Shellfish Mac And Cheese

shellfish mac and cheese

Shellfish mac and cheese – baked macaroni in a super silky sauce laced with flecks of sweet crab and succulent prawns.

Macaroni and cheese has been popular ever since Kraft put it in a box and sold it as a convenience product in 1937. It was around long before that though. Its roots are Italian and date back to the 14th century where recipes for pasta casseroles can be found in cookbooks written in latin.

We might never have heard of mac and cheese if not for American president Thomas Jefferson. Apparently he fell in love with the dish while traveling in northern Italy at the beginning of the 19th century and brought the recipe home with him.

Friends in the U.S tell me that as  kids they grew up on mac and cheese. Not so here in Ireland. I can remember as a young lad hearing references to it on the T.V and never really knowing what it was. I grew up on spuds, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only pasta I was familiar with as a kid were the spaghetti hoops that came from a can.

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Asparagus With Crispy Hazelnut Duck Eggs

asparagus with crispy hazelnut duck eggs

Spears of new season asparagus in a piquant lemon and hazelnut dressing topped with a golden fried soft duck egg.

Deep fried eggs where all the rage in Dublin restaurants a couple of years back. I don’t know which chef first came up with the idea, but its ingenious. Tasty doesn’t even begin to describe these crispy little pillows of eggey comfort. They’re also a chefs dream because all the hard work can be done ahead of time. You can have them breaded and ready to go in the fridge and it takes just 30 seconds to quickly fry them.

To make deep-fried eggs first you’ve got to lightly poach them so that the yolks stay soft, runny, and molten. Than their gently dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs (I used some brioche crumb laced with roasted hazelnuts here for extra richness and a super crispy finish) then quickly fried till golden.

You could of course use a regular hens eggs if you can’t get duck eggs or their not your thing. Some people find their rich flavour a little strong. The other major difference between hens and duck eggs is in size. Duck eggs being much bigger. Bakers swear by them for well risen cakes and rich pastries.

Here I’ve teamed up my deep-fried eggs with some simply boiled new season asparagus for a different take on the classic asparagus with hollandaise sauce. The sweet tasting asparagus works well with the richness of the eggs. As a substitute for the piquant hollandaise sauce I whipped up a simple dressing with hazelnut oil, lemon juice, butter, and some more of the roasted hazelnuts for an added nutty flavour hit.

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Citrus Sea Bass

crispy citrus seabass

Citrus sea bass – Crispy skinned sweet sea bass served with a sauce made from citrus juice and infused with basil

As I was putting this colourful little plate together I got to thinking about local and seasonal ingredients. There’s a chef down in Galway on the west coast of Ireland I was reading about recently. He doesn’t put anything on the menu that he can’t source within a 30-mile radius of his restaurant.

Chef Jp McMahon’s restaurant is called Aniar and he calls this style of cooking cuisine terroir . It’s a noble idea, something we should all aspire to, eco-friendly, with a low-carbon footprint. They must be doing something right because the restaurant won a Michelin star a couple of years back. Generally local and seasonal will always taste better than ingredients flown from thousands of miles away. It’s on my list of restaurants to check out.  If I can get a table.

If I was to cook this way all the time there’s a couple of things I’d miss, and citrus fruit would sure be one. This crispy citrus sea bass is anything but local and seasonal. Down the market, I tried to get my hands on the largest array of citrus possible. Oranges, lemons, limes, pink grapefruit, and blood oranges are all included for a dish of contrasting hues and citrus flavours. Read More

Monkfish Salsa Verde

monkfish salsa verde

Monkfish salsa verde – Pan roasted chunks of monkfish served with the classic, herb infused, italian green sauce.

It tastes fantastic and you can whirl it together in about 30 seconds. I like to dip big chunks of crusty fresh bread in it. I put it on pasta and burgers. I like to make a mint infused version and spoon it over some simply boiled new season potatoes.

When I think about it, there’s nothing salsa verde doesn’t go with. Beef, duck, pork, or lamb…. and fish of course. It works well with any species and its the perfect companion for Shellfish.

Steam some fresh mussels in your favourite white wine and add a heaped tablespoon. Or saute some shrimps and add as much of fruity, herbal concoction as you like. The luminous green sauce clings to the shellfish coating it with intense flavour and making it shine.

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Saute Scallops And Black Pudding

saute scallops and black pudding

Thickly sliced crumbly black pudding, fried till crispy with saute scallops and a smooth apple puree made from tart granny smith’s.

Beannachtai la fheile padraig!….and for those of you who don’t speak gaelic, Happy Saint Paddy’s day. You might be planning on celebrating the day by drowning the shamrock or maybe cooking something with a little Irish flavour.

Theres bacon and cabbage (a dish I grew up on and still love today) Or you could go with one of the iconic Irish potato dishes, champ, boxty, or colcannon. Unlike the French or Italians here in Ireland we don’t have a long list of classic dishes which were famous for.

What we do have though are some of the finest ingredients which we can be rightly proud of. I’m thinking of the top quality beef and lamb we produce here. The fine dairy produce and farmhouse cheeses. The huge variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and of course bountiful seas packed with the finest fish and shellfish. Read More

Guinness Cupcakes

guinness cupcakes

A moist luxurious cupcake made with deep, smooth, rich tasting stout, chocolate and dark sugar. Than topped with a fluffy vanilla and white chocolate frosting.

Saint Patrick’s day is just around the corner and to celebrate I decided to make some very special cupcakes out of the nations most famous alcoholic beverage. Though the makers of various whiskeys and other stouts would probably disagree Guinness is synonymous with Ireland especially Dublin.

For this recipe we won’t be turning it green. Or even making green frosting. No leprechaun’s, shamrocks, or crocks of gold at the end of the rainbow, It’s just Guinness and chocolate all the way.

This might seem like an unlikely culinary pairing but the smooth, rich, and slightly bitter tones of the stout marry really well with the chocolate, dark sugar, and rich butter. The result is a moist luxurious cake with a rich flavor and a colour to match the famous pint.

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