Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jack McCarthy's Rose veal chops

Jack McCarthy - Ireland's finest artisan butcher - put the call out last week on Twitter that he had ten month old rose veal in stock. We were mega excited! Jack and his son Tim have a fine butcher's shop in Kanturk, Co Cork, with not just the usual fare but also their award winning puddings and sausages.

We have eaten veal many times but never actually cooked it ourselves, mainly because we could never source it. So after work last Friday I headed to Kanturk and as well as the fabulous Rose veal I came home with black puddings, white puddings, nitrate free rashers, air dried pork, Ardrahan cheese & smoky bacon sausages and Apple & Pork sausages. We'll be well fed for a good while!

The dish that was planned for Saturday night was ditched in favour of the veal, cookery books were scoured and it was between a Gordon Ramsay recipe and one we found online by Matt Tebbutt, the fennel in the latter one swung it for us as it's one of our favourite veg.

Here's what you'll need:

2 Rose veal chops
Olive oil for frying
2 cloves garlic crushed
White wine

For the fennel gratin:
2 fennel, cut into batons, green fronds finely chopped
A knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
300 ml double cream
1 cloves garlic, crushed
70 g emmental cheese, grated

For the crispy onions
½ onion, finely sliced
Milk, for soaking
Cornflour, for coating
Vegetable oil, for frying

Here's what you'll need to do:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. For the fennel gratin: bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the fennel batons and blanch for 1 minute.
Drain immediately and, while still warm, toss the batons with a knob of butter and the finely chopped fennel fronds. (If your fennel had no tops, you can use finely chopped dill instead.)
Transfer the fennel to a buttered ovenproof dish. 
Put the cream into a medium saucepan with the garlic, bring it to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Pour the cream over the fennel, top with the grated cheese and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. While the gratin is cooking, prepare the veal chops.

Season the veal chops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan until hot and cook the chops until golden and brown on each side.

When the veal is almost cooked, add the garlic and a splash of wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add a good knob of butter, spoon this over the chops, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest, covered with foil, in a warm place for about 10 minutes.

For the crispy onions cover the sliced onions with milk and leave to soak for 10 minutes to remove some of the strong flavour.
Drain and pat dry, discarding the milk.
Season a little cornflour with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dip the onion rings in the seasoned cornflour and shallow fry in hot oil until nice and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, put the veal chops on plates and drizzle with the pan juices. Accompany with the fennel gratin and crispy onions.

We made some very chunky chips to go with the dish. It was lip smacking gorgeous - the veal was juicy, tender and tasty, scrummy!

And we teamed it with this wine which was quite nice, not too heavy with the Rose veal. And best of all we have 2 chops in the freezer so Gordon's recipe will get an airing one of these days!

More of Jack McCarthy's produce graced the table for Sunday's brunch along with great brown bread also from Kanturk (Philpott's) and all teamed with eggs from my brother's farm in Portmagee. The nitrate free rashers are great, just like rashers used to taste when I was a child! ( I was going to say in the old days but we won't go there!!!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lamb Sausages with Lentils and Braised Pears

I'm afraid after the last few posts showing the gorgeousness of the food we consumed for our birthday feasting ye're now going to be left with my food for a while.

We headed to Limerick's Milk Market last Saturday as we'd heard great things about it. We got some gorgeous nosh - basil Gouda cheese, Parmesan, Brie- these from The Flying Cheese Brigade, squid and undyed smoked haddock from O'Driscoll bros, lamb sausages from Castlegregory's Wild Side, great bread, corn on the cob, chocolate and fudge - FEAST! Oh and some great plants for the winter window boxes too.

We decided on doing something with the lamb sausages the other evening and thank goodness for Google - a recipe was found here. It was for 6 so I tweaked it for just the 2 of us. I never used to use recipes with cups till the last couple of years when I got a set of cup measurements in Tescos I think and shur it's easy peasy since to  do any recipe.

Lamb sausages are also known as Merguez sausages and very popular in North African cuisine which probably explains the harissa flavouring in them.

Lamb sausages with lentils and Braised Pears

Here's what you'll need - this is a generous serving for 2, so generous that Billy had leftovers for his lunch box the following day.
As ye can see I'm getting good at this blogging craic - a pic of the ingredients!
(We attended a cookery demo at the Dingle Food fest hosted by Mark Murphy and one of his suggestions was to get all the ingredients for a dish out and prepped and put in suitable containers, great tip - seems like a wee bit of bother to start but really keeps me tidy.)

1 cups brown lentils 
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 roasted red peppers  cut into thin strips (As I love roasted red pepper I might do two the next time)
5 or 6 lamb sausages - 2 is loads per person 
1 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and cut into eighths

Here's what you'll need to do:

In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with the boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain.

In a large saucepan, heat half of the olive oil.

Add the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the lentils and about a cup of water and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils are just tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon olive oil, the cider vinegar and the roasted red peppers and season with salt and pepper. Divide lentil mixture between hot plates and keep warm.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan. Add the lamb sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Arrange the sausages around the lentils and pour over any accumulated juices.

Return the pan to high heat. Add the pears and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Serve up and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birthday Feast Part 3 Cliff House Hotel

After our beautiful breakfast we headed for Villierstown, Co Waterford as Christine at The Old Convent had told us about the Hindu/Gothic gate lodge built there in the mid 1800's to commemorate the wedding of the owner of Dromana House.

We arrived early afternoon (Sat 22nd Oct) at Cliff House Hotel as the rain was pouring down. Check in was quick and efficient and a very friendly chap showed us to our room and explained the layout of the hotel etc. We had a lovely room (25) with heathery shades, fab bathroom and a wet terrace with a panoramic view of the Waterford coastline.
 Luckily the weather cleared up so we headed on the cliff walk and how amazing is that - talk about a potted history of Ireland! We passed a shipwreck, The Sampson which got wrecked in 1987, the Old Coastguard station, A lookout post, Fr O'Donnell's well. We passed fields planted with parsnips, carrots, potatoes and beet - the smell of parsnips in abundance is amazing. We then came to the graveyard which has the 12th century Round Tower, the remains of an ancient church with really well preserved carvings on the wall, a sailor's grave from 1947 where 11 of the crew of the SS Ary are buried.

Trust Billy to have got the one pair of wellies in the hotel that were leaking! Lmao! So at that stage we headed back to the hotel.
We spent a while enjoying the beautiful pool, outdoor hot tub, sauna and steam room and by this time we had a fine appetite built up for dinner having had ZILCH since breakfast. Cliff House's chef is Dutch man  Martijn Kajuiter and they hold Munster's only Michelin Star.

Polished ourselves up a bit and headed to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail - I had a beautiful Green Apple Martini - €12. Once again we were having the tasting menu with paired wines - €85per person for the dinner and €40pp for the wines. I was quite happy to see the menu had the wine pairing written underneath the food on the menu, it's impossible to remember what wine one had otherwise.

As I have already said in earlier posts I do not have adequate words to describe the intensity of the flavours, the food pairings, the art on a plate so if you have the opportunity go there for yourself and let your taste buds and your eyes be amazed by the plates you will be presented with. 

On the table when we sat down was a little pack of crisps, delicious salty slightly greasy crisps - Mr Tayto eat your heart out boy!

We were then given an amuse bouche - the thing of beauty on the right of the picture is a beetroot meringue-ey type thing with goat's cheese, so melt on the tongue. Save us all from old age but neither me nor himself can for the life of us remember what the yoke in the glass was! There were hazelnuts sprinkled on top and it tasted delicious, ok!

Edited 2/11/11 - This morning thanks to Twitter, where my inner foodie is realeased with a passion, Martijn, the genius chef at Cliff House told me what was in the glass - Thank you Martijn !

Whipped and Peppered Glenilen Yoghurt, Ardmore Carrots Jelly - crunch of dehydrated Yoghurt,Hazelnut and Blue berry Blossoms..

The breads were presented on a small slate plate, a sea salt brioche and a soda type bread with a slab of butter made at the Cliff House.

Next up what was described on the menu as The Cliff House "Snacks" -
These were paired with Pinot Blanc "Vieille Vigne", Meyer-Fonne, Alsace, France, 2008.

In this picture we have West Cork Scallop/Garden Spinach/Samphire.

Baby potato/Glenilen Yoghurt/Irish Caviar -

Quail egg "-20*C Cured/Squash/Veal/Hazelnut

Foie Gras/Red Cabbage Textures/Celeriac

Next - Bantry bay Organic Salmon/ Garden Beetroot/Cucumber/Oak Smoke.
This is presented under a glass dome which when lifted there's a rush of smoke out and the smell lingers on whilst eating.
The complementing wine was Marsanne, Chateau Tabhilk, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria, Australia 2008.
I'm not sure what was in those pink pearly things, see 3o'clock position on plate but they tasted so salmony.
Ya ok I know, my food descriptive writing skills are shite!


Then onto Helvick Cod/Irish Abalone/Garden leeks/Sea vegetable
It was good believe me - must've been - I forgot to take a pic!
It was paired with an Austrian wine 2010, Gruner Veltliner "von den Terrasen" Sepp Moser, Kremstal.

McGrath's Black Angus Beef followed with Garden vegetables/Bone Marrow/Beef Tea 2011.
There is a bit of a production with the beef tea which we enjoyed, the waitress brought a cafetiere with herbs - rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic. She then poured the contents of a tea pot, a rich beef jus into the cafetiere, it infuses for a few minutes to give a rich flavoursome "gravy".
The teamed wine was Seleccion Especial, Albadia Retuerta, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2008.
Next we got a fennel sorbet as a pre-dessert

Next onto the first of two desserts and numero uno came to us like this - a pizza box arrived at the table!

Inside was this deliciousness - Apple Discovery the menu reads with Cranberry/Apricot/Tonka Bean/Lemon/Hibiscus

And finally in excess of 3 hours after we sat down Dark Chocolate 70% - White Coffee Ice Cream/Olive Oil/Sea Salt
The accompanying wine was Rivesaltes Ambre, Domaine Cazes, Roussillon, France 1999

So the following morning we had a delicious breakfast - the ubiquitous full Irish for Billy, kippers with herb butter for me and we headed on the road home. I have to say the three nights of fine dining were magnificent, 3 very different places to stay and all offering and showcasing the very best of Irish food,