Lentils with Crispy Bacon and Bleu De Gex

photo (9)

You’ll need:

  • 250g of green or Puy lentils
  • 2 carrots chopped in small cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic whole
  • 1 large onion chopped finelly
  • 150g of Bleu de Gex cheese
  • 6 slices of good bacon grilled to a crisp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley for contrast
  • Olive oil

How To:

In a hot olive oiled pan, sweat the carrots, garlic cloves and onions with just a little salt to help them release their flavour. Reserve seasoning at the end as the lentils could get a bit bitter. Add the lentils and stir gently. Top up with water and allow to gently simmer until cooked. In the oven or under the grill, get the whole slices crispy but not burnt and slice before serving. The lentils should be ready (25-30 minutes should do the trick). Before serving, add the slices of crispy bacon, 75g of bleu de Gex and salt to taste. Serve in a bowl or on a plate, with the rest of the blue crumbled on top and freshly chopped parsley. A real winter’s treat.

Croque ‘n’ Soup

Seasonal and comforting, here is a gentle cheesy way to welcome autumn.

Croque'n'Soup

You’ll need:

For the Soup:

  • 1 Broccoli Head and Stalk
  • 2 Potatoes
  • 1 small leek of an onion
  • A dash of Fresh cream
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Croque:

  • Any good bread sliced
  • 100g of butter
  • 1 small leek
  • 200g of Comté/ Gruyère
  • Milk
  • A wee dash of white wine
  • A nice bit of ham
  • 100g flour
  • A teaspoon of Dijon mustard.

How To:

For The Soup:

Simplicity at its best! Chop all the veg in reasonably small pieces and throw in a hot pan; the secret for a good soup is the sweating part to release all the flavours. The other secret is to salt during this time as it will help the veg to draw their flavours. Top up with water and let simmer for 20 minutes before blitzing.

For the Croque:

Quarter the leak lengthways and then finely sliced it. Put it in the pan with the butter on a low heat. Add the flour and stir to a roux. Little by little pour in the milk and keep stirring. Once thickened, grate in 100g of comté and the teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Spoon the béchamel mix inside the bread before placing the slices of ham with more grated cheese, and a bit on the top slice before grilling. A glass of Montepuliciano, Pinot noir for the reds, Burgundy Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco for the whites!

Irish Smoked Fish Tonnarelli

Tonarelli

If unlike me you love your seafood, there is a lovely pasta dish that I really enjoy! You just sauté thin slices of fennel with a clove of garlic and thin slices of onions, a glass of dried white wine. Crumble a bit of smoked fish and pour a jar of passata. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, gently, and serve with loads of basil leaves and Tonnarelli pasta (black spaghetti). Try the wines of the week Sauvignon Blanc or Austrian Pinot Noir for this dish, red or white, you’ll be in friendly territory!

– Franck

Recipe of the week: Strawberry and Mascarpone tart

Strawberry and Mascarpone tart

This wonderful summer keeps giving and giving and I am running out of fresh ideas to accommodate all the strawberries we’ve had! But why should I feel under this grotesque unnecessary pressure says you? Well maybe because it is so unprecedented that I want to make the most of what nature gives, that I know too well that it will be over too soon at least for another year. As a child, a dusting of sugar and Chantilly cream was the only way, in the early “noughties”, who hasn’t been given a plate of minimalist art nouveau “Strawberries and crushed meringues” with crème fraiche (yes Seamus, I am talking about you) as now, I really enjoy them at breakfast with yogurt and honey. Making the top 20 of antioxidants it is also famously known for its high vitamin c content. All in all, the goodie two shoes of the health world , so, the other day, when I came across a strawberry and mascarpone tart recipe, I wanted to know more, cross over to the dark side of the fork… It was with no regrets, a real treat, with a big dollop of Burke’s Honeycomb ice cream

You’ll need:

• 1 sheet of short crust pastry
• 250g Mascarpone cheese
• 130 g of sugar
• 1 vanilla pod
• 50g ground almonds
• 1 handful of strawberries
• 4 eggs
• 5cl of lemon juice

How to:

Beat the eggs and the sugar together, add the almond and fold in the mascarpone without any fuss. Cut the vanilla in half lengthways and scrape the seeds into the mix. Add the lemon juice. Spread the sheet of shortcrust on a buttered and floured tart dish, pour the mix in the middle and place halved strawberries here and there. Bake at 180c for 25min but check with a knife that it is cooked, just in case.

Roast Vegetables with Wicklow Blue

wicklow blue

 

If you need comfort, why not try to roast (don’t try, just do it!) potatoes, carrots and fresh beetroot on a baking tray, with olive oil and a fresh clove of garlic? 200c for 25 minutes and it is ready. Put a few slices of Wicklow Blue Brie on top, a slice of sourdough rubbed with garlic, chives and olive oil and if you feel like it, a couple of crispy streaky bacon roughly broken here and there.

Piceno Rosso with that… You’ll see…

Blue Cheese Salad

Ingredients

  • 200g mixed lettuce
  • 150g Crozier blue cheese, crumbled at room temperature.
  • Handful of roughly chopped hazelnuts. You could use a variety of nuts
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rapeseed oil, or you could use lemon juice and oil

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss together the mixed lettuce, cheese and hazelnuts. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and oil. Pour over the salad mixture and toss well.

Serve alone as a starter or as light supper with crusty bread.

Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 1/2 pint (300 ml) of milk. You can replace 1/3rd of the milk with white wine.
  • 40g of plain flour
  • 40g of butter
  • 85g of grated / crumbled cheese
  • You can use a single hard cheese such as Coolea or Glebe Brethan. Or mix a couple of cheeses including perhaps a blue such as Cashel blue.
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Splash of Worcester sauce
  • Handful of chopped parley

Directions

  1. Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Slowly sweat the chopped onion until soft
  3. Off the heat add the flour and mix together to form a smooth paste and then cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
  4. Very slowly, add the milk, a little at a time, whilst continuously whisking or stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the Worcester sauce.
  5. Continue to cook over a medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Do not allow the sauce to boil.
  6. Add the cheese(s) and stir until the cheese melts.
  7. Add the cayenne pepper and parsley, cook gently for a few more minutes.
  8. Stir well and then serve.

This sauce can be used in many dishes, such as pasta bake or chicken.

Durrus Tartiflette

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1kg potatoes,
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 thick rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced 1.5”
  • Rapeseed oil
  • ½ glass Eight Degrees Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner.
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 350g Durrus cheese, wipe the rind with a damp cloth, and dice the cheese.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 5.
  2. Peel and dice the potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Boil for 3-5 mins. Drain.
  3. In a large heavy pan heat a good splash of rapeseed oil. Fry the potatoes lightly
  4. Add the diced bacon and onion. Cook until the bacon has begun to crisp.
  5. Add the pilsner, stir and then add the cubed cheese
  6. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Choose an ovenproof earthenware dish and rub it well with the halves of garlic and some rapeseed oil. Empty the contents of the pan into the dish and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and begun to crisp.
  8. You can also add some thick spinach, chard or asparagus along with the cheese.

Sheep’s Milk Panna Cotta with Rhubarb

  • 3 Gelatine Leaves
  • 250ml Milk (we used Sheep’s milk from J&L Grubb, the makers of Cashel & Crozier Blue Cheese)
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 Vanilla Pod (split lengthways, seeds scraped out)
  • 25g Sugar
  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft.
  2. Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds and sugar into a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla pod and discard
  3. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan and take off the heat. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved
  4. Divide the mixture among four ramekins and leave to cool. Place into the fridge for at least an hour, until set.

Stewed Rhubarb:

  • 4 Stems of Rhubarb
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 25g Root Ginger
  1. Clean rhubarb and chop
  2. Place in a pan with rest of ingredients
  3. Cook on a low heat for 12/15 mins let cool and serve alongside the set Panna Cotta

Loin of Lamb with Herb & Mushroom Crust (Accompanied by Hazelnut Mash & Wilted Spinach)

  • Loin of lamb, trimmed back to just meat (we used lamb from Ryan’s Farm in Ballinlough)
  • Small tub seasoned flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Irish Mustard
  • 2 Slices of batch loaf made into bread crumbs, crusts included
  • Fresh chopped Parsley
  • Fresh chopped Thyme
  • 2 Large Mushrooms chopped finely (we used two lovely wild browncap mushrooms foraged in the garden of the Forge Restaurant
  • 1 tablespoon Irish Rapeseed Oil
  • Knob of Butter
  1. Mix the breadcrumb, parsley, thyme & mushroom together
  2. Pass the loin of lamb through the flour, then coat it in French mustard, ensure to shake off excess mustard.
  3. Coat the lamb in the herb and mushroom breadcrumbs
  4. Pan fry in a little rapeseed oil and butter and then finish in the oven for 10 mins @ 180C / Gas 5

Other cuts to use would be cutlets or lamb steaks from the leg

Hazelnut Cream Potato

  • 2 peeled Roosters
  • 2 tablespoons Hazelnuts (these give a lovely texture and finish to potato)
  • 1/4 pt cream
  1. Boil potato until soft
  2. Mash well and season with salt & pepper and as much cream as needed to form a creamy but still relatively firm texture (this can vary, depending on the potato and time of year)
  3. Place hazelnuts in warm pan and roast In oven for 6/7 minutes @ 180C / Gas 5. Allow to cool and rub in hands to take off outer shell , then blend the nuts in a food processor.

Wilted Spinach

  • Spinach
  • Knob of Butter
  • Rapeseed Oil
  1. Wash spinach well
  2. In a frying pan, melt the butter with a little rapseed oil, add the spinach until just warmed, season and take off the heat , toss gently and serve

Assemble the dish: Herb crusted loin of lamb, hazelnut cream potato & wilted spinach

Peppered Smoked Tuna

  • 1 steak hot smoked tuna (we used Sally Barnes, woodcock Smokery Tuna)
  • 200g Kilbeg Dairies Cream Cheese / Quark (ie 0 fat)
  • 20 Young Nettle Leaves
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Red Pepper
  1. Roast your pepper under a grill or on bbq until completely black all over, put in a bowl cover with cling film. This helps to remove skin.
  2. Boil a pot of water with a little salt put in nettle leaves for 5 seconds , remove and place in a bowl of cold water (this takes away the sting of the nettle).
  3. Remove nettles from water and pat dry with kitchen paper, chop finely.
  4. Take the pepper from bowl , remove skin by simply rubbing off by hand or with some kitchen paper. Remove seeds and chop in to bite size pieces.
  5. Mix together nettles, pepper, and cream cheese and lemon juice.
  6. Present cream cheese on plate with tuna resting on top (here we used a garnish of fresh cut pea shoots from the forge garden, but anything pretty and green will work!)

Can also serve as a Canapé, if the tune is broken in to smaller pieces, individually placed on top of a brown bread cracker with a dollop of the nettle cream cheese underneath!

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 6 – 8

Biscuit Base

  • 230g Biscuits (we used Cookies of Character Choc Chip & Hazelnut from Dunmanway)
  • 100g Butter
  1. Put the biscuits in a zip loc bag and the crush with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt the butter over a gentle heat.
  3. Transfer the Biscuit crumb to a mixing bowl and blend with the melted butter.
  4. Press the mixture in to the bottom of a 9” ringform tin, and put in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins.

For the cheese mix:

  • 300g Cream Cheese
  • 300g Quark
  • 180ml Cream
  • Punnet Strawberries (stalks removed and mashed)
  • Tablespoon Caster Sugar
  • 14g Sachet Gelatine
  • 50ml Hot water
  1. Blend the gelatine and water.
  2. Blend all other ingredients with an electric whisk thoroughly (approx 2 mins max).
  3. Then stir  in the gelatine.
  4. Pour the mixture over the chilled biscuit base and smooth with a spatula.

Strawberry Coulis (to blend through – optional)

  • Punnet Strawberries
  • Heaped Tablespoon Caster Sugar
  1. Remove stalks and mash the strawberries, blend with sugar, and simmer, stirring regularly for 5 – 10 mins.
  2. This can then be forked / swirled through the cheesecake mix to create ripples.
  3. Decorate the top of the cheese cake with Strawberries and whipped cream or cream cheese.