Unexpected guests? Here are some divine dishes to whip up

Catherine Fulvio was on hand to share some top tips!

We’ve all been there; unexpected guests pop over to the house, and you have the moment of panic, trying to figure out what to feed them.

We caught up with top tv chef, Catherine Fulvio, who gave us two fabulous recipes to whip up something divine for your nearest and dearest!

Baked Oysters with Bacon

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Catherine told VIP Magazine, “This is a very traditional recipe, a favourite of my mother’s and found in many older cookbooks. While we were filming the tvseries Lords and Ladles, we created a version of these at the beautiful Ballywalter Park, home of the most gracious of hosts, Lord and Lady Dunleath.”


  • 24 shucked oysters
  • 12 rashers good
  • Quality bacon or pancetta, sliced in half
  • 24 cocktail sticks
  • Large knob of butter
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Generous handful seaweed, to garnish oyster shells, for presentation handful rocket leaves


  • Preheat the grill on high. Wrap each oyster in a bacon rasher and secure with a cocktail stick. Place on an oiled baking tray under the grill until the bacon is crispy. Keep an eye on them.
  • For the topping, heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and lightly brown. Remove from the heat and add the chopped parsley. Mix well and set aside.
  • Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and drop in the seaweed for just a few seconds. As soon as it becomes a brighter green, transfer the seaweed to iced water, then drain.
  • Place in a layer on the serving platter with the oyster shells on top. Put a few rocket leaves into each oyster shell. Take the cocktail sticks out of the wrapped oysters and arrange the oysters in the shells.
  • To serve, spoon some breadcrumbs over each oyster and serve immediately.

Sicilian Caponata with Ballyknocken Irish-Italian Antipasti Platter

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Catherine tells us, “A caponata served with a selection of meats makes a wonderful starter and is our starter board that we serve to resident guests for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s inspired by my trips to Italy but uses our wonderful local produce and the vegetables grown in our own garden. We are always asked for the recipes during the cookery class the morning after.”

For the home made tomato sauce:

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 800g tinned whole plum tomatoes,
  • Crushed salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sugar
  • Fresh basil leaves

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For the caponata:

  • 1 large aubergine, cut into 2-cm dice
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, trimmed and cut into 1.5-cm pieces
  • 500ml homemade tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar sugar, to taste
  • 100g green olives freshly ground black pepper


  • First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute on a low heat until soft. Add the tomato purée and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes with their juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the seasoning, adding sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and then add the basil. The sauce will keep in the fridge for 1 week and can be frozen for months.
  • Next, degorge the aubergine by placing the diced aubergine pieces in a colander and sprinkling with salt. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the bitter juices to drain, then rinse well and pat dry. Heat some olive oil in a deep frying pan and shallow fry the aubergines until they are soft and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  • Heat some more olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and celery on a low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until they begin to colour. Add the tomato sauce, capers, vinegar and sugar, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cooked aubergine and olives, then simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
  • Allow to cool and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving at room temperature with antipasti meat platter and crusty bread.


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