Sophie van Dijk at Ballymaloe cookery school
Intent on following her passion for cooking and Irish food, Sophie van Dijk, 27 from Blackrock, left her job as a Fresh Food Buyer in April 2017 and headed to Cork to the Ballymaloe Cookery School with a dream to ultimately start her own food business.
Having lived in Dublin since 2009, Sophie has returned to Dundalk, where she is now producing her own product called Dollop Ghee.
Sophie said: "When we were small, there was always a jar of ghee in our kitchen press which my Mum would use for making curries. Years later, travelling India with UCD Volunteers Oversees, I rediscovered this fabulous ingredient. When I got home, I began to experiment by making ghee and cooking with it in non-traditional ways."
Sophie says the idea for Dollop developed down in Ballymaloe where a fabulous Indian lady on the course was raving about ghee she had made using Irish butter.
WHERE TO BUY DOLLOP GHEE
Having launched in January of this year, Dollop Ghee is now available in over 60 shops around the country including artisan food shops, delis, butchers, cafes and independent health food stores.
In Louth, you will find Dollop Ghee in a number of businesses including Centra Blackrock, Strandfield, The Food House, Height of Health, Oak Gym, Traynor’s Butchers and Tony Kieran’s Butchers.
WHAT IS GHEE?
Ghee is a deeply flavourful, slow-cooked clarified butter commonly used in South Asian & Middle Eastern cooking. Dollop Ghee has just one ingredient: 100% Irish unsalted butter. A labour of love, it takes 24 hours to get from butter to gorgeous ghee. Butter is melted, clarified, slow cooked then filtered to remove the milk solids along with any impurities. What’s left behind is pure golden fat: ghee. This liquid gold is then poured into jars which are arranged on special cooling racks to set overnight. Having spread from its Asian origins, ghee is rapidly gaining popularity in the US, UK & other parts of Europe renowned for its toasty flavour and health benefits.
Sweet potatoes roasted with Dollop Ghee
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Sophie says: "Irish Dairy products are the best in the world: fantastic quality butter makes fantastic tasting ghee.’ Dollop Ghee has a nutty, almost sweet aroma and flavour- think freshly baked biscuits. With a deeply buttery, almost butter-scotch-like taste, Dollop Ghee has been described by chefs as ‘dangerously delicious’ and, straight to the point, ‘like crack’.
IS IT A HEALTHY FAT?
Apart from its undeniably moreish flavour, people love substituting ghee for other fats when cooking thanks to its exceptionally high smoke point. Every oil has a certain temperature called a smoke point. Ghee has a smoke point of 252⁰c- in comparison, coconut oil’s smoke point is 232⁰c, extra virgin olive oil is 191⁰c, and butter is very low at 177⁰c. Once an oil has reached its smoke point, it will begin to smoke and break down- it has been shown that oil broken down in this way can have a negative impact on the cells in your body. However, this is not the only reason that ghee is considered to be a healthy fat. Ghee made from quality, grass-fed butter is packed with vitamins A, E, K and rich in butyric acid: a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines reducing inflammation and aiding digestion.
WAYS TO ENJOY GHEE
Ghee is a very versatile fat-great for savoury or sweet cooking. Simply substitute ghee in place of olive oil, butter or coconut oil when frying or roasting. Sophie recommends trying ghee for crispy fried eggs & roast potatoes. A dollop of ghee is also delicious simply spread on toast, stirred into porridge or tossed through steamed vegetables in place of butter.