“Well and what’s cheese? Corpse of milk?” asked our own James Joyce, but as the home of some of the finest milk in the world, the cheese scene here has never been more alive. There has scarcely been a more exciting time to enjoy cheese in Ireland, with artisan producers all over the country excelling themselves – from Durrus to Cooleney. The surge in it’s production is in no way surprising when you consider that Europe is the home of the world’s finest cheese with our rich green pastures. It really is the perfect time to cheese up your life.
Think about it, you could feasibly travel the continent sampling the regional speciality cheese offering, Norway’s blue cheese Kraftkar currently holds the distinction of Best Cheese in the World, France is fromage Mecca, from Delice de Bourgogne to Neuf Chatel, and no-one does hard cheese like the Italians with their Parmigiano. Cheese lovers, we are truly spoiled in this part of the world, and that is worth celebrating.
Trainee chefs and culinary students, National Dairy Council’s Cheese Up Your Life competition is your chance to use your love of cheese, skills and competitive edge to to create a dinner party level dish to wow the judging panel, composed of Clodagh McKenna, Derval O’Rourke and Vanessa Greenwood. In return for your cheesy efforts, you could win a once in a lifetime trip to Tuscany for a week long culinary trip for two, plus attend a Cheese Symposium in Brussels in June.
Three finalists will be invited to Dublin to attend a Cook Off in Cooks Academy on Friday 5th May 2017 where the lucky winner will be announced. All entrants must be available to attend the Cook Off if selected as a finalist and bring their A game to make the judges melt.
To make it a little easier to get your creative juices flowing, we have compiled an inspiration list of delicious cheesy dishes. A word to the wise – Clodagh tells us her favourite cheese is Irish farmhouse, she loves “anything from Silke Croppe’s Milleens” and she is also partial to Cashel Blue. As a judge, she will be looking for dishes which make a focal point out of cheese rather than just a sprinkling on top. With that inside scoop, go forth and cheese up your life!
Irish Farmhouse Cheese Soufflé by Clodagh McKenna
Wow the judges with your superior culinary skills and technique by pulling off a dish that is notoriously stroppy – the dreaded cheese soufflé. Clodagh McKenna’s Irish Farmhouse Cheese Soufflé is the perfect base recipe, so you can get creative with your accoutrements and variations to impress her. Beetroot pickle, apple and walnut salad and caramelised red onion all cut nicely through the richness of cheddar, or perhaps swap straight cheddar for applewood smoked – the choice is yours!
Beef and Cashel Blue Pasties Recipe by Niamh Mannion
Niamh Mannion is no stranger to competitive cooking having been a finalist in Masterchef Ireland, so following her lead and encasing cheese in hot water crust pastry to make a drool-worthy starter is bound to get you noticed. Her ” target=”_blank”>Beef and Cashel Blue Pasties with Mushrooms and Onion Marmalade recipe uses one of Ireland’s most famous cheeses, but Italian Gorgonzola or French Bleu d’Auvergne would be delicious here too to put your own stamp on it.
Gratinated Gubbeen Cheese and Chorizo Oysters by Darina Coffey
How can one improve on the food of love, oysters? Grill them with fabulous Irish farmhouse cheese like Gubbeen, along with spicy chorizo and fall for the bivalve beauties all over again with my own Gratinated Gubbeen Cheese and Chorizo Oysters. Gubbeen just so happens to be another of Judge Clodagh’s Top 5 Irish cheese picks so would surely keep her happy! Meltingly gooey cheese like Gruyere or taleggio would also work here, so feel free to spice things up and experiment.
Gluten-Free French Onion Soup by Gearóid Lynch
The classics, flawlessly executed, are always well received so nailing the perfect dinner party starter of French Onion Soup could bring you one step closer to a week in Tuscany! Cheese and onion has a special place in Irish hearts and in this recipe you can choose to go with gooey Gruyere or keep it local with a good melting cheese like Little Milk Company’s mature cheddar. Either way, the layer of molten cheese makes this dish so be generous!
Fig and Crozier Blue Tart Recipe by Jette Virdi
There is something so incredibly decadent about figs in all their blushing beauty. The only thing better than a fig is one intermingled with rich, pungent blue cheese and Jette Virdi’s recipe for Fig and Crozier Blue Cheese Tart is simple, elegant and utterly delicious. Crozier Blue is an excellent choice but if you can get your hands on Northern Ireland’s gem Young Buck from Mike’s Fancy Cheese in Newtownards it is well worth trying for its unparalleled nuttiness. The judges will struggle to sample just one bite of this beautiful dish.
So now that you have your cheesy inspiration, what are you waiting for? To enter this amazing Cheese Up Your Life competition, click here for an application form and guidelines.
You can either email your form to firstname.lastname@example.org or send by post to:
Your recipe must include full details on ingredients, method, cooking times and picture and the closing date for all entries is Tuesday 18th April 2017.