Showing posts with label Just Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just Food. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2016

Taste of the Week. Cuban Black Bean Meal Soup

Taste of the Week
Cuban Black Bean Meal Soup

Looking for a warm pick-me-up these winter days? Then check out the Just Food Soups. The Cobh based company, run by founders Deirdre and Kevin Hilliard, uses fresh locally sourced produce and is a multi-award winner at Blas na hÉireann and Great Taste.

Deirdre started off sharing a market stall in Midleton in 2004. A few years later, she is one of a number of producers featured on a big advertising hoarding on the wall of the local SuperValu overlooking the market venue. Her soups and salads are widely available.

Some of the soups are highlighted here on the website and they include Winter Minestrone, Moroccan Chickpea, Spicy Lentil (one of the originals and a big favourite of mine), Carrot and Coriander, Tomato and Roast vegetable. 

Our Taste of the Week isn't up there yet but we thoroughly enjoyed the organic Cuban Black Bean Meal Soup on a recent chilly day and no doubt will be tucking into it again as the winter progresses. You can also use the soups to make up a full meal - that's why you see meal in the soup title. Loads of recipes and hints on their Facebook page (see below).

Co. Cork
Phone: 353 (0)21 481 5516

Monday, September 15, 2014

Flight of the Bee Sensations

Flight to the Top for Bee Sensations
Irish Quality Food Awards 2014.

Great to be at the table with Bee Sensations last Friday evening when one of their lovely jams won at the Irish Quality Food Awards 2014. On the Pig’s Back and Burren Salmon were also among the victors on a night which is mainly for the supermarkets and the larger producers (such as Dale Farm Dairies, ABP Cahir, Kepak, and O’Brien Fine Foods who were all on the podium).

Munster based Bee Sensations are a husband and wife company, run by Tom and Croéin Ruttle. They are quite famous for their innovative (often blended) jams, which use honey instead of sugar, and of course for their honey. As it happened it was one of their jams, the Honeyed Fig, Rhubarb and Chilli Savoury Jam, that struck gold in the Grocery Ambient - Savoury class.

But there was a moment of unnecessary drama before the win was confirmed as apparently the wrong class was called out first. Still, the busy couple were soon able to relax as their name appeared on screen. It was about the only obvious hitch in a very slick presentation, introduced by Paul Kennedy and compered by celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio (“a farmer’s daughter”).

Birgitta Curtin is one of the heroes of Irish food and she keeps innovating and winning. Her success came  in the Fish section where her Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon with Seaweed Marinade came out on top. This came in for high praise from the judges: “really fantastic in terms of colour, texture and flavour”. Like Bee Sensations (and unlike most of the other producers), she didn't have a supermarket partner listed.
Olivia, of An Olivia Chocolate, and, sister Emily (left)
But Cobh’s Deirdre Hilliard and her company Just Food weren't as  fortunate in the Soups section. Her HiLo Super Greens Soup was behind a Lidl Ireland soup, Newgate Tomato Soup by Princes (the international food and drink company).

The cross-border event is labelled Irish Quality Food Awards not Quality Irish Food Awards. There is a difference as we all know from small print on food packaging! Honey is one often quoted example.

Cork’s Isabelle Sheridan of On the Pig's Back certainly enjoyed her trip to the Mansion House as she was named the Supervalu Small Producer of the Year.  Based on her French family recipes, Isabelle has been making chicken liver patés and terrines in Cork since 1995. Her Chicken Liver Paté with Garlic and Brandy is the product that led to this breakthrough and the organisers say they are sure “it will be a fantastic addition to Supervalu’s product line and look forward to working with On the Pig’s Back”. Well done Isabelle.

The awards are open to all retailers, food producers, wholesalers and food service operators “across Northern and Southern Ireland” (someone should tell the PR it is the Republic of Ireland!). Awards were presented in some fifty categories and the Overall Gold Q Award went to Simply Better French Trimmed Connemara Hill Rack of Lamb (Dunnes Stores/Tendermeats).
Yours truly with Isabelle Sheridan (On The Pig's Back)
See the full list of awards here.

Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chatting My Way Around the Midleton Farmers Market

Chatting My Way Around the Midleton Farmers Market
Filling a few bags as well!
Immaculate King Oyster from Ballyhoura Mushrooms
Looks like quite a few of the traders from the Midleton Farmers Market are heading to the City Hall on Monday for the Cork Kerry Food Forum and Artisan Fair. The afternoon session, from 12.30pm on, is open to the public and you’ll have  a chance to sample and buy the products.

In the morning, there might well be a question or two about rulebook regulation hampering the development of small producers. That was certainly a topic in Midleton on Saturday. There is agreement that regulation is needed but so too is common sense.
Heaven's Cakes

The difference between shopping at a market and elsewhere was heavily and pleasantly underlined for me on Saturday. So many stops, so many chats, even a recipe from one producer. Bought one of Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel (I know lots of you love the fillets but you must try the whole fish smoked on the bone) and Frank himself gave us a few tips on making the best use of it.

Cobh's Just Food started off at a corner of a stall in Midleton and it was great to see Deirdre Hilliard back in the market and supporting the stall-holders. She’ll be in the City Hall on Monday as will Jane Hegarty of Ardsallagh Goats. I was gossiping away to Jane as she handed out samples and one of them stopped me in full flow. It was a mature cheddar, four years old, delicious. She hasn't much left though and when its gone….

Deirdre’s nieces, Lilly and Roisin Higgins, were ”breakfasting” at the market but I don't think they got too much at all as their kids weren't inclined to leave any of the gorgeous pizza after them! Had a chat too with Lucy from Ballyhoura Mushrooms but forgot (too much gossip going on) to go back and buy some. Next time Lucy!

Mackerel, smoked on the bone.

Bumped into Colm and Aoife McCann from Ballymaloe and Peter Corr of Febvre Wine, and children. Colm is busy as usual lining up great wine events for Ballymaloe and has high hopes for the visit of the amazing Riedel Wine Glasses Show in November. That’s a long way off but there’ll be plenty of tastings and so on in between and we’ll let you know as soon as Colm has confirmed.

Also stopped to say hello to Noreen Conroy of Woodside Farm. They now have two stalls in the market, the second selling their delicious hot food.

We did manage to buy a few other bits and pieces, including (under instructions from Mr Hederman) some Ballycotton spuds from Willie, irresistible strawberries from Rose Cottage Farm  and, of course, bread from Arbutus. Another chat (French themed!) here of course with Declan and Deirdre before we retreated back to the city with one of their delicious Almond and Saffron Rings in the bag. Half of it is gone already and I don't think it will last the day!

Almond and Saffron by Arbutus

Monday, December 27, 2010



Full up with pudding and all the other heavy Christmas sweets?

I have just the job for you. Or, more accurately, Drimoleague’s Glenilen Farm have, in the enticing shape of their Handmade Cheesecakes. They come in a range of gorgeous flavours, with absolutely no additives and the taste is just magnificent.

These are authentic farmhouse cheesecakes, handmade on Alan and Valerie Kingston’s family farm where they also make brilliant yoghurts (the very best, as far as I am concerned) and other dairy products such as butter, creams and cream cheese.

The cheesecake I bought was the Summerfruits one and I picked it up at the very impressive Ryan's Supervalu  in the Crestfield Shopping Centre in Riverstown. It was the

Monday, December 13, 2010


  Colum O'Regan, Horizon Organic Farm, Supplier to Just Food


Three cheers for our artisan soupmakers. They make us full. They make us warm. Especially these cold days.

I’m thinking of three in particular: Just Food , Flynn's Kitchen and Cully & Sully. And they don't stop at soup. They also make other delicious products – just click on their sites to check it out.

I recently picked up a

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just Food in Cork


Have been trying out some of the Just Food organic range recently.

They do a large range of soups, everything from Mushroom to Moroccan Chickpea and much in between, including Vegetable and Peanut, one of my favourites (not that I’ve tried them all yet).

They do Organic Pasta Sauces. But don’t just stick to the pastas. These sauces, just like the soups, are versatile and may be used in many ways. For instance, I used the Ratatouille with Cod to make a smashing dinner dish. 

The Cobh based company also do Hummus, Salads, Pestos and other items (including Muesli and Chicken Liver Pate).

Kevin and Deirdre Hilliard are the couple behind the small outfit, now based in the old Verolme Dockyard (Rushbrooke), and she was happy with the business when I met her last week.

Speaking of 2009, Deirdre (right in group photo) said that their sales were up: “Our existing shops kept their end up while our new outlets contributed to a rise overall. People are now eating in more often and are on the lookout for something different such as our soups, which can also be used as sauces.”

“In any event, organic customers are resilient, especially with regard to small ticket items. Besides, organic items are not always more expensive. Our soups for instance are cheaper per kilo than many of our non organic counterparts. Our marketing and packaging is honest. We don't give you a big packet with less content. Indeed, we use see-through containers.”

Last winter was really good for sales and the trend continues, the soups doing very well in January and February, perhaps because of the long cold spell. No wonder, Just Foods is looking forward to yet another good year.

All in all, it means that the outfit has come a long way since it was a “hobby” for the Hilliards as they sold their produce from the corner of a shared stand in Midleton Market. They have been in Rushbrooke for the past two and a half years and now employ eight people.

Deirdre is looking forward to the next big challenge: supplying a recently secured contract for six of the Dunnes Stores shops in the Cork area.

That contract is but the latest recognition for the Hilliards. Last year (2009), they repeated the feat of the previous year when winning five medals at the Blas na hEireann Food Awards in Dingle. 

Their Muesli and Cucumber Pickle were among the gold winners as was the Spicy Lentil Soup (getting it for the second year in a row). They are also happy with the good things said about them in the Bridgestone Food Guide (2010).

But even though they are doing well, Deirdre knows that you can't take anything for granted. Once, in the 60s and 70s, large newly built ships were “slipped” down to the river right where we stood talking. Hundreds were employed in that long defunct dockyard.

 “There is a lot of history in this place,” she says. Just Food is a firm with a promising future, making its own little bit of history. So far. So very good.