rhubarb cake with spelt

Rhubarb cake is really pretty and really delicious and I have made it really healthy.  It’s created so you can also do a vegan version with egg replacer from health stores or on-line. It has the great flavours of orange zest and honey in it so it tastes amazing and it’s made with healthier spelt flour. It’s also perfect if you follow an egg or dairy free diet. I love rhubarb and think it should have a renaissance if it’s not already.

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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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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.

Recipe

Makes about 12 medium mince pies.

Ingredients:
2 apples grated
50g sultanas
40g mixed peel
50g currants
50g chopped almonds
75g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch cloves
1 pinch of nutmeg
25g melted coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
2 tablespoons of Brandy

Pastry
700g approx. of good quality short crust pastry (palm oil free) or the BBC Food website has a vegan pastry recipe
1 beaten egg
Sugar for dusting

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maple roasted root vegetables

You can use other root vegetables for this recipe like sweet potato, but I use carrots and parsnips because I love them. The maple syrup makes them sweet and sticky which work really well with the flavours of the carrots and parsnips. They also become soft on the inside and sticky and crunchy-ish on the outside,  which as you know is always a great combo in my book. I don’t peel the parsnips and carrots as I think all the flavour and fibre are in the skin, and life’s too short.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
1 kg of assorted root vegetables
3 tablespoons of olive oil
5 tablespoons of maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

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pumpkin risotto

Perfect for a vegetarian dinner party, this risotto can be made with any squash instead, so if pumpkins are not in season you can use what it’s available. It’s not only perfect for a Halloween dinner, but it’s delicious all year round too. It’s baked, so there is no need to stand over a hot stove stirring for half an hour unless you want to make it the traditional way (which is fine too). The crispy sage leaves and the caramelised pumpkin taste amazing together and I like it with a little dribble of balsamic reduction over the top as well.

Recipe

Serves 3-4.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
12 sage leaves, chopped
12 sage leaves, fried till crispy
400g risotto rice
800g pumpkin peeled, cored and cubed
1 litre hot chicken or vegetable stock
30g butter
40g of finely grated Parmesan
More Parmesan to grate on top

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baked sea bass

This Rick Stein sea bass recipe has all the great flavours of saffron, peppers with a hint of anchovy. One of my ex boyfriends discovered it and used to cook it for me a lot, because we loved it. So it’s perfect on a date night for a supper for two and even better with a salad. It’s a really easy to make too, so you aren’t too tired for your beloved.

Ingredients:

a big pinch of saffron
2 small sea bass, cleaned, scaled and trimmed
1lb of potatoes cut into ¼ thick slices
25g anchovy fillets
100 ml of fish stock (I use Knorr stock pots)
2 red peppers cut into small chunks
4 garlic cloves chopped
4 sprigs of oregano
A handful of baby tomatoes
A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

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