My love affair with scallops started back in Kinsale, Co Cork in the Seventies. As a boy, I was taken to Jim Edwards Restaurant, where one of the specialities of the house was Scallops Mornay in the shell. I remember it like it was yesterday. Set down in front of me were three large shells containing some of the largest scallops imaginable, the like of which you hardly see anymore.
As I dug under that glorious Mornay sauce, I found my first scallop. Hidden like a treasure, I cut it, forked it and I chewed. Sweet, briney meat, a revelation and one of my most treasured food memories -- I often think of it, even to this day!
This is my favourite dish at this time of year, when all the ingredients are at their very peak. Don't forget: good cooking starts with good shopping, so don't scrimp on quality.
This simple, zesty dish relies on really first-class ingredients. I love the clean, fresh flavour of marinated scallops with lime, chilli and coriander notes.
This is beautiful accompanied by the richness of the avocado and the sweet/sour balance of the mango and apple. The crisps should be thin and provide a slight distraction on texture. Enjoy!
Lime-Marinated Scallops, Avocado Puree, Mango and Apple
Serves 4, approximately.
You will need:
Juice of 6 limes and zest of 1 lime
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
50g (2oz) coriander leaf, roughly chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, crushed
100ml (3fl oz) virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sugar
10 large scallops
250ml (9fl oz) creme fraiche
3 potatoes, Queens or Golden Wonders, to make potato crisps
50g (2oz) mango, diced
30g (1oz) Granny Smith apple, diced
To make the marinade:
Squeeze the limes, reserving the juice of half of one lime for the avocado puree. Add to the juice the zest, chilli, shallots, coriander, crushed lemongrass, olive oil and sugar. Leave to infuse for two hours.
Then slice the scallop across in halves and leave sitting in the marinade for one and a half hours.
To make the avocado puree:
Peel the avocados, discard the stone and scrape inside the skin for the green pigment, which helps to keep the puree green.
Puree the flesh in a blender, with the juice of half a lime, two tablespoons of creme fraiche, a pinch of salt and some cayenne pepper.
To make the potato crisps:
Peel the potatoes and slice very thinly. Trim the edges to ensure that the slices are circles of the same size.
Place in a deep fat fryer at 160°C, 320°F, Gas 3, until evenly golden brown. Drain and season with salt.
Place five dots of creme fraiche on each plate and place a piece of scallop on top of each dot, season with sea salt and place a crisp on each.
Garnish with a dot of avocado puree, a little of the lime marinade, mango and apple.
Ross Lewis is chef and co-owner at the Michelin-starred Chapter One restaurant. Chapter One, Basement of Writer's Museum, 18-19 Parnell Sq, D1, tel: (01) 873-2266, or see www.chapteronerestaurant.com
Roast leg of spring lamb is a favourite of mine since childhood. I often cook this for Sunday lunch at home. I love the taste and texture of all lamb, and the many different ways it can be cooked and served. I have even put a leg of lamb on the barbecue on occasion! My brother-in-law, Frankie, is a sheep farmer in Liscarney outside Westport in Co Mayo and my family and I spend quality time there. The house is in the middle of the farm with sheep and lambs running everywhere. It is a wonderful sight to behold. The kids love it, as do Sallyanne and I.
This is the best time of the year for lamb and this is a perfect Easter Sunday meal. I love the summer greens and the crushed potato salad. The mustard and honey glaze gives it a lovely tangy sweetness and it really works. I also enjoy the leftover lamb in a sandwich the next day!
Any cut of lamb is a favourite -- rump, liver, kidneys, rack, loin. We sell a lot of lamb here in the restaurant -- it is very popular. I've seen the lambs being born and I've seen them go to the market, and I still think they taste wonderful.
MUSTARD and HONEY GLAZE LEG OF LAMB WITH GARLIC and ROSEMARY, FRESH MINT JELLY, STIR-FRIED SUMMER GREENS, CRUSHED NEW POTATO SALAD
You will need:
Leg of lamb, 1½kg (3lb)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch rosemary
For the mustard and honey glaze, you will need:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Sprig of rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1 lemon
Pepper and salt
For the fresh mint jelly, you will need:
236ml (½pt) water
8 stalks of mint
4 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic
3 leaves of gelatine
A handful of chopped mint
For the summer greens, you will need:
100g (3½oz) French beans, topped and tailed
100g (3½oz) sugar snap peas
Bunch pak choi
2 tablespoons soy sauce or rice vinegar
For the baby potato salad, you will need:
400g (14oz) baby potatoes
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or olive oil
Make small slits in the lamb, and place the sliced garlic in the slits.
Put the lamb in a hot pan for a few minutes, sealing the flavour, and turn the lamb to seal all sides. Then place it in a roasting tray with the rosemary in a pre-heated oven at 200°C, 390°F, Gas 6, for 20 minutes, followed by 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4, for 60 minutes. These timings are for pink lamb. Baste the lamb with the juices from the meat as you cook.
To make the mustard and honey glaze:
Combine the ingredients of the honey and mustard glaze.
When the meat is nearly cooked, brush with the glaze and cook for a further 10 minutes. Use the juices at the end for your gravy.
To make the fresh mint jelly:
Bring the water, mint stalks, sugar and garlic to the boil, simmer for five minutes and then strain.
Soak the gelatine in water. When soft, whisk into the mint water. Leave to cool.
Remove the clove of garlic and add the chopped mint before the jelly sets.
To make the stir-fried summer greens:
Blanch the French beans and sugar snap peas in boiling, salted water and drain.
Stir-fry beans and peas with the pak choi in a wok, with a little soy sauce or rice vinegar, and seasoning.
To make the crushed baby potatoes:
Boil the potatoes in salted water and leave to cool.
Finely slice the shallots. Mix together with mayonnaise or olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Derry Clarke is chef and co-owner at the Michelin-starred l'Ecrivain restaurant.
L'Ecrivain, 109a Lwr Baggot St,
D2, tel: (01) 661-1919, or see ww.lecrivain.com