Chef's Table

Get the party started with summer recipes from Donal Skehan

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend with delicious party dishes from the TV chef

Donal Skehan serves up light dishes for a summer party

Sesame pork meatballs with sweet chilli dipping sauce

These Asian-inspired meatballs are incredibly aromatic, and make great finger food. You can serve them with cocktail sticks, or encourage your guests to wrap them up in little baby gem lettuce leaves and dip in sweet chilli sauce.

Ingredients; serves eight

500g minced pork

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

4 tbsp sesame seeds

Rapeseed oil to fry

A handful of fresh mint to garnish

Sweet chilli sauce for dipping

Sesame pork meatballs with sweet chilli dipping sauce


1. In a bowl combine the pork, ginger, garlic, chilli, soy sauce and sesame oil and then form little meatballs. Place the meatball on a plate, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to sit for about 20 minutes.

2. On another plate, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and then roll the meatballs to coat them completely.

3. Bring a large, high sided non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat, and add in about 1cm of rapeseed oil. When the oil is hot, fry the meatballs in batches until they are golden brown on all sides and cooked all the way through.

4. Serve the meatballs hot or cold with mint and sweet chilli dipping sauce to garnish.

TIP: the meatballs can be cooked off in advance and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.

Mini open Swedish prawn sandwiches

Mini open Swedish prawn sandwiches

Just like the Swedish cinnamon bun, you can’t go anywhere in Sweden without spotting the famous Raksmorgas (open prawn sandwich). In my mind, they will always be 1970s kitsch food with their hard-boiled eggs, but they are fantastically fresh and perfect for summer snacking.

Ingredients; serves eight

4 large free-range eggs

8 slices rye bread


8 cos lettuce leaves

400g prawns, cooked and peeled

1 good handful dill

Lemon wedges, to serve

For the pickled red onions

2 large red onions, sliced

200ml white vinegar

4 tbsp caster sugar

3 cloves

1 bay leaf

Sea salt and ground black pepper


1. Combine all the ingredients for the pickled red onion in a resealable jar and allow to sit in the fridge overnight, or longer if you have the time.

2. Place the eggs in a pot of cold water and bring to the boil. When they come to the boil, time them for about six minutes. Remove them from the water and plunge into ice water, before allowing to cool completely and then peeling and cutting in quarters.

3. Assemble the sandwiches by spreading slices of bread with mayonnaise, and layering with lettuce, prawns, boiled egg quarters, sprigs of dill and the pickled onion.

4. Serve straight away, or cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge. Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, sea salt and ground black pepper.

TIP: if you can’t find rye bread, use McCambridge brown bread, which works well too.

Thai beef and mango baby gem cups

Thai beef and mango baby gem cups

I love Asian flavours, and this particular recipe is inspired by a trip to Thailand, where all these flavours and textures work incredibly well together. The dressing is quite acidic, but it gives a fresh flavour to these tasty little morsels.

Ingredients; serves eight

400g thick rib eye steaks

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

6 spring onions, finely sliced

2 ripe mangoes, finely sliced

A good handful of peanuts, roughly chopped

A good handful of fresh mint and coriander

4 baby gem lettuce, broken into leaves

For the dressing

2 tsp caster sugar

1 lime, juice only

2 tbsp fish sauce

Half tsp sesame oil


1. Marinate the steaks in soy sauce and sesame oil, cover and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until the sugar is completely dissolved.

3. Place a medium-sized griddle pan over a high heat and when it’s just about smoking, add the steaks, cooking for about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare.

4. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to sit on a plate under tin foil for about five minutes, before slicing as thinly as possible.

5. Combine the spring onions, mango slices and sliced steak with the dressing in a large bowl.

6. Assemble the cups by filling each baby gem lettuce leaf with the beef and mango mix. Garnish with mint, coriander and chopped peanuts.

TIP: you can also serve this as a large platter for a wonderful summer salad.

Mini strawberry and rhubarb tarts

Mini strawberry and rhubarb tarts

This recipe comes from Craig Thompson, who designed many of the wonderful cakes and bakes which featured in Drogheda’s Brown Hound Bakery. It is sadly now closed, but housed some of the most breathtaking cakes.

Ingredients; serves eight

For the pastry

170g very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

250g plain flour

1½ tsp caster sugar

1 tsp flakey salt, Maldon is great

1 egg

1½ tsp apple cider vinegar

80ml ice cold water

For the filling

4-6 large stalks of rhubarb, greens removed and discarded, stalks cleaned, and chopped into medium sized chunks

200g strawberries, halved

75g caster sugar

3 tbsp plain flour


1. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour, sugar and salt mixture until the crumbs are the size of little peas.

2. Transfer the flour and butter crumb to a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

3. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the egg, apple cider vinegar and ice-cold water to incorporate. Pour the cold egg mixture into the well of the flour mixture.

4. Using two large forks, gently toss the flour mixture into the egg mixture (treat the mixture as though it is a salad of delicate greens, being careful not to overwork the dough). Add a little more water, a drizzle at a time, until the mixture just holds together.

5. Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper, wrap, and chill for a good 30 minutes before rolling out. The dough will make one large tart, two medium tarts, or many small ones.

6. Toss rhubarb, strawberries, caster sugar and flour in a medium-sized bowl, then set aside.

7. Portion the chilled dough into varying sizes, depending on how many tarts you would like to make. On a generously floured work surface, roll out the dough portions into rounds about ⅛” thick. Transfer the dough rounds onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

8. Pile the prepared fruit into the centre of each pastry round, distributing all of the fruit between rounds. Fold the edges of the pastry inward, over the fruit, leaving the centre of the mixture exposed and creating a barrier so the juice cannot escape as the tart cooks.

9. Brush the outside edges of the pastry with egg yolk. Bake in a hot oven, at 210C/gas mark 6V for 25-35 minutes (or until the sugar and juices bubble in the centre of the tarts).

10. Remove the tarts from the oven and allow to cool until warm, then enjoy.

TIP: this pastry can be used for both sweet and savoury pies.

Little lemon cakes

Little lemon cakes

Every party needs a bit of sweetness, and these little lemon cakes bring it on every level. They are incredibly cute and even easier to make.

Ingredients; makes 12

175g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 lemon, zest only

2 tbsp poppyseeds

110g soft margarine or butter

2 large eggs

50ml milk

For the frosting

1 lemon, juice only

150g icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, and fill a non-stick cupcake tray with paper cases.

2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and break in the eggs and add the butter in small pieces. Using an electric hand mixer, beat all the ingredients together until combined.

3. Add in half the milk/water, and beat again until combined. You are looking for the batter to be light and creamy.

4. Divide the batter evenly into the paper cases and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until firm and light brown on top.

5. Allow to cool on a wire rack before applying the frosting.

6. Place the icing sugar in a bowl and add a little lemon juice at a time, whisking to incorporate until you have a nice smooth mix, which is still quite stiff. Spoon about one teaspoon of the icing onto each cake and serve.

TIP: you could also change up the flavours here and try combinations like orange and cardamom, or raspberry and white chocolate.

To see more, visit Photography and recipes by Donal Skehan