For those who are, during the isolation period, missing the ritual of going out to eat, Chris Rees, Head Chef at The River Room at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort, has shared two of his favourite recipes that will challenge your culinary skills and allow you to enjoy the taste of fine dining from your own home.
This is a delicious vegetarian dish from the River Room menu, it consists of a sweet and sharp onion jam, rich Irish cheddar sauce and baked discs of butternut squash and is topped with roast onion and thin slices of winter truffle for that touch of extravagance.
Small flan tins will be required for individual tarts or a large one can be made in a bigger tin and portioned after.
Ingredients: serves 4
For the butternut squash:
Firstly, cook the butternut squash, start by slicing the whole vegetable lengthways into pieces around 1cm in thickness, place these on a baking tray brush with oil and honey.
Season with salt and pepper and cook in a low oven (120c) until just soft. Remove and allow to cool then using pastry cutters cut into discs about half the diameter of the flan tin.
For the onion jam:
Slice 3 of the onions very thin, use a mandolin or Japanese slice for best results. Add to a warm pan with a little oil, salt and pepper.
Cook the onions slowly for about 40 minutes until reduced and very soft, add the sugar and allow to caramelise then add the vinegar and continue to cook gently until soft and sticky. More sugar or vinegar can be added to taste.
For the cheese sauce:
Place a pot of water on the heat and allow to boil, then place a metal bowl over the water to create a bain marie.
Add the cream, eggs and grated cheese to the bowl and gently whisk over heat, continue to cook until the sauce has thickened to a custard consistency then remove from the heat.
For the pastry:
Lay out 4 of the sheets of pastry then brush with butter and season
Top each sheet with another one to create 4 double layered sheets and cut into circles about 2cm bigger than the baking tins, then carefully press into the base of the tin.Put another tin on top to hold it in place while cooking.
Bake in the oven at 150c until lightly golden and crisp.
For the roast onion:
Cut the remaining onion in half and in a heavy based pan, add a little oil and butter over a medium heat, season, then place the two halves cut side down in the oil and butter. Allow to colour, then place in an oven to cook until very soft at 160c. Once cooked, allow to cool then cut each half again so that there are 4 quarters.
To assemble the dish:
Wine Recommendation: Santa Alicia Chardonnay
The vineyards are located in the Maipo Alto area of Chile, at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The soil of alluvial origin is very permeable, with medium intensity. The lack of precipitation from November to March produces grapes of excellent health and quality, with well-developed aromas and flavours.
100% Chardonnay, Grapes are handpicked to avoid damaging the clusters at the end of March. 80% of them are fermented in fine grain French oak barrels and kept with its lees for 6 months. The other 20% are fermented in stainless steel tanks.
Golden yellow colour with greenish hues. The complex aromas exhibit great intensity and notes of tropical and citrus fruit, nicely balanced with notes of toasted oak, hazelnuts, cinnamon and vanilla. A delicate and elegant wine in the mouth, with a fine balance between the fruit and the wood, nice acidity and persistent finish.
This dish, and variations of it, are always a staple favourite on the late Spring and Summer menus of The River Room, featuring as a fish course on tasting menus and sometimes simply with scallops as a starter on the evening menu.
The star of the show is really the complex sauce that brings everything together. Although this dish requires effort, the results are well worth it.
Ingredients - Serves 4
For the sauce:
To make the sauce:
Cut all of the vegetables into small pieces and gently cook in a heavy saucepan, along with the garlic, star anise and bay leaf, until soft and translucent.
Add the tomato puree and continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the wine and brandy with the orange juice and peel.
At this point the roasted shells and scallop roe can be added to the sauce. Simmer for about an hour at a medium heat and pass through a fine sieve. Add the cream and whisk in the butter to create a thick sauce.
For the vegetables:
I have chosen these vegetables; however, any in-season summer vegetables can be used.
Peel the leaves off the artichokes, then using a peeler trim into shape, scoop out the middle and poach for around 8 minutes in a little water, olive oil and lemon juice. Season and set aside.
Simply cook the potatoes in salted boiling water then with a small sharp knife remove the skins and dress with a little olive oil. Use this water to cook the courgettes for around 3 minutes depending on size.
Cut the gem lettuce lengthways in 4 and wash with the samphire and set aside.
To cook the fish and assemble the dish:
Season and pan fry the monkfish tails in a large hot pan with a little oil until slightly golden. Transfer to a flat tray and place in a low heated oven (80-90c) for around 5 minutes until the flesh feels slightly firm.
Using the same pan, gently cook the scallops. Once cooked, place the scallops beside the monkfish on the tray.
In a small saucepan with a little butter, add the vegetables and the gem lettuce and gently warm through, until the lettuce has wilted, then season to taste.
Remove the fillets on the monk tail with a sharp knife by cutting along the single bone on each side, place each fillet on a plate with the scallops and dress with the vegetables.
Finish with the shellfish sauce.
Wine recommendation: Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc Unwooded 2014 South Africa
With vineyards situated in the prime Paarl region with varying climatic zones, grapes are hand selected for the Reserve No. 1 Chenin Blanc.
The cool breezes from the nearby Atlantic Ocean from the early afternoon result in cool night temperatures of 15-17 degrees Celsius. Moderate temperature differences allow vines to rest during the night. This combined with the hardy soil type leads to robust ripe fruit flavours.
Deep, bright gold. Super attractive nose with waves of tropical fruits, citrus and honeysuckle backing. Rich and full in the mouth with deep flavours and crisp acidity. All in fresh, youthful mode. Guava, granadilla and some mango with lots of citrus.
Flavours seem to be endless as with everlasting finish making this wine perfect to stand against the delightful sauce in this dish.
This Chenin Blanc shows an exceptional expression of the Chenin Blanc variety. The perfect balance between the prominent litchi fruit and the depth of guava flavours on the palate. The “sur lie” extended lees contact period, adding complexity and a creamy, textured mouthfeel to the wine.