Donal Skehan

New Years Eve Partaaay!

Wow 2010 really went by in a flash!  I cannot believe it is already New Year’s eve tomorrow…  To be honest I was never really a big fan of New Years eve, it was always a bit of a let down after the excitement of Christmas.  It was kind of like the Sunday during a school week where you knew the party was coming to an end and you had to go back to school the next day.  The last few years we have tried to do something different, by heading off somewhere but this year we are staying put and having people over.  There isn’t too much pressure really because all that is expected is a bit drink to be provided and something nibble on while everyone stands around and get’s merry!

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Indian Spiced and Roasted Nuts

Roasted nuts have to be the most simple addition to a Christmas party spread. I have experimented with different spices and flavors and these Indian spices are really an interesting addition.

Serves 4-6
300g of mixed nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Place the nuts in a roasting tray and toss with the olive oil until all the nuts are coated and glossy. Sprinkle over the spices and season generously with sea salt.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes until toasted and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Honey Chilli Prawn Skewers

Prawns can be a little daunting if you haven’t cooked them before but to be honest they literally take minutes under the grill and this really simple recipe transforms them into the perfect sweet and spicy party food! They can be tricky if you can’t get your hands on the prawns prepared, but don’t be put off if you can’t. Simply spend a few minutes removing the heads and peeling the outer shells, and they are ready to rock.

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Oysters with Vietanamese Dressing

These are a truly elegant addition to any party spread. Oysters are always a talking point that can split any group of party goers, it’s like marmite you either love them or hate them. I’m a huge fan of the salty fresh flavors and would normally eat them with just a little Tabasco sauce, but I find to entice first time oyster eaters, this delicious Vietnamese dressing does the trick!

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Winter Vegetables and Getting Over Christmas!

Are you suffering from the low after all the highs of the Christmas season?  I think we are a little, I mean all that rushing around to make things just perfect for the sake of one day?  I can’t wait for next year though!  Yes Christmas is a lot of work but I do think it is worth it, just to make things that little extra special.  New Year’s is just around the corner and it’s quite funny to think of everyone, myself included, who have waxing lyrical about the rich and calorific Christmas foods, will be very quickly changing our tune with the focus turning toward healthy eating.  Which of course will go hand in hand with all the New Year’s resolutions which are likely to be made come the 31st.

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Roast Beetroot, Feta and Bulgur Wheat Salad

Is it just me or does anyone else think beetroot gets a bad rap? I guess it’s had years of being pickled and prodded and denied all it’s pure beauty. The method I use in this recipe is my favourite way to cook it and you are left with a delicious tender vegetable with a real sweet and earthy flavour. Accompanied by a few complimentary friends and you have a spikey and robust Winter salad which will keep you going long into the New Year. I had a few leftover boiled baby potatoes which I popped in the oven also to crisp up, they turned out to make a great crispy addition!

Serves 4
4 fresh beetroot, tops sliced off
12 boiled baby potatoes, sliced in half
200g of feta cheese, roughly crumbled
250g of bulgur wheat

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
A good pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper

Roast off the beetroot first.  Wrap them in tinfoil, place on an oven tray and bake for about 45mins to an hour at 190C/Gas Mark 5 or until you can insert a fork smoothly. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then peel with knife and slice into thick chunks. If you are adding leftover potatoes, place them in a roasting tray and drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle over some sea salt and ground black pepper and place them above the beetroot in the oven. While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the salad.

Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl, cover with boiling water and cover with cling film.  When all the water has been absorbed, fluff up with a fork and set aside. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside. Add the dressing, beetroot, and feta (and roast baby potaotes if you wish) to the bulgur wheat and gently stir through. Serve straight away or alternatively this makes a fantastic little lunchbox filler.

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Need Some Christmas Leftover Inspiration? Look No Further!

I hope you had a great Christmas!  We sure did!  I’m still stuffed after the Christmas dinner yesterday and at the moment I am writing this from bed while watching my favourite kids film, The Princess Bride.  Not sure Christmas gets any better than this really! :)

When it comes to leftovers there really isn’t many things better than a good old hang sangwich, but sometimes when inspiration is running thin on the ground, and you can’t face another bit of Turkey, it’s important to have some other little leftover recipe ideas up your sleeve.  We recorded a series of 15 second recipes for RTÉ’s FourLive using up festive leftovers a few weeks ago and so for the day that’s in it, I think it’s probably the right time to share them.

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Individual Leftover Ham Pies

These perfect little pies make a tasty little lunch time bite during the Christmas season. Using up the last of the leftover Christmas ham, these really simple flavours combined with a flaky shortcrust pastry will keep everyone happy! If you have any leftover sprouts, slice the finely and stir through the mixture too!

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Individual Cheese Souffles

Souffles can be a little daunting but they really are quite easy to make and are a perfect example of a recipe that uses up leftover ingredients to create something magical! You can use any of the leftover cheeses from the cheese board but I find blue cheese gives the nicest edge to them. Take your time making these, when you get them right they will puff up beautifully.

Serves 6 individual portions
160g of blue cheese
40g self raising flour
40g of butter
340ml of milk
3 large eggs, separated
1 small onion cut in half
1 bay leaf
3 black pepper corns
A pinch of grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180oC.  Grease and flour 6 ramekins.

Pour the Milk into a small pot and add the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and grated nutmeg.  Bring to a steady simmer slowly, then remove from the heat and strain into a pyrex jug.

Melt butter, in a small pot and add the flour to make a roux, whisking until it’s comined.  Slowly add the warm milk until you have added it all and are left with a thick white sauce.

Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl.  Then whisk in the egg yolks and 3/4 of the cheese.  Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy and forming soft peaks.

Divide the mixture amongst the ramekins and place in roasting tin.  Pour boiling water around the base of the ramekins and place in the oven for 15 minutes until risen.

Serve straight away in the ramekins or allow to cool slightly and remove from the ramekins and place on a lined baking sheet.  At this point you can keep the ramekins to serve the following day if you wish.  Just add a sprinkle of extra blue cheese and place in the oven to puff to puff back up for 10-15 minutes!

Serve with a crisp winter salad!

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Leftover Pud Caramel Pots

By toasting the crumbled Christmas pudding with a little sugar you will be left with the most delicious crisp sweet nuggets, which sprinkled over a little ice cream, drizzled with some caramel sauce and topped with some toasted almond flakes makes the most delicious little dessert!

Makes 4-6 pudding pots
450g Leftover Christmas pudding, crumbled
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tub of green & blacks vanilla ice-cream
297g can of caramel
Toasted flaked almonds to serve

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Toss the crumbled Christmas pudding on a baking tray with the brown sugar and brandy.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the sugar is caramelised.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Layer little individual dessert glasses with vanilla ice-cream, caramelised Christmas pud and the caramel sauce.

Serve straight away.

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Christmas Cheesecake

This makes a great change to all the usual Christmas desserts and best of all it uses up any Christmas cake leftovers you might have after the big day. This recipe works well as a normal cheesecake mixture if you drop the cinnamon and baileys, so you also make it with a regular digestive biscuit base also.

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Kitchen Essential 31

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