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Chefs cook up storm in Derry with very best Northern Ireland has to offer

Good Food ambassador Jenny Bristow is hosting a demonstration at the Slow Food Festival in Londonderry this Saturday using ingredients from local producers. Judith Cole finds out more about this year’s event

Ambassador: Jenny Bristow
Ambassador: Jenny Bristow
Firecracking Halloween casserole
Pears poached with blackberry, bay and cardamon

By Judith Cole

Londonderry's Slow Food Festival is now in its fourth year, having been extended from two days to five to accommodate the growing demand for fresh, locally sourced food.

Central to the festival will be the Harvest Market marquee where producers will be showing off the fruits of their labour while visiting and local chefs will be busy in the kitchen, cooking up a feast with all the local ingredients to hand.

Chefs appearing at the festival include Jenny Bristow, Paula McIntyre, Ian Orr of Browns, Sean Harrigan of the Sooty Olive, Brian Simpson of The Pickled Duck, Noel Ward from the White Horse Hotel as well as Oysters Restaurant from Strabane.

Jenny Bristow grew up with honest Ulster produce on her plate and she has cultivated a successful career by sharing her take on classic home-cooked recipes, through her cookbooks, TV shows and cookery school from her home near Cullybackey.

"I've been really busy," she says. "My 14th book, At Home With Jenny, is out soon and is a look at how food has changed over the past 20 years and my take on it, such as tear and share bread which I'll be making at the Slow Food Festival.

"With all the lovely produce of autumn, I'll be making a selection of hearty dishes with all the delicious foods from the local suppliers.

"I did the LegenDerry Food Festival a couple of years ago and I'm looking forward to it. I love doing demonstrations, it's lovely to interact with the public and have people come up and chat and share inspiration and ideas.

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"We are just streaks ahead with what we are doing in Northern Ireland with local food and produce.

"As a Good Food ambassador, the Slow Food Festival fits perfectly. If you think of all the great produce we have, there's nothing you can't get, there's so much choice. We're also in control of what we are doing with fat and sugar content, with additives and colourings.

"It's great to be able to show people how simply you can put things together."

Below, Jenny shares two recipes that are ideal for this time of year.

Firecracking Halloween casserole

Jenny says: "This is an ideal supper or party dish with crispy apple slices, golden onions and bittersweet sauce, and is a real treat. It can be made with sausages, chicken or Spanish chorizo."

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

900g/2lb sausages or chicken strips

100g/4oz chorizo

4 red apples

4 green apples

50g/2oz soft brown sugar

50g/2oz butter

1dsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic

2 red onions, cut into wedges

1 white onion, cut into wedges

1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, cut into slices

1 inch root ginger, finely chopped

200g/8oz pumpkin flesh

300ml/11floz apple juice

2dsp chile sauce

2dsp sundried tomato paste

2 cans cannellini beans

Method

Cook the chicken or sausages in the oil until golden or crisp, then add the apple slices until they too become golden and crispy.

In a separate pan, cook the onions, pumpkin, garlic, ginger and peppers, and sprinkle with soft brown sugar.

Combine the pots together, add the apple juice, chile sauce, tomato paste and beans, and then cook either on the hob or in the oven (gas mark6/200C) for 35-40 minutes. Serve steaming and hot, garnished with parsley or coriander.

Pears poached with blackberry, bay and cardamon

"Poaching of fruit is one of the simplest ways to cook and retain the maximum of flavour and food value," says Jenny. "The secret lies in cooking at a gentle temperature, just below boiling point."

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

100g/4oz blackberries

2 bay leaves

4-5 cardamon pods, crushed

275ml water

50g/2oz granulated sugar

4-6 ripe pears

Sprinkling of sloe gin, port or elderberry cordial

Ice cream or natural yoghurt

Method

Place the water, bay leaves and sugar all in a saucepan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Peel and core the pears.

Add the pears to the saucepan and poach very gently over a low heat until they show signs of softening.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Add the blackberries, cardamon and elderberry cordial.

You can use this to decorate a pavlova mixing the reduced liquid with the low fat yoghurt, or cream.

The Slow Food Festival runs until this Sunday. For more details, visit: www.derrystrabane.com/food

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