Let’s go al fresco this week – yes, even in Ireland we can have notions of eating outside. We had a few sunny days and we’re hoping for more so we can get ready to eat outdoors. But, as we know, our weather doesn’t always play ball, so keep the rain in mind when planning and maybe have a brolly to hand and The Child of Prague. Worst-case scenario – cook outside and bring it indoors.

First up is a salmon and asparagus wrap with rocket pesto. Salmon has become very popular for outdoor dining. Be sure to look out for organic fillets, these are great on the barbecue or in a griddle pan. Add a squeeze of lemon juice when you are ready to cook. Wild garlic is in season at the moment and it makes a lovely pesto. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything. This recipe also works well for monkfish or chicken breasts.

The next recipe is baked raspberry swirl cheesecake cake slices. It is the start of the fruit season, which is always an exciting time of the year. I enjoyed talking with Pat Clarke (clarkesfreshfruit.ie), who supplies us with fresh berries in the restaurant, a few days ago.

I love the tanginess of the raspberries in this cheesecake. It looks very impressive and I often make it at home. I love the crunch of the digestive biscuits, but if you like, you could use ginger biscuits. And if you don’t have arrowroot, just use cornflour instead. This dessert will keep in the fridge for up to five days, covered with cling film.

Happy cooking,


Salmon and Asparagus Wraps with Rocket Pesto

Ingredients: serves 4

12 asparagus spears, trimmed

4 x 175g skinless organic salmon fillets

4 fresh dill sprigs

4 slices Parma ham

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

25g butter

Lightly dressed mixed salad, to serve

Lemon wedges, to garnish

Rocket pesto:

25g pine nuts

50g rocket leaves

25g freshly grated Parmesan

100ml rapeseed oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Preheat the barbecue.

2 To make the rocket pesto, place the pine nuts on a baking tin and roast for a few minutes, until golden brown, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Leave to cool. Place the rocket in a food processor with the toasted pine nuts, Parmesan and oil. Season with salt and pepper and blitz to a smooth purée. Place the pesto in a small bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until ready to use (this can be made up to four days in advance).

3 Now blanch the asparagus spears in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and quickly refresh under cold running water, then tip into a bowl of ice-cold water to cool completely. Drain well and pat dry on kitchen paper.

4 Season each salmon fillet with pepper and arrange three asparagus spears, trimming them down as necessary, and a dill sprig on top of each fillet. Lightly wrap a slice of Parma ham around each bundle and place in a shallow non-metallic dish, then add a squeeze of lemon juice.

5 Brush the salmon with the olive oil and place on a pre-heated barbecue. Cook the wrapped salmon fillets for approximately 6 minutes each side until the ham is crispy and the salmon cooked through.

6 To serve, arrange the salmon wraps on warmed serving plates and spoon some of the rocket pesto to one side. Add some mixed salad to each plate and place the rest of the rocket pesto on the table. Have a separate dish of lemon wedges and baked potatoes tossed in butter.

Baked raspberry swirl cheesecake slices.\ Photo by Claire Nash Food styling by Janine Kennedy.

Baked raspberry swirl cheesecake slices

Ingredients: makes 12 slices

300g digestive biscuits

150g butter, melted and cooled

275g caster sugar

175g raspberries, plus extra to serve

1 tsp arrowroot powder

2 x 300g packets of cream cheese, softened

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 x 200ml carton of sour cream

Icing sugar, to dust


1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Line a 20cm x 30cm (8in x 12in) rectangular tin with non-stick baking paper.

2 Put the biscuits in a food processor and blitz to fine crumbs. Add the cooled melted butter and blitz again to combine. Tip into the tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to cover the base, then bake for 10 minutes to set. Leave to cool.

3 Meanwhile, tip 25g of the sugar and the raspberries into a small pan. Mix the arrowroot powder with 1 tbsp of cold water and add this to the pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bubble for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly reduced but the raspberries are still just holding their shape. Set aside to cool.

4 In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese with an electric hand-held whisk until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again. Add the flour, vanilla, eggs and sour cream and whisk until smooth and well combined.

5 Pour half of the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base, then spoon half the raspberry sauce on top in small blobs. Cover with the remaining cheesecake mix and smooth the surface with a spatula. Drizzle the remaining raspberry sauce over the top, then use the end of the spoon to ripple it into the cheesecake.

6 Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 110°C (225°F/gas mark ¼) and bake for another 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for one hour, then leave for another hour with the door ajar. Finally, leave at room temperature until completely cool, then chill for at least three hours (or even better, overnight).

7 To serve, cut into 12 slices. Arrange on plates with some fresh raspberries and a light dusting of icing sugar.