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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honey cake

Honey cake is, of course, a cake sweetened with honey, it’s deliciously packed with spices and it’s dairy free. It’s a tradition to serve it on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in the hopes of ensuring a sweet New Year. The first time I tried it I really loved it… it’s totally perfect with coffee or after dinner. My version is a healthier version using lots of grated apples, wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil… and I promise you it’s a big hit. I sometimes make this as a birthday cake too and it’s perfect at Christmas with all its amazing flavours.

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pandoro or panettone bread and butter pudding

Get your elasticated waist bands ready…this is a really indulgent dessert….but worth it because it’s truly delicious but definitely on the naughty list. Pandoro or panettone Italian cakes are perfect for a good old fashioned bread and butter pudding, as they are rather bread-like and lend themselves totally to this recipe, Pandoro particularly as its baked in a star shaped tin, so it looks very Christmassy when it’s sliced into star shapes. It’s also a delicious way to use them up if there’s loads in your larder at Christmas or afterwards or when you fancy doing something a bit different with them and want to turn them into an even more scrumptious dessert. It’s Italy meets England in the best possible way…and great for making with kids. You can get them to saw up the Pandoro into star shapes for you.
Recipe
Serves 3-4.
Ingredients:
250g of Pandoro or Panettone (I use the baby size ones)
30g approx of butter at room temperature
2 eggs
140ml of double cream
220ml milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of white caster sugar
Icing sugar for dusting
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the perfect roast potatoes

Roast potatoes are one of the best inventions in the food world along with chips, in my humble opinion. Heston Blumenthal and most of the top cooks recommend Maris Piper potatoes. The reason for this is they are very starchy which means you get a fluffy inside and a crispy outside. If Maris Pipers are not available get a floury potato like a Desiree or a King Edward, the varieties and names of potatoes vary from country to country, so if in doubt just make sure it’s a floury type as opposed to waxy. Roast potatoes are always best served straight away while they are still hot and crisp.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
1 kg of potatoes, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or goose fat or duck fat)
Salt and pepper to taste

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heavenly nut loaf

I know a nut loaf sounds retro, but this nut loaf is a bit more sophisticated than the nut loaves of old, it’s really scrumptious and hasn’t got a single lentil in it. It’s packed with the amazing flavours of porcini mushrooms, parmesan and cashew nuts and it’s got a great texture which comes from the shiitake mushrooms. It’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans at Thanksgiving and Christmas or any time there is a roast (It’s even delicious sliced cold from the fridge and put in a sandwich, with cranberry sauce and mayo)

Jo Fairly kindly wrote to me to say she has made a vegan version by replacing the eggs with 250ml of Bonsoy soya milk, instead of the eggs and the 150ml of milk, btw not ordinary plant based milk as it won’t work as well, and she swapped the parmesan for vegan parmesan which is now available in supermarkets or health food stores. I can’t wait to try it.

Serve it with my vegetarian gravy, which is also vegan, my cranberry sauce and the rest of the trimmings.

Recipe

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:
150g of dryish white bread crumbs
150ml of milk (or dairy free milk)
2 large eggs
30g of butter or olive oil plus a bit more for greasing the loaf tin
20g of dried porcini mushrooms (I get the cheaper porcini pieces in the supermarket) steeped in boiling water for 15 mins, drained and chopped
100g mushrooms chopped into small pieces (I use shiitake)
1 teaspoon of English mustard
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons of Tabasco
1 egg white
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
1 medium onion very finely chopped
2 medium celery sticks very finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
200g of chopped raw cashew nuts
100g chopped raw walnuts
1 large carrot finely grated
75g of Parmesan or vegan parmesan
A handful of polenta
Salt and pepper
1 large loaf tin, mine is approx for a one and a half pound loaf

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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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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.

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
(sometimes I double up the filling because I love a lot of apple, this will mean another 15 minutes approx of baking time)

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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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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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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