First of all, thank you for all of the kind comments I have received about my Portuguese Food Trails programme on RTÉ. It was great fun to make and I feel so lucky to get the opportunity to meet so many great chefs and producers. There is always something new to learn.

Today, this French onion soup is a recipe I got from my mother. She used to refer to as a ‘hug in a bowl’. The key to it is to caramelise the onions and then cook low and slow. Carol’s Bone Broth from Carol’s Stock Market is perfect for this recipe.

The porchetta recipe is a good one for any celebration, dinner party or for a delicious Sunday lunch. Ask your butcher for a rectangular piece of pork belly and a separate piece of pork loin that is the same size so that it can be rolled up inside. Pork is very versatile and it takes on the flavours in the recipe. There is a good mix of herbs here to give flavour but do not overpower the pork. Celeriac is a vegetable we use a lot in the restaurant for coleslaw, soups or purée. It is a lot easier to get these days.

Lime and ginger are a great combination in this cheesecake and the pineapple also works well with those flavours. I sometimes use mango instead of the pineapple. You can make this a day ahead and keep it in the fridge. On my recent visit filming in Madeira, I was lucky enough to be able to visit a fantastic mango producer and taste some of the best mango I have ever had.

Happy Cooking, Neven

Porchetta with Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 8–10

2 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tsp chilli flakes

10 garlic cloves, peeled

25g fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

4 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

4kg boneless pork belly and loin

200ml white wine

For the root vegetables:

5 carrots, peeled and quartered

5 small parsnips, peeled and quartered

1 celeriac, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

1 small turnip, peeled

and cut into 2cm cubes

1 tbsp honey

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and lightly toast the fennel seeds until aromatic. Add the chilli flakes and toss the pan constantly for another minute, then tip into a food processor. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme, salt and oil and blitz to a paste.

2 Using a sharp knife, score the pork belly flesh then rub in the aromatic paste. Put the pork loin on top and roll it up tightly. Tie with butcher’s string at 4cm intervals and leave to sit uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out the skin, or freeze.

3 Allow the meat to come back to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/gas mark 3).

4 Pat the pork with kitchen paper and put it on a rack in a roasting tin. Roast for four hours, then turn up the oven as high as it will go and roast for another 30 minutes, until the pork is tender and the crackling is crisp and golden brown. Remove the pork from the tin and loosely cover the porchetta with foil. Set aside.

5 Skim off the fat from the juices in the bottom of the tin, then put two tablespoons into another roasting tin (reserve the juices for gravy). Add all the root vegetables and toss to coat evenly, then season to taste.

6 Put in the oven, increase the temperature to 200°C (400°F/ gas mark 6) and roast for 35–40 minutes. Give the vegetables a good shake, drizzle over the honey and roast for another 10–15 minutes, until golden.

7 Meanwhile, put the roasting tin with the meat juices back on the hob over a medium heat. Pour in the wine, stir well and season to taste, then reduce to a gravy consistency.

8 When ready to serve, carve the porchetta into slices and put on plates with the vegetables and gravy. Any leftovers will freeze very well separately.

French Onion Soup Porchetta, Roasted Veg and Jus. \ Philip Doyle

French Onion Soup

Serves 4–6

50g (2oz) butter

675g (1 ½lb) onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp caster sugar

25g (1oz) plain flour

1 litre (1 ¾ pints) beef stock

1 tbsp cider vinegar

For the Gruyère croûtes:

8–12 thin slices baguette

100g (4oz) Gruyère cheese, grated

50g (2oz) crème fraîche

1 tsp snipped fresh chives,

extra to garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onions and sugar. Cook the onions over a very low heat for 40–50 minutes, until well softened and golden brown, stirring occasionally so that the onions don’t stick as they caramelise.

2 Stir the flour into the onions and cook over a very low heat for another five minutes, stirring continuously. Gradually pour in the stock and add the vinegar, stirring to prevent any lumps from forming.

3 Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the onions are meltingly tender and the soup has thickened, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

4 Preheat the grill to high. Arrange the baguette slices on the grill rack and toast on both sides. Mix the Gruyère with the crème fraîche and chives.

5 Season to taste and spread over the slices of toasted baguette. Place under the grill for another 1–2 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and melted.

6 To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and arrange the bubbling Gruyère croûtes on top. Sprinkle over the chives to serve.

Mascarpone cheesecake with ginger and lime. \ Philip Doyle.

Mascarpone cheesecake with ginger and lime

Serves 6-8

For the base:

75g (3oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

250g (9oz) gingernut biscuits, crushed

For the filling:

3 x 250g (9oz) tubs of mascarpone cheese, chilled

100g (4oz) caster sugar

3 eggs

Finely grated rind and juice of 2 limes

1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways

and seeds scraped out

2 tsp cornflour

1 tsp finely chopped stem ginger

½ tsp freshly grated root ginger

Strawberries or chunks of

fresh pineapple, to serve

Lightly whipped cream, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/gas mark 3). Lightly butter a 23cm (9in) loose-bottomed cake tin and line with non-stick baking paper.

2 To make the base, melt the butter in a pan set over a gentle heat or in a bowl in the microwave. Add the crushed gingernut biscuits and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the tin, pressing down with the back of a spoon to flatten. Place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

3 Place a dish of hot water in the oven on the bottom rack — this will stop a skin from forming on the cheesecake.

4 Using the paddle attachment on a food mixer, place the mascarpone cheese, sugar, eggs, lime rind and juice, vanilla seeds and cornflour in the mixing bowl. Switch on the machine and beat until smooth, then add both the fresh and stem ginger and mix well to combine. This can also be done in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and a bit of elbow grease.

5 Pour this mixture into the cake tin and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 35–45 minutes, until lightly golden. The filling should still be a little wobbly at this stage. Turn off the oven, open the door and carefully run a knife around the cake tin — this prevents the cheesecake from splitting in the middle when cooling. Leave to cool completely. The filling will set as it cools.

6 To serve, transfer the cheesecake to a cake stand and cut into wedges in front of your guests. Add some fresh fruit to each plate, such as strawberries or pineapple, and a dollop of lightly whipped cream if you’re feeling really indulgent.

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