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Catherine Celebrates Christmas 2020

Duo of Carlingford Oysters – Mignonette Oysters and Catherine’s Smokey Oysters

I love the combination of the raw and cooked oysters.  And for those of us who are nervous of raw oysters and / or shucking them, the baked oysters will introduce you to a whole new (and easy) way of enjoying the wonderful Irish oysters

Serves 4

12 Carlingford oysters on ice

Mignonette Oysters 

For the mignonette sauce

4 shallots, very finely chopped 

50ml white wine vinegar 

50ml rice vinegar 

¼ tsp white pepper 

Pinch sugar, to taste

To prepare the grilled oysters, heat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 7

Scrub the oyster to remove any dirt and rinse under cold water. Set aside. Place the oyster flat side up on the roasting tray and bake for 12 minutes, just until the oyster juices begin to seep out from the shells. Remove from the oven.  And to open, use an oyster shucker – run the shucker back to the hinge of the oyster and then twist. If the oyster is still attached to the muscle on the shell, run the shucker between the oyster and muscle. Meantime, melt the butter along with the lemon juice, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and parsley in a saucepan and heat for 1 minutes. Set aside.

To serve, arrange the oysters, 3 grilled and 3 raw on each plate and spoon over one teaspoon of the butter onto the grilled oyster and spoon a little of mignonette sauce over each of the raw oysters. 

Sprinkle over some flat leaf parsley and garnish with lemon slices

To prepare the mignonette sauce, combine the shallots, white wine vinegar and rice vinegar together – stir in the pepper and a pinch of sugar to taste. Mix well and leave for at least 4 hours or overnight for the flavours to infuse. 

Catherine’s Smokey Oysters

For the flavoured butter 

50g butter

2 tsp lemon juice 

½ tsp smoked paprika 

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp finely chopped parsley 

 Flat leaf parsley, to garnish

Lemon slices, to garnish

Beef Wellington, Ballymakenny Heritage Potatoes, Tenderstem Broccoli and Creamy Tarragon Dressing

Beef Wellington with Mushrooms & Red Onion Gravy

Traditionally this recipe includes pate too but I love the mushrooms exclusively and I feel its sufficiently rich as is.

Serves 4

800g beef fillet, trimmed

 25g butter

1 tbsp rapeseed oil 

3 small shallots, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, finely chopped 

2 tbsp chopped thyme

350g mixed mushrooms, chopped (I used portobello, king oyster and brown and white beech)

4 slices of parma ham

500g puff pastry

For the Red Onion Gravy

1 tbsp butter 

1 tbsp rapeseed oil 

3 red onions, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs thyme

200ml red wine

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

400ml chicken or beef stock

2 tsp arrowroot (or cornflour), slaked in 1 tbsp water (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Egg wash (one egg and 2 tbsp cold water, beaten with a fork)

Wrap the piece of beef up tightly in a double layer of cling film to set its shape and chill overnight. Melt the butter and oil in the frying pan and add the shallots, sauté for 2 minutes on low without browning them and then add the garlic and thyme and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Increase the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, ensuring they are fully cooked and all of the excess moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Leave to cool completely. When ready to assemble. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 8. Remove the beef from the fridge, unwrap the cling wrap. Wrap the beef in the parma ham and set aside. Roll about 400g of the pastry out to 25cm x 35cm – sufficient to cover the beef and the mushroom mix. Spread two thirds of the mushroom mixture down the middle of the pastry leaving 8cm border on each side. Place the beef in the centre of the mushrooms and spread the other third of the mushrooms on top of the meat. To wrap the beef in the pastry, brush the pastry border with egg wash. Fold in the short sides of the pastry over the beef. Fold over the long ends and set on the roasting tray, turning over so that the seam is on the base.  Brush with egg wash.

Then, take a strip of pastry and using a lattice roller, cut out a lattice shape.  (or cut stars, leaves or hearts! Whatever you choose to decorate). Lay the lattice over the wellington, trim the ends of the pastry, forming a neat conical shape.  Brush with egg wash again and roast for 45 minutes approximately for medium rare – about 55-57C reading on a meat thermometer.  For medium, the temperature should read 60-62C.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

To prepare the gravy, melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, add the onions and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes until softened but not browned. 

Add the bay leaf, thyme and red wine, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 10 minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If you feel the gravy needs thickening, stir in the arrowroot (or cornflour) paste and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes. 

For the potatoes, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Place the potatoes, oil, rosemary leaves, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and toss well. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast for 50 minutes until golden and cooked, shaking the pan from time to time. 

Serves 4

 800g Ballymakenny heritage potatoes, scrubbed and roughly chopped

2 tbsp Irish rapeseed oil 

1 large stalk rosemary 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

400g tenderstem broccoli 

Large knob butter

2 tablespoons water 

For the tarragon dressing

100ml crème fraiche

½ lemon, juice only

½ tsp sugar 

1 tsp Irish wholegrain mustard

60ml Irish rapeseed oil 

1 spring onion, finely chopped 

2 tsp tarragon, finely chopped 

Salt and white pepper 

To prepare the broccoli, heat a large frying pan that has a lid, add the butter and let it melt, then add the broccoli and sauté on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Then add a few tablespoons of water, reduce the heat, cover and let the broccoli steam-fry – this will take about 3-4 minutes (it may take longer depending on the thickness of the broccoli stems). As soon as its ready remove from the heat.

To prepare the dressing, place the crème fraiche, lemon juice, sugar, wholegrain mustard and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking until smooth.  Stir in the spring onion and tarragon.  Store in the fridge for up to 2 days if you are not going to use it immediately.   

To serve, place the roasted potatoes in the centre of a platter and arrange the roasted broccoli on the outside. Spoon over some tarragon dressing. 

Eggnog Panna Cotta with Crystalised Cranberries

Makes 4 

 For the panna cotta

3 egg yolks 

120g caster sugar 

250ml milk

300ml double cream

3 tbsp white rum

Small pinch nutmeg

3 gelatine leaves

For the crystalised cranberries

60g fresh cranberries

1 egg white

100g caster sugar

Pinch nutmeg, to decorate

Small bay leaves, to decorate  

You will need 4 x 150ml glasses 

To prepare the panna cotta, place the caster sugar into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth, light in colour and fluffy. Soak the gelatine leaves in 100ml cold water until they are soft. Heat the milk and double cream, rum and nutmeg in a saucepan over a medium heat until just hot. Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze out the excess liquid.  Then whisk into the hot cream mix. Then while continuously whisking, pour the hot cream mix into the eggs and sugar mix. Pour or ladle the mixture into a jug and carefully transfer into the glasses filling them up to 1cm from the rim. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  To prepare the cranberries, place them in a bowl. Whisk the egg whites.  Spoon in 2 tablespoons of egg white and toss cranberries. Pour the sugar onto a plate and then roll the cranberries in until covered. Leave at room temperature to dry – this will take a couple of hours.  

To assemble, take the panna cotta out the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Arrange the crystalised cranberries around the top and add the small bay leaves.

Christmas Negroni with Marmalade Citrus Bitters 

Makes 1 cocktail

For the cranberry orange ice cubes

20 cranberries

1 orange, zest only 

300ml cold water 

For the cocktail 

30ml vermouth rosso 

30ml Campari 

30ml gin 

7 drops Off the Cuffe Marmalade Citrus Bitters 

This classic Italian Campari cocktail packs a punch. For sweeter a note to this cocktail, replace the Vermouth Rosso with Sweet Vermouth or add a few drops of simple syrup.

For the ice, arrange the ingredients into the segments of an ice cube tray and pour in the water. Freeze until ready to use.  To make the cocktail, firstly chill the serving glass.  Then add all the ingredients to a long glass and stir gently with a stirrer or a long spoon – for no more than 15 seconds.  Then strain the contents into the chilled cocktail glass.  Add three or four cranberry orange ice cubes and serve immediately.

Christmas Negroni Mocktail with Marmalade Citrus Bitters 

Makes 1 cocktail 

For the ice cubes

20 cranberries

1 orange, zest only 

300ml cold water 

120ml white grape juice (or non-alcoholic white wine)

1 tsp pink peppercorns

1 tsp juniper berries, gently crushed

½ lime, zest only 

Sprig of lemon balm

10 drops Off the Cuffe Marmalade Citrus Bitters 


For the ice cubes, arrange the ingredients into the segments of an ice cube container and pour in the water. Freeze overnight.  For the cocktail, firstly chill the serving glass.  Then pour the grape juice into a saucepan, add the pink peppercorns, juniper berries, lime zest and a sprig of lemon balm. Bring to a bare simmer, then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Pour all the juice mix into a tall glass, add the Marmalade Citrus Bitters and ice and stir gently with a stirrer or a long spoon – for no more than 15 seconds.  Then, using a fine sieve, strain the contents into the chilled cocktail glass.  Add three or four cranberry orange ice cubes, finish with a rosemary sprig and serve immediately.


Off the Cuffe Bitters

At “Off the Cuffe Bitters” Jarrod Cuffe takes Catherine through an array of bitters in his studio as he shows Catherine how to do a tasting on the back of her hand and drink bitters with just sparkling water so they can discuss the flavours.

Maria Flynn and husband David, from Ballymakenny Farm chat to Catherine from their Spud Shack!  We hear about life as a potato farmer and why they moved into “Heritage Potatoes”. Maria explains about the different varieties of heirloom/specialty potatoes they grow. Catherine uses their crop for her Roasted Potatoes with Tenderstem Broccoli and Creamy tarragon Dressing dish which accompanies her main course dish Beef Wellington with Mushrooms and Red Onion Gravy.

With a menu to delight one’s appetite Catherine will first virtually ‘visit’ Carlingford and Kian Louët-Feisser of the Carlingford Oyster Company where Kian educates us all on the world of oysters and shows us how to open them whilst chatting with Catherine from his farm in Carlingford Lough. Catherine shows viewers how to create a duo of oysters; a raw oyster dish “Mignonette Oysters and a and cooked oyster dish Catherine’s Smokey Oysters” using Kian’s oysters of course.