Posted in Christmas, Recipes

Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – Christmas Starter

Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – A Christmas Starter


This is a Christmas Day starter that you could partly prepare the day before if you wish. If you cooked the pears and black pudding and refrigerate them, then reheat with a quick microwave blitz on the day, all you’ll have to do is assemble on a large platter for self-service, finishing off with crumbled cranberry Wensleydale.



Make it even more Christmassy with a garnish of walnut pieces – not pictured here because I’d run out!

Inspired by a friend of mine who described pears cooked in brandy I decided to make it more kid friendly by going with sweet maple syrup instead.

Crumbly black pudding, creamy cheese and sweet warm fruit make for mixed mouthfuls – one sweet another savoury – pure food heaven.

I’m thinking of having a second starter – this citrusy, mint, grape and melon one is so refreshing it will cleanse like a sorbet and it too can get prepared the day before.

For dessert I’m contemplating this black forest chocolate roulade however what’s putting me off is the storage nightmare.  Where will I put it until ready to consume? Would extra fridge rental be a good business idea for this time of year I wonder?  I really could do with one of those giant American fridges outside the back door plus a Nigella Lawson style pantry but just for a couple of weeks.  I couldn’t be keeping those stocked all year round.  Besides the storage nightmare I’m not looking forward to trolley wars & brussels sprouts panic very much either.  I am looking forward to my dinner though.  There will be brussels sprouts and there will be turkey.  Though not a whole one.  I’ve succumbed to turkey crown over the past few years, pre-prepared and pre-stuffed.  My kids aren’t that gone on turkey so we’ll do a moderately sized duck or goose as well but I have to have turkey and leftovers.  There shall also be a pineapple & brown sugar glazed baked ham and spiced beef (a Cork tradition) both cooked the day before. I’ve been warned to make plenty of stuffing and as I’d eat a stuffing sandwich for breakfast myself I have no problem making an abundance of it.  The shopping & storage will be the hard part but I can’t wait for the cooking and feasting part.  And the no cooking for at least 2 days afterwards while we empty the fridge!


Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – A Christmas Starter

Serves 4
You will need:
2 ripe pears
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
Baby spinach leaves
Half a Black pudding
Wedge of cranberry Wensleydale cheese
Walnut pieces – optional
Peel the pears and chop into bitesize pieces removing the hard centre.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat in a small frying pan and add the pears.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat in another small frying pan and add chopped up black pudding.
Once the pears are warm add in 3 tbsp maple syrup mix well and reduce the heat to low until you are happy that the black pudding is sufficiently warm/cooked too.
Assemble baby spinach leaves on a large platter.
Scatter over the warm pear pieces and crumbled black pudding and then crumble the Wensleydale cheese with a fork and scatter on top.
Garnish with some walnut pieces (optional) and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Christmas, Dinner Party

Christmas Crab Salsa Starter

Christmas Crab Starter.

Christmas Crab Start with Melba Toast

This is my tasty, easy version of a crab tian.  Instead of layering things up individually I create a nice fresh and vibrant salsa married with crab meat, lemon juice and creme fraiche served in one large layer to slice into portions at the table.
To serve make some homemade melba toast triangles.
Crusts off bread for melba toast
Rolled bread
Melba Toast
You will need:
Slices of bread – I use whole grain.
Cut the crusts off the bread.
Roll thinly with a rolling pin and cut into triangles.
Toast under a hot grill on both sides, the corners should curl up.
Cool and then store in airtight box before serving.
Salsa Mix
Plate weight
cake base

Christmas Crab Starter

Christmas Crab Salsa Starter
You will need:
Small red onion
4 pineapple rings
Half cucumber
Half red pepper
Half yellow pepper
1 avocado
Half red chilli
Juice 1 lemon
400g crab meat
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Line a spring-form cheesecake tin with clingfilm, leaving enough film out over the edges so that it can be covered over when filled.
Peel and chop the red onion, pineapple, cucumber (deseeded) and peppers (deseeded), avocado – all into even size small pieces.
Finely chop the half red chilli.
Mix everything in a large bowl with the lemon juice, crab meat and creme fraiche.
Press the mixture into the lined cheesecake tin and cover over with the extra cling film.
Place a plate on top to weigh down and compact everything together.
Leave to chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
To serve – remove the plate and open the spring-form sides and remove.
Pull back the clingfilm, place the serving plate or platter on top and then invert so that the cheesecake tin base is now on top.  Remove the base and peel away the remaining clingfilm. (see picture)
Serve with melba toasts.
‘Til next time, Sheila