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Waldorf salad Apple, celery & walnut salad, watercress & Crozier blue cheese

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Ingredients;

For the candied walnuts;

100ml stock syrup
100g walnuts roasted and peeled                             

For the dressing;

100g Crozier blue cheese   
2-3tblsp boiling water  
100ml mayonnaise     
Seasoning to taste

For the salad;

3 sticks of celery cut into 1cm dice      
200g watercress  
1 granny smith apple, peeled and cut into 1cm dice and tossed in lemon juice to prevent discolouring 
50g Crozier blue cheese, cut into 1cm dice                                                               

To serve;

Deep fried celery leaves

Method;

Bring the stock syrup to the boil, remove from the heat and add the nuts, allow the nuts to cool in the syrup. When cool place in the fridge and leave the nuts to sit in the syrup for 2 days.
Crumble the cheese into a bowl and whisk in the boiling water until the cheese is creamy and smooth.  Stir in the mayonnaise and season to taste.
Place all of the salad ingredients into a bowl and toss everything together.
Place the candied walnuts onto a tray and place under the grill; the nuts are ready when they are golden and caramelised 2-3mins.
Spoon the Crozier dressing onto service plates and arrange the salad neatly on top, scatter over the candied walnuts and garnish with deep fried celery leaves.

Pressed Foie Gras Terrine with Caramelised Chicory and Spiced Red Cabbage Chutney

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Ingredients;

For the terrine;

2 lobe of foie gras
75ml port
150ml muscat
50ml brandy
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
Seasoning

For the braised red cabbage;

1 large red cabbage, shredded
1tblsp sea salt
1bottle of red wine
250ml red wine vinegar
50g brown sugar
50g red currant jelly
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 juniper berries
2 sprigs of thyme, chopped
Seasoning

For the chicory;

1tblsp of butter
2 heads of chicory
1tsp caster sugar
1tblsp water
Juice of ½ lemons
Seasoning

To serve;

Sprig of parsley
Reduced veal jus

For the terrine;

Leave the Foie gras out of the fridge to come to room temperature approx 45mins. (This will make the Foie gras a lot easier to work with). Pull apart the two lobes and remove all of the membrane that covers the outside of the liver. Starting from the top of the lobes locate the main vein the runs the length of the lobes. Slice through the lobe to the vein and follow its path cutting the vein out as you go. Cut far enough to open the folds and expose the interior of the liver, remove as many veins as possible.
Once the Foie gras is cleaned, fold over the sides and return its original shape.
Place the port, muscat, brandy, bay leaves and thyme into a pan, bring to the boil and allow to catch fire to burn of the alcohol. Once the flames have subsided remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Place the de-veined Foie gras into a vac pak bag and pour over the alcohol reduction, seal bag and leave to marinate in the fridge over night.
The next day remove the foie gras from the fridge and take it out of the bag, press the foie gras and its marinade into a terrine seasoning between the layers.
Set the oven to 110c and bring a small pan of water to the boil.
Place a large metal tray into the oven and lay a folded tea towel on the bottom of the tray, make sure the tea towel is the same length as the terrine.
Set the terrine onto the towel and pour into the tray enough water to come half way up the side of the terrine. Cook for 35-40mins.
Remove the terrine from the oven and take out of the water bath. Place on a tray and press overnight in the fridge.

For the cabbage;

Toss the cabbage in the sea salt, cover with cling film and leave to go limp in the fridge over night. Rinse well and drain.
Place the remaining ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil, add the cabbage and turn down the heat to a simmer, leave to simmer for 1 hour, stirring all the time, remove from the heat and strain of any excess liquid. Place the cabbage into a blender and pulse lightly, pour over a little of the liquid and continue to pulse until desired consistency, cool and store in the fridge for a couple of days to allow the flavours to develop.

For the chicory;

Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the chicory, cut side down and cook over low heat until they take on a nice brown colour, 20mins.
Turn the heat up and turn the chicory over, quickly cook just to colour the other side.
Turn back over and sprinkle with sugar, water and lemon juice, season well and cover with tin foil. Bake at 150c for 2 hours or until tender.

To serve;

Slice the terrine into thick slices brush with a little warm veal jus and season with Maldon salt and pepper, place onto a serving plate.
Place a quenelle of cabbage to one side and place the warm chicory to the top of the plate.
Drizzle a little jus over the chutney and garnish with a sprig of parsley.


Colcannon Wrapped in Cabbage with Roast Celeriac, Marinated Mushrooms and Red Wine Dressing

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Ingredients;

For the parcel;

1 medium savoy cabbage
50g butter
2 onions finely sliced
1 large parsnip finely diced
2tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
350g plain mash potato no cream or butter added
1 egg yolk
100g grated Irish Cheddar

For the celeriac;

1 medium sized celeriac, peeled
300ml duck fat
2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
2 sprigs thyme
Seasoning

For the mushrooms;

12 small button mushrooms
Olive oil
Seasoning

For the dressing;

2tblsp Dijon mustard
2tblsp red wine vinegar
4tblsp walnut oil
4tblsp ground nut oil

To serve;

Asparagus tips, roast pumpkin, olive oil and finely chopped chives

For the cabbage parcel;

Remove the four outer leaves from the savoy cabbage by cutting away the base core.
Remove the thick stalk vein from each leaf without cutting in half. Reserve these leaves for wrapping the parcels.
Split the remaining cabbage in half and then into quarters, shred them finely.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the outer leaves cook for a couple of minutes until tender, refresh in iced water. When cold lay them out on a cloth to dry. Add the shredded cabbage to the boiling water and cook for 2 mins, strain then spread on a large tray and allow to cool.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter, sliced onions and parsnips fry until golden in colour and the parsnip has been cooked through season to taste and add parsley. Allow to cool.
When everything is cold mix the blanched shredded cabbage with the onion and parsnip mix and add the mash. Add the egg yolk and cheddar and adjust seasoning.
Divide the mix into 4 balls. Season the large cabbage leaves and place the ball in the centre. Roll the cabbage around the mix and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate.

For the celeriac;

Cut the celeriac into 4 even sized disc about 3cm thick.
Place a pan large enough to hold the 4 celeriac disc over a medium heat and add the duck fat, garlic and thyme. Add the celeriac and cook very slowly until golden on one side turn over and continue to cook until golden brown and cooked through.
Keep warm.

For the mushrooms;

Heat a pan over high heat and add the olive oil, season the mushrooms and cook cap side down until browned turn over and remove from the heat.

For the dressing;

Mix the mustard and the red wine vinegar together. Mix the two oils together.
Slowly pour the oil into the mustard whisking vigorously to amalgamate.
Season and set aside.

To serve;

Warm the parcel in a steamer for 6-7mins or until heated through.
Place a hot celeriac disc into the centre of a serving plate. Remove the parcel from the cling film and place on top of the celeriac.
Arrange the mushrooms, asparagus and roast pumpkin around the parcel.
Drizzle with the red wine dressing.
Pour the chives and olive oil over the completed dish.

Kitchen tools - Good knives a must for all serious cooks

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Cook´s knife
No kitchen is complete without a cook's knife. It is the most essential of all knives used in the kitchen. For the coarse or fine chopping, mincing and dicing of virtually every kind of food. Perfectly balanced, an extension of your hand.
The cook's knife - The most important kitchen tool


1.   The mid section of the blade is remarkably appropriate for either firm or soft food. The gentle curve of the blade is ideal for mincing of leeks, chives, parsley etc. Caution: Cook´s knives purposely have been ground extra thin for the ultimate cutting performance. Chopping through bones will damage the fine edge. For doing this please use a clever.
2.   The front of the blade is suitable for many small cutting jobs. It is particularly useful for chopping onions, mushrooms, garlic and other small vegetables.
3.   The sturdy spine of the blade can be used to break up small bones, such as chicken, quail or squab or shellfish.
4.   The weight distribution is optimal at the heel of the blade and is used to chop through extremely firm food objects.
5.   The wide flat surface of the blade is suitable for flattening and shaping of meat cuts such as fillet as well as for lifting of the chopped product.

How do I use a cook´s knife?
A cook´s knife is of great importance in every kitchen and for a professional Chef it is the most essential one.
For use at home I suggest using a cook's knife of a blade length up to 20cm. Larger knives are mostly used in professional kitchens. However, the most important factor when it comes to buying knives is to feel it in your hand, so look around at different knives so that you can make an informed decision based on comfort and weight.
There are several different ways to hold and work with a knife efficiently.  
Gently place three fingers around the handle. The middle finger is placed onto the bolster.

Thumb and pointing finger clasp the blade left and right (vice versa for lefties).
That´s how you safely hold your knife.


How to cut correctly:
Please hold the cook´s knife as explained above.
Hold the food which you wish to cut with your left hand (vice versa for lefties). The fingertips point towards you so that they don´t touch the blade. The fingers hold on to the blade and guide the knife during cutting.
So now you are good to go. Gently push the knife forward in mincing motion by following the shape of the blade. Please make sure that the tip always remains on the cutting board Start carefully and slowly. After a certain time you will develop a routine.
You hardly need any pressure at all. The balanced knife will do the job almost by itself.
The perfect knife for any use
In the culinary world variety and preparing something outstanding is the key to success. No matter which kind of blade and handle shape you are thinking of, there will always be the right knife for all your needs.
These are some of the most important and popular knife shapes:



Peeling knife
The curved blade shape is ideally suited for peeling, cleaning or shaping any fruit or vegetable with a rounded surface. Also known as a turning knife or bird´s beak peeler.



Paring knife
The most versatile of all knives: for mincing shallots, onions and herbs as well as cleaning and cutting vegetables.










Boning knife
De-boning chicken or ham, trimming fat and sinews. The tapered, pointed blade is a necessity for working closely around joints.










Fillet knife
Filleting delicate fish or preparing carpaccio - it´s easier with this extra thin, flexible blade.










The blade with the serrated edge
The wavy or serrated edge allows an easy cut through crusty food like a traditional roast and crispy bread




Carving knife
Perfect for the larger cuts of meat and for breaking down larger fruits and vegetables.










Salmon slicer
The ultimate specialty knife designed solely for the paper-thin slicing of this delicate cut of fish.











Spatula
With the thin and flexible blade items can be lifted without damaging the underside. Perfect also for spreading dough.










Straight meat fork
As a carving or serving fork, you´ll have a good hold on most anything.










Sharpening steel
Keeping knives sharp is easy if you sharpen them often on a sharpening steel.



 





Decorating knife
Create crinkle-cut french fries, decorative garnishes and crudities, even eye catching butter paddies.














Honing and sharpening

A guideline about how to keep your knives sharp

When it comes to maintaining your knives you have to differentiate between honing and sharpening. Here we can explain the difference.

Honing

With regular use, any knife will lose its "bite". Every edge has many very fine "teeth" which are bent to both sides of the blade after a certain time of cutting on a hard surface (you can´t see that with your eyes- only under a microscope). Using a sharpening steel will realign these teeth and keep the edge sharp for a long time of cooking enjoyment.
Hold the steel with your left and the knife with your right hand (lefties simply do the opposite) and guide the blade with light pressure across the steel. Do this in an arching motion, side-to-side, at a 20o angle between blade and steel. Repeat this process 6 - 8 times. Never stroke each side more than once in succession.

Sharpening:- Should your knife have become dull you might no longer be able to restore the edge by using a honing steel. That is when you have to use an abrasive sharpening utensil to reshape the edge to its original factory geometry.

Diamond knife sharpener:- The diamond sharpener is coated with up to 2 million industrial diamonds. The abrasive surface allows you to create a new edge quickly and efficiently. To be used like the honing steel.


Ceramic sharpener:- Ceramic is a very hard material. The surface of this rod is abrasive but not as abrasive as a diamond sharpener. Thus resulting in a finer edge. To be used like the honing steel.


Ceramic knife sharpeners:- These sharpeners are an easy way to sharpen your knives. Two ceramic wheels offer you the right angle, just gently pull your knife through those wheels and you will have restored the edge.

Whetstones:- The use of a whetstone is an effective and professional way to get the edge of your knife back into shape.


How to use the whetstone:
Submerge the stone in water for about 5 - 10 minutes.
Continue to apply water while sharpening. The stone releases small particles during the sharpening process. This powder in combination with water allows the sharpening.
Place the stone on a slip-resistant base like a towel.
Start by using the coarse grit of the stone.
Move the blade back and forth at an angle of 10 - 15° using gentle pressure.
Start at the tip of the blade, continue with the middle section, and finish at the end of the blade.After a while you will notice a small burr at the edge.
Now repeat the same process on the other side of the blade.
Finally, turn the stone over and repeat the procedure, this time using the fine grit of the stone.
In order to remove the remaining burr, pull the blade at an angle over the stone. Now you will have achieved the best sharpness.
Rinse the stone and clean off the grinding residue. Clean your knife with hot water.

Please take utmost care when sharpening your knives to prevent injuries


Food pic's from Bert's the Merchant hotels Jazz bar

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Couquilles St Jauques
made with local Northern Irish scallops and a little Glebe Breton cheese in the topping. Always a favourite!!!!





Crab Hash
Freshly picked Kileel crab meat tossed in a hot pan with saute potatoes, shallots, fresh chervil and a little spinach. we drizzle over a little lemon butter sauce. Simple and perfect!!!!






Lobster Thermidor
Simple grilled and served with shoe string fries.






Omelette Arnold Bennett
At Bert's we make this with Walter Ewing's plae smoked haddock, we add Glebe Breton cheese and serve it with organic tomato salad. All local ingredients.






Beetroot Risotto
When in season we buy locally grown beetroot, all of different colours and sizes. They make a wounderful and vibrant risotto and topped with a little St Tola organic goat's cheese what could be better!!!!






Organic baby vegetable hot pot
A perfect choice for a vegetarian. This dish show cases some of the lovely organic vegetable we can find in Northern Ireland. Topped with crisp potatoes and served with a simple salad.






'Waldorf Salad'
Another Classic. At Bert's we love to take the classics and 'Jazz' them up a little.
this reworking of a Waldorf salad has the addition of Kearney blue cheese fritters and candied walnuts, along with all the classic ingredients that made this salad famous!!!!
Kearney blue is a cheese made in Portaferry Northern Ireland.






Tomato & Onion tart
a great little summer starter, puff pastry topped with caramelised onions and cherry tomatoes.