Paul Flynn: Some handy recipes to help and inspire you for Christmas

A potato terrine that really pays dividends; a smoked salmon puff with few ingredients, and dates that pop

Warm potato terrine with smoked bacon and dried fruit. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Warm potato terrine with smoked bacon and dried fruit. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

 

By the time you are reading this, the Tannery will be back open. Walking into our restaurant every weekend to do our takeaway menu chipped away at our souls. It’s just a cold empty building without people in it.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy having an easy November. I dutifully trotted after my wife, dreaming of creamy fireside pints as she stormed around Dungarvan on miserable wintery nights.

I cooked a lot, as usual. Sometimes I get confused and think I’m a manservant. Last night, for instance, I had a mini-meltdown as I served tea and bourbons to the ladies watching TV. There was a stray comment about the tea being too milky. If it hadn’t been raining outside, I would have gone for one of my strop walks.

We’re now on the countdown to Christmas, so this week I’m going to give you some handy little recipes to help and hopefully inspire you.

The first is a bit cheffy, but for those who put time aside for it, this terrine will really pay dividends. Make it a day in advance. You could serve it with your Christmas dinner. It’s lovely with pâté, or charcuterie too – its built-in fruit serves as a chutney. And it holds in the fridge for up to four days. I love to serve it on its own with some chilled horseradish cream.

There are very few ingredients in the smoked salmon puff. It’s a very handy starter, especially when using pre-cooked beetroot. The name comes from my girls when they were small, they loved the colour so much they christened it princess beetroot .

The dates come once again by way of Toonsbridge in the English Market in Cork (also now in Dublin). They were handing them out to taste and I was like Oliver Twist asking for more. Make these to accompany drinks. Try to get medjool dates.  I’ve seen them in the supermarkets too, it’ll make all the difference.

WARM POTATO TERRINE WITH SMOKED BACON AND DRIED FRUIT

Serves 8-10

Warm potato terrine with smoked bacon and dried fruit. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Warm potato terrine with smoked bacon and dried fruit. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Ingredients
Drizzle of rapeseed oil
1 packet smoked bacon lardons (125g)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
600g Rooster potatoes, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
125g mixed dried fruits. I have used prunes and apricots (cut into small chunks). Cranberries would be lovely too
2 eggs
80ml cream
50g grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
A little grated nutmeg or mixed spice
A little melted butter for reheating

Method
1
Set the oven to 160 degrees.
2 Put the rapeseed oil, bacon and onion into a frying pan and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until soft, with no colour.
3 Add the sage and remove from the heat.
4 Meanwhile grate the potatoes and parsnip coarsely and place in a bowl.  Squeeze the excess water out, then add the onion and bacon mixture.
5 Add the dried fruit, eggs, cream and Parmesan and mix well. Season with the salt, pepper and the nutmeg.
6 Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment paper and brush it with a little oil or a spritz with oil spray.
7 Pack the tin with the potato mixture and place in the oven to cook for 1½ hours, until it’s completely tender when tested with a small knife.
8 Leave to cool completely and put in the fridge overnight.
9 To serve, cut the terrine into 2cm slices, brush with butter and place under a hot grill until golden and crisp.

SMOKED SALMON PUFFS, PRINCESS BEETROOT

Serves 8

Smoked salmon puff, Princess Beetroot. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Smoked salmon puff, Princess Beetroot. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Ingredients
1 roll of puff pastry
1 egg beaten with a little milk
1 x 200g packet of sliced smoked salmon
16 slices of jalapeño peppers
1 packet cooked beetroot (500g)
A small bunch of dill
200ml tub crème fraiche
Salt and pepper

Method
1
Set the oven to 185 degrees.
2 Unfurl the pastry (it will be easier if you leave it out of the packet for 10 minutes) then cut into eight squares.
3 Brush the pastry lightly with the eggwash.
4 Cut the salmon into smaller pieces and divide it between the pastry squares, placing it a little off centre.
5 Put two slices of jalapeño on each mound of salmon then fold over the pastry into a triangle and seal the edge with a fork.
6 Brush the top of the puffs with more eggwash then place on a baking tray lined with parchment.
7 Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.
8 Meanwhile, grate the beetroot into a bowl, chop the dill stalks and some of the leaves and fold into it, followed by the crème fraiche. Season and divide onto plates. Serve the salmon puffs straight out of the oven, garnished with the remaining fronds of dill.
9 It’s okay to precook these earlier, then just warm them through in the oven when you need them.

MEDJOOL DATE, GORGONZOLA AND PROSCIUTTO POPPERS

Makes 16

Medjool dates, Gorgonzola and prosciutto poppers. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
Medjool dates, Gorgonzola and prosciutto poppers. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Ingredients
16 medjool dates
100g Gorgonzola
1 packet prosciutto (90g)

Method
1
Make an incision and remove the stones from the dates.
2 Stuff each date with a little Gorgonzola then wrap in the prosciutto.
3 Serve on a platter with cocktail sticks for handy consumption.

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