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, deli outlets 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.
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 seven or eight 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, 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 more than 250,000 pounds and a variety of cheeses each year, every cheese is still hand made.
Paula has also written a book, Cheese Glorious Cheese, with some of the most tempting recipes I’ve ever come across .
It’s published by Mozzarella Company; here are a few of the recipes I really enjoyed.
Here in Ireland we can use fresh Irish Mozzarella.
Paula Lambert’s Gingery Pear Cheesecake
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 one 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 1¼ 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. Serve chilled.
Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Toasts with Anchovy Sauce
Makes ½ cup anchovy sauce
Serves 12 – 20 (makes 40 toasts)
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 grill 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 Crab-Avocado Tostadas with Queso Blanco
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.
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. www.deaneseipic.com
Autumn Foraging: 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 more than 40 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, September 30, or Saturday, October 1. 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 ½ 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 eight delicious recipes. Friday, September 30, www.cookingisfun.ie
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