Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dermie's Weekly Best Buy: Nood Tea..

Like many, there is nothing more I love than a nice pot of loose leafed tea but I would just love the convenience of a teabag coupled with the quality of loose leaf tea. Sean Moran and Jonathan Wilson from Nood Teas had a similar dilemma, so in 2011 they set about sourcing great tea and bleach free, glue free, staple free, 100% biodegradable teabags. The end result is individually wrapped teabags filled with superb quality leaf tea and you can actually see the tea leaves you are sipping!

Nood tea source their tea leaves in India, China and Sri Lanka, and its tea-bag material in Japan. Sean believes his teas offer a “brighter, cleaner and more refreshing cup”, without the bitterness and astringency often found in bagged tea. Sean adds “We started NOOD for 3 reasons: We found it difficult to get real tea at a decent price. We found it almost impossible to get real tea in a handy teabag. And when we stopped and looked at the supermarket aisles, we were astonished to realise the pretty pictures of ingredients on the boxes had often very little to do with the dust in the box".

The five varieties of Nood tea include organic green, organic coarse-cut peppermint, organic Earl Grey, everyday tea – a single estate Assam, and camomile bud. Nood are growing rapidly which are now available in Tesco, Dunnes and in specialty stores such as Fresh, Cavistons, Morton’s and Nolan’s of Terenure. They cost €3.99 for a box of 20.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Event: The Great Irish Bake 2012

Temple Street Children’s University Hospital is calling on cooks nationwide to put their pinnies on and have their ovens at the ready to participate in the Great Irish Bake on 30th November in aid of the hospital.

From coffee mornings, to office bake sales, to tea parties in schools, there are endless ways for bakers to get involved and raise these much needed funds for the Children's hospital. The money raised will go directly towards the hospital’s main fundraising project for 2012/13; which is to renovate one of the oldest and busiest wards. 

This ward, fondly known to many as 'Top Flat', is home to some of Ireland's sickest children, a high percentage of which are children with Cystic Fibrosis. This is vital to the hospital and will allow them to give the best possible care to the children who come through the doors each year.

Donal Skehan's Delicious Brownies

If you are looking for a little baking inspiration, then delicious Donal Skehan recipes are available to download here. The Baking Academy of Ireland is offering a group baking course for 12 people to one lucky baker who returns the funds they have raised by 14th December. If you want more information or would like to register for this campaign then you can do so here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dermie's Weekly Shopping Bag: Simplee Mulled Wine Mix...

A number of weeks ago during Dermie's Love Irish Food Week, I featured a very exciting Cork company called Simplee Seasonings. A new seasonal addition to their product line was launched this week called 'Simplee Mulled Wine Mix' which was inspired by Edel's own search for the perfect mulled wine flavour. Edel came up with the idea of putting her own ingredients into a "tea bag" style package and sell them alongside her seasonings range. 

The Simplee Mulled Wine Mix is incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is drop the bag into a saucepan with two bottles of red wine, 80g of sugar and gently heat for at least 10 minutes. No bits to be picked out of your glass. No synthetic taste. No straining. It is as easy as making a cup of tea - only alot more delicious!

Simplee Mulled Wine Mix can be found in all O’ Brien's Wines, Carry Outs, Costcutters, selected Super Valu's, Dunnes Stores and artisan independent retailers in the run-up to Christmas. Simplee will be running competitions on their facebook and twitter pages in the run up to Christmas so keep an eye out and enjoy a delicious glass of Mulled Wine during these long cold nights.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recipe: Let's Go Disco's Ballynatray Pheasant...

This recipe is part of my chat with Martijn Kajuiter article here.



- 8 pheasant breast fillets
- 20 thin slices smoked bacon

Pheasant farce:

- 80g pheasant mince
- 15g bread crumbs
- 1 egg yolk
- 65ml cream
- Seasoning

Pheasant skin snaps:

- 130g pheasant skin
- 120g pheasant stock
- 63g tapioca flour
- 1tsp thyme, finely chopped
- Seasoning

Sweet potato fondants:

- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- Butter
- Thyme

Red wine vinegar:

- Chicken stock
- Helvick “Blond” gel
- 140ml Helvick Blond beer
- 1.4g Xantana

Grilled pear:

- 2 ripe pears
- Oil
- Pepper
- Salt

Pheasant bitterball:

- 200g braised pheasant meat
- 200ml pheasant stock 45g butter
- 55g flour
- 2 gelatine leaves
- 1tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Bread crumbs
- Egg whites
- Flour

Marinated Brussels sprout leaves:

- 24 sprout leaves
- 40g white wine vinegar
- 10ml olive oil
- Salt
- Sugar

Pear pearls:

- 1 ripe pear
- 50ml Helvick Blond beer
- Lemon thyme
- Salt

Sweet potato fritters:

- 200g sweet potato, peeled
- 50g Abbots cheese
- 10ml hazelnut oil
- 1 gelatine leaf
- Garlic /lemon thyme
- 1 egg yolk
- Flour
- Bread crumbs
- Mixed herbs
- Egg whites

Parsley gel:

- 140ml parsley juice
- 1.4g Xantana
- Sea salt
- Garnish
- Pheasant jus
- Parsley powder


To make the pheasant:

1. Start by making the pheasant farce. Whip the cream with a pinch of salt, then in a food processor mix the mince, egg yolk and seasoning until very smooth and then fold through the cream. 

2. Spread two layers of cling film on a work bench and arrange five strips of thinly sliced smoked streaky bacon lengthways on the cling film. On top of this, place a pheasant fillet skin side down, season lightly and evenly spread one tablespoon of farce on top. 

3. Next place the other fillet on top with the thicker end on top of the thinner end of the fillet below to create an even double-fillet with farce. 

4, Fold the cling film over, making sure the fillets are covered with bacon, and shape into a cylinder. Make a knot at both ends of the cling film and let it rest for two hours. 

5. Poach the pheasant at 58 degrees celsius in a water bath for 25 minutes then remove it from the cling film and sear it off in foaming butter until all sides are browned. 

6. Let the pheasant rest in the pan for two to three minutes before carving.

To make the pheasant bitterball:

1. Soak the gelatine in cold water and finely dice the pheasant meat. 

2. In a suitable pot, brown the butter and add the flour to make a roux. When the roux is shiny and releases from the bottom of the pot, carefully add the pheasant stock and stir with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. 

3. Cook this salpicon gently for ten minutes then add the finely sliced pheasant meat. 

4. Season the salpicon, add the soaked gelatine and parsley and heat through for another minute then pour out onto a tray and let it cook in the fridge. 

5. When the mix is cool, divide it into portions of approximately 35gr to 40gr in weight and roll these between your hands to make round smooth balls. Coat these balls lightly with flour then carefully dip them in an egg wash made by whisking the egg whites and salt together, and then spread the bread crumbs out onto a tray and roll the balls carefully through them. 

6. Repeat this coating process a second time, then refrigerate the balls until needed or freeze them for future use. 

7. To serve, deep fry them in hot oil at 175 degrees celsius until golden brown.

To make the pheasant skin snaps:

1. Place the pheasant stock and skin in a thermo blender set to 90 degrees celsius, add one teaspoon of very finely chopped thyme leaves and turn the blender on to a high speed. 

2. After two minutes add the tapioca flour and lower the mixing speed – at this point the mix needs to cook for another three minutes before it’s removed from the cup and placed in a small container to cool. 

3. Preheat an oven to 170 degrees celsius and place a half spoon of the pheasant skin mix on a baking sheet on a tray. Spread this out with a flat spatula and repeat the process until the tray is full. Sprinkle some sea salt crystals on top and bake it for ten to 12 minutes until golden brown. 

4. Let the pheasant snaps cool and then preserve them in a dry airtight container until needed.

To make the sweet potato fritters:

1. Soak the gelatine in cold water. Dice the peeled sweet potatoes into even cubes and cook until soft in salted boiling water. 

2. When cooked, puree the sweet potato and add the soaked gelatine to the still warm puree, along with the Abbots cheese, oil and egg yolk and mix it until smooth. Let this mix cool and then divide it into portions measuring around 25gr to 30gr each and roll these between your hands to make round smooth balls. 

3. Coat these balls lightly with flour then carefully dip them in an egg wash made by whisking the egg whites and salt together, and then spread the herbs and bread crumbs out onto a tray and roll the balls carefully through them. 

4. Repeat this coating process a second time then refrigerate the balls until needed. To serve, deep fry them in hot oil at 175 degrees celsius until golden brown.

To make the sweet potato fondants:

1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 3cm thick slices. With a small dough cutter of around 1.5cm to 1.8cm in diameter, cut out small rounds and sear these until golden brown with a knob of butter, a clove of garlic and a few twigs of thyme. 

2. When golden brown add three tablespoons of red wine vinegar and let it slightly reduce before adding 70ml of chicken stock. Move the ingredients around the pan and then placing the whole pan in an oven set to 175 degrees celsius to cook and glaze the sweet potato fondants gently. 

3. When they are shiny and soft in the middle they are ready to be served.

To make the grilled pears:

1. Peel the pears and slice each one length wise into six parts. 

2. Cut away the pits then coat with a small layer of oil and place on a hot griddle pan to grill on both sides. 

3. Season and warm the pear though in the oven before serving.

To make the pear pearls:

1. Place the beer and thyme in a 200ml kilnar jar with a pinch of salt. 

2. Peel the pears using the smallest pearl baller make small pear pearls. 

3. Add these to the beer, then close the jar and shake gently. Store in the fridge until needed.

To make the parsley and blond beer gels:

Both gels are made the same way – whisk the xantana through the two liquids until fully dissolved then place them in squeeze bottles until needed. Make sure the parsley gel is well seasoned. This isn’t necessary with the beer gel as it has enough flavour and depth on its own.

To make the marinated Brussels sprouts leaves:

Make an instant marinade by mixing the vinegar, oil salt and sugar and just before serving soak the leaves in this mixture. They should stay firm but still have a nice sour flavour note.

To assemble the dish:

- Dot the two gels around a large white plate then place five or six sprout leaves around the gel dots. 

- At the side of the plate, add one or two pieces of grilled pear. 

- Deep fry the sweet potato fritters and bitterball and arrange them on the plate along with the sweet potato fondants. 

- Lastly, carve the pheasant cylinders and place them beside each other. Heat the pheasant jus, add some soaked pear pearls and season to taste then spoon it around the dish. 

- Finish the dish with the pheasant snaps and herb powder

This recipe is part of my chat with Martijn Kajuiter: Welcome To My Kitchen.

Photography Copyright: Aspect Photography

Friday, November 9, 2012

Martijn Kajuiter: Welcome To My Kitchen

Martijn Kajuiter, head chef at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford this week became the only chef in Europe to receive the top ‘Rising Chef’ trophy for his work from Relais & Châteaux. It has been a remarkable year for the Michelin star chef and his team having recently published their cookbook ‘Let’s Go Disco’. The Dutch rising chef chats to me about the disco in the kitchen, his great team of Irish chefs and his plans to be out of the kitchen by 40.

“At a young age I was tainted with the good food virus, my parents had a small restaurant and a few cafés so I grew up surrounded with food, not very fancy food, but freshly prepared simple food”.

At 17, Martijn embarked on his culinary career under the wings of Dutch master chef Wynand Vogel, before moving to London in his early twenties to learn from top Michelin star chefs including; Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White. It was in September 2007 when Martijn really became his own, taking on one of his biggest challenges of his career by joining The Cliff House hotel as head chef. Since then he has earned the restaurant their first Michelin star in 2010 and placing the Cliff House firmly on the culinary map internationally.

“The Cliff House was a great challenge as I was given a clean slate and all the freedom to create what I thought was best - so creating an identity and a soul was essential. It was perfect for me to get started, and I think we have been successful. We opened the cliff in May 2008 and now, a few years later, we are still going strong and are still moving forward - room for complacency is not there, everyday is full throttle and I like to do that with a strong Irish team with a good Dutch twist” explains Martijn.

Hours before service, when it is time for the chefs to knuckle down and get the job done, Martijn chants “Let’s Go Disco” to his team which has become the mantra in the kitchen as well as the title for their new cookbook. The team of chefs have come together to take the reader into the kitchen of ‘The House’, to showcase their working relationships and what is needed for a kitchen to operate at such a high level. It draws attention to just how important every member of The Cliff House staff is, from the kitchen porter right up to Martijn.

“It is about our little bubble we live in, a slice of what we do and what drives us. It is a good and realistic look behind the scenes of a restaurant which is trying to make a difference without ego tripping - a book that reflects The House Restaurant ‘now’,” explains Chef Martijn.

The recipes for some of The House restaurant’s signature dishes have naturally developed and changed over the years since the restaurant opened in 2008, as well as subtly changing during the days and weeks of each growing season the essence of which is captured in ‘Let’s Go Disco’.

The recipes are laid out in a straightforward way, with every element explained to show just how Michelin starred food gets to the table; the craft and commitment needed to do that, and with absolutely no compromise. No compromising on the level of detail. No compromising on the work required. No compromise on the expectation of absolute perfection synonymous with 'The House' restaurant.

Only now, after over twenty years working in some of the world’s finest kitchens has Martijn become sure in his cooking. “I think that for each person this kind of understanding comes at a different stage of their life but for me it has come now”. It is with this reassurance in mind that Martijn is looking to the future contemplating stepping aside in a few years and making room for up-and-coming talented new chefs.

“Once upon a time a Great Chef said  that cooking is physically for young but in terms of taste and balance for the older, and I agree, there is a time that it has been enough, since I am 18 years old I have been saying that if I am around by my 40th I am out of the kitchen".  

"If I do that then I have 25 years of cooking behind me, it is then time to do something else, and make way for other chefs to step up, always good to offer future perspective”.

Let’s Go Disco is priced at €45 available online from here, from both the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Waterford, and from the Cliff Townhouse on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green.

Martijn Kajuiter shares his recipe for Ballynatray Pheasant here: Ballynatray Pheasant.

Images: Aspect Photography.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Competition Closed: Win A Chocolate Hamper & A Copy Of Nev's New Cookbook...


You may remember last month I ran a Love Irish Food Week where I featured a number of Love Irish Food brands and chatted to the people behind the brands.

Lily O' Brien's is another Love Irish Food brand who produce some of the most delicious chocolates in Ireland and have a very successful international customer base. This month, Lily O' Brien's are giving one lucky reader a bumper Christmas hamper filled with festive chocolate goodies.

And that's not all - my friends at Gill and Macmillan have given me a copy of Neven Mcguire's new cookbook to accompany the hamper.

Okay Dermie - just tell me how to enter...

Oh, oh. Sorry but this competition closed on the 12th Nov. Congratulations to my twitter follower Aoife Mahony from Cork who won the prize. Thanks to all who entered & stay tuned for more competitions over the coming weeks.