James Street South Cookery School: Clam salad and panna cotta

You can use a mixture of shellfish – throw in some mussels, for example – but Niall has just used clams on this occasion
Niall McKenna

WITH summer holidays fast approaching, this week's recipes are all about food that can be pre-prepared for the family to enjoy. Both are favourites in our house, especially over the warmer months as they are light and pack a real punch when it comes to flavour.

The pasta recipe is always a winner; you can use a selection of shellfish – mix in mussels, for example – but I've just used clams here. I've also included the recipe for fresh pasta but don't worry – there'll be no points deducted for shop-bought; there are some great pastas in our supermarkets and delicatessens.

The dessert can be a real treat. Easy to do with different combinations of berries, you just need to taste to get the sweetness levels right. I always advise using ripe fruit, which should already have some lovely sweetness.

The international cycling road race, the Gran Fondo, returns to Belfast tomorrow so if you are in the Titanic Quarter to cheer on the riders, why not call in to Cast & Crew, right beside Titanic Belfast and the Drawing Offices?

Fingers crossed for good weather so that we can enjoy our little sun trap on the terrace...


30 clamshells

1 pint whipping cream

1 shallot chopped

1 clove garlic chopped


Olive oil

Fresh salad leaves (green)

Salt + pepper

Rinse and clean the shells under cold water (tap any that are slightly open; if they close shut again they are OK to use; if they don't, discard. Also discard any broken/cracked shells). Place a drop of olive oil in a pan and once warmed add the chopped shallot, cream, white wine; once boiling, add in the shells for two minutes. Toss in your boiled/drained pasta and serve with a squeeze of lemon and dress with salad leave.


500g ‘00' Flour (for gluten free use alternative flour)

3 whole eggs

6 egg yolks

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp milk

1 pinch saffron

2g salt

Sieve flour and salt onto a clean work surface. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly knead in wet ingredients until smooth and pliable. Rest in fridge for 1 hour. Roll out and then feed through a pasta machine until you reach number 1 setting.


(Serves 6)

Panna cotta (bottom layer)

600ml cream

150ml milk

1½ vanilla pods split

150g sugar

5 gelatine leaves

Strawberry (middle layer)

400g ripe strawberries

50ml water

75g sugar

1 vanilla pod, split and deseeded

1 inch of lemon skin, skin only, no rind (the white bits)

5 leaves of gelatine

Biscuit Crumb / Sable (top layer)

90g butter

60g sugar

1/3 vanilla pod

22.5g egg yolk

120g plain flour

Heat the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in a pot on a low to medium heat. Soak the gelatine in cold water and add to the hot cream mixture. Stir in the gelatine leaves until dissolved and then pass mixture through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla pods. Pour the mix into glasses and place in fridge to set.

Place the water and sugar in a pot with lid on a gentle heat; add in the vanilla pod and the lemon skin; once the sugar is dissolved add the strawberries until totally soft. While this is cooking, place the lid back on; it should take 15 minutes at most.

Remove the vanilla pod and the lemon skin and blend the mixture. Soak the gelatine leaves in a little water at room temperature. Add the gelatine to the puree and mix thoroughly until dissolved. Pass through a course sieve. Wait until cooled then add on top of the panna cotta mix – this should not be hot as it will melt the panna cotta. Place back in fridge and let set.

For the biscuit crumb, cream the butter and sugar and add the vanilla seeds from the pod. Add yolk and flour and mix vigorously; roll out on to baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and place in fridge for 30 minutes. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes at 160C. Remove from oven and leave to cool, add a dusting of icing sugar. Take what you need from the baking tray and chop up to create the crumbs and when ready to serve place on top of the jelly.


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