All set for Christmas? A selection of my food prep tips for Christmas

If I had a euro for every time I was asked “are you all set for Christmas?” I wouldn’t be too bad off at all!  It’s the one question we all ask each other without even thinking of the mild panic it sets off as we mentally list all that still needs to be done! And in true Irish fashion, we calmly reply with “as ready as I’ll ever be”, not meaning a word of it of course!

 That said, Christmas dinner is the most anticipated meal of the year, so it is worth spending some time, planning for the festive season not only for the dinner, leaving you time to relax and enjoy the festivities which shouldn’t be an enormous challenge.
It is always a plus to choose favourite dishes that your family and friends love and that you feel confident making. At the same time there are many items that can be made ahead of time. So here’s a list to “get ahead”:

  • The brandy butter and the cranberry sauce keep well in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Salad dressings are another and can be made 4 to 5 days in advance.
  • Salad leaves and herbs can be washed and kept for up to 3 days.
  • If you’re serving a soup this can be made and frozen weeks ahead.
  • Soak your ham for up to 24hours before cooking and I cook mine on Christmas Eve so it has soaked all day and saves me time on Christmas day and that means I can have a sneak tasting as well! 
  • Peel and steam the potatoes the day before, keep in the fridge – on the day, dust with seasoned flour or polenta and roast in goose fat – yum! If you prefer, simply peel and leave in cold water in the fridge overnight.
  • Blanch the Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli the day before and keep them in a little water, covered in the fridge ready for you to use.
  • Lastly, have the garnishes ready, toasted nuts and lemon zest, the rosemary, bay leaves and fennel in water in the kitchen and slices of citrus for the drinks. 
  • For sweet garnishes, making little homemade chocolate trees and swirls is a simple and those can be kept in a sealed cake tin in a cool place for up to a week
  • Sugared cranberries and rosemary will keep for a day or two.
  • Oven dry orange slices keep for 2 days

 And finally take the time to enjoy the moments with your family and friends, a glass of wine and happy memories with loved ones is more important than anything else!
Wishing you all a very happy and relaxing Christmas!

Say Cheese.... CAIS IRISH Cheese Awards New Category Public Vote

Catherine is looking forward to the important job of Judging at this year's Irish Cheese Awards where she will have the very important job of sampling some of the best Irish Farmhouse Cheese on the 9th of October in the Bord Bia offices in Dublin.

For the first time, CAIS is inviting the public to cast their vote for their FAVOURITE Irish Farmhouse Cheese.

Deadline is 9th October with the winner being presented with the Public Vote Award at the Irish Cheese Award Ceremony, 7th November

Votes can only be cast for cheeses made in Ireland.

VOTE NOW by visiting

Catherine's Emmy Nomination

The 46th Daytime Emmy Awards, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, will honor the best in U.S. daytime television programming in 2018. The ceremony will be held on May 5, 2019, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California.
I have been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for A Taste of Ireland. The excitement is unreal and the nerves are too!

It's an absolute honour to be nominated alongside the other best-in-field chefs and I cannot wait to experience all that is THE EMMYS.
Fingers crossed for me and Ballyknocken House xx


Busy Day Filming

We had such a great day here last week at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School filming with Gabe Saglie senior editor at Travelzoo.
The rain held off and the sun came out as we filmed in our herb garden. I made some really tasty dishes including this Chocolate Beetroot & Guinness cake


If you would like to recreate this delicious cake the recipe is below. Enjoy xx
Special thanks to @failteireland_intmedia @tourismireland @tourismirelanduspr

February & Valentine's Day

Well January was certainly a fast month for us here at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School!
We were busy with Private parties and Hen parties and delighted to see a full house at our classes.

It’s coming up to Valentine’s Day and what better way to be in the good books than to treat that special someone to a romantic break to Ballyknocken House.
We have fabulous romantic packages at Ballyknocken House including a Mountain Top Picnic with overnight stay and why not take in our Delicious Italy class too! Log onto for more info.

Speaking of romance we had a great time at The Bride of the Year show at the RDS. Speaking to all the brides-to-be about our Hen Party & Activity packages. The idea of being able to book Ballyknocken exclusively really appealed to everyone and taking part in Sheep Herding as an activity really turned a few heads!!!!

So as it is Valentine’s Day in a couple of weeks I’d like to share my recipe for Orange Caramel Drip Cake. It is delicious and sinful but totally acceptable for this romantic time of year! Find it in my 'Recipes'.

I hope you all have a great month and a lovely Valentine’s Day. Keep an eye on both my website and for more tips and recipes.

Fine foodCatherine FilvioGood living


Ballyknocken House & Cookery School
Glenealy, Ashford,
Co Wicklow, A67 X720
Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)404 44627
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow us

Catherine on Twitter