Posted in Dinner Party

Easy Party Food – Mary Berry’s Canapés

In the build-up to Christmas I really enjoy watching the cookery programmes specially produced for the event in the hope that I’ll pick up some tips.  One of these for 2013 – Food & Drink Christmas Special BBC Two – was hosted by Michel Roux and featured Mary Berry demonstrating a number of her festive favourites.  When I saw her doing these simple canapés I knew they would be gracing my Christmas celebrations too and they duly did, making appearances at parties and as pre-dinner nibbles on Christmas day.
Party Food Mary Berry Canapes

These appetizers are simple to make requiring only four accessible ingredients and four steps, however be warned, they are a little fiddly and I would set aside half an hour for unhurried assembly.
Simple Party Food Four Ingredients
The tricky part is the separation of the slices of ham from each other and then gently smearing them with some soft cheese without breaking them too much.  Do not fret though as any damage is easily hidden when they are rolled up tightly.  Patience is required so if you are rushed these are not the best option.
Simple Party Food Four StepsMary Berry’s Canapés
You will need:
Thinly sliced Parma or Serrano ham
Soft goats cheese or any cream cheese
Rocket leaves
Dill Pickle (gherkins)
Method: (as per photo above)
1. Lay out slices of ham and thinly butter them with soft cheese
2. Sprinkle over some rocket leaves
3. Place a slice of pickle at one end
4. Roll up tightly and chill.  To serve, cut each roll in two and stand them up on a plate.
Party Food Simple CanapesThese were universally enjoyed by children and adults and I’ve been asked for the recipe so that says it all really.
I do hope you get the chance to enjoy these and that you too had a wonderful Christmas.  Looking forward to sharing another recipe with you in February. ‘Til next time, Sheila.


Posted in Dinner Party

How to cook Beetroot

The beetroot have been bulging through the soil lately with their leafy tops waving frantically ‘pick me’, ‘pick me’ and as there’s only so long that those red veined leaves will wave so frivolously for, their time has come.
Beetroots in the garden
As I began assembly for this year’s Beetroot Relish I deduced that I must have cheated and bought some in to supplement their masses last year as there was no way I had reaped the 1.3kg that the relish recipe required.  This year I had about half that so I just adjusted the recipe downwards and don’t have a plethora to dispense just yet but I do see myself buying some additional beetroot to make more relish as gifts for Christmas.
So ‘How do you cook beetroot?’
If you’ve dug it up from your own garden you will firstly need to top the beetroot to remove the leaves and most of the stalk (the leaves can be cooked like spinach leaves if you like – wilt them down and add butter, salt and pepper).  Remove most of the leaves and stalks by cutting with a scissors leaving about an inch of stalk remaining.
Beetroos topped
I wear rubber gloves when preparing beetroot.
Once topped then gently wash each beetroot under the cold tap being careful not to be too vigorous and damage the skin.  Place on kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.
Beetroots washedOnce washed they are ready to bake.  I prefer to bake/roast beetroot as I think it retains their flavour better and requires minimal monitoring.
Roast Beetroot:
Pre-heat the (fan) oven to 180C.
Place the prepared beetroot on a tray lined with baking paper.
Roast in the oven until the beets are tender enough to allow a knife pierce through, still bitey but yielding to the knife.  Roasting time will vary depending on size.  My small ones took around 50 minutes+ with the bigger needing 1 hr 10 minutes.
Once cooked remove the tray from the oven and leave the beets to cool for a bit until able to handle.
Wearing rubber gloves the skin may gently rub away or use a small paring knife to peel them.
Delicious served warm with some goats cheese and wilted leaves or you could allow them to cool and prepare a beetroot relish/chutney.

Beetroot on tray
Beetroot on tray before roasting

As mentioned previously I do like to make Beetroot Relish and think it makes a lovely Christmas gift combined with some great Irish cheese and crackers.
jar beetroot chutney
homemade beetroot chutney
Relishes and chutneys are a great way of making cheese a little bit more special and there are numerous variations on offer at farmers markets and on the shelves of the supermarkets.  Recently I came across the Lara range in Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty and I tried both their Plum Compote and Beetroot Chutney .  Tipperary brie by Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese was on offer on the day so I picked up two wedges and it was delicously creamy and ripe.
tipperary brie cheese board
lara beetroot chutney

I do hope you get to try some delicious Irish Beetroot Chutney soon.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Dinner Party

Harissa Hummus with Paprika Pita Chips

For many of us summertime means that after a long day’s work there are still daylight hours in which you can hopefully sit outside and enjoy lingering sunlight.  What better way to do this than with a glass of wine in one hand and something tasty to nibble on in the other.  This super fast harissa hummus is the perfect accompaniment for that well-earned tipple.
Harissa Hummus on board
You will need – for the Harissa Hummus:
1 x 220g can of chickpeas
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a food processor.
Add all the other ingredients and blitz to your desired degree of smoothness.
Lovely served with the Paprika Pita Chips below or any dipping Chips
Harissa Hummus with Spicy Pita Chips

You will need – for the Paprika Pita Chips:
Pita breads
Rapeseed oil
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/ Gas Mark 7.
Use a kitchen scissors to cut the pita breads into dip sized chips.
Scatter the chips on a baking tray, drizzle with rapeseed oil and sprinkle over with paprika.
Toast in the hot oven until nicely coloured and crispy – approx. 10 mins.
Chips best served hot and great with the aubergine dip.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Dinner Party

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Clusters (made with Wilkie’s Organic Chocolate)

What to do with a delicious bar of chocolate?  Firstly of course you will hide it.  Actually, before that, if it’s a bar of Wilkie’s Chocolate you will take some time to marvel at the packaging and then hide it.  It’s everything that you yourself want to be; cool yet understated and impeccably styled while remaining unpretentious and that is just on the outside.
Wilkie Organic Chocolate
After the hibernation period is over and the time arrives to finally indulge you will unwrap it carefully, inhale the mouth-watering cocoa aromas and slowly dive in.

Wilkies Trio Selection
However, you may wish to stretch your enjoyment a little further by making some of these Chocolate Fruit & Nut Clusters or indeed you may even share them as the perfect accompaniment to an after dinner coffee.
Choc Fruit & Nut Clusters
Marie Claire Digby of the Irish Times gave Shana Wilkie the producer of Wikie’s Chocolate this wonderful write-up recently.  As Shana explains in the article “I am one of less than 10 chocolate makers worldwide who use only cocoa beans, cocoa butter and sugar to make their chocolate,” so obviously this will be no ordinary chocolate experience.
Wilkie information
I’ve tried the chocolate several times now and what I love most is the sheer indulgence of it.  What you’re getting here is a chocolate experience to remember and a world-class luxury product that has you tasting the best in the world without having to pay luxury prices.  I ordered a selection of three bars which arrived promptly and beautifully packaged.  If there’s a chocolate lover in your life these bars would make an excellent gift and you can visit to discover more or indeed to try for yourself.
Fruit & Nut Cluster Ingredients
Chocolate Fruit & Nut Clusters:
You will need:
65g bar of excellent chocolate
50g dried fruit
50g nuts ( I used almonds)
Simply melt the chocolate (I break the bar up into a bowl and melt it in the microwave for a minute or 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between blasts until melted)
Add the dried fruit and nuts into the melted chocolate and stir until they are covered
Spoon small mounds onto non-stick baking paper on a baking tray
Cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until hardened.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Dinner Party

Roast Aubergine Dip & Pita Chips

Roast Aubergine Dip with Paprika Pita Chips

Simple, simple, simple.   Plus healthy and tasty.  This dip is made with only two ingredients and great served with any dipping chips you can get your hands on or even some good crusty bread.

Aubergine Dip & Pita Chips

I often have left over pita breads that haven’t been used for school lunches and these home-made chips have a lovely crunch that make them a perfect accompaniment to the creamy dip.
Roast Aubergine Dip
You will need – for the Roast Aubergine Dip:
2 aubergines
1 tbsp tomato pesto
Pre-heat the oven to 200C  / Gas Mark 7.
Place two whole aubergines straight onto an oven rack.
Leave to roast until the aubergines are charring on the outside and tender when poked through with a knife – approx. 20 mins
Remove the skins from the aubergine – they peel off very easily and squeeze out any excess moisture from the pulp.
Blitz the aubergines in a food processor along with 1 tbsp tomato pesto until smooth.
Serve with dipping chips or pita chips

You will need – for the Paprika Pita Chips:
Pita breads
Rapeseed oil
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/ Gas Mark 7.
Use a kitchen scissors to cut the pita breads into dip sized chips.
Scatter the chips on a baking tray, drizzle with rapeseed oil and sprinkle over with paprika.
Toast in the hot oven until nicely coloured and crispy – approx. 10 mins.
Chips best served hot and great with the aubergine dip.
‘Til next time, Sheila.