A starter to please all the table

Christmas is such a brilliant time of year. A chance to enjoy time with our families, to laugh and have fun. I love to entertain and on Christmas this can lead to the kitchen table being very full! But I love it. If you’re like me and you love cooking then you will know the value of getting the meal off to a great start with a fabulous starter and that is what I am sharing in tonught’s blog. Hope you all enjoy.

A REAL WINNER… This vegetarian starter will be a hit with everyone at the table.

Crispy Goats’ Cheese with Roasted Beetroot, Cranberries, Watercress & Caramelised Walnuts

This is a gorgeous vegetarian starter than will go down as well with meath lovers as well. It’s worth seeking out a good-quality Irish goats’ cheese such as Corleggy or Ryefield.

 

Method

1 Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and mix with the parsley, nuts, sesame seeds and seasoning. Beat the eggs in a separate dish and season lightly. Put the flour on a plate and season. Lightly coat the goats’ cheese in the seasoned flour, then dip into the beaten egg, shaking off any excess. Finally, coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Chill on a tray lined with parchment paper for at least 30 minutes (or overnight is fine) to firm up.

2 To roast the beetroot, preheat the oven to 220 C (425F/gas mark 7). Put the beetroot in a roasting tin with the thyme and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and oil. Season, then cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for 1 hour, until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife. Leave to cool, then cut into quarters and toss back into the cooking juices.

3 To caramelise the walnuts, melt the butter in a frying pan set over a medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and toss to coat, then drizzle over the maple syrup and stir for a minute or two, until caramelised. Spread on a piece of parchment paper to cool.

4 Reduce the oven temperature to 180C (350F/gas mark 4). Heat the groundnut oil in a deep-sided pan or deep-fat fryer to 180C (350F) and cook the coated goats’ cheese for 3 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Drain well, then put on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and bake in the oven for another 3–4 minutes to completely heat through.

5 Meanwhile, arrange the watercress on plates with the cranberries and lightly dress with rapeseed oil and some lemon juice. Scatter the roasted beetroot on top with the caramelised walnuts and finish each one with a piece of

 

Ingredients

 

50g (2oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

2 tsp toasted pine nuts, finely chopped

2 tsp sesame seeds

2 eggs

50g (2oz) plain flour

4 x 4cm (1.in) thick slices of goats’ cheese (from a log with a 7.5cm (3in) diameter)

groundnut oil, for deep-frying

100g (4oz) fresh watercress

50g (2oz) dried cranberries

juice of half a lemon

 

For the roasted beetroot:

675g (1.lb) small beetroot,

scrubbed and tops trimmed (each

about 75g (3oz))

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for the dressing

 

For the caramelised walnuts:

2 tbsp butter

100g (4oz) walnut halves

2 tbsp maple syrup

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

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