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.