Cosmo Cocktail Sausages

These little savory gems are bursting with flavor and perfect for a drinks party.

2 tbs. fine cut or shredless orange marmalade
2 tbs. cranberry sauce or loganberry jam
2 tbs. lime juice
1 splash of vodka (optional)
50 cocktail sausages

Heat the oven to 400°F.

In an ovenproof dish, stir together the marmalade, cranberry sauce, lime juice and vodka, if using. Toss in the sausages and bake for 25-30 minutes if they are raw. If the sausages are already cooked bake for 10-12 minutes.

Serves 8-10

Chicken Teriyaki

This is fast and fabulous – so much better than any takeaway.

2 tbs. sake or sherry
4 tbs. mirin
4 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
splash of sesame oil
1 3/4 lbs. chicken thigh fillets, cut or scissored into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. peanut oil
2 cups sushi rice, cooked

Mix together the sake or sherry, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil in a shallow dish. Toss in the chicken and leave for 15 minutes. Or do this earlier and keep in the fridge.

Heat the peanut oil in a large, shallow skillet. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the skillet and cook over a medium heat until they look cooked on the outside. Pour in the marinade and bubble until the marinade is reduced to a thick, dark syrup and the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve with sushi rice.

Serves 4-6

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

This warm and warmly scented side is perfect with roast chicken! Use any color of cauliflower you fancy.

1 small head cauliflower
3 tbs. regular olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained
1-2 tbs. harissa
4 smallish ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. sea salt flakes or kosher salt
3-4 tbs. pomegranate seeds
2 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil in a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, then toss in the cauliflower. Tip onto a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl.

Add the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes to the bowl and toss well. Add this to the baking dish and roast for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and give a good stir.

Arrange the parsley onto two plates and spoon everything on top, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2

Triple Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies

Using buckwheat flour makes these lovely cookies gluten-free.

2/3 cup small bittersweet chocolate chips
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. buckwheat flour
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
4 tbs. soft, unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
2 extra large eggs, fridge-cold

Clatter the chocolate chips into a flatfish dish and put in the fridge while you get on making the batter. This makes them not melt too much in the baking.

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

Roughly chop the bittersweet chocolate and melt it either in a suitable bowl in the microwave or over a saucepan of just simmering water. Set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, fork together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In yet another bowl or that of a free-standing mixer, combine the butter and sugar with the vanilla and cream together. Beat in the slightly cooled, melted chocolate and the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides, then carefully beat in the dry ingredients.

Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, fold in the cold chocolate chip. Dollop by tablespoonfuls onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 1/2″ between each one. Put the bowl with the remaining dough in the fridge while these cook. Bake for 9-10 minutes,  until they are set around the edges, but otherwise seem undercooked. Remove them from the oven and leave to sit on the baking sheets for 10 before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the baking sheet is cool, repeat with the remaining dough.

Yields approx. 25

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

The use of Cheddar cheese and a bit of Dijon mustard is inspired.

1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. vegetable oil
2 baby leeks or 2 fat scallions, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 cups hot vegetable stock
1 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
2 tbs. snipped chives or parsley

Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the leeks or shallots until softened.

Add the rice and stir for a minute or two, then add the wine and mustard, stirring until it is absorbed.

Start ladling in the stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir before adding another. Continue in this fashion until the rice is al dente, about 18-20 minutes. Stir in the cheese then transfer to warmed bowls and sprinkle with chives or parsley.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

Roast Loin of Pork

Classic simplicity and succulent flavors.

4 lb. pork loin
1 cup white wine, cider or stock
4 tbs. orange marmalade

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the pork in a small roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes per pound. This should take 80 minutes.

Half way through the cooking time, tip in the wine and marmalade. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 150-155°F. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving into thick slices.

Serves 6

Saffron-Scented Chicken Pilaf

This bright and flavorful supper dish will delight everyone. It’s just the right mix of cinnamon-scented chicken, tender rice and toasted nuts.

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. whole milk yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1 quart chicken stock
1 tbs. butter
2-3 tbs. peanut oil
2 1/4 cups basmati rice
3-4 cardamom pods, bruised
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/4 cup flaked almonds
2 tbs. pine nuts
3-4 tbs. shelled pistachios, splintered
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Marinate the chicken pieces in the yogurt, juice of 1/2 a lemon and cinnamon for about an hour. Soak the saffron thread in the chicken stock.

Over a medium heat in a large pan with a lid, melt the butter with 1 tbs. of the oil and add the rice, stirring to coat until glossy. Pour in the chicken stock, add the cardamom pods, lemon juice and zest, then bring to a boil. Clamp on the lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, shake the excess yogurt off the chicken. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet and cook the chicken until done. If the skillet is not large, do this in batches so that the chicken browns and does not braise.

In a small skillet, add the cashews, almonds and pine nuts. Toast over a low heat until they just become browned. Remove from the skillet.

When the rice is done, fork it through and add the toasted nuts and the parsley. Stir in the chicken and transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with the pistachios to serve.

Serves 6

Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake

Don’t fret if you don’t have the fanciful cake tin – you can use a Bundt tin to make this delicious and easy cake. Here is a hint…it is fabulous toasted the next morning for breakfast!

9 tbs. softened butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 – 2 tbs. confectioner’s sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F and put a baking sheet in the oven. Generously butter or oil the cake tin.

Put all the ingredients except the confectioner’s sugar in the food processor and blitz to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and spread the top evenly.

Place in the oven on the baking sheet and cook until well risen and golden, 45 – 55 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover the top with foil is it gets too brown.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then gently coax the edges away and invert onto a large plate. Leave to cool completely, then dust with confectioner’s sugar.

 

Date and Marmalade Christmas Cake

Celebrate the festive season with this molasses-rich and last-minute fruit cake. It can be easily shared out because it is both gluten-free and daily-free!

1 cup strong black tea
18 oz. medjool dates, snipped into pieces
3/4 cup candied cherries or dried cherries
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sultanas
3/4 cup plus 1 tbs. dark brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 3 tbs. coconut oil
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
scant 1 cup good-quality orange marmalade, plus more for brushing
2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup chopped almonds
3 extra large eggs, beaten

In a large saucepan, combine the tea, dates, cherries, cranberries, sultanas, brown sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 300°F and line the bottom and sides of an 8″ springform pan with parchment paper. (To line the sides, make 1″ snips along the bottom edge and ease it around the tin to form a collar.)

Add the marmalade, almond meal, chopped almonds and eggs to the batter and stir well. Spread in the prepared tin and bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. The sides will be coming away from the tin and the center will leave only a slight stickiness when tested with a cake tester.

Remove to a wire rack and brush with about 3 tbs. marmalade, then let the cake cool in the tin. The cake can be stored in an air-tight container and wrapped in foil for up to a month.

 

Apricot Cake with Cardamon and Rosewater

Simple, beautiful, fragrant and beguiling.

6 oz. dried apricots
1 cup cold water
2 cardamom pods, cracked
2 cups almond meal or flour
1/3 cup fine polenta or fine cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
6 extra large eggs
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. rosewater

To decorate:

2 tbs. apricot jam
2 1/2 tsp. finely chopped pistachios

Put the apricots in a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and tip in the cracked cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, then let boil for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the pan is just about out of water. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8″ round springform tin with parchment paper and grease the sides.

In a food processor, combine the almond meal, polenta, baking powder, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and rosewater. Set aside 5 of the apricots, then add the rest and any liquid left in the pan to the processor. Blitz into a smooth batter.

Spread the batter in the tin and smooth the top. Split the apricots in two and arrange them around the circumference of the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If the top is getting too brown, top it with foil.

Remove to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Brush on the jam, letting the heat of the cake melt it. Sprinkle over the pistachios and leave to cool completely.