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Book Review

The Goat’s Cheese, A cookery book inspired by the good people and great food of Skerries by Fergus Gannon, Danny ward and Pete Radzwion (The Goat’s Cheese, paperback, 122pp, €25)

JEANNE QUIGLEY reviews The Goat’s Cheese, A cookery book inspired by the good people and great food of Skerries by Fergus Gannon, Danny Ward and Pete Radzwion (The Goat’s Cheese, paperback, 122pp, €25)

Legend has it that when St Patrick lived on an island just off the coast of Skerries, local people stole and feasted on his goat. When they tried to deny it, they could only bleat, thus earning themselves the nickname of goats, which endures to this day.

But this is not a cookery book inspired by either goats or goat’s cheese. In fact, just three of the 62 recipes feature this cheese and one of those is an unusual goats cheese and blueberry mousse, courtesy of chef Terry McCoy of one of Skerries’ oldest and most famous restaurants, The Redbank.

And that’s the idea behind this book – it’s a collection of recipes from many of the town’s best eating places and others who have a connection with this delightful North County Dublin town. It features recipes from Olive Deli & Café, White Cottages B&B, The Windmill Steakhouse, Blue Bar, Joe May’s Stoops, the Red Bank…..the list goes on. But, not content with present day Skerries’ residents, the authors invited some of those who started their culinary journeys in this seaside town to contribute.

Robert Bullock, for example, who set up his well-known company Le Patisserie when he lived locally in Hoar Rock, lets us in on the secret of his award-winning Tart de Citron Meringue; Colin Kelly – of One Pico and La Stampa fame – fell in love with kitchens when he worked as a kitchen porter in the original Windmill and his contribution is Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse with fresh raspberries and salted caramel popcorn. And the pioneering Linda O’Rourke, who opened Skerries’ first coffee shop ‘back in the day,’ shares her luscious Phoenix Pavlova that’s sure to bring back memories to plenty of older goats.

The foreword is written by local author and Irish Times columnist Shane Hegarty (whose Darkmouth children’s book series is currently being filmed) and, for the three thirtysomething authors, Fergus, Danny and Pete, this book is a labour of love.

Realising that their town could compete with any of Ireland’s so called ‘foodie towns’ they wanted to make sure that the public was well aware of this. They asked for – and received – recipes from as many of the local food businesses as they could and then added in a few historical notes and cultural references. These include a list of What’s On in Skerries throughout the year, including the Water Festival, the Christmas Swim and the FBD Ras Street Party. Local writer and artist Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan gives his unique take on some of the legends associated with St Patrick and Skerries.

As you would expect with a cookbook from this area, fish features pretty heavily. We’re told that just about everyone from Skerries has caught a mackerel off the end of the pier, from a small boat or by casting a line out into the sea. And if you haven’t maybe it’s time you did. But in case you don’t know how to cook it, Conor McLoughlin provides an easy grilled fish with devilled sauce.

Razor clams, once thought of as ‘famine food’, are very plentiful in the waters and one of the most frequently caught shellfish. Chef Stephen Atley gives a quick way of mixing with pancetta and garlic, sprinkling with Parmesan and grilling.

The book is divided by season, and if you have ever felt nervous about the Christmas Dinner, well, there are four pages in the Winter section devoted to this, from the Bird to the Trimmings to the Mince Pies (gluten free in this case). Apparently, Skerries people love their ice cream, hot chocolate and speciality coffee and not just in summer as the well-known ice cream parlour Storm in a Tea Cup gives a nostalgic Crunchy Kinder Crepe recipe.

The recipes range from easy to slightly more time consuming, but everything is explained well so amateur cooks need not worry that the recipes are beyond their range. Pages and excellent photography are slightly muted giving an old-fashioned hue, but this is a book that will sit well in any kitchen.

Pan-seared and roasted lemon cod (courtesy of Egan’s Ocean Fresh)

SAMPLE RECIPE: Pan-seared and roasted lemon cod (courtesy of Egan’s Ocean Fresh)

Egans have been supplying fresh fish to Skerries customers for 10 years. But as well as catching the fish, they also know the best ways to cook it to keep that flavour. This recipe is easy and healthy and can be ready in less than 15 minutes.

2 x 250g cod fillets (skin/boneless)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
12 vine cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp almonds (chopped/sliced)
1 slice lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 200°C.

In an ovenproof dish, roast the cherry tomatoes on the vine with the rosemary and lemon for 10 minutes.

Heat a pan and add the olive oil.

Season the cod with salt and pepper.

Sear for 1 -2 minutes on each side.

Place the cod on a baking tray and sprinkle the almonds over the top.

Bake for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.

To serve

Arrange the fish on heated plates with the roasted tomatoes; garnish with rosemary and serve with baby boiled potatoes

TIP: try soaking the cod fillets in a shallow bowl of milk for 15 minutes before cooking. This will help take away any fishy odours.

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