mince pie cake

A dairy free alternative to a traditional Christmas Cake which can be made last minute, just make the mincemeat the day before as it needs to marinate and ruminate for 24 hours before you use it. You can use a jar of shop bought mincemeat if you want to save time, the cake is full of spices a bit of brandy and all the Christmassy flavours and is perfect if you are a mince pie fan, but fancy a lighter cake version and it’s perfect with dairy free vanilla ice cream.

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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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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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tuna ceviche with chilli mango and lime

This recipe by the chef Peter Gordon is quite simply one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s the perfect food to eat in the summer as it’s a Polynesian style sweet savoury raw fish salad that requires no cooking and is fresh and light. I sometimes add crispy onions on top that you can get in a tub from the salad dressing aisle in the supermarket which add a bit more crunch and flavour. It’s perfect as a date night dinner for two or as a starter for a dinner party.

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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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ethical mince pies

There really isn’t anything as delicious and comforting as a home made mince pie that’s still warm from the oven. It’s totally evocative of Christmas with the smell of all the spices, dried fruit and brandy. These mince pies are totally vegetarian and don’t use beef suet or the unethical palm oil which are in most shop bought mince meat jars and mince pies. They are easy to make, you use shop bought pastry if you can’t, like me, be bothered to make it and because the filling is so good, no one will notice. They are fun to make with kids too as they can decorate the top their way. I use a Christmas tree cookie  cutter, but there are lots of different Christmas themed cookie cutters you could use.

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red cabbage

This red cabbage recipe is full of Christmas flavours and tastes super fab with the Christmas roast. It is my favourite combo of sweet and sour with orange, apple, spices and port, which work really well together. It doesn’t have to just be for Christmas or thanksgiving, but you can eat it all year round. It’s also delicious with sausage and mash or baked potatoes and perfect with ham. Everyone I know who has cooked this really loves it as much as me. Its origins are loosely based on a Danish recipe and traditionally in Denmark it is served with rich meats, such as duck and pork. I spent many a Christmas in Denmark or with Danes as a child so this tastes very comforting to me and no one does Christmas better than the Danes. It is also fab with the Boxing Day leftovers the next day and its flavour improves with age.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
1 small red cabbage, shredded
1 apple, grated
1 chopped onion
1 orange, zest and juice
3 cloves
150ml Port
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
A handful of sultanas
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

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