Author Archives: tara

Strawberries with Basil, Balsamic , Mascarpone & Hazelnut Sables

 

This recipe may seem like an odd combination at first but is really fresh and light- perfect for alfresco entertaining. There are a few steps in it but they are all easy and the whole thing should take no longer than about 30 mins. Go ahead- try it, you’ll love it!

Ingredients

125 g Flour

85g Butter, cold & cut into squares

30g Icing Sugar (& an extra tblsp)

Salt

30g Hazelnuts

150g Mascarpone Cheese

100mls Cream, whipped

1 punnet of Strawberries, sliced and stalks removed

Vanilla Extract

50g Caster Sugar

50ml Balsamic Vinegar

200ml Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

1 bunch of Basil

A drop of Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°

Start by making the biscotti. Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the icing sugar & salt.

Rub the butter into the mixture with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs

Knead the dough on a floured surface for a couple of minutes and leave to rest for 10 mins.

Roll out the dough, it should not be sticky so you will not need to flour the surface.

Cut out the biscuit shape you want, I recommend fingers as they can be use to scoop up the mascarpone later.

Push hazelnut pieces into the dough and bake for 8-12 mins

To make the sauce, place the orange juice in a pot with the most of the caster sugar (keeping a tblsp back) and a few basil stalks. Warm VERY gently to allow the flavours to infuse. Leave to cool.

In a separate pot, reduce the balsamic vinegar until it becomes a syrup.

Place the strawberries in a bowl and add a tblsp of the sugar, a pinch of salt and the balsamic vinegar reduction. Allow to macerate for at least 10 mins if not more.

To make the basil paste for the mascarpone “sauce”, place a little olive oil in a pot and add the basil leaves and a small pinch of salt. Warm gently and break down with the back of a spoon, stirring until you have a rough paste.

Place the mascarpone in a bowl and whisk a little to loosen. Add the basil paste, tblsp of icing sugar and the vanilla extract.

Fold in the whipped cream.

To serve & decorate:

Strain the orange juice mixture into a jug or bowl.

Place two biscottis on  each plate, top with the strawberries and a dollop (or quenelle if you like) of  the mascarpone mix.

Drizzle the orange sauce over and spoon a little of the balsamic & strawberry juice around the edge of the plate.

 

Vietnamese Prawn Rice Paper Rolls

These little rolls are absolutely delicious and are a perfect starter for a warm sunny day .A nice cool glass of Riesling goes down a treat with them!Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients as it is more of an assembly job really. The only real cooking involved, is the poaching of the prawns. The rolls can be assembled and left in the fridge a couple of hours before your guests arrive. Just make sure to cover them with a damp clean teatowel if you are doing this. Alternatively, don’t assemble them at all and leave all the fillings on a large platter for the guests to assemble themselves.The platter looks really beautiful as all the colours of the ingredients are really vibrant. The dipping sauce is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

1 bunch rice noodles

1 packet of Vietnamese ricepaper wrappers

1 large carrot

A few handfuls of beansprouts

4 spring onions

A bunch of fresh Coriander and Mint

For the Prawns:

About 20 Prawns (I recommend buying & shelling Dublin Bay prawn tails & cooking them yourself)

1 large piece of ginger, peeled & sliced

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon nam pla

1 fresh red chilli, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

To poach the prawns:


Peel the prawns by holding them with the legs facing up. Squeeze to break the shell and pull the shell off at the tail end, taking the entrail with it.

Place shelled prawns, slices of ginger, nam pla, chilli & spring onions  in a pot and cover with cold water

Bring to the boil and remove from the pot as soon as they are cooked (about 30 secs)

Remove to cool in a colander & pour cold water over

Cut each prawn in half

To assemble the ricepaper rolls:

Prepare noodles as per instructions on the pack & cool in cold water

Finely slice the spring onions and the carrot (use a mandolin if possible) into matchstick size

Roughly chop the herbs

Wash the beansprouts and trim if desired

Fill a large bowl with luke warm water and place the discs of rice paper into the bowl 2 at a time. Submerge for about 2 mins or until softened and remove.I recommend  keeping the rice papers in a clean, damp tea towel whilst you are hydrating them as they dry out very quickly.

  • Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and toss in the dressing
  • One, by one, place the filling along the middle of the paper rolls in a line
  • Tuck in the ends of the paper rolls and roll up

It can also be a bit of fun if you serve all the ingredients on a platter and allow diners to make up their own rolls. If doing so, serve the dipping sauce in small bowls.

Asian Dipping Sauce/Dressing

2-3 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons of nam pla

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves

 

 

 

Easy Fragrant Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Raita & Pomegranate

This week I am posting easy, tasty alfresco dining recipes. Since I am having friends over myself this weekend, I thought many people would be doing the same so why not suggest an easy 3 course meal perfect for casual summer entertaining? The idea is simple- minimum work with maximum taste.  Most of the work takes place before your guests arrive so that you can still enjoy your friends and familys’ company when they arrive!

Thanks to Cliona O'Flaherty & Sharon Hearne-Smith for shooting & styling this photo

This lamb dish is great for catering to larger groups as you tend to get a variety of slices that are rare, medium & well done due to the non-uniform thickness of the meat.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

For the lamb:

1 butterflied leg of lamb

2 tsp Fennel seeds

2 tsp Coriander seeds

2 tsp Cumin seeds

2 tblsp Cardamom Pods

1 tsp Cayenne pepper

100 mls Olive Oil (bog standard is fine for this)

50mls Soy sauce

grated zest of 1 orange

5 garlic cloves , roughly chopped

For the Raita:

1 small tub natural yogurt

Fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2  cucumber

1 clove garlic, minced or chopped finely

lemon juice

To Garnish:

A bunch of fresh Mint

1 Pomegranate (seeds removed) or pack of seeds from the supermarket

Method:

  1. Place the coriander seeds in a dry pan and gently toast, add fennel & cumin  seeds to the pan a few seconds later as they take less time
  2. Place all the seeds and the cardamom pods in a pestle & mortar and grind. As this is a rustic dish, leave the cardomom pods in the mix as they are easily removable later and give a fantastic flavour
  3. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and pour over the lamb.
  4. Leave in the fridge overnight if possible but try to give it at least 6 hrs to infuse
  5. To make the raita, combine the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and mint
  6. Remove the lamb from the fridge an hour before cooking
  7. Heat either a BBQ or a griddle pan to a high heat (smoking) and place the lamb on. The idea is to char the outside.
  8. Reduce the temperature and continue to cook, basting with the marinade, for about 20-30 mins or to your liking. If it is easier, place in an oven (180°) to finish.
  9. Allow to rest fopr at least 10 mins before carving.remove any cardamom pods that are visible.
  10. Arrange the slices on a platter and scatter with the mint leaves and pomegranate seeds. Serve the raita on the side or drizzle over the lamb.

 

Wild Boar Pâté with Lavender

I have been wanting to buy Wild Boar for a while now so when I met TJ Crowe of Crowe Farm (who specialise in high quality pork & bacon products)at Inishfood in Donegal, I had to ask him if he had some.To my delight he did and he killed one a few weeks later. I ordered a shoulder and some liver. I got a huge amount of liver and will be posting further recipes using it and the shoulder. This is a lovely rich pate and the lavender serves to add a more fragrant note to the overall flavour. I think its a perfect weekend lunch recipe served with crusty bread or melba toast and pickles or chutney.

Ingredients :

300g Wild Boar Liver (sliced evenly & soaked in milk for at least 3o mins, membranes removed)300g Butter at room temperature & an extra knob for cooking

2 tsp Dried Lavender

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

2 Shallots, finely diced

2 Garlic cloves, finely diced

A splash of Marsala

Optional: Clarified Butter, 100g

Method:

Place the lavender and salt in a pestle & mortar and grind until fine

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan, add the garlic & shallots & lavender

Allow to soften over a medium heat

Add the livers to the pan and cook until just done on the inside (cut a piece open to check)

Allow to cool slightly and place in a food processor

Deglaze the pan with the marsala and flambé if desired

Add the lovely bits to the food processor and whizz for a few seconds

 

Allow to cool for a few minutes then add the rest of the butter

Whizz until smooth and place in serving dish allow to cool.

 

If using clarified butter, melt butter in a small pan on a VERY low heat and switch heat off. Leave to sit until butter fat rises to the top and the milk solids have sunk to the bottom.Using a small ladle, pour onto surface of the pate & garnish with a sprig of lavender if possible.

 

Monkfish wrapped in McCarthy Kanturk Pancetta & Chocolate, Pistachio & Honey Black Pudding with Rhubarb & Puy Lentils

I met Jack McCarthy of McCarthy Kanturk butchers at Harrys Bar & Restaurant for the Inishfood event in March. We were treated (among many things) to a taste of their newly developed 80% Cocoa solids, Pistachio & Honey Black Pudding. Everybody was raving about it – a new twist on an old favourite. McCarthys have won many awards for their black pudding and when I sampled them I could see why. They really are delicious. This recipe is inspired by Jack challenging me to do something “different” with the Chocolate Black Pudding. We really enjoyed how the tart rhubarb cut through the richness of the pudding and monkfish and how the lentils soaked up the syrup. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

6oog rhubarb, chopped into 3cm pieces

50g sugar

120g Puy Lentils

120 ml White Wine

120 ml Chicken/Vegetable Stock

A Sprig of Fresh Mint

600g Monkfish Tail

200g McCarthy Kanturk Chocolate & Pistachio Pudding

4  slices of Pancetta

4 Cocktail Sticks

Serves 4

For the Rhubarb:

Preheat the Oven to 180°

Place rhubarb in a dish & sprinkle sugar over.

Cover & bake for 20 mins.

Squash with a fork and leave in syrup.

For the Puy Lentils:

Place 120g Puy Lentils in a pot & cover with 120ml white wine & 120 ml chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer for 20 mins or until tender.

Chop some of the mint & stir through, adding a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Season to taste.

For the Monkfish:

Cut the monkfish into four pieces.

Lay the pancetta on a board and place the black pudding followed by the fish on top.

Wrap the bacon around and secure with a cocktail stick.

Bake uncovered for about 15- 20 mins (depending on the thickness of your monkfish)

Don’t forget to remove the cocktail sticks!

To Serve:

Place the rhubarb on the middle of the plate, place the monkfish on top and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Serve with the puy lentils.

 


Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Truffle Oil

On a recent trip to O’Briens Chop House in Lismore, Co. Waterford, I had a small taster of their Jerusalem Artichoke soup. Richard is a very gracious host who picked up on my heavy hints about wanting to try the soup but also wanting game terrine for my starter by letting me have a little cupful. It really stayed in my memory and I just had to make it when I got home. This is my version with a big nod of thanks to them for the inspiration…

(Serves 4, generously)

Ingredients:

350g Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed & trimmed, chopped

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 small Potato, chopped

2 small Carrots

2 sticks of Celery, leaves reserved

A handful of Parsley stalks

2 Bay leaves

500 ml Chicken Stock

50 ml milk

Knob of Butter

Glug of Olive Oil

To Finish:

Truffle Oil (if available but well worth it!)

Method:

Chop all the vegetables to a similar size so that they cook at around the same time

Melt the butter in a pot and add the olive oil

Add all the vegetables and sweat on a medium with the lid on for about 10 mins or until softened, stirring every now and then

Add the bay leaves, celery leaves and parsley stalks and stir over the heat for a minute or so

Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, add a small amount of salt & pepper

Simmer for about 10 mins & Remove the bay leaves.

Using a hand blender or liquidizer, blitz until smooth

Add the milk and check the consistency & seasoning

Serve with a few drops of the Truffle Oil

 

Halibut Goujons,Purple Sprouting Broccolli with Barley Cous Cous & Wild Garlic & Walnut Pesto

This meal came about as a result of a random mix of having my little sister to stay (who is a very picky eater) and a visit to the Drogheda farmers’ market. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and we fancied something light and tasty. I found this purple sprouting broccoli at the market along with the wild garlic and had to buy it. A trip to Kirwans Fish Cart resulted in the purchase of some lovely halibut. As my sister is not adventurous when it comes to food, I knew that goujons were the way to her heart. This is my favourite type of shopping and meal planning- seeing what is fresh, in season and available locally and planning the meal around it as opposed to deciding on a particular dish and running around trying to find its components.

I have tried to simplify the recipe by writing it as follows instead of in the traditional recipe format. The ingredients you need are written in bold. I would love to know if you like this format or if I should return to the traditional recipe style!

A couple of notes first-

  • I used120g Barley Cous Cous as I prefer its nutty flavour and has the added bonus of being wheat free
  • I used two large fillets of haddock but use any fresh white fish available to you or try some plump Dublin Bay Prawn tails for scampi
  • You can add the pesto to some mayonnaise if you would prefer a dip as a substitute to tartar sauce
  • I deep fried the goujons but you can shallow fry if you prefer
  • Remove the zest from 1 Lemon & set aside.

For the Pesto: Blitz 50g Walnuts in a food processor & add 100g Wild Garlic leaves. Whizz with the juice of 1/2 the Lemon & drizzle Olive Oil until you are happy with the consistency. Season to taste.

For the fish goujons: Make sure the fish is dry by patting with kitchen paper.Cut the fish to the desired size, dredge in seasoned Flour, dunk in egg wash (whisk 2 Eggs with 50 mls Milk) and coat in Breadcrumbs. Deep fry at 180° until golden crisp and rising to the surface of the oil. Remove to kitchen paper to soak excess oil. If frying in batches place in a warmed oven until ready to serve.

For the Cous Cous: You will need 120g Cous cous.Follow instructions on pack to soak, substituting Chicken or Vegetable Stock for the water. Fluff up with a fork. Blanch the purple Sprouting Broccoli (ensuring water is at a rolling boil before placing broccoli in) and dunk in iced water to refresh. Place the broccoli in the serving dish and sprinkle the cous cous over. Place the lemon zest on top and drizzle with a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and squeeze the other half of the lemon juice over. Season to taste & serve.

Serve the components family style and use the pesto to drizzle.