I was raised in a big family in Donegal. Growing up I was surrounded by amazing ingredients in our family restaurant. My gran baked fresh scones every morning, my granddad grew root vegetables out the back & dad experimented with the fresh fish caught in the bay. I was involved in every aspect from a very young age. It was a real family operation where everyone had a role. I gained a huge respect for food & how it can bring people together. Great food soothes the soul.
After my gran passed away, I realised how she used food to bring our large family (of 4 generations) together over the years. I filled the emptiness in us all with her wonderful recipes. After successfully climbing the corporate ladder through my 20's; going into my 30's, I realised I wanted more out of my job. I wanted to do something that challenged me but also made me genuinely happy. I was happiest creating food. I wanted to go on creating lasting memories for others through food, just as my grandmother had. She was a fearless woman & the head of the family business. Not a common thing in Ireland 60 years ago.
Her memory & the influence she had on me growning up, gave me the inspiration to go back to my roots & open my own restaurant.
I will update this page with new recipes seasonally.
Enjoy, E x
Ricotta, pickled cherries & winter walnut pesto on toast
The famously unforgiving food critic Tom Doorley wrote words of praise for this dish after he ate it as a starter in Seven Social.
Make the pesto & pickled cherries in advance – both last 2 weeks in the fridge. All components are virsatile enough individually to develop into different dishes if there are leftovers. Stick to high quality ricotta, many mass produced brands are thickened with cream. I use Toonsbridge Dairy Irish buffalo ricotta – the quality & taste is unrivalled. This recipe doubles easily.
(advance preparation: 20 minutes) (to serve: 2 minutes)
1 x 250g tub Irish buffalo ricotta cheese (I use Toonsbridge Dairy)
80g winter walnut pesto
50g pickled cherries
1 x 400-500g loaf sourdough bread
1 punnet mustard cress (any baby leaves will work here)
Remove your pickled cherries from the fridge.
Slice and toast the sourdough bread. Let cool for 1 minute.
While the bread is cooling, remove 50g of cherries from their pickling juice. Using a knife & chopping board, chop the cherries in half & remove the stones. Throw the stones away. Reserve the cherries in a bowl.
Smear each slice of toast, on one side only, with the fresh buffalo ricotta. I stick to a thickness of half an inch.
Drizzle a tablespoon of thick pesto over each toast.
Top the toasts with 4 or 5 cherry halves.
Arrange finished toasts on a large plate & sprinkle the whole plate with baby leaves. Serve.
Pickled cherry recipe:
300g fresh cherries (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)
300ml white wine vinegar
80g caster or white granulated sugar (more if you want it sweeter)
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
pinch chili flakes
Combine everything in an airtight container. Shake to mix. Refrigerate.
These can be enjoyed 1 hour after mixing and up to 2 week after. The longer they sit the more pickled they taste. My favourite is 24 hours after they’ve been sitting in their pickle bath. After that I start to add a bit more sugar to balance the tang.
Winter walnut pesto recipe:
30g fresh flatleaf parsey
30g fresh mint
60g fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
60g walnuts, toasted
60g grated parmesan cheese (grana padano or pecorino are suitable substitutes)
100ml Irish rapeseed oil (I use Newgrange Gold)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt (I use Irish sea salt)
Combine first six ingredients in a food processor and blend to a rough puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, return the lid. With the machine running, stream in the oil. Using a spatula, remove the pesto to a container.
Add the lemon zest & juice, then add salt to taste. Stir, to mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to your preference. Add a dash of water to loosen the pesto if necessary. Cover the container & reserve pesto in refrigerator until needed.