Paul Flynn: A jewel-like starter, a retro snack and a warm salad for the leftovers

These easy, last-minute recipes will be useful in the busy days ahead

Burrata, sticky red cabbage, pomegranate and orange.  Photograph: Harry Weir

Burrata, sticky red cabbage, pomegranate and orange. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

My wife Máire is a trooper. Before I dragged her into the restaurant business she had a diverse array of jobs. Her favourite was working at estate agents Sherry FitzGerald, a perfect fit for someone who has an insatiable curiosity about other people’s houses.

However, prior to that, for a brief number of heady days before one Christmas, she became a pheasant plucker for a friend who owned a food company. He’d gotten a job lot and needed urgent help. Feathers and funk clung to her at the end of the day like some medieval punishment, but I admired her grit. I’m not sure I would have done it.

We are lucky to be having any sort of Christmas this year, given the circumstances. There will be visitors, but not the massed hungry crowds that some have catered for in their homes in past years. Perhaps it’s a relief for the cooks.

Burrata, an Italian cheese made from cows’ milk, mozzarella and cream, is one of my favourite things in the world. Sometimes I quietly sprinkle Maldon salt on it and sinfully slurp it up. Today I’m pairing it with red cabbage for a Christmassy thrill. I’m not always a fan of red cabbage with turkey as its deep tones can dominate. With burrata though, it’s a revelation. The pomegranate jewels are appropriate and festive. Use a decent mozzarella if you can’t find burrata.

These crab vol-au-vents are little blinders, easy piquant nibbles that can be made in a flash. I’m buying the pre-cooked cases; they’re everywhere at the moment. If you can’t find wasabi, use horseradish instead.

The salad might inspire you to be a little creative with the Christmas leftovers. I’m using ham here, but you could use turkey, duck or goose. The creamy celeriac soothes and prepares you for the prunes.   

I have loved writing for you this year, through thick and thin. Next year will be better and I’ll keep cooking and telling you the odd story.

Have a totally amazing Christmas, stay safe.

BURRATA, STICKY RED CABBAGE, POMEGRANATE AND ORANGE Serves six

Ingredients
1 medium red cabbage, quartered, cored and finely shredded
1 finger-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1tsp allspice
2tbsp redcurrant jelly
3 bay leaves – fresh if possible
75g golden brown sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
150ml red wine
Salt and black pepper
100ml orange juice
100ml rapeseed oil
100ml olive oil
1tsp golden brown sugar
1tsp Dijon mustard
A pinch of chilli flakes
Seeds and juice of one pomegranate
6 small burrata or mozzarella

Method
1
Put the red cabbage, ginger, allspice, redcurrant jelly, bay leaves, sugar, vinegar and wine into a pot. 

2 Bring to a simmer, stir all together and cover.

3 Cook over a gentle heat for 45 minutes, stirring every now and again and making sure it doesn’t go dry.

4 Remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the cabbage starts to glaze and all the liquid has evaporated.

5 Season and set aside. This can be done two to three days in advance.

6 For the dressing, whisk the orange juice together with the olive oil, rapeseed oil, sugar, mustard, chilli, pomegranate juice and seeds. Season and chill.

7 To serve, warm the cabbage, place the burrata on top, then spoon over the dressing.  

CRAB VOL-AU -VENTS WITH APPLE AND WASABI

Serves six

Crab vol-au-vents, apple and wasabi cream. Photograph: Harry Weir
Crab vol-au-vents, apple and wasabi cream. Photograph: Harry Weir

Ingredients
200ml cream
1tsp wasabi or creamed horseradish
140g picked crabmeat
1 small apple, cored and finely diced
Chopped chives
Salt and pepper
18 mini vol-au-vent cases

Method
1
Put the cream into a saucepan then gently reduce by half.

2 Add the wasabi or horseradish followed by the crab, apple and chives and season.

3 Warm the vol-au-vents in the oven then fill with the crab cream.

WARM CHRISTMAS SALAD

Serves six

Warm Christmas Salad with glazed ham. Photograph: Harry Weir
Warm Christmas Salad with glazed ham. Photograph: Harry Weir

Ingredients
100ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1tbsp golden brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1tsp Dijon mustard
200ml sunflower oil
100ml rapeseed oil
Salt and black pepper
1 small celeriac
250ml crème fraiche
1tbsp grain mustard
12 cooked chestnuts, crumbled
A drizzle of honey
8 ready-to-eat prunes, halved (substitute raisins if you prefer)
Some leftover ham, pulled into shreds.
2 handfuls of nice winter salad leaves, washed

Method
1
In a small pot bring the vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and cloves to the boil then immediately remove from the heat.

2 Whisk in the Dijon mustard, sunflower and rapeseed oils, then season and set aside. This can be done ahead of time as it keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

3 Peel the celeriac with a serrated knife and cut it into the smallest strips that you can, use a food processor for this if you like.

4 Mix the crème fraiche, grain mustard, a third of the chestnuts and the honey into the celeriac. Season and chill.

5 When you’re ready to serve, put the leftover ham into the dressing along with the prunes and remaining chestnuts, then warm this up over a gentle heat.

6 Divide the leaves into bowls then add the celeriac to each. Spoon the dressing over the top and serve.

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