This recipe for Roasted Bacon & Chestnut Sprouts is my favourite way to eat Brussels sprouts. My friend Sue always says that brussels sprouts are mutant cabbages, and I think that probably represents the level of dislike that people have for the poor Brussels sprout. On the other hand, my friend Dawn absolutely loves them. I’m a bit tired of recipes that claim that THIS recipe will convert sprout haters. Ultimately, if you hate them, you hate them. However, if you’re on the fence, you might like them roasted. I think they taste much better, but really, they are still Brussels sprouts. I just can’t do a Christmas Menu without them.

Roasted Sprouts

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Chive Lemon Crème fraîche with brown bread & smoked salmon is a classic Christmas starter for all the traditionalists. It’s barely a recipe to be honest! Do yourself a favour with this one by serving it on a platter and let people help themselves. I always serve wedges of lemon with it, in case there are any purists, but the cool gently flavoured Chive Lemon  Crème fraîche really lets the salmon stand out as the star of the show. This is also a good duo with Burnt Lemon and Feta Dip.

lemon creme fraiche

 

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This burnt lemon and feta dip has the lovely combination of being familiar and yet a little unexpected – a nice way to kick off a Christmas menu

! The feta adds a lovely saltiness and the lemon is fresh. The slightly burnt caramelised flavour makes the whole taste much warmer and more interesting. The idea of eating something burnt might be a bit jarring, but cooking the lemon really intensifies the flavours and cuts through the ‘milkiness’ of the rest of the ingredients. The dip is essentially feta and lemon, using some crème fraiche, natural yogurt, milk or buttermilk to thin it out. You can vary it depending on what you have in the fridge, and how much tanginess you like!

Burnt Lemon and Feta Dip
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Having bought mini bundt tins, Spiced Red Velvet Bundt Cakes with Baked Cream Cheese Filling seemed like an obvious option. Yes, I know, I am a little obsessed with red velvet cake, but these little beauties will help you understand why. The hint of cinnamon really emphasised the chocolate flavour while the characteristic light crumb melted on your tongue. Throw in the excitement and luxury of a baked cream cheese filling and you’re onto a winner.

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(This recipe for cranberry, orange & ginger mincemeat was also featured on Getrealirishtours.com)

When I made this cranberry, orange & ginger mincemeat , the house was instantly transformed by the festive smells. People were trickling into the kitchen and even the collection of ingredients piled on the table spoke of the warmth and familiarity of a traditional Christmas. This recipe is, however, a twist on a classic, using the tart cranberry flavour in fresh and dried forms to offset the sweetness of the orange and other dried fruits. Cranberries are so delicious and I need to use them as much as I can during their short season! I can’t resist dried figs either – they are such a luxurious touch, especially when they are all bathed together in cherry brandy. The Christmas smells really come from the aromatic fresh ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Most things are improved by being clothed in pastry, and this Clementine shortcrust pastry adds an extra layer of flavour. This recipe can be varied by using other citrus fruits such as lime or lemon, but Clementine is a lovely festive twist. I use it to make my mincemeat crumble pies.

Citrus fruit works really well because the acid in the juice makes the pastry even crumblier while the zest is loaded with natural oils which flavours the pastry without upsetting any of the proper ratios of the recipe. Continue reading

Cranberry and White Chocolate Blondies are the perfect festive treat to bring along to all those Christmas gatherings that we have this time of year.I have, for some time, been lamenting that I can’t make the gorgeous Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies I made during the summer, so this is a reworking of the recipe that works for winter (a shameless reworking – I even use some of the same pictures!). The cranberries in this recipe bring the same tartness as the rhubarb and using orange really brings a warmth and sweetness too.

Cranberry and white chocolate blondies

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