Saturday, 31 December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Three men and their birds....

Christmas would not be Christmas without a bird of some sort so with this in mind I caught the ferry to Co Wexford last night with Paddy Ryan, one of the chefs at the Castle. We were on our way to the Hook Head to dispatch two home grown Turkeys rared by a great friend of mine.
In the pitch dark armed with a bottle of Paddy's slow gin we tackled the two birds one by one, plucked them bare and got them ready for the oven.
Sean Dillon, a true gentleman watched over us with halk eyes and made sure we were doing the job properly.
The whole job took no more than a hour and these fine birds will be enjoyed by many on Christmas day. Old school you could say .....
Happy Christmas to all......

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

This knocks the stuffing out of stuffing.......

This is going to be my only Christmas recipe this year, every Tom, Dick and Harry are creating recipes for the masses so I guess you all have enough of it, at least I do.
This time of year is about Peace and Love and not the quantity of food you waste after all the festivities are over, so please support the local producers when ordering your food for December 25. Take pride in cooking and eating it that's what it is all about..
So here is a very simple recipe for stuffing you can use with duck, goose, turkey or pork. It is delicious and simple to make..

Enough for one duck
35g of butter
70g of finely chopped onion
1 tblsp of chopped sage
1 tblsp of chopped tarragon
1tsp of chopped thyme
20g chopped chestnuts
20g chopped apricot
100g of soft white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a heavy pan, sweat the onion over a low heat for five minutes or until the onion has gone translucent, add in the sage, chopped chestnuts, apricots and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A night full of game at the Castle.....

It all started off with a rabbit croquette, followed by a quail pie, washed down with a clear pheasant broth. Then out came the wild brill with caper stem puree and loin of Irish red deer with red cabbage jelly trotting after it. All followed by a rich tempting dark chocolate torte and beetroot, delicious......

Monday, 5 December 2011

Hot buttered Lobster with a hint of garlic and orange

If you get fed up of the traditional dry turkey and ham this Christmas, get yourself a few lobsters from your fishmonger or a day boat fisherman and try this one out, fantastic is all i can say..

This is the ultimate dish, simple to prepare, not to many ingredients and a serious taste of more from the food. The secret of this dish is to get your lobster straight from the sea and cook it as quick as possible.
Serves 4
1.8 kg live lobster
Court bouillon
120g of good Irish butter
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 orange, freshly squeezed

Cook the lobster in the Court bouillon, as soon as it has cooled enough to handle, split them in half and take out all the meat from the claws, body and tail. Cut the meat into chunks.
Heat the lobster shell, melt the butter with the garlic, when it foams add the lobster meat and orange juice and warm through. Spoon the meat into the warmed shell and pour the rest of the melted butter into a ramekin. Eat at once…

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Shellfish, its fast to cook, sometimes free and delicious to eat

This is the fast food of the sea and we are surrounded by it. The next time you are walking by the coast keep an eye out for, mussels, cockles, whelks, periwinkles and crab. It’s all there all you have to do is find it, bring it home, cook it and eat it. Or if you are lucky, and see a small day boat coming ashore ask the rosy cheeked fisherman if he would sell you a lobster, shrimp or a brown crab. This, my friends is the way to obtain fresh shellfish.
At the Castle I have being using the best of suppliers for years and Martin Simpson is right up there with them, his lobster and shrimp are second to none, they are the best I can get my hands on. He is a true artisan, a man who goes to sea on his own while most of us are tucked up in bed fast asleep. When he arrives back to the pier in Dunmore East he has caught some of the finest shellfish money can buy.
As a nation we export 90% of the shellfish caught off our shores, you will see the best of Irish crab and lobster in the markets in Paris and Barcelona, this is a crime in my book. We should be using our own natural produce in our kitchens. Yes it might cost a little bit extra, but isn’t it worth it?
Like most of our produce it is sought after abroad, people from Europe know what they are looking for and know how to cook it, so it is time for us to embrace our own food and learn to cook and enjoy it.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Classic Beef Bourguignon, a must have for the weekend....

This is a classic dish first served in Burgundy, but now known all over the world. As ever you must get the best ingredients you can afford for this dish, ask your butcher for well hung shin of beef. This is a cheap cut of meat but when cooked slowly it is delicious.
Serves 6
1.3kg of shin of beef or stewing beef cut into small cubes
185g of streaky bacon
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 onions sliced
500ml Red wine
400ml of beef stock
1 tblsp of tomato puree
200g of chopped tin tomatoes
Sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic
1 strip of orange peel
Salt and cracked black pepper
Juice of ½ orange
20 small onions (this is optional)
450g of button mushrooms

Cut the bacon into ½ inch cubes and fry in a pan with a little olive oil until nice and crisp, transfer to a casserole. In the same pan fry the beef in batches until nice and brown on all sides. Toss in the carrots and onions into the pan and remove to the casserole. De-glaze the frying pan with the wine, scraping the little bits of meat from the base of the frying pan, bring to the boil and add to the meat.
Bring the casserole to the boil and add in the tomato puree, stock, tin tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, orange peel, orange juice and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper, cover and gently simmer for 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours on the stove top or in a low oven (170 or gas 3) depending on the meat used. Add the peeled onions and mushrooms 20 minutes before the dish is ready to serve.
When the meat is tender pour everything into a strainer placed over a saucepan. Remove the fat from the liquid and if the sauce is too thin reduce for a few minutes, pour in the meat and vegetables back into the sauce pan and serve at once.
This is fantastic served with creamy mashed potatoes or brown rice.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Melt my cheese my dear.....

Anna Leveque’s cow’s ash raclette with Tom Cleary’s winter greens

This is a traditional dish from the Alps, eaten with potatoes and salad. I am using Anna’s cheese as it is fantastically rich and melts with ease.
Serves 6
500g – 700g of cow ash cheese or raclette cheese
1-12 boiled potatoes
Crisp lettuce
Pickled onions and gherkins
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the cheese in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes, when it starts to melt take it out and cut it in half, spoon it on the sliced boiled potatoes, sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and eat at once, how simple is that…..

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Strong blue cheese with sweet poached pear......

Crozier blue cheese, poached pear in red wine, spinach, walnuts and honey dressing

This is a striking good looking salad, the red of the pear, white of the cheese and the green spinach all come together with ease. And the best thing of all it eats so well.
Crozier is a blue sheep's milk cheese that is made by the Grubb family in Co. Tipperary; it is a strong salty cheese that is addictive.
Serves 6
3 pears
400ml of red wine
1 cinnamon stick
2tblsp of sugar
300g crozier blue
120g baby spinach
60g walnuts
1 tblsp of Dijon mustard
1 tblsp of honey
1 tblsp of white wine vinegar
100ml of olive oil

Peel the pears and core them, poach in the red wine, sugar and cinnamon until they are just cooked and have taken on a deep red colour.
Now make the dressing by combining the honey, mustard and vinegar in a bowl, whisk in the olive oil slowly until it comes together.
To bring the salad together slice the pears in six length ways, crumble the cheese and arrange on a plate with the spinach and the walnuts, drizzle the dressing over the salad and enjoy..

Monday, 14 November 2011

Simple Fish Pie

There is nothing like a fish pie to warm the cockles of the heart on a winters evening and this is a simple recipe for you to follow, served with a nice glass of white some salad and crusty bread, you will be in sea food heaven
Serves 6-8

1.1kg fillets of cod, haddock, ling, salmon, Pollock as a mixture. Use up to 225g of un-dyed smoked haddock.
20 mussels
Salt and white pepper
Béchamel Sauce made with full fat milk
1 onion
25g butter
225g of button mushrooms sliced finely
600ml of milk
Roux made with 25g butter and 25g plain flour
Bay leaf
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
3 tablespoon of chopped tarragon
900 g champ potato
Grated parmesan cheese

Cut the fish in 1inch cubes after carefully removing the skin and any bones, season with salt and white pepper. Wash the mussels and remove the beards. Put them in a shallow pan with a splash of white wine, cover and cook until the shells open, 3-4 minutes and cool.
Chop the onion finely and sweat in the butter, do not colour. Remove to a bowl, in the same saucepan increase the heat and sauté the mushrooms season with salt and pepper and add to the onions. Put the fish in a large pot and cover with the milk and bay leaf, simmer gently until the fish is just cooked, no more than 2 minutes. Remove the fish with a slotted spoon. Bring the liquid to the boil and thicken with the roux, add the parsley, tarragon, mushrooms, fish and mussels. Taste and correct the seasoning. Spoon into one large dish or 6-8 smaller dishes and pipe the champ potato on top. Let the pies go cold. They can be frozen at this stage if you are not going to eat them.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Simple tips for cooking and preparing fish...

Fish cookery is simple, it really is.
The scaling, gutting and all the messy jobs are done by your fishmonger, so you should not have to worry about anything but the cooking.
Fish is forgiving; it will not go from undercooked to overcooked at a blink of an eye. It will wait in a warm place for a few minutes while you finish your sauce or vegetables; but it does not like being left under a hot grill for two long.
Fish like cod, hake and haddock, with soft large flakes is better roasted or baked, the less you mess around with it the better, it will break up if over handled.
Firmer fish like monkfish, turbot, brill, mackerel and tuna are more robust and stand up to a bit of handling and a fierce grilling.
Try and use the oven when cooking fish. I almost always start cooking fish in a pan but once it has become golden brown on one side I turn it over and pop it into a pre heated oven.
Fillets of Haddock, Cod, Pollock, Turbot, Brill and John Dory can be browned in a pan first. Heat some ground nut oil until smoking hot (a cold pan will cause the fish to stick). Put the fish in the pan, cook for 4-5 minutes, then turn it over when it is nicely coloured. Put the pan in the oven or transfer the fish to a roasting tray and finish it off in the hot oven. This method is used by almost all chefs and in my opinion it produces the best results. And it is simple once you get the knack of it.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Warm winter salad of pickled beetroot, artichoke, quinoa, spinach, orange segments and honey dressing

This is a simple winter salad which should be eaten while the different components are hot. The quinoa used is a so called modern super food; however the Inca people of 5000 years ago were eating this grain to the benefit of their health.

Serves 6
200g of quinoa
3 medium beetroot
12 artichokes
500g of baby spinach
1 lemon
2 oranges
100ml of good olive oil
25ml of white wine vinegar
1 tblsp of Dijon mustard
2tblsp of honey
Salt and pepper

Put the quinoa in a saucepan with plenty of water, bring it to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, rinse under cold water and leave to dry.
Wash the beetroot and season with salt and pepper and wrap in tinfoil, bake in a hot oven for 40 minutes or until the beetroot is cooked.
Peel the artichokes and put into lemon water to stop them from oxidising, cook for five minutes in boiling salted water, set aside.
Peel the orange with a knife removing all the pith and segment it, set these aside. Now make the dressing by whisking the vinegar with the mustard and honey, pour in the olive oil very slowly until the dressing comes together.
Now peel the warm beetroot and cut into cubes, slice the artichokes and assemble on a plate with the orange segments, crumble the quinoa over this and drizzle with the dressing, eat at once…

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Alice Waters, the famous American Chef wrote in her book about vegetables that, ‘’The finest food is produced and grown in ways that are ecologically sound. We try to make decisions about cooking and eating that support the kind of agriculture that takes care of the land, land we hold in trust for future generations.’’
This sums up cooking for me, the principal of sourcing the best food you can afford, that has been grown locally by local farmers who care about their land and the job of work they do. And we are so lucky to be living in Ireland; to me this is a country of pure land, pure water and pure food.
We have come a long way since the humble spud and the odd bit of cabbage that was the only vegetables we might see on a dining table. Today people are growing their own vegetables and always on the lookout for something new and exciting to plant. Supermarkets have tapped into this but unfortunately most of these are importing most of what they sell from the far corners of the globe.
Now more than ever we need to source locally produced food that is in season. It will cost less, be a lot kinder to the environment, support local farmers and the most important thing of all it will taste fantastic with the minimal effort in cooking..

Monday, 7 November 2011

Marinade Comeragh Mountain Lamb kebabs with Tzatziki

This dish is simple to prepare, tastes fantastic and can be eaten as a starter or a main course. I use award winning Willies Drohan’s lamb from the Comeragh Mountains in west Waterford. His sheep roam wild on the Mountain and feed on wild heathers, grasses, herbs, wild flowers and drink natural spring water, all free from chemicals and pesticides.
For ten skewers you will need;
500g of diced Lamb
15ml of soya sauce, has to be Kikkoman soya
1tsp of roasted and crushed cumin seed
1tsp of roasted and crushed coriander seed
Juice of half a lemon
1 tblsp of fresh mint chopped
2tsp of local honey
1 tblsp of good olive oil

Place the diced lamb in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. This must marinade overnight so that the meat will take on the flavours. If using bamboo skewers soak them in water for at least an hour before treading the meat onto them. Cook on a hot bbq or a griddle pan for about four minutes. Serve the skewers homemade Tzatziki.

A beautiful quote from Elizabeth David book ‘spices, salt and aromatics in the English Kitchen’ really explains the cooking technique for this recipe. ‘’ based on the craze for the so called barbecue, which hit the British Isles in the late fifties, a whole new tradition of English grill-cookery is now in the making. It’s most elementary and most delicious manifestation is kebab cookery. This provides something for everybody. No mystique is attached to it. It is simple spit-roasting in miniature. Tender meat and the correct skewers are basic essentials, the rest is a question of practice with the grill’’

Greek Tzatziki

This is a Greek speciality and is delicious with grilled Lamb or roasted Monk fish. It is simple to put together and will last for a few days in a fridge. Use Greek yogurt for this because it is made with sheep’s milk and is beautifully thick and creamy.

1 cucumber, peeled and diced into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic crushed
Juice of half a lemon
425ml of Greek yogurt
2 tblsp of chopped mint
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

Put the cucumber into a sieve, sprinkle with a little salt and allow to drain for 20 minutes. Dry the cucumber on kitchen paper put into a bowl and mix with all the other ingredients. Stir well and season to taste. That’s it……

Friday, 4 November 2011

Individual venison wellington........

Individual Venison Wellington with spinach, port and redcurrants

This is a beautiful dish and will impress whoever you serve it to; it takes a little time to prepare but cooks quickly. So don’t be put off by the recipe, just go for it...
The one thing to remember while using Venison is that it must be well hung, by this I mean, at least two weeks for a haunch and one week for a loin. This tenderises the meat making it easy to eat and giving it flavour.

7oz or 200g of loin of venison per person
1tblsp of olive oil
35g of good Irish butter
225g of button mushrooms, chopped as finely as possible
Puff pastry (good quality pastry can be bought, so take advantage of it)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tblsp of milk
Good quality black pudding, diced into small cubes
Salt and pepper

First season the venison pieces with salt and pepper and seal in a very hot pan until you get some colour on the meat on all sides. Leave aside to cool
Next make your mushroom stuffing by cooking the finely chopped mushrooms in the butter very quickly, add the chopped garlic, thyme and black pudding that has been diced into small cubes and cook out until all the liquid has evaporated, again let cool and set aside.
Now roll out the puff pastry a little bit and put a teaspoon of stuffing on top, place a piece of venison on this and add more stuffing, carefully wrap this up and egg wash the pastry to seal it. Turn it over and you should have a nice parcel. Again egg wash and leave to rest in a fridge for half an hour. Cook for 8 minutes in a very hot oven at 200 Celsius. Serve it on buttered spinach and a little sauce. Fantastic…

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Couscous, dates, almonds and mint......

Couscous is so easy to prepare and is a great store cupboard ingredient that can be whipped up at the last minute. This recipe uses dates but apricots or raisins can be used instead.
For 6 people, put 500g of medium ground couscous in a bowl, add three tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and a little white pepper, rub this in until the oil coats the grains.
Now gradually add 600ml of blood warm water. Leave it stand for ten minutes for the couscous to absorb the water. Break it up until nice and fluffy, that’s it, now all you have to do is add your other ingredients.
75g of chopped and stoned dates
4 tblsp of olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic chopped finely
75g of blanched almonds
2 tblsp of chopped mint
2 tblsp of chopped parsley
Juice and zest of two lemons
Salt and pepper

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Game On.....

Game in season

Not so long ago Irish people included a lot of game in their diet, it connected the city folk with the farming community in many ways. However during the last thirty years this has changed with intensive farming and cheep food. People started to eat a lot of bland chicken, beef, farmed fish and lamb. We almost turned our nose up at wild organic meat that did not come under the control of the multi nationals.
In the last few years this has changed and a lot of people are going back to the old ways of cooking and looking for the tastes of our fore fathers. Books have been written on how to cook Game and Chef’s are including more of it on their menus.
So this is an exciting time of year for a Chef, menu’s change to reflect the season, and we see the likes of Venison, Mallard, Pigeon, Grouse, Pheasant and Partridge all come to the fore. Thanks to good cooks and game dealers this fantastic natural food is becoming more popular.
The most important thing to remember while cooking game is not to overcook it; this dries it out and leaves it tasteless. Another good tip is not to overhang game birds, a day or two for a pheasant is plenty.
In my opinion the less you do to game the better it is, cook it simply with some seasonal vegetables and a little sauce and you have food fit for a King.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Plum Pudding time of year......

I don't like bringing up the Christmas word too early, but now is the time to start thinking about getting your Christmas pudding made and put away. This is a old tradition that should be kept up in my opinion, it really is worth the effort. So my friends here i a recipe that was handed down from my Grandmother Bridie Ryan from the Comeragh Mountains. She was a true lady, a good cook and an inspiration to me in many ways......

Kilbrien Christmas Pudding.

This recipe makes five puddings of about two and a quarter pounds each.

2 1/2 lb. raisins
l lb. plain flour
1 1/2 lb. sultanas
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lb. currants
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large cooking apple
2 tbs. orange marmalade
1 lemon
3/4 lb. home made mixed peel
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 oz. sweet Almonds
1 tsp. salt
2..oz. bitter almonds
1 lb. Barbados sugar
1 lb. suet
6 large free range eggs
1/2 lb. breadcrumbs.
1 pint of stout.

Preparation and Cooking.

Stone the raisins (unless seeded ones are used); Wash and dry sultanas,
currants and raisins; Remove any sugar from the peel and shred peel finely;
Blanch and chop the almonds. Make the breadcrumbs. Grate the apple and lemon
rind. Sieve the flour, salt, and spices into a basin large enough to hold all the ingredients.
Put all the prepared ingredients and sugar into the basin and mix thoroughly.

Beat up the eggs; squeeze the lemon, measure the stout. Add these to the dry
ingredients and mix to a soft dropping consistency. Leave over night before mixing

Bring a pan or streamer to the boil. Grease bowls or basins as well as covering paper.
Fill each bowl or basin and cover with grease proof paper and brown paper. Ensure the
paper is tied securely. (If a plastic bowl is used place a saucer in the pan of boiling water.
Boil for five hours at a simmer, replacing water as required. Remove and allow to cool and
store in a cool place.

Steam for one hour before serving.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tips on buying fish.......

Learning how to choose the best fish is probably the most valuable thing I can share with you. Great sea food is not about fancy technique and complicated cooking, it’s about keeping things SIMPLE. Shop well and relax about cooking, it’s meant to be fun.
Try to buy fish that looks fresh, bright and sparkling, the eyes should not be sunken in and dull, the gills should be bright red and not grey. The flesh should not look tired. Fresh fish does not smell of fish it should smell of the sea.
Get to know your fishmonger by name and build up a friendship with him, after a while he will understand what you want and the quality you expect. By doing this you are supporting local people and local business. Fish in supermarkets in my opinion is bad quality, expensive and often farmed and flown in from a foreign country. Cork airport is the biggest fish market in the country. (how sad is this?)
When you get your fish home, store it in the fridge, loosely cover it with a damp cloth, and eat it within 48 hours to enjoy it at its best.
A fish-rich diet will contribute to your well being. Those cultures that still eat large amounts of fish and shellfish, such as the Inuit’s and the Japanese, have consistently ranked high for good health, with far lower rates of cancer, heart disease and type -2 diabetes. So it is important to include as much fish in your diet as possible and of course be able to cook it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Roast cod with leeks, runner beans, parmesan and gubeen bacon.......

Cod stocks are low, but over the past few years I have noticed an increase in the size of it coming through the back door of the restaurant. Hopefully the EU fishing regulations are beginning to work because this fish if beautiful and should be treated with total respect.
This dish will also work with Haddock, Whiting or Hake, the key to a good fish dish is FRESH FISH and keep thing simple. So get the freshest of leeks, runner beans and local bacon if you cannot get your hands on gubeen.
(Serves 4)
2 medium leeks
50g of runner beans
200ml of cream
60g of smoked gubeen bacon
1 tblsp of grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and white pepper
1tsp of English mustard
Snipped chives
4 x 75g of fresh Cod fillets
Remove the root and tops of the leeks and split in half. Slice as finely as possible, wash under cold running water. For the runner beans, remove the strings from the side and chop them into fine slices on a slant across the bean. Place the leeks and beans into a saucepan and cover. Place them over a gentle heat and stir every few minutes, the cooking liquid will come from the leeks. This will take 4 to 5 minutes after which strain the juice off and put them back into the sauce pan with the cream, parmesan, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook for a further few minutes. This can be made in advance and reheated at ease.
Slice the bacon into lardons and fry in a little oil until it becomes crisp and beautifully golden, set aside.
Preheat the oven to the max temperature. Add some oil to a hot frying pan. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper and fry flesh side down until golden, 4-6 minutes. Just before turning add a good knob of butter and turn off the heat. Put the pan into the preheated oven for a further 3 minutes.
Place a good spoonful of the leeks and beans in the centre of a plate, sprinkle the bacon around and place the fish on top of the vegetables. Serve at once and enjoy the fruits of your labour

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Autunmal fruit.......

All my life i have been blessed to be surrounded by good food and most important of all a Mother who knew how to cook it. This time of year brings out the best in me with memories of jam being made and potted, field mushrooms being cooked in butter and milk, being forced as a child to eat the first of the herring and the taste of crab apple jelly.
This taste above all others reminds me of my childhood and to this day I am possessive of how many pots of jelly I have in my cupboard for the winter months. (It is good to share the fruits of your labour but not this one I am afraid). So I will give you the time honoured recipe and you can make your own, but hurry the apples are disappearing fast...

Brigid Quinn's Crab Apple Jelly

4 lbs of Crab Apples
4 pints of water
6 whole cloves
juice of two lemons

Wash the apples and quarter them (do not remove the skin or pips) and put them in a stainless pot with the water, cloves and peel of the lemons. Cook until reduced to a pulp, about half a hour. Turn the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted. Overnight is ideal.
Measure the juice into a large pan and allow 1 lb of sugar to every pint of juice. Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the pot. Bring to the boil and add the sugar. Stir until it has dissolved. Boil rapidly without stirring for about 10 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Test for setting and pot immediately.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Comeragh Mountain marinated and minted lamb skewers

With the up and coming GIY street feast being held in Waterford City on the 10th of September, I have been given the task of coming up with a few tasty bites for 750 people. This one is a little gem and is so, so tasty. The secret is the quality of the lamb and the boys at Comeragh Mountain lamb know their stuff……

For ten skewers you will need;
500g of diced Lamb
15ml of soya sauce, has to be Kikkoman soya
1tsp of roasted and crushed cumin seed
1tsp of roasted and crushed coriander seed
Juice of half a lemon
1 tblsp of fresh mint chopped
2tsp of local honey
1 tblsp of good olive oil

Place the diced lamb in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. This must marinade overnight so that the meat will take on the flavours. If using bamboo skewers soak them in water for at least an hour before treading the meat onto them. Cook on a hot bbq or a griddle pan for about four minutes. Serve the skewers with a little natural yogurt laced with freshly chopped mint…

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Its the simple things in life that make it work.......

I have been working in kitchen's for the past twenty years and have come across many young talented chefs, their passion, belief in what they are doing and their eagerness to learn sets them apart from the rest and in most cases catapults them to the top of their profession.
I have also learned that if you keep things simple in a kitchen, not try to invent the wheel but to use the best ingredients available is the key to good food. Unfortunately this knowledge takes time to amass and requires a lot of hard work to master. This job is a profession and in some cases a vocation, we work long hard hours for the pleasure of others so bear this in mind the next time you go out for dinner.
So this leads me on to last Sunday when I had the pleasure of eating in the Chop House, Lismore, Co Waterford where I had one of the best lunches I have eaten in a long time. Devilled lamb’s kidneys to start (pink, cooked to perfection) and Roast saddle back pig for main course (their own pigs) and sticky meringue with strawberries to finish. My ever youthful companion had home cured and smoked organic salmon to start, Roast McGrath’s beef for main course and a zingy lemon tart for dessert. This was simple food but what makes it stand out in my mind is that the ingredients were the best, it was cooked simply and without fuss by a young, talented up and coming Chef Robbie Krawczyk.
I guess my motto is “ Life is simple we should keep it that way”

Friday, 15 July 2011

Penne pasta with Irish smoked salmon, black pepper and parmesan cheese

Sometimes I am surprised at how easy a dish comes together and tastes like it took ages to cook, well here is a simple pasta dish I came up with in the confines of a small camper van with a two ring cooker. All I had was some good smoked salmon, parmesan cheese, black pepper and a tiny bit of cream. This my friends is easy but tastes of more.......
Boil the pasta al dente, strain when cooked and slice the smoked salmon into thin strips, pour the cream into the empty pasta pot, reduce it a little, add the salmon, black pepper, pasta and a good handfull of grated parmesan cheese, stir and serve at once. A little squeeze of lemon will help things along if you like.... Try it you will be going back for more......

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Piggy on a summers day........

My new dish is spit roast Piggy served in a Waterford Blaa with Tom Cleary's lettuce and some home made apple mayo...... What a way to go for a party, and that is exactly what I did on Sunday morning, got the pig on the spit just before 6am and cooked slowly over real wood for six hours and it was beautiful, tender, sweet, juicy and the crackling was to die for.
Piggy, Piggy all the way I say...........

Monday, 4 July 2011

Old School bacon belly and the mighty spud, tall ship style......

What a weekend, the city of Waterford came alive with the quay's going back in time to the sight of tall Ships of yesteryear. A fantastic event to host and the people of Waterford sensed a great deal of history and pride with over fifty tall ships docked on the river Suir.
And Quinn was asked to do a cooking demo on the Wylde Swan, a herring hunter from Holland. So with history in mind i cooked belly of bacon and colcannon for the ships crew and trainees.
Simple and delicious to do with old school flavours....
1 belly of bacon, (go for gubeen smoked belly if you can get it)
1 kg of British Queens new potatoes
1 head of cabbage
1/2 lb of good Irish butter
1 onion sliced and swetted off in butter
bunch of spring onions
First Boil the bacon for 45 minutes in a large pot, wash and boil the spuds until soft. Drain the belly and put it on a roasting tray. Roast it for 20 minutes in a hot oven.
To make the colcannon, mash the spuds up with the butter, and onions, cook the cabbage in the bacon water for five minutes, drain and stir into the potato with the chopped spring onion, check for seasoning and serve with a thick slice of smoked belly

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Best beef in the country.......

Bobby Flynn and his son's run the last independent abattoir in Waterford and his beef is some of the best in the country. He takes pride in what he does and passed on the knowledge to his sons, who in turn supply me with stunning beef. The cattle are hand picked and finished on his own farm before ending up in my kitchen, not once have i had a complaint about the beef at the castle, a true testament to the quality that this proud Waterford man produces.......

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Italians do it best......

After spending some time in Italy this summer I have come to the conclusion that the Italians know how to live life. Their culture, food, weather and the beautiful animated language they speak suite me, in fact it puts a smile on my face and enables me to cope with the Irish Summer and all that it brings.
My oldest Daughter Katie is Woofing near Piza at the moment and after a phone call to her Dad the other night I will not be expecting her home until August, the joys of being twenty one and carefree eh........
So here is a simple recipe that I cooked in a camper van overlooking the surfing beach in Levento north of Piza a few weeks ago. You have to try this one it is fantastic.......

Clams with thin spaghetti, garlic, pine nuts, basil and prosecco

Steam the clams in crushed garlic, finely chopped onion, basil, little white pepper, good knob of butter and a splash of processo ( drink the rest of the bottle with this dish). Boil the pasta and strain, mix the clams, juice and all the other bits with the spaghetti and serve at once.....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Puree's for colour and flavour

Chef's love puree's.....
Because, of the colour, flavour and texture it brings to a dish. My young and extremely hard working Sous Chef Dave has a knack with them and there is always a bit of banter between the two of us in regards to who makes the best puree. Apart from the white onion one I think he just shades it...... Not many Head chefs will admit to that eh.....
So here are two nice recipes to follow, one for Beetroot and the other for spinach

Beetroot Puree
300g of fresh beetroot
100ml of port
150ml of apple juice
50g lemon juice
pinch of white pepper

Wash the raw beetroot and wrap them in tin foil, place on a baking tray and cook in a preheated oven at 160c for one and a half hours. Remove the beetroot from the oven and let cool, peel and chop each one into eight pieces. Put them in a container with the port and apple juice and leave to marinate overnight.
Pour into a saucepan the next day and simmer until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds. While it is hot blend in a blender until smooth. Add the lemon juice and a little sugar if necessary.
This goes well with Duck, goats cheese, venison, pigeon, and anything else you want it to go with.

Spinach puree

400g of spinach
50g butter
150ml of chicken stock
white pepper
Pick the spinach leaves and remove the stalks, put them into a saucepan with hot chicken stock, butter, salt and the white pepper. Cook for a few seconds. Now pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
This puree is fantastic with fish, lamb and beef. But the best thing of all is that you can put it with what ever you like eating......

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A grower's paradise

This little country of ours is full of hidden treasures and recently I was lucky enough to be brought to one as a surprise, you could almost say it was a double surprise. In the middle of nowhere, up a small, narrow road with grass in the middle of it. No I was not digging for gold but looking for good food.
As I got out of the car I still had no idea where I was but was met by two smiling faces who informed me that I was in Gort Na Nain, Nohoval, Kinsale, Co Cork, and I was there for the night to eat dinner and sleep well.
Lucy Stewart and Ultan Walsh are the type of people that should be running this country, they had a vision, spent three years living in a mobile home while growing the most fantastic vegetables and fruit, they hooked up with Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and bingo their vision became reality.
They both work really hard on their nine acres of land growing asparagus, artichokes, sea kale, aubergines, peppers and lots more exciting vegetables and in the evening they cook and host beautiful meals. As a chef I really appreciate sitting down for dinner when someone else does the cooking, and boy can Ultan cook, beetroot ravioli to start with followed by polenta with sea kale, beans, roast garlic and red pepper sauce and to finish with short bread and strawberries, all of which the dynamic duo grew and cooked for me. Yes they grew all the food I eat that night within yards of where I was sitting. This is the way forward; the future of Irish food is in the hands of people like Ultan and Lucy.
So all I can say is look them up and look into the future………

Monday, 2 May 2011

Tongue tied

Recipes fascinate me, they give a look through a port hole of a specific time and place. I love reading old cook books and try to imagine what the food looks and tastes like in years gone by.

Recently i was going through a old book and came across a interesting dish involving a ox tongue and some mushrooms......
1.5 kg of uncooked ox tongue
1 carrot
2 onions
bouquet garni
300ml of dry cider
125g butter
125g mushrooms
1 tablespoon of flour
6 dry white wine
50g fresh white breadcrumbs

Buy the tongue pickled and soak it overnight in water. To cook the tongue, put it in a large pan with carrot, chopped, and one of the onions coarsely chopped. Add the bouquet garni, cider and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to the boil and skim and cover. Leave to simmer until the tongue is cooked about 2 hours. Remove to a dish and peel off the skin. Strain the stock into a jug.
To assemble the dish, slice the tongue and place in the bottom of a shallow, buttered oven proof dish. Cook the slice mushrooms in 30g of butter, season them and distribute evenly over the tongue slices. Cook the onion in 60g of butter in a small heavy pan, do not let the onions brown. Stir in the flour, cook for two minutes, add the wine and stock to make a thin sauce, then tip over the tongue slices.
Melt the last bit of butter, mix in the crumbs and spread on top of the dish. Bake at 190 degrees until the crumbs are nicely browned. Serve at once.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

enigma-way to eternity

Sometimes a piece of music can make all the difference. It can soothe the mind and soften the heart.....

Friday, 22 April 2011

Wild Garlic time of year.......

Paddy Ryan, a fantastic, young and passionate chef at the castle picking wild garlic on the Island
Go wild with garlic I say.... If you get the chance to get out this Easter and walk in the country side look out for wild garlic, it is every where. You will smell it before you see it so grab a bunch and bring it home and use the wild garlic in salads or make a pesto or puree with it to go with Chicken , pasta, soup or even fish. The white flowers taste delicious, look wonderful in salads and will impress your dinner guests.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

William Butler Yeats once wrote.....

The Herring are not in the tides as they were of old;
My sorrow for many a creak gave the creel in the cart
That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold;
When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

So it seems that fish have been in short supply for a while, if Mr Yeats was writing poetry about it seventy years ago......

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Dungarvan my home town.......

It is a wonderful feeling knowing that you come from a very special place. Waterford has everything, beautiful coast line, mountains, rivers and some of the best food in Ireland.
I spent the morning in Dungarvan, my Mum's home town, doing a cook off against four local Chefs, all top people. We were on stage in the Town Hall and I was amazed at the amount of folk that were up early to watch us cook against the clock. But what struck me most was the buzz around the town and this is because of the fantastic food festival that is on this weekend.
As a man who is passionate about local food and local producers this is a real tonic, and in my opinion its the way to go. Bring back the good old days when we all knew what we were eating.
Tomorrow there is a farmers market in the town square and if I were you I would not miss it for the world. My good friend Ted Burner is cooking up a storm with his pig roast and there will be many more fantastic producers selling their beautiful food.
We should be proud to be from such a beautiful part of the world......

Monday, 11 April 2011

Soul Surfing

Sometimes there is more to life than Cooking, check this out.......

Pastry Chef's 'they are like hens teeth'

Spring is a time of change and the Castle kitchens are no different than anywhere else, so its time to say good bye to our Pastry Chef who has worked with the rest of the team for the past two years. Shannon Ni Neill hales from the northern counties and has brought a great sence of fun with her, she has put her mark on the menu and created some exciting new dishes that have gone down well with the guests.
I have always said that cooking is an art while pastry is a science and it is very hard to get a good pastry chef.
I wish her the best of luck in her new role in Bodega.....

Monday, 4 April 2011

Healthy Brown Bread..................

We recently had a group of Italian slow food students stay at the castle, they were on a gastro tour of Ireland so I set up a bread making workshop for them in the kitchen where I was joined by Brendan Walsh of M&D bakery who made blaas for the students and my Mum, Brigid Quinn who demonstrated a very old bread recipe that has been in our family for many generations.
This recipe is for the brown bread we make at the castle, it is delicious, healthy and well worth making.....

Wholemeal Brown Bread
makes one loaf

400g of howards one way brown flour (coarse) (kells flour is also fantastic to use)
55g plain white flour
1tablesp of bran
1tablesp of wheatgerm
1tablesp of pumpkin seeds
1tablesp of sunflower seeds
1tablesp of linseed
1 level teasp of bread soda, sieved
1 teasp of salt
1teasp of soft brown sugar
1 free range egg
2 tablesp of sunflower oil
400ml of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 180c
Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a bowl and mix well, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid, mix well by hand, add more buttermilk if necessary, the mix should be soft and slightly sloppy. Pour into an oiled tin and bake for 60 minutes approx or until the bread in nice and crispy and sounds hollow when tapped

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Whats in the Pot? .........

Some days you come to work and have two few hours to get through your workload but you just put your head down and plough through it. Well today there were pot loads of pig's heads to boil, well hung cows tails to braize the spiky sea urchin to crack open.
What a mixture eh. I love it, all the messy bits and bobs that are so often overlooked have made their way onto the dining room table at the castle. The new season has arrived and the menu will reflect that, light, airy and colourful......

Beauty contest in the kitchen

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The men behind the kitchen wall.........

The boys that make it possible
Last night we received an award from the Restaurant Association of Ireland for the best hotel restaurant. This is fantastic news, all the hard work and sweat behind the scenes have paid off, and I know this means alot to the boys that work so hard to keep the standards high at the Castle.
The Kitchen crew has changed shape over the years, some amazing chefs have come and gone, they walk through the door raw and hungry to learn and leave with an understanding of what good local food is all about.
It is not fair to single out one particular chef for mention but my Sous Chef David Larkin a local lad with buckets of drive and determination deserves credit here. He started work on the Island many moons ago as a young raw talent.I once told him he could not cook a egg but boy can he cook now.
He stayed with me for four years and grew into what he is now before setting out for the bright lights of London to work with some of the best chefs there. After coming back home he worked in Dublin and slowly the draw of the Castle took hold and I am proud to say he is my right hand man. He inspires the rest of the crew with his stories of hard work and hard play and without Chefs like him the kitchens of this world would be a very dull place...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Mr Lobster is here to stay for the spring/summer season

They arrived today in a big yellow bucket, straight from the sea at Dunmore East. A true sign the weather gods are looking down on us favourably. Thanks to Martin Simpson who catches these fine creatures they are back on the menu.....

Braised lamb shanks with garlic, rosemary, root veg and chick peas.......

As a chef this is one of the most exciting times of the year, we are done with the dark days of winter, the lack of colourful produce and heavy food. Now that there is more light in the sky, we crave for new and exciting in season foods to put on our menu’s. And Lamb is one of these. I have being watching them being born for the last month as I drive to work, so here is a good recipe for one of the cheaper cuts of lamb.
This dish is truly delicious so give it a go and serve it up for your friends or family……..

Serves 4.
4 lamb shanks (ask for fore end shanks)
8 sprigs of rosemary
8 slivers of garlic
Salt and pepper

Braising ingredients
Splash of olive oil
2 carrots roughly chopped
2 celery stalks roughly chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
1 head of garlic
½ bottle of red wine
150ml of chicken stock
Sprig of thyme
Bay leaves
2 strips of orange peel

Splash of olive oil
110g streaky bacon
110g of finely chopped carrot
110g finely chopped celery
110g finely chopped onion
110g leek finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
2 sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of tarragon
1 tblsp of chopped rosemary
1 tin of chick peas drained
150ml of chicken stock.

Make two deep incisions in each of the lamb shanks and insert in each a sprig of rosemary and sliver of garlic. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a heavy sauté pan and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat until well browned. Add the red wine and bring to the boil, add the stock, herbs and orange peel, then place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours at 150c.
Meanwhile, make the sauce; heat the olive oil in a saucepan and brown the bacon in it. Then reduce the heat and add the carrot, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the tomatoes, herbs, chick peas and enough stock to half cover the beans. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour.
When the lamb has finished cooking, remove the thyme, bay leaf and orange peel. Taste and correct the seasoning. And serve with the sauce around the meat.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Curried parsnip soup

Curried parsnip soup is one of those soups that you either love or hate. But if you are into it here is a simple recipe for you to try. It is a warm,sweet soup worth the effort.....

50g of good Irish butter
110g onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
375g of parsnip, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of good curry powder
1.2 litres of chicken stock
150ml cream

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan; add the onion, garlic and parsnip, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a gentle heat until soft and tender. Stir in the curry powder and incorporate the stock. Simmer until the the parsnips is fully cooked, liquidise. Correct the seasoning and add the cream. As easy as that......

Monday, 7 March 2011

The mighty Leek.......

They are the national symbol for Wales, they are loved by the French, the English pour thick béchamel sauce over them, us Irish use them sparingly and the Scotch stew them for hours. So since it is rugby season and the might leek is in abundance and at its best, here is a recipe I want to share with you.
I first saw this being made in a famous London restaurant run by the great Simon Hopkinson. He believed that the leek was the “softy of the onion family” and they made the finest quiche.
Please do not be put off by the word quiche, if made with due care and with the right ingredients it is one of the most wonderful things to eat and share around a dining table with family or friends. So give it a go and you will have a lot of happy campers in your home.
The secret of a good leek tart is to sweat the leeks in plenty of butter for as long as possible until they are completely soft and wilted….

For the leek tart filling you will need;
110g good Irish butter
8 leeks, trimmed, split lengthways, washed and thinly sliced (white part only)
Salt and pepper
4 egg yolks
450ml cream
2 tblsp of chopped fresh tarragon
One 20.5 cm / 8 inch pastry case

For the pastry;
110g of plain flour
50g butter
1 egg yolk
A pinch of salt
First make the pastry, add the butter to the flour and rub in. Add the egg yolk, the salt and enough water to form firm dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible and use to line a 20.5cm / 8 inch tart or flan tin. Prick the bottom with a fork, and bake blind in the oven for 15 minutes or until pale golden brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a large pan and add the leeks. Season with salt and pepper and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly soggy. This could take up to one hour. Cool.
Beat together the egg yolks, cream, tarragon and seasoning and add to the cooled leeks. Stir well. Pour into the pastry case and bake for 20 / 30 minutes or until set and golden brown.
Serve with a nice green salad and enjoy……..

Q. tip. add a few tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese to the custard mixture if you want a added dimention....

David Oistrakh, Debussy - Clair de lune

Sometimes the music speaks for itself.....

Friday, 4 March 2011

A Mushroom or is it a Mushroom??

Just a little selection of Mushrooms what we get from Fancy Fungi in Wexford, another great small food business we are lucky to have in the Sunny South East

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Comeragh Mountain Lamb is the best there is.....

Heading west along the Cork Road you first get a glimpse of the beautiful Comeragh Mountains at Carroll's Cross. A haze of purple fills your eyes, as the heather glows in the sunshine. This is a special place for me for many reasons, I know the area like the lines on my hands and I was lucky enough to be shown every nook and cranny by my Grandfather who spent his life living and working among the Mountain. It is also the home of Willie Drohan who runs a farm at the bottom of Mahon Falls. He and his brother in law Aidan Dunwoody have started to market their lamb at Farmers Markets and good Supermarkets around the Waterford area.
“This is not factory lamb, they eat the heather and wild herbs which gives it such a unique flavour” were the words used by Willie, his forefathers have been farming the same land for generations and in my opinion the Lamb coming from this beautiful, unspoilt part of Waterford is the purest Lamb in Ireland.
So now that Easter is coming and Lamb will be in season, please look out for this and cook it simply. Try stuffing a leg with slivers of garlic, anchovies and sprigs of rosemary. The anchovy will disappear in the cooking and leave behind a lovely salty flavour. Or roast a rack until medium rare and serve with wilted spinach, roasted baby carrots and potato gratin. Simple food you will remember for a very long time.

Q. tip; to get your hands on Comeragh Mountain Lamb, try Ardkeen Food Store, Ardkeen Food Market (it is on every second Sunday) or Super Valu in Carrick on Suir.....

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Rhubarb, Rhubarb its all about the Rhubarb........

What is it about the first warm day of the year? It makes me think of the summer and long for the first fruits of the season. Well my friends when I got the first box of beautiful pink rhubarb through the back door of the castle this week I had a big smile on my face and could not wait to cook it.
So keeping to my belief that we should get the best of seasonal ingredients and cook it simply, here is a recipe for Rhubarb for you to try…………….
There is no need to peel the early rhubarb, the shoots are nice and tender and if you cook it carefully you will end up with a fantastic pink colour.
This is a recipe for rhubarb fool with a crunchy top, go for it and enjoy how simple it is to do and how great it tastes....

Serves 4
6 sticks of young rhubarb cut into inch lengths
125g sugar
250ml water
rind of one lemon
1/2 vanilla pod split down the middle
400ml of whipped cream

Hazelnut crumble
150g toasted hazelnuts, crushed
100g flour
150g demerara sugar
150g good Irish butter

First put the sugar, water, lemon rind and the vanilla pod into a stainless steel sauce pan and bring up to the boil, place the rhubarb into the hot liquid, turn off the heat and let the rhubarb in the pan until it becomes cold. Now whip up the cream and set aside.
To make the crumble, mix the toasted hazelnuts with the flour and sugar. Using your fingers, gently work the butter into the dry mixture. The mixture will become quite crumbly. Pour it onto a tray and bake it in a preheated oven at 160 c for fifteen minutes. Allow to cool then break up the mixture into crumbs with your fingertips.
To assemble the dessert gently fold the cooked rhubarb into the whipped cream and place this mixture into nice glassed, sprinkle the crumble on top and eat......

Friday, 4 February 2011

Martin Simpson shrimp risotto.......

Martin Simpson is one of those rare men that lives, breaths, work’s and loves the sea. He leaves the pier in Dunmore East early each morning in his half Decker while most of us are tucked up in our warm beds. His time is spent on his own catching beautiful lobsters, crab and shrimp which I have the privilege to cook at the Castle.

1 – 1.3 ltr of shrimp stock
50g butter
2tblsp of olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
400g of risotto rice
150ml of white wine
100g of fresh shrimp, cooked and peeled
50g of freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tblsp of chopped tarragon
Serves 6

First bring the stock to the boil and keep it simmering. Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan with the olive oil and add the finely chopped onion. Sweat gently for a few minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice and coat in the butter and oil, cook for 1 – 2 minutes and then add the white wine. As the rice absorbs the wine add the hot stock 150ml at a time, stir continuously and as soon as the liquid is absorbed add another 150ml of stock.
Continue to cook, stirring continuously. The heat should be brisk but not too high. The risotto should take about 15 minutes to cook.
After about ten minutes, reduce the additions of stock to about 4 tblsp at a time. The risotto is done when the rice is “al dente”. It should be soft and creamy and quite loose, rather than thick and dry. At this point stir in the peeled shrimp, tarragon, parmesan cheese and the remaining butter. Serve at once....

Monday, 31 January 2011

John Dory the King of Kings......

This Fish is one of the best in the sea, the meat is white and rich to eat and if you get the chance to buy it fresh, dont hesitate. Believe me you wont regret it.....
So, to do this King of Kings justice cook it simply, no messing around with fancy sauces, just fry it in good Irish butter, a few graefruit segments, some grapes and a little sweet white onion puree, what could be better than that?

You will need:
2 pink grapefruit or oranges
four 6 ounce fillets of John Dory
salt and pepper
good knob of butter
1 tea cup of halved seedless red grapes
2 tblsp of chopped chives
3 large white onions
1 cup of cream

First peel and slice the onions, put in a heavy bottomed pot with a good knob of butter and cook over a very low heat for 40 minutes. Be careful not to colour the onions, stir every few minutes and use a lid on the pot. Now add in the cream and season, puree with a hand blender and set aside.
Use a sharp knife to peel the grapefruit and gently tease out the segments, cut the grapes in half. Now heat a frying pan with a litte olive oil until it starts to smoke, quickly season the fish and place it flesh side down into the oil. Add the butter and once the fish takes on a lovely golden colour turn over at once. John Dory cooks very quickly so you have to work fast once the fish hits the pan.
Now decorate the plates with the grapefruit segments, sweet onion puree and grapes, place the fish in the middle and eat at once.....

Q Tip: When pan frying any fish, make sure the pan is very hot before the fish goes in...

Monday, 24 January 2011

Monday night @ the Castle........

A creative night at Waterford Castle with Sous Chef Dave Larken and myself......

Friday, 21 January 2011

Seaweed on the sea shore......

This morning was bright, cold and clear and I was lucky enough to be on the Copper Coast with my daughter Katie and Paddy Ryan, a chef at the Castle. We rocked up with wellies, woolie hats and little else but our purpose was to gain some knowledge from Grace O'Sullivan about seaweed. And boy did I come away with a greater understanding of whats under the sea and how good it is for you.

The tide was fully out as we clambered over the rocks to the waters edge where Grace pointed out Blue ray limpets, soft shell crabs and baby sea urchins. She picked Peppered Dillisk, Kelp and Sea Spaghetti for us to eat and the funny thing was once she pointed it out I could see this natural food everywhere.

The Japanese know the value of this iron rich food and I think our perception of it is changing. The old people knew how to cook with it, the chewed dillisk and made puddings out of carageen moss. We need to embrace it and bring seaweed into our own diets and i guarantee we will feel much better for it.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Spread a little Marmalade......

What is better than opening a jar of home made marmalade and spreading it on hot buttered toast, the taste, the smell and the joy you get knowing that you have made it yourself. Well here is a recipe for Seville orange marmalade, which are in season at the moment. My mum has used this same one for as long as i can remember.

Don't be fazed by it, roll up your sleeves and act quickly as the Seville orange will not be on the shelves for long.....

900g of Seville Oranges
2.3 litres of water
1 lemon
1.8 kg of granulated sugar

Wash the fruit and cut it in half, squeeze out the juice and put aside. Remove membrane with a spoon, put with the pips and tie them in a piece of muslin and soak for 1/2 hour in cold water. Slice the pity coarsely or finely depending on the way you like it. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a plastic bowl overnight.
Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.
Add the warmed sugar and stir well until the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil until setting point is reached. Testing to see if the marmalade is set by putting a bit of the hot liquid onto a cold saucer and let it cool for a few minutes, if it wrinkles when you push it with your fingers its done. Stir well and immediately pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover at once and store in a cool dry place.

Q. tip; this is worth making in bulk, just be careful not to over boil the sugar....

Friday, 14 January 2011

Passion wins out in the end

A week on the roads of the west of Ireland has thought me one thing; this country has some amazing passionate people. Martin who runs global village restaurant in Dingle, spoke to me about his produce, the fish that comes straight from the boats on the pier to the farmer who supplies him with his beef and in a throw away comment mentions that he bought two acres of land to grow vegetables for his restaurant. And not only that, he got a gardener in to show him how to do it properly. This is what we all should be doing, this is passion, this is real, this is food.

And on the other side of the Connor Pass i came across this young farmer, Thomas O'Connor, who has bought thirteen acres of land and grows all his produce organically for his organic shop in Tralee, ducks are for eating the slugs, pigs to plough the land and chickens to eat the grubs. Everything he grows is done bio dynamically, using the cycles of the moon. This man has a vision, this man has a passion or as someone called him a revolutionary.

These people should be treasured and supported by us, we need them more than they need us. So get out there and find your local treasures, buy their food, cook it with care, enjoy eating it and please tell other people about them.....

Monday, 3 January 2011

Woodcock the king of game

This is not a bird that you will come across much but if you do jump at the chance to prepair, cook and eat it. A neighbour of mine was out shooting in a local wood yesterday and shot a woodcock, i happened to be on the road when he passed, we exchanged seasonal greetings and i ended up with a woodcock. Not bad for saying hello eh..

It was plucked and cleaned out in minutes, I dressed it with Crows streaky rashers, roasted it for 15 minutes in a very hot oven and had it with cep risotto, roasted baby shallots and salad leaves. Fantastic is all i can say, the taste and texture were unbelievable. I would even go so far to say it is one of the best game bird i have ever eaten....
These little birds fly to Ireland from Russia to escape the icy winters and are well worth seeking out.......