The Elegant Cook

M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Cook Notes

Elegant Artichoke Casserole

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 2:45 PM

 Fresh, dry spinach and canned artichoke hearts are arranged in a buttered baking dish.
Softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, and a little milk to facilitate spreading, are whipped together into a topping.
The assembled artichoke-spinach casserole is baked in a medium-hot oven for 35 to 45 minutes.
©M-J de Mesterton 2015

Pan-Roasted Pecans

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 4:30 PM

It seems that everyone adores pecans, either prepared in pastries or raw. The following recipe transforms this popular American nut into a simple, savoury canapé. I have been making these elegant, crispy pecans to accompany drinks at festive gatherings for two decades.

M-J's Pan-Roasted Party Pecans

In a large pan, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add a half-teaspoon of seasoning salt. Pour into this mixture three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. If desired, sprinkle in some cayenne pepper to your taste. Mix. Into the pan, add your three or more cups of whole, raw pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir these seasoned nuts frequently over a medium flame. Remove one, let it cool a minute, taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly. Continue to stir pecans, roasting them on both sides. When the pecans become a bit darker but are not burnt, they are ready to spread out on a large platter to cool. Once these savoury pecans are room-temperature, they will have assumed a crispy and non-greasy consistency. Serve immediately or store them in an attractive tin, where they will last approximately two weeks.

 COPYRIGHT M-J de Mesterton 2013

Elegant Cheeses of Ireland

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Ballyshannon is a flavourful Cheddar style cheese that is soft and properly crumbly at room-temperature.
Dubliner, also made in Ireland by Kerrygold, is a rich, mild and clean-tasting cow's milk cheese.
©Jeanne "M-J" de Mesterton, 2012


Irish Cheese Roundup


Ardrahan- From Kanturk in County Cork, this farm makes semi soft cow’s milk cheese in plain and oak-smoked versions.

Ardsallagh Goat’s cheese- From Carrigtwohill, near Cork city, this family run cheese-producer specialises in goat’s cheese (soft and hard) and yoghurt made with milk from their own goat herd. Ardrahan also sell their goat’s milk.

Bandon Vale- Also from Cork, this is a commercial cheese-producer making a range that includes Vintage (a mature and nutty cheese), Murragh (Irish Cheddar) and Glandór (mellow Red Leicester).

Baylough– A hard-pressed and waxed, aged cheese made with milk from a herd of  Friesians and Red &White Dutch cows. They make oak-smoked and plain flavours as well as a version which contains garlic.

Beal Organic Cheese- The organic dairy farm of Beal Lodge is located in County Kerry produces organic "farmhouse"cheese and yoghurt. It is one of about 25 Irish organic dairies. Beal Lodge hosts a pedigreed herd of Holstein cows, which produce Wensleydale-style Beal cheese and a cheddar-style cheese.

Bellingham Blue- A soft blue cheese made with raw cow’s milk at the Glyde Farm in Castlebellingham, County Louth, Ireland.

Blarney- Made by Kerrygold, Ireland’s most famous butter producer, Blarney cheese (named after the famous Castle in County Cork) is a mild, semi-hard cheese made from cows' milk, which resembles Gouda. Kerrygold also makes Ballyshannon and Dublin cheeses.

Blue Rathgore- "Vegetarian" blue cheese made from goat’s milk in County Antrim of Northern Ireland (home of Dunluce castle and the spectacular Giant´s Causeway).

Boilies- Small, fresh cheese-curds which are  hand- rolled and come in glass jars, where they are combined with oil and herbs. They can be used in cheese-salads or spread on wafers and breads. Boilies are produced at  Ryefield Farm in Cavan.

Burren Gold- This cheese is made in the Burren region of County Clare. Friesean cows graze on wild grasses in the fertile valleys in between rugged limestone hills, producing the milk for Burren Gold, a Gouda-style cheese. The cow’s milk is unpasteurized, which puts it into the "farmhouse" cheese category. Some cheeses made there are flavoured with nettles & garlic, fenugreek seed, black pepper, cumin and another variety is oak-smoked.

Cahill's Irish Monastic Cheeses- Made by 3rd generation family of artisanal cheesemakers located in County Limerick. They are known for their Irish Whiskey Cheese (an aged cheddar) made with Kilbeggan Whiskey. Cahill's cheeses include Cahill’s Kilbeggen Irish Whiskey, Ballyporeen Cheese with Irish Herbs, and Ardagh Chalice Wine Cheese.

Carlow Farmhouse Cheeses- These are Edam-style cheeses made with raw milk from a single dairy herd. They come in plain and flavored (Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil-Garlic, Nettles & Dried Onions, Black Pepper, Chili and Cumin) versions.

Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese – Another very popular cheese in Ireland, Carrigaline has a  buttery texture and is an artisan cow’s milk semi-soft cheese made by Ann and Pat O'Farrell in County Cork (Carrigaline) under the ruined castle “Rock.”

Carrigbryne Farmhouse Cheese- see “St Killian”. Carrigbryne Farmhouse also makes Irish Brie & St.Brendan Brie.

Cashel Blue- Roquefort-style cheese made in Tipperary by the Grubb family, this is may be Ireland’s most famous cheese. Cashel Blue cheese is an ingredient used at Ireland’s top restaurants and featured in Irish cookbooks.

Clonmore Goat's Cheese- Distinctive hardcheese made by Tom and Lena Biggane in Charleville, Country Cork. Clonmore cheese is becoming popular internationally.

Coolea Farmhouse Cheese- Gouda-style cheese made with aged cow’s milk in Coolea, the hill-country near counties Cork and Kerry. Founded by a Dutch cheesemaker and now run by her son, Coolea is now considered one of Ireland’s classic cheeses.

Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese- Camembert-like cheese made from unpasteurised cows' milk in Moyne, County Tipperary by the Maher family. Brands include Cooleeney, Gort na Mona, Maighrean, Dunbarra Garlic & Dill, Dunbarra natural and Dunbarra Pepper- Camembert-like cheese made from unpasteurised cows' milk in Moyne, County Tipperary by the Maher family. Brands include Cooleeney, Gort na Mona, Maighrean, Dunbarra Garlic & Dill, Dunbarra natural and Dunbarra Pepper

Corleggy Farmhouse Cheese- The farm is located on the bank of the River Erne, between Cavan and Fermanagh counties. Quivy and Corleggy are goat´s milk cheeses, and their cow´s milk cheeses include Drumlin Traditional, as well as Garlic and Red Pepper, Cumin, Smoked and Green Peppercorn varieties.

Cratloe Hills Cheese- Sean & Deirdre Fitzgerald make fantastic sheep's milk cheeses at their farm in County Clare, halfway between Shannon and Limerick. They make two cheeses- mild (nutty and semi hard) and mature (hard and drier), both with 100% sheep's milk .

Croghan- Soft and hard raw goat’s milk cheeses made in Blackwater, County Wexford.

Crozier Blue- An artisanal product made in Tipperary county by the Grubb family (Cashel Blue), this is a semi-soft, blue cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Derreenaclaurig- True artisan cheese made by Harry van der Zanden in the charming Kerry village of Sneem. The tiny production is made with milk from his Jersey cow herd. Limited-production cheeses by Mr van der Zanden range from plain and aged to cumin-flavoured, garlic-flavoured, and are offered in local farmer’s markets and restaurants.

Derrymore Cheese- Farmhouse cheese made at Claremorris in County Mayo.

Desmond- made in Schull in West Cork (same producer as Gabriel cheese). Desmond is a hard, raw-milk cheese.

Dingle Peninsula Cheese- Made in Kilcummin Beg, Castlegregory, in County Kerry. This raw cow's milk cheese is unique in that it is flavoured with seaweed. Owners Maja Binder and Olivier Beaujouan are luminaries among Ireland’s gourmet food fanatics.

Dubliner – Ireland’s most widely-sold Cheddar by is made in Ballineen (West Cork) by Carbery Natural Cheese. Dubliner is also made by Kerrygold. Dubliner cheese is matured for 12 months and has a slightly sweet flavour.

Durrus Farmhouse Cheese – this award winning cheese is made in a pretty section of West Cork, near the hamlet of Durrus. Owner Jeffa Gill was one of the artisan cheese pioneers of Ireland, who, together with Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen, and has been making cheese since the late 1970s--long before the ancient tradition of farmhouse and artisanal cheese-making began its renaissance. Durrus is round-shaped, aged, semi soft cow's milk cheese.

Fermoy Natural Cheese (Cais Dubh)-a cheese company in County Cork (considered to be Ireland’s artisan food capital) where Frank and Gudrig Shinnik make a Gouda-style cheese called Cais Dubh.

Gabriel- made in the Schull section of West Cork. Hard, "fruity" tasting raw-milk cheese, reminiscent of Gruyere in texture.  Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry of West Cork Natural Cheese make Gabriel and the popular Desmond cheese.

Gubbeen – Giana and Tom Ferguson produce Gubbeen cheese at their farm  in West Cork, just outside the picturesque hamlet of Schull.  They make both smoked and unsmoked artisan cheeses with cow's milk from their own herd.

Hegarty´s Cheddar- Dan and John Hegarty’s famous cheddar is made with their own Freisan herd’s milk in Whitechurch, Co. Cork. Excellent.

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese- This gouda style cheese is made by Marion Roeleweld (who is also a traveling cheese consultant for brands like Mossfield Organic Gouda) at the Killeen Millhouse in Ballyshrule (County Galway in Connemara). They make goat's cheese, plain cow's milk cheese, and herb and garlic flavored cheese.

Knockalara - award winning feta-style cheeses made in County Waterford near Cappoquin, by Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz. Knockalara produces Dromana Natural, Pepper, Sesame and Fine Herbs flavours, as well as Waterford Feta and Knockalara sheep’s milk cheese, which one may purchase cleverly packed in olive-oil.

Knockanore - Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan have been making their famous cow’s milk cheese in Ballyneety, County Waterford for decades. Knockanore cheeses come in plain, garlic and herbs, garlic and chive,black pepper and chive and oak-smoked versions.

Knockdrinna – Boutique cheese producer in Stoneyford ,County Kilkenny making a wide variety of cheeses from cow, goat and sheep milk. That includes Knockdrinna Gold Goats Cheese, Knockdrinna Meadow Sheeps Cheese, Lavistown Cheese, Knockdrinna Snow, Knockdrinna Fresh Pesto with Goat's Cheese, Knockdrinna Fresh Goat Log, Knockdinna Goat's Greek style soft goat´s cheese.

Lavistown Cheese – see Knockdrinna

Milleens- A fine farmhouse cheese made in the lovely Beara Peninsula of West Cork.

Mine-Gabhar- Organic cheese made by Luc and Anne van Kampen.

Mount Callan- Founded by Michael and Lucy Hayes in 2000 in County Clare, Mount Callan makes aged cheeses with cow’s milk from their own herd of Montbelliard cows and is produced during summertime through the traditional Cheddar process.

Oisin Farmhouse Cheese- These organic goat’s milk cheeses are made at a farm run by Rochus & Rose van der Vaard in County Limerick.

Old McDonnell's Farm- Located in gorgeous Glen of the Downs in Wicklow, this farm producesmany foods including goat’s milk cheeses.

Orla – Organic cheese made at the Manch Estate in Ballineen, County Cork. Orla is an unpasteurized, semi-hard cheese made with sheep’s milk. They also make ricotta, a cooked cheese.

St Tola Goat´s Cheese- from County Clare, these are both hard and soft goat’s cheese made employing the traditional French method. St Tola cheese is quite popular, and is an ingredient used in many top Irish restaurants.

St Killian- this Camembert style cheese is made from raw cow's milk and vegetarian rennet by the Carrigbyrne Farmhouse in County Wexford.

Wicklow Blue- A delicate blue brie produced in the peaceful countryside of County Wicklow, Ireland, by John & Bernie Hempenstall.

That's a general roundup of elegant cheeses made in Ireland.

©M-J de Mesterton 2012


Affordable La Crema Pinot Noir

Posted on December 23, 2011 at 12:50 PM

La Crema 2009 Pinot Noir from California's Sonoma Coast is an Elegant, Smooth WineElegant Survival Wine Recommendation

La Crema Pinot Noir is an Elegant Cook Favourite

Elegant Mini-Tacos

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM
Taco seasoning by Tone's, chopped tomatoes, onion, celery, yellow capsicum (a sweet pepper), New Mexico red chile gravy, and ground beef, cooked together about an hour and mixed until very fine, makes a perfect taco filling in combination with grated mild cheese.
Miniature tacos are made with sautéed Guerrero corn tortillas, which are filled with a ground-beef-vegetable mixture and colby jack cheese. The bowl contains shredded Romaine lettuce and small strips of avocado, dressed with lime juice, cilantro (coriander leaf) and salt.
©M-J de Mesterton

Yam and Red Cabbage Salad for Health and Taste

Posted on May 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM
A refreshing way to eat health-promoting vegetables, this elegant cabbage and yam salad is also a nice thing to serve your friends: red cabbage is sliced as thinly as possible, and marinated for several hours in the vinaigrette of your choice, then mixed with yams that have been cut into match-sticks and cooked in water with a bit of honey until slightly soft. Recipe and Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton

Easy Baked Alaska

Posted on April 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Add caption

Fill a hollowed-out pound-cake with ice cream, preferably vanilla. Trim the top (see left) so that it is thin at its bottom, and place it on top of the ice cream. Prepare regular meringue with egg-whites and sugar. Frost the ice-cream-filled cake with it and bake the assembled dessert in a medium-hot oven until lightly browned.

Use an oven-proof platter, because transferring this delicate dessert to a serving-dish is likely to damage its careful construction.
This plate is made in Japan by Noritake, in the Blue Adobe pattern.

Bring your Baked Alaska to table while the meringue is still hot. Place the platter on a heat-proof pad or trivet. Cut this elegant dessert into sections and serve it as soon as possible so that the ice-cream filling will be cold and the meringue coating remains warm. ©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Fairy Cakes

Posted on March 28, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Ground almonds and coconut cream are mixed with egg-whites, vanilla and sweetener for a high-protein, low-carb tea cake that is also a perfect end to a ladies' elegant  luncheon.

©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Strawberry Dessert

Posted on March 23, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Sliced poundcake is cut into two round pieces with a clean, empty milk can. Freshly whipped cream is piped on with a pastry bag, topped with sliced strawberries, topped with another round slice of poundcake and then dotted and decorated with more whipped cream and berrries for a classic, elegant strawberry dessert.

©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Danish Table

Posted on January 14, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Elegant St. Albray Cheese

Posted on January 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM

The very elegant and smooth St. Albray cheese from France's Bearn region in the Pyrenees mountains is formed in the shape of a flower, with sections shaped like petals. It makes an beautiful center-piece for a drinks-party table.