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Christmas Fare: Chutney, cranberry sauce and drizzle cake recipes from county Down

Hazel Magill, Head Chef of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Newcastle, shares some of her favourite festive recipes with you.

Hazel Magill Head Chef of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

AS A CHEF in a busy hotel, I’m used to working constantly. Of course, 2020, and Covid-19 had some very different ideas for those of us in the service industry. Like many in our sector, we were in shock when everything was shut down overnight back in March.

It has been an emotionally draining year but it has highlighted the need to support each other and to support local.

We’re so lucky here in Co Down – we’ve got fabulous produce, great artisan producers, we’re by the sea and surrounded by the mountains with lush green pastures.

During the lockdowns, when you think of factories not producing or items not being available, the importance of supporting our local industry – from fishermen to farmers – cannot be underestimated, especially as we head into Brexit.

We have lost around half the year, but when we re-opened in July, the support we had was amazing. I found that people were more considerate, they were relieved to be out again, we got used to queuing and booking in advance for most things. 

We are lucky enough to have a spacious kitchen in the Slieve Donard, which enables us to socially distance and follow all the regulations. There is one person to a bench and we have a one-way system. It takes a little longer to go about things but it’s still manageable.

We are a big wedding venue and a lot of our weddings were postponed until next year so we’re in for a busy year in 2021 when restrictions lift. What 2020 has taught us that we need to be fluid and go with the flow plus to be mindful of what a lonely time it can be for some people. As a manager, I plan to stay in touch with my team of 20 and check in with them, just to let them know they are not alone.

For Christmas dinner, we always had cranberry sauce out of a jar at home, which is why I’m fond of it, as I am of a good chutney to go with cheese. But both, truly, are better freshly made. Cranberry sauce is so easy as not to be worth even hesitating about. You also can’t beat a sweet and tangy chutney with apples, cranberries, onion, vinegar, sugar, orange zest, and ginger.

We hope to see our customers return in the new year and we wish you all a very Happy Christmas from the Slieve Donard. Please enjoy some of my favourite festive recipes, they’re simple enough to do and should liven up any Christmas table.

Hazel’s recipes

Orange and Cranberry Drizzle Cake

shutterstock_748832833 Source: Shutterstock/Oksana Shevchenko


  • 420 g White Caster Sugar
  • 170 g Butter softened
  • 3 Medium Eggs
  • Zest of 2 Medium Oranges
  • 3 tbs Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract or paste
  • 420 g Self Raising Flour
  • 340 g Fresh Cranberries


Preheat the oven to 165*c Fan Assisted.

Grease and line an 8”/20cm Square loose-bottomed baking tin with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar together, with an electric mixer, until you reach a smooth marzipan consistency, and the sugar is not so grainy. This may take about 10 mins

In a small jug, lightly beat the eggs, orange juice, orange zest and Vanilla Extract together until well combined. This will help distribute the flavours around the cake.

Add a tablespoon of flour, to the cake batter. While the mixer is beating, gradually add the beaten egg mixture a little at a time. Beat until the mixture is light and creamy. Scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl at intervals.

Add the remaining flour and Cranberries and mix gently until well combined.

Orange & Cranberry Drizzle Cake (2)

You should have a cookie dough consistency which is needed to prevent all the Cranberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking.

If you still have a little unmixed flour left in the bowl add a little more orange juice and give it another mix.

Add the cake batter to your prepared cake tin, spreading and levelling the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven, for about 65 – 70 mins or until baked, testing the centre of the cake until it comes out clean.

Covering the top of the cake tin with baking parchment will help prevent burning during baking. If baking the cake in a larger shallow tin, you will need to adjust the baking times.

You may find that the top has a light crispy crust and may have some brown speckling. This is due to the large amount of sugar and how smooth your cake batter is after the initial beating.

Apple Cranberry Chutney

shutterstock_1634073562 Source: Shutterstock/Rebecca Fondren Photo

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2 Jars


  • 2 good cooking apples (2 cups, peeled and chopped)
  • 200g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 100g of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Small pinch of ground clove


Put all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for a few minutes more, to reduce any remaining liquid.

Refrigerate up to 2 weeks

Cranberry sauce

shutterstock_1562608327(1) Source: Shutterstock/Chamille White


  • 500g Frozen cranberries
  • 200g Sugar, or to taste
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Star Anise
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)


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Put the cranberries, sugar, butter, zest and juice of the orange, and Grand Marnier if using, in a pan. Add 100ml water and bring to the boil.

After a minute or so’s fierce bubbling, lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the berries have burst and you have a thick, fruity sauce. 

Don’t panic if it’s still fairly runny, though, as it solidifies on cooling. 

Taste to see if you want more sugar, then decant to a bowl and let cool before serving.

Hazel Magill is Head Chef of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Newcastle, County Down. See Hastings Hotels for more. 

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About the author:

Hazel Magill  / Head Chef of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

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