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For family and friends who drop by over the Christmas period, try Anne Neary’s 10 minute recipe for Mulled Wine from A Country Kitchen (paperback, available online for, €26 incl P&P, and selected bookshops in the South-East). Written by a teacher with nearly 20 years experience of running her Ryeland House Cookery School in Co Kilkenny
Crudites with White Bean Dip
Seasonal raw vegetables, served as an appetiser or hors d'oeuvre, are lovely at any time and a great antidote to heavy food over Christmas. “Especially,” says Rachel Allen in her book Home Cooking (HarperCollins, hardback €19.99), “When there is a tasty dip to indulge in.” She gives lots of ideas, including tapenade, savoury nut butter, guacamole and tzatziki...
Gravadlax with dill mustard sauce
Many of us have reason to be grateful for the tireless work and kindness of the Irish Hospice Foundation and Zest! (hardback, Irish Hospice Foundation, €20) is a beautiful new recipe collection from leading chefs all around Ireland, each of whom contributed recipes for a balanced three-course meal to raise funds for this exceptionally worthwhile cause...
Crispy duck breast with glazed butternut squash
From Derry Clarke’s (lEcrivain) latest book ‘Keeping It Simple’ (Gill & Macmillan €24.99), this could be a nice recipe for a smaller Christmas meal, for 2-4 people. Derry advises “Before cooking duck breast, rub the skin with sea salt for extra crispness.
If you’re looking for a delicious, traditionally inspired dessert that’s a bit of a talking point, Punjabi Cranachan, from Anjum’s New Indian, could be the one. “Punjabis love whisky”, says Anjum, “And cranachan (a Scottish dessert made from porridge oats, honey, whisky and cream) could have almost been Punjabi in origin.