Some great festive food from our resident expert chef Gary Townsend.

Lobster Cocktail withCrab & Spiced Marie Rose

It isn’t Christmas without a prawn cocktail around the table for Christmas dinner! This is a recipe for exactly that but I have turned it from the basic prawn cocktail into a luxury lobster cocktail with crab and spiced marie rose sauce!


Serves 2 (double up for more)

1 whole cooked lobster (500g)

100g white crab meat

½ avocado, ripe

2 gem lettuce, shredded

1-2 tomatoes, diced

¼ cucumber, diced

Lemon wedges

Caviar – optional

Spiced Marie Rose

200g mayonnaise

50g tomato ketchup

2-3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

2-3 shakes of Tabasco sauce

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of smoked paprika

Squeeze of lemon juice


First prepare the marie rose sauce. Simply mix all of the ingredients together. You can add more spice depending on your taste. Refrigerate until needed.

Remove the tail and claws from the lobster. If you are unsure about how to remove the meat from the tail I would recommend cutting the underside of the tail with scissors the prising the shell away from the meat.

For the claws, hit each claw with the back of a knife, not too hard, only to make a crack, then break away the shell to remove the meat. Also remove any meat from the knuckles by using the handle of a teaspoon.

READ MORE: Festive drinks with Gerard Richardson

To assemble the cocktail, mix a few spoonfuls of the marie rose sauce with the crab meat and place in the bottom of the glass. Next add a layer of the gem lettuce followed by the garnish of tomatoes and cucumber.

Arrange the lobster meat on top followed by any remaining sauce.

Add the avocado and lemon to finish along with a sprinkle of paprika.

Beef Wellington

Mix it up this year and impress the family

at Christmas with this beef wellington.

This grand spectacle of a dish will

certainly impress and is worth the

effort. It’s a brilliant alternative to traditional turkey!


Serves 6 +

1 whole beef fillet, trimmed, approx 1kg

400g wild mushrooms, sliced

2 shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

100ml double cream

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

12 slices Parma ham

750g-1kg puff pastry

2 eggs, beaten

Olive oil


Black ground pepper


Pre-heat oven 200˚C/gas mark 6. Wrap the beef fillet in cling film tightly and refrigerate for 24hours. This will firm up the meat, keeping its shape nice and round.

In a medium-sized pan heat a small amount of oil and add the shallots and garlic. Next at the wild mushrooms, season with salt and cook until soft and until all the water has evaporated from them. Once this has happened add the cream and turn down to a low heat for five minutes.

READ MORE: Five new drinks by Scottish producers to try this Christmas

Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth, or pour on to a tray, place in the fridge and chop until fine when cool. This is all best done a day in advance.

To build the wellington, take a large pan and heat the oil until hot. Season the beef well all over with salt and pepper.

Carefully lay the fillet into the pan searing each side for about 90 seconds. Leave to cool and brush the beef with the mustard.

Next on a large surface layout two sheets of cling film on top of each other. Lay out the Parma ham slightly overlapping each other to the size of the fillet.

Next spread over the mushroom mix onto the ham. Place the fillet at the edge of the ham and use the cling film to roll it around the beef. Set aside.

Next roll out the puff pastry if needed on to a floured surface. The pastry needs to be about 4mm-5mm thick, about the thickness of a pound coin.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash, remove the fillet from the cling film and place at the edge of the pastry.

READ MORE: Comfort and joy: What to eat and drink this Christmas

Roll the fillet up until the pastry just overlaps. Crimp down the ends and trim any excess. Ensure the join of the pastry is at the bottom. Brush the fillet with egg again. If you have a lattice cutter, roll out a piece of pastry, roll over the cutter and lift the cut-out pastry onto the fillet.

Brush again with egg. You are now ready to bake the fillet. Place it onto a baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes. Lower the oven to 180˚C after this and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. This should give you a pink cooking degree.

Tip: If you are not able to get a whole fillet, you can do the exact same just with individual fillet steaks with the same result.

Chocolate & Orange Yule Log

The yule log, also known as Bûche de Noël cake, is a French Christmas tradition

that dates back to the 19th century. The cake represents the yule log that families would burn starting on Christmas Eve.

If you follow this recipe I’m hopeful that

you won’t burn it!


Serves 6+


5 large eggs, separated

150g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract


100g dark chocolate, melted

150g icing sugar, sifted

120g soft butter

Orange zest

Icing sugar for dusting


Pre-heat 170˚C/gas mark 3. Line a Swiss roll tin approx 30cm x 20 cm with greaseproof paper. In a clean, dry mixing bowl place the egg whites and begin to whisk using an electric mixer. As the whites begin to rise gradually add the sugar.

When you have stiff peaks fold in the cocoa powder and the vanilla extract. Spoon the mixture on to the tin and spread out to the corners. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

When the sponge is cooked allow to cool slightly before lifting off the tray and turning out onto a sugared piece of greaseproof paper. Gently roll over with a rolling pin to remove any bumps.

READ MORE: Val McDermid on her 'odd' festive traditions and why she loves a Christmas murder mystery

Next carefully roll up the log into a Swiss roll shape. Scoring the sponge as you roll will help the process. Once rolled, set aside and cover with a damp cloth.

For the icing whisk the butter in a bowl until pale. Add the icing sugar and then fold in the melted chocolate and orange zest.

Unroll the log and spread a covering on the inside.

Roll the log up again and spread the remaining on the outer side of the log. Using a fork, push it through the icing to resemble the log texture.

Refrigerate until needed, finishing with a sifting of icing sugar for the snow effect!