As a chef, seasonality is key to everything we do and, even though I’ve been working in professional kitchens for 23 years, I still get way too excited receiving the first stalk of forced rhubarb in March, juicy tomatoes in June or tasty game meat in November.
I think we’ve all picked up a punnet of strawberries in January and wondered why they look great, but taste of nothing.
There are so many benefits to eating with the seasons – you’re not only tucking into food in its prime and reducing food miles, you’re also supporting hard-working Irish growers and producers.
This week’s recipes showcase both the sweet and savoury side of my kitchen. First up is my go-to quiche recipe.
Quiche is one of those amazing dishes you can make all year round. It’s a fantastic vessel for carrying so many delicious flavours. I have added asparagus, Goatsbridge smoked trout and St Tola Greek-style cheese to mine – it’s a winning combination. To finish on a sweet note, my ultimate baked cheesecake topped with O’Hanlons herb sweet basil and Clarke’s Irish strawberries is a showstopper.
What I love about both of these recipes is that you can mix up your fillings and flavours to suit your taste buds and what’s available at that time of year. Also, if you’re on the lookout for the most sensational Irish asparagus, Durmmond House is my go-to (and it’s in season right now).
Asparagus, spinach & smoked trout quiche.
Asparagus, spinach & smoked trout quiche
For the pastry:
270g plain flour
170g butter, room temperature
1 medium free-range egg
For the filling:
5 medium free-range eggs
5 medium free-range egg yolks
100g sour cream
2 bunches asparagus
100g Goatsbridge Irish smoked trout
75g St Tola Greek-style Irish goat’s cheese
2 handfuls of washed fresh baby spinach
Salt & pepper
1 Grease and flour a 10” loose bottom tart ring and set aside.2 For the pastry: in a mixing bowl, mix the flour, butter and salt until a sandy texture is reached.3 To this, add the egg and mix until a dough is reached.4 Wrap and pop into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.6 Once rested, roll out on a floured work surface, line a prepared tart ring and chill for 20 minutes.7 Once this is chilling, preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan.8 To blind bake the tart shell, pace a sheet of parchment into the shell and fill with baking beans/rice.9 Place in the centre of a preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the top of the pastry is turning golden brown. 10 At this point, remove the baking beans and return to the oven for a further 8 to 10 minutes until the shell is cooked and lightly golden brown all over. Set aside to cool until needed.11 For the filling, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, milk, sour cream and season. Set aside.12 Trim the ends of the asparagus and add the spears to the tart shell with the fresh spinach, St Tola cheese and Goatsbridge smoked trout, Pour over the egg filling and return to the hot oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the filling is lightly golden and set.13 Remove and allow to cool before removing from the tin.
Baked lemon cheesecake with basil marinated strawberries.
Baked lemon cheesecake with basil-marinated strawberries
For the cake:
300g digestive biscuits
200g butter, melted
250g full-fat cream cheese
140g caster sugar
1 lemon, juice & zest
3 free-range medium eggs
For the marinated strawberries:
400g Clarke’s Irish strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp chopped O’Hanlons fresh basil1 Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C fan/ 315°F/gas 3.2 Line the base of a 20cm round, 6cm deep loose bottom baking tin with parchment paper and grease the base and sides.3 Blitz the biscuits until a fine crumb is reached.4 Add the melted butter and mix.5 Press this buttery crumb mix over the base and up the sides of the tin.6 Chill for 20 minutes.7 Place the cream cheese, mascarpone, caster sugar and lemon zest into a mixing bowl and, using a hand mixer, mix all the ingredients together until smooth.8 Gradually add the eggs, one by one, until incorporated.9 Add the lemon juice and mix.10 Pour the cheesecake batter into the chilled lined tin.11 Place in the centre of your pre-heated oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the filling is set but has a slight wobble in the centre.12 Cool in the oven by leaving the door slightly open.13 Once cooled, place in the fridge for a minimum of four hours or overnight.14 For the marinated berries, simply hull the strawberries and cut in half, sprinkle with icing sugar and chopped basil and allow to marinate for 15 minutes.15 To serve, top the chilled cheesecake with the berries and enjoy.