Monday, 7 April 2014

Smoked Gubbeen & Thyme Canapés

This is not the exact recipe for the cheese tartlets that I recently made as part of a team challenge given to the final ten cooks on MasterChef Ireland, but it is my attempt at recreating what I made as part of the blue team on that day.
As mentioned in my previous post this was an incredibly stressful test, but one that looking back on it, I enjoyed tremendously. For the task we were expected to produce 350 of each of three canapés, one of which was Caramelised Shallot & Gubbeen Tartlets. The following recipe is my take on these tartlets.
Needless to say, cooking these in my own kitchen, in familiar surroundings and using equipment I am used to was a world removed from the situation that myself and the other contestants found ourselves in on All-Ireland Final day in Croke Park. Also, this recipe produces 36 bite sized tartlets rather than the 350 we had to do last September, but please feel free to scale up the recipe if you are planning on serving them to scores of people!!!

I will say that the great thing about having endured the Croke Park Canapé challenge is that cooking at home for a few friends and family no longer seems daunting.


200g plain flour, sieved
A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of salt
100g butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk
1tblsp cold water
Caramelised shallots:
2tbls vegetable oil
Large knob of butter
500g shallots, sliced finely
2 bay leaves
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
150ml double cream
100ml milk
100g Smoked Gubbeen cheese, grated
1tblsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper


Make the pastry:
1. Place the flour, cayenne pepper and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and using your fingertips rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and water. Using a fork, lightly work in the egg yolk and flour to make the pastry dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work-surface and knead briefly to form into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Caramelised shallots:
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the shallots over a medium heat for about five minutes, stirring regularly.
3. Reduce the heat as they are just beginning to colour and add the butter and bay leaves. Season well. Continue to cook on a low heat, stirring frequently for about 40 minutes until the onions have reduced in volume and are a deep golden colour. Set aside to cool. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Blind bake the pastry:
4. Preheat oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly grease a 36 whole mini-muffin tin and set aside.
5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about 2mm thick on a work-surface lightly dusted with flour. Stamp out 36 rounds of the dough using a 5cm round cutter and use to line 36 mini-muffin tins. Place an empty mini-muffin case on top of the pastry that you have just lined the muffin tins with and weight down with a few baking beans.
6. Blind-bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Remove the baking bean filled muffin cases and allow the tartlet shells to cool completely.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 150C/Fan Oven 130C/Gas Mark 3.
To make the filling:
8. Using a small balloon whisk, whisk the egg yolks and whole egg together in a mixing jug. Add the milk and double cream and whisk again to fully incorporate everything. Mix in the Gubbeen cheese and chopped thyme and season well.
To finish:
9. Put a small teaspoon of the cooled caramelised shallot mixture in the base of each tartlet shell. Carefully pour the egg and cheese mixture almost up to the top of each tartlet case. When all the tartlets have been filled, place in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and the egg custard mixture has slightly puffed up (this will deflate as they cool). Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Makes 36 tartlets.