Nestled in the heart of Leslieville, The Céilí Cottage was opened in 2009 by Publican and World Champion Oyster Shucker Patrick McMurray. Some may say that the world is his oyster, and they might be right. I first met Paddy at Starfish in 2001 where he was head shucker and major domo. Conveniently located across the park from where we live, Starfish was one of our favourite restaurants for years. We became such regulars that before we even sat down, our waiter Rob would come trotting over with a bottle of Muscadet and a corkscrew. Alas Starfish is no longer, having been rebranded as Pearl Diver, but still under Paddy's purvue. His next venture after Starfish was Céilí Cottage, which has been on our oyster radar for years but never made the time to trundle over until now. All we needed was a nudge. On a cold frosty evening we met some fellow oyster fiends and settled into our table at Céilí Cottage for a couple dozen oysters and night of "craic" — Irish for good fun! The cottage which dates to 1884, has exposed ceiling beams, cracked stone walls and old chalkboard which features the oysters for the day and list of dinner specials.
Johnny Walker Black
A dozen select PEI oysters including Malpecque and Beausoleil from NB
The second dozen with Clarinbridge oysters from Ireland and round Belons from Maine
Céilí Cottage Mac & Cheese
Smokey Ribs and Potato Salad
Pan Seared and Oven Roasted Organic Salmon
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Céilí Cottage Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped and puréed using immersion blender
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups whipped cream
For the cake, grease an 8-inch square metal baking pan and line with parchment paper. Boil 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the dates and stir well. Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a food processor, pulse the dates and water until dates are finely minced. Stir the flour alternately with the date mixture into the sugar mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
Prepare the toffee sauce just before cake is ready. Heat the sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
When the cake is ready, set the pan on a wire rack. Poke holes, about a 1/2-inch apart all over cake with a skewer. Drizzle half the hot toffee sauce evenly over the cake. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream. There should be plenty of toffee left over to drizzle over individual portions, if desired.
Céilí Cottage Mac & Cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups homogenized milk
1 lb cheddar, grated, with some reserved for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1-2 handfuls panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, sauté onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly to ensure no lumps form. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until no floury taste remains. Add the cheese and cooked, drained pasta. If sauce looks too stiff at this stage, add a little more milk (or cream or butter or cream cheese or mascarpone or all of the above). Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour everything into a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and sprinkle liberally with panko and reserved cheese. Cook until top is brown and bubbly, approximately 20 minutes.
Seared Trout and Smashed Potatoes
3 Spanish onions
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs skin-on new red potatoes, about 12
1 tbsp olive oil, preferably light
Salt and pepper to taste
4 deboned trout fillets, each 1/4 lb
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
To caramelize the onions, chop each onion in half lengthwise, then thinly slice. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are deep brown and soft. Adjust the heat as needed.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain, then allow to cool. Place some potatoes between large pieces of parchment. Using a pan bottom, smash each potato to flatten. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Coat with about 1 tsp oil. Add 4 smashed potatoes. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until potatoes are crispy and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining potatoes and oil.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the flesh sides, then skin sides of fish, with oil, salt and pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan over high. Add the remaining tbsp of butter. Place fish skin side down and gently press for 1 to 2 minutes to help crisp skin. Flip each fillet so they’re flesh side down. Place pan in preheated oven. Cook to your preference or for 3 to 5 minutes until a knife inserted in thickest part of flesh and held for 10 seconds comes out warm. Arrange onions over serving plates. Top with potatoes and then fish, skin side up. Serve fish fillets with steamed green vegetables and a pint of Beau’s Lug Tread Lager Ale.