My Favourite

My Favourite Seasonal Vegetables: Denis Cotter

13th December 2016

Interview: Killian Fox
Photograph: Cristian Barnett

The owner of Café Paradiso in Cork on his favourite winter arrivals, a vegetable best treated simply and a flower that brightens up his summer menu

Artichokes (May)

We just got our first batch of artichokes from the farm, which is always a huge deal for us. Normally we do a main course of them, but not this year – simple treatment suits them better. Our senior sous chef is from the Basque country and he’s asked to cook the artichokes his way. It’s really quite simple. He peels them, cooks them a little bit, leaves them in the fridge, slices them really thin, then dips them in flour and olive oil. We’re serving them with romesco, lemon, parsley and dried olive. Dead simple – and it’s going to open up a whole list of different ways we can use that technique.

I have more freedom than formally-trained chefs who work with meat
Denis on his Adventures in Vegetables

Courgette flowers (July)

They’ve become a big part of the summer menu. We stuff the flowers with pea and ricotta, tempura them, and serve them with a courgette and basil puree and some smoky peperonata.

Parsnips (September)

We stayed away from parsnips for a few years but we’ve really got back into them. We made a really good tortellini stuffed with parsnip, cooked with butter on the stove for a really long time until it becomes dark and intense (we moisten it with cider along the way). It’s a fantastically rich tortellini filling. And if you do a similar thing, but roasted, it makes really nice gnocchi.

Winter squash (October)

It’s really lovely when the winter squash arrives. They’ve been a huge thing at the restaurant from the start. Ultan [Walsh of Gort na Nain farm in Cork] grows Australian and New Zealand varieties. We do a lot of things with it: gnocchi, ravioli, a really nice gratin, soups and stews. Sometimes we wonder if it’s sophisticated enough for the menu, but it’s lovely to eat.

Turnips (November)

It’s such a staple of Irish peasant food – we all grew up on boiled turnip. One of the dishes I’m proudest of, I managed to make out of turnips. It’s a galette – square thin sheets with braised turnip and a chestnut and mushroom mash, served with beetroot port gravy [pictured above]. It’s so good. It’s basically Christmas dinner. I love it.

Café Paradiso is at 16 Lancaster Quay, Cork City, Ireland;

Denis’s many books include Wild Gooseberries, Garlic… and Me

Follow Café Paradiso: Twitter

Posted 13th December 2016

In My Favourite


Interview: Killian Fox
Photograph: Cristian Barnett

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