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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A French Bistro Classic Quiche Lorraine


A French Bistro Classic, if made with the best of ingredients served slightly warm with a simple salad, it is comfort food at its best. I use individual tartlets for this with the salad piled high on top; it looks great as well as tasting fantastic.

Short crust pastry

1 whole egg
225g plain flour
110g good Irish butter

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, cut the butter into little cubes and rub into the flour with your fingertips until you form breadcrumb. Now add the egg and bring the pastry together, the pastry should be a little dry. Cover with cling film and place in a fridge for 20 minutes. This will rest the pastry and make it easier to handle.


Quiche Filling
Serves 6


130g of streaky bacon cut into small lardons
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil
120g very finely chopped onion
2 large free-range eggs
300ml double cream or half milk half cream
1 teaspoon of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon of finely chopped tarragon
60g grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and white pepper

18 x 3 cm quiche tin

Line the quiche tin with the thinly rolled out short crust pastry. Line the empty pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill it to the top with baking beans. Rest for 20 minutes in a fridge, then bake blind in a hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until the pastry is turning golden brown. Remove the beans, brush a little egg over the base to seal it and return to the oven for 1 minute.
Fry the bacon in a little oil until nice and crisp, dry on kitchen paper and set aside. Sweat off the finely chopped onion in a little oil, meanwhile whisk the eggs cream and milk together add the herbs, bacon and cheese, check for seasoning. Pour into the pastry case and return to the oven for 20 -30 minutes.
Serve warm with a nice green salad dressed simply with French dressing.





Monday, 3 December 2012

A day in the life of a chef

I did this a few months back and forgot about it until today, again its all about the producers and of course where the passion comes from..

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ardkeen Quality Food Stores


Since I am always going on about local suppliers and local food this is a taste of the real thing. The crew at Ardkeen Quality Food Store put this together and it sais it all, watch it.......

Monday, 26 November 2012

Whats up doc?


Rabbit Stew.

Rabbit was once a luxury for most families but over time it has disappeared from menus in Ireland. It is a beautiful meat to eat and great fun to cook. This recipe is a simple one so give it a try and watch your guests faces as they eat and rediscover a taste from times gone bye.

Serves 6-4
1 rabbit
350g streaky bacon
450g onions
350 carrot, peeled and sliced
700ml of good stock
Sprig of thyme
350g of mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon of parsley

Joint the rabbit into 8 pieces and set aside. Cut the bacon into neat lardons and in a pan sauté until crisp, transfer to a casserole.
In the same frying pan sauté the rabbit pieces until nice and golden, add to the bacon. Sauté the onion and carrot in a little butter and again add to the casserole, deglaze the sauté pan with stock, bring to the boil and pour over the rabbit pieces. Add the thyme and season well and place in an oven for 30 -45 minutes at 170 degrees.
When the rabbit is cooked strain off the cooking liquid and pour into a pan. Bring to the boil and reduce. Add back to the meat and sauté the mushrooms and add to the meat and stock, now add the cream and parsley and serve at once.









Sunday, 25 November 2012

SUPPORT LOCAL

We hear this slogan everywhere "support local", but the thing is, if we don't we will be in danger of loosing our food heritage to big global food corporations. We in Ireland have the best of raw ingredients in the world, we have some of the best farmers, best chefs and a passion for food that has to be harnessed and the only way we can do this is by supporting local butchers, fish mongers, grocers, bakers and anyone else that is involved in creating great food for us to eat.
I came across a fantastic product this week made by a brilliant woman, Julie Calder-Potts, its Irelands answer to maple syrup. A thick pure organic apple syrup made in Highbank Orchards in Co. Kilkenny (www.highbankorchards.com) this stuff will go with almost anything, roast pork, porridge, pancakes, ham, and I recon it would be a match made in heaven with pan fried herrings coated in oats. So if you see it buy it and support local.
Another local man who is in business 30 years this week is Billy Murphy, a old time butcher with old time values, he seeks out his own cattle and butchers them to sell in his shop in Waterford Shopping Centre. He goes about his business quietly keeping quality meat and serving loyal customers. His son Aidan Murphy spent two years rattling pots and pans in the Kitchens at the castle learning a trade which he now applies in the cook shop at his fathers butchers shop. So again if you are in the area go in and ask Billy for some of his own beef, you will not be disappointed...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Sally Barnes smoked haddock risotto, poached hen's egg, tarragon, parmesan and lemon

Sally Barnes is a living legend in the smoky world of fish; she is talked about in the finest restaurants both in Ireland and abroad. I love her stuff, I love the way she cares about what she does and above all I love her simplicity. She started Woodcock smokery many years ago with a tea chest and a few fresh Salmon, now she exports her smoked Salmon, mackerel, kippers and tuna to every corner of the country. This is a dish to honour this great woman who I have the pleasure of calling a friend. Serves 6/8 1 – 1.3 litre of chicken stock 50g of good Irish butter 2 tblsp of olive oil 1 large onion, finely diced 400g of good quality risotto rice 150ml of white wine 150g of Sally’s smoked haddock 50g of freshly grated parmesan cheese Juice of half a lemon 2 tblsp of chopped tarragon 1 tblsp of snipped chives 6 poached free range hens eggs First bring the stock to the boil and keep it simmering. Melt half the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the olive oil, add the finely diced onion. Sweat gently until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice and coat in the butter and oil, cook for 1 – 2 minutes and then pour in 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, repeat this process until the rice is cooked. About 15 minutes. 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 remainder of the butter, smoked haddock, tarragon, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Serve at once with a poached hen’s egg sitting on top. Delicious.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Viva Italia

The early morning May sun rises and starts to heat up Levento, a small town on the edge of the Cinque Terre. I hear the footsteps of the local mama’s heading to the bakery to buy the first crisp bread of the day. Butchers eagerly cut up prime mussel of fine Italian beef; the fish monger displays his glissing fish on ice with a smile. The green grocer with cigarette lighting and eyes heavy with bright blue eye shadow arranges her seasonal vegetables in a beautiful display wordy of any florist. This story has been played out for generations. It’s a story about food and culture. The town folk of Levento cherish their early morning walks, they chat and purchase their provisions for the coming day. In the shadows of the evening light, fresh pasta is sold by the gram. Two men busy rolling, kneading and shaping all kinds of soft yellow dough. This is food, woven into the very fabric of these people. They know how to cook simply and perfectly. They know what is in season and what to look for; they have not lost touch with their forefathers. Knowledge will be passed on to the young people who in turn will also pass this precious gift on to the next generation. Our food, some of the best in the world is being exported all around the world to people who will pay premium prices for it. Why does the bulk of it not stay here for us to enjoy? Many Irish people have lost the art of cooking, all too reliant on readymade meals. We eat alone, on the hoof; we have no time to sit down at a table with our loved ones. Our small traditional bakeries are closing; butchers can no longer slaughter their own animals because of stupid and costly regulations. Our airports have become our fish markets, importing all kinds of farmed fish while our native fish is enjoyed in Paris, Milan and Barcelona. An English supermarket chain has taken a strangle hold on our food and we go like sheep to support it. This is wrong on so many levels. We have to seek out our small local retailer, the local butcher, baker, fish monger and green grocer and support them before it is too late. We need to take back our food and culture and be proud of it and enjoy it.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rhubarb Rhubarb

I love it, the colour, the smell and above all the taste, Rhubarb. Its old school, its new school, it finds its way onto the best of menu's this time of year and also ends up on the dinner table at home. So it’s about time I gave you a simple recipe for the classic of all classics, Rhubarb and Custard, oh yeh..... This is the time of year to find the young shoots of rhubarb and the most important thing is not to add any water when cooking this delicious fruit, just let it stew in its own juices. You can add the zest of an orange as well it will give the rhubarb a little extra. Serves 6; 750g of young rhubarb Zest of two oranges 180g castor sugar For the custard 250ml milk 250ml of cream 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways 6 free range egg yolks 100g castor sugar Cut the rhubarb in 4cm lengths carefully. Put into a stainless steel pot over a very low heat, now add the orange zest and sprinkle the sugar over the whole lot. Put the lid on and stew for 15 minutes. Have a look now and then and give the pot a shake about; try not to stir as this will break up the rhubarb. It is cooked, simple as that, now for the custard.. Heat the milk and the cream with the vanilla pod in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk for a few seconds to get the vanilla seeds released into the liquid. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together and pour the hot milk and cream over this, whisking as you go. Return to the saucepan and cook over a very low heat stirring all the time until it thickens. That’s it now all you have to do is pour your custard over the rhubarb and enjoy..............

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A true Legend of Irish Cuisine

It all started in the early 90's, I was a young man who needed to provide for his daughter and to be honest hadn't a clue how to do so. I had always cooked at home for my folks and could even make a better sponge cake than my Mum, a hard thing to do as she is one of the best cooks I know.
After many months of soul searching and an off the cuff comment by my Mother I called Ballymaloe and asked Darina Allen for some advice. Funnily enough she told me to go to Waterford Castle and ask the Chef there for a night or two in his kitchen. A few nights later I was in the thick of it, but knew straight away what i wanted to do. Six years later I arrived back to Waterford Castle as Head Chef.
I went to Ballymaloe Cookery School for three months and on my final day Myrtle Allen took me on to work in Ballymaloe House where i spent a fantastic four years, cooking, learning and working as hard as I could. She was and is a true inspiration to me. I was sent off to London to some of the best restaurants with a black note book and told not to come back until it was full of ideas. I remember her asking for the book once i arrived back to the kitchen. We went through the ideas and some of them made the menu in the House. I was thrilled.
So today she arrived with her whole family for lunch to celebrate her Birthday and I had the pleasure to cook her some of my food which is still deeply rooted in the Myrtle Allen's way.




Tuesday, 31 January 2012

When is a sausage not a sausage.....

As a nation we love a good sausage, they are eaten first thing in the morning, for lunch and even for dinner. People like Jane Russell, Crowe brothers and the Rudd's make some of the best sausages in the Country using the best pork they can get their hands on. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING THAT HAS LESS THAN 80% PORK MEAT. The day of big companies using fillers to make it cheaper to produce sausages are over. And its up to us not to support these bad boys, as I always say, look after the small producer they have food ethics and wont disappoint with the lack of flavour.
So here is a simple recipe to make your own sausages, try it they are delicious..

Makes 12-16 sausages
These are very easy to make and can be used for all sorts of things, little bites before dinner with a glass of wine or two, served as a starter with a dipping sauce or as suggested here as a main course with creamy mashed spuds.
450g of free range pork belly
4 tablespoons of finely chopped mixed herbs, thyme, parsley, tarragon, sage and rosemary
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 egg
6 prunes chopped finely
60g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Mince the pork using a course grinder, or get your butcher to do the job for you. Chop the herbs finely, crush the garlic and whisk the egg, now mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season well.
Divide the mixture into sixteen pieces and roll out into sausages. Fry them in a little oil until golden on all sides; serve with apple sauce and a bowl of creamy buttery champ potato.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Cassoulet without the drama.....

Last Saturday morning I stood on a alter watched by a full congregation of healthy food lovers and I enjoyed it. Yes an alter in a church. I was asked to do a healthy food cooking demonstration for the Row Practice in the old Presentation Convent in Waterford. The surprising thing is that I think it was the best demo I have done to date, Devinne inspiration eh.....
Anyway, back to the real world, this is a simple recipe for the famous Cassoulet make easy, give it a go it is beautiful....

This is one of those dishes you eat while on holidays and love the simplicity of it but might be afraid to make it once you return home. Yes there is a bit of work in it but once it goes in the oven you can forget about it. It’s done; all you have to do is serve it with some crunchy bread and a nice green salad. Cooking at its best…

Serves 10
1 kg of haricot beans
1 carrot
1 onion
Bouquet garni
300g streaky bacon
55g duck fat
3 onions thinly sliced
8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1.2 litres of chicken stock
4 duck legs
450g shoulder of lamb cut into thick cubes
4 Toulouse sausages
50g bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Soak the haricot beans overnight in plenty of cold water, next day drain off the water and put the beans in a sauce pan with the chopped carrot, onion and bouquet garni and cover with water. Cook for ½ hour or until the beans are ¾ cooked, drain and discard the vegetables, set aside.
Cut the bacon into 1 inch squares, heat the duck fat and fry until beginning to turn brown, add the onions and the garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and a bouquet garni, now add the stock and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the duck legs, lamb and sausage; finally put the beans on top. Bring the Cassoulet to the boil, spread the breadcrumbs over the top and place the lid on the pot, put into a slow oven (150 degrees or gas 2) for 1 ½ hours or until all the meat is nice and tender.
A crust should have formed on top of the stew, serve at once.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sauces..

The cook as alchemist
"A pinch of this, a pinch of that - the creative process is bewitching. A flame licks up from the pan containing the bubbling, steaming potion, illuminating the sagacious face of the saucerer. He inhales the fumes laden with the first aromas. His imagination is fired as he conjures up the magic of his sauce" Michel Roux