I’M not sure if it’s just me, but for some reason celebrating Christmas seems more important than ever this year.
There’s a temptation to go all out, given what we’ve had to endure for the past two years. I’m not talking about splashing out on trips to Lapland, or 7 course meals, or private chefs to ensure the best Christmas ever - more like a quiet affair, shared with loved ones, our family and friends, a traditional Christmas dinner, and a few days of happiness and cheer, away from the weariness of 2020 and 2021. Making some happy memories.
Food always plays a special role in Christmas celebrations, so for the past few years we’ve dedicated an edition of Women on Wednesday (WoW!) on December 1 to food for the festivities.
Every year, I think we’ve covered it all, so how can we make this year’s edition different, special, educational... well we seem to have done it again, thanks to our amazing contributors.
The students at Munster Technological University have come up trumps yet again with some mouth-watering starters - honestly, all three look so tempting it’s going to be tough to choose!
See page four for their recipes for Beetroot Cured Salmon, Bloody Mary Jelly & Pickled Carrot Salmon. As well as Salad of Grilled Bluebell Farm Honey & Thyme Goats Cheese, Fig, Plum and Hazelnut. And finally, Mushroom & Chestnut Risotto with Coolea Cheese.
A big thanks to Helena O’Brien, Skye Philips and Rebecca Colbert, who are students of Year 3 Chef de Partie Apprentice course at MTU.
For our magical mains this year, we looked to some of the women at Cork’s English Market for our traditional turkey and ham inspirations.
O’Sullivans Poultry have shared a recipe and some tips for the perfect Christmas turkey, while we turned to Stephen’s Bacon for some tips on how to cook your ham. See pages six and seven.
And don’t forget the veggies - there’s inspiration from Gort na Gort na Nain Farm, who grow a wide range of chemical-free vegetables on their small farm in Nohoval - thank you Lucy Stewart for your contributions.
Regular contributor to The Echo, food writer Kate Ryan has a fantastic guide on page three on how to ‘Host Christmas Like a Boss’ - it’s a four week countdown to the big day - what you should be doing and when, for food prep.
Stick this to your fridge, people, and it won’t let you down. Keep calm and carry on cooking with her guide.
She also looks back at Cork’s history with Spiced Beef and finds out where our fascination with it comes from. A really interesting read for anyone who loves their spiced beef - but also for any history lovers. See page five.
We have our Big Foodie Gift Guide back on pages 12 and 13 - Kate has left no stone unturned in finding you some great ideas to wrap and pop under the Christmas tree, for the foodie in your life. From foodie escapes, to festive sips, craft and kitchenalia and fantastic hampers.
Staying with gifting, this year Kate has also compiled some home-made treats you can make and give to people as presents instead - such a wonderful touch!
You’ll find something here for all ages - from hot chocolate kits, to Festive Rum and Raisin Fudge, Infused Spirits, Mulled Wine or Cider Kits and much more. Check them all out on page 11.
Also new to the supplement this year, Kate has written about some of the Cork charities who support people with food donations/ hampers/ meals. She has shared their wish lists for Christmas, handy for anyone looking to make a contribution. See page 16 on how you can help those in need.
Desserts this year are taken care of by our weekly columnist in The Echo, Mercy Fenton - there are two to choose from - but they look so scrummy you might have to make both! See page 8.
Di Curtin, who writes The Weekend Foodie in The Echo every Saturday, has compiled a wonderful Christmas Cocktail list on page 9, ensuring you will sip happily right through Christmas evening.
READERS’ RECIPES WINNERS
This year, in a new departure, we asked readers to share their recipes - and they didn’t disappoint - we have cakes, puddings, pies, as well as some savoury dishes too. Check them out on page 14 and 15. We loved them all, but the winners of the five prizes - a hamper of Ballymaloe Foods products and a €75 grocery retailer shopping voucher - all will be revealed in the supplement, out on Wednesday, December 1.