jamaica ginger cake

Jamaica ginger cake is very nostalgic for me as it was a very occasional treat when I was growing up and I loved everything about it. I loved that it was a dark, dense, slightly sticky on the outside sponge cake made with lots of black treacle and fragrant with spices. They still make it today but I wanted to do a dairy free version that could also be vegan so I have created this recipe around the original recipe but omitted the butter and milk. It has a great texture as well as a great taste, and you don’t miss the dairy at all. The cake gets nicer over the next few days after baking and gets slightly sticky on the outside as the flavours mature. I tested it out on my friend’s teenage kids and they really loved it even though they had never had Jamaican ginger cake before. It’s dairy free heaven… but shhh, you don’t have to tell anyone it is because they won’t notice!

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creamy fish curry

I love this delicious Madur Jaffrey dairy free creamy fish curry recipe and have been cooking it for years. It’s perfect for a dinner party or as an antidote to all the Christmas fare. Really nice served with a wedge of lime and fantastic to serve on Christmas eve to guests as a simple supper with basmati rice or with whatever you fancy.

Recipe

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
A thumb size piece of ginger
3 green chillies
7 cloves of peeled garlic
400ml can of coconut milk
250ml carton of coconut cream
4 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive
3 medium onions finely chopped
8 small tomatoes halved
800g of white skinless fish (haddock, cod, monkfish), cut into big chunks
¾ teaspoon of turmeric
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
A handful of coconut chips, toasted in a dry pan (optional)
A bunch of finely chopped coriander (optional)
Salt to taste

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honey cake

Honey cake is, of course, a cake sweetened with honey, it’s deliciously packed with spices and it’s dairy free. It’s a tradition to serve it on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in the hopes of ensuring a sweet New Year. The first time I tried it I really loved it..it’s totally perfect with coffee or after dinner. My version is a healthier version using lots of grated apples, wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil… and I promise you it’s a big hit. I sometimes make this as a birthday cake too and it’s perfect at Christmas with all its amazing flavours.

Recipe

Serves about 10.

Ingredients:
½ cup of golden caster sugar or white sugar
¼ cup of dark brown sugar
¾ cup of runny honey
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cup of mild olive oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
4 eating apples grated
3 cups of wholemeal spelt flour
1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of allspice
a pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoons of salt
a little icing sugar for decoration
9 inch bundt tin

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sweet glazed carrots

Carrots but not as you know them. These are subtlety sweet and particularly delicious. The roots of this recipe are French and Danish and that’s why they are so tasty. The French often serve their carrots like this and the chief chefs in our house when I was growing up were Danish. Once I’d cooked them this way as a side dish, I always cook them this way when I have carrots especially when I cook a roast. They are perfect at Thanksgiving and with the Christmas feast.
Recipe
Serves 6.
Ingredients:
1kg of carrots
30g of butter or a tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of maple syrup or sugar
1 big squeeze of lemon juice
A handful of finely chopped  parsley
Salt and pepper
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pandoro or panettone bread and butter pudding

Get your elasticated waist bands ready…this is a really indulgent dessert….but worth it because it’s truly delicious but definitely on the naughty list. Pandoro or panettone Italian cakes are perfect for a good old fashioned bread and butter pudding, as they are rather bread-like and lend themselves totally to this recipe, Pandoro particularly as its baked in a star shaped tin, so it looks very Christmassy when it’s sliced into star shapes. It’s also a delicious way to use them up if there’s loads in your larder at Christmas or afterwards or when you fancy doing something a bit different with them and want to turn them into an even more scrumptious dessert. It’s Italy meets England in the best possible way…and great for making with kids. You can get them to saw up the Pandoro into star shapes for you.
Recipe
Serves 3-4.
Ingredients:
250g of Pandoro or Panettone (I use the baby size ones)
30g approx of butter at room temperature
2 eggs
140ml of double cream
220ml milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of white caster sugar
Icing sugar for dusting
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the perfect roast potatoes

Roast potatoes are one of the best inventions in the food world along with chips, in my humble opinion. Heston Blumenthal and most of the top cooks recommend Maris Piper potatoes. The reason for this is they are very starchy which means you get a fluffy inside and a crispy outside. If Maris Pipers are not available get a floury potato like a Desiree or a King Edward, the varieties and names of potatoes vary from country to country, so if in doubt just make sure it’s a floury type as opposed to waxy. Roast potatoes are always best served straight away while they are still hot and crisp.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
1 kg of potatoes, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or goose fat or duck fat)
Salt and pepper to taste

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heavenly nut loaf

I know a nut loaf sounds retro, but this nut loaf is a bit more sophisticated than the nut loaves of old, it’s really scrumptious and hasn’t got a single lentil in it. It’s packed with the amazing flavours of porcini mushrooms, parmesan and cashew nuts and it’s got a great texture which comes from the shiitake mushrooms. It’s perfect for vegetarians at Thanksgiving and Christmas or any time there is a roast (It’s even delicious sliced cold from the fridge and put in a sandwich, with cranberry sauce and mayo)

Serve it with my vegetarian gravy, cranberry sauce and the rest of the trimmings.

Recipe

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:
150g of dryish white bread crumbs
150ml of milk (or dairy free milk)
2 medium eggs
30g of butter or olive oil plus a bit more for greasing the loaf tin
20g of dried porcini mushrooms (I get the cheaper porcini pieces in the supermarket) steeped in boiling water for 15 mins, drained and chopped
100g mushrooms chopped into small pieces (I use shiitake)
1 teaspoon of English mustard
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons of Tabasco
1 egg white
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
1 medium onion very finely chopped
2 medium celery sticks very finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
200g of chopped raw cashew nuts
100g chopped raw walnuts
1 large carrot finely grated
75g of Parmesan or vegan parmesan
A handful of polenta
Salt and pepper
1 large loaf tin

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vegetarian gravy

This silky smooth gravy is super delicious for vegetarians and even non vegetarians. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the nut loaf on my blog. It can be made in advance and frozen, then defrosted the night before in the fridge..then reheated. This will lessen your work load when preparing your Christmas or Thanksgiving feast… but of course you might just want to make it for Sunday lunch too..it’s perfect if you are a gravy fan like me.

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poussin

Poussin (Cornish hens) make a great and very easy alternative to turkey on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving. Instead of cooking a turkey for hours and hours they take about 45 minutes to an hour. The meat is much more delicate and juicy than turkey, which can be dry and tough, and the bay leaves give them an amazing flavour. The ancient Romans always flavoured their meat simply with bay leaves and I can see why, it’s the perfect flavour and the meat will be subtly perfumed by the bay. Also if you are new to cooking, this recipe is far less daunting and more manageable than a turkey which requires a lot more time and attending to. I really love this recipe and it’s great with my cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, maple roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts, red cabbage and all the trimmings.

Recipe

Ingredients:
Poussin (1 per person)
A glug of olive oil
Fresh bay leaves (a few per bird)

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mince pie apple crumble

A really delicious way to use up the Christmas mince pie mountain over the festive period, even the stale ones. This is my own invention and it pimps up the mince pie, turning it from a Skoda into a Ferrari. The tartness of the apple counterbalances the sweetness of the mince pies, which caramelise on top of the apples and it really works as they are a marriage made in heaven. It has all the Christmassy flavours of orange zest and mixed spice then the mix of crunchy top with the creamy apples combo, which for me is pretty perfect. My friends think this recipe is a work of genius, I kid you not.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
700g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
25g soft brown sugar
Zest of an orange and two tablespoons of its juice
2 teaspoons mixed spice

Crumble topping
Several mince pies or more if you are a big mince pie fan
75g butter
175g plain flour (I use wholemeal spelt)
50g soft brown sugar

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