Let JP McMahon teach your kids a few life-long skills

Food File: Enjoy a hotel breakfast at home, and say hello to halloumi, hot sauce and pizza

JP McMahon with his daughters, Heather and Martha. Photograph: Anita Murphy

JP McMahon with his daughters, Heather and Martha. Photograph: Anita Murphy

 

Kids can cook

JP McMahon has plenty of experience teaching children to cook, with his daughters Heather and Martha as his star pupils, and he is launching an eight-week course designed to teach younger cooks how to make some family favourites. Virtual classes will take place on Saturday mornings, beginning on April 10th, with shopping lists and required equipment shared in advance.

The classes will be suitable for children aged between eight and 15 years, and they can choose to cook along with McMahon, or access the class in their own time. Parental supervision is recommended for children under 12.

“As a dad myself, I know just how important it is for kids to learn new skills and for us as parents to encourage passions and talents. Lockdown has made it all the more difficult to ensure our kids are reaching their potential so our eight-week course is a fantastic opportunity to teach a life-long skill in a fun way,” McMahon says.

“We have made sure that the classes offer variety when it comes to recipes, but also that each class is suitable for a variety of abilities.”

The eight-week course costs €250, and individual sessions can be booked for €35, at aniarrestaurant.ie.

I’d rather be ...

Hotel breakfasts might be off the menu for now, but this cheering hamper from Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara may serve as a reminder of what we are missing. It contains a pair of I’d Rather be at Ballynahinch mugs, the hotel’s granola and raspberry jam, and its own leaf tea, blended by Solaris in Galway.

Breakfast hamper from Ballynahinch Castle.
Breakfast hamper from Ballynahinch Castle.

The hamper is available for collection or nationwide delivery (€40, plus postage), from ballynahinchcastle.com.

Hot sauces

Ellie Kisyombe, who spent several years living in direct provision accommodation before being granted Irish residency in 2019, has launched a range of sauces called Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition.

Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition sauces. Photograph: David Sexton
Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition sauces. Photograph: David Sexton

There are three varieties of hot sauce, and two pasta sauces in the range, which is influenced by Kisyombe’s Malawian heritage and her completion of the three-month course at Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2017. The sauces are available to order online for delivery nationwide at ellieskitchenhomeedition.com and can also be found in independent food stores nationwide.

Hello halloumi

Omar Haqqi came to Ireland from his native Jordan in 2019 to manage a mushroom farm. When that job ended, he looked for another opportunity in food production and is now making halloumi cheese in Fermoy, Co Cork, along with his business partners Ayman Al Zou’bi and Anna El Rifai.

Omar Haqqi describes his hallomi as being ‘artisan, without the artisan price tag’.
Omar Haqqi describes his hallomi as being ‘artisan, without the artisan price tag’.

The Proper Dairy Company’s halloumi is made with grass-fed Irish cow, goat and sheep milk, and Haqqi describes it as being “artisan, without the artisan price tag”. Participating in Bord Bia’s Food Works accelerator programme helped get the cheese to market at the start of this year. Each block has a recommended retail price of €2.99. It is available in branches of Polonez nationwide, with distribution to other outlets being finalised. A few independants have it already; seek it out, it's exceptional.

Pivot pizzerias

Pandemic restrictions have been a setback for Adrian and Deirdre Murphy’s wedding venue business, Mount Druid, in Castletown Geoghegan. But the couple changed their focus and by last July had converted a former forge in the Co Westmeath town into Forge, a day time cafe and night time pizzeria, complete with wood-fired oven imported from Italy.

Pizza from Forge in Castletown Geoghegan, Co Westmeath.
Pizza from Forge in Castletown Geoghegan, Co Westmeath.

In December, they added Urban Forge pizzeria and cafe to a premises they already owned in Mullingar, and with indoor dining once more an option, the new business was fully booked for its first month.

Both venues are now back to takeaway only, but business is brisk, with Urban Forge open seven days a week (orders on 086-8012001) and Forge closed only on Mondays (orders on 083-0295624).

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