Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

If you have some ready-rolled puff pastry in the freezer and a few leftovers in the fridge you can make an easy and delicious tart for supper. My friends might have been more impressed if they hadn’t seen me assemble it in 3 minutes flat before turfing it into the oven! Try this with anything you fancy on the top, though a bit of cheese is a must.

Onion & Taleggio Tart – to serve 4

  • 6 smallish onions
  • 50g butter
  • a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry (about 200g)
  • 120g Taleggio
  • thyme

Peel the onions and cut into wedges. Put them into a shallow pan with the butter and cook over a fairly low heat until they are soft, golden and sticky. This will probably take about 40 minutes or so.

Heat the oven to 220ºC/Gas 7. Unroll the pastry onto a lightly floured baking tray. Score a border about 2cm from each edge and prick all over with a fork.

Tip the onions on to the pastry, pushing them almost to the border. Brush the rim with some melted butter or some of the onion butter if there is some left in the pan. Slice the cheese thinly, then break it into small pieces, and distribute these through the onions. Scatter over some picked thyme leaves. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Serve with a green salad.

Wine Suggestion: this calls for a white wine from the mountains: try an oaked Chardonnay from the Jura or if you want something amazing look out for the “Vigna della Oche” Riserva from Fattoria San Lorenzo in the Marche, Italy; a fantastic and truly amazing Verdicchio – a white wine that lasts a decade or two and just becomes more and more complex and complete.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater’s Appetite, Fourth Estate, 2001.)


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This is our classic party dish – so popular that we have to fight to get a taste when we serve it in a buffet! We’ve just made it this weekend for our friends Nicola and Dave’s housewarming. Just to make sure we got some ourselves we made a little extra for the next day. So for all our friends that have asked … here’s the recipe 🙂

Simple Baked Lasagne – serves 6 but easily doubled (which can easily serve 20 or more strangely enough …)

  • 4 rashers pancetta or smoked bacon, finely sliced
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 generous handfuls of whole, fresh herbs (use your own mix of sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme)
  • 400g shin of beef, or skirt, coarsely minced
  • 200g pork belly, skin removed & coarsely minced
  • 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
  • 250ml red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 butternut squash, halved, deseeded and roughly sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, bashed in a mortar & pestle
  • 1 dried red chilli, also bashed
  • 400g dried, ready to cook lasagne sheets
  • 400g mozzarella

For the white sauce:

  • 1 x 250ml tubs of crème fraîche
  • 3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls freshly grated parmesan
  • a little milk

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

If you are making a double quantity you may want to cook the meat sauce in two quantities as it will be easier to manage unless you have a very large casserole pot. You can also make the meat sauce in advance which makes entertaining easy –  a simple assembly and cook on the night!

In a large casserole pan slowly fry the pancetta or bacon and the cinnamon until golden, add the onion, carrot, garlic and herbs and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Once mixed together add the beef and pork and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, wine and bay leaves and then bring to the boil. Wet some grease-proof paper and place it on top of the pan and then place a lid on top of this as well to complete the seal. Cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

While this is cooking rub the butternut squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bashed coriander seeds and chilli. Place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking the sauce. When you remove the sauce check that the squash is cooked and slightly caramelising; if not leave in oven until done.

When sauce is done season and put to one side. Mix together crème fraîche, anchovies, a handful of parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Slowly add enough milk while mixing until the sauce becomes loose and smooth. Don’t make it too runny!

Turn oven up to 200C / 400F / Gas 6. To assemble lasagne rub a large dish, or deep tray with olive oil, lay some sheets of lasagne over the bottom (and drape over the sides too if you are using fresh lasagne). Add a layer of meat, a little white sauce, a sprinkle of parmesan and then top with another layer of lasagne sheets. Make a complete layer with the butternut, topping it again with lasagne sheets. Repeat the meat, white sauce and parmesan layers. Finish with a layer of pasta covered in white sauce. Tear over the mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan.

Cook for 30-35 minutes and until golden. Watch the hordes descend.

[Inspired by Jamie Oliver: Jamie’s dinners, Penguin 2006]

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Rugby World Cup Brunch

This is a bit more exciting than your regular cheese and toast and it’s easy to throw together with one eye on the match. We don’t usually buy  sliced pan bread but admit it has its purposes and this is definitely one of them (bacon butties is another). Maybe we’ll try and cook something green for the next match.

Chilli Cheese Toast – to serve 2

  • approx. 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 10g onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small tomato, finely chopped
  • a little bit of sliced green chillies – or more if you like
  • 1 tsp finely chopped coriander
  • 2 slices of bread
Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Mix together all the ingredients except the bread. Pile the mixture on top of the bread and bake for a few minutes until crisp and turning brown at the edges.
(Idea from Anjum Anand Indian Food Made Easy, Quadrille, 2007.)

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Irish SaladThis caprese salad is made from all Irish ingredients – even the mozzarella (fellow Dubliners can pick some up in Fallon & Byrne). Perfect for what will probably be one of our last sunny lunches for this year.

Caprese di Mozzarella – serves 2

  • mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tomatoes, sliced
  • basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
Drain the cheese and cut into thin slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in concentric rings on a nice plate. Sprinkle with basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt (salt is a necessity here!).

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This is not a recipe – more an idea for something to throw together when you need a snack… like after you’ve had a few pints in the pub or a long day at work in our case (unfortunately).

It’s a bit of an odd combination but scatter some thin slices of Manchego cheese, a few chunks of avocado, and a few sliced jalapenos from a jar over one half of a soft tortilla. Fold the other half over and griddle (or fry) for 1 minute on each side (pushing down hard so you get nice griddle marks and the cheese melts).

Et voila – bit like a posh toastie!

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Proper blog to follow but for all the Irish Foodies doing the Cookalong this evening here is our Winter Warmer – really rich and seriously tasty!

Serve with crusty bread and Man O’War wine.

Last night we took part in our first Irish Foodies cookalong. Check out the Irish Food Bloggers Association website for more information. We only heard about this on Wednesday and didn’t think we could take part as we were determined to cook prawns (as our freezer was full of them). Also the theme was Winter Warmers which to us means pie or stew or pumpkin or chestnuts, but not prawns. Still never ones to turn down a challenge (and not wanting to miss out on all the fun) we set about finding a Winter Warming prawn dish and I think we managed it with our Baked Prawn Casserole (from Vefa’s Kitchen).

We were at a fabulous Lustau Sherry tasting on Thursday night which inspired us to have some nibbles and Sherry to start (see post below) – all very festive.

Baked Prawn Casserole (to feed 6 but there was 4 of us and we managed to finish it)

  • Put 1.5kg peeled prawns into a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of water, bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and keep the liquid.
  • Melt 60g butter in a pan and add a large chopped onion, cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Add a sliced carrot and a green pepper cut into thin strips, cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Whizz up a tin of tomatoes until smooth and pour into the pan along with the reserved prawn liquid, season, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C and brush and ovenproof dish with oil.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and stir in 250g crumbled feta and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley.
  • Spoon the prawns over the base of the prepared dish and pour the sauce over them.
  • Sprinkle with 150g diced Gruyere and a pinch of cayenne pepper and dot the top with butter of drizzle with some olive oil.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, until the  top is lightly browned.

We served this in bowls with some crusty bread for mopping up all the lovely sauce.

Our guests brought us a bottle of Valhalla Chardonnay 2009 from Waiheke Island, New Zealand (which has just arrived this week in O’Brien’s). The wine worked perfectly as it had the weight to pair with the richness of the dish.

Aren’t we lucky!


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Our favourite cheese shop

We can eat cheese forever … but we try to restrain ourselves … sometimes

Our friend Antoinette opened a cheese shop (Clydesdale & Morrow) a while back and has completely immersed herself in everything cheese! It is so great to see someone eat, breathe and sleep their passion and you cant help being drawn into it as well. BUT it doesn’t help that we’d eat cheese all day, every day, anyway 🙂

Saturday’s delights were:

Each cheese Antoinette chose was perfect for eating now:

  • the Delice de Bourgogne was soft, creamy and smooth;
  • the Wiston Bassett Stilton had a classic salty and creamy core; and,
  • the Little Black Bomber, again creamy, had a great tang that made the flavours sing.

Each matched the other so that we just had to keep on trying a bit of the next one on the board …

Thanks Antoinette

ps. Clydesdale & Morrow is opposite Marks & Spencers on the Lisburn Rd in Belfast – check it out

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