Tell us about your ideal summer menu. Does it include cheese? We think it absolutely should – and plenty of Irish made cheese at that. There is nothing more idyllic than sitting out on the back patio, sipping a perfectly chilled glass of wine and grazing on a well-curated cheese platter. Or, you could forego the cheese platter altogether and focus on summery recipes where Irish cheese is the star. The Irish Country Living test kitchen has compiled just a few of these recipes for you to try this summer.

Tell us about your ideal summer menu. Does it include cheese? We think it absolutely should – and plenty of Irish made cheese at that. There is nothing more idyllic than sitting out on the back patio, sipping a perfectly chilled glass of wine and grazing on a well-curated cheese platter. Or, you could forego the cheese platter altogether and focus on summery recipes where Irish cheese is the star. The Irish Country Living test kitchen has compiled just a few of these recipes for you to try this summer.

Cais na Tire

When Barry and Lorraine Cahalan first started making cheese from their Friesland sheep herd in 2013, did they realise they were creating something so special? Cais na Tire is a hard sheep’s milk cheese, loosely based on the Tomme-style cheese from the Swiss Alps, which is beautifully aged between 6-9 months. During this time, it develops a deep flavour with hints of sweetness and earthiness. This is thanks to the grass where the sheep graze on their farm in Terryglass, Co Tipperary and has led to numerous awards over the years, including Best Irish Cheese at the British Cheese Awards in 2019. “We started with 50 ewes and went from there; we’re milking 230 ewes now,” says Barry.

Very Tipperary Gougeres with Cais na Tire and Whipped Cooleeney \ Philip Doyle

“It’s been a lot of trial and error along the way. We got the original recipe from Marion [Roeleveld of Killeen cheese] and struck with that, but made minor tweaks here and there. The process is very important as is the milk – as much as we focus on the cheese, we also make sure the ewes are on good grass and looked after well.

“In 2012, when we first got the ewes we took a chance, and we’re proud we did that – there weren’t many milking sheep for cheese then and there still aren’t now.

At the time, some people said we were a bit mad, but we’re glad we took the plunge. We built up the business to a stage were we make a good living, we don’t need to milk any more or make any more cheese – we’re happy with what we have. We can work from home, be with the kids and keep going with what the sheep has been able to do for us.”

Cooleeney Cheese

Breda Maher is a powerhouse of Irish cheese, but when you speak to her, she prefers to pass the praise on to her team at Cooleeney, which is located in Moyne, Co Tipperary. Many of her team have been working with Breda for years – decades, even. The Maher farm, where the cheese is made, is a buzz of activity on any given day and Breda’s cheesemaking business has gone from strength to strength since they first opened their doors in 1986.

The milk for their classic Cooleeney cheese comes from their Friesian herd, which is tended to by Breda’s husband, Jim and son, Pat.

“We export as well, and we consolidate other cheeses for export. This works for us and the [Irish farmhouse cheese] industry – I think it’s an industry where we’ve got to help one another,” says Breda, before once again crediting her teamwith their success.

“I’ve got super staff. We don’t like bosses around here; we like a good team. I’ve been lucky to have that over the years. It’s been a wonderful journey and a wonderful life. It’s a different lifestyle – in the beginning we made cheese three days a week and then sold it for the rest of the week.

Then, we had to decide whether or not to go into wholesale production, and that’s what we decided to do.”

The original Cooleeney makes a decadent whipped filling for our Tipperary Gougères – its creamy, buttery interior is the perfect contract to the crisp, airy choux pastry.

Pork Souvlaki with whipped St Tola Feta

Pork Souvlaki with whipped St Tola \ Philip Doyle

Ingredients: Serves 6

For the souvlaki:

  • 2 pork fillets, cut into large cubes
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp Irish rapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp natural Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp each dried chilli flakes, oregano and dill
  • For the whipped feta:

  • 225g St Tola Greek-style cheese
  • 170g natural Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 15ml Irish rapeseed oil (plus more, for garnish)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish
  • To serve:

  • Flatbreads, warmed on the grill (shop bought is fine)
  • Chunky Greek salad
  • Fresh salad leaves
  • 1 Make the pork souvlaki: in a casserole dish, place the chunks of pork fillet.

    2 In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, rapeseed oil, salt, pepper, yogurt, garlic, chilli flakes, oregano and dill. Pour this mixture over the pork.

    3 Using your hands, massage the marinade into the pork. Wrap with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate for at least four hours (overnight is fine).

    4 Make the whipped feta: place the feta, yogurt, minced garlic, oregano, rapeseed oil and sea salt into a food processor. Blend until a smooth dip-like mixture is achieved. At this stage, you can chill until ready to use (up to four days) or set aside.

    5 Heat the barbecue to a medium high heat. Evenly divide the pork between six metal (or soaked bamboo) skewers. Oil the grill and place the pork skewers on top. Grill until charred on the outside but still tender on the inside, about 4-5 minutes per side.

    6 Add a dollop of whipped feta to each plate and spread it around slightly. Place a hot pork souvlaki skewer directly over the top. Add a side of fresh salad and serve straight to the table with warm flatbreads.

    St Tola Goat Cheese

    The team at St Tola Goat Cheese, which is located in Inagh, Co Clare, have a big reason to celebrate this year. In 2024, the iconic goat cheese producer is 45 – that is five years older than Cais, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers.

    “We’re creating St Tola 25 years here on our farm but it was first made by Meg and Derrick Gordon 45 years ago,” says owner Siobhan Ní Gháirbhith.

    “We are so delighted to be continuing what they were doing, because our St Tola original log is the same cheese that Meg and Derrick made. We actually won gold for it in the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards. I’m just delighted that we’re still going strong. I have such great people working with me. It’s all about our very small team on our very small farm here in Co Clare.”

    While it all started with the St Tola original log, the team now make up to 10 different types of goat’s milk cheese, including a beautifully briny Greek style cheese. This is used in our Whipped St Tola recipe (above). It has the perfect balance of tangy, salty and briny which lends itself so well to a whipped feta-style dip.

    Macroom Buffalo Green Goddess Calzones

    Macroom Buffalo and Green Goddess Calzones. \ Philip Doyle

    Ingredients Makes 12

    For the dough:

  • 320ml warm water
  • 1 sachet (7.5g) active dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Irish rapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 450g strong bread flour
  • For the cheese filling:

  • 4 large balls of Macroom mozzarella, drained and lightly dried out on a piece of kitchen towel
  • 200g fresh local greens, mixed (we use a

    combination of spinach, chard, watercress, wild garlic and wood sorrel, but adapt to your liking)

  • Rind and juice of one lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely grated
  • 50g each fresh chives, parsley and dill
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • For the Green Goddess sauce:

  • 50g natural Greek yogurt
  • 50g sour cream
  • 50g mayonnaise
  • 1 fresh green chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 50g each fresh chives, coriander, dill and parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve:

  • 1L vegetable oil, for frying
  • Fresh mixed salad leaves, lightly dressed in olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • 1 The night before you make the calzones, prepare the dough: in a large mixing bowl, add the warm water, dry active yeast and honey. Mix lightly and set aside for 10 minutes. When the yeast has activated (the mixture will appear foamy and bubbly), add the rapeseed oil, salt and half the amount of flour. Mix well to combine.

    2 Slowly add the remainder of the flour, mixing it in a little at a time, until a slightly sticky dough comes together. You may not use all of the flour or you might find you need a bit more – the dough should come together into a ball, but feel sticky to the touch.

    3 Drizzle a bit more rapeseed oil into a clean bowl and place the dough inside. Wrap the bowl in cling film and chill in the refrigerator overnight until ready to use.

    4 Make the filling: in a food processor, roughly tear up the Macroom mozzarella. Roughly chop the fresh greens and fresh herbs together and add into the food processor with the garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, lemon rind and juice, salt and pepper (do this in batches if your food processor is too small to fit everything). Pulse until the greens and cheese are well chopped together. The mixture should be coarse, but well-combined and you should be able to form it into a ball. Set aside and chill until ready to use.

    5 Make the green goddess sauce: in a blender, combine all of the ingredients and blitz until completely smooth. The mixture will be slightly runny and pale green. If you like a thicker sauce, add more mayonnaise until you get the consistency you are looking for. Season to taste with salt and pepper and chill until ready to use.

    6 Assemble the calzones: take your dough and divide it into 12 equal portions (weigh them out if you want each calzone to be exactly the same size). On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll a portion of dough to 1cm thickness. Add approximately 50g of cheese filling to the centre of the rolled-out dough, then take half the dough and cover the filling in a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges of the dough well to ensure the filling doesn’t escape during cooking. Set aside on a parchment-lined tray and continue with the remaining portions of dough and cheese.

    7 In a large, heavy bottomed pot (or using a deep fat fryer set to 180°C), add the vegetable oil and slowly heat on medium high on the stovetop. Using a slotted spoon, add one of the calzones to the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown, crisp and gooey on the inside.

    Adjust the heat slightly if you feel the dough is not cooking evenly or is browning too quickly and always be careful working with hot oil; particularly if using a gas hob, as any splashes could cause a grease fire. Once the first calzone is cooked, fry the remaining ones. You can keep them warm in a 100°C oven at this stages, or serve immediately.

    8 To serve, place some Green Goddess sauce on the bottom of a wide-brimmed dish. Place the hot calzone on top. Garnish with lightly dressed salad leaves.

    Macroom Buffalo

    Farmer Johnny Lynch works closely with cheesemaker Sean Ferry to produce excellent quality Irish buffalo cheeses from their herd of 840 buffaloes, which graze freely across 640ac in West Cork. Their buffalo mozzarella has a pure, milky flavour thanks to the grass the buffalo eat, and its ability to melt makes it the perfect gooey cheese for our calzones.

    Johnny says his greatest source of pride is seeing their products do so well on supermarket shelves throughout the country. “It’s also fantastic to have our products showcased on the menus of many of the leading eateries around the country, as well as having the quality across our range honoured with prestigious award wins over the last 15 years,” he adds.

    “Most importantly though, building a business with strong foundations that now provides full-time employment to a team of 22, including my son, Kieran, who is integral in the day-to-day running of the farm, was my main goal from the outset. We’ve been farmers for generations. The risk of moving from Freisian cows to Buffalo cows hasn’t been without challenges and sacrifice, but it’s a risk that has been well worthwhile.”

    Head cheesemaker Sean adds, “I started working with Johnny in 2015; I have been making cheese for 36 years. Eventually when you do it long enough you get it right,” he says, laughing.

    “Like any cheese, you have your milk, your starter, your rennet - but the trick is how you make it. Mozzarella isn’t easy; you need the right pH, protein and fat and the milk varies throughout the year.”

    Burnt Basque Cheesecake with Macerated Cherries and fresh Cream

    Burnt Basque Cheesecake with Macerated Cherries and fresh Cream \ Philip Doyle

    Ingredients: Serves 10-12

    For the cheesecake:

  • Butter, to grease the pan
  • 800g Killowen Farm Irish Cream Cheese
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 200 sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • For the macerated cherries:

  • 500g fresh cherries, pits removed
  • 100ml water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp corn flour mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • To serve:

    Whipped cream

    1 Preheat the oven to 240°C (yes – that is correct), butter and line a circular 20cm springform pan with parchment. Make sure the parchment is hanging over the sides of the pan and it isn’t perfectly smooth on the inside of the pan – the crinkles will add to the looks of the finished cake.

    2 Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, place the cream cheese and caster sugar into a bowl and mix until the sugar has completely dissolved.

    3 Add the sour cream, flour, vanilla, lemon zest and all four eggs. Mix until everything is completely combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

    4 Tap the tin on the countertop two or three times to get out any air bubbles and place the cake into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The top of the cake will get very dark and the middle will still be wobbly when you take it out of the oven – you just need to trust the process.

    5 Leave to cool in the tin for a full hour.

    6 Make the macerated cherries: place the cherries, water, caster sugar, amaretto and lemon juice into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then add the corn flour and water. Continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.

    7 Add the cherries to a bowl and cool.

    8 Remove the cheesecake from the tin (it is easier to serve the cheesecake still in the parchment as the bottom is sticky). Dollop the cherries on top and serve with cream.

    The Dunne family, from just outside of Ennisccorthy, Co Wexford have been farming for over 200 years.

    Today, they aren’t just farming, but producing excellent quality yoghurts and – now – the perfect cream cheese, which we used to make our Burnt Basque cheesecake.

    “We’ve been making yogurt for 20 years but we only started making cheese in the last two years,” says Pauline Dunne, who manages the business alongside her brother, Nicolas. “We felt that the Irish market needed an Irish cream cheese – and we knew we could produce a really tasty, natural product.”

    Their cream cheese, which is also available under the Dunnes Stores Simple Better brand, is made using their own milk and only Irish-sourced cream.

    “No flavourings; no preservatives – it’s a natural product and that is our ethos with all of our products. We try to source as much as we can locally and ensure it’s of the highest quality.”

    So how does Pauline like to eat her cream cheese?

    “I am basic,” she says, laughing. “I love cream cheese on a slice of brown bread, or on a cracker. After that, I would use it for cheesecakes or pasta.”

    When it comes to using cream cheese in bakes, the thicker and more full fat, the better, especially in a Basque-style cheesecake like this one, where the cheese is the star of the show.

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