I’m thinking I must have been Irish in a previous life because I feel so at home in Ireland. Having just gotten back a week ago, I’m still savoring the pleasure of having visited with so many gracious and talented food stars whose accomplishments have started a buzz about Ireland as the next hot culinary destination, home to extraordinarily good cuisine.
These Irish icons celebrate the country’s natural agricultural gifts, including the grass that produces the milk that makes the butter and cheeses. The best way to understand the role of dairy products is to visit a farm. So our Kerrygold food media group stopped at the Cronin dairy farm in North County Cork in time for the milking.
Farmer Deirdre Cronin calls the family’s 30 cows her “girls.” They have names to match their personalities; one is called Miss Fussy because she’s small and dainty, and fussy in the milking parlor. The milk produced by Deirdre’s girls goes to a local creamery in Kanturk, to be churned into golden Kerrygold butter.
Here are some recipes using Irish butter and cheeses from some of Ireland’s most notable personalities.
Lunch at superstar Rachel Allen’s home included a luscious Potato-Thyme Leaf Soup, loaded with butter and scones laced with Dubliner cheese.
Cheesy Soda Scones with Herbs
4 cups (1 lb.) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs e.g. rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, parsley, lemon balm
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups buttermilk or sour milk
3/4 cup (3 oz.) grated Dubliner cheese
Sift the dry ingredients; add the freshly chopped herbs. Make a well in the center. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft, but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round and flatten until it is about 1 inch thick. Cut into wedges and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake about 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Makes about 16 scones. Recipe from Rachel Allen.
At Mary Burns’ farmhouse, we saw what happens when great milk is transformed into great cheese. Mary, already famous for her incredible Ardrahan cheese, also now makes Duhallow, a buttery and creamy, semi-soft cheese. Great on a cheese board, Duhallow is excellent for cooking, too. Mary gave me her recipe for pasta with a delicious Duhallow sauce.
Duhallow Asparagus Pasta
8 ounces tagliatelle pasta
8 ounces fresh asparagus
Knob of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) cream
3 ounces Kerrygold Duhallow Cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cut asparagus into thin strips and drop into boiling water; drain asparagus immediately after they turn bright green. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add garlic and onion; sauté until onions are wilted. Add cream and simmer until the cream thickens slightly. Turn heat to low and add the Duhallow cheese, stirring until melted. Combine asparagus and pasta and add to saucepan; stir to coat pasta with sauce. Season with pepper, salt and nutmeg. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Recipe from Mary Burns.
Great chefs in Ireland also rely on Irish dairy products. Paul Flynn, chef-owner of The Tannery Restaurant, shared a simple recipe he developed for using Irish butter in a rich and tangy raisin sauce, great with grilled salmon. The photo is our consumer interpretation of his dish.
Broiled Salmon with Capers and Raisin Butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
1/4 cup drained capers
1/4 cup golden raisins
4 center-cut skin-on salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
1 to 2 tablespoons Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, melted
Salt and pepper
One 12-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
Hot boiled or steamed new potatoes, optional
In small saucepan, combine butter, capers and raisins; heat over medium heat just until butter simmers. Remove from heat; let stand to soften raisins and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Process mixture in blender or small food processor until well blended. Remove to small bowl; keep warm until ready to serve. Preheat broiler; position oven rack so surface of fish is about 5 inches from the heat. Brush both sides of salmon with melted butter; season with salt and pepper. Line shallow baking pan with aluminum foil.
Arrange fish on pan, skin side up. Broil until skin begins to brown and chars slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn fish; broil just until fish is opaque throughout, about 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place spinach in large skillet. Cover and heat over medium-high heat until spinach just begins to wilt, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place equal portions of spinach onto 4 warm dinner plates. Place salmon fillets over spinach. Arrange potatoes, if desired, alongside. Drizzle with Caper & Raisin Butter. Refrigerate any remaining butter to use with cooked chicken or other seafood. Makes 4 servings. Recipe from Chef Paul Flynn.
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