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Rice up your life

The Dunbrody House’s star chef, Kevin Dundon, shares his favourite recipes

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Asparagus Parmesan Risotto

Asparagus Parmesan Risotto

Rhubarb Apple and Raspberry Pie

Rhubarb Apple and Raspberry Pie

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Asparagus Parmesan Risotto

Here at Dunbrody, our head gardener, John Mason, has been busy planning — and planting — this year’s crop. When I finally got the chance to join in, and spend some time in our kitchen garden this week, I was delighted to find that our asparagus has started to pop their spears. Back when we planted them, I remember him saying it would take time to yield enough for the kitchen, as plants need a few years to bed in before you can harvest them, so it’s been a real labour of love. There are so many ways to cook asparagus, but my best advice is not to overcook the vegetable, as not only will it lose its nutritional value, it will taste bland too. Many recipes — including today’s asparagus risotto — call for the green to be blanched. This just means boiling it quickly in salty water, then transferring to a bowl of iced water to pause the cooking process. For a sweet treat, check out my fruit-filled pie, which showcases late winter apples, spring rhubarb and a hint of summer with raspberry jam. I like to top mine with slices of homemade raspberry roll to create lovely flaky, jammy swirls — the perfect end to Sunday lunch. Happy cooking, Kevin

ASPARAGUS PARMESAN RISOTTO

Ingredients (serves 4):
■ 4-6 asparagus spears, sliced
■ 800ml vegetable stock
■ 50g butter
■ 2 shallots, finely diced
■ 1 garlic clove, chopped
■ 200g Arborio rice
■ 100ml white wine
■ 50g baby spinach leaves

■ 1 tbsp mascarpone, optional
■ 70g Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
■ 1 lemon, juice
■ Salt and black pepper

Method:
1. Keeping the tip about 5cm long, cut the asparagus into 1cm pieces.
2. In a saucepan, bring 800ml vegetable stock (or salted water) to the boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 1-2 minutes until just softened.
3. Transfer directly from the boiling liquid into a bowl of ice water. Set aside, saving the asparagus-flavoured vegetable stock for the risotto.
4. Melt the butter in a wide, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and seasoning and cook very gently until the shallot is completely softened.
5. Add the rice, stirring well to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Allow it to glaze without any liquid for about one minute, continuing to stir constantly.
6. Add the white wine, stirring all the while. As the wine evaporates quite quickly, you really need to stand over this dish as you cook it.
7. Increase the heat slightly and start adding the stock little by little, only adding a ladleful when the previous one has evaporated. It is vitally important not to rush this process.
8. Continue in this way for 10-12 minutes until all of the liquid has been added and the rice is nicely plump and tender.
9. Next, add the asparagus pieces and tips, and cook for a further minute or so. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan and spinach.
10. Check the seasoning and add some lemon juice if desired, or a spoon of mascarpone if you want to be really indulgent.
11. Enjoy immediately.

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Rhubarb Apple and Raspberry Pie

Rhubarb Apple and Raspberry Pie

Rhubarb Apple and Raspberry Pie

RHUBARB, APPLE AND RASPBERRY PIE

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
■ 50g butter, diced
■ 50g brown sugar, plus extra for dusting
■ 2 cooking apples, chopped
■ 2 eating apples, chopped
■ 4 sticks rhubarb, chopped
■ 1 lemon, juice
■ 300g puff pastry
■ 50g raspberry jam
■ Egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1tbsp milk)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar. Add the cooking and eating apples along with the rhubarb and lemon juice.
3. Simmer over a low heat for 5-8 minutes until the apple forms a chunky purée. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
4. Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Line the base and edge of a ceramic pie dish with the pastry, then set aside.
5. Use the remaining puff pastry to make a raspberry roll for the top of the pie. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on the pastry, then roll onto itself and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.
6. In the meantime, spoon the cooled apple purée into the pastry-lined pie dish.
7. Remove the raspberry roll from the fridge and cut into slices, around 2-3mm thick. Carefully place the slices on top of the apple, ensuring the edge of the pie is covered.
8. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
9. Remove from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes. Serve with ice-cream.

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TOP TIP: HANDMADE CHOCOLATES MAKE AN EGGSCELLENT EASTER GIFT

Easter is coming soon. If you want to treat someone, these Irish artisan chocolates by Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan of Praliné Chocolatiers make a great gift.
The young couple established their Athlone-based shop in 2020 and have since put amazing technique, flavours and passion into crafting chocolate collections for every season.
Check out pralinechocolatiers.com, but be quick as they prepare in small batches.

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