Cook with Neven

"Take Quality Ingredients, Careful Preparation and Add Wonderful Flavours..."

A selection of some of Nevens favourite recipes can be viewed below.

Happy Cooking!

  • Winter Recipes
  • Beetroot Borscht

    Beetroot Borscht

    Serves 4-6

    Broscht or Borscht is very popular in most parts of Eastern European and it was a Polish chef who was working in my kitchen who first introduced me to it. When choosing beetroot look for plump roots that are smooth and firm and avoid any that are showing signs of decay. I always grate them in a food processor to stop my hands from staining but if you have do them by hand you could always try wearing rubber gloves...


    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 leek, finely chopped

    1 celery stick, finely chopped

    275g (10oz) raw beetroot, peeled and finely grated

    100g (4oz) potato, diced

    150g (5oz) carrot, finely grated

    1.2 litres (2 pints) beef or vegetable stock

    2 tsp red wine vinegar

    1 tsp sugar

    about 3 tbsp soured cream

    salt and freshly ground black pepper dill sprigs, to garnish


    Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the leek and celery for about 2-3 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the beetroot, potato and carrots, stirring to combine.

    Pour the stock into the pan, season and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender and the soup has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.

    Season the soup to taste, then stir in the vinegar and sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls and add a small dollop of soured cream, then garnish with the dill sprigs and serve immediately.


    Mushroom Soup

    Mushroom Soup

    This is a soup that can be enjoyed anytime of year. You can use dried mushrooms, but make sure you soak them in boiling water an hour before you use them.

    The wild mushrooms give a real dept of flavour to the soap.

    Mushroom Soup With Parsley


    175g/6oz wild mushrooms

    175g/6oz button mushrooms

    250g/9oz potatoes, peeled and chopped

    25g/1oz butter

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 garlic clove, crushed

    125ml white wine

    2 pints chicken stock

    To Serve:

    1 sprig chervil

    Fresh parsley sprigs

    4 tablespoons sour cream


    Finely chop the mushrooms in a food processor. Remove and repeat the process with the potatoes.

    Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, wine and stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Hand blend the soup until smooth. Season to taste.

    Ladle into serving bowls. Top with a sprig of parsley. Drizzle the cream over. Enjoy.


    To change the colour and flavour of the soup just use different types of mushrooms. Dark ones will give a richer flavour while lighter ones give a more delicate flavour.


    Lamb in a Crisp Potato Crust

    Lamb Potato Crust

    Our grass fed lamb has to be some of the best in the world. When you're shopping look out for the Bord Bia Quality Assured and always try to buy from your local butcher.

    Lamb in a Crisp Potato Crust, Minted Pea Puree and a Tarragon Jus


    1 lb lamb loin trimmed

    4 large baking potatoes, peeled chopped parsley

    dried breadcrumbs – white breadcrumbs, crusts removed, toasted in oven and ground


    Cut the potato into julienne, using a mandolin. Put the julienne in a tea cloth and squeeze out the excess water. Cover the base of the pan with sunflower oil. Sprinkle the julienne all over the base of the pan - press down the crust as it cooks. Do not use any salt or pepper at this point. Place the crispy side down on a tea towel - one side is crispy and lightly golden, the other side is undercooked. Sprinkle the potato crust all over with chopped parsley. Repeat with the second potato crust.

    Cut the lamb loin in two. Season each side with salt and pepper and dip in the breadcrumbs. Place the lamb on the crust. Roll it up like a swiss roll - but keep squeezing the potato tightly around the lamb so that it sticks to it as you go. Place the lamb in a preheated oven on a cooling rack- the potato crust keeps more crispy that way. You may leave the lamb for an hour or two before you bake it. Bake in the oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes(medium) or cook to your perference. Allow to rest.

    Pea Puree


    1 lb fresh or frozen peas

    1tabsp butter

    1 tabsp chopped fresh peppermint

    5 fl.oz/150ml cream


    Place cream in a saucepan. Add mint and bring to the boil. Add the peas and butter, cook for 2 minutes. Season and place in the food processor. Pass the mixture through a sieve and place in a squeezy bottle. Keep warm.

    Tarragon jus


    Half pint maderia sauce(larder)

    50ml balsamic vinegar

    1 tsp tomato puree

    1 teaspoon brown sugar

    Sprigs of fresh tarragon


    Heat a dry saucepan until very hot. Pour in the balsamic and then add maderia sauce, sugar, tomato puree and tarragon sprigs. Reduce and season to taste.


    Slice lamb in four. Place in centre of plate.. Garnish with sautéed spinach, pea puree and pour sauce around.


    Classic Lasagne


    Serves 6-8

    This dish needs no introduction as the Irish have taken to it as if it was our own. While it takes a long time to prepare, it is always worth the effort.

    Classic Lasagne

    This dish needs no introduction as the Irish have taken to it as if it was our own. While it takes a long time to prepare, it is always worth the effort.


    8 oz / 225 g lasagne sheets, pre-blanched in boiling water 1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 onion, sliced

    2 cloves garlic, crushed

    8 oz / 225 g button mushrooms, sliced

    2 Ib / 900 g lean minced beef (Bord Bia Quality Assured)

    1 carrot, peeled, trimmed and diced

    2 tablespoons tomato puree

    1 can chopped tomatoes

    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    1 level tablespoon sugar

    1 rounded tablespoon chopped basil

    4 oz / 110 g grated white Cheddar cheese

    ½ oz / 10 g butter (to butter dish)


    2 oz / 50 g margarine

    2 oz / 50 g plain flour

    1 pint / 570 ml milk, hot 1 pinch nutmeg, grated Seasoning


    Melt the margarine in a pot. Make a roux by adding in the flour and cooking for 3 minutes over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add in the milk, and stir until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add some grated nutmeg and season to taste. Set aside and keep warm until ready to assemble the lasagne. To make the meat sauce, heat the oil in a large frying-pan, add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the mince and carrot and stir until lightly browned. Then stir in the tomato puree and cook for about 1 minute, followed by the chopped tomatoes. Stir well and add in the soy, vinegar, sugar and basil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Preheat the oven to 160°C / Gas 3.

    To assemble the lasagne: First butter an ovenproof dish and cover with a layer of the pasta sheets. Next place a layer of the meat filling on top and repeat this process twice until you have 3 layers in total. Cover with the white sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Cook in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes.

    To Serve

    Place the dish on the table and serve the family directly!


    Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Herb Couscous

    Moroccon Lamb

    Serves 6-8

    I like to make my tagine a little richer than is traditional. This involves browning the meat, frying the spices, reducing the sauce and cooking it all gently in the oven with delicious Medjool dates, which can be found in most supermarkets. The flavour of tagine only improves with time, so leave in the fridge for up to two days. Any excess fat will rise to the top and can be easily removed.


    2 tbsp paprika

    1 tbsp ground coriander

    1 tbsp turmeric

    2 tsp ground cinnamon

    2 tsp ground cumin

    2 tsp black pepper

    1.5kg (3lb 5oz) lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 4cm (1½in) chunks

    4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

    2.5cm (1in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped

    3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

    2 tbsp olive oil

    600ml (1 pint) tomato juice

    600ml (1 pint) lamb or chicken stock

    2 tbsp clear honey

    225g (8oz) Medjool dates, halved and stones removed

    50g (2oz) toasted flaked almonds

    Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Greek yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves, to serve

    For the couscous

    350g (12oz) couscous

    juice of 2 lemons

    6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

    600ml (1 pint) chicken stock

    50g (2oz) dried apricots

    4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and mint


    Mix together the paprika, ground coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and pepper in a large, non-metallic bowl, then tip half into a smaller bowl and set aside. Add the lamb to the large bowl and stir to coat in the spices. Cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 160C (325F), gas mark 3. Place the garlic, ginger and onions in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Heat half the oil over a medium heat in a large, heavybased casserole dish. Brown the marinated lamb in batches. Add the remaining oil and the onion mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are softened but not browned. Stir in the reserved spice mixture and cook for a minute or so until well combined.

    Pour the tomato juice and stock into the casserole dish, then add the honey, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then stir in the dates and cook for another hour until the lamb is cooked through and the sauce has thickened and reduced. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Put the couscous in a large bowl, then add the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Mix well to completely coat all the grains. Heat the stock in a medium saucepan and season generously. Pour over the couscous, cover with clingfilm and allow to sit in a warm place for 6-8 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.

    To Serve

    Chop the apricots and stir them into the couscous, along with the remaining oil, parsley and mint. Spoon the couscous onto plates with helpings of the tagine. Scatter over the toasted almonds and serve with a bowl of Greek yoghurt and coriander leaves.


  • Summer Recipes
  • Chicken, Rocket and Pine Nut Pasta

    Chicken Pasta

    Serves 4

    The sauce for this recipe literally takes the time the pasta needs to cook. It uses rocket or watercress, of which I get a regular supply from Rod Alston at Eden Plants, one of the best organic farms in Ireland. I'm just so lucky that it's only five minutes up the road from the restaurant, but thank-fully organic vegetables are becoming easier to find. There is now a wider range of good quality pasta available, but without a doubt my favourite is De Cecco that comes in blue packets and is now available in most larger supermarkets and good delis.


    8oz / 225g penne pasta 3 tablespoons pine nuts 3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion, thinly sliced

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

    2 boneless skinless large chicken breasts (Bord Bia quality assured), sliced lengthways into thin strips (about 8oz / 225g in total)

    1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

    Quarter pint / 150ml cream 4V2OZ / 125g

    wild rocket or watercress

    about 4 teaspoons chilli oil or olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper Parmesan shavings, to garnish


    Plunge the penne into a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 10 minutes until 'al dente' oraccording to packet instructions. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the pine nuts. Cook for a few minutes until lightly toasted, tossing occasionally to prevent them from burning. Tip into a bowl and set aside. Add two tablespoons of the oil to the frying pan and saute the onion, garlic and thyme for 2-3 minutes until softened and just beginning to colour. Tip into a bowl and set side. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and then add the chicken strips. Cook for 2-3 minutes and season lightly, then turn over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden. Return the onion mixture to the frying pan, stirring until well combined. Stir in the mustard and cream and then bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 1 minute to just heat through, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Drain the pasta and quickly refresh, then return to the pan. Pour in the creamy chicken mixture and add the rocket or watercress. Toss lightly together to combine and season to taste.

    To Serve

    Spoon the pasta on to warmed serving plates and then sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts. Drizzle over the chilli or olive oil and garnish with the Parmesan shavings.


    Parmesan shavings are now sold in small cartons in some super-markets, but it really is very easy to make your own; just pare a block of good quality Parmesan with a vegetable peeler - it's as simple as that!


    Chicken Spring Roll

    Curried Chicken

    Serves 4

    This is a wonderful starter or light main course. It always goes down a treat in the restaurant for Sunday lunch. Children really enjoy this!

    Curried Chicken Spring Roll with a Mango Salsa

    Curried Chicken Spring Rolls


    2 chicken breasts, skinned (Bord Bia Quality Assured)

    Sharwoods mild curry powder


    Quarter head savoy cabbage – the leaves shredded finely

    100g/4oz shitake mushrooms

    1 tabsp chopped scallion

    2-3 tabsps sweet chilli sauce

    2-3 tabsps chilli jam

    1 tsp chopped coriander

    1 oz butter


    Egg wash

    2 yolks, 1 egg and 1 tabsp milk


    Sprinkle curry powder generously over the chicken breasts and season. Place the chicken in a baking dish and drizzle some olive oil over it. Add a tablespoon or two of water - this stops them from drying out. Cook in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until tender. Allow to cool.

    Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan with a dash of olive oil. Add the spring onions and cabbage. Toss until almost tender and then add the shitake. Toss again until the mushrooms begin to wilt. Dice the chicken into small cubes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Season to taste.

    Lay out 1 spring roll wrapper on your counter, brush with egg wash just on one side and spoon on the chicken mixture in a cylindrical shape. Fold the bottom corner over the mixture, then turn in the two outside corners and roll up. It is important not to let the wrappers dry out so keep the extra wrappers covered with a damp tea towel. Also do not overfill the spring rolls or they can burst during the cooking.

    Deep fry in clean oil at 180°C/350F for about 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Do not put too many spring rolls in the saucepan at once, do about 3 at a time. You may also deep fry the spring rolls in advance and then reheat them in the oven if you wish.

    Mango Salsa


    1 ripe mango, peeled (try Indian mangoes if available

    1 tablespoon chopped basil

    1 tabsps olive oil

    1 small red pepper, roasted and finely diced

    2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

    Coriander, chopped


    Cut mango into a fine dice, stir in the sweet chilli sauce, red pepper, olive oil, chopped coriander and basil, add seasoning to taste.

    Brush spring roll pastry all over with egg wash, spread out mixture and fold.

    To Serve

    Slice the spring rolls in three, place in the centre of the plate and spoon the salsa around.

    Note: The spring rolls made be made up 2-3 hours in advance. The mixture may be made up 1-2 days earlier but you cannot leave the spring rolls wrapped overnight as the juices can seep through the spring roll.


    Mozzarella Fritters with Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

    Mozzarella Fritters

    Serves 4 (Vegetarian)

    I love the creamy and sour flavour of buffalo mozzarella, especially when served with this roasted red pepper and tomato sauce.


    120g (4½oz) breadcrumbs made from day-old sourdough bread

    2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    2 tbsp coarsely torn fresh basil leaves

    1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

    25g (1oz) plain flour

    1 egg

    4 x 100g (4oz) balls of buffalo mozzarella

    olive oil, for frying

    For the sauce

    1 small bulb of garlic, about 5cm (2in) in diameter

    225g (8oz) ripe tomatoes, halved lengthways

    1 large red pepper

    1½ tsp fresh lemon juice

    1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

    ½ tsp balsamic vinegar

    Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Preheat the oven to 190C (375F), gas mark 5. To make the sauce, cut off and discard the top quarter of the garlic bulb and wrap the rest in foil. Arrange the tomatoes, cut-side up, on a foil-lined baking tray and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add the whole red pepper and the foil-wrapped garlic to the tray and roast for 1 hour until the tomatoes are beginning to char, the garlic is completely tender and the red pepper is blackened and cooked through.

    Transfer the red pepper to a plastic bag, seal and leave to cool for 20 minutes. Remove from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the core and seeds. Place the flesh in a food processor with the tomatoes. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves into the food processor. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and blend until smooth. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance and kept in a bowl covered with clingfilm in the fridge.

    Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley, basil and lemon rind in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Also season the flour and tip onto a flat plate. Lightly beat the egg in a shallow dish.

    Tear each ball of mozzarella into four pieces, dust in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Dip first in the beaten egg, and then in the herby breadcrumbs. Arrange on a baking tray lined with non-stick parchment paper and chill for at least 2 hours.

    When ready to cook, pour olive oil into a large saucepan to a depth of 5cm (2in) or heat a deep-fat fryer to 180C (350F) - a small piece of white bread should brown and rise to the surface in about 1 minute. Deep-fry the mozzarella in batches for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain well on kitchen paper.

    To Serve

    Warm the sauce in a small saucepan over a gentle heat and transfer to a small bowl. Arrange four mozzarella fitters on each warmed plate and serve with the bowl of sauce alongside.


  • Desserts
  • Coconut & Lime Meringue Pie

    Coconut Lemon Pie

    Serves 6-8

    As this pastry is so short and crumbly, it may break up when you are trying to roll it out. If this happens, try coarsely grating it directly into the tin and then quickly press it up the sides and into the shape of the tin. No one will know the difference!


    For the pastry

    100g (4oz) butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing

    175g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    pinch of salt

    50g (2oz) caster sugar

    1 egg yolk

    Half tbsp double cream

    For the filling

    finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes

    seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

    175g (6oz) caster sugar

    400g tin of coconut milk

    4 tbsp cornflour

    4 egg yolks

    50g (2oz) butter, softened

    For the meringue

    2 egg whites

    100g (4oz) caster sugar

    whipped cream, to serve


    To make the pastry, place the butter, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can rub together by hand. Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again or mix until the dough just comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the pastry will be tough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 1 hour.

    Grease a 20cm (8in) round, fluted, loose-bottomed flan tin, of 3cm (1¼in) in depth. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line the prepared tin. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork, then chill for about 20 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), gas mark 6. Line the pastry case with foil or non-stick baking paper and a thin layer of baking beans. Bake 'blind' for 15-20 minutes, then take the pastry case out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°C (350°F), gas mark 4.

    Carefully remove the beans and the foil or paper from the case, then return it to the oven for 3-5 minutes until lightly golden.

    While the pastry is blind baking, make the filling. Place the lime zest and juice in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds, sugar and coconut milk, then heat gently until the sugar dissolves.

    Mix the cornflour in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of cold water, then stir it into the coconut mixture. Bring to the boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and then allow to cool slightly.

    Finally, beat in the egg yolks and butter and return to the heat to cook gently for 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour the filling into the pastry case and allow to cool completely.

    Once the filling is cool, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas mark 4. To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk into soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time to make a stiff, glossy meringue. Spoon the meringue on top of the filling, spreading it out evenly to make sure it forms a good seal with the pastry edge. Swirl the top of the meringue with the tip of a knife and bake the pie for 15 minutes or until it is lightly golden and crisp on top.

    Allow the pie to cool slightly and then carefully remove the tart from the tin. Allow to cool completely before chilling for a few hours or overnight until completely set. To serve, cut into slices and arrange on plates with whipped cream.


    Coconut Toasted Pavlova with Lemon Curd Cream and Tropical Fruit

    coconut pavlova

    Serves 6

    This meringue should have a crisp shell and a gooey centre. To achieve this, cook in a very low oven until it has pinkish hue (but don't let it go brown). Decorate with whatever fruit you like, although a tropical selection works particularly well with the sweetness of the meringue.


    3 egg whites (retain yolks for the lemon curd cream)

    175g (6oz) caster sugar

    ½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out (retain remaining pod for the lemon curd cream)

    2 tbsp desiccated coconut

    2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

    1 star fruit, thinly sliced

    1 small ripe mango, peeled, stone discarded and sliced

    3 passion fruit, halved and pulp scooped out

    For the lemon curd cream

    2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (use yolks retained from above)

    100g (4oz) caster sugar

    ½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out finely grated rind and juice of 3 lemons

    120g (4½oz) butter, diced

    200ml (7fl oz) double cream


    Preheat the oven to 110C (225C), gas mark o. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until they are stiff. This is best done with an electric whisk. Gradually add in the caster sugar and vanilla seeds. Continue to whisk until the egg whites become thick and glossy and form stiff peaks (and if you turn the bowl upside down, the mixture doesn't fall out). Fold in half the desiccated coconut. Using a piping bag or palette knife, spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper and sprinkle over the remaining coconut. Cook on the lowest shelf of the oven for 1-1½ hours until the meringue is crisp but not browned.

    Meanwhile, make the lemon curd cream. Place the eggs and yolks in a heatproof bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is pale in colour and holds a figure-of-eight outline made with the whisk. Whisk in the lemon rind and juice and cook for 15-20 minutes until the mixture just starts to set. It is important not to let the water boil under the bowl as this will curdle the eggs in the mixture. Remove the bowl from the heat and leave the curd to cool for 15–20 minutes. Whisk in the diced butter until combined and then leave to cool completely. Place the cream in another bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into the lemon curd, then cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.

    To Serve

    To serve, spread most of the lemon curd cream on the meringue (reserving a couple of tablespoons) and arrange the kiwi slices, star fruit and mango slices on top. Spoon over the passion fruit pulp. To serve, cut into slices and arrange on plates, using small blobs of the reserved lemon curd cream to secure the meringue slices to the plates.


    Mulled fruit trifle

    mulled fruit triffle

    Serves 6

    My Mum always made this trifle for special occasions when I was growing up. I just loved helping, especially with the cleaning of the bowls and it definitely inspired me to be a chef. At Christmas I like to decorate the top with pomegranate seeds to make it sparkle like jewels!

    100ml (3 1/2fl oz) ruby red port

    100g (4oz) caster sugar

    1 tsp ground mixed spice

    1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out

    500g (1 1/4lb) bag frozen fruits of the forest

    200g (7oz) Madeira cake, broken into pieces

    300ml (1/2 pint) double cream


    300ml (1/2 pint) milk

    100ml (3 1/2fl oz) double cream

    1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out

    5 egg yolks

    4 tbsp caster sugar

    2 tsp cornflour

    toasted flaked almonds, to decorate

    To make the custard, Place the milk, cream and vanilla pod and seeds in a heavy-based pan over a gentle heat and cook until it nearly reaches the boil - but don't allow to boil. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk together until pale and thickened.

    Remove the milk and cream mixture from the heat and then slowly whisk it into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour back into the pan and place on a gentle heat. Cook, without allowing to boil, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, covering with a piece of clingfilm to prevent a skin forming on top.

    Meanwhile, prepare the mulled fruit. Place the ruby red port in a large pan with the sugar, mixed spice and vanilla and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen fruits of the forest and set aside until cooled, stirring occasionally. The fruits should defrost naturally in the hot syrup but still hold their shape.

    Scatter the Madeira cake over the base of a 1.5 litre (2 1/2 pint) glass serving bowl. Spoon over the cooked fruits of the forest mixture and cover with the cooled custard. Chill for 1 hour until the custard sets a little firmer or up to 24 hours is fine.

    When ready to serve, whip the cream in a bowl until you have achieved soft peaks and place spoonfuls on top of custard, then gently spread with a palette knife or back of a spoon to cover the custard completely. Sprinkle over the toasted flaked almonds and place straight on the table to serve.


    MacNean Old fashioned Mince Meat Pies

    Mince Pies

    Makes 12

    Not surprisingly, my Auntie Maureen is also the champion of this Maguire classic. Before she retired she was a Domestic Science teacher in a variety schools in Cavan and I don't believe she ever had a pupil who didn't learn how to make her marvellous mince meat pies. Once you've made it yourself, you'll never buy another jar of the stuff again.


    Sweet Pastry

    125 g / 5 oz butter or margarine

    225 g / 8 oz plain flour

    50 g / 2 oz icing sugar

    1 egg yolk

    1 tablespoon cold water

    ½ teaspoon lemon juice

    Jar of mincemeat, homemade


    350 g / 12 oz eating apples

    225 g / 8 oz raisins

    225 g / 8 oz sultanas

    225 g / 8 oz currants

    100 g / 4 oz candid citrus peel

    225 g / 8 oz melted butter

    100 g / 4 oz blanched almonds, chopped

    175 g / 6 oz dark brown sugar

    Grated rind 1 orange

    Grated rind 1 lemon

    ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon ground cloves

    ½ teaspoon salt

    6 tablespoon brandy or whiskey


    Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4. Sieve flour and icing sugar into bowl. Add butter cut into 5 small pieces. Add egg yolk, water and lemon juice. Beat with electric mixer at slow speed until mixture forms dough.

    Place pastry in greaseproof paper or a plastic bag in refrigerator, for at least 30 minutes before use. Roll out 2/3 of pastry thinly on a lightly floured board. Cut out rounds with a cutter a little larger than the tins. Line the tartlet tins with rounds of pastry. Put 1 tbsp mincemeat in each.

    Roll out the remainder of pastry and cut with a slightly smaller cutter to fit the tops. Brush the edges of the mince pies with water and place smaller rounds on top, seal with tips of fingers. Make a small slit in each mince pie. Brush with beaten egg. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C / Gas 6, for 15-20 minutes. Cool in tins before lifting out the mince pies. Dust with icing sugar.

    Mince Meat

    Peel, core and finely chop apples. Melt butter. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and cover with a teacloth. Leave overnight. Mix well and pack into clean dry jars. Seal and store in a cool dark place for 3-4 weeks before use.


    Why not make twice the amount of mincemeat and put in some sterililized fancy jars, wrap with a red ribbon and give a jar to your friends for a Christmas gift?


    MacNean Special Plum Pudding & Traditional Christmas Cake

    Christmas Pudding

    Another Auntie Maureen classic! This pudding is a dense, rich and utterly mouth-watering dessert. In fact it's so rich that I serve it with lightly whipped cream and not the traditional Brandy Butter. Of course you can serve it with either.


    150 g / 6 oz raisins

    150 g / 6 oz sultanas

    50 g / 2 oz currants

    ½ small grated carrot

    ½ diced apple

    50 g / 2 oz mixed peel

    ½ teaspoon mixed spice

    50 g / 2 oz chopped almonds

    ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

    ½ teaspoon ground cloves

    50 g / 2 oz flour

    150 g / 6 oz breadcrumbs

    Rind and juice of 1 lemon

    150 g / 6 oz butter, melted

    2 eggs

    150 g / 6 oz soft brown sugar

    10 fl oz Guinness

    200 ml / 8 fl oz whipped cream


    Plum Pudding

    Sift together flour, mixed spice, nutmeg and cloves. Add breadcrumbs, raisins, sultanas, peel, almonds, apple, grated carrot and rind and juice of lemon and melted butter. Beat eggs and gradually add to mixture with Guinness. Mix thoroughly, cover with tea towel and leave overnight. Next day, place the mixture in 2 prepared 2 pint pudding bowls. Cover with greased paper and lid. Stand bowl in a large cake tin and fill the tin ¾ full of boiling water. Cover completely with foil.

    Bake in a hot oven at 150C / Gas 2 for 6-8 hours. Or you can steam for 6 hours in the usual way. Cool, cover again with greaseproof paper and store in a cool dry place. On Christmas day cover again with greased greaseproof paper and lid. Steam for 2-3 hours.

    To Serve

    In a bowl or on a plate, with a dollop of lightly whipped cream


    If you must light the Pudding, do please be careful with the amount of alcohol you pour on. I find that 1 tbsp of heated brandy works a just fine.

    MacNean Traditional Christmas Cake

    This is a very special recipe that has been handed down the Maguire family for generations. My Auntie Maureen from Ballymahon, was kind enough to let me share this with you all and I hope your family enjoy it as much as we do every Christmas.


    225 g / 8 oz butter

    350 g / 14 oz raisins

    225 g / 8 oz soft brown sugar

    350 g / 14oz sultanas

    250 g / 10 oz plain flour

    150 g / 6 oz currants

    6 eggs

    100 g / 4 oz cherries

    Grated rind ½ lemon

    100 g / 4 oz mixed peel, homemade or similar

    50 g / 2 oz grated apple

    50 g / 2 oz chopped almonds

    ½ tsp nutmeg, grated

    50 g / 2 oz chopped almonds

    ¼ teaspoon mixed spice

    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

    5 fl oz whiskey

    50 g / 2 oz apricots, ready to eat

    50 g / 2 oz ground almonds


    Prepare 9inch round cake tin by lining with 2 layers of greaseproof paper extending 5 cm / 2inches over top of the tin. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin. Prepare fruit and mix it with spices, nuts, lemon rind and 1/2 of whiskey. Cover bowl with a tea-towel and leave overnight.

    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and sieved flour and beat until well mixed. Fold in prepared fruit and ground almonds. Mix well. Put mixture into prepared tin and smooth with back of spoon leaving slightly hollow in the centre.

    Preheat oven 140C / Gas 1 and bake the cake for 3-3½ hours, or until cooked. Protect top of cake from over browning by covering with brown paper for last 1½ hours. Oven temperature varies so check after 1½-2 hours.

    Cool cake in tin standing on wire tray until next day. Turn it out and remove paper. Using a skewer make small holes and pour remainder of whiskey. Wrap cake in 2 sheets of greaseproof paper, then a layer of foil. Store in an airtight tin in a cool place until ready for icing.


    I haven't included icing in this recipe, because personally I like my cake plain. However there are so many different types of icing around fondant, royal etc. I'll leave you to choose your own favourite.


  • Christmas Recipes
  • Post Christmas Turkey Stroganoff

    turkey stroganoff

    Serves 4

    This is a great dish to serve up on St Stephen's Day, using that lovely left over turkey and introducing some very non-Christmas flavours. Guaranteed to be devoured by all the family and you won't hear anyone moaning that its 'Turkey again'. In fact this is so good, you might want to make it all year round, in that case try using left over chicken instead.


    700 g / 1½ lb turkey breast cut into chunks

    1 tablespoon oil

    1 large onion, diced

    150 ml / ¼ pint dry white wine

    5 scallions, sliced

    250 ml / ½ pint double cream

    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    1 tablespoon chopped herbs e.g. parsley, basil and mint

    300 g / 12 oz basmati and wild rice


    Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and add the onion. Sweat for 3-4 minutes or until onion softens. Pour in the wine and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Now add the turkey, scallions, cream, mustard and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste.

    Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the packet instructions and drain it. Keep warm until ready to serve.

    To Serve

    Spoon the rice into a bowl and pile on the Stroganoff. Sprinkle with the herbs and you're all set to sing along to the repeat of 'The Sound of Music'!


    This dish can be made with uncooked turkey, Just add the meat to the dish after the onions have softened and leave for an extra 5 minutes or until turkey cooked before adding the wine.


    Mulled Wine

    Mulled Wine

    Serves 4-6

    You may need to alter the amount of sugar you use depending on how sweet the orange juice you use is. Just be careful that you do not allow the mixture to boil or you'll cook off the alcohol and ruin the appearance of the lemon and orange slices.


    1 bottle red wine

    1 pint / 600ml freshly squeezed orange juice

    2-3oz / 50-75g caster sugar

    2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

    12 whole cloves

    6 whole star anise

    1 lemon, halved and sliced

    1 orange, halved and sliced


    Place the wine in a pan with the orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise, lemon and orange slices and heat gently for about 5 minutes to allow the flavours to combine, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

    To Serve

    Ladle the mulled wine into heatproof glasses, making sure that some of the orange and lemon slices go into each one.


    Christmas is one of those celebrations when children are the heart of the event. Replace the wine with sparkling red grape juice so that everyone can enjoy this yummy drink equally.


    Roast Turkey with Sage, Apricot and Pine Nut Stuffing


    Serves 10-12

    If you want to be sure that your turkey is cooked invest in a meat thermometer and push it into the thickest part of one of the thighs. This will then clearly show you when the turkey is cooked, leaving no doubt in your mind.


    12lb / 6kg oven-ready turkey, at room temperature (preferably free-range)

    4oz / 100g butter, at room temperature

    4 rindless streaky bacon rashers

    5oz / 150g pitted prunes (ready-to-eat)

    1lb / 450g cocktail sausages

    1 tablespoon plain flour

    3 tablespoons ruby red port or red wine

    1 pint / 600ml turkey or chicken stock (see tip)

    For Sage, Onion and Pine Nut Stuffing

    2oz / 50g pine nuts

    3oz / 75g butter

    1 large onion, diced

    6oz / 175g fresh white breadcrumbs

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

    1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

    4 ready-to-eat dried apricots, finely chopped

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Crispy roast potatoes with thyme and garlic, Roast root vegetables with honey and parsley and Brussels sprouts with bacon

    small bunch fresh herbs, to garnish (to include parsley, sage and bay leaves)


    Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. To make the stuffing, heat a frying pan. Add the pine nuts and cook until toasted, tossing occasionally to prevent them from catching. Tip into a bowl. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the onion, then cook for a few minutes until softened but not coloured. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and tip in the toasted pine nuts, onion and butter mixture, parsley, sage and apricots. Mix well to combine and season to taste.

    To stuff the turkey, start at the neck end where you’ll find a flap of loose skin: gently loosen this away from the breast and you'll be able to make a triangular pocket. Pack in the stuffing inside as far as you can go and make a neat round shape on the outside, then tuck the neck flap under the turkey's and secure it with a small skewer.

    Cut bacon into small strips and use to wrap prunes. Arrange on a plate with the cocktail sausages, cover with clingfilm and chill until needed. Smear the skin of the turkey all over with some of the butter and season generously. Turn the turkey breast-side up and tie the top of the drumsticks with string. Weigh the turkey to calculate the required cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 1lb / 450g plus 20 minutes extra – this size turkey should take about 4 hours and 20 minutes.

    Lay a large sheet of foil lengthways over a large roasting tin, leaving enough at each end to wrap over the turkey, then lightly butter the foil. Repeat this exercise with another sheet of foil, this time across the tin. Lightly butter once again. Place the stuffed turkey breast-side up in the centre of the foil, then wrap loosely to enclose, allowing air to circulate around the turkey.

    Place in the oven and cook according to your calculated cooking time, carefully unwrapping and basting every 40 minutes. For the final hour, fold back and remove the foil, keeping the ends of the drumsticks still covered in foil to prevent them from burning; baste well and return to the oven. Add the bacon wrapped prunes and cocktail sausages to the turkey for the last 30 minutes and allow to finish cooking. The turkey should be a rich, dark brown colour. To be sure its cooked, insert a fine skewer into the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run clear, but if they are still pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again every 15 minutes until you are happy that the turkey is cooked right the way through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter, surround with the bacon wrapped prunes and cocktail sausages. Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes is fine.

    Place the roasting tin directly on the hob over a gentle heat and skim any excess fat from the cooking juices. Stir the flour into the tin’s residue. Cook on the hob for a minute or two, stirring until golden. Pour in the port or red wine, stirring to combine, then gradually add the stock, stirring until smooth after each addition. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for about 10 minutes until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

    To Serve

    Garnish the turkey with the bunch of herbs in the neck cavity and bring to the table. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the gravy, the roast potatoes, vegetables and all of the trimmings.


    Ask your butcher for the giblets with your turkey as they make excellent stock. I always soak mine in cold water overnight to remove any impurities. Place them in a pan with a chopped carrot and onion, six whole peppercorns, two bay leaves and a sprig to thyme. Pour in 2 pints / 1.2 litres of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and use as required


    Irish Whiskey and Maple Glazed Ham


    Serves 10-12

    A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you've got hoards of visitors to feed so it's especially good to have over the festive period. A certain crowd pleaser, it tastes equally good served hot or cold.


    5kg/11lb gammon on the bone

    4 celery sticks, roughly chopped

    2 onions, sliced

    1 bunch of fresh thyme

    1 tablespoon black peppercorns

    3 teaspoons allspice

    200ml/7fl oz maple syrup

    200ml/7fl oz Irish whiskey

    1 teaspoon whole cloves


    1. Soak the gammon overnight to remove excess salt. Weigh the gammon joint and calculate the cooking time. Allow 20 minutes per 1lb plus 20 minutes extra. Place in a large pan cover with water and bring to the boil.

    2. Add celery, onion, thyme and peppercorns. Simmer for 4 hours. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Cook until the bone end comes away freely. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle.

    3. Carefully remove the skin leaving some fat on, score the fat with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern taking care not to cut into the meat.

    4. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/Fan 160C. Place the whiskey, maple syrup, allspice and clove in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until slightly thickened.

    5. Stud the ham with cloves and place ham in a tray with a little water. Brush some of the syrup over the ham. Baste the ham with some of the syrup. Cook in oven for 1 hour. It is very important to keep basting to give the ham an even glaze.


    Roasted Root Vegetables with Honey and Parsley

    Christmas Veg

    Serves 8-10

    Roasting is a great way to cook root vegetables as they’re robust enough to cope with the intense heat, and the honey helps draw out the most wonderful flavours. This recipe also makes life much easier on Christmas day as all the preparation can be done well in advance so there's really nothing to them. Just make sure that all your vegetables are roughly the same size to ensure even cooking. Any leftovers can be blitzed with stock for an instant soup


    3 tablespoons olive oil

    3lb / 1.5kg carrots, trimmed and halved lengthways

    3lb / 1.5kg large parsnips, trimmed, quartered and cored

    3 tablespoons clear honey

    1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the oil in a large roasting tin and add the carrots and parsnips, tossing until well coated. Season generously. Roast for 30 minutes, then drizzle over the honey and toss to coat evenly. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are completely tender and lightly charred. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and parsley and toss gently until evenly coated.

    To Serve Tip the roasted root vegetables into a serving dish and place directly on the table so that people can help themselves.


    Try using any combination of root vegetables you fancy. However, it's probably worth remembering that beetroot will stain all other root vegetables, so it's probably best to roast them on their own.

    Pan Fried Sprouts with Chestnuts

    Serves 8

    This is one vegetable that is completely synonymous with Christmas. Overlook them at your peril. I find that they need a little spicing up, so I add chestnuts. They go down a treat.


    450 g / 1lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

    2 tablespoons oil

    40 g / 1½ oz butter

    2 red onions, peeled and sliced

    200 g / 7oz chestnuts, peeled and chopped

    ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg



    Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add in the sprouts. Cook for 5-10 minutes until just tender and drain them. Keep warm. Heat the oil and 1oz of the butter in a large frying pan until foaming. Toss in the red onions and fry over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the sprouts, the chopped chestnuts and nutmeg and fry for a further 3-5 minutes until golden and softened. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with the rest of the butter


    I find the sprouts cook better when they’re cut in half, but if you really want to leave them whole, then I suggest you cut a deep cross into the bottom of each, to make sure they cook evenly.

    Perfect Roast Potatoes

    Serves 6

    The phones go mad on Open House whenever the subject of roast potatoes comes up, and this recipe is for all the people who ask that eternal question 'How do I make perfect roast potatoes'. This is how!


    3 tablespoons oil or fat

    750 g / 1 ½ lb potatoes, peeled

    Rosemary sprigs

    Whole garlic cloves



    Cut the potatoes into even sized chunks and cook them first in boiling, salted water. Take out after 10 minutes and dry thoroughly. Slightly prick the outside of the potato with a fork. Heat the oil or fat in a roasting pan in the oven and toss each potato in this hot oil Scatter the rosemary and the garlic around the potatoes and place in a hot pre-heated oven 220C / Gas 7. Cooking time will depend on the size of the potatoes, but 45 minutes is enough for an average size potato. Sprinkle with some sea salt just before serving.


    Don't be tempted to use butter for this recipe because it burns too easily, duck fat is particularly good though.


Copyright 2015 Neven Maguire