Squash, Feta and Rosemary Pastry Tart

It was a truth that I had previously never doubted that I would never be any good at making pastry.  "It's just too difficult" I thought, "It'll just always go wrong and then it'll be a waste".  But then I thought - how hard could it be to make some harmless pastry.  Turns out that all I really needed to do was roll up my sleeves and go for it.

This is a lovely summery salad that accompanies BBQ meats and fish equally well. It's really quick and simple to put together but tastes aromatic from the fennel seed and zingy from the chilli. There is a very obvious nod to the greek and turkish food traditions here.

Sometimes I get a whimsical thought in my head and when I do I hop in my car and off I drive. I always have a destination in mind, but I'm never particularly bothered about how long I'm going to be or what route I'll take to get there. I figure that there may be something else to see along the way.  Sunday just gone, I decided to head off to Toonsbridge Dairy. Or is that Toon's Bridge or just Toons Bridge. I don't know. But I felt I needed to go and anyway they sold coffee and cake so anything else was going to be a bonus!

Squash, Feta and Rosemary Pastry Tart

It was a truth that I had previously never doubted that I would never be any good at making pastry.  “It’s just too difficult” I thought, “It’ll just always go wrong and then it’ll be a waste”.  But then I thought – how hard could it be to make some harmless pastry.  Turns out that all I really needed to do was roll up my sleeves and go for it.

Turns out that I’m actually pretty darn good at making my own pastry.  Not as an every day thing you understand – I’m not that committed, but certainly in a batch and ahead of schedule and freezing down portions for later use is right up my street and the kind of vision of effortless mid-week cookery that I can handle without working myself up into a frenzy!

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Beetroot and Feta Salad

This is a lovely summery salad that accompanies BBQ meats and fish equally well. It’s really quick and simple to put together but tastes aromatic from the fennel seed and zingy from the chilli. There is a very obvious nod to the greek and turkish food traditions here.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as an accompaniement):
1 pack of pre-cooked beetroot, cut in 1cm cubes
200g of good quallity Feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
1tsp of fennel seeds, roasted and crushed
Half a red chilli (seeds taken out)
1 tblsp on sunflower seeds
A good handful of parsely
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Malden smoked sea salt
Method:
Cut the Feta into 1cm cubes and place in a serving bowl.
Cut the beetroot into 1cm cubes and add to the feta.
Toast the fennel seeds lightly in a dry pan, crush them in a pestle and mortar and add to the dish.
Finely chop the chilli and add.
Sprinkle over the sunflower seeds.
Finely chop the parsely and add.
Grind fresh black pepper and add the smoked sea salt to taste.
Add a lug of extra virgin olive oil and mix thoroughly.
Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
Tip:

Toasting the fennel seeds before crushing helps to release the beautiful oils in the seed and therefore add to the depth of flavour in the dish.
Store in an airtight container and this salad will last max two days in a fridge.

Oh, Give me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam

Sometimes I get a whimsical thought in my head and when I do I hop in my car and off I drive. I always have a destination in mind, but I’m never particularly bothered about how long I’m going to be or what route I’ll take to get there. I figure that there may be something else to see along the way.  Sunday just gone, I decided to head off to Toonsbridge Dairy. Or is that Toon’s Bridge or just Toons Bridge. I don’t know. But I felt I needed to go and anyway they sold coffee and cake so anything else was going to be a bonus!

 

Actually, Toonsbridge (I’ll stick with this version of the spelling) is a mere 25 minutes drive door to door. What bliss! This means that if I miss the market in Clonakilty on Friday, I can pop over to Toonsbridge which is closer than going to the English Market in Cork City. Also, what I didn’t expect is what could be the world’s smallest delicatessen shop. It is tiny, barely fits 5 people and two of those are staff! The kinda place where browsing is a luxury so you should either do one of two things; 1. prepare a list of things you want or 2. ask. I went with Option 2 and was rewarded with a lovely cappuccino and a slice of gluten free ginger and lemon drizzle bundt cake – made with ground almonds. It had it all going on.

lemongingercake

Now, I went in knowing that I wanted cake and a coffee – bingo. I also purchased some of their dolmades, their devine sun blushed tomatoes and a packet of Bresaola. Now, let us talk cheese.

Toonsbridge Dairy is of course part of The Real Olive Co; but what they are renowned for is their Buffalo Mozzarella. This devine milky mouthful of unctiousness was where it all started, with properly fresh Buffalo milk. In order to do this, one must have a herd of Buffalo to hand. “But, you’re in West Cork” I hear you cry; “We’re not Home on the Range, you know”. All of which are true, but if you drive over Toon Bridge (see another spelling, tut!), hang a left and drive for about a kilometer, there they are in all their horned glory.

IMG_6205 IMG_6204

They are magnificent creatures; munching on West Cork grass in West Cork as opposed to jungle, serengeti or whatever. A strange site to behold and yet they look very much at home. I conclude that they must be the world’s happiest Buffalo. How else can it be that the cheese that is produced from their rich and creamy milk tastes so darn-tootin’ fabulous.

And there is more good news. The Dairy have been busy expanding their range of Buffalo milk cheese. The Mozarella is king; but I would highly recommend their Feta and Haloumi. If you are put off by either of these cheeses from the tangyness (which I personally love), then try them made from Buffalo milk and I guarantee you will convert. I purchased some of their Buffalo milk Ricotta for a dish I am making in the week and if their other cheeses are to go by then this will be a treat too. The latest addition to the range is their Buffalo Blue. It is not a powerful knock-you-off-your-feet kind of blue but more of a rub-down-with-a-feather-duster. It is smooth, rich, creamy and milky and it is finished off beautifully by the familiar blue tang at the end. It’s a Barely Blue but tastes all the better for it because it keeps the characteristics of the Buffalo milk at its core.

buffaloblue

As a serving suggestion, I ate a good chunk of it on rosemary crackers with some of the Bresaola and a little dribble of Filligans Spicy Plum Chutney – a little mouthful of pure heaven that I would highly recommend.

crackers

Try some. As little as a couple of Euro will get you a little slice of cheesy bliss! And, if you head down to Toonsbridge during the summer on a Friday and Saturday you might get the opportunity to try one of their new wood-fired pizza’s from the BEAST that is lurking in their garden.

As I sat there on Sunday in the sunken garden, listening to flamenco music, taking in the scent of the wood-fired oven and eating my cake and drinking my coffee, I realised that my little whim had been a fruitful one!

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