Midleton Food Fair

“Way over our expectations”, “professionally managed and organised”, “a resounding success” were some of the responses made by the stallholders after the inaugural Midleton Food and Drink Festival in September 2004.
The hard working organising committee headed up by Sean Woodgate were delighted with the response, 20,000 people poured into Midleton over the weekend to taste what became known as the Feast of the East. The festival was sponsored by “Jameson Irish Whiskey” and “Dart”. The latter is an abbreviation for Developing Active regions of sustainable tourism is a project commissioned under the European Intemreg IIL programme – the Irish porters are E-CAD 1.

Spurred on by last year’s success, a bigger and ever better festival is planned. Retailers, hoteliers, publicans and entertainers are pooling their talents to provide a memorable experience for all ages, - it will be a real family event. Lots of fun for the children, face painting, mime jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, balloon artists, puppet shows and circus workshops. There will be kiddies cooking classes in Midleton Park Hotel, great music from the Midleton Brass bands – a wonderful Irish rural tradition that we can be so proud of. Midleton Comhaltas and String Quartet will also be delighting the visitors. 

This year there will be over 60 stalls selling everything from roast suckling pig to local and Thai band crafts. Midleton Farmers market will be out in force selling local food so bring a few large shopping bags so you can fill them brimful with delicious local food. 

Midleton Food and Drinks Festival, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2005. For further details see www.eastcorktourism.com/midleton

Dan Aherne’s Traditional Roast Stuffed Organic Chicken

Dan’s chickens take 12 weeks to reach maturity. They are fed on organic feed and range freely on his farm in Dungouney, East Cork. Every Thursday and Saturday, customers queue at his stalls in Mahon Point and Midleton to by the flavourful chickens.
Serves 6

4½ - 5 lbs (1.5 - 2.3kg) free range organic chicken preferably with giblets

Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate), and wishbone
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 stick celery
A few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme

12 ozs (45g/3 tablesp.) butter
3 ozs (85g/: cup) chopped onion
3-32 ozs (85-100g/12-1: cups) soft white breadcrumbs
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) finely chopped fresh herbs eg. parsley, lemon thyme, chives and annual marjoram
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little soft butter

Sprigs of flat parsley

First remove the wishbone from the neck end of the chicken, this isn't at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wishbone, giblets, carrot, onions, celery and herbs into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting.

Next make the stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the crumbs, herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with
cold stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20
minutes over. Baste a couple of times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy. To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. Deglaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need :-1 pint depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can and ignore rude remarks if you are still practicing but do try to organise it so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce.

Willie Scannells Gratin of Potato and Wild Mushrooms

Willie is famous for the flowery potatoes grown on his farm overlooking Ballyandreen in East Cork. He too has a cult following at the midleton farmers market.
Serves 6

If you have a few wild mushrooms eg. chantrelles or field mushrooms, mix them with ordinary mushrooms for this gratin. If you can find flat mushroom, all the better, one way or the other the gratin will still be delectable.

1 ½ lb (700g) 'old' potatoes, eg. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
2 lb (225g/4 cups) mushrooms, cultivated mushrooms, or a mixture of cultivated mushrooms, brown mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shitake
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pint (300ml/13 cups) light cream
3 tablesp. (4 American tablesp.) grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), or Irish mature Cheddar cheese

Ovenproof gratin dish 10 inch (25.5cm) x 82 inch (21.5cm)

Slice the mushrooms. Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potato slices to the boiling water. As soon as the water returns to the boil, drain the potatoes. Refresh under cold water. Drain again and arrange on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. 

Grease a shallow gratin dish generously with butter and sprinkle the garlic over it. Arrange half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with the sliced mushrooms. Season again and finish off with a final layer of overlapping potatoes. 

Bring the cream almost to boiling point and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for ½ an hour approx. at 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, until the gratin becomes crisp and golden brown with the cream bubbling up around the edges. 

This gratin is terrifically good with a pangrilled lamb chop or a piece of steak.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Thyme Leaf Soufflé
Local goat cheese makers Jane Murphy sell a range of 8 or 10 cheeses made from the sweet milk of their 400 goats on their farm outside Carrigtwohill in East Cork.

Serves 6

In season: year round

We bake this soufflé until golden and puffy in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional soufflé bowl it makes a perfect lunch or supper dish.

90g (3oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) cream
300ml (½ pint) milk
a few slices of carrot
sprig of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a little scrap of bay
1 small onion, quartered

5 eggs free range organic, separated
110g (4oz) crumbled goat cheese, we Ardsallagh goat cheese
85g (3oz) Gruyere cheese
55g (2oz) mature Coolea or Desmond farmhouse cheese (Parmesan – Parmigiano Reggiano or Regato may also be used)
a good pinch of salt, cayenne, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: thyme flowers if available

30cm (12 inch) shallow oval dish (not a soufflé dish) or 6 individual wide soup bowls with a rim

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8

Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with melted butter.
Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a few slices of carrot, a quartered onion, 4 or 5 peppercorns and the fresh herbs. Bring slowly to the boil and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the flavourings, (we rinse them off and throw them into the stockpot if there is one on the go.)

Melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in the strained cream and milk, bring to the boil and whisk until it thickens. Cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, Gruyere and most of the Coolea or Desmond (or Parmesan if using.) Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Taste and correct seasoning. Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold them gently into the mixture to make a loose consistency. Put the mixture into the prepared dish, scatter the thyme leaves on top and sprinkle with the remaining Coolea or Desmond cheese. 

Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until sides and top are nicely puffed up and golden, the centre should still be creamy. Garnish with thyme flowers.
Serve immediately on warm plates with a good green salad.

Siobhan Barry’s Rainbow Chard

Serves 4
Siobhan and David Barry grow a huge range of vegetables on their farm in Ballintubard including some unusual and exotic varieties. Look out for them at the Midleton Food and Wine Fair and the Mahon Farmers Market every week.

There are several ways of using Swiss or Ruby chard stalks including tossing them in Vinaigrette or olive oil and lemon juice or serving them in a Mornay sauce however this way is particularly delicious and also works well with Florence fennell and courgettes which have been blanched, refreshed and sliced first. Intersperse the courgettes with a few leaves of basil if you have them to hand.

1 lb (450g) ruby chard
Butter or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the chard in cold water, drain. Pull off the leaves and slice the stalks into pieces about 1 inch (2.5cm) long. Cook the stalks in boiling salted water until almost tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the leaves, toss and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the leaves are wilted. Drain very well. Toss in extra virgin olive oil, season with lots of freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall has a unique selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval. They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.
Serves 4

8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey
3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves

Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add 'torn' basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

Foolproof Food

Frank Hederman’s Smoked Salmon Pate

Frank sells smoked wild, organic and farmed salmon, wild – smoked mussels, eels, mackerel, haddock and sprats etc. Frank sells a selection of his products at his stall in Midleton and Mahon Point every Saturday and Thursday.
This is a delicious way to use up smoked salmon trimmings.

Smoked salmon trimmings
Softened butter, unsalted

Remove any skin or bones from the fish. Weigh the flesh. Add three quarters the weight in butter. Blend to a smooth puree. Fill into pots and run clarified butter over the top. Alternatively, mould in a loaf tin. Turn out and cut in slices when set.

Hot Tips 

Bia 2 – Second Irish food studies symposium
This will take place at Sligo and the Irish Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim on 22-23 September as part of the Green Festival North West – see www.thegreenfestival.com
Bia is all about the study of food. It attracts a broad range of people who share an interest in food – sociologists, restaurateurs, historians, chefs, anthropologists, vegetable growers, retailers, journalists, food safety experts – anyone who is passionate about food and eating, and in understanding more. To book, contact Perry Share or Oliver Moore, bia2, Dept of Humanities, Institute of Technology, Sligo. Tel 071-9155340, share.perry@itsligo.ie  

Growing Awareness Farm Walk on Sunday 28th August at Doire Dubh (Black Oak Trees) Coomhola, Bantry.
Graham Strouts has a small Permaculture plot on 4 acres with native tree nursery, orchard and fruit bushes, young plantings of coppice species, yurts and a reciprocal-framed cordwood roadhouse. Situated about 8 miles north of Bantry the land descends in a series of natural terraces to the Coomhola river. Contact Graham Strouts on 027 66931

The Bretzel Bakery in Dublin’s South Richmond Street has been in operation since the 1870’s.
It inspires love and loyalty in the hearts of Dubliners and is still known as the Jewish bakery and even though the Kosher certificate is no longer there, the tradition and quality remains. The recipes and the sitting room sized double-decked brick oven have not changed much in the past 100 years. The bakery was in the ownership of various Jewish families until the 1960’s when Christe Hackettt took it over from Ida Stein, however it remained strictly Kosher until the mid 1990’s, it was under the custodianship of the Hackett family until the end of the century when ill-health forced a sale. A new century – a new owner, William Despard stepped in to revitalize this institution which is the Bretzel Bakery. Its history parallels the history of the Jewish community in Dublin. The streets stretching from Portobello to Clanbrassil Street were once the heartland of a vibrant Jewish community – now a museum at Richmond Hill and the Bretzel are the only lingering Jewish landmarks.

Catherine and Vincent ‘Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Innishannon road about a mile from the Halfway Roundabout sell sweet juicy sweet corn. They are open every day and hope to have sweet corn for the next month or so, if you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087 2486031.

Food lovers should make a note in their diaries for the Cork Slow Food Weekend, 23rd -25th September 2005. Event organiser Clodagh McKenna has scheduled a meeting for volunteers at the Bodgea on the Coal Quay in Cork on Tuesday 30th August at 7.00pm. All are welcome.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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