Tag Archives: Starter

Valentine’s Day Menu: Starter of Chicken Liver Parfait with Plum Chutney

These are my Valentine’s recipes from this issue of Northern Ireland’s Flavour magazine!

To my mind, there is no better way to show someone you love them than a home-cooked meal. The thought and time that goes into planning and cooking it is much more valuable than a teddy bear and a box of chocolates purchased from the local supermarket in my opinion.


I do understand, however, that time might not be on your side so the recipes here are quick and hassle-free. Some of the ingredients are said to have aphrodisiac qualities such as the garlic, coriander and gentle spices of the chermoulla (said to increase the blood flow to certain parts of the body!), the vanilla (said to stimulate the nervous system) and the honey of the tart  (apparently the word “honeymoon” is derived from newly-wed couples drinking a honey beer called Mead to “sweeten” the marriage!)


Whatever about the old wives’ tales, you will enjoy this tasty meal which will be satisfying without being overly heavy.


All recipes serve 2 but the parfait & chutney will serve more. A great leftover to have in the fridge for lunch the next day (if you are lucky!!)



Chicken Liver and Thyme Parfait



225g Chicken livers, rinse them in milk

225g Butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons of chopped thyme leaves

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

A generous measure of brandy (35-40 mls)

Salt & Pepper


Optional: 100g Butter to make clarified butter to top the pate



Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the livers, garlic and thyme with a little salt & pepper.

Cook over a gentle heat, almost poaching them in the butter until the livers are fully cooked. You can check this by opening one of the thicker pieces of liver and checking there is no pinkness in the middle.

Place the mixture in a food processor.

Add the brandy to the pan to deglaze. Place the pan back on the heat and let the brandy bubble up whilst scraping the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of the juices from the pan into the food processor and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

Pulse the livers until fairly smooth and then add the rest of the butter to the mixture.

Taste for seasoning and place into serving dishes. Ramekins work well here. Smooth the pate down if you are topping with clarified butter.Place in the fridge while you make the clarified butter.


For the clarified butter:


Place the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and melt gently. When it has melted, switch the heat off. Do not move the pot. The solids will fall to the bottom leaving the golden clarified butter at the top. Using a small ladle or tablespoon, pour the butter over the surface of the pate and leave to set in the fridge.


Plum Chutney



500g plums, stones removed & chopped

shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

100ml white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of water

1 cinnamon stick

100 g demerara sugar



Cut the plums in half down the crease, twist the halves in opposite directions and pull apart. Prize out the stones and discard. Roughly chop the flesh.

Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the shallots with a small pinch of salt to prevent them from burning. Soften for about 5 minutes or so

Add the chopped plums, vinegar, water, cinnamon and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly thickened.

Place in a kilner jar or bowl and leave to cool and then store in the fridge until ready to use.


Atul Kocchar’s Mackerel Rechado from Taste of Dublin 2011

With Taste of Dublin coming up this week, it got me thinking of last year’s event and all the fabulous dishes that were cooked at it. I often work backstage at Taste of Dublin with the team from Fairyhouse Cookery School. It is hard work but also great fun. The amount of planning and coordination that goes into ensuring the smooth running of the chef’s demo theatre is phenomenal!

Of all the dishes that were cooked, my favourite one by a long shot was Atul Kocchar’s mackerel rechado. Everybody that tasted it agreed that it was really superb. A fantastic use of spices with a great delicate pairing of star fruit & gooseberry compote. This dish is a fantastic summery meal-light but with plenty of flavour. There is a long list of ingredients but please don’t be put off by that as you may have most of them in your storecupboard and the  method is very straightforward. If you can’t get your hands on all the spices, just use what you can-you will still have a great tasting dish even if it is not exactly as complex as the original. I have omitted the chutney on occasion and still had a great meal!


Serves 4

4 mackerel, filleted, pin bones removed

For the spice paste:

2 dried red chillis

3 cloves

10 large garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

8 peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

6 green cardamom pods

2 tsp ground turmeric

6 Dutch red chillis

1 tsp brown sugar or palm sugar

4 tblsp tamarind pulp

red wine vinegar

Gooseberry Chutney:

200g gooseberries, fresh or frozen

50g apples, cored & chopped

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp punch phoran (equal quantities nigella seed,  fenugreek, fennel seed, black mustard seed & cumin seed)

1 tsp ginger, chopped

1 tsp coriander powder

1/4 tsp red chilli powder

a pinch of garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric

50ml red wine vinegar

70g granulated sugar

salt to taste

For the Salad:

2 star fruit, sliced

1 tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan then crushed

a handful of micro greens

1 tsp olive oil

Blend all the ingredients for the spice paste together, adding enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Apply and smear the paste well on the fish fillets.

Cook the fish in a hot oven for 7-10 mins or heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan, add the mackeral and fry for about 2-3 mins on each side, until just cooked through.

For the chutney, heat oil in a pan. Add punch phoran-sauté until it crackles.

Add the powdered spices and add the vinegar & sugar followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Cook for 30-40 mins until chutney is cooked and sticky.Cool and serve with the fish.

Mix all the ingredients for the salad together and toss well. Serve the fish, chutney & salad together.



éThis is a fabulous recipe for mackeral from last year’s Taste of Dublin.

Rosemary & Sea Salt Bread Rolls

These bread rolls are super tasty and easy to make. They require some time to make but are not complicated. They are very pretty and you are sure to impress guests at a dinner party with them! It is also a handy recipe as you can freeze one batch & bake at a later date.


(Makes 2 batches-you can freeze one)


 650g strong white flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

14g pack fast acting yeast (2 x 7 g packs)

3 tablespoon olive oil

350-400ml lukewarm water

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons of good quality sea salt (I used Irish Atlantic sea salt)




  1. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the sugar and yeast.
  2. Make a well in the centre, add the oil and water.
  3. Gradually work into the flour to make a soft dough.
  4. Sprinkle over a little flour if the mixture feels too sticky, but make sure it is not too dry- the dough should be pliable and smooth.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead for 10 minutes  (sprinkling a little flour on when needed) until the dough is smooth and stretchy (soft but elastic).
  6. Sprinkle most of the rosemary and sea salt into the dough (saving some for decoration)
  7. Pull pieces of the dough off and shape into balls by rolling between your hands
  8. Place the balls of dough into a round cake tin in a circle, placing one in the middle( I found a spring release 9” or 23 cm tin useful to do this)
  9. Cover with cling film and let rise in warm spot until double in volume, about 1 to 1½  hours.
  10. Preheat the oven to 220 C˚ / Gas 6
  11. Brush a little olive oil on top of each roll and sprinkle a little salt and rosemary on top to decorate
  12. Bake for 15-20 mins or until they are golden brown.