Chef Dario Cavaliere writes a weekly food column for the Waterford News & Star
CHEESE is certainly a tasty ingredient when sliced and placed on a cracker, but it has so many uses, and adds so much flavour to dishes especially when it is cooked. The Brie and Pear bake is really delicious as a starter or as a lunch dish served with a rocket salad. It has a delicious creamy and nutty texture, and can be made ahead and cooked later. Try it out as something a bit different.
Brie and Pear Bake
1 wheel brie
2 large pears
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. brandy
1 sprig rosemary
50g walnut halves
Peel and core the pears and chop into dice around 1cm thick. Heat the butter in a pan and cook the pears and walnuts for a few minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Add the rosemary and brandy, stir to combine then remove from the heat and set aside.
Using the same pan, heat the balsamic vinegar and honey together until bubbling and slightly thickened, this will take around 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes.
Slice the brie in half like a cake sponge, so that you have a top and a bottom. Place the bottom piece on a serving plate and top with half of the sautéed pear. Drizzle half of the balsamic reduction on top, then top with the other half of the brie cheese, followed by the remaining sautéed pear and finally drizzle with the remaining balsamic.
Garnish with rosemary and a few extra walnut halves and serve with toasted slices of crusty white bread.
Broccoli & Cauliflower Cheese
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
50g plain flour
100g grated cheddar cheese
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Place the cauliflower in a large pot of salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for a further 3 minutes. Dain into a colander and rinse under cold running water.
Drain the vegetables well and place into a large roasting dish.
Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Then add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a paste. Then add the milk, a little at a time until completely incorporated before adding more, making sure that it is smooth and lump free. Place back on the heat and cook on low until the sauce thickens. Season with the salt and pepper and add ¾ of the cheese and all the nutmeg. Stir well until the cheese has melted into the sauce and the sauce has become smooth.
Pour the sauce over the vegetables and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180oC for 40 minutes until bubbling and browned all over.