Tag Archives: Cheese

Garlic and Parmesan Bread Knots

A bread roll, I think, elevates dinner to dinner-party status.  And garlic bread is always a winner here on a Saturday night.  So these slightly more eloquent bread knots are easy to put together and delicious to eat.

Garlic and Parmesan Bread Knots

Ingredients
For the knots
500g flour
10g dried yeast
5 g salt
50g olive oil
300g warm water
5 cloves of garlic
For the garlic butter
100g salted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
25g freshly grated parmesan

Continue reading

My favourite Potato Schiacciata Recipe

This dish came about as I wanted a pizza type dish. But had no urge to make (or defrost my own passata)

And I had a jar of homemade onion relish. And always am willing to make some kind of bread dough on any given morning.

So game on.

A traditional Sicilian flat bread, the Schiacciata,  as with all Italian dishes there are hundreds of variations. Some with minced savoury meat, others with grapes. Though my preference is for those to be made into wine…..

Continue reading

My Big Fat Greek Moussaka

Sometimes you’ve got to have a big cheesy sauce topped, rich red wine sauce soaked moussaka to end your day. I love it, and make it with aubergines and potatoes. And an enriched bechamel sauce.

The Greek moussaka is traditionally a layered dish comprising of aubergine, a tomato sauce based meat layer, and a cheesy sauce topping (my enriched bechamel). And as I’ve said before in a previous moussaka post (yes- it’s so good I’ve written a second recipe), the turkish version is NOT layered.  But equally as good.

As a dinner offering, this one is quite labour intensive. The aubergines need to be sliced and cooked, the potatoes need to be peeled and par boiled, the mince and tomato sauce needs a long slow cooking time, and the sauce needs last minute assembly.  So not your jamie-oliver-15-minute-meal really.  But worth it.  Trust me.

 

My Big Fat Greek Moussaka

Ingredients:

1 aubergine, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of olive oil (preferably greek!)

500g good quality minced beef

1 tin of tomatoes

½ bottle of red wine

1 bay leaf

300g potatoes

25g butter, melted

25g flour

250ml of full fat milk

200g of grated cheddar cheese, a vintage one is preferable

1 egg yolk

Seasoning
Moussaka

Method:

Aubergine Layer:

Using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, oil a roasting tray. Preheat the oven to 1800C.  Thinly slice the aubergine and lay the slices on the tray.  Roast for about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Meat Layer:

Add the remaining olive oil to a heavy based saucepan and heat gently.  Brown the minced beef very slowly.  Season well.  Add the tinned tomatoes, the bay leaf and the wine.  Cook very, very slowly over a very low heat for at least two hours, cover the saucepan partially to prevent too much moisture escaping.  Set aside.

Potato Layer:

Peel and place the potatoes in a pot of cold salted water.  Cover and bring to the boil.  The potatoes can be left over ones, and you can slice the uncooked potatoes before you boil them, if it’s easier.  Bring to the boil and cook for 8 minutes until half cooked.  Drain and set aside.

When you are ready to assemble, melt the butter, add the flour and stir continuously over a medium heat for one minute to cook the flour out.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat, add and add half the grated cheese.  Stir in the egg yolk just prior to adding the sauce to the dish.

 

 

Moussaka

Grease the baking dish, add a layer of potatoes, then a layer of aubergines, then add the mince (remove the bay leaf first).  Repeat the layers on top, and add the béchamel sauce.  Add the rest of the grated cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.

Moussaka

For extra carb loading serve with a baked potato and some green beans. Divine.

Moussaka

 

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Pasta with cheese sauce casseroles have been around far longer than you imagine. In the 14th century in the Italian cookbook by Brian Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan cheese and pasta.  The oldest recorded recipe of a casserole with a cheese bechamel sauce, with pasta is from 1770.  But the doyenne of British cookery, Mrs Beeton, valued the dish so much that she put not one, but two versions of the now classic into her housekeeping book. Nowadays this type of cooking is classed as comfort food.  And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients:

300g macaroni

1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

75g butter

75g flour

600ml milk

150g your favourite cheddar, coarsely grated

75g breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon of herbes de provence
Cauliflower
Method

Heat the grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 4 mins, then add the cauliflower for a further 8 mins. Drain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Bubble for a few mins, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese, the reserved cooking water and seasoning to taste.
Cauliflower

Tip the pasta and cauliflower into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce. Mix together the breadcrumbs and herbs and scatter over the top.
Cauliflower
Grill for 5 mins until bubbling.
Cauliflower
Divine!

Spring Parmesan Chicken Recipe

Sometimes you need something quick, tasty and a little bit special on a Monday evening.  This recipe fits the bill perfectly.  Using ingredients that most people have in their cupboard (Hands up who DOESN’T have a bit of parmesan cheese in their fridge??).

Named after the areas where it is produced, the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna (only the area to the west of the river Reno), Modena (all in Emilia-Romagna), and Mantua (in Lombardy, but only the area to the south of river Po), Italy. Most importantly, under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano”, and European law classifies the name, as well as the translation “Parmesan”, as a protected designation of origin.  A little like the blaa in Waterford, and the Bramley apple in Armagh.  Made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, the best cheese is from wheels laid down for 2 years or longer.  Authentic Italian parmesan has ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ stamped on the rind.

The King of Cheese is only supposed to be made up of three simple ingredients, milk, salt and rennet.  So maybe check the ingredients listing on the packet next time you buy.

Copyright Jeni Pim

It’s going to be delicious

 

Parmesan Chicken

Ingredients

50g grated parmesan

4 chicken breasts 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves

125g breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil, for greasing

Method

Place the egg whites in a bowl, and loosen them up with a fork.  Mix the breadcrumbs, herbs and cheese together in another bowl. Pre heat the oven to 1800C.  Grease the bottom of an oven proof dish that will snugly fit the 4 crumbed breasts. Dip each breast first in the egg white, shake it off then roll firmly in the crumb/cheese mixture.    

Copyright Jeni Pim

Place on the oven proof dish and then when all breasts are coated, place in the oven for 40 minutes.

Parmesan Chicken

Parmesan Chicken

  Serve hot with some fresh salad.    

Sometimes only cheese on toast will do

My Godmother use to make me cheese on toast for “supper” with a big mug of steaming cocoa.  It’s my go to lunch when the cupboard is bare and a little quick warmth is required. Shop bought bread is usually my choice.  I buy a small loaf (Brennans Half and half) every now and then and stick it in the freezer for the toasted cheese sandwich emergency.

 

Cheese on Toast

Cheese on Toast

Then there’s the whole butter- no butter debate.  I like to toast one side under the grill, then turn over and butter the non grilled side.  Next the cheese goes on.  Then re grilled until golden and bubbly.

We don’t eat “red” cheddar, only white.  And we usually have either Kilmeadan or Wexford types in the fridge.  But I’m not particularly fussy when I’m melting it anyway.  We use to always use Kilmeadan but have been a bit miffed that its now not produced a) in Kilmeadan, or even b) Waterford.  Humph.  Sometimes if the cheddar is a little dry, I’ll put a knob of butter on the top.  Cause there aren’t enough calories on it anyway (LOL)

I rememver when my Dad got a toasted sandwich maker.  I reckon I made 20 at least in the first month.  Cheese toasties all the way.  Dad use to also break an egg into one oof the sides, but I could never go there myself.

In fact, after the novelty of the sandwich maker wore off, I never really went for closed sandwiches toasted.  I’ve stuck to the open ones.

Posh Cheese on Toast

Posh cheese on toast for me consists of French bread, some really creamy goats cheese, and top class onion marmalade. Even thinking about it is making me hungry.  Brie is also good, but a real Monte Enebro from Spain makes this the most perfect dish, paired with a Moscatel Pasas. *sigh*.  Maybe for Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further Adventures in Avocados

I love avocados.  The Hass ones are really the best, and like pears, the optimum ripeness time frame is often 30 seconds.  It is the most cultivated type of avocado in California, and New Zealand.

Avocados have many health benefits

Avocados have many health benefits

Avocados are great sources of Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamins C and E.  When you open an avocado you’ll notice the lovely flesh slightly yellow in the centre, turning darker green towards the skin.  This dark green flesh is high in carotenoids.

Avocado goodness

Avocado goodness

Carotenoids are antioxidants that scientists have used to successfully fight cancer in a laboratory. We don’t know yet whether actually eating an avocado would reap any similar benefits. Also your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids depends in part on the presence of dietary fat, like the loads of healthy mono-unsaturated fats in avocados. So I’m willing to take the chance on this.

Avocado and spinach smoothie

Avocado and spinach smoothie

One of the issues facing cultivation of avocados at the moment is a fungus called laurel wilt, spread by a little bug called the ambrosia bug.  (Have a search under the #savetheguac).  Avocado tress are related to laurel, and once infected the tree can die in as little as six weeks.  The fight against this fungus has been taken to a new level with drones and sniffer dogs being used to identify trees that appear outwardly asymptomatic.  So enjoy them while you can.

One of our favourite starters using avocado is simply to melt some butter and add some crushed garlic to this, then split an avocado, remove the stone, pour some of the melted garlicky butter, add grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Voilà.

A little rough and ready

A little rough and ready

What’s your favourite avocado recipe? Sushi? Guacamole? Or just eaten with some black pepper and a spoon?

 

 

 

More cheesiness

We get to make our own cheese.  Now all I need is to grow grapes and my life is complete.  Only joking… but I have wandered around cheese making for quite some time.  We’ve bought rennet, moulds etc, and really I just need to get on with it.  We did make a cheddar-esque cheese at home at some stage, and in actual fact, although we really didn’t have a notion of what we were doing, it tasted quite cheddar like, not a threat in the cheese production world however.

Clancy met the eager cheesemakers in the dairy, and we donned VERY fetching aprons.  As I microbiologist at heart, and by training, I fully appreciate how cleaniness in this case is essential.

My fetching Dairy wear

My fetching Dairy wear

Clancy had put the milk on to heat, and had added the vegetable rennet and culture.  As an aside, traditionally the rennet came from the lining of the fourth stomach of young calves, this was chopped and added to the milk, but in this case, and nowadays, the rennet is produced in the lab so we can look the calves straight in the eye when leaving the dairy (mind you – don’t mention veal!)

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Next we removed, through a sieve, one third of the whey, and topped it up with warm water.

Removing approximately one third of the whey.

Removing approximately one third of the whey.

This is to “wash” the curd, and the warm water raises the temperature of the mixture higher, while our stirring mixed it intensively with the water.  Clancy carefully monitored the temperature, and I timed the stages.

Then Clancy put “our” curds into clean mould “nets”, these were left to the side while all were filled, and then topped up, as even the simple act of sitting for a short period of time meant that more liquid had drained.

Filling the cheese moulds

Filling the cheese moulds

These moulds were then covered with a lid and weight.  Clancy then instructed us on the art of turning the cheese (to reduce the appearance of elephants foot!).  This looks a lot easier than it actually is.  We all took turns at turning our cheese, and some kind co- students offered to further turn my cheese the two more times it required that first night.  At the weekend it was un-moulded and washed in brine, and placed in the temperature controlled cabinets.  Here it stays, and we turn it daily.

My cheese! The second one in on the left.

My cheese! The second one in on the left.

Cheeses that have been there for longer, have different coloured rinds.

The collection of cheeses.

The collection of cheeses.

Our cheese really needs to sit for 3 months before tasting.  Not enough time for me to make wine to go with it, but I may just manage some cheese biscuits.

 

Say Cheeseeeeeeee….

Today, being theory day, was focusing on cheese and yoghurt production. I am a massive fan of cheese, and it was great to see that so much could be made on a domestic level.  We had Eddie O’Neill, from Teagasc, to instruct us in best practice when producing milk, cheese and yoghurt on both a domestic and commercial scale.  The highlight for me was Eddie’s cool tie!

Dairy Tie

Dairy Tie

When I studied food micro with Dr Upton in UCD all those years ago, I never thought, 20 years later I would be remembering the spelling of Lactobacillus thermophilus!  We spoke about lots of cheeses, and it particular Darina mentioned the “brown” cheese much eaten in Scandinavia- Brunost.  This cheese is made from caramelising the whey, and has a very specific taste. I read up on it tonight and came across an interesting story about it;

In January 2013, the Bratli Tunnel at  Tysfjord, Norway, was damaged when a lorry load of caramelised brunost caught fire. The high concentration of fat and sugar in the cheese caused it to burn fiercely at sufficiently high temperatures that the fire was still burning five days later!

Darina Allen and Eddie O'Neill

Darina Allen and Eddie O’Neill

I am not sure about making  cheese- it really involves an enormous amount of work- hats off to the artisan producers- but yoghurt, definitely, and maybe I’ll try my hand at butter.  As an aside if you are visiting the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore at any stage (HIGHLY recommended), the smoked butter is to DIE for.

Some cottage cheese and herbs made this morning by Darina

Some cottage cheese and herbs made this morning by Darina (NB it had been attacked by students

The morning flew, and we were all glad to partake in the obligatory tasting of the tray bakes.  My personal favourite was the raspberry and coconut one.

Beautiful traybakes prepared by the talented Tracey

Beautiful traybakes prepared by the talented Tracey

After lunch we were onto wine lecture 2.  Everyone was really looking forward to it, as Peter and Colm make it sound fun, while imparting an enormous amount of knowledge at the same time.  We covered a lot of material, and had 5 tastings.  For me, the surprise of the afternoon was how much I enjoyed the New Zealand Riesling. A sweet wine, Seifried Nelson “Sweet Agnes” Riesling, has transformed my jaundiced view of sweet wine (too much pouring of muscat de beaume de venise while waitressing in Truffles all those many years ago).  This wine bears no resemblance to the sickly sweetness, and syrupy mouthfeel often associated with sweet wines.  I will definitely be looking for a bottle (all donations gratefully accepted”)

 

My Autumn Salad- Venison & Pinot Noir.

I truly love Autumn, the slight chill in the air, the earthy smells as the leaves start to fall from the trees.  This year we were incredibly lucky with our beautiful summer and felt justified in having BBQ’s and salads nearly every day.

Into the back garden

Into the back garden

So I wanted to have an Autumn salad meal, as a transition between the two seasons.  Venison is lovely at any time of the year, but I think particularly comes into it’s own in Autumn, I use our own Seika Venison, grown on the farm.  I chose the pinot noir to accompany the dish as you can almost smell the autumn earthiness when you open the bottle.  The soft tannins complemented the St Tola Goats cheese in the salad also.

Vision Cono Sur

Cono Sur Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

With a salad using such bold ingredients I think it’s nice to have a dressing that both draws out the other flavours and brings the whole meal together.  I made a pinot reduction slowly with some of our own honey, the cherry character that finely touches the wine also goes well with the game.

The venison was pan-fried first as it benefits from resting for a time, and I then used the pan to flash fry the field mushrooms, this addition to my salad further encouraged the mouth feel of autumn, before finishing off the reduction.

Pan Fried Venison

Pan Fried Venison

Then it was just a matter if preparing the salad with the cheese., and the in season tomatoes.  I thinly sliced the venison, and served it warm with the Cono Sur Pinot Noir.

Venison Salad

Venison Salad

Perfection in a salad.  Perfect for a Monday. Who said salads were boring?