Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Baked Peppers with Tomato & Goats Cheese

This is a wonderful starter served with goats cheese, otherwise makes a very simple, colourful and delicious accompaniment to many meat dishes.

Serves 6

3 red peppers
6 plum tomatoes
2 tbsps olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
salt & pepper
handful of fresh basil

200g / 6oz crumbly goats cheese
toasted pine nuts to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C

1. Halve the peppers lengthways, remove the stalks and seeds.  Place in a large roasting tin, cut side up.
2. Halve the plum tomatoes and put 2 halves inside each pepper.
3. Sprinkle each pepper half with freshly ground salt and pepper, some crushed garlic and a small drizzle of olive oil.
4. Roast in the oven for approx 25 minutes until the peppers are cooked through and slightly charred.
5. If adding the goats cheese - remove the roasting tin from the oven after 30 minutes and add some cheese to each pepper.  Return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
6. Serve sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and torn basil leaves.

This can also be served cold for a picnic - crumble the cheese over the baked peppers when cold.


Elderflower cordial

Summer is almost here, and so to are the Elderflowers, but you must be quick, they'll be gone before you realise it. The elder's significant health properties have been appreciated way back. High in vitamins A, B and C, elderflower cordials and elderberry wine were thought to prolong life. I love the refreshing flavour of the cordial, mixed with still or sparkling water and lots of ice. Dilute to taste.

20 heads of elderflower
1.8 kg granulated sugar, or caster sugar
1.2 litres water
2 lemons
75 g citric acid
  1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any insects, and then place in a large bowl.
  2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  4. Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water), and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.


Caponata with chicken

Sample what was on offer at Lismore Opera festival 2011. The theme was Italian as the opera was Don Giovani.

Recipe x 8

For the aubergines:
2 medium aubergines, cut into 2½cm / 1" dice
3 tbsps olive oil

For the tomato sauce:
2 x 400g / 14oz Italian plum tomatoes
3 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 anchovy, rinsed
salt & black pepper

For the vegetables:
3 tbsps olive oil
4 stalks celery, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
1 onion, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
1 red pepper, cut into 1cm / ½" dice
90ml / 3floz white wine vinegar
1½ tbsps caster sugar
1½ tbsps capers, rinsed
2 tsps tomato puree
10 green olives, pitted and rinsed

For the chicken:
Steam six chicken fillets, all to cool and shred

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.
2. Sprinkled the diced aubergine with 1 tsp salt and leave to stand in a colander for 10 minutes.  Wash and drain the aubergine then spread it in a single layer on a baking tray.   Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat the aubergine evenly with oil.  Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during to keep the aubergine from sticking to the pan.
3. Make the tomato sauce while the aubergines are baking.  Empty the tins of tomatoes into a food processor and process until smooth.  Heat the oil in a large pan (with lid) over medium heat.  Add the garlic and anchovy and cook until the garlic is pale gold and the anchovy has melted in the oil, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, cover partially with the lid (this helps with splattering) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have reduced down to a thick and concentrated sauce, about 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside.
4. Cook the vegetables.  Heat the olive oil in the rinsed out pan over a medium heat.  Add the celery, onion and pepper dice and cook, stirring once or twice, until translucent and tender, but still with a bit of crunch, about 5 minutes. 
5. Add the vinegar and stand well back to avoid an eyeful of vinegar fumes.  Stir in the sugar, tomato puree, capers, olives and the tomato sauce and give the contents of the pan a good stir to combine well.  Allow to bubble steadily for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and add the baked aubergines.  Give the mixture a really good stir to mix the aubergines and chicken well into the sauce and leave to simmer very slowly, stirring once or twice, to allow the flavours to blend, about 10 minutes. 
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.  When the salad is cold, check again for seasoning and add a little extra sugar and olive oil if you feel it’s a touch too tart.  
7. Serve at room temperature with plenty of good crusty bead to mop up the gutsy sauce.

Think ahead:  you can make this piquant Sicilian salad up to 3 days in advance - in fact its flavours improve if made a day ahead.  Cool completely before covering and chilling, but for the fullest flavour, return to room temperature before serving.



Sample what was on offer at Lismore Opera festival 2011. The theme was Italian as the opera was Don Giovani.

Focaccia - of course I made it myself…!


700g (1 ½ Lb) Strong plain white flour
Pinch salt
1 7g sachet dried yeast
450ml (3/4 Pint) warmed water
45ml (3tblsp) Olive Oil
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
A few sprigs of Rosemary


1. Sift Flour , salt and yeast into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water and the olive oil to form a soft dough.
2. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl. *Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½-2 hours until doubled in size.
3. Knock back the dough and divide into two pieces. Roll out into 2 10 Inch circles and place on greased baking sheets. Cover with damp cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
4. Using your fingers make deep dimples with your fingers and drizzle olive oil in the dimples, sprinkle with rock salt, rosemary and spray with water.
5. Bake at 200oC for 20-25 minutes, spraying with water twice during cooking.
6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm is possible or on the same day.