Braised red cabbage with apples and spices

The best recipe. There are many others. It is worth following this Delia Smith recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg red cabbage, chopped
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 15g butter
  • salt and black pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the oven to 150C
  • In a large casserole dish, arrange a layer of shredded cabbage, then salt and pepper, then a layer of onions and apples, sprinkled with garlic sugar and spice. Continue to repeat these layers until everything is in the dish.
  • Pour over the vinegar, and dot the butter over the top.
  • Cover the dish tightly and put it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Stir and check a couple of times.

This dish reheats well, and it also freezes OK. We usually only have this at Christmas, with ham.

Parmesan-baked parsnips

This is another recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas but I serve this all-year round. I keep the pre-prepared flour and parmesan in the freezer for when I need it.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 kg parsnips
  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil and butter

METHOD:

  • Combine the flour, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  • Peel the parsnips, and quarter them lengthways, then cut each length in half.
  • Boil the parsnips for around 3 minutes and drain.
  • As soon as you drain them, when they are still damp and sticky, roll each parsnip in the flour mixture. They can be stored like this until you are ready to put them in the oven.
  • Heat the oven to 200C.
  • Grease a roasting tin with vegetable oil and add a knob of butter for more flavour. Heat in the oven until the fat is hot.
  • Add the parsnips and roll them around in the hot fat, before putting the tray in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn and continue to roast until all crips and golden, for another 15 minutes.

Turnip Soup

I have lots of turnips still standing in the garden, the last of the winter vegetables. They are fantastic things, yellow and spicy and fresh after a long winter. My only gripe about turnips is finding ways to cook them. Usually I mash them with potatoes, or, more recently, I have been dicing them and roasting them for 20 minutes in olive oil and pepper. Tonight I discovered why I had found so little in the way of recipes in my books and on the web: the English think they are swedes, and the French and the Americans seem to think they are called Rutabagas. Anyway, no matter what they are called, tonight I tried out this soup. It is from Lindsey Bareham’s incomparable recipe book, ‘A Celebration of Soup’.

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 75g organic butter
  • 2-3 shallots, finely chopped,
  • A bunch of parsley
  • 450g diced turnip (about one large, or 2 small), home grown
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.1 litres of rich stock (I used some game stock, but ‘Marigold’ stock is fine
  • A pinch of saffron, if available (optional)
  • 100ml double cream

Method:

  • Heat the butter in a large pan, and soften the shallots in the butter for about five minutes
  • Add the parsley stalks (or dried herbs, if fresh parsley is scarce) and the turnip along with a pinch of salt. Stir, and make sure everything gets well coated in butter.
  • Cover the pan and simmer on low for about fifteen minutes.
  • At this stage, the turnip is tender and sweet and could be served as a vegetable dish in its own right.
  • For to make the soup, add the stock and saffron, bring to the boil, and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Blend the soup with a soup wand, and reheat.
  • To serve, whisk the cream with the finely chopped parsley, and swirl into the soup.

I served it with brown toast. However, you could make croutons, and the book suggests polenta chips: small slivers of cooked polenta, coated in oil and grilled to create a crunchy exterior. Very good indeed.

Delia Smith’s Parsnip and Cheese Roulade with Sage and Onion Stuffing.

We had the big family Christmas this year, twenty people with five vegetarians. I made this for Christmas Day, and served it as an alternative for turkey et al. It was delicious, but it took quite a bit to find a corner to make it in while all the turkey and trimmings were being prepared. I used the recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas – a very fine book indeed.

INGREDIENTS:

For the stuffing:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper

For the roulade:

  • 100g grated hard cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 275ml cold milk
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 40g chopped and toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

For the parsnip filling

  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

You will also need a clean tea-towel, greaseproof paper or tin foil, and a swiss roll tin, or similar baking tray.

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C gas 6
  • Make the stuffing layer first. Melt the butter in a small pan, and fry the chopped onions for around five to six minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the herbs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and stir together.
  • Meanwhile, line the swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper, silicon paper or greased tin foil.
  • Make a thin layer of the stuffing in the swiss roll tin.
  • Next, make the cheese layer. Put the butter, milk and flour together in a saucepan. Heat this on a medium heat, stirring until thickened, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook on a low heat for a couple more minutes.
  • Put the sauce aside to cool. Separate the eggs, making sure the egg whites are in a grease-free bowl. Add the egg-yolks to the white sauce, and whisk them in. Next, add the grated hard cheese, and stir until it is melted in. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large bowl and clean whisk, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. (I got my sister to do this.)
  • Fold the cheese mixture into the egg-white: Start by adding a little of the egg-white mixture to the cheese sauce and then add the cheese sauce to the egg-whites, fold a spoon at a time until well mixed. Take care to ensure that the mixture retains as much air as possible.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the stuffing and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until set. It should be springy and feel firm.
  • Last layer: make the parsnip filling. Boil the chopped parsnips for at least 15 minutes, until soft.
  • Mix the cooked parsnips with butter, double cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Have a really good go at this to make smooth paste.
  • Assembly: Put the tea-towel on the table and sprinkle with toasted chopped hazelnuts.
  • Turn out the stuffing/cheese layer onto the hazelnuts. Spread the parsnips onto the stuffing layer, and then roll up the roulade along the longest side, using the teatowel to ensure it ends up as a round shape.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

I found this to need a bit of reheating at the end to ensure it was hot enough to serve with the turkey. Turn the oven down to 180C, cover the roulade with tin foil, and heat through for around 20 minutes.

Aubergine and Yoghurt Dip

This is a very easy Persian version of a common middle-eastern dip. Be prepared to get a bit messy for the best results. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 tbsp very good quality olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 200ml plain full-fat greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Rinse the aubergines and prick them with a fork in a few places. Put them in the centre of the oven on a rack with a baking tray underneath. Bake for one hour. 
  • Remove the aubergines from the oven, let them cool until you can handle them. Peel off the skin and chop the flesh. 
  • Put all the chopped aubergine into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I used my bare hands to squish the aubergine well, before beating with a fork. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with saffron water, a tablespoonful of plain yoghurt and mint leaves. 
  • This recipe is best made 24 hours in advance, and stored in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving. This is good served with bread. 

Yoghurt and Cucumber Salad

Some of you will know that I spent some time living in Teheran when I was a child. Zara used to work for our family as a housekeeper, and she used to cook wonderful Persian home-cooking for us. Our favourite was a dish called Loubia Pollow, made with rice, beans, tomatoes and lamb. We also used to eat the most delicious barbari bread and thick plain yoghurt sold in blue earthenware bowls. 

I have sought to recreate the flavours of the food we ate there, and have never managed to get it quite right. Persian food is very complex and sophisticated, from ancient civilisations, combining the herbs and spices of east and west. 

There are a few sites online where you can look up Persian recipes, but the flavours and end-results are unfamiliar to most. I have one recipe book, A Taste of Persia which is aimed at the US market, and has all the ingredients in cups. I’ve been working my way through the recipes and re-jigging them to suit local ingredients and UK directions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 500g tub of full-fat plain Greek Yoghurt
  • A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill or fennel leaf, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Garnish of fresh mint, rose petals, dill leaf, chive flowers, chopped walnuts, chopped radishes etcetera

METHOD:

  • Combine all the ingredients, mix well and adjust the seasoning. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, and up to four hours before serving. Take out of the fridge ten minutes before serving and garnish. 

Pumpkin, ginger, and potato gratin

I’ve had this recipe for years and years. I think it is best with a firm squash or pumpkin, like butternut squash.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lb pumpkin or squash, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lb potatoes, boiled for 15 minutes and cubed
  • 1 oz grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 oz butter (omit for a vegan version)
  • 3 floz olive oil
  • 1 oz wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter and the olive oil together and add the ginger, cumin and cardamom, and start to fry, for around 30 seconds
  • Add the potato, pumpkin and fry for another 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is softening and the potatoes are starting to brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper, put into an oven-proof gratin dish, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
  • Place under a hot grill for a few minutes, until the top is crips and the interior is bubbling.

Mexican rice

I have no idea if this recipe is Mexican at all. I got it from my friend Kay, who I think got it from a book called the Vegetarian Epicure which I have never chased down yet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 floz olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 1 1/2 pints of tomato puree (I use canned chopped tomatoes which I blend, or you could use passata)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 14 floz water

METHOD:

  • Chop the onions and garlic and lightly fry in the oil.
  • Add the ginger, coriander, cloves and pepper, and stir for 30 seconds
  • Add the rice and stir, cooking until the rice seems to be turning clear and beginning to brown
  • Add the tomato puree, salt and water, and simmer for 25 minutes

Butterbean and tomato soup

This is a very easy recipe, can’t recall where it is from. I usually have these ingredients in the house, so I can usually make this.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 pints of stock
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • olive oil or butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • chopped parsley to serve

METHOD:

  • Gently cook the onions in the olive oil until well cooked, very soft.
  • Add the beans, stock, tomatoes, bayleaf and then simmer the soup for half an hour
  • Season to taste, with the salt, pepper, honey.

Serve with brown toast and garnished with chopped parsley

 

Green beans with coconut

I have three recipes for green beans with coconut. This is a very easy version.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb green beans in 1 inch lengths
  • 2oz grated coconut
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaf
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 chopped green chilli
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

METHOD:

  • Combine the coconut, coriander, asafoetida, green chilli and salt in a dish.
  • Blanch the beans in boiling water for 3 minutes
  • In the oil, fry the sesame and mustard seeds together with the cayenne pepper – after about a minute, the seeds will pop, so take them off the heat at that point.
  • Add the beans to the mixture, and cook on a low heat until they are tender
  • Add the coconut mixture, and serve