Euro-Toques Food Awards 2023


The Euro-Toques Food Awards are back after an absence of three years (2020 was a virtual event due to Covid). The original awards were established in 1996 by my lovely mother-in-law Myrtle Allen, one of the great pioneers of local food to recognise and celebrate the very best food that Ireland produces. She would undoubtedly be thrilled to see how the movement has gathered momentum since the early days.

The Euro-Toques Food Awards continue to be a unique opportunity for chefs to acknowledge the work of small artisan producers whose produce they rely on to create their unique food.
This year, six awards were presented under the categories of WATER, LAND, FARM, DAIRY, ARTISAN PRODUCE and CRAFT
Two Cork producers were among the six prestigious award winners.  The ARTISAN PRODUCE award went to Killahora Orchards and Rare Apple Ice Wine. Innovative cousins David Watson and Barry Walsh’s orchards date back to 1837. Their range also includes an apple port, a pét-nat and a light sparkling perry made from their pears.
The Skeaghanore Ducks from West Cork, beloved by so many chefs, won the FARM Awards. Helena Hickey believes that the salty air wafting in from Roaring Water Bay imparts a unique taste, acting as a pre-salting agent enhancing the flavour of their hand reared Pekin ducks.
KELLY’S Mussels scooped the award in the WATER category. Their sustainably farmed, native mussels grow on mussel rafts along the Galway coastline. Plump, nutrient dense, and absolutely delicious.
At a time when there is so much faux honey on sale, it was brilliant to see so many superb Irish honeys nominated. Olly’s Farm honey from Dublin, Hive Mind from Cork, Brookfield Farm honey from Tipperary but the winner in the LAND category went to Noel and Heather Leahy for their raw native Irish bee honey collected from traditional hives on the slopes of Sliabh Aughty Mountains near Loughrea in East Galway. Keep an eye out also for their Hot Honey flavoured with chilli flakes and poitín. Delicious, drizzled over a pizza or a rasher sandwich.
In the DAIRY section, Aisling and Michael Flanagan’s unctuous Velvet Cloud, sheep’s milk yoghurt from Claremorris in Co. Mayo won the award. Lacaune and Friesland sheep produce the milk for their range of products. I also loved their deeply flavourful semi-hard, Rockfield cheese and creamy sheep’s milk labneh already prized by the chefs and a must have ingredient for many.
Last, but certainly not least, another intriguing product, Wildwood Balsamic made by artist turned artisan vinegar maker, Fionnan Gogarty. He makes his vinegars from foraged ingredients from the mountains, hedgerows, seashore and gardens of Co. Mayo. Transforming them slowly into vinegars of rare flavour and beauty. Just a few drops of these precious potions enhance the flavour of a myriad of dishes.
The awards were hosted by Kevin and Catherine Dundon at Dunbrody House in Co. Wexford were attended by many of the producers and Euro-Toques chefs who are committed to sourcing and supporting the very best Irish artisan produce. A brilliant, convivial and inspiring event!

Kelly’s Mussels and Clams with Lemongrass and Coconut

Serve either as a starter or with some homemade bread and salad as a light main course.

Serves 4 as a main course

900g Kelly’s mussels

450g Kelly’s clams

25g butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, pureed

2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped

1 glass white wine

1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

2-4 tbsp lime juice

sea salt and cracked black pepper

chopped coriander

Sauté the shallots, garlic and lemongrass in butter, add the wine and reduce by half. Add the coconut milk, lime juice and season, boil and reduce by half.

Add the mussels and clams, season and add chopped coriander.

Skeaghanore Duck Breast with Beetroot, Blackcurrant and Dahlia Salad

Beetroot and blackcurrant are a surprisingly good Summer combination.  Who knew you could enjoy the flowers of your dahlias in your salad.

Serves 4-6

4 Skeaghanore duck breasts

flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Beetroot, Blackcurrant and Dahlia Salad (see recipe)

flat parsley

First make the Beetroot, Blackcurrant and Dahlia Salad.

15 minutes or more before cooking, score the fat on the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern.  Season on both sides and allow to sit on a wire rack.

When ready to cook, dry the duck breasts with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.

Put fat side down on a cold pan-grill, turn on the heat to low and cook slowly for 15-20 minutes, or until the fat has rendered and the duck skin is crisp and golden.

Flip over and cook for a couple of minutes, or transfer to a preheated moderate oven, 180°C/Gas Mark 4, until cooked to medium rare or medium, 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the duck breasts.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes or more. 

Put a portion of beetroot and blackcurrant salad on each plate. Thinly slice or dice the duck breasts into 8mm and arrange or scatter on top of the salad.  Sprinkle with sprigs of flat parsley and dahlia petals and marigold leaves if using. Add a few flakes of sea salt and serve.

Beetroot, Blackcurrant and Dahlia Salad

Such an obvious combination but one I hadn’t tried until I tasted it in Sweden. We already love the marriage of raspberries and beetroot. This recipe can be served as a starter or an accompanying salad.

Serves 8

450g pickled beetroot 

200g sugar

450ml water

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

225ml white wine vinegar

110–225g blackcurrants

wine coloured dahlias and maybe a few marigold petals.

Roast or boil the beetroot.

Meanwhile, make the pickle.

Dissolve the sugar in water, bringing it to the boil. Add the sliced onion and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar, pour over the peeled sliced (diced or cut into wedges) beet and leave to cool.

Add the blackcurrants to the pickle, bring back to the boil and then turn off the heat.

If serving the salad as an accompaniment.

Surround the serving plate with blackcurrant leaves.  Pile the salad into the centre, decorate with flowers and serve.

Classic Roast Stuffed Skeaghanore Duck with Sage and Onion Stuffing, Bramley Apple Sauce and Gravy

What’s not to love about a crispy roast duck with all the trimmings…

Serves 4

1 free range Skeaghanoreduck, 1.8kg approx.

Sage and Onion Stuffing

45g butter

75g onion, finely chopped

100g soft white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp fresh sage, freshly chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper


neck and giblets from duck

1 carrot, sliced

1 onion

bouquet garni

2-3 peppercorns

Bramley Apple Sauce

450g cooking apples, (Bramley Seedling)

50g sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples

1-2 dsp water

To make the stock, put the neck, gizzard, heart and any other trimmings into a saucepan with 1 medium carrot cut in slices and the onion cut in quarters.  Add a bouquet garni of parsley stalks, small stalk of celery and a sprig of thyme.  Cover with cold water and add 2 or 3 peppercorns but no salt. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 2-3 hours.  This will make a delicious stock which will be the basis of the gravy. 

Meanwhile, singe the duck and make the stuffing.

To make the stuffing, melt the butter and sweat the onion on a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes until soft but not coloured, add the breadcrumbs and sage.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Unless you plan to cook the duck immediately allow the stuffing to get cold.

When the stuffing is quite cold, season the cavity of the duck and spoon in the stuffing.  Truss the duck loosely.

Roast in a moderate oven 180˚C/Gas Mark 4 for 1 ½ hours approx. 

To make the bramley apple sauce.

Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan, with the sugar and water, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness.

When the duck is cooked, remove to a serving dish, allow to rest while you make the gravy. Degrease the cooking juices (keep the duck fat for roast or sauté potatoes).  Add stock to the juices in the roasting pan, bring to the boil, taste and season if necessary.   Strain gravy into a sauceboat. Serve warm with the duck and bramley apple sauce.

Goat Rendang

A wonderful slow cooked dish from Malaysia, Indonesia and Sumatra usually served for feasts and celebrations.  It should be chunky and dry, yet succulent – lamb or beef may be substituted if goat is unavailable.

Serves 8

1 ½ kg goat meat

5 shallots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3cm root ginger, roughly chopped

4 red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped, or 2 teaspoons chilli powder

1 bay leaf

1 stalk fresh lemongrass, bruised

1 teaspoon turmeric

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 x 400g cans of coconut milk

mint leaves

lime segments

Cut the meat into 4cm cubes. Purée the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor. Put all these ingredients in a wide sauté pan or a wok, add the bay leaf, lemongrass, turmeric, salt and meat and cover with coconut milk. Stir and bring to the boil on a medium heat, uncovered. Reduce the heat and allow to bubble gently for 1 ½ hours, stirring from time to time. By this time the coconut milk should be quite thick.

Continue to cook stirring frequently until the coconut milk starts to get oily.  Keep stirring until the oil is reabsorbed by the meat.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve hot with a bowl of fluffy rice.  We like to serve some fresh mint leaves and segments of lime with the rendang.


Rendang keeps well in the fridge and reheats perfectly.

Honey Mousse with Lavender Jelly

Taken from Ballymaloe Desserts by JR Ryall, published by Phaidon

The honey mousse in this dish was adapted from a recipe in Lindsey Shere’s wonderful book, Chez Panisse Desserts. In her recipe, Lyndsay suggests to serve the mousse with figs, raspberries or peaches, or to garnish it simply with lightly toasted sliced almonds. The delicate honey mousse alone contains no refined sugar, just honey, and it pairs so nicely with virtually all Summer fruits. It also pairs beautifully with lavender, and for a short while every year in June, before lavender comes into full bloom, I like to set a layer of lavender flavoured jelly over the top of the mousse.

I always use fresh lavender when preparing the jelly for this dish – the flavour of dried lavender is not the same – and when the small blue buds are added to the hot syrup they release their fragrant oil, and for a fleeting moment the herbs volatile aroma fills the kitchen in the most pleasing way.

Serves 6

For the honey mousse

350ml cream

2 gelatine leaves

2 tbsp water

60ml best quality local honey

1 tbsp Grand Marnier

1 large egg

For the lavender jelly

110g caster sugar

250ml water

14 fresh lavender heads, to infuse

2 gelatine leaves

12 fresh lavender heads (to decorate)

Have a pretty 1.2 litre serving bowl to hand. 

For the honey mousse: Whip the cream to soft peaks and hold in the fridge until needed. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Warm 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan, add the softened gelatine leaves and stir to dissolve completely. Then add the honey and Grand Marnier and mix until everything is combined. Now whisk the whole egg until light and quadrupled in volume, this takes approximately 5 minutes using an electric mixer on high speed. Fold the whisked egg into the whipped cream. 

Add one third of the cream into the honey mixture and mix to combine, it will take a minute of mixing for the two to blend – the sweet liquid is much denser than the fluffy cream. Finally, fold in the remaining two thirds of the cream. Pour the honey mousse into a serving bowl and place in the fridge until set, approximately 4 hours.

For the lavender jelly: Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Once the syrup has boiled, remove from the heat and add the lavender heads. Take time to enjoy the wonderful lavender perfume as the syrup cools to room temperature. Pass the syrup through a fine sieve to remove the lavender heads. Next, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Warm a little of the lavender syrup, add the softened gelatine leaves and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining lavender syrup into the dissolved gelatine and mix well. Arrange 12 fresh lavender heads on top of the honey mousse. When the lavender mixture has cooled to room temperature once more, carefully spoon it over the surface of the mousse to cover the lavender flowers. Place in the fridge until the jelly is set.

Strawberries and Wildwood Balsamic Vinegar with Softly Whipped Cream

Many years ago, Marcella Hazan showed me how balsamic vinegar hugely enhances the flavour of strawberries.  Use one of the Wildwood balsamic vinegars for this recipe.

900g ripe, strawberries, stalks and hulls removed

1-2 tbsp Wildwood aged Balsamic vinegar

1-2 tbsp caster sugar

Put the hulled strawberries into a bowl, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and sugar, leave to marinate for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serve at room temperature with softly whipped cream.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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