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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Potato & leek soup with smoked Gubbeen cheese & chives

This is no ordinary leek and potato soup but rich and complex with a subtle smoky flavour from the cheese. We’ve been cooking from Gill Meller’s latest book, Time, and the recipes are stunning.

This is the kind of soup that goes well with Northern Irish Wheaten Bread.

Leek & Potato Soup with Smoked Gubbeen & Chives – serves 4

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 3 floury white potatoes (about 350g), peeled and cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 3 medium-large leeks, sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots or 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g smoked Gubbeen (Gill suggests smoked Cheddar or goat’s cheese), grated, plus extra to serve
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped

Bring the stock to the boil in a large heavy pan. Add just a third of the potato, bring the stock back to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes, or until the potato cubes are tender. Add a third of the leeks and cook for a few minutes to soften, then drain the vegetables in a colander set over a bowl to catch the stock.

Return the pan to a medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil. When bubbling, add the onion, garlic and thyme leaves. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, then add the remaining leeks and potato to the pan, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 3-4 minutes, then add the reserved stock and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cook the soup for about 15 minutes or until the leeks and potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan. Add the cooked leeks and potatoes from earlier, along with the cream, grated cheese and chopped chives. Season again, then put back on the heat and bring slowly to a simmer. Stir well, remove from the heat, and stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with some extra cheese, chives and seasoning.

(Original recipe from Time: A Year & a Day in the Kitchen by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Situated at 100m above sea level in the Spanish Pyrenees is a remarkable vineyard set up by Miguel Torres’  long-serving technical director, Raül Bobet. Ekam is Riesling fermented in ancient, gravity fed, granite vessels carved into the rock and this has a profound effect on this wine. The aromas have a striking grapefruit and kerosene character which follows onto the palate which combines the fruit flavours with a multi-layered texture of stones, minerality and a touch of smokiness. This is a wine that refuses to be a wall-flower but at the same time is precise, pleasurable and engaging.

Ekam balances bold dryness and a good weight with concentrated fruit, mostly grapefruit, and a very long length. At 5 years of age on tasting this wine is still youthful and vibrant. It doesn’t seem to carry much (if any) residual sugar and relies on depth and personality.  The over-riding character is the grapefruit and minerality with the fruit is always to the forefront.

This is a wine we’d want to taste over the next few decades just to see it develop and unlock it’s potential. Well worth seeking out.

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Crab & Sweetcorn Soup

This soup is absolutely delicious and super simple to throw together. We made a main meal out of it by serving it with some shop-bought spring rolls. Try and use freshly ground white peppercorns if you can as they give a subtle spiciness that works really well with the aromatic ginger.

Crab & Sweetcorn soup – to serve 4

  • 125g white crabmeat
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock
  • 2.5cm knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 225g tinned sweetcorn, pulsed to a rough purée in a food processor
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

Lightly beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the egg whites to the crabmeat along with the blended cornflour and stir well.

Put the stock and ginger into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the sweetcorn and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for a few minutes. Add the crabmeat mixture and some seasoning. Let it simmer gently and keep stirring for a few minutes until the soup has thickened. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Serve in warm bowls with the scallions scattered over the top.

Wine Suggestion: We didn’t actually try this but, having discussed it at length, we reckon an Austrian Grüner Veltliner might work here. Grüner has a savoury peppery character which should complement the peppery flavour of the soup. You don’t want it to be too heavy though so go for one that is no higher than 12.5% alcohol.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen: Recipes From the F Word, Quadrille.)

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This is a really good veggie lasagne filled with curly kale and garlicky mushrooms – delicious! It is also much easier to put together than the usual meaty version and tastes much more luxurious.

Kale and mushroom lasagne – to serve 6

  • 300g curly kale, stalks removed
  • 30g butter
  • 500g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 175g lasagne sheets (fresh if possible)
  • 20g Parmesan, grated
  • olive oil

For the béchamel sauce 

  • 750ml full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Heat the milk with the bay leaf, onion, celery and peppercorns until almost simmering. Take off the heat and leave aside to infuse.

Roughly shred the kale. Put into a large saucepan and just cover with cold water. Add salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, or until just tender. Drain well and set aside.

Heat half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the mushrooms and season. Increase the heat and fry, stirring, until the liquid released has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown and caramelise. Stir in half the garlic and half the thyme, cook for another minute, then remove to a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and set aside.

Gently reheat the milk, then strain. Heat the butter for the béchamel in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat. Add about a quarter of the hot milk and beat vigorously until smooth. Add the rest of the milk in about 3 batches, until you have a smooth sauce. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for  a few minutes, stirring and allowing the sauce to bubble gently, until thickened. Stir in the mustard, then season well.

Stir roughly half of the béchamel sauce into the kale.

Spread half the remaining sauce over the bottom of an ovenproof dish (approx. 28 x 22cm). Layer a third of the lasagne sheets in the dish, then spoon the kale over the top. Add another layer of lasagne, then add the mushrooms,. Finish with a final layer of pasta and the rest of the sauce.

Scatter the cheese over the top and add a trickle of oil. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. Serve right away.

Wine Suggestion: We went for a red Burgundy from a lesser appellation (Santenay) in Burgundy with five years of age. It had a delightful earthiness and red forest fruit character which really complemented the flavours of the mushroom and kale.

(Original recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday!, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011.)

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This is a really straightforward curry and we are glad to say it didn’t disappoint. The aubergine melts in the mouth and the spices are lovely and fresh as well as warming and comforting. Also takes no time at all to make.

Aubergine Curry with Lemongrass & Coconut Milk – serves 4

  • 3 large chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsn ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2-3 aubergine (approx 600g) quartered lengthways then halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Fish Sauce (nam pla)
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Pulse  to a coarse paste chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. Set aside

Mix the turmeric and chilli powder together and rub it all over the aubergine wedges. Don’t worry if it look like a lot of spices – it works!

Heat olive oil in frying pan and brown aubergine in batches, setting the aubergine aside when done. Add the paste, sugar and shallots to pan and cook for a few minutes until the shallots and garlic soften.

Return aubergine to pan. Add fish sauce, coconut milk and stock, mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes and until aubergine is tender but not mushy. Season and sprinkle coriander on top.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Drink with: a aged Clare Valley riesling (at least 5 or six years old) or a fruity young Mosel Riesling.

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One of those memorable dishes that combines flavours and textures to capture the Sicilian sun and bring it to a grey and wet Dublin summer evening; magic.

Timballo di Maccheroni (Baked Pasta with Aubergine) – serves 6

  • 3 Aubergine, see if you can get the round, pale violet ones for authenticity
  • sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g rigatoni, or penne rigate
  • 60g caciocavallo, or pecorino cheese, grated

Thinly slice the Aubergine, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a colander for at least 2 hours. Squeeze lightly to get rid of excess liquid.

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4.

Grease a round cake tin with the unsalted butter; we used one that was 23cm wide and 3.5cm deep. put in 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs and shake and turn the dish so that that they stick to the butter and line the dish.

Heat about 6mm of olive oil in a deep frying pan and sauté the aubergine slices in batches until lightly coloured. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper. Using about three quarters of the aubergine cover the base and sides of the breadcrumbed tin. Make sure that you overlap the slices so that there are no gaps.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat until soft, but not coloured. Add the tin of tomatoes and season with salt. Cover with a lid and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.

While this is cooking bring a pan of water to the boil, salt well and cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the packet instructions, so that it is still al dente. Reserve some cooking water and then drain the pasta.

Spoon a layer of the pasta into the aubergine lined tin followed by tomato sauce, a layer of the aubergine and a layer of grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining pasta, tomato sauce, and a final layer of aubergine. Finish with the remaining breadcrumbs to form a coating on the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes and until golden.

Let stand for about 10 minutes. This will allow the dish to firm up.

Put a plate over the top of the tin and holding both the plate and dish firmly, turn both over together so that the Timballo turns out onto the plate. Serve in wedges.

Serve with: a southern Italian red like Nero d’Avola or Negroamaro, both of which have a satisfying earthiness but aren’t too heavy for the flavours in this dish.

NB. if you’d like to make your own breadcrumbs, which is both easy and satisfying, then remove the crusts from stale bread, slice and put it on a baking tray in an oven at 80C for an hour to dry out. Either grate and sieve the dried bread (which gives a more random and authentic look) or blitz in a blender.

(Original recipe from Georgio Locatelli: Made in Sicily, Fourth Estate, 2011.)

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The peaches at the moment are really tasty so we’re gorging on them while they’re in season. Here are two easy and delicious dessert recipes to distract ourselves from just eating the peaches fresh.

Baked peaches with an almond crust – to serve 4

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 50g almonds – no need to skin
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 45g butter

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Cut the peaches in half, remove the stones and put them in a shallow baking dish cut-side up.

Blitz the almonds in a food processor until you have a coarse rubble. Add the sugar and butter and mi again briefly.

Spoon the almond mixture on top of the peaches and bake for about ¾ of an hour or until the peaches are super-soft and the topping is crispy. Pour a little double cream over to serve.

Baked peaches with maple syrup and vanilla – to serve 4

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • juice of a lime

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Cut the peaches in half, remove the stones and put in a shallow baking dish cut-side up.

Pour the maple syrup into a bowl. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add to the maple syrup along with the lime juice. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the peaches are really soft. Baste them occasionally while they cook.

Drink with: a fragrant and slightly frothy Moscato d’Asti from the Piemonte region in Italy. Moscato is a completely under-rated wine that is fruity and light (about 5% alc.) and won’t overwhelm the dessert. We find that Moscato is quite often a much better match for fruit based desserts than traditional, much sweeter, “dessert” wines.

(Both recipes are adapted from Nigel Slater’s Tender: Volume II, Fourth Estate, 2010.)

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