SMOKED SALMON PATE with PRAWNS
125g smoked salmon (trimmings are fine, but are often saltier)
125g light cream cheese
zest and juice of 1 lemon
6-8 large prawns (or langoustines), cooked and shelled
dill fronds, to garnish
Whizz the salmon, cream cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice together in a food processor until creamy, then season to taste with pepper (you probably won't need salt). Tip the mixture into four small ramekins and chill for a couple of hours.
Garnish with prawns and dill, and then serve with thick oatcakes or hot brown toast.
LAMB SHANKS WITH MINT
4 small lamb shanks
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6-8 carrots, peeled and chopped
200ml red wine
200ml lamb stock
20g fresh mint
juice of 1 lemon
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy casserole dish and brown the shanks all over. Remove them from the dish with a slotted spoon, then add the onion and carrots and gently fry for three to four minutes. Put the meat back in, add the wine and 150ml of stock, then season and bring to the boil. Cover the dish and place in a preheated oven (150°C/300°F/ gas 2) for 90 minutes to two hours, stirring once. Then remove from the oven and refrigerate once cold.
The next day, scrape off any surface fat and set the meat aside. Then tip the contents of the casserole into a food processor with the remaining 50ml of stock (or water, if you have forgotten to keep it). Add the lemon juice and mint leaves and whizz until smooth. Return this gravy and the meat to the casserole dish and cover. Place in a preheated oven (180¼C/350¼F/gas 4) for about an hour, adding extra wine if you want more liquid. Check the seasoning.
To serve, ladle a shank and some sauce on to each warmed plate and serve with new potatoes.
WARM MILLIONAIRE'S SHORTBREAD
This divine bake is adapted from a recipe used by the National Trust for Scotland (www.nts.org.uk).
175g plain flour
75g golden caster sugar
175g slightly salted butter, softened
Caramel and topping
1 tbsp golden syrup
100g light muscovado sugar
2 x 397g tins of condensed milk
300g good-quality chocolate (150g milk, 150g plain)
Sift the flour and cornflour into a food processor, then add the caster sugar and butter. Whizz briefly, then bring it together into a ball and knead lightly. Press the mixture into a lightly greased (33cm x 23cm) Swiss-roll tin and press flat. Prick the base with a fork and bake at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.
For the caramel, melt the butter, syrup and sugar in a large, microwaveable jug or bowl. Cook on high for one minute, then remove and stir until the butter has melted and everything is combined.
Add the condensed milk and stir, then return to the microwave and cook for a further two minutes. Keep watching and stop the microwave if it looks like it will boil over. Let the mixture subside, then start again. After two minutes, stir, then return to the microwave and cook on full power for one-minute bursts until the bubbles become large and the mixture thickens (this takes seven to eight minutes in my microwave, with regular removals and beatings). Pour the caramel over the base and leave until it has cooled completely.
Melt the chocolate, stir and then spread over the layer of caramel. Cut the millionaire's shortbread into 24 squares.
To serve, place a square of caramel shortbread on a microwaveable plate and zap on a medium heat for three to four seconds. The chocolate should remain intact, but the caramel will become molten. Serve with top-quality vanilla ice-cream.