Connemarra Region, Ireland’s West Coast
Last October, I had the wonderful pleasure of taking a 17 day vacation to Ireland & London. My sister was “studying” abroad in Dublin at the time so my family & I thought it would be a great opportunity to see her and tour the country.
The trip was fantastic for so many reasons, 17 days of no work & no blackberry, experiencing my family’s heritage, enjoying the outdoors all made it an experience to remember. Above all of that for me, however, was the food Ireland had to offer. Visiting many small towns throughout the country meant I was also touring the country through taste. Whether it was seafood chowder made from fresh caught seafood on the West Coast or traditional yet modern Irish pub grub in Dublin, I was never disappointed with what was placed before me.
I plan on writing a detailed post about this trip and share my culinary journey as well as some of my photos but right now I would like to share a dish I had in Dublin and recreated when I was back in the states. One of my favorite things about cooking & baking is being able to capture a specific memory in a dish and I am happy to say I was able to achieve that here.
On our second stop in Dublin towards the end of the trip we went to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called The Winding Stair. The location was originally a meeting place for local writers in the 1970’s and although it was sold in 2005 the new owners decided that the bottom floors should remain a bookshop while converting the upper level to a restaurant. Its history gives this restaurant a relaxed and homey feel while its chefs produce outstanding food.
The menus, which are printed on single sheets of paper and attached to clipboards, had so many fantastic choices it was a burden to pick only one entree. Since the table had shared an absolutely terrific & local Irish charcuterie board (and I had enjoyed numerous red meat meals throughout the trip) I opted for the vegetarian option – a Parsnip & Shallot Tart served with Roasted Root Vegetable Puree. My choice was perfect, the tart was light and airy yet dense & hearty enough to satisfy me. The earthy parsnips were balanced by the delicious Grubeen cheese & buttery crust. The roasted root vegetable puree was fantastic as the supporting lead, with strong hints of turnip and sweet potato blended into a creamy puree.
After settling back into my routine at home in the states, I began to crave this wonderful little tart. Not only did I crave its taste and delicate texture but I also wanted to remember my trip. The wonderful memories of spending time with my family and enjoying a country that seemed to embody so much of what I am.
So I set out to recreate the tart with little more than my memory. Grubeen cheese is also a locally produced Irish cheese which can be difficult to find in the States. Instead, I used a 3 year old aged Gruyere- which after reading up online I learned would be a good substitute.
The recipe that follows is not exact as I was too excited to write it all down but the end result is delicious and I hope you try it out.
The Winding Stair’s Parsnip & Shallot Tart
makes about 5 indivdual sized tarts
6 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 large parnsips, diced
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 cup Gruyere, shredded
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon olive oil
handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
5 prebaked tart crusts – see below
Carmelize onions in a sautee pan with butter, 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt, about 15 minutes. While onions are cooking, in a baking dish toss parsnips with olive oil (2 tbsp), salt and pepper. Roast in 400°F oven for 30 minutes, turning occaissonaly.
In a large bowl whisk together milk, heavy cream, egg & egg yolk. Fold in shredded cheese and parsley. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Milk & Egg Mixture
Place cooled onions on the bottom of prebaked tart crusts. The onions should cover the bottom and not be in more than one layer. Arrage cooled parnsips on top. Pour egg & milk mixture into each tart pan and top with additional shredded cheese.
Tarts before going into the oven
Bake in 325°F oven for 40 minutes or until middle is set.
I served my tarts roasted brussel sprouts & balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!
makes about 5 indivdual tart crusts
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water (may need more)
In your food processor, pulse together for 10 seconds the first three ingredients and then add the ice water. Pulse for 5 or 6 more times quickly until a dough begins to form. Place dough onto a floured surface and begin to roll into a bowl. Once formed, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to use, roll out the dough and cut out circles about the size of your tart pans. Place dough in the tart pans and press up along the sides, crimping the edges. Poke 3-4 holes with a fork. Line the tart crusts with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights or dry beans. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 12-14 minutes or until the tart is golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack until ready to use.
Family (minus my brother)
Enjoying a pint & getting out of the rain in Dublin