Leader Food Village Highlights Emerging Rural Economy

In Autumn 2004 I donned my wellies and visited the Ploughing Championships for the very first time. I was greatly impressed by the sheer scale and organisation of the event but completely baffled by the absence of a Food Pavilion to show case Irish Food. Where could visitors to the biggest farming event in Europe buy the produce of Irish farms?
The big food manufacturers were there in force with large and impressive stands but there was no sign of the farmhouse cheese makers, the artisan producers, the home bakers, jam makers .…. Eamon Ó Cuív The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs pledged his support for the artisan food producers and recognised the importance of this sector in rural development; he also acknowledged the role of artisan producers in attracting positive publicity for hand crafted foods and for preserving our traditional food culture. He emphasized the potential of this sector to tap into the deep craving for real foods and to attract the burgeoning food tourism success. After the launch plans were hatched to create a Food village that would showcase the best of the Irish Food at the 2005 Ploughing Championships. Isobel Fletcher, Co-ordinator of the Leader small business food Initiative and her team organised the Leader food village. It was officially launched by Minister Ó Cuív and there were 28 food stands showcasing and selling the produce of 50 artisan producers and farmers markets from 18 counties. 

The wide range of produce at the stands included: Handmade Chocolates, Farmhouse Cheeses, Cakes and Breads, Organic Produce, Meats including Charcuteries and Wild Game, Fish, Chutneys, Jams, Preserves, and Ice Cream. The produce on display was developed by a variety of micro businesses and small enterprises with the support of LEADER. According to Isobel Fletcher the contribution of small food producers to the rural economy is hugely significant. “In many cases small food enterprises are helping to sustain family farms. By providing employment they are resulting in growth and regeneration in rural communities, the small food industry keeps the euros local.”
The phenomenal increase in Farmers Markets is an indication of the growing awareness among consumers of the importance of local food - in terms of reduced food miles, freshness, taste, and traceability.
The food village was a huge hit with the public and confounded those who were adamant that people don’t come to the Ploughing Championships to buy food. On the opening day, stalls at the Food village were practically sold out. Many had to send for extra supplies early in the day and by evening there was a dash back to locations all over the country to draft in extra supplies for the remainder of the Ploughing event. 

Ann Rudden of Aine’s Chocolates of Oldcastle, Co. Meath was rushed off her feet, “I sold more on the opening day that I did over the entire three days of the ploughing last year. It’s great.” Aine started her chocolate business five years ago with support from Meath LEADER. 

Joyce and Paddy O’Keeffe of Tipperary Organic ice cream ran out completely on the first day and had to send home to Clonmel for a full load on Tuesday night. “We cleaned out all our fridges,” declared an exhausted Paddy, “We’ll have to start from scratch when we get home on Friday.” Paddy and Joyce started their organic ice cream business in Clonmel in 2000 with much help from the Tipperary LEADER Group.
Farmers markets from Midleton, Duhallow and Cobh were extraordinarily busy; Claire O’Keeffe of Duhallow said that the custom at the Ploughing was fantastic. “It’s like six months business packed into one day.”
I was thrilled by the success of this year’s enterprise and look forward to seeing the Food village gathering momentum in coming years. People’s prediction that people didn’t go to The Ploughing Championships to buy food were certainly proved wrong in the experience of stall holders this year.

Crab Apple or Bramley Apple Jelly

An excellent recipe to up all windfalls and crab apples – have fun with the variations
Makes 2.7-3kg (6-7 lb)

2.7kg (6 lb) crab apples or wind fall cooking apples
2.7L (43pints) water
2 unwaxed lemons
sugar

Wash the apples and cut into quarters, do not remove either peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples into a large saucepan with the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until reduced to a pulp, approx. 2 hour.
Turn the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted - usually overnight. Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g (1lb) sugar to each 600ml (1pint) of juice. Warm the sugar in a low oven.
Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Skim, test and pot immediately.
Flavour with sweet geranium, mint or cloves as required (see below). 

Apple and Sweet Geranium Jelly
Add 6-8 large leaves of sweet geranium while the apples are stewing and put a fresh leaf into each jar as you pot the jelly.

Apple and Clove Jelly
Add 3-6 cloves to the apples as they stew and put a clove in each pot. Serve on bread or scones.

Apple and Mint Jelly
Add 4-6 large sprigs of fresh mint to the apples while they are stewing and add 4-8 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint to the jelly just before it is potted. Serve with lamb.

Apple and Rosemary Jelly
Add 2 sprigs of rosemary to the apples as they stew and put a tiny sprig into each pot. Serve with lamb.

Apple and Elderberry Jelly
Add a fist or two of elderberries to the apple and continue as above. Up to half volume of elderberries can be used. A sprig or two of mint or sweet geranium or a cinnamon stick enhances the flavour further.

Apple and Sloe Jelly
Substitute 2-3 cups of sloes for elderberries in the above recipe.

Apple and Marjoram Jelly
Add 4-6 large sprigs of fresh marjoram to the apples while they are stewing and add 3-4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh marjoram to the jelly just before it is potted.

Apple and Chilli Jelly (quantity of chilli may change)
Add 2 tablespoons of chilli flakes to the apples and proceed as above.

Apple and Cranberry Jelly (quantity of cranberries may change)
Add 450-900g (1-2lb) cranberries to the apples and proceed as above.

Coffee Cake with Chocolate Coffee Beans

Another splendid cake - brilliant to offer at and farmers market, keeps well also
Serves 8-10

8 ozs (225g/2 sticks) butter
8 ozs (225g/1 cup) castor sugar
8 ozs (225g/1¾ cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teasp. baking powder
4 eggs, preferably free range
scant 2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) coffee essence (Irel or Camp)

2" x 8" (5 x 20.5 cm) sandwich tins 

Coffee Butter Cream (see recipe)
Coffee Icing (see recipe)

Decoration
Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.
Line the bottom of sandwich tins, with greaseproof paper, brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter until soft, add the castor sugar and beat until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs. Add to the mixture, bit by bit, beating well between each addition.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture, finally add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes approx. in a moderate oven. When the cakes are cooked. The centre will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tin. Rest in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto the wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper from the base, then reinvert so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack. Cool the cakes on the wire rack. When cold sandwich the cakes together with Coffee Butter Cream and ice the top with Coffee Glace Icing .Decorate with Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans

Coffee Butter Cream Filling
2 ozs (55g\¼ stick) butter
4 ozs (110g\1 cup) icing sugar (sieved)
1-2 teasp. Irel Coffee essence

Whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar, add the coffee essence. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

NOTE:
If you would prefer to ice the cake with Coffee Butter Cream use
8 ozs ( 225g 2 sticks) butter
1lb ( 450g 3½ ) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of Irel Coffee

Coffee Icing
16 ozs (450g/4 cups) icing sugar
scant 2 tablesp.(2 american tablesp. + 2 teasp.) Irel coffee essence
4 tablesp. (5 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) boiling water approx.

Sieve the icing sugar and put into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make it the consistency of thick cream.

Traditional Roast Partridge

Partridge is a rare and meat and has a delicate flavour and a pale flesh. Check that the bird has been hung for three or four days. Larger birds may be tougher and need to be cooked slowly. Smaller birds are best roasted.
Serves 1

1 small partridge
¼ oz (5-10g) butter,
salt and freshly ground pepper
A thin strip pork fat or 3-4 streaky rashers

Preheat oven 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7

Pop a knob of butter in to the cavity of the bird, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Truss the bird and tie pork fat or streaky bacon rather than bacon over the breast. 

Cook in the preheated hot oven, basting frequently with melted butter, for about 30 minutes. Towards the end, remove fat to allow breast to brown. Partridge is particularly good served with lentils or red cabbage.

Pennys Buns with Crystallised Primroses, Violets or Lavender

If you have just one oven you may need to make the cupcakes in three separate batches. Depending on how the cup cakes are decorated, this can be any occasion, a wedding cake, christening, anniversary, children’s party, sports day celebration ….
Makes 36

450g (1lb)butter (at room temperature)
450g (1lb) caster sugar
450g (1lb) self-raising flour
6 large eggs preferably free-range and organic
6 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

Icing
Icing sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 muffin trays lined with 12 muffin cases each.

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5.
Put all ingredients except milk into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Scrape down sides, then add milk and whizz again.
Divide mixture between the cases in the muffin tins.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 –20 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Icings:
Lemon Icing (see recipe)
Chocolate Icing (see recipe)
Coffee Icing (see recipe)

Decorations:
Dolly mix
Crystallized flowers
Chocolate buttons
Fondant hearts or stars

To serve: Make one or several icings and decorate the cupcakes with flowers, smarties, streamers, tiny crackers, sparklers…..etc.
Arrange in a pyramid on 2 or 3 cup cake stands or on a perspex cake stand.

Lemon Icing: (makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

110g (4oz) icing sugar
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.

Chocolate Icing (makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

Dark Chocolate Icing
170g (6oz) icing sugar
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
75g (3oz) butter
75ml (3fl ozs) water
110g (4oz) castor sugar

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Measure the butter, water and sugar into a saucepan. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted. Bring just to the boil, then draw off the heat and pour at once into the sifted ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and glossy. It will thicken as it cools.

Coffee Icing (makes enough for 12 cupcakes) 

225g (8 ozs) icing sugar
Scant 1 tablespoon coffee essence
2 tablespoon boiling water approx.

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make icing the consistency of thick cream.

Ballymaloe Fudge

Makes 96 approx.
2 lb (225g) butter
2 lbs (900g) light brown sugar or castor sugar
1 can evaporated milk
7 fl ozs (200ml) water
3 teasp. pure vanilla essence

Swiss roll tin 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33cm)

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat. Add the milk, water, sugar and vanilla essence and stir with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat to simmer, stir constantly until it reaches the soft ball stage. To test, put some of the fudge in a bowl of cold water pull off the heat and stir until it thickens and reaches the required consistency with the saucepan over cold water. Pour into a swiss roll tin and smooth out with a spatula.
Allow to cool and then cut before completely cold.

Fruit and Nut Clusters

Makes 24
5 ozs (140g) best quality dark chocolate
3 heaped tablesp. hazelnuts shelled and toasted
3 heaped tablesp. raisins

Melt the chocolate in a pyrex bowl very gently over simmering water or in a very low oven. Stir in the toasted hazelnuts and raisins. Drop clusters onto a baking sheet with a teaspoon. Allow to set in a cool place. Put into dark brown sweet papers and serve as a petit four.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

The shops and farmers markets are piled high with squash and pumpkins at present -this is our new favourite pumpkin soup recipe.
Serves 6

1oz butter
5oz (1cup) chopped onion
1lb 2oz (4 cups) diced pumpkin (1inch /2cm cubes)
2pt (5 cups) chicken stock
1 heaped tsp cumin seed (toasted and ground)
1 heaped tsp coriander seed (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to season

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add onions and turn them until well coated and softened then add the pumpkin and spices turn until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and stock. Boil until soft, liquidise, sieve or put through a mouli. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Adjust seasoning.

Darina's Fool Proof Recipe

Janie’s Green Tomato Jam

A brilliant recipe to use up the end of the tomato crop, enjoy with goat cheese cold meats or simply on toast or crusty bread.
Makes 2 small jars

Delicious with cold meats and pâte 

500g green tomatoes
450ml water
300g granulated sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 

Wash and slice the tomatoes (no need to peel), and place in a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil then simmer covered for 50-60 minutes until tender. Add remaining ingredients and dissolve sugar over gentle heat, stirring occasionally.
Boil rapidly for 10 –12 minutes or until setting point is reached.

Hot Tips 

Neuadd Lwyd is a wonderful country house in North Wales with magnificent views of Snowdonia and Anglesey – originally a Victorian Rectory and now owned by one of our past pupils Susannah Wood – serving award-winning quality food with the finest local seasonal ingredients – just 25 minutes from Holyhead ferry and 5 minutes from the Menai Bridges – within easy reach of the coastlines and the beauty of Snowdonia. Email:post@neuaddlwyd.co.uk  www.neuaddlwyd.co.uk  Tel 00 44 1248 715005

Finnebrogue Oisin Venison is reared on the Finnebrogue estate in the rolling hills of Co Down, near Downpatrick. The venison is exclusively produced from the largest red deer herd in Ireland and UK, from deer under 21 months of age and is used by top chefs. www.finnebrogue.com  liam@finnebrogue.com  Tel 0044 (0) 28 44617525 

Clifden on Ice and Clifden Station House Courtyard Christmas Market
On the original site of the Clifden Railway Station, the Courtyard of the Clifden Station House will be transformed into an outdoor Ice Rink and Christmas Market from December 2nd 2005 – January 7th 2006. The market will be open for the weekends in December and a range of stalls are required selling a quality and luxury Arts & Crafts, Food Produce and Christmas novelties – for further information contact Kate Dempsey at Clifden Station House – 091-788272 or 087-9254175 kdempsey@clifdenstationhouse.com  

Tipperary Slow Food Event
A new Slow Food Conivium has been launched in Nenagh under the direction of Peter Ward of Country Choice fame. To celebrate the launch, they have planned a Halloween Slow Food Event on the 29, 30, and 31st October. Temptations include a woodland mushroom hunt, – Kill or cure - an interactive workshop on the traditional aspects of pig husbandry and rearing. Keeping the spirits, up an introduction to home brewing. Guest chef Hugo Arnold will cook a Slow food banquet on Saturday night with will using local seasonal food. There’s much more – for details see www.slowfoodireland.com  or Telephone 057 32596