Let there be food…

Recipes by Amy Heffernan

A chef from Co Wicklow, Ireland


Christmas Cake

Africa, Vol 86, No 9, December 2021

This recipe will make a 10” square or 11” round cake.

It’s that time of year again and I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and a safe and happy New Year, from my family to yours. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for traditions and remembering loved ones. Following a request for a fruit cake recipe, I have decided to share a recipe given to me by a dear friend to us all here in Kiltegan and to many Africa readers who enjoyed her recipes over the years, Lucy (Lucia) Niceforo Hayes. Sadly, Lucy passed away in 2017. She had two great loves in her life, her family and cooking. I hope you enjoy her recipe and remember her fondly when using it.

You will need:

Fruit cake:

700g Sultanas

500g Raisins

300g Currants

225g Mixed Peel

225g Glacé Cherries (halved)

1 Orange (Rind & Juice)

1 Lemon (Rind & Juice)

250ml Brandy (Whiskey or Rum)

400g Butter at room temperature

400g Dark Brown Sugar

8 Eggs

600g Plain Flour

120g Ground Almonds

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Nutmeg

1 Tsp Mixed Spice


Almond Icing:

225g Ground Almonds

225g Icing Sugar

225g Caster Sugar

1 Egg

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp Brandy (Whiskey or Rum)

1 Tsp Almond Essence (optional)


To Cover

5 Tbsp Apricot Jam

1250g Roll Out Icing (Ready to roll fondant icing)

Top Tip: If your oven tends to be hot, wrap a double layer of brown (parchment) paper around the outside of the cake tin and tie with string.


Preparation: Place the sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel, and cherries in a large bowl, pour in the juice and rind of the orange and lemon, also pour in the brandy and mix well. Cover and leave overnight to allow the fruit to soak.


Preheat your oven to 140°C for conventional oven or 120°C for fan assisted oven. Grease and line your cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.


In a bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs as you continue to mix. Next, fold in the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice. Once blended stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the lined cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 4 hours or until the cake feels firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When cool, pierce the cake several times over the surface and feed with some brandy. Wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and tin foil, store in a dry cool place until you are ready to ice.


To make the almond icing place all the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add the wet ingredients, combining to form a paste. Warm the apricot jam and spread thinly across the fruit cake (the almond icing will stick better to the fruit cake). On a surface dusted with icing sugar roll out the almond icing until it is 5mm thick taking care that it doesn’t stick to surface. Roll the icing large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Gently place the icing over the cake using your rolling pin, smooth the top of the icing using your hands or a cake smoothing tool, then gently ease the icing down the side of the cake, smoothing it as you do. Trim any excess icing with a small sharp knife.


Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment and allow to dry out for a few days before adding the roll out icing or royal icing if you prefer. To cover with the roll out icing apply the same steps as the almond icing. Decorate with a festive ribbon and enjoy. 


Black Pudding Sausage Rolls

Africa, Vol 86, No 7, September/October 2021

This month’s recipe is a great savoury dish for cold autumn days. It’s a twist on the traditional sausage roll by using black pudding alongside pork mince. Black pudding is a great ingredient that adds a depth of flavour to this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

You will need

2 Sheets Ready Rolled Puff Pastry (1 roll is approx 350mm x 230mm in size)

280g (10oz) Black Pudding

400g (14oz) Pork Mince

1 Small Cooking Apple

1 Onion (finely diced)

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

80g (3oz) Breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp Tomato Relish or Ketchup

1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard

1 Egg (Beaten)

Salt & Pepper


Peel and core the cooking apple then thinly slice. Heat a pan over a medium heat and place the sliced apple into the pan with 1 tbsp water. Give it a little stir before covering the pan with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir gently then cover again and continue to cook gently until the apples are really soft then set aside to cool.


In another pan gently heat the vegetable oil, add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.


Lay the puff pastry sheets out on a flat surface while you prepare the mix. Finely dice the black pudding and add to a large bowl with the pork mince, cooled stewed apple, cooled sautéed onion, breadcrumbs, tomato relish, wholegrain mustard, and season well with salt and pepper.


Thoroughly combine the mixture and divide into two halves. (Do the following for each pastry sheet.) Place the mixture in the centre of the pastry sheet, shaping into a cylinder the same length as the sheet. Brush the long edges of the pastry with the beaten egg, roll the pastry over


the filling until it overlaps and gently squeeze the edges together to create a seal. Roll the whole thing over so that the join is on the bottom. Lift on to a flat baking tray and place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.


Preheat your oven to 180°C for a fan assisted oven (350ºF, Gas Mark 4), 200°C for a conventional oven.


Remove the rolls from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, cut each roll into eight pieces. Arrange these, with the join underneath, on a tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and snip a small ‘V’ on top of each roll. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.


Remove from the oven and gently lift the sausage rolls from the tray on to a wire rack to cool. These taste great with tomato relish on the side.


Top Tip: You can always make your own puff pastry but the ready rolled store-bought pastry is great quality and makes life a lot easier!


Parsnip and Apple Soup

Africa, Vol 86, No 1, January/February 2021

This month’s recipe is perfect to warm you up on the cold winter days. Tasty parsnip and apple soup is a meal on its own when served with some fresh homemade bread. It’s a simple recipe using ingredients that are easy to find and is quick to prepare. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need

4 Parsnips (Peeled & Chopped)

2 Onions (Peeled & Chopped)

3 Apples (Peeled, Quartered & Chopped)

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Litre (34 fl oz) Vegetable or Chicken Stock

200ml (6¾ fl oz) Fresh cream

Salt & Pepper


Place a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and add the olive oil. When heated add the chopped onions and cook gently for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped parsnips and apples, and allow to cook for 5 minutes.


Pour in the vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the parsnips are tender, then add the cream.


Remove from the heat. Puree using a stick blender or liquidiser. Season to taste with salt and pepper


Serve with some fresh homemade bread and enjoy.


Christmas Pudding Cheesecake

Africa, Vol 85, No 9, December 2020

It’s that time of year again and I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for traditions, I always loved making Christmas pudding and cakes every year with my granny. The smell of the pudding steaming on top of the stove was amazing, so our recipe this month will be a twist on Christmas pudding by using it to make a cheesecake. It is a simple recipe to prepare and a great way to use up leftover Christmas pudding. It’s also a great recipe for anyone who finds pudding too rich or heavy.

You will need:

For the Base:

150g (5oz) Digestive Biscuits

100g (3½oz) Gingernut Biscuits

130g (4½oz) Butter (Melted)

For the Cream Cheese Layer:

650g (22oz) Cream Cheese

400ml (13½fl oz) Fresh Cream

100g (3½oz) Dark Brown Sugar

100g (3½oz) Caster Sugar

1 Vanilla pod (Split &

Seeds Scraped)

250g (8¾oz) Christmas pudding

25ml (¾ fl oz) Cointreau

1 Orange (Juice & Zest)

2 Gelatin Sheets


Put the digestive and gingernut biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush to crumbs using a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a bowl, then pour over the melted butter. Mix thoroughly, then put them into a 24 cm or 9-inch round springform tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.


In a bowl beat together the cream cheese, cream, dark brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla seeds until the mixture resembles the consistency of lightly whipped cream and then set aside.


Place the gelatin sheets in cold water and leave to soak for about five minutes.


In a blender place the Christmas pudding, Cointreau, and orange zest, blitz together until it resembles breadcrumbs, then fold this into the cream cheese mixture.


In a pan gently heat the juice of 1 orange to a simmer, squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and add to the simmering orange juice and stir until it dissolves.


Gently fold the orange and gelatin into the cream cheese mixture until well combined, then pour over the biscuit base spreading it evenly. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and serve with a little cream on the side.


Tip: To decorate peel some oranges, slice into rounds and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle them with sugar, then blowtorch until caramelised and leave to cool. Arrange the orange slices in a spiral or however you desire on top.


Irish Tea Brack

Africa, Vol 85, No 7, September/October 2020

This month’s recipe is for an Irish tea brack. With Halloween just around the corner it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional Barmbrack which is usually made with yeast and eaten at this time of year. The Irish tea brack requires you to soak dried fruit overnight, but it is simple and quick to make. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need:

100g (3½ oz) Sultanas 

100g (3½ oz) Raisins

100g (3½ oz) Currants

80g (2¾ oz) Glace Cherries

50g (1½ oz) Mixed Peel

300ml (10 fl oz) Fresh hot tea

1 Egg

200g (7oz) Soft Dark Brown Sugar

225g (8oz) Self Raising Flour 

1 Tsp Mixed Spice


Place the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow to steep overnight.


The next day, preheat the oven to 180ºc (350ºF) (Conventional Oven) or 160ºc (320ºF) (Fan Assisted Oven). Line a 1lb (450g) tin with parchment paper.


Gently whisk the egg and then add it and the brown sugar to the fruit mix. Sift the self-raising flour and mixed spice into the fruit mixture and stir until it’s all combined 


Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the brack comes out clean.


Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Tip: This brack will last well in an airtight container and it can also be frozen.


Warm Honey and Mustard Potato Salad

Africa, Vol 85, No 6, July/August 2020

This month’s recipe is a warm potato salad. It is something a little different to the usual potato salad recipes we are used to. Instead of using mayonnaise, I use a honey and mustard dressing which is full of flavour and not as heavy. The dressing is simple and quick to make and can be used to dress other salads too. This is a great dish for a bbq during the summer months, but it can be enjoyed as a tasty side any time of year.

You will need:

1 kg Baby Potatoes

2 Tbsp Olive or Rapeseed Oil

2 Cloves Garlic (peeled & crushed)

1 Red Onion (peeled & sliced)

10 Smoked Streaky Rashers (Bacon)

4 Scallions or Spring Onions (sliced)

Salt & Pepper


For the Honey & Mustard Dressing

1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard 

1 Tbsp Honey 

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar

1 Clove Garlic (peeled & crushed)

6 Tbsp Olive or Rapeseed Oil

Salt & Pepper


Preheat the oven to 190°C (370ºF). On a lined roasting tray lay the streaky rashers out flat and place into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are crispy. Then remove from the tray, slice into small strips and set aside. Keep the tray to roast the potatoes.


Halve the baby potatoes and place into a saucepan. Cover with cold water and place on a medium to high heat. Allow to come to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Drain the hot water from the baby potatoes. Then add the oil, garlic, salt and pepper and toss so the potatoes are well coated.


Place on the roasting tray and put into the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove and toss through the sliced red onion. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.


To make the dressing place the mustard, honey, vinegar and garlic into a bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the oil in as you continue to whisk. Add seasoning to taste. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and add the streaky rashers and sliced scallions. Mix until all the potatoes are covered and serve warm.


Tip: Line the roasting tray with parchment paper, as it makes washing-up much easier. 


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Serves 3-4)

Africa, Vol 85, No 1, January/February 2010

Happy New Year to all our readers! To begin the new year, this month’s recipe is a healthy and tasty soup. Roasting the peppers before adding them to the soup brings out a unique sweetness that works great in this dish. Roasted peppers are also great when used in salads, antipasto and with pasta.

You will need:

4 Red Peppers (halved & de-seeded)

3 Tbsp Olive oil

4 Garlic cloves (peeled)

1 Onion (peeled and chopped)

2 Celery stalks (chopped)

400g Chopped Tomatoes (tinned can be used)

500 ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock

2 Tbsp Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp Smoked Paprika (optional)

Salt & Pepper


Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF / Gas Mark 4). Place the red peppers, cut side down, onto a baking tray and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes until the skin is shrivelled and lightly charred. Then place in a bowl, cover and allow to cool. Once cooled, peel away the skin from the peppers, and discard.


Place a large pot on a medium to high heat and add the rest of the olive oil. Once hot add the garlic, chopped onion and celery and fry for 2 minutes. Then cover, reduce the heat and allow the vegetables to sweat for 5 minutes. Add the roasted and peeled peppers, chopped tomatoes, stock, pesto, Balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.


Remove from the heat and using a hand blender blitz the soup to form a silky-smooth texture. If a little thick, add some boiling water to get the required consistency. Taste and add seasoning if required. Serve with some homemade brown bread for a healthy, warming lunch.


Tip: If you want to take a shortcut for this recipe, jars of roasted red peppers can be used instead of roasting and peeling your own.

Amy Heffernan is a chef and lives in Co Wicklow, Ireland. 

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