In season: Autumn recipes

Fresh salmon starter with goat cheese, beetroot, apple and radishes

Let the Christmas countdown begin! I’ve got 4 more recipes for you guys this month, 3 of which are featured in the Carraig Donn Christmas Lookbook 2016! I’m going to start at the beginning with a great first course: a fresh starter made from smoked salmon, goat cheese and lots of healthy ingredients: beetroot, apples and radishes. Being in charge of the Christmas dinner starter is never an easy job, as it may seem hard to get creative or original but it’s actually one of the courses you can get most creative with, as well as with appetizers. I’ve never had the same starter in any of my Christmas parties, whereas the main course is usually the same each year. So if you are in charge of coming up with starters for your party this year: cheer up! You’re the lucky one! I hope you’ll enjoy this starter as much as I did, and to persuade you even more to try it: It’s very easy to make and can be done right on the spot, which will contribute even more to the freshness of it.

  
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Have yourself a merry Carraig Donn Christmas

I am so excited that December is here! Not just because I’ll be going home for the holidays or because I’m a sucker for Christmas but also because the Carraig Donn Christmas catalogue (available in store) was released and you’ll be able to spot 3 delicious Christmas recipes in there made by yours truly! I had such a fantastic time making them, not in the least because of the gorgeous plates and decorations I got to use. They put me in the Christmas mood already, even though it wasn’t even close to Christmas yet when I made them! I had so many favourite pieces, it’s kind of hard to pick only a few ones to write about here so I do recommend you pay a visit to their stores to see what else they have.

  
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Book tip of the month December: Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

There’s no stopping Regula Ysewijn aka Miss Foodwise! After previously releasing Pride and Pudding this year she’s back with another stunning book, honouring Belgian’s rich café culture. It’s once again a true gem with gorgeous shots that truly depict the passion and soul of Belgian cafés and their owners. Picking this book as my book tip for December came at the perfect time too as it was announced a few days ago that the Belgian beer culture is now declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

Making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities throughout Belgium. It plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions. Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country using different fermentation methods. Since the 80s, craft beer has become especially popular. There are certain regions, which are known for their particular varieties while some Trappist communities have also been involved in beer production giving profits to charity. In addition, beer is used for cooking including in the creation of products like beer-washed cheese and, as in the case of wine, can be paired with foods to compliment flavours. Several organizations of brewers exist who work with communities on a broad level to advocate responsible beer consumption. Sustainable practice has also become part of the culture with recyclable packaging encouraged and new technologies to reduce water usage in production processes. Besides being transmitted in the home and social circles, knowledge and skills are also passed down by master brewers who run classes in breweries, specialized university courses that target those involved in the field and hospitality in general, public training programmes for entrepreneurs and small test breweries for amateur brewers.” – Unesco   
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Prizefight Signature Serves: Bitter Fight

Last week I shared the great news that there’s a new Whiskey on the market called Prizefight Irish Whiskey. Starting today I’ll be sharing 4 amazing drinks created by Prizefight that will spruce up your Christmas parties for sure! I must admit that I don’t even own a cocktail shaker or proper glasses for fabulous drinks like these so to anyone looking for a Christmas present for me: hint hint hint!
Prizefight is a collaborative Irish whiskey, distilled and aged in Ireland, and finished in American rye casks from Tamworth Distilling. The result is incredibly complex whiskey: a smooth and mellow spirit that packs a punch but never burns.

  
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Leek & broccoli pie with walnuts and goat cheese

Leek is one of those veggies that gets easily overlooked or is rarely used as the star of a recipe. Those poor leeks are usually only used in soups or stews and never gets to take the spotlight but that’ll no longer be the case after today! I recently had a big craving for a savoury pie and decided to try and make a leek pie, with a little bit of broccoli, goat cheese and walnuts as well to give it some extra flavours and use some extra seasonal ingredients. I originally wanted to make it with short crust pastry but accidentally bought puff pastry instead and I think it actually worked out better than if I had used short crust pastry. shortcut is heavier and thicker than puff pastry so it would have made this too heavy, compared to the light and crispy puff pastry.

It’s a great Autumn/Winter lunch meal and you can easily reheat this in the microwave at work too, although you’ll lose a bit of the crispiness of the puff pastry, it’ll still taste delicious!

  
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There’s a new whiskey in town: Prizefight Irish Whiskey

Dublin, Ireland – In earlier times, Irishmen journeyed to America, where they forged their character with resolve and their fists. Each bottle tells the stories of the boxing legends who came with nothing and fought for everything. Prizefight is a collaborative Irish whiskey, distilled and aged in Ireland, and finished in American rye casks from Tamworth Distilling. The result is incredibly complex whiskey: a smooth and mellow spirit that packs a punch but never burns.

Pugilist Spirit’s Flor Prendergast wanted to create an Irish whiskey, so he called upon spirits maverick Steven Grasse, who came up with an idea for something new — a fine Irish whiskey finished in American rye casks. Making this idea a reality required collaboration between two craft distillers: one in Ireland, and the other in America. So, they reached out to West Cork Distilling to create the whiskey, and Grasse’s own distillery, Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire to arrange the finishing. Together, they produced a fresh, clean whiskey with fruit and floral notes that gets a hit of spice from the rye cask finish.

  
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Pumpkin – coconut linguine

The absolute number 1 ingredient to use in Autumn has to be pumpkin, no doubt about it. Unfortunately a lot of people stick to the basic ways of using it though, by making pumpkin soup or roasted pumpkin. I for sure used to be one of them too but as I had already tried combining pumpkin with pasta before, I wanted to try it again but in a different way. The first time I tied this I added beautiful chestnut mushrooms sautéed in a red wine sauce with rigatoni and rucola and kept it quite basic and I’m doing the same thing now, I’m simply combining pumpkin with coconut milk and adding a few extra herbs and spices and that’s it.

I’ve even left out any meat, poultry or fish but I think this recipe can easily go with quite a few other ingredients like bacon, white fish, chicken or even beef.

  
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Breaded cod & potato croquettes, served in a green herb & Kerrygold butter sauce

I am so excited to share this recipe with you all today as I honestly thought it was going to turn into a fiasco but it ended up being one of the best recipes I have ever created! This recipe was based on a traditional Flemish recipe called ‘Paling in’t groen’ or ‘Eel in the Green’. It’s a Flemish regional dish, mainly from the area along the River Scheldt between Dendermonde and Antwerp. The Flemish name refers to freshwater eel in a green herb sauce. The traditionally home-made meal is also sold fully prepared but still uncooked by some fishmongers’ shops or market stalls, and can be enjoyed in specialty restaurants. The traditional recipe requires for the eel to be cut in pieces of about 4 cm each and is then stewed in butter, flour and then served with a delicious green sauce. There are various ways of making this green sauce and although the ingredients vary heavily, they are of course all green. We usually serve this with some Belgian fries or bread and some lemon wedges.

  
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Book tip of the month November: Eat.Live.Go by Donal Skehan

My favourite Irish chef, Donal Skehan, is back with a brand new book called “Eat.Live.Go – Fresh food fast” and I am so excited to feature it as my book tip of the month November! Skehan is ab absolute joy to follow and his recipes are nothing short of beautiful, stylish and delicious. This time he has gone for quick and easy recipes, for anyone who might have a busy day or life in general. Now as much as I love spending hours cooking, I do often find myself in need of some quick recipes, after a long day of work for example. But whenever I do, I always end up going for the same basic (and often really not creative) meals, but those days are now over for good thanks to Donal’s easy, fresh & fast recipes!

  
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