Neven visits Today with Maura and Dáithí to cook up a storm! Get ready to make prawn cocktails with Marie Rose sauce, loin of venison with red cabbage and blackberry jus and mulled fruit trifle.

Ingredients

Prawn Cocktail

Although prawn cocktail might seem a bit dated, it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Made properly with fresh ingredients, it can make an elegant yet simple starter that no one will forget in a hurry.

Marinated cherry tomatoes:

  • 10 small cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • dash of balsamic vinegar

Marie Rose sauce:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp prepared English mustard
  • dash of Tabasco
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Guacamole:

  • 2 ripe Hass avocados
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • juice of 1 lime

To serve:

  • 20 small Little Gem lettuce leaves, trimmed
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 20 large Dublin Bay prawns, cooked and peeled
  • small handful of fresh chives, cut into 5cm (2in) pieces
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Loin of Venison with Red Cabbage and Blackberry Jus

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil 1 tsp softened butter
  • Red cabbage to serve
  • Blackberry jus
  • 1/4 of beef stock
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Thyme sprigs
  • 6 blackberries cut in half

Mulled Fruit Trifle

  • 1/4 pint / 150ml ruby red port
  • 3oz / 75g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 500g bag frozen fruits of the forest
  • 7oz / 200g Madeira cake, broken into chunks
  • 1/2 pint / 300ml cream
  • For the Custard
  • 1/2 pint / 300ml milk
  • 7fl oz / 200ml cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • chocolate curls, to decorate

Method

Prawn Cocktail

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Serves: 4

  1. To make the marinated tomatoes, place the cherry tomatoes in a bowl and season generously.
  2. Sprinkle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Cover with clingfilm and set aside at room temperature for at least 10 minutes (or up to 1 hour is fine) to allow the flavours to mingle.
  3. To make the Marie Rose sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, olive oil, mustard, Tabasco and Worcestershire in a bowl. Season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover with clingfilm and chill until needed.
  4. To make the guacamole, cut the avocados in half and remove the stones. Put the flesh in a bowl and mash to a purée. Stir in the mayonnaise and lime juice and season to taste. Cover with clingfilm and chill for up to 2 hours.
  5. To serve, arrange 5 Little Gem lettuce leaves on each serving plate and put a lemon wedge in the middle of each plate. Add small spoonfuls of the guacamole, the cooked prawns, marinated cherry tomatoes and teaspoons of the Marie Rose sauce. Garnish each one with a piece of chive.

Mulled Fruit Trifle

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Serves: 6

This is one dessert that I can clearly remember from my childhood – it probably even enticed me to be a chef. My Mum always made this for special occasions and I just loved helping, especially with the cleaning of the bowls…Frozen bags of fruits of the forest are available in most supermarkets but you can experiment with any selection of frozen berries, or fruit for that matter. I just find them incredibly handy, when the fridge is bursting full with yummy things at Christmas.

  1. To make the custard, Place the milk and cream in a heavy-based pan over a gentle heat and cook until it nearly reaches the boil – but don’t allow to boil. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour, sugar and vanilla essence in a large bowl and whisk together until pale and thickened.
  2. Remove the milk and cream mixture from the heat and then slowly whisk it into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour back into the pan and place on a gentle heat. Cook, without allowing to boil, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming on top.
  3. Place the ruby red port in a large pan with the sugar and mixed spice and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until syrupy, stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen fruits of the forest and set aside until cooled, stirring occasionally. The fruits should defrost naturally in the hot syrup but still hold their shape.
  4. Scatter the Madeira cake over the base of a 2 1/2 pint / 1.5 litre glass serving bowl. Spoon over the fruits of the forest mixture and cover with the cooled custard. Whip the cream in a bowl until you have achieved soft peaks and place spoonfuls on top of custard, then gently spread with a palette knife to cover the custard completely. Chill for 1 hour, or you can make this up to 24 hours in advance but finish with the whipped cream just before serving.

To Serve:

Sprinkle the chocolate curls over the trifle and place straight on the table, then spoon into individual serving bowls.

Tip:

If disaster strikes and the custard becomes lumpy whilst you are still cooking it. Don’t panic – stop stirring and remove the pan from the heat. Strain the custard into a large jug, then cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming

Loin of Venison with Red Cabbage and Blackertty Jus

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Serves: 4 x 100g (4oz) venison loins, well trimmed

We use one-year-old deer from Finnebrogue, which is always very tender but never very strong in taste. It’s popular with customers, as it’s considered a lean and healthy option.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).
  2. Season the venison all over. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan until very hot. Add the oil until smoking and then cook the venison loins for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Add the butter to the venison and allow to melt, then transfer to the oven and cook for another 6–8 minutes for medium, turning once (leave it a little longer if you prefer your meat more well-done). Remove from the oven and keep warm while leaving to rest for at least 5 minutes, then carve each one in half lengthways.
  3. Warm up the red cabbage and make the sauce. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 10 mins until slightly thickened and season to taste.
  4. You can serve this with some potato purée and some extra vegetables, enjoy.