Luscious Vegan Gingerbread

This is a moist and squidgy treat that is definitely grown up gingerbread. Both fresh ginger and ground ginger add just the right amount of warmth and flavor.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup black treacle or molasses
2/3 cup golden syrup
125g dark muscovado sugar
8 pitted prunes, finely chopped
2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ready-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
250ml oat milk
300g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. warm water
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Heat the oven to 325°F and line a 9″ square tin with parchment paper allowing it to hang over the sides.

In a large saucepan, measure in the oil, treacle or molasses, golden syrup, sugar, prunes, ginger, spices and seasonings. Whisk gently over a low heat to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, then stir in the flour in 3-4 batches to make a smooth batter.

In a jug bigger than you think you need, dissolve the baking soda in the warm water then add the vinegar. Stir into the batter and spread it in the prepared tin.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top bounces back when you tap it with your finger. Allow to cool in the tin, then wrap in parchment and foil. Leave for a day before serving.

Serves 12-18

No-Fear Fish Stew

This fabulous fish stew is a workout for your spice drawer! Sweet potatoes and orange zest add a lovely sweetness to compliment the tender white fish.

1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato
small bunch of cilantro, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
1 orange, zest and 1 tbs. juice
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomate paste
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 tsp. runny honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 lb. firm water fish, cut into thick large chunks

Measure all the spices in a little bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole that comes with a lid. Add the onions and cook gently until softened, about 20 minutes. Tip in the spices, cilantro stalks, ginger, garlic and the orange zest. Cook for a minute or two, then stir in the sweet potato, chopped tomatoes (fill each can halfway with water, swirl around and add), tomato paste, salt and honey or maple syrup and orange juice.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, clamp on the lid and leave to simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely soft and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the fish and bubble for 3-5 minutes without the cover, or until the fish is cooked through. Turn off the heat and leave for 2 minutes longer. Serve with the cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.

Serves 4

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

These cold Japanese noodles go wonderfully well with so many things, especially salmon.

1/3 cup sesame seeds
8 oz. soba noodles
2 tsp. rice vinegar
5 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame oil
5 scallions, sliced

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over a high heat until golden brown, then tip them into a bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook the noodles for 6 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Drain again.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Toss in the noodles, scallions and sesame seeds. Leave for about 30 minutes for the flavors to develop, then serve.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course

Quick Christmas Cake with Cocoa and Tia Maria

No overnight fruit soaking needed for this luscious and festive fruitcake.

1 1/2 cups chopped soft prunes
1 cup raisins
2 tbs. currants
175ml honey
125ml Tia Maria or similar favorite
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. mixed spice
2 tbs. good quality cocoa powder
12 1/2 tbs. softened butter
7/8 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. ground almonds
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Tip the fruit into a large saucepan and add the honey, Tia Maria, orange zest and juice, mixed spice, cocoa, butter and sugar. Heat gently, then leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 300°F and line the bottom of an 8″ springform tin with parchment paper.

Add the eggs to the cooled fruit mixture, then stir in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well, then spread into the prepared tin. Bake for 2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cover with foil if the top is becoming too brown.

Leave to cool, then remove from the tin and decorate or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Spiced Bulgur Wheat with Roast Vegetables

This is indeed a treat for a vegetarian or anyone who adores wonderful flavors and textures plus it is a visual feast for the eyes. Enjoy!

For the bulgur wheat:

3 tbs. olive oil
small bunch coriander
2 fat garlic cloves
1 orange
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4 cup red lentils
375ml cold water
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes

For the roast vegetables:

2 large leeks, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
2-3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
3 tbs. olive oil
6 radishes, topped and halved

First, make the bulgur wheat. Heat the oil over a low heat in a heavy pan that comes with a tight-fitting lid. Chop the stalks of the coriander and stir into the oil along with the grated zest of the orange and the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn up the heat to medium-low and stir in the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds, followed by the red chili flakes.

Turn the heat to high and stir in the bulgur wheat and lentils. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and replace the lid. Leave for 40 minuets or up to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Tip all the ingredients for the roast vegetables along with 2 tbs. of the orange juice and 2 tbs. water into a shallow roasting tin that will fit them all snuggly. Toss everything together well and roast for 30 minutes. Stir in the radishes and roast another 10 minutes.

To serve, fork through the bulgur wheat to fluff it up and scoop it into a large bowl. Fork through a third of the vegetables, then chop the coriander leaves and fork through most the them. Taste for seasoning, then top with the remaining vegetables and coriander.

Snow-Flecked Brownies

The are luscious and meltingly-squidgy squares of heaven.

3 sticks plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
6 eggs
2 cups caster sugar
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate in a large pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with the sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Stir this into the semi-cooled chocolate, followed by the flour and salt. Fold in the white chocolate and spread in the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes. They will be ready when the sides pull away and the middle remains dark and gooey. Leave to cool in the pan, then cut into squares. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

A French classic that’s been updated to use chicken thighs – quite rightly!!

2 tbs. regular olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 scallions, finely sliced
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (apprize. 3-4 heads)
2 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding of black pepper

Heat the oven the 350°F. In a large Dutch oven (one that has a lid and will fit the chicken in one layer), heat the oil and sear the chicken pieces over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.

Once the chicken is seared and resting in the bowl, stir in the scallions and the leaves of a few sprigs of the thyme. Add the garlic cloves, then arrange the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Pour in the vermouth and any juices left in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then add a few more whole thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

These lovely little cookies will delight all ages. The cranberries and white chocolate look like jewels!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
9 tbs. softened butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs. caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour mixture and stir to combine, then fold in the cranberries, pecans and white chocolate. Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Let rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pork Tacos

Nigella used left-over pork for this recipe. Not having any, I recreated it using a pork tenderloin with delicious results.

1 pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 large jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lime
tortillas, to serve
shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
pickled cabbage, to serve
diced avocado, to serve

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the pork until just pink. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, ground cumin, smoked paprika, lime juice, then let everything bubble for 4-5 minutes.

Serve the pork inside warm tortillas and topped with shredded lettuce, pickled cabbage and diced avocado.

Serves 4

Steak with Anchovy Elixir

This lovely elixir can be served with crudities or cooked potatoes for dipping or drizzled over steak.

20 salt-packed anchovies
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
125ml cold water

Soak the anchovies in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes. Throw out the water, add fresh water and soak for a further 5 minuets. Rinse each anchovy under running cold water and remove the tails. (Or use oil-packed anchovies that have been well-rinsed.)

Place the anchovies in a small food processor (or into a bowl if using a stick blender) with the remaining ingredients except the steaks. Blitz to a gloomily, fluid sauce. Decant into serving pieces.

Cook the steak to your liking, leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with the elixir.

Serves 4 with steaks or many more as a dip