Wednesday 26 June 2019

Say cheese... recipes from Donal Skehan celebrating the best of European cheese


Breakfast Tacos
Breakfast Tacos
Cheddar & Thyme Scones
Mozzarella Arancini with Sweet & Spicy Marinara
Honey & Ricotta Cheesecake

Irish celebrity chef Donal Skehan, in this exclusive preview for Weekend readers, has created a selection of recipes as part of a new campaign that celebrates the best of European cheese.

The 'Cheese, Your Way' campaign, in association with the National Dairy Council, is aimed at encouraging Irish consumers to enjoy quality cheeses from across Europe. From classic cheddars to cool mozzarellas, sweet ricottas and creamy mascarpone, it's the ultimate comfort food whether you're starting your day off or ending it on a sweet note.

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Seriously Cheesy Breakfast Tacos

Breakfast tacos were never something I made until I moved to Los Angeles. They are now our go-to breakfast for friends! Go heavy on the cheese to ensure ultimate indulgence.

Cook time: 15 minutes. Serves: 2


2 tbsp olive oil

100g good quality chorizo, diced

25g butter

4 eggs, beaten

4 flour tortillas

4 tbsp Jalapeno relish

100g vintage cheddar, grated

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small handful fresh coriander leaves

Hot sauce, to serve

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat one tablespoon of the oil along with the chorizo and toss in the pan for 1-2 minutes until they pick up a little colour. Set aside on a plate.

2. Wipe the pan clean and add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with the butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted add the eggs. Season. Cook gently, stirring, until just set. This will only take a minute, or less. Set aside.

3. Place one tortilla onto the pan and spread over 1 tablespoon of the relish along with a quarter of the chorizo, eggs and cheese onto one half of the tortilla, folding the other half on top. Toast for a minute on each side until golden and the cheese has melted. Repeat with the remaining three tortillas.

4. To serve sprinkle with spring onions, coriander and a drizzle of hot sauce.


Cheddar & Thyme Scones

Move over dinner rolls, these savoury scones need to feature on your next dinner menu. They go perfectly with soups and stews or served simply with butter and red onion relish.

Cook time: 30 minutes. Makes 8 scones


500g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

120g butter, chilled

1 tsp baking powder

125g Irish cheddar cheese, grated

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp English mustard powder, optional

250ml milk, plus extra for brushing

2 large free-range eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7, dust a large baking sheet with flour.

2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.

3. Add 100g of the cheese, 1 tablespoon of thyme and English mustard to the bowl and mix it through the crumbs.

4. In a measuring jug, whisk together the milk and egg until combined. Pour this into the crumb mixture (leaving about 1 tbsp of the mix in the jug) and mix through with a butter knife until a rough dough forms. Use your hands to push the dough together, making sure to include any mixture that's stuck on the sides of the bowl.

5. Dust a clean work surface with a little flour, turn the dough out of the bowl and press into a round shape. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of 2.5cm (1").

6. Using a 7.5cm circular pastry cutter, cut out the scones and place on the baking sheet. Press the trimmings together, roll out and repeat until you have used all the dough. Otherwise just cut into squares.

7. Brush each scone with the reserved egg and milk mix, sprinkle with 25g of cheese and the remaining tablespoon of thyme to garnish.

8. Place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 12-14 minutes until they have risen and turned a lovely golden-brown colour on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving warm with butter.


Mozzarella Arancini with Sweet & Spicy Marinara

Arancini are a Sicilian cheese-filled snack. They require a little work but are definitely worth it and a great way to use up leftover risotto.

Cook time: 35 minutes. Makes: 20


For the arancini:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

200g arborio or risotto rice

250ml white wine

750ml vegetable stock

75g pecorino, finely grated

½ x 150g ball mozzarella, cut into 20 pieces

150g panko breadcrumbs

50g flour

2 eggs

To serve:

250ml passata

3 tbsp hot sauce

½ tsp garlic powder

Small handful basil leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for 6-8 minutes until softened without colour, add the arborio rice and toss to coat.

2. Pour in the white wine, let it bubble away for a couple of minutes until reduced, stirring regularly. Add the hot stock, little by little until it is all used up and the rice has cooked, this will take about 20 minutes. Make sure each amount you add is soaked up before adding the next.

3. Stir through the pecorino, season to taste then spread the risotto in an even layer on a tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 2 hours.

4. To form the arancini, scoop a portion of the cooled risotto into your hand. Form a pattie of 2" in diameter approximately and place a piece of mozzarella into the centre. Repeat to give you 20 in total. Place on a tray in the freezer for at least an hour until solidified to ensure they hold their shape.

5. Once ready to cook, heat a large saucepan a third full with oil or deep enough to cover the arancini once submersed and allow to reach a temperature of 180˚C. Once it has almost come up to temperature add the flour, egg and panko to three separate bowls.

6. Toss the arancini in the flour, followed by the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Placing on a tray as you go. Deep-fry in batches of 5 for 5-6 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Transfer to a double layer of kitchen paper to drain.

7. Combine the passata, hot sauce and garlic powder in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat. Serve the arancini on a platter alongside the sauce and a scattering of basil leaves.


Three-Cheese Beef Ragu Pasta Bake

Serious comfort food for nights when only pasta will do!

Cook time: 50 minutes. Serves: 4-6


3 tbsp olive oil

500g beef mince

100g smoked bacon lardons

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

250ml red wine

200ml milk

1 tsp dried oregano

750ml passata

2 tbsps tomato purée

500g rigatoni

1 litre vegetable stock

200g blue cheese, roughly crumbled

200g cheddar cheese, roughly grated

1 x 150g ball buffalo mozzarella, roughly torn

Large handful of basil leaves

Sea salt and ground black pepper


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole pan over a high heat. Add the mince and fry for 6-8 minutes until browned. Remove the mince from the pan and set aside on a plate.

2. Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the pan, then add the bacon and fry for about 2 minutes until cooked through and golden.

3. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Return the mince to the pan with the red wine, milk and oregano. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until reduced by half and the liquid has thickened slightly.

4. Add the passata along with the tomato purée. Stir through to evenly combine, followed by the pasta and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring almost continuously until the pasta is al dente.

5. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

6. Stir through half of each cheese along with half the basil leaves. Top with the remaining cheese, dispersing it evenly across the top and place in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Top with the remaining basil leaves and serve.


Honey & Ricotta Cheesecake

You can switch out the gingernut biscuits for regular digestive biscuits or graham crackers here but they are worth seeking out as they add spice and sweetness to thischeesecake.

Cook time: 50 minutes.

Serves 10-12


300g gingernut biscuits, blitzed to a fine crumb

150g butter, melted

500g ricotta cheese

250g mascarpone

100ml cream

100ml honey

4 eggs, beaten

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

50g plain flour, sifted

3 figs, to serve

25g toasted flaked almonds


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with parchment paper on the base and sides, set aside on a baking tray.

2. Combine the biscuit crumbs and butter until completely mixed through. Press this mixture into the base of the cake tin. Place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, mascarpone, cream and all but one tablespoon of honey until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated, followed by the lemon and flour.

4. Pour the filling over the biscuit crumb base and smooth off the top.

5. Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

6. Once cooled serve by cutting the figs in half and placing on top of the cheesecake. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of honey and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

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