Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Day Starter Ideas

Here are some quick and simple Christmas Day starter ideas that will 'wow' the family this December 25th

Beetroot, Black Pudding and Pomegranate Salad
This is epic, the earthy flavours from the beetroot and the black pudding up against the sharpness from the pomegranate along with the tang from the feta cheese, well it works… oh it works so well.

Serves 2:
4-6 pre-cooked baby beetroots
1 small black pudding
1 pomegranate
1 lemon
Olive oil
1-2 little gem lettuce
Feta cheese
Sea salt and black pepper

Cut the pre-cooked beetroots into quarters and slice the black pudding into 1cm slices. Place a medium frying pan on a medium high heat and add a splash of oil, fry the black pudding slices for 2 minutes, turn them over and add in the beetroot, a squeeze of pomegranate juice and a squeeze of lemon juice, cook for a further 3 mins until the pudding slices are cooked and the beets warmed through. Set aside.
In a bowl dress a large handful of rocket with good olive oil. Carefully pull the leaves from the little gem lettuces keeping them intact.
To serve the salad, place 4 little gem lettuce leaves on each plate so they look like little bowls, divide the rocket between all the ‘bowls’ and divide out the pudding and beets on top of the rocket. Tap out the pomegranate seeds over the dish and crumble off little wedges of the feta cheese. Season the salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Caramelised Red Onion and Cherry Tomato Tartlets
I love these tartlets, the sweetness from the red onions, smacked by the sharpness of the balsamic vinegar and brought harmoniously together with a Mediterranean combo… elegant and pretty but pack a severe flavour punch.

Makes 8 tartlets
1 pack of puff pastry
2 medium red onions
A knob of butter and a splash of oil
150g cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
8-10 basil leaves
1 small clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Roll out the pastry 5mm thick, cut squares roughly 3x3 inches using a knife or pizza cutter. Don’t be too fussy. Using the tip of a sharp knife cut a border ¼ cm from the edge, without cutting the whole way through. Place the squares on greaseproof paper on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge until needed.
Peel and finely slice the onions. Place a small saucepan on a medium high heat on the hob and add the butter and oil, to this add in the onions, cover with a lid and cook for 8-10 mins stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up full and once the pan is hot add the balsamic vinegar. Stir until the vinegar has evaporated and the onions are nicely caramelised.
Preheat the oven to 200°c.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to a mixing bowl, mince in the garlic, roughly chop the basil leaves and add to the bowl, also add in the white wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper and allow to marinate for 5 mins.
Remove the pastry squares from the fridge and spoon some of the red onion on each, ensuring you stay within the scored border. Place about 4-5 cherry tomato halves on top and place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden.

 Goat’s Cheese and Spiced Pear Salad
I tasted this in a restaurant one night and thought ‘I have to make this’. It was first time I tasted goat’s cheese… yum!! The dressing is as close as I could remember and after a few attempts this one worked best. I have put in recipe to use spices of your choice, I use whatever jumps out at me when I open the cupboard. You can simply use All Spice!

Serves 4:
2 tins of quartered pears
Sprinkle of spices of your choice or All spice
Pine nuts
300g goats cheese
Fresh rocket
Sun dried tomatoes

See below

Open and drain the pears, cut the quarters into half again and sprinkle well with spices. Place on an oiled baking tray and bung into a preheated oven of 180ºc. They will take 30 mins or so to soften up and colour slightly.
Toast the pine nuts.
Cut the goat’s cheese into thick slices, place on a sheet of foil on a baking tray and grill on a medium high heat until bubbling and coloured slightly.
To plate up, place a handful of dressed rocket leaves on centre of plate with the goat’s cheese on top. Place the spiced pears around with the sun dried tomatoes. Sprinkle over with toasted pine nuts and spoon over some dressing.

Sticky Red Wine Reduction Dressing
Glass of red wine
50ml balsamic vinegar
Splash of soy sauce
Splash of oyster sauce
Tablespoon of honey
Sea salt & black pepper
Glug of olive oil


Pour the red wine into a small pan and bring to the boil, let it reduce by half then add the balsamic, soy, oyster sauce, honey and black pepper. Give it all a good mix and cook for a further 2 mins then allow to cool slightly. Pour it into a clean jar with the oil and with the lid on tight, give it a good shake.

Smoked Mackerel Paté
This is so simple but hits the spot well spread along bread or crackers of your choice!

Serves: 8 

  • 225g (8 oz) smoked mackerel
  • 100g (4 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • salt to taste

  • Method

  • Crumble the smoked mackerel. Place mackerel and mascarpone cheese into a food processor. Blend well using the pulse setting.
  • Transfer mackerel mixture to a medium bowl. Mix in the lemon juice, horseradish, mustard, cayenne pepper, red onion and salt.
  • Chill in the fridge until using

    Pollock and Tomato Chowder
    Without boring you with the details, Pollock is a more sustainable fish compared to Cod or Haddock. It basically means it hasn’t been as widely fished as the previously mentioned, it is very similar to Cod and to be perfectly honest you would be fine pushed to taste the difference, so much so that it has emerged in recent years that Pollock has been sold in various places throughout Ireland and the UK as ‘Cod’.

    Serves 4
    Rapeseed oil
    2 medium onions
    2-3 sticks of celery
    2 medium carrots
    2 large potatoes
    1 green pepper
    A sprig of thyme and a bay leaf tied
    400g tin of chopped tomatoes
    900ml fish or veg stock
    Sea salt and black pepper
    A few dashes of tabasco sauce
    600g of Pollock fillets
    A bunch of parsley

    Peel and chop the onions, carrots and potato, chop the celery and deseed and slice the green pepper.
    Heat the oil in a large saucepan, when hot add the onion and celery and cook until softened, add the carrots, potatoes, pepper and tied herbs. Cook for a further 6-7 mins then add in the chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a steady simmer for 8 mins. Add some black pepper and a few dashes of tabasco sauce.
    Season the Pollock fillets with sea salt and black pepper and lay them on top of the veg in the saucepan, cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 3-4 mins until the fish is cooked through. Using a wooden spoon, gently break up the fish into chunks into the broth.
    Divide the chowder into separate bowls and garnish with some freshly chopped parsley.

    Pear and parsnip soup
    This soup may look pale but it is brimming with flavour. There are natural fats and sugar content in both pears and parsnips but the key word there is ‘natural’.

    Serves 4-6:
    1 large onion
    3 cloves of garlic
    2-3 sticks of celery
    2 medium-large potatoes
    3 large parsnips
    Sea salt and black pepper
    700ml chicken or vegetable stock
    3-4 medium pears
    Half a teaspoon of nutmeg
    A level teaspoon of cinnamon
    Rapeseed oil
    Parsley to garnish

    Prepare all the ingredients first. Peel and roughly chop the onion and garlic, trim and chop the celery, peel and chop the potatoes and parsnips and core(no need to peel) and chop the pears.
    Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a decent splash of rapeseed oil and let it heat, to this add the onion and garlic and sweat off for a few mins, stirring frequently, to soften but not colour. Now add the celery and cook for a further 2 mins then add the potatoes and parsnips with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir for a further 2 mins. Add in the stock, whack the heat up full and bring to the boil, when it reaches boiling point, turn the heat down to a steady simmer for ten mins. Add the pears, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir well and allow to simmer for a further 10 mins.
    Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blitzing with either a hand blender or in a jug blender in batches, returning to a clean saucepan. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.
    Serve with some fresh parsley and fresh brown bread.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...