RYDER CUP 2006 MENU - Plum and Almond Tart / Smoked Irish Salmon and Goats' Cheese Omelette

Ryder Cup 2006 Signature DishBord Bia, one of the main Ryder Cup sponsors, and the event’s corporate caterers Compass and Sodexho are responsible for the official menus for the Ryder Cup 2006 week: Connemara rump of lamb with braised baby cabbage, onions, carrots and fondant potato, and Bailey’s cheesecake with praline and butterscotch sauce are among the delicious dishes devised for attending guests.

Chefs from the K Club (and from City West Hotel, hosts of the Gala Dinner), were involved in creating menus designed ‘to showcase the best of Irish food, drink and culinary creativity’; they feature produce from over 40 Irish suppliers and include two “Gaelic Tasting Plates” : one is a seafood selection composed of smoked mackerel, Dublin Bay prawns in a seafood sauce, smoked mussels & Compsey yogurt salad, and McConnell’s smoked salmon with a wheat bread croute, and the second features McGeough’s air-dried beef and tomato chutney, potted game with bacon, smoked chicken, black pudding, apple and celery salad, and ham hock terrine with pickled vegetables.

At the other extreme, K Club Chef de Cuisine, Finbarr Higgins, has created a signature dish, Beef Tuath, which is a culinary memento of the occasion and will become a permanent fixture on the K Club menu: of its symbolic four crowns the first two consist of tender Leinster beef, the third is a circular shell of organic carrot filled with a rich puree of potato, Irish cream and wild garlic and the fourth is a tower of wild mushrooms and shallots cooked with mead and honey. Mead - the drink of the ancient nobility of Ireland - forms the basis of the jus which compliments the meal. Complicated, yes, but appropriate to the occasion and surroundings – please contact Bord Bia if you would like the official recipes…

But perhaps the most appealing aspect of the planning for this huge event is the decision to keep things simple wherever possible – to source the very best of Irish ingredients and allow them to speak for themselves, in offerings such as the tasting plates and straightforward dishes, like the ones that follow, which showcase the best produce without feeling the need to show off culinary skills too much.

Plum and Almond Tart

Plum and Almond TartThis is a delicious, simple seasonal dessert, and easy to make. Almonds have been an important ingredient in Irish kitchens since the 18th century, and Irish plums are in season now.

Serves 8-10

180g/ 6 oz butter
75g/ 3 oz icing sugar
2 egg yolks, preferably free rage
225g/ 8 oz plain flour

100/ 4 oz g soft butter
150g/ 5 oz sugar
100g/ 4 oz amaretto biscuits
200g/ 7 oz ground almonds
4 egg yolks, preferably free range
16 plums, approx (halved, stones removed, sliced)

To make the pastry: In a food processor, mix the butter, icing sugar and egg together. Add in the flour and blend until it forms a ball of pastry. Gather up into some clingwrap and chill for an hour.
To make the filling: Also in the processor, mix the butter, sugar, biscuits, ground almonds and egg yolks.
Set the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180ºC (350ºF). Roll out the pastry to line a 28cm diameter x 3cm deep tart tin. Chill for 10 minutes. Pour in the filling mixture. Place the plum slices on top and sprinkle with an extra tablespoon of sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until completely set and nicely browned. Serve warm, with chilled whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Smoked Irish Salmon and Goats' Cheese Omelette

Smoked Salmon and Goats Cheese OmeletteA dish that's quick and easy to prepare but will nevertheless be a special treat if made with free range eggs, an Irish farmhouse goat cheese like Mine-Gabhar (Clare) or Boili (Cavan), and best quality smoked salmon such as Clare Island Organic Salmon or Connemara Smokehouse organic wild salmon.

Serves 4

8 free range eggs, preferably organic
2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. olive oil
50g Irish farmhouse goats' cheese, diced
75g Irish wild and/or organic smoked salmon, thinly sliced and chopped
Red onion slices to garnish
Salad leaves and brown bread to serve

Set the grill to high. Whisk the eggs with the chives, parsley and seasoning. Heat a non-stick pan with the olive oil. Pour in the egg mixture, stir for a moment or two, allowing the liquid egg to flow on to the base of the pan. Scatter on the cheese and continue cooking until the egg is almost set but still moist on top; add the smoked salmon pieces, press on salmon lightly.
Place the pan under the hot grill for 1-2 minutes, to finish cooking. Cool for 2-3 minutes, and then loosen the edge with spatula and slide onto a large heated plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm. Garnish with red onion slices. Serve with salad leaves and brown soda bread.

Ingredient of the Week: Plums

PlumsWhat Are They?

Punus domestica is a group of hardy trees and shrubs which bear edible fruits containing stones; the type generally grown in Britain and Ireland is a cross between a sloe and a plum. Gages, which are similar (and have excellent flavour), tend to need more favourable growing conditions.

Where Do They Come From?
Many of the plums on sale in Ireland at this time of year come from continental Europe, but reliable all-rounders such as Victoria (red with dark speckling, good flavour for cooking and dessert use) grow well in Ireland.

Where Can I Get Them?
You can grow your own of course (even in a tub, on a dwarfing rootstock); conveniently, Victoria thrives on a north or east-facing wall. Otherwise small shops may have supplies from local growers, and Irish grown plums should be available now in farmers’ markets – and a range of plums from here and abroad is available in bigger shops and supermarkets.

What Can I do With Them?
The plum is a very versatile fruit, delicious eaten raw (with cheese, perhaps) when ripe, or cooked in desserts such as today’s Plum & Almond Tart. They are lovely poached (serve warm with ice cream), split and then grilled or barbecued, or cooked and pureed o flavour ice cream or other desserts – and, of course, they make wonderful jams and preserves. If you break the stones open you can even eat the kernels, which have a delicious nutty flavour - and a reputation as a superfood, with qualities said to help defend the body against cancer.

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