New Cavan Food and Drink Producers Brand Launched

A new food and beverage brand and producer directory for County Cavan, ‘Created in Cavan’, was recently launched on Wednesday, 26 February, in the Town Hall in Cavan Town.
This new brand, with its bold, distinctive logo, will provide consumers locally, nationally and on the international stage with the assurance that they are purchasing food or drink that has been lovingly created by dedicated local producers to reflect the unique landscape and culture of County Cavan.
Created in Cavan’ gives food and drink producers from the county a platform to showcase their wares and better communicate their unique food story. 
An initiative of the Cavan Food Network, funded by Cavan County Council with assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, ‘Created in Cavan’ is an expression of the collective community of food and drink producers and food tourism services participating in the supply, production and service of quality local food and drink across County Cavan.
Members of the Cavan Food Network Working Group, (from left)
Margaret Farrelly, Margaret’s Eggs; Tara Smith, LEO Cavan; Kieron Moran, Moran’s Mega Jam; Charlene Brady, Charlene’s Wholesome Pantry; Adrian Carter, Crover House Hotel; Cavan Food Network Chairperson Jonathon Scott, Scott’s Irish Cider ; Katrina Murphy, Katrina’s Artisan Cakes; Norbert Neylon, Oak Room Restaurant; Joanne Hayes, Cavan Tourism Development Officer; Deirdre Donnelly, Food Strategy Coordinator, Cavan County Council.
The Cavan Food Network works to enable consistent quality and a wide range of choice and variety in its produce, and now local consumers and tourists can be sure that wherever they see the‘Created in Cavan’ logo they are guaranteed quality local food and drink and memorable food-based visitor experiences.
Speaking at the launch at Town Hall Cavan Arts Centre on Wednesday afternoon, ‘Created in Cavan’ Brand Ambassador Neven Maguire said, “I feel proud to promote Cavan. I’m proud of where I come from. I love when people come from all over the country to our restaurant – they always comment on the good food and the local produce they’ve eaten in Cavan. 
Cavan Chef, Neven Maguire of MacNean House Restaurant, speaking at the launch of the Created in Cavan brand
“At the end of the day, as chefs, we are only as good as the produce that we use.Each food producer has a story to tell and we need to showcase what we have in this county, because it’s an exciting time for Cavan,” added Neven.
Cavan County Council Food Co-coordinator, Deirdre Donnelly said “This is a great day for Cavan food and drink as we launch our bold new ‘Created in Cavan’ brand and publish the first edition of the Cavan Producer Directory. Such exciting developments speak to the value of local collaboration and we in Cavan County Council look forward to continued partnership with the Cavan Food Network as we strive to continually grow and improve the Cavan food and drink offering”.
Chair of the Cavan Food Network, Mr Jonathon Scott said “As food and drink producers we are incredibly proud of our county and its produce and the ‘Created in Cavan’ brand will allow us to carry that message with us at shows and on shelves across the country and further afield.”
Director of Services with Director of Services, Planning, Community,and Economic Development with Cavan County Council said “Cavan County Council is delighted to work with the Cavan Food Network to deliver this exciting new brand, a key output of the Cavan Food Strategy. 
“I would like to commend all who have brought this project to fruition including our Food Strategy coordinator Deirdre Donnelly, the members of the Cavan Food Network, our elected members who have supported the development of Cavan food and drink from the outset, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who provided financial support through the Rural Innovation and Development Fund.
“Supporting our local food and drinks businesses is also central to supporting the local economy. ‘Created in Cavan’ aims to bridge the gap between the fantastic food and drinks industry in Cavan and our local tourism industry. By doing this, we can build our food identity, boost local economies and reduce the environmental impact for everyone,” added Mr Jennings.
Chairperson of Cavan County Council, Councillor Shane P O’Reilly, said “Cavan food and drink, and Cavan hospitality is worth shouting about, and this brand conveys gives our industry the means to do so. I’m sure all of our local producers will get behind this wonderful new initiative, and I would encourage the people of Cavan to look out for the ‘Created in Cavan’ logo on shelves and in hotels, cafes and restaurants.”
For more information on ‘Created in Cavan’ and the Cavan Food Network, or to get involved, email 
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Pancake Tuesday & an Old Fashioned Pancake Recipe

Pancake Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday – depending on your people’s history) when I was a wee boy, was a very important day in the family calendar. It was the day when you had to tell the rest of the family exactly what you were giving up for Lent, which started the next day, on Ash Wednesday.

The reason for making such a declaration was so that all your brothers and sisters could keep an eye on you and each other and make sure you weren’t breaking your fast!

In general it was Sweets that we gave up for Lent, but we were allowed to put any presents that were given to us into a big jar or box to keep for the 40 days duration of the fast. We were allowed to ‘break Lent’ for St Paddy’s day which usually left you with a sore tummy after gorging on your stash of goodies.

Pancake Tuesday was traditionally a serious day in the Christian religious calendar. It marked the day before Jesus Christ went into the desert to think about his future and fight temptation. So that’s what we had to do too, when we were younger!

Because many people went off meat, eggs, tea, milk and other things like this during Lent in the older days, Pancakes were made and ate for all meals during this day to use up any food products that needed using up.

Pancakes were probably the first thing I ever learned to make from my mum and I still enjoy making them, with sweet or savoury fillings, for any reason. There is not much difference between Crepes & Pancakes, a thicker mix and a smaller pour is about it!

One of my neighbours makes her Pancakes with buttermilk and duck eggs, which are Delicious!! If you don’t have any buttermilk add a dash of lemon juice to the milk. This gives a wee zing to the flavour and also helps create a lighter batter by reacting with the baking powder.

This is a simple recipe for Old Fashioned Pancakes:

My Ingredients:
150g flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
pinch salt
pinch sugar
2 eggs
300ml milk
60g butter, melted
a little oil for the pan

My Method:
1. Put the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder and give it a quick whisk to lighten it and smooth any lumps (much handier than sieving).

2. Add the salt, sugar, milk and eggs

3. Whisk together until creamy making sure there are no lumps.

4. Pour in the melted butter and whisk into the mix. The butter lifts the taste of the pancake and helps them get a lovely golden-brown colour in the pan.

You will need a good heavy-based frying pan. Pre-heat the pan to medium for perfect pancakes.

Pour them gently but quickly on to the pan

I don’t let the pancake mix stand because the mix tends to thin as it stands – that’s just fine if your making very thin crepes.  Just rub a little oil on the pan with a kitchen towel.

5. Pour 3 or 4 scoops of the pancake batter onto your hot pan. You don’t have to shake or stir the pan, just let the pancakes find their own place.

6. Let them cook until the bubbles start to rise and just start to pop on top of the pancake. This means they are ready to turn.

7. Cook on the other side for about 30 seconds and that’s them ready!!

Get them off the pan and repeat the process until all the mix is gone. A tea-towel over the top of the pancakes will keep them warm. That is if you can keep little hands off them in the first place!

Enjoy with your favourite spreads. I love my pancakes with real Butter and home-made Jam or real honey!

Here’s a link to my post with the recipe for 
Crepe Suzette:

Pancakes in the Old Days – The Irish Cultures & Customs Website
Here is a link to a website with a nice nostalgic piece of Irish Pancake history that I found. It tells the Irish pancake story from a time back quite a few years more than my memories and from a family of Irish living in London in the 40’s & 50’s. Lovely.

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Make your own Home-made Haggis for Burns’ Night!

In 1801, some five years after the famous Scottish poet Robert (Robbie) Burns‘ death, nine of his friends sat down to dinner, to celebrate his extraordinary life and to gave thanks for his friendship. Little did they know that this remembrance would resonate down through the centuries and span all across the world. Over the years, the informal theme from that evening has developed into the ritual known internationally known as Burns Night.

Presenting and Toasting the Haggis have become part of the ritual of a Burns Night event!

Here in County Donegal, with the historic association of many Donegal people with Scotland and Scottish traditions, we have long been enjoying the lightly spiced and peppery flavours of this famous dish. Haggis is traditionally eaten on Burns Night which falls on the 25th January which is the birthday of the Scottish poet. Many venues celebrate Burns Night on the weekend closest to the 25th.
(See at bottom of this post for details of the 2020 Donegal Burns Supper celebration)

Robert Burns – Celebrating the poets birthday has made the Haggis world famous!
The Haggis, which tastes a little like our Irish black and white puddings mixed together, is a very old traditional dish that combines meats, spices and oatmeal.  A traditional Scottish recipe for haggis would involve the boiled and minced liver, lungs and heart of a sheep mixed with chopped onions, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper, and spices.

The mixture would then be stuffed into the cleaned sheep’s stomach, sewn up and then boiled gently for several hours! The dish is usually served with “neeps (mashed buttered turnip) and tatties (potatoes)”, a whiskey sauce, a few readings of some poetry, along with copious amounts of whiskey to toast the Haggis!

A Traditional Haggis with Neeps (Turnips) and Tatties (Potatoes) & a Wee Dram of Whiskey!

Creating a Burns Night event at your home or restaurant is a splendid reason to go out to eat and drink with friends in January! Although the traditional date is the 25th January, most restaurants and hotels celebrate a Burns Night event on the Friday or Saturday closest to that date.

That’s me when I was asked to assist with a Burn’s Supper put on recently by members of the local Ulster-Scots community. It was an honour to be asked and a sign of the changes being achieved in Irish historical relationships.

Here is my version of an old Haggis Recipe, where instead of a sheep’s stomach you cook the Haggis in a casserole dish.

My Ingredients:
500g minced lamb
500g minced beef
125g suet (beef or vegetable)
500g beef liver
100g of porridge oats
300ml of  meat stock (strain this from your boiled beef and lamb – see method)
250g finely chopped onions
½ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mace
½ tsp of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground coriander
butter for greasing
a few twists of sea salt
a few twists of ground black pepper

My Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Cover the roughly-cut liver with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Strain and dump away this liquid and then chop the cooked liver with the onion, in a blender or on a board.
3. Cover the lamb & beef mince with water and bring to the boil in a large pot. Cook out for approximately 30 minutes. Keep 300ml stock from this cooked meat and pour away the rest.
4. Give the porridge oats a rough chop and toast them on a hot pan, shaking occasionally to make sure they don’t burn.
5. Now mix all the ingredients together with the meat stock and transfer this mix to a well buttered casserole dish. Cover and seal with a layer of tin-foil.
6. Cook in the oven at 160°C for about 2 hours.
7. Meanwhile cook and mash some Turnips with real butter, white pepper and a drizzle of honey. Cook and mash some potatoes with real butter and white pepper.

Invite your friends around and make your own home-made Haggis for a Burns’ Night Supper!

For the Whiskey sauce:
500ml cream
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shot of whiskey
sea salt
ground white pepper
3 tbls chopped scallions

To make the whiskey sauce, heat the cream in a pan over a medium heat. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard, scallions and whiskey and stir with a small whisk. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and cook for 1-2 minutes until it reduces and thickens up a little. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and ground white pepper.

To serve:
Spoon out the Haggis, accompanied with mashed turnips and potatoes and drizzle with the whiskey sauce. I like to stack the Haggis, using a serving ring (see pic above) for presentation and then drizzle the sauce around it!

Donegal Burns Supper & Weekend Celebration
One of the longest established and most famous Burns’ Night events held in the republic of Ireland has been the Annual Burns’ Supper & Ceilidh hosted by Deirdre McGlone and Family, previously owners of Harvey’s Point Hotel, in County Donegal.

This year, you can the McGlone Family & friends for a fun weekend in celebration of the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, and the shared bond between Donegal and Scotland. The festivities will be held in the cosy and welcoming Travellers Rest Pub and the Breesy Centre, Cashelard, County Donegal.

The weekend will feature the usual mix of wit, wine, whisk(e)y and wisdom, accompanied by fine flavours of Scottish food, music, poetry and dancing. Friday hosts a Scottish sing-a-long in the Travellers Rest. On Saturday morning, there will be a guided walk with a hot toddy or two!

The main event, the Burns Supper, will be held in the Breesy Centre, Cashelard, on Saturday evening, starting with a welcome reception to the sounds of the Ardahy Pipe Band, followed by fun and formalities and a delicious three course dinner. Tickets for the Burns Supper are €35 per person.

For full details, contacts and booking information see:


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How to Cook a Turkey & my Favourite Stuffing Recipe

The turkey is the centre-piece of the traditional Christmas Dinner and it’s also great for any other special occasion, which is why cooking it properly is so important. Mess it up and not even the best side dishes will save you! 

Turkey is becoming very popular because it is relatively low in cholesterol and high in vitamins that boost the immune system. It’s also very juicy and tasty if cooked right! 

So here are some tips on how to prepare & cook your perfect Turkey! 

A juicy & tender whole roasted turkey really does add to the sense of occasion at Christmas or Any time!
1. First things first. Buy a Fresh Turkey if you can. Don’t buy a turkey that has been pre-stuffed as mishandling or incorrect cooking can cause bacteria to multiply inside the stuffing.

2. It’s so important that if you are buying a frozen bird, that you thaw your turkey completely before cooking. If it’s done improperly, bacteria can multiply to a point where even oven temperatures won’t be able to kill all of them off. This can cause food poisoning. 
The safest thing to do is to thaw your turkey in the fridge, but if you don’t have the room, put it into a roasting tray in a cool room, covered with a dry cloth until it defrosts. You should leave the turkey in its original wrapper until you’re ready to cook it.
3. If you’re placing the turkey in the fridge (raw meat should always go the bottom shelf) also put it on a tray to catch all the juices that may leak out.  It takes approximately 2 days for a 15 pound turkey to fully defrost.

4. Don’t wash your Turkey. The water splashing around will spread more bacteria than you are washing off it.

5. Add some extra flavour by loosely filling the cavity of the bird with some peeled vegetables like carrots, celery, onion & garlic which work great together. 
6. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with real butter and season it with sea-salt and ground black pepper. Cover the complete bird with streaky bacon to add more flavour and to keep it from browning too much. Don’t forget to cover the legs too!
7. Loosely cover the complete bird with tin foil and scrunch it up around the edge of the tray. Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door! Every time you open the door the temperature drops and all the moisture escapes increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.
8. Have your oven Pre-heated to 180°C (170°C for fan assisted ovens), 365°F, so that the turkey is going into a hot oven.

The simple rules for Turkey cooking times are: 

If it weighs Less than 4kg (8½Lbs) weight cook for 20 minutes per kg
then add 70 minutes extra time.

If it weighs More than 4kg (8½Lbs) weight cook for 20 minutes per kg
and add 90 minutes extra time.

  • To Convert Pounds (lbs) to Kilograms (kg) multiply by 0.46
  • To Convert Kilograms (kg) to Pounds (lbs) multiply by 2.2

Here’s a cooking Time example:
20 lbs weight Turkey = 20 x 0.46 = 9.2kg weight

9.2 kg x 20mins =184 minutes.
Add 90 = 2
74 minutes = 4 hours and 35 minutes Turkey Cooking Time.

8. About 30 minutes before the turkey should be done, remove the foil from the breast to crisp up the skin.
9. Test the turkey using a sharp pointed knife by inserted the knife the meaty area above the top of the leg. Push in the blade and the gently ease down on it. Juice from the turkey will run down the blade.
If the juices run clear then it is cooked. If there are traces of pink in it give it another half an hour in the oven and test it again.

If you have a cooking thermometer ensure that the centre of the thickest parts return a minimum temperature of 75°C.
10. After you take the turkey out of the oven let it rest, under the loosened foil, for about 15 minutes before carving. This lets the hot juices relax and spread evenly through the meat, giving a moist and juicy bird.

No. 11. Relax and Don’t Panic… :)

My Favourite Stuffing Mix

This is a stuffing recipe that I have used for years. It is versatile and adaptable and can be used with any type of meat. This makes enough for 8 people – generous portions!

This is my recipe but you can add whatever herbs you like to your stuffing!
My Ingredients:
250g (10oz) butter
200g (8oz) diced onion
100g (4oz) diced red onion
100g (4oz) grated carrot
1 tblsp chopped thyme
1 tblsp chopped parsley
1/2 tspn cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic diced
1 tablespoon of Mixed herbs
300g (12oz) white breadcrumbs made with crusts and all
300g (12oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs made with crusts and all
Use Gluten Free Bread if you wish
My Method:
1. Simply place the butter and all other ingredients, except the crumbs, on a medium heat and cook gently, stirring, until the onions and other veg are soft.
2. Add the breadcrumbs and mix in well until the crumbs have absorbed all the butter and juices.
3. If the stuffing feels a little dry (depending on the type of day, the weather, the heat of the kitchen or one of another hundred amazingly uncontrollable conditions) I tend to add a little splash of my favourite white wine at this stage and mix well and then add a little of the cooking juices from the cooked turkey just before serving.
Enjoy your Turkey!
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