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Gourmet Christmas Recipes

A selection of recipes for the festive season from Northern Ireland's top cookery schools.


Celery & Celeriac Soup

A warming winter soup that’s really simple to make - allowing you to get on with the rest of the menu!

½ head celeriac
2 sticks celery
1 pint water
¼ pint cream
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
Chopped chives
Truffle oil
1 oz butter


  • Chop celery and celeriac into ½ inch dice and place into a pot, add water and stock cube, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins.
  • Blitz in blender or with stick blender, add cream.
  • Serve in warmed bowls and finish with chives and truffle oil.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Flavour Academy

Roast Christmas Goose

Christmas isn't Christmas without a Turkey!  However, the traditional food at Christmas used to be a roast goose - think of Dickens' Christmas Carol.  The choice of goose as the traditional bird of choice took a serious decline in the 1960's when it was considered a little common - and turkey more exotic! Serves 8-10.

1 Goose (about 4.5g/10lb)
Olive oil
175g/6oz ginger
225g/8oz butter
2 glasses of port
For the stuffing:
225g/8oz white rice
4 red onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery
Large handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 cooking apples
50g/2 oz butter


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  • To make the stuffing:  Cook the rice in boiling water until tender. Drain. Sauté the onions and celery with the apples until soft. Mix into the rice, add the parsley, hazelnuts and butter, season well. Allow to cool. The stuffing must be absolutely cold before it can be used to fill the goose. 
  • Season the cavity of the goose with salt and pepper. Grate the ginger finely and mix with the butter. Smear this all over the skin of the goose, this is best done the day before to allow the flavour to sink in. Place in a large roasting tin and sprinkle the fresh rosemary on top. Stuff the goose loosely with the stuffing.
  • Cook for 1½ hours, then pour the port over the goose and replace in the oven. This will help to crisp up the skin and make delicious gravy!
  • Cook for a further ½ hour or until the juices run clear when pricked.
  • Remove the goose from the oven, transfer to a serving dish and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes in a very low oven.
  • Make the gravy by pouring off the fat and heating up the juices again. Add some red wine (approx.½ bottle) and chicken/goose stock (approx.570ml/1pt). Reduce by half and then stir in some butter (approx.75g/3oz).
  • Serve with the stuffing.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Belle Isle School of Cookery

Chestnut Stuffed Red Onions

Serves 6.

6 red onions
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
225g/8 oz cooked chestnuts, peeled
Freshly chopped parsley
4 rashers of bacon, finely chopped
50g/2 oz breadcrumbs, toasted


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  • Peel the onions and level off the root end so that the onions stand straight. Cut off the top of the onions and remove the inner layers using a teaspoon and a small knife.  Cover any holes with another piece of onion.  Finely chop any left over bits of onion.
  • Place the onion hollows in a greased ovenproof dish.  Whisk together 2 tbsp of the olive oil with the vinegar, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the onions then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.
  • Sauté the finely chopped onion in the remaining oil with the celery and the bacon for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and the chestnuts (finely chopped) and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Remove form heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and parsley.  Season well.  Spoon this mixture into the onion shells and return to the oven for 20 minutes.  Serve hot with turkey, ham or fish.

These can be made the day before and then reheated before serving.  For something different, change the onions for hollowed out oranges or lemons.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Belle Isle School of Cookery

Seasonal Seafood Pie

Tired of turkey?  Try this recipe for a comforting alternative this festive season. Serves 4.

8 oz undyed smoked haddock
8 oz white fish
8oz raw tiger prawns
8 oz salmon fillet
2 eggs
4 oz butter
¼ pt cream
2 oz plain flour
½ pt fish stock and white wine 50/50 mix
Chopped parsley
Mashed potato

  • Method:
    Cook eggs for 9 mins in boiling water and cool under cold water.
  • Place all the fish ingredients into a pan, add stock and wine, mix, add half the butter, cover and bring to just below boiling temperature.
  • Remove fish from stock and place into pie dish, peel and quarter eggs and place with fish.
  • Add cream to stock in pan and mix remainder of butter with flour and gradually add to thicken stock, season, add chopped parsley.
  • Pour over fish in pie dish; allow to cool for 1 hour, top with mash and bake for 20 mins at 180C.

N.B. Really nice with grated cheese on top and a little wholegrain mustard in the mashed potato.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Flavour Academy

Festive Light Fruit Cake

This is an old traditional recipe but with a very different twist and a great alternative to making a ‘full blown’ Christmas Cake. 

225g/8oz butter, 5 large eggs
 225g/8oz golden granulated caster sugar
450g/1lb light golden sultanas
100g/4oz candied peel
100g/4oz whole almonds (skin removed)
100g/4oz pecan nuts, 350g/12oz coloured cherries, halved
350g/12oz plain flour, mixed with 1 tsp baking powder
1x 225g small tin crushed pineapple ( not drained)
1 tsp vanilla extract, grated rind of 1 lemon
50g/2oz juicy pineapple, ready to eat
50g/2oz ground almonds,


  • Toss the fruit and nuts in the ground almonds. Separate the eggs. 
  • Beat the sugar and butter in your mixer until creamy, add the egg yolks one at a time; then add the lemon rind, vanilla extract and beat well.
  • Stir in alternatively the flour and crushed pineapple, next stir in the fruit and nut mixture, mixing well. 
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and fold lightly into the mixture until all is well combined.
  • Spread evenly into the prepared tin(s)* and bake in a pre heated oven 130C/Gas Mk1 for 3-4 hours .  Check by testing with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for a short while, then turn out on to a cooling tray to cool completely.

N.B. Wrapped in butter paper, properly stored this cake will keep for months (if it gets the chance!)
* The mixture can be put into a 25cm/10” square cake tin or two 23cm/9”x 13cm/5” loaf tins, both greased with butter and lined with parchment paper. If you use one square tin it will take about one hour extra to cook.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Norah Browne, Cook with Norah

Festive Soda Bread

You can’t get more uniquely Northern Ireland than a traditional soda bread recipe; give it a modern twist with some festive ingredients.
450g/1lb plain white flour
225g/ ½ lb wholemeal flour
1 tsp. bread soda
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon powder
75g/3 oz ready-to-eat apricots, soaked in Earl grey tea for 30 minutes
75g/3 oz raisins, also soaked in tea for 30 minutes
75g/3 oz toasted pecan nuts
25g/ 1oz butter
568ml/1 pt approx. buttermilk


  • Preheat oven 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  • Sieve both flours into a bowl with the salt, cinnamon and bread soda.
  • Rub in the butter. 
  • Stir in the nuts and fruit.
  • Add the buttermilk a little at a time, you may need to add a little more (or water) depending on the temperature of the flour.
  • Mix well in.  Form the dough into a circular shape and place on a baking tray or in a roasting tin.
  • Score on top with a knife, into the shape of a cross.  Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes.  Remove from the tray and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Belle Isle School of Cookery


Christmas Pudding Ice Cream Bomb

For the fruit:-
85g raisins
85g sultanas
100g dried cranberies
5 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the ice cream:-
600ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split & seed removed
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 egg yolks
100g golden caster sugar
50g gingernut biscuits, broken into chunks
zest of 1 orange


•  Mix together all of the fruit in a small saucepan and pour over the brandy and sugar. Gently heat on a low hob for 5 mins,
   then turn off the heat and allow the fruit to macerate in the alcohol for at least 30mins (or overnight)

•  To make the ice cream, pour the cream into a saucepan, along with the vanilla seeds and spices. Heat until almost boiling

•  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs yolks and golden caster sugar together and then pour in the cream mixture, heating gently for 5- 10 mins until the mixture thickens
   and reaches the 'ribbon' stage, or the custatrd coats the back of a spoon.

•  Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool.

•  Transfer the cooled mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 4-5 hours, stirring
   with a hand-whisk every 1-2 hours to prevent crystals from forming.
•  Drain the fruit in a sieve and fold in the semi-frozen ice cream mixture along with the broken biscuits and orange zest.
  Then pour everything into a lightly oiled 1.2 pudding bowl and freeze for 5-6 hours, until completely hard.Turn
  out onto a Christmas platter and serve immediately.

Bacon Roll Over

Using Pat O'Dougherty's (Enniskillen ) Streaky black bacon onions and sage leaves from Orchard Acre Farm

Utensils: A very heavy saucepan with a tight fitting lid (medium size cast iron pots are great) chopping board and sharp knife

Ingredients (serves 4 persons):
16 slices of streaky bacon per person without rind (skin)
2 medium sized onions (tennis ball size)
4 fresh sage leaves, cut into 16 long slithers
1/2 teaspoon of oil to grease inside of pan
black pepper


•  Slice onions thinly and arrange in the bottom of the pot

•  Lightly season with black pepper

•  Place the slither (thin strip ) of sage on one end of each slice of bacon

•  Roll up the bacon with sage inside like a swiss roll

•  Arrange upright on top of onions

•  Cover with lid and put pan over a very very low heat and gently cook for 45 mins-1 hour (can be done in the oven
   at 120C) for 1-1 1/2 hours

•  Check from time to time; Add a little liquid (stock or water) if it has dried out or browning too quickly.

•  Garnish and serve with rocket salad

What to expect:- The onions will soften and cook in the bacon fat and juices.


Butternut Risotto with Kilkeel crab and Prawns

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
250ml white wine
500g risotto rice, such as arborio
1.7 litres hot vegetable stock
100g cooked white crabmeat
100g cooked brown crabmeat
12 cooked and peeled tiger prawns
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated parmesan


•  To prepare the risotto, toss the squash with the oil in a large baking tray and cook in the centre of the
oven for about 30 minutes until tender and golden. While the squash is cooking, melt the butter in a large,
non-stick saucepan and gently fry the onion until softened.

•  Stir in the risotto rice and turn in the butter until lightly coated in fat. Add the wine and allow to
simmer until nearly all the liquid has disappeared. Gradually add the stock, a ladleful at a time, and
cook until absorbed before adding more.

•  Stir the rice regularly as it simmers to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan. After about
18 minutes the rice should be almost tender and the sauce creamy. Add extra stock if neccessary.

•  Stir in the cooked squash, crabmeat and prawns. Continue cooking for a few minutes more until
piping hot. Season taste the spoon the risotto into six warmed bowls topped with grated parmesan.

Kilkeel Prawn and Crab Tower with Marie-Rose sauce

Ingredients:- For the Marie-Rose sauce
2 tbsp mayonaisse
2 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worchester sauce
1 tsp brandy
hot pepper sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients:- For the prawn and crab tower
170g/6oz fresh cooked Kilkeel prawns, drained
1/2 Little Gem lettuce, leaves finely shredded
3 fronds fennel, finely chopped, plus one frond to serve
200g/7oz crabmeat, white meat only, drained
1 tsp paprika, to serve


For the Marie-Rose sauce, mix the mayonnaise, creme fraiche, tomato ketchup, Worchester sauce, brandy, hot pepper
sauce and lemon juice in a bowl until well combined.
Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the prawn and crab tower, add the drained prawns to the Marie-Rose sauce. Mix the chopped lettuce
with the fennel fronds.

Place a 7.5cm/3in chef's ring into the centre of a serving plate. Spoon in a quarter of the Marie-Rose
sauce and prawns, then half of the lettuce mixture. Press down. Add another portion of the Marie-Rose sauce,
followed by half of the crabmeat, to create a layered effect.
Carefully removed the ring. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients on a second serving plate.
Garnish the towers with a frond of fennel. Dust both with a little paprika.

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