I’ve got a lovely friend in Dallas who also wears red glasses and makes amazing cheeses. She started the Mozzarella Company in 1982 and has been creating and producing award winning artisan chesses ever since for top restaurants, speciality cheese shops, delis and gourmet outlets all over America.
She also teaches cooking classes across the country and in Italy and France and in recent years has fallen in love with Ireland. She and Rob Kendall have been bringing groups of friends to Lismore Castle for a week long exploration of West Waterford and East Cork for several years now. They come here to the Cookery School for a private demonstration and then have fun cooking their dinner with food from the farm and gardens. Many are doctors, dentists, accountants, oil barons, philanthropists who have never cooked before but they love the experience – a change from their day job. They are as excited as kids in a candy shop when they take their first loaf of bread out of the oven and discover they can actually cook 7 or 8 dishes after one session in the kitchen.
They bring it all into the dining room and sit down together with a nice glass of wine to relish the fruits of their labours.
Paula and Rob bring them to visit the English Market where they enjoy a plate of mussels at Pat O’ Connell’s fish stall, washed down with a glass of Murphy’s before heading for St Finbarr’s Cathedral and Joseph Walsh’s furniture studio in Riverstick. They also visit many of the beautiful West Waterford houses that overlook the Blackwater River before coming back to Lismore Castle to enjoy Beth Anne Smith’s delicious food.
Paula fell in love with fresh mozzarella in Italy and decided to bring the art of cheese making home to Texas. Since 1982, her tiny downtown factory in Dallas has made award winning cheeses the old fashioned way. Even though, the Mozzarella Company now produces over 250,000 pounds and a variety of cheeses each year every cheese is still made completely by hand.
Not sure just how she managed it with Paula has also written a book, not surprisingly called “Cheese Glorious Cheese” with some of the most tempting recipes I’ve ever come across for cheese. It’s published by Mozzarella Company; here are a few of the recipes I really enjoyed. Here in Ireland we can use the fresh Irish Mozzarella from Toons Bridge Dairy and Macroom Mozzarella both from Macroom.
2016 is Northern Ireland Year of Food and to celebrate Belfast on a Plate, a beautiful new book with contributions from 20 Belfast chefs has just been launched. It is described as “A flavour of the city in recipes and stories” and it’s guaranteed to whet your appetite to make a foodie trip to Belfast, certainly on my list after I recently enjoyed Danni Barry’s food at Glebe Gardens during the Taste of West Cork.
Join me for a one day foraging course in search of wild and foraged foods. You’ll be amazed at what can be found even within walking distance. In just one day, you’ll learn how to identify and use over forty wild food plants, flowers, seaweeds and shellfish in season: rosehips, blackberries, watercress, sloes, carrigeen, mussels, sweet chestnuts… and maybe a few edible mushrooms, depending on the weather. Depending on what we’ve gathered, we might make several delicious soups; tasty salads from autumn greens; jellies and jams from berries and fruit; not to mention rosehip syrup, carrigeen moss pudding, fritters and even sloe gin. You will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the course. A walk in the countryside will never be the same again. Where you previously saw weeds, you’ll now see dinner! There are two dates – Friday 30th September or Saturday 1st October. www.cookingisfun.ie
Hands on Lamb Butchery with Philip Dennhardt
Learn how easy it is to butcher your own lamb……In this afternoon class Philip, our resident butcher, will take a whole lamb and demonstrate how to butcher it into your favourite pieces of meat ready for the oven and the freezer. The course includes a 1/2 Lamb which you butcher and then take home to put in your freezer, so make sure there is room…..
You’ll also get a pack of 8 delicious recipes. Friday 30th September, www.cookingisfun.ie
Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Toasts with Anchovy Sauce
Makes ½ cup anchovy sauce
Serves 12 – 20 (makes 40 toasts)
1 x 2 oz tin anchovies, packed in olive oil
2 fl oz (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons drained capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers
4 fl oz (½ cup) vegetable oil
1 x 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon
First make the anchovy sauce. Combine the anchovies with their oil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and capers in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the Fried Capers. Pat the capers dry and set aside on paper towels. Pour the oil into a small skillet and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the capers and fry until they burst open and are slightly browned and crisp. Be careful when adding the capers to the oil, because the splatter at first. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Position an oven rack 23 inches below the heat source. Preheat the broiler on high.
Using a serrated knife, slice the baguette diagonally at an angle into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast until top of bread is lightly browned; turn the bread over and toasts the other side.
Remove the toasts from the oven but leave them on the baking sheet. Divide the fresh mozzarella among the toasts and return them to the oven. Heat only long enough for the cheese to soften and just begin to melt, about 2 – 3minutes. Remove from the oven and using a spoon drizzle the anchovy sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle the toasts with the fried capers, parsley and lemon zest.
Serve immediately while still warm.
Paula Lambert’s Cheese Glorious Cheese
Paula Lambert’s Gouda Bread Pudding
2 cups milk
4 ozs (110 g/½ cup) crème fraiche or sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons butter
8 ozs (225 g/2 cups) Gouda
Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined.
Cut the baguette in half, and then cut it into quarters and finally into 1 inch cubes. Add the bread to the egg mixture and toss to combine. Leave to soak up the liquid for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Generously butter an 8 -10 inch (20.5-25.5 cm) casserole or soufflé dish.
Transfer 1-3 of the soaked bread to the casserole and then sprinkle ¼ of the cheese on top. Repeat layering the bread and cheese until the casserole is filled. You should have 3 or 4 layers of bread and cheese. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese in a thick layer on top.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the bread pudding has puffed up in the centre and the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve hot.
Paula Lambert’s Crab-Avocado Tostadas with Queso Blanco
4 small tomatillos
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
½ clove garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
Pico de Gallo
½ ripe tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) onion, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 corn tortillas
1 cup corn oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 ozs (175 g) fresh crabmeat
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced onion
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced jicama
½ cup Salsa Verde
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ozs (3/4 cup) queso blanco, crumbled
Paprika to taste
½ tomato, diced, for garnish
8 sprigs fresh coriander, for garnish
First make the salsa verde. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and wash the tomatillos with cold water. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp of the avocado skin. Place the tomatillos, avocado, onion, garlic, jalapeno, coriander and lime juice in a blender and process until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. Stir and adjust seasonings if necessary.
For the Pico de Gallo, combine the tomato, jalapeno, onion, coriander, lime juice and salt in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and fry the whole tortillas, turning as necessary until crisp and golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle them with sea salt.
Mix the crabmeat, onion, jimaca and salsa verde together in a small bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Stir and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Preheat the broiler to high.
Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, then divide and mound the cheese on top. Transfer to the broiler and place about 3 inches beneath the heat source. Broil until the cheese melts, taking care not to let the tostadas get too brown. Remove from the oven and immediately mound the crabmeat mixture on the cheese.
To serve, garnish each tostada with a dollop of salsa verde and a spoonful of pico de gallo. Place the remaining salsa verde and pico de gallo in small bowls to pass at the table.
Serve the tostadas accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans.
Paula Lambert’s Gingery Pear Cheesecake
1½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 pears, peeled, cored, cut into quarters
2 cups (16 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (4 oz) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs
11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Poire William or pear eau de vie brandy, optional
¾ cup (4 oz) candied ginger slices
Lightly butter the sides of a 10 inch by 3 inch (25.5 cm by 8 cm) spring form pan.
For the crust, combine the gingersnap crumbs and the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the gingersnaps resemble cornmeal in texture. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan, about ¼ inch thick, and as far up the sides as possible. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
For the filling:- cut the pears into large chunks, place in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process to chop finely. Add the cream cheese and crème fraîche or sour cream. Process for about 1 minute until fluffy. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the vanilla and sugar through the tube feed. Add the eggs through the tube one at a time, beating all the while. Add the ginger and finally the Poire William. Turn off the processor and pour the batter into the springform pan on the chilled gingersnap crust. Tap the pan gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles.
Place the springform pan on the baking sheet, transfer the baking sheet with the pan on top to the oven and bake for 1 hour to 11/4 hours. The cheesecake should be slightly risen and still have a little liquid in the centre. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon to allow the heat to escape. Leave the cake undisturbed in the oven for about 1 hour. It will finish cooking in the turned off oven. Don’t worry if it cracks.
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cake rack to cool for one hour. Once the cake has cooled cut ¼ of the candied ginger into very thin slices to garnish the top of the cake.
Chop the remaining candied ginger into small pieces. Slide the cake onto a serving plate and spread the chopped ginger on the outer sides of the cake, allowing the excess to fall onto the serving plate around the base of the cake. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
To serve, slice the cheesecake with a sharp thin knife dipped in water and dried before each slice.