Heat the butter until foaming, add the curry powder and then chuck in the prawns and, keeping the heat up high, toss around until they are well coated and hot. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with curry prawns and chives (or just the chives and an extra swirl of olive oil).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Competition: Wanta Win An I-Pad?


Cully & Sully the makers of delicious soups, pies and desserts have come up with a terrific prize. Every month from now until the end of the year, the boys will be giving away a sparkling new i-pad to the best snap taken as you munch your lunch. 

Cully & Sully are not looking for the best photographer, they are just looking for the most creative photo which shows your surroundings as you have your lunch. Whether it is at home with the kids, in your office, our with friends or just in your garden - share that moment for your chance to win a cool i-pad!

***

You can enter by email, twitter or text:  

Email your snap to: lunch@CullyandSully.com
Tweet your snap using the hashtag: #IrelandAtLunch 
Text the boys: (087) 76 56 567.

More information can be found here, here and you can follow the competition here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recipe: Dermie's Crunchy Pistachio Biscuits...

As I sit here writing up this recipe; the aroma of coffee, coupled with the freshly baked aroma of my homemade biscuits wafts throughout my kitchen. When friends drop by for a catch up over coffee, they really don't believe me when I tell them how easy it is to make these biscuits. They are by far my favourite - lightly salted pistachio nuts are warmly tucked inside the golden brown bikkies leaving you with a nice crunchy bite.


***

(Makes 12-15)

Shopping List:

- 200g Plain White Flour.
- 150g Country Butter (Cubed).
- 60g Caster Sugar.
- 50g Pistachio Nuts.
- 100g Milk Chocolate to decorate (Optional).

The Magic:

1. Roughly chop the pistachio nuts and set aside.

2. Sieve the flour into a large baking bowl and rub in the chilled butter, three cubes at a time until the mixture comes together and looks like breadcrumbs.

3. Add in the sugar, nuts and form a ball with the mixture using your hands.

4. Flatten the dough into a disc shape and cover with cling film before placing in the fridge for an hour.

5. Take the dough out of the fridge, lightly flour your worktop and rolling pin and roll out your dough. 

6. Shape 12-15 bikkies with a biscuit cutter, dipping your cutter in flour after each bikkie.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

8. Once the bikkies have cooled, I separate the bikkies in two batches on two seperate baking trays with parchement paper. Cover melted chocolate over one batch for a chocolate coated biscuit! 

***

Photography & Food Styling Neil Danton.
Fancy a chat about my recipe? email Dermie.