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Cheese up your life – win an Italian cooking holiday

Cheese is an inspirational ingredient.

With a surprising array of nutrients and delicious variations, cheese is a stand-out food when it comes to adding delicious flavour to mealtimes.

Ireland’s National Dairy Council has launched a new recipe competition aiming to put cheese centre stage once again and recognise its importance as one of the best go-to ingredients available.

People from all over Ireland are invited to get creative and design their own original recipes using cheese as the main ingredient, with the chance of winning a cooking holiday in Tuscany.

So why should you Cheese Up Your Life? Here are four good reasons:

1. Cheese please

Cheese has had a role throughout history as an important part of the human diet both as a staple and as a luxury gourmet food.

Cheese, such as cheddar, is an excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, zinc and phosphorus. It also provides iodine and folate.

2. It’s a great way to ‘do dairy’

‘Doing dairy’ can mean adding really delicious dishes to your weekday repertoire, in addition to dinner parties or special occasions. There is an amazing array of farmhouse and artisan cheeses available all over Ireland right now and it’s time to celebrate them when cooking.

How about a midweek Cheesy Chilli con Carne; Cheesy Tomato and Aubergine Bake or why not try a Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta or Veggie and Cheese Omelette?

From cheddar to camembert, brie to blue cheese there is fantastic variation in the number of different cheeses available to gain inspiration from.

3. Cheese talk: It’s good for you

Derval O’Rourke, former world champion athlete and National Dairy Council ambassador extols the virtues of cheese. “Cheese is one of Ireland’s oldest foods – over 1,000 years old. Today, there are over 100 varieties of Irish cheese – all delicious and all a piece of milk magic.”

Cheese can be a particularly versatile food for children and it is a great way of incorporating nutrients into their daily diet with simple snack ideas like oat cakes with white cheddar or stuffed pitta pockets.

Scrambled eggs can taste extra delicious with the addition of onion and cheddar cheese or what about a midweek dinner of ‘Cheats Cannelloni’ with Irish cheddar?

4. Win an Italian cooking holiday

Would you like to win an Italian cooking holiday? Why not embrace cheese and enter in one of two categories in the National Dairy Council competition?

Passionate cooks and foodies – a family recipe

Passionate cooks and foodies are invited to submit a delicious, healthy and nutritious family style recipe that is suitable for cooking mid-week.

The prize for this is a cooking holiday in Tuscany, including flights from Dublin and accommodation for two people plus professional kitchen equipment to the value of €500.

Trainee Chefs/Culinary Students – a special occasion recipe

Trainee Chefs/Culinary Students are invited to submit a special occasion recipe that would work best for a dinner party or celebratory occasion.

The prize for this is a professional cooking holiday in Tuscany, including flights from Dublin and accommodation for two people plus attendance at a special Cheese Symposium in Brussels on 7th and 8th June, 2017.

How to enter:

Complete the online entry form here or download the entry form here.

Send your full recipes, including full details on ingredients, method, cooking times and a picture to cheesecomp@ndc.ie or send by post to Cheese Competition, National Dairy Council, The Studio, Maple Avenue, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin.

The closing date for all entries is Thursday 18th April 2017.

Clearly mark which of the two categories you are entering – Passionate Cooks and Foodies or Trainee Chefs/Culinary Students.

The judges for the competition include Irish Chef Clodagh McKenna, Irish Olympian and food author Derval O’Rourke and Vanessa Greenwood of Cooks Academy in Dublin.

Six finalists, three from each category will be invited to Dublin to attend a Cook Off in Cooks Academy on Friday 5th May where the two winners will be announced. All the entrants must be available to attend the Cook Off if selected as a finalist.

Further details on the competition including criteria can be found here.

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