A few weeks ago my godson had his thirteenth birthday dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Mayfair called Roka. We went with his mum and his godfathers, Ralph and Tim (Ralph, who is the genius blog creator on here) The food was amazing, we ate lots of amazing dishes including a Japanese risotto, but weirdly the dish that bowled us over hugely was their stir fried broccoli. It was beyond delicious. It was a perfect combo of savoury and sweet and the broccoli wasn’t over cooked, but just tender enough. I tried to recreate it from memory for last night’s dinner and we all thought it was as good as Roka’s. I could live on it, and it’s perfect if you want to eat broccoli but you aren’t that keen. Brilliant with just plain basmati rice and my Asian sea bass.
1 bunch of tender stem broccoli
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce (I get this in Asian supermarkets) check for gluten
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (I use black ones)
1 tablespoon fish sauce or a teaspoon of tamarind paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ tablespoon Soya sauce or gluten free soya sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ginger cut into tiny skinny matchstick pieces (optional)
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.
Poussin (1 per person)
A glug of olive oil
Fresh bay leaves (a few per bird)
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.
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.
1 kg of assorted root vegetables
3 tablespoons of olive oil
5 tablespoons of maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
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.
1 small red cabbage, shredded
1 apple, grated
1 chopped onion
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
A handful of sultanas
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste