Bloom keeps getting bigger and better

GREAT TIMES... Some of the highlights of a great few days at Bloom

GREAT TIMES… Some of the highlights of a great few days at Bloom

Bloom in the Park. What a show. Wow. I was there every day and it just gets bigger and better every year. This is the 8th Bloom and I am very proud to say that I have been at every one. I have watched it grow and grow over the years and it truly is one of the highlights of the year.

What you couldn’t call a highlight however was my dancing! There was a fantastic video made of people having fun. It featured some of the producers, visitors to the Park, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and they even managed to rope me in! They persuaded us all to dance and I have to say it was great fun. I will say though that I won’t be giving up the day job!

The video is below if you want to have a little chuckle. I hope it makes you smile.

The demos were fantastic over the five days. I loving meeting people when out and about and the enthusiasm of everyone I met was just fantastic. We really are a nation of food lovers and what I notice is that we are getting more knowledgeable all the time.

One popular visitor was President Higgins and he dropped by to see me on the opening day and it is always such a thrill to meet him.

What is also great about Bloom is that I get the chance to meet the wonderful producers. They are such great people with a massive passion for producing quality goods. I find all the producers to be really inspiring and we are lucky in Ireland to have such talented people in the food industry.

One of those produces are the great people at Coole Swan. Coole Swan is made in Co. Cavan using Fresh Irish Cream combined with Single Malt Irish Whiskey and is without doubt one of the finest Liqueurs you will ever taste and actually won ‘World’s best Liqueur’ in 2009.

So, here is a recipe for a delicious Strawberry Trifle that uses some Coole Swan

Coole Swan and Clarke’s Strawberry Trifle
Serves 8

150ml (¼ pint) cream, whipped
175g (6oz) Kilbeg mascarpone cheese
100ml Coole Swan
16 sponge fingers
5 egg yolks
1 tablesp. cornflour
3 tablesp. caster sugar
½ vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
400ml milk
¼ pint red wine
75g (3oz) caster sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
400g (14oz) Strawberries, halved
Cocoa powder and fresh mint sprigs, to decorate

To make the custard, place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the cornflour, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes until pale and thickened. Place the milk in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Gradually whisk into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat. Cook gently for about 6-8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.
To prepare the strawberries, place the red wine, in a pan with the sugar and vanilla pod and seeds, star anise and cinnamon and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Place 350g (12oz) of the strawberries in a heatproof bowl and pour over the wine mixture through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla pod. Stir to combine and leave to cool.
Whisk the remaining cream in a bowl until it forms soft peaks. When the custard is cold, whisk in the mascarpone cheese until completely smooth and then fold in the Coole Swan and the whipped cream until evenly mixed.
Spoon the marinated strawberries, reserving the liquid, into the bottom of 8 x 200ml (7fl oz) individual martini glasses, then arrange two sponge fingers on top of each one, breaking them up as necessary to fit. Pour the berry liquid over and then pour over the Coole Swan mixture to cover completely. Chill for 1 hour until set.
To serve, dust the Coole Swan and strawberry trifle liberally with cocoa powder and then decorate with the reserved summer berries and the mint sprigs.

GREAT CROWDS... We had great crowds at the demos over the five days. Thanks to everyone who came along.

GREAT CROWDS… We had great crowds at the demos over the five days. Thanks to everyone who came along.

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