I am so excited to be teaming up with Kerrygold Belgium for the next 3 months and to share with you some great recipes that mix some Belgian classics with my love for Ireland! See, ever since I moved to Ireland there is this one question that people ask me, whether it’s my friends and family in Belgium or the new people I have met in Ireland: why did you move to Ireland? There’s a lot I can say about it, but I’m going to sum it up in 3 keywords: Nature, Culture, People.
One of the reasons is the quality of the food here in Ireland, thanks to its wonderful blossoming nature. There is just so much fresh food available, whether it’s top quality Irish beef or freshly caught fish, high quality fruits and veggies; there is plenty on offer. As you drive through the country side you see nothing but green fields with cows grazing, farmland filled with delicious crops and local fishermen sitting by the rivers. As much as two-thirds of the land in Ireland is used for agriculture and 80% of the farmland is used to grow green grass. Ireland obviously owes a lot of that green grass to the rain, but I promise if you ever want to come and visit: it really does not rain every single day.
When it comes to embracing nature, Kerrygold is right there at the top promoting Ireland’s great nature and their respect for it. Kerrygold butter is made from 100% and the farms they get the milk from only have an average of 2 cows per hectare, who spend 300 days a year, nearly 24 hours a day and 7 days a week grazing outdoors. And these lovely cows are completely free from antibiotics and growth hormones when their milk is used.
If you add all that rain (= lack of mechanical irrigation systems) , access to the greenest pesticide free grass, healthy and happy cows you end up with butter made from 100% pasteurized milk! With all that green land and free water it’s no wonder that a lot of the farmers here are part of a long generation of farmers, who got their craft and skills passed on with pride. For over 6000 years Irish farmers have been milking their cows, resulting in 17 000 family businesses! I can honestly say that having access to fresh Irish milk every day has been such an amazing thing to me, and I could never switch back to non-fresh (or non-Irish!) milk again. But even if you don’t live in Ireland you can still have access to their delicious milk as 85% is exported to over 110 countries worldwide.
Now there are many other reasons why I love Kerrygold and Ireland so much, apart from nature, but for that you’ll have to check back for my next recipe! For now I’m going to share you a very basic and easy recipe, but one you will be able to use in so many other great recipes: béchamel sauce! It’s such a great addition to a lot of meals and to prove it i’m going to share 2 recipes in the next few weeks with béchamel sauce: cauliflower with cheesy béchamel sauce and a meat-free lasagna with loads of cheeses, mushrooms, beans and spinach.
Makes: approx. 600ml of sauce
- 100g salted Kerrygold butter*
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 600ml fresh milk
- teaspoon of nutmeg
If you live in Belgium: the salted butter is only available in Carrefour!
Start by slowly melting the butter at a low heat in a deep pot. Once the butter has melted (careful not to brown it!), slowly ad the flour while whisking thoroughly. Don’t add all the flour at once as you might end up with lumps that way, so make sure to add it gradually and to never stop whisking.
Once all the flour and butter have been mixed, turn up the heat to medium-high and gradually add in your milk, while continuing to stir. Again it’s important to mix it all as well as you can (you’ll really work on your arm muscles with this recipe). Now you can add more flour if you want a thicker mixture or more milk if you want it more runny depending on what you want to use it for but I find this combination of ingredients perfect for lasagna and for adding to veggies like cauliflower. Keep in mind that the heat will make the sauce thicker too so don’t turn it off as soon as you added the milk. Keep the heat at medium-high and keep stirring and you will notice it starts to thicken.
Once you are pleased with the thickness of the sauce, add the nutmeg.
To freeze this sauce: allow to cool completely and spoon the bechamel into freezable containers. Don’t keep them too long in the freezer though.