Posts Tagged ‘Denis Cotter’

We love turnips (or swedes as the rest of the world calls them) and think that they deserve a bigger part of the limelight. This puts them centre stage and celebrates their earthiness and sweet character. This recipe comes from Denis Cotter, of Café Paradiso in Cork, and like many of his dishes it is pretty sweet for a savoury dish and has the potential to divide your dinner guests. Our guest is not usually a fan of turnip but she loved this dish.

Swede & Leek Gratin in Maple Cream with Sage & Walnut Crust – serves 4-6

  • 1 large swede
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthways and well washed
  • 30g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 250ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup

For the crust: 

  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 50g white bread
  • 50g walnuts
  • 30g butter

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas mark 2.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Peel and quarter the swede, then chop into slices about 5mm thick. Simmer in the water for 10 minutes, then remove and partly cool them in a bowl of cold water. Drain and set aside.

Chop the leeks into 2cm pieces. Melt the butter in a large pot, over a high heat, add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes. Add the thyme and white wine, and boil for 1 minute, then pour in the cream and maple syrup. Bring back to the boil and then take off the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Grease an oven dish with butter and arrange a layer of swede slices on the bottom. Spoon a third of the leeks on top and cover with another layer of swede. Repeat to get 3 layers of each, finishing with the leeks. Press firmly on the top and put the dish in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

To make the crust: put the sage, chives and bread in a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Add the walnuts and butter and pulse briefly to chop the walnuts coarsely.

Increase the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Scatter the sage and walnut topping over the gratin and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Wine Suggestion: You’ll have some wine left in the bottle you used for this dish. A dry chenin would be good as it will carry the earthy and sweet characters of this dish but also has enough acidity and texture to cut through the richness.

(Original recipe form Denis Cotter’s For the Love of Food, Harper Collins, 2011.)


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We’ve admired Denis Cotter from afar and when we got his new cookbook devoured it as usual. What we found was that each recipe had loads of component which built up a brilliant spectrum of flavours, and yet appeared so complex that unless you have time and patience (and sometimes the ingredients too) you’d rarely make the dishes. This one is an exception as it really comes together quite easily and the flavours are superb. We are definitely encouraged and will try more!

Spiced haloumi on a warm Puy lentil, spinach & beetroot salad – to serve 4

  • 2 medium beetroot, washed, cooked and peeled (we boiled ours for about 25 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 100ml red wine
  • 100g Puy  lentils (we used Beluga)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 dried bird’s eye chillies, ground (or less if you prefer)
  • 2 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of 2
  • 200g haloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices
  • 100g baby spinach leaves

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Slice the beetroot into thin wedges, toss with the balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until starting to caramelise.

Meanwhile, bring the vegetable stock and red wine to the boil in a large pan. Add the lentils, thyme and garlic, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender but still firm. If there is any liquid left, turn the heat up and boil until it is almost gone. Stir in the roast beetroot and scallions, and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the chillies, cumin and lime zest together. Halve the haloumi slices diagonally.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the haloumi until browned on both sides. Sprinkle the spice mix and juice of 1 of the limes over the cheese and toss to coat.

Place some spinach on each plate and scatter some of the lentil mix over. Arrange the haloumi slices on top and finish with the remaining lime juice.

(Original recipe from Denis Cotter’s For the love of Food, Collins, 2011.)

Wine Suggestion: You need something that’s earthy for the beetroot and lentils but also fruity and juicy to balance the heat of the spices. Try a Chilean red made from the Carmenere grape which is an emerging match for spicy food (including Indian curry!).

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