mock crispy duck canapés

these are a lower carb version of the little mock duck pancakes that I get from Feng Sushi in London. They are absolutely delicious and moreish and I love a canapé, I’d live on them if I could as they are tiny and tasty. You can serve them on Chinese pancakes if you prefer.

makes about 15

Ingredients

1 block of very firm tofu ( I use Tofoo co but Sainsbury’s are making it too now)

a jar of good quality hoisin sauce (check for gluten if you are gluten free)

a bunch of spring/green onions

1 large cucumber

a cup of cornflour in a bowl

quarter of a cup of oil (I use mild coconut)

black sesame seeds

Salt

Lime wedges (optional)

How

firstly slice the onions lengthwise as fine as possible and put them into iced water to curl up, this takes about an hour.

Next chop the tofu into very small cubes and stick into the cornflour bowl, then remove and gently shake the excess flour off (this can be a bit messy, wear an apron to be on the safe side) Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the tofu till crispy and golden then drain on a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.

Cut the cucumber into thin discs that are thick enough to be rigid to hold the rest of the ingredients and place on a serving plate.

Put one or two pieces of tofu on to the cucumber discs with a splodge of the hoisin sauce. Drain the onions on a tea towel and garnish the tofu with as much as you fancy. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and add an optional squeeze of lime and serve.

If using Chinese pancakes (available from Chinese supermarkets, Waitrose and Tesco) cut them in half and add the crispy tofu, onions, and hoisin sauce with some slivers of cucumber and roll them up.

apple snow

my mum used to make this traditional English apple dessert on special occasions and according to what I’ve read about it’s history the recipe dates back to the 17th century and was called apple fluff amongst other things. I remember big bowls of it in the larder where I would stick my finger in and scoop up a delicious morsel. It’s light as a feather and you can add a teaspoon of your favourite spice to it if you fancy, to make it more Christmassy. It’s a great alternative to all the rich festive food and works as a light pud all year round.

serves 3-4 or multiply it for more people

Ingredients

1lb of Bramley apples, peeled cored and diced

3/4 cup of sugar

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 egg whites

1 optional teaspoon of spice, I added allspice

How

Stew the apples with 1/2 cup approx of the sugar with the lemon juice and zest (and mixed spice if using) until tender, this takes about ten to twenty minutes. They should be quite dry at the end, so continue to cook till all the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool and blend in a blender or with a stick blender till smooth.

With a hand blender, whisk up the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff. Then gently fold the egg whites into the apple mixture until mixed through.

Spoon into serving glasses and serve with a small biscuit or shortbread.

NB it’s not advisable for pregnant women or people suffering with a compromised immune system to eat raw egg.

baccalà alla Napoletana

This Italian recipe is made on Christmas Eve and holidays but I like to eat it anytime and it’s made with the unbelievably delicious dried salted cod which is rehydrated in the fridge for 3 days before you cook it (salted dried cod is a brilliant store cupboard ingredient and it’s available in most supermarkets in the world food section or a Spanish or Italian deli). It’s a complete meal with the potatoes, just add a crisp green salad and that’s lunch or dinner sorted… if you are extra hungry you could add some roasted sourdough with olive oil and a scraping of fresh garlic. It’s even delicious served at room temperature. if you haven’t got time to soak the salt cod, you can use fresh cod cut into chunks and put it in the stew to poach for the last ten minutes of cooking or till cooked through.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 400g of dried salted cod which is rehydrated in the fridge in water for 3 days, refreshing the water about two to three times a day. If it tastes pleasantly salty it’s ready, if not repeat for another day, or 500g of fresh cod.
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 finely diced celery stalks
  • 2 large peeled potatoes
  • Half a red pepper chopped
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of fish stock (I always use Knorr stock pots, they are brilliant)
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • A handful of black olives (stoned)
  • A small pinch of chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • A small bunch of chopped parsley
  • Pepper and salt to taste

How:

Firstly prepare the potatoes by cutting them into small chunks and blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain them and set aside.

prepare the fish by draining it thoroughly, pat dry with a clean tea towel and then remove any of the skin. Cut into medium sized chunks, about the size of your thumb.

Put the olive oil into a large pan and on a medium heat fry the cod pieces till they cooked through.Take out and set aside.

Put the chopped pepper, celery and onion in the pan and sauté till soft, about six minutes. Add the fish stock, tomatoes, olives, white wine, chilli flakes and capers and bring to a simmer.

Add the potatoes and gently cook for another six minutes. Add the cod, some pepper and some of the parsley and cook on a low heat for a further twenty minutes. Check the seasoning. Serve straight away with a sprinkle of the remaining parsley. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

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These chocolatey Italian biscuits are traditionally very crunchy on the outside and chewy and a bit marzipany in the middle. They are really easy to make and are gluten and dairy free. I serve them with coffee at the end of a meal instead of making a dessert, or after dessert. They are dense dark and rich and you only need a couple.

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overnight gravadlax

Gravadlax is really easy to make and much much cheaper than buying it ready made. This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Esquire Magazine that I found online.

It’s brilliant if you want the gravadlax that or the next day. Instead of putting the salmon into dry ingredients, you make a sweet brine first and place it in that and it does its job much faster, and more efficiently. I have included my favourite recipe for the dill sauce too if you fancy making that too, or it’s fine with a squeeze of lemon and it’s great on canapés with pink pickled onions, capers or on rye bread with sliced boiled eggs and any of my pickled vegetables on the blog.

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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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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 or just because you fancy it.

Serves 2.

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chocolate dipped ginger shortbread

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