Ireland’s food heritage has always been a big part of Instagrammer Caitriona Barron’s life. Both of her parents were heavily involved in food while she was growing up, but in very different ways.
“Dad was a farmer and most of the food we consumed came from there,” she says. “My mum trained as a chef. She was visiting Cornwall once and saw the way seafood markets were set up and decided to do the same thing here. She now has vans at markets all over Leinster.”
Growing up on the family farm, she learned first-hand the importance of food provenance and buying Irish. These days, Wexford-based Caitriona has graduated from selling seafood at farmers markets to being a successful food and lifestyle Instagrammer. Creative, with many strings to her bow, she studied interior design but didn’t delve into it as a career path.
Instead, Caitriona has channelled her love of food and flair for design into her online content. Her Instagram journey on @caitriona_barron began when she started taking pictures of her own meals and posting them online. As more followers racked up, she bought a better camera and began to beautifully style her shoots.
“I don’t like anything too unrealistic, but I like elements of nature and outdoors in my pictures - something you’d have on your own table,” she says.
When things began to take off, she studied nutrition as she wanted to be able to answer any questions that potentially might be put to her online. “With two sons, aged 14 and one, I incorporate cheese into a lot of my dishes,” she says. “I have a passion for Irish produce and I love coming up with recipes using those products and then creating nice photos around that,” Caitriona says.
“Cheese is important for calcium and, along with vitamin D, is important for growth. That’s why I put cheese into many of my dishes, for the kids” she adds. “It’s a family favourite and always in my shopping basket – one main reason is the fact it’s of medium sharpness which suits all the household. It has an excellent flavour and goes well with so many dishes and snacks.”
When we asked her to create three summer recipes using Charleville cheese and style and shoot the accompanying photography, Caitriona jumped at the chance, particularly as she uses it regularly in her own home cooking.
The first dish Caitriona created is a Cheesy Hake Fish Bake, something she and her family eat once a week.
“It’s a good way to get fish into kids as it has cheese in the sauce and grated cheese on top. Some kids can be fussy about fish, but they don’t even notice they are eating it with this dish.
“I find Charleville’s grated cheese has a really good melting point, while a lot of other grated cheeses don’t. We have it on tacos, chilli and even pizza. We use the sliced cheese a lot as it’s handy on a burger or in a sandwich. I also put the slices right into lasagne. I am a block cheese fan too. I think the flavour is slightly different. I love it cubed with fruit, especially strawberries.”
For her second dish she created a Spicy Taco Style Cheesy Burger, perfect for barbeque season.
“I just wanted to ramp up a classic burger and we use a taco mix quite a lot. It’s delicious and a favourite with all my family”.
For her third dish, she chose a one pot wonder that can be plated up really quickly along with a salad or baked potato.
“I like dishes that can be prepared the night before and you pop in the oven 20 minutes before you eat. I was thinking about having the girls over when I created the Potato, Cheese and Onion Tart,” she smiles.
“It’s something that you could pick at with a glass of wine or have at a picnic. It could be more adult food but my 14 year old loved it too. It’s a winner all round,” she says.
Cheesy Hake Fish Bake (serves 4)
600g of hake, skinned and boned (ask your fishmonger to do this) wash and pat dry.
- 50g butter
- 50g tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup of cream
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper or a pinch
- 1 1/2 cups Charleville grated cheddar
Cheesy breadcrumb topping
- 150g breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup of Charleville grated cheddar
- 30g of butter melted
- Mix topping ingredients and set aside
Instructions to assemble
Pre-heat oven to 180C. Layer the hake in an oven-proof dish. To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a pan, add flour and mix well.
Add milk, cream and seasoning and whisk, then add cheese. Sauce should be a thick custard-like consistency.
When ready pour over the hake. To make the breadcrumbs, mix all ingredients and add on top.
Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve with salad or vegetables.
Spicy Taco Style Cheesy Burger (serves 4)
- 2 lbs minced beef
- 4 burger buns
- 1 packet taco seasoning (use 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 jalapeños diced
- 1 spring onion
- 1 bag of Charleville Grated Cheese
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- A little oil for cooking
Instructions to assemble
Dice up your taco toppings (tomato, jalapeño, spring onion). Heat barbeque grill or pan with oil. Mix minced beef with salt and pepper and form into 4 patties. To make the taco sauce, mix grated cheese, jalapeños, spring onion and mayonnaise plus 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning. Set aside.
Cook burgers for about 3-4 minutes on one side and flip. Continue cooking until done. When done put a heaped tablespoon of the taco cheese mix on top, then close lid on bbq or add a lid to your pan, and after one minute, it should be melted on top. Add burgers to bun, then add other toppings as desired. Enjoy!
Potato, Onion and Cheese Tart (serves 4)
- 1 rectangular sheet of shop-bought puff pastry
- 1 onion halved, then thinly sliced
- 350g baby boiled potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
- 60g cream cheese
- 6 slices of Charleville Pre-Sliced Cheddar
- 3 tablespoons double cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Instructions to assemble
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and lay the pastry rectangle on top. Using a small sharp knife, score the pastry along each edge (1 inch in from the edge) to create a crust. Prick the base of the pastry, inside the crust, all over with a fork, then put it into the fridge while you prepare the toppings. Finely slice the onion and put it into a bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and toss well.
Wash potatoes and slice them as thinly as you can. Put them into another bowl with the remaining oil and toss well with the sea salt. Put the cream cheese and cream into a bowl with about half of the thyme leaves, and mix well together. Take the pastry out of the fridge and spread the cheese mixture evenly all over, then top with sliced Charleville Cheddar inside the crust lines. Scatter the onion slices on top, then arrange the potato slices in neat rows, so that they slightly overlap. Mix the egg yolk and milk together, and brush it over the crust.
Grind black pepper on top and add the remaining thyme, then put the tart into the hot oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is risen, and the potatoes are browning and starting to curl up. Keep an eye on the pastry: if it starts to darken more than you like, cover the crust with foil. Once cooked, take out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Can be eaten hot or cold; serve with a salad on the side.