Michelle Darmody: Cooking for party season

Party season is upon us and today’s recipes are all designed to help you impress any visitors. Sausage rolls and smoked salmon both remind me of Christmases gone by. Both were always in our house at this time of year.

Sausage rolls would be eaten as soon as they came out of the oven — small hands juggling the still warm pastry and biting into clouds of steam, we convinced ourselves they were cool enough to eat.

The sausage rolls listed here are a twist on the more conventional roll, the addition of garlic and chilli to the sausage meat adds extra flavour and the poppy seeds add bite to the buttery pastry.

We have excellent smokehouses in Ireland; smoking not only salmon but trout, mackerel, and mussels. Any of these would make a good topping for these mini pancakes.

I particularly like the smoked trout from Goatsbridge Farm in Thomastown, Killkenny. They also provide a beautiful trout caviar which are little pops of flavour, the tiny orange globes look beautiful spooned over any fish dish or canapé.

Anna Pavlova was the name of a Russian ballerina and the white meringue cake was created in her honour in the 1920s.

In our house, a Pavlova was always on the table in the run-up to Christmas. I think this wreath-like way of presenting it is particularly festive.

You can add as much or as little decoration as you like. By cutting the parchment in two before spooning on the uncooked meringue, you make its eventual removal far easier.

Gently tug on either side of the parchment and it should slide out from under the soft interior of the cake.

Pavlova wreath

2 tbs of white malt vinegar, 2 tsp for the cake and the rest for cleaning

5 egg whites, at room temperature

Agenerous pinch of sea salt

255g of caster sugar

2 level tsp of corn flour, sieved

Cut a square of parchment to fit your baking tray then cut this in two. Lightly grease
the tray and press the two
rectangles of parchment on to the tray.

Heat the oven to 130C.

Set aside two teaspoons of the vinegar. Soak the rest up with some kitchen towel and wipe down the bowl, the whisk, a spatula and any other implements you are using. This will ensure there is no grease on them and allow the egg whites to
completely whip up.

Put egg whites and salt into the cleaned mixing bowl. Whisk lightly until the colour begins to change. Add half of the caster sugar and whisk until stiff.

Turn the speed on the mixer down and add the rest of the sugar a tablespoon at a time.

Sieve in the cornflour and lightly beat, add two small teaspoons of vinegar and lightly beat.

Scoop the mixture in a circle onto the prepared parchment. Swirl slightly so it looks like a Christmas wreath.

Cook in the heated oven for 15 minutes at 130C. Then
reduce the heat to 120C and cook for one-and-a-half to
two hours depending on the oven.

When the meringue is done it should slide off the baking tray onto a plate. You can then pull the paper gently out from underneath on both sides.

Because it is cut in two it should pull away easier.

Dot fresh whipped cream and then top with candied cranberries and pomegranate seeds, add some green springs of rosemary and other fruit for decoration.

Mini smoked salmon pancakes

1 egg, separated

50g of plain flour

50g of spelt flour

150mls of milk

25g of melted butter

1/2 a clove of garlic, crushed

Asmall handful of dill, very finely chopped and a little more for decoration

3 tbs of cream cheese

the zest of 2 lemons

smoked salmon, cut into 2 inch squares

Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks and set aside.

Mix the the flours together and add in the egg yolk and half of the milk. Stir until completely combined and smooth. Add in the rest of the milk, the melted butter, the garlic and chopped dill. Combine everything. Fold in the egg white.

Heat a pan with a dash of olive oil until quite hot. Place a soup spoon of the pancake batter onto the pan and fry until golden. Turn the pancake over and cook the other side until golden. Place onto a plate lined with kitchen paper until all the batter is used up.

Top each mini pancake with the cream cheese, a sprinkling of lemon zest and black pepper and top with a square of smoked salmon.

Poppy seed sausage rolls

370g of sausage meat

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

a handful of parsley chopped

2 tbs of tomato purée

1 level tsp of mild chilli powder or cayenne pepper

370g of puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

poppy seeds to decorate

Line a baking tray with parchment and pre heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Place the sausage meat into a large bowl and add the garlic, parsley, tomato puree and chilli powder into the bowl. Mash everything together with a fork until combined.

Lay the puff pastry out onto a clean surface. Slice it in two to make two long rectangles. Brush a line of the beaten egg up one side. 

Place a line of the sausage meat beside this. Roll the pastry up and press in the seam with your fingers then press it with a fork to completely seal it. 

Slice the long roll into sausage rolls about two inches long. Place the seam-side of the pastry down onto the tray. Leave about two inches between each sausage roll on your baking tray.

Repeat with the other rectangle of pastry.

Brush some beaten egg on the top of each roll and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for about half an hour until puffed up and golden and the meat is completely cooked through. Allow to cool on a wire rack.


New father’s life ‘changed forever’ after he was run over by surgeon

The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner