Vanessa Greenwood of Cooks Academy creates a range of festive recipes celebrating Irish dairy

The National Dairy Council is delighted to announce a range of festive recipes created exclusively by Vanessa Greenwood of Cooks Academy Cookery School to celebrate the best of Irish and European cheese this Christmas.

Vanessa has created five delicious festive recipes using the best of Irish produce, a range of indulgent treats to cook for friends and family this Christmas.

Seafood lasagne

Seafood lasagne

Vanessa says: “I am passionate about the quality of Irish dairy produce and the delicious range of Irish and European cheeses available. At Cooks Academy we love cooking with Irish dairy for its delicious flavour and superb taste.

"The best meals are made from fresh ingredients and dairy is delicious, nutritious and versatile. In Ireland, we are very fortunate to have a wonderful range of dairy produce to choose from and thanks to our tradition of excellence in dairy production, quality comes naturally.

"The recipes I have created will add that extra special touch of luxury to your Christmas celebrations this year."

Vanessa has created recipes using cheese which will really compliment your Christmas celebrations this year.

Cranberry cheesecake

Cranberry cheesecake

Give your Christmas dinner a real twist this year with an unusual starter in the form of a caramelised shallot tatin with blue cheese, a savoury version of the famed dessert.

This tart really works at Christmas with its comforting wintry flavours and the piquant flavour of caramelised shallots. Nothing creates a fanfare of excitement quite like a hot risen cheese soufflé.

The Cheddar cheese and courgette soufflés are a take on the traditional soufflé, adorned with grated courgette running through it which adds to the overall flavour and texture of the finished dish.

For holiday entertaining beyond Christmas Day, you could try Vanessa’s luxury seafood lasagne, this is a luxurious dish perfect for Christmas entertaining when you feel like a comforting fish supper.

Mussels

Mussels

It really celebrates the delicious flavours of cheese which marries so well with fish in a delicious creamy velouté sauce.

When you feel like a comforting toastie by the fire this Christmas, the grilled creamy mussels on sourdough is another unusual take on the traditional snack. This would be delicious served as a starter or as a light lunch with some salad.

The final flourish to your Christmas gathering will be complete with a baked Ricotta cheesecake with cranberry glaze.

The texture of the cake is also a lot lighter than other traditional baked cheesecakes due to the mixture of two cheeses – ricotta which gives the crumbly texture and the creamy mascarpone cheese giving it a smoothness.

Souffle

Souffle

“People always ask me how to avoid stress when entertaining a big crowd at Christmas” says Vanessa.

“The key of course is to be well organised, I start writing my menu about a few weeks beforehand and think about including a few items that can be made a day ahead or else kept in the freezer.

Vanessa's Christmas entertaining tips

Plan and write up your menu a week in advance. Have at least two courses that you can make ahead and when planning pre-dinner nibbles try to include vegetarian options if possible.

Sketch a pencil drawing of how your plate or buffet table will look so you can combine elements that you know will work and you find easy to prepare - keep it simple and tasty.

Take the time to create a beautifully laid table the night before. Add a festive touch with seasonal stems laden with red berries and lots of candles, it’s so lovely to sit at a beautiful thoughtful table.

Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin

Source really good quality ingredients, it makes the creating of delicious dishes. Ask your local shop to order key ingredients in for you, they’ll be very happy to and you can relax knowing that they’ll have them in stock at this busy time.

Don’t forget to plan nice garnishes to each of your dishes. Some chives on a starter or fresh berries or chocolate shavings over a dessert can add colour and make things even more appetising.