One list five meals: Roasted Fig and Ricotta Starter


Radicchio, Apple and Pomegranate with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4

50 mls of buttermilk

50 mls of creme fraiche

120g of soft blue cheese, crumbled

½ tbsp of cider vinegar

A bunch of chives, chopped

A bunch of parsley, chopped

2 apples, cored and thinly sliced

The juice of ½ a lemon

2 pomegranates, seeds removed shells discarded

A small head of radicchio lettuce, leaves pulled apart

This is fresh tasting salad using a bitter leaf to contrast the sweetness of the apple and pomegranate.

I think pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits. I never tire of opening one up and finding the beautiful jewel-like seeds inside.

As an added bonus they are extremely good for you. You can always keep a few seeds to drop into a glass of bubbly.

I use a nice ripe Cashel Blue cheese for the dressing.

The salad works well served on the Christmas dinner table as the colour and freshness help to cut through all the meat and other rich foods.

Blitz the buttermilk, creme fraiche and blue cheese with the vinegar and herbs until you have a smooth paste.

If you would like slightly runnier dressing you can add a little more buttermilk.

Taste and season, black pepper is good in it but it may be salty enough with the cheese.

Add the same amount of water to the lemon juice so it doubles in size.

Toss the apple slices in the lemon water then drain. Fan them nicely on a plate.

Bunch up the radicchio and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over both.

Serve the dressing in a jug on the side and allow people to help themselves to the salad and then pour the dressing over as desired.


Sweet Potato with Coconut and Sesame Seeds

Serves 4

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, washed then chopped into bite-size chunks

A generous dash of coconut oil

1 tsp of black sesame seeds

1 tsp of sesame seeds

1 tsp of desiccated coconut

This makes a great Christmas side dish. The addition of coconut and sesame give it a slightly more unusual twist than simply using olive oil.

Coconut oil is available in quite a few larger shops or in health food stores. It gives a nice nutty note to the sweet potato.

If you cannot find the coconut oil you can substitute it for rapeseed oil.

Toss the sweet potato in the coconut oil and seasoning in an ovenproof dish. Place them into an oven heated to 190 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove and toss them in the seeds and coconut.

Taste and see if they are properly seasoned and place back into the oven for a further ten minutes, or until they are completely soft and golden.


Roasted Fig and Ricotta Starter

Serves 4

12 figs

2 tbsp of honey

1 tbsp of port

A handful of chopped almonds, toasted

4 tbsp of ricotta

This is a really simple elegant starter to serve before dinner. I use a beautiful sweet ricotta from Toonsbrige dairy.

They have a herd of Buffalo near Macroom and have been making various cheeses with the milk. The ricotta is wonderful and very reasonable priced.

Cut a deep cross into each fig, almost to the base.

Place the figs into an ovenproof dish that has a lid. Drizzle the honey and port into the centre of each fig. Season each one.

Put the lid on the dish and place into an oven heated to 200 degrees for 15 minutes until the figs are soft and sticky.

Serve three figs per person with the ricotta on the side and the toasted almonds sprinkled on top. Drizzle with all of the juice from the dish.


Turkey Pie

Serves 4

A dash of rapeseed oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 leeks, sliced

200mls of creme fraiche

200mls of stock

600g of leftover turkey meat, broken into bite size pieces

100g of leftover ham, cut into cubes

1 tsp of mixed spice

A bunch of thyme, removed from the stalk

250g of leftover potatoes

30 mls of milk

1 egg yolk

Heat the oil over a low heat and add the onions to the pan.

Cover and allow to soften until they are translucent then stir in the leeks. Sauté until they too are soft.

Add in the creme fraiche, stock and thyme and allow to bubble away on the same low heat until the sauce has started to thicken.

Stir in the turkey, ham and mixed spice and allow the meat heat up.

Taste and season and then transfer into an oven proof dish.

Mash the left over potatoes with the milk and egg yolk until they are smooth.

Gently spread over the turkey mixture. Sprinkle with seasoning.

Place into an oven heated to 190 degrees for 20 minutes until the potato is heated through and golden on top.


Spiced beef sandwich with celeriac and horseradish remoulade

Serves 4

A large knob of butter

3 onions, thinly sliced

3 tbsp of creme fraiche

2 tbsp of mayonnaise

3 tsp of grated horseradish

1 small celeriac, cut into very fine strips

2 tsp of honey

Juice and zest of half a medium-sized lemon

2 tsp of cider vinegar

8 slices of good quality bread

8 thick slices of spiced beef

A handful of winter lettuce leaves

This can be made with leftover ham or turkey as well.

Melt the knob of butter over a low heat and add the onions to the pan.

Cover and allow to slowly sauté. Shake the pan every now and then but try and keep the lid on as it helps to soften the onions.

Mix the creme fraiche, mayonnaise and horseradish together and stir in the celeriac and lemon juice and zest.

Taste and season, add more horseradish if you prefer a little more of a kick, set aside.

When the onions are completely soft and transparent stir in the honey and vinegar over the same low heat. Taste and season.

Toast your bread if you wish. Spread a layer of the remoulade and lay a generous slice of the beef on top.

Spread some of the onion over the beef and then top with some leaves and the other slice of bread.


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