chocolate and pistachio biscotti

These super crunchy Italian biscuits are much easier to make than you think… even though you bake them twice. The combination of pistachio and chocolate is always delicious and I add a touch of vanilla too. They are perfect as gifts wrapped up in cellophane bags (which you can get on Amazon) with a ribbon or for tea time and Christmas entertaining. My friends love them and are always offering to taste test them for me…

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autumn apple cake

This cinnamony Apple cake is dairy free and made with olive oil. It has bourbon vanilla and lemon juice and zest in it and I make it with spelt flour, so it’s healthier because spelt is an ancient grain packed with nutrients that processed flour hasn’t got much of.

The top goes a bit apple crumble-like and the sides go a bit biscuity but it stays moist in the middle, and all my friends really love it and can’t tell dairy free. Perfect for Bonfire Night and Christmas or just for tea time. I sometimes have it for breakfast with coffee too.

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Venetian carrot and almond cake

This delicious traditional Italian cake was the precursor to the carrot cake we know now and love but this is kind of marzipany without the bitterness. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity as it’s fantastic with coffee, for breakfast or with a glass of vin santo after dinner. Like a lot of Italian recipes it’s dairy free and it also has no oil or butter. It is mostly carrots, egg and almond.

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savoury stuffed apples with rice pine nuts and currants

I adore sweet and savoury flavours together and this recipe from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking nails this perfectly. I have tweaked it a bit because the first time I cooked them the cooking apples burst and so I had to start again even though they tasted amazing, so I went with Braeburn apples instead. I have also added more pine nuts and currants as I thought the recipe needed it and replaced the sugar with maple syrup as it’s low GI and used basmati rice. They are perfect as a side to a roast instead of stuffing or cold with a salad.

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whole roast pumpkin stuffed with rice pistachios apricots and cranberries

This really delicious stuffed pumpkin tastes and looks amazing, it makes a fantastic center piece on the table for a vegetarian dinner, Sunday lunch, Christmas or Halloween. If pumpkin isn’t in season you can use any large squash or vegetable that you can stuff. It’s packed with nuts and fruit, is perfumed with saffron and based on a traditional Turkish recipe from a cookbook by Ghillie Basan but I’ve made it a bit easier. It’s great with roast potatoes and all the trimmings of a traditional roast dinner instead of turkey or even with turkey or you can stay traditional and serve it with other middle eastern dishes and salads, it’s also perfect with labneh with garlic in it.

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panforte (Italian Christmas cake)

This delicious traditional Italian cake is very dense chewy and packed with dried fruits, nuts and spices, and can I just say, there are lot of ingredients but it’s really easy to make. This recipe is softer than the ones you buy which I prefer. It’s origins dates back to  the Italian crusaders who discovered it in Turkey. It kept them nourished during their sieges. Italians often cut it into pieces and wrap the morsels in parchment paper with ribbon and give the little parcels as gifts.

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vegan chocolate and coconut fudge cake

I love the combination of coconut and chocolate because I love Bounty bars and this cake is really easy to make and really chocolatey for a real dairy-free egg-free chocolate fix. You can’t taste the beetroot, but it’s the beetroot that makes it fudgey. This cake has been tested on non vegans and they loved it and thought it was one of the best cakes they had ever tasted. Perfect as a birthday cake.

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bellini sorbet

There’s nothing like a cocktail and dessert in one. Inspired by the Bellini cocktail, which was invented in around 1934 by Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar in Venice, and still served there to this day. This sorbet is really refreshing and delicious. It’s also really easy to make and if you like Bellinis and you like sorbet, then you have hit the jackpot with this recipe. It is perfect on Valentine’s Day at the end of the meal. It’s light and a bit boozy, so your not too stuffed for your romantic shenanigans ahead. I would also serve this on a special occasion like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve.

Serves 2.

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pavlova ice cream pudding

This pudding can be assembled in 5 minutes max, so zero stress.  I’ve never met anybody who didn’t think it was really amazing. It has that great combo of creamy and crunchy mixed with sweet from the meringues and ice cream and tart from the berries. It’s a visual and sensual feast. The recipe uses any vanilla ice cream, but I use Swedish Glace or the newly launched coconut ice cream from Coconut Collaborative which are delicious if you are going down the dairy free route. None of your guests would guess it’s dairy free and it’s perfect if you are following kosher.

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chocolate dipped ginger shortbread

These shortcakes are really fun easy and vegan. Anyone can make them. All you do is mix the ingredients, bake them, dip in warm chocolate and leave to cool. They taste amazingly buttery even though there’s no butter in them. They are perfect as tree decorations if you make a little hole in them before baking so you can thread a ribbon or piece of string through to hang them up.  I’ve tried these out on friends who can’t tell they are dairy free, so give them a go…

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