Last Wednesday on the 4th December, I went to the Christmas Cookbook Club with Donal Skehan. The Cookbook Club is the creation of Elaine Walsh. She invites well-known chef-authors who have launched a recent cookbook to hand over their cookbook to the restaurant team at the Radisson Blu’s Brasseries de Verres en Vers to recreate a selection of signature dishes from that cookbook. I went last year to the Christmas Cookbook Club hosted by Neven Maguire, and really enjoyed it. It’s a great way to kick off the party season in style.

Having followed Donal Skehan’s career back when he was a food blogger to making it as a TV celebrity cook and author of many cookbooks, I was dying to try his recipes from his fourth cookbook, Homecooked. I actually like the fact that he is not a chef but instead self-taught as I find his recipes easy to follow and not too fussy. The Radisson Blu is a lovely hotel just off George’s Street and all decked out for Christmas, it was very welcoming. I got there early and availed of a warm greeting by the friendly and beautiful hostess, Elaine Walsh, and had some mulled wine with Santa and other early arrivals. There was a table plan and we shared our table with a teacher who was flying solo and has attended every one of the previous 14 Cookbook Clubs, a genuine fan.

There was a good choice of three starters, main courses and desserts – a good selection from the cookbook complete with page numbers for those who want to try them at home.

Ham Hock Terrine
Homemade Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Howth Head Seafood Chowder
Mini Beef Wellington wrapped in puff pastry
Homemade Spring Pea and Ricotta Ravioli
Harissa Fish with Carrot and Mint Salad (“Healthy Fast Food”)
Lemon Meringue Pie
Creme Brulee
Millionaire Chocolate Ganache Tart

I went with the homemade spring rolls which were very tasty indeed. For mains, I had the mini beef wellington which were wrapped in puff pastry and looked very seasonal. For me, they were a little overdone but still very nice and quite filling. One of my friends had the spring pea and ricotta ravioli which I tasted. It was very fresh. For dessert, I was won over by the Millionaire Chocolate Ganache tart which was very luscious.

Donal went round each table saying to the diners. He is very friendly and you can easily see why he is so popular. He signed our cookbooks and happily posed for photos. The mince pies in a gift box were also a nice touch. Afterwards, we enjoyed some jazz in the bar. All in all an enjoyable night and I can’t wait to try out some new recipes.

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