socca with mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil

On holiday in the South of France we tried the traditional Niçoise socca for the first time and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. It’s crispy and pancakey like a pizza and it really lends itself to all the flavours of a pizza or a sandwich, because like bread it’s a blank canvas. It’s also gluten free and made with chick pea flour so it’s high is protein. If you make small ones they could be fantastic as gluten free canapé bases… just sayin’. They are really easy to make, too… and my new store cupboard staple.
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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 Christmas or Halloween. 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 trad 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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freekeh salad with roasted vegetables

Freekah is fast becoming the new superfood. It’s a baby green wheat which has been roasted which gives it a slightly smoky flavour and it’s much higher in protein and fibre than quinoa and has a much better texture and flavour. It can be added to stir fries and salads. If you google its health benefits they are endless. You can use it as you would quinoa and I buy it ready cooked from the supermarket in a bag made by Merchant Gourmet(or you can cook it from scratch) This healthy salad recipe is middle eastern in its style of flavours with cinnamon and smoked paprika. It’s perfect with other salads, roasts or humus and bread. It’s also a perfect lunch with a dollop of garlicky yogurt.

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spaghetti al nero with mushrooms and chilli

This spaghetti recipe is a traditional Italian recipe which is like a lot of Italian recipes, it’s really simple but nails it with its flavours. I bought my mushrooms at Morrison’s as they have a brilliant selection of veg, fruit and herbs. The spaghetti al nero I got from my local Italian deli, but it’s equally good with standard spaghetti. It’s essentially vegan except for the spaghetti al nero which is made with squid ink, so to get the same vibe you could use black rice noodles. For the Parmesan lovers like myself, you can add lots of freshly grated Parmesan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can find a vegan parmesan in your local supermarket or health food shop.

It’s perfect for a dinner party served with a salad and some crusty bread or for a date night as it looks really beautiful.

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chocolate truffle brownies (I can’t believe they are vegan)

These brownies are squidgy and very chocolatey… but not too sweet, add more of the coconut sugar if you prefer them sweeter, and the prunes add that extra squidge factor. I tried them at a dinner party with fresh raspberries and they were a big hit. My friend Vicki thought they were very truffley, so I changed the name.

They are also great with vegan vanilla ice cream or just as a dessert with coffee. You could also press a half walnut or pecan into the top if you fancy instead of the chocolate drops before you bake them. They are perfect if you are following a dairy free diet and fancy a bit of the old chocolate cake.

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