Cod Véronique

cod veronique

Cod Véronique – crispy skinned fillets of flakey cod with the classic creamy vermouth and grape sauce.

Like a lot of Irish chefs my age I was classically trained. Any chef who’s been to catering college here might remember been thought some of the delicious famous French classics like bouillabaisse, gratin dauphinois, or bœuf bourguignon.

Learning the classics is a great way to teach young chefs how to cook. Not only do you learn how to make some great tasting food, but more importantly you learn the cookery method behind each dish.

If you know how to make a bœuf bourguignon than you know how to make a coq au vin or any type of stew. After you know how to make creme anglaise than you’re only a step away from creme caramel, creme brulee, or indeed any type of ice cream.

The classics are an integral part of a culinary education. They give young chefs a good foundation. Once you’ve learnt the techniques and methods behind them, than you can go on and become more creative with your cooking.

When it comes to fish though it seems I’ve not been a very good student. With the exception of bouillabaisse I seem to have forgotten most of the fish dishes I learnt at culinary school. One dish that does stand out in my memory is the classic sole veronique.

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Smoked Kipper Rarebit

smoked kipper rarebit

Smoked Kipper rarebit – toasted crusty bread topped with a silky bechamel sauce flecked with lightly smoked kippers and mature cheddar cheese. Than grilled till golden.

If you’d never heard the term rarebit before than you could be forgiven for thinking it is some sort of culinary masterpiece, exotic, and difficult to make. It’s a really fancy word for the world’s favourite snack, the humble cheese on toast.

I have no idea where the word rarebit comes from and having done a little research I’ve been left none the wiser. I did learn though that there are a couple of different versions of this pimped out cheese on toast recipe. There’s a Scotch version, two English ones, and even a more modern Irish one. The country most associated with the dish though is definitely Wales.

It’s a bit of a surprise that a country with some of the finest tasting lamb and seas teeming with some of the freshest fish and shellfish is so closely associated with cheese on toast. Apparently the reason for this is that back in the day the poor people of Wales couldn’t even afford the cheapest cuts of meat. We know all about that here in Ireland, it’s why we’re world famous potato eaters.

The classic Welsh rarebit has got to be the best tasting cheese on toast recipe you’ll ever come across and it’s really easy to make too. All you’ve got to do is mix some ale with mustard powder, butter, worcestershire sauce, and a big hand full of mature cheddar cheese. Gently heat it till it’s melted and bubbling then pour the molten mixture over some of your favorite toasted bread and grill till golden. Dead easy…

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Tuna With Aubergine Hummus

Tuna with aubergine hummus

Tuna with aubergine hummus – Seared, spice dusted tuna, with a creamy chickpea and aubergine hummus.

I’ve got a bit of a love / hate relationship with tuna. I love cooking it and I love eating it even more. But I don’t like putting it on the menu any where I work.

I’ve a couple of reasons. First off tuna has got to be cooked rare…or not at all if you like sushi. For some reason because it slightly resembles a fillet of beef and can be cooked rare customers seem to think it can’t be cooked medium, pink and every other cuisson you can apply to meat.

This just isn’t the case. It can’t be cooked medium or pink. It’s not beef there’s no blood and it will never take on that beautiful pink hue you get at the center of a perfectly cooked steak.

The best any chef can do is kind of half cook it for you, which is a difficult thing to do and get spot on. Do the chef a favour and eat rare. You’ll love the crusty caramelized exterior and the soft, moist red center and if you want it well done I’ll open a tin of John West’s finest for you.

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Chilled Melon Soup With Mojito Ice

Chilled melon soup with a tangy mint and lime infused mojito ice. A great way to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

how to make chilled melon soup with mijito ice

I’ve been waiting all summer to rustle up this soup but the weather just wouldn’t play ball. We’re into september now and with the recent  spell of good weather I decided it was now or never.

It always seems to me that the minute autumn officially starts the sun decides to make an appearance. It didn’t turn out to be an indian summer, but the warm weather lasted a couple of days and the temperature rose enough for me to be able to make one of the simplest chilled soup recipes you’ll ever see.

All you need is one simple ingredient. A sweet, juicy, overly ripe melon. Peel it, remove the seeds, and whirl it up in a food processor…and voila a simple summer soup made in seconds. Just chill it for an hour or so and you have a light and refreshing way to start a meal. Read More

Monkfish And Mango Skewers

monkfish and mango skewers

Monkfish and mango skewers – Cubes of spanking fresh monkfish, skewered with juicy ripe mango, and char-grilled over red-hot coals.

We’re not great at barbecues here in Ireland, are we? Not surprising when you can count on one hand the number of days when the opportunity might arise to fire it up and get cooking al fresco.

Burgers, sausages, chicken, and maybe a cut of steak are the usual suspects when we decide to do a bit of searing over coals.  A lot of the time when cooking fish on a bbq is gets relegated to a convenient foil parcel, placed over the searing heat.

It’s a handy way to cook a bit of fish, but kinda defeats the whole purpose of getting out the bbq and going to the hassle of firing up the coals in the first place. Fish well wrapped up in foil will never take on the slightest hint of that beautifully charred, smoky, and caramelized flavour we all love when we bbq. Essentially the fish gets steamed in its own juice, and not barbecued.

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How To Make Sauce Vierge

salmon sauce vierge.

Anyone who’s ever learned how to make sauce vierge will know that the use of the word sauce in its title is perhaps a little misleading. Sweet tomatoes, fragrant coriander seed, and freshly chopped soft herbs, all mingled together with fruity extra virgin olive oil is definitely something I’d call a dressing.

For me the word sauce conjures up images of rich, silky, indulgent liquids made with large amounts of cream and butter. Sauce vierge on the other hand is something a lot lighter, better for you, and ultimately very tasty.

It’s little wonder that it’s a sauce I come back to again and again. It’s a classic companion for any type of white fish, shellfish, and even works well with pasta. Any leftovers make a great dressing for potato salad too.

Sauce vierge translates as virgin sauce. Maybe the name comes from the use of virgin olive oil in the recipe, I’m not sure. It was made popular by the french chef Michel Guérard, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine. A recipe for it first appeared in his book  La Grande Cuisine minceur. Its since gone on to become a modern classic

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