Roasted cauliflower with toasted garlic breadcrumbs, saffron and dried cranberries

My favorite vegetable and the most versatile and low calorie one around. This is sort of like a Sicilian recipe but replaces the raisins with the dried cranberries to make it a little different.

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Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
pinch saffron
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 F
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower together with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread out on a baking sheet into a single layer. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until brown at the tips.

In the meantime,in a small saucepan, bring the stock up to the boil, add the saffron and cranberries and remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam starts to subside, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the capers for another 30 seconds and then the breadcrumbs. Toast for a minute or two, until golden brown and then remove from the heat.

Toss the cauliflower together with the saffron/cranberry mixture and the toasted pine nuts.
Top with the capers and breadcrumbs and some chopped parsley and serve immediately.

NB You can substitute the cauliflower or add Brussels sprouts or broccoli florets to it and treat it the same way as the cauliflower.

White chocolate, cranberry and pistachio fudge

This is so pretty and tastes even better than it looks.

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16 oz. good white chocolate, chopped (chips will work, too)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries, divided
1/2 cup dry roasted, unsalted pistachio pieces, divided

Line an 8″ square baking dish with parchment or wax paper.
Combine the white chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler or a glass/stainless bowl over some simmering water.

Heat until the mixture melts together, whisking occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from the heat.
Add all but about 2 Tbsp. each of the cranberries and pistachios to the white chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.
Spread the mixture into the baking dish in an even layer. Top with the remaining pistachios and cranberries, pressing them in slightly with a spatula if necessary.
Allow the fudge to set in the fridge and then cut into 1.5″ squares.

Wild rice salad with cranberries and roasted nuts

We had this salad for Thanksgiving as a side, and it was definitely everyone’s favorite dish. Not only is it healthy, it tastes clean, fresh and divine and only gets better with sitting in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. I adapted this from a recipe from the great food blog, View from a Great Island.

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Serves 6-8

1 cup wild rice, rinsed
1/3 cup raw pecan halves
1/3 cup whole raw cashews
1/3 cup pistachios
1/3 small red onion
several small inner stalks of celery, peeled and chopped (I used 5 good sized stalks)
5 to 6 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp of your favorite vinegar, I used Sherry
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaped tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

This first soaking step is optional, but will help keep your wild rice from splitting as much, which I think makes a prettier salad. If you have the time, soak the rice in plenty of water for 8 hours or overnight. Then drain and continue the recipe.

Bring a quart of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil in a saucepan and add the rice. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes, or just until the rice is tender. Wild rice will always have a little bite to it, so don’t try to cook it until completely soft.

While the rice is cooking, put the pecans and cashews in a large skillet and toast, over medium heat, until you smell them and they start to turn slightly brown. Take them off the heat and let them cool before giving them a rough chop.
Drain the rice and put in a bowl.
Toss the warm rice with the rest of the ingredients.

Whisk together the dressing in a small jar. If you put the top on and shake it vigorously, it should emulsify. Taste it to adjust the amount of vinegar or seasonings. Toss the salad with half of the dressing, and then refrigerate until completely chilled.
When ready to serve, add more dressing and toss well.

Ginger chocolate oat bars

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Anything with ginger is wonderful, but this combination is terrific, besides being very easy to make.
3 1/2 oz butter
3 1/2 oz jumbo oats
3 1/2 oz rolled oats
1 lb 72% dark chocolate
5 fl oz heavy cream
5 1/2 oz dried cranberries
5 1/2 oz dried cherries
5 1/2 oz crystallized ginger, chopped

Melt the butter in a pan. Add both types of oats and cook for three minutes. Transfer to an oven dish that will fit in your fridge.
Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the chocolate and cream to the bowl and leave to melt for 15 minutes without stirring.
Add the cranberries, cherries and ginger to the oats and stir.
When the chocolate has fully melted, give it a little stir and then pour over the oats and fruit. Fold the chocolate through and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When set, break into pieces by hand and serve


Butternut squash, Brussels sprout and apple stuffing

A lovely stuffing filled with vegetables. This can go Gluten Free if you use a GF bread like millet.

Serves 6

1lb butternut squash, cut into 1/2 “cubes
1lb Brussel sprouts, halved
1 Gala apple, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 2 tbsp
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
10 thick slices of a bread of your choice: crusty sourdough dry cornbread, whole grain, GF….
*Prior to preparing the recipe, leave the bread out for a day to become slightly dry, then cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups vegetable,chicken or turkey broth (plus extra as needed)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pecan or walnut halves, halved again
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Toss the squash, Brussel sprouts, apples and shallots in 2 tbsp oil and season well with salt and pepper.
Roast till the vegetables are very tender, even until the Brussel sprouts are a little burnt at the edges and remove from the oven.

Reduce the heat to 350 F

Heat the other 2 tbsp oil in a large deep pan. Saute the onion and celery till translucent, abut 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the bread cubes and allow them to get golden brown with the veggies in the oil. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
Add the roasted vegetables, broth, cranberries, pecan or walnut halves and seasonings.
Stir the mix till the broth has almost entirely absorbed into the toasted bread.
Transfer to a baking dish or sheet and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.
Serve hot.

Thanksgiving meat loaf

The whole array of Thanksgiving flavors in one dish! It’s a lot of fun to eat.

2 lbs ground dark turkey (preferably organic)
2 boxes of your favorite stuffing mix
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
2 large eggs
1 tbsp grain mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
2 cups hot chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 F

In a heatproof bowl, add the two boxes of stuffing mix, poultry seasoning, mustard, garlic and chile flakes.
Pour the two cups of hot broth over the stuffing and mix well to soften.
Then mix together the 2 lbs ground turkey, salt and pepper and 2 eggs. Mix both the stuffing and meat mixture together.

Take more than half the meat loaf mixture and start to construct your meatloaf in the middle of a lined shallow baking dish. Flatten it out a bit then lay slices of the cranberry sauce down the middle of the meat mixture. Top with the remaining meat mixture making sure the cranberry sauce in completely surrounded all round with the meatloaf mixture.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until fully cooked.

Slice and serve with gravy.

Cranberry and apricot sauce

Something a little different that goes so well with turkey, pork or ham

Makes 2 1/4 cups

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil.
Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add the cranberries, apricots, sugar, vinegar and 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring, until the cranberries start to burst; 5 minutes.
Mash some of the cranberries and cook, stirring, until the chutney thickens, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice: season with salt and pepper.
Let cool before serving


Moroccan-spiced pie with harissa yoghurt dressing

Ground meat is such a great way to save money but also have a dish that is spectacular to look at and eat. Ground lamb is so much more flavorful than ground beef and marries very well with the Moroccan spices. Thank you to the BBC Good Food Magazine for this recipe.

1lb ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds. (I roast my own then grind them as they pack more flavor that way)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
4 medium carrots, grated coarsely
2 raw beets (beetroot) grated
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
5 tbsp butter
5 tbsp olive oil
15 sheets (200g) of Filo pastry
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil for frying the meat

For the harissa yoghurt

2-3 tsp harissa
7 fl oz of Greek yoghurt
2 -3 tbsp milk
pinch of paprika

Put the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the ground meat until browned all over.
Add the garlic, ginger, spices and seasoning and stir in to the meat, frying for about 4 -5 minutes.
Add the carrots, beets, cranberries and most of the pine nuts, reserving about 1 tbsp for decoration.
Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes checking for taste then set aside and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 425F
Melt the oil and butter together in a pan. Brush a 11 inch round loose bottom fluted flan tin with the oil and butter. Lay one sheet of the filo pastry in the bottom, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the tin.
Brush lightly with oil and butter (you may need more than the recipe says) and continue to layer up to
8 sheets of pastry at alternate angles so that the whole base of the tin is covered and you have plenty hanging over the sides all round the tin.
Pile the cooked meat mixture into the tin and bring the pastry up over the filling, scrunching the pastry on top. Add 5 or 6 more sheets of filo on top to cover the top, brushing lightly with the butter/oil mixture then drizzle the remaining butter and oil mixture over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes and sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden and crisp.

Mix the harissa paste with the yoghurt and milk and sprinkle with a little paprika.
Slice the filo pie and serve hot with the harissa sauce on the side


Exotic Lamb Pilaf with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and figs

This is a spectacular dish using ground lamb and incorporating the rich flavors of cranberries, pomegranates and figs.


2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chile, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp ground allspice
2 oz dried cranberries
2 oz dried figs, chopped if large
300 grams basmati rice
900 grams hot lamb stock. (For those in the US, sells Knorr lamb stock cubes and I use them a lot. They are wonderful!)

To serve

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley or mint or a mixture of both
40 grams shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
60 grams Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
greek yoghurt, to serve


Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium high heat and sear the lamb for 5 minutes or so until lightly browned.
Add the onion, reduce the heat and fry until soft and golden.
Stir in the chile, allspice and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes then stir in the cranberries and figs.
Add the rice and stir briefly to mix the rice with the other ingredients.
Put in the lamb stock and season to taste.
Bring to the boil, stir once then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Now cover the pan tightly and cook for 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Don’t stir the rice during this time.

To serve

Gently fold the herbs through the pilaf with the pistachios and most of the feta.
Pile the pilaf onto 4 warm plates and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and remaining feta.
Drizzle over a little olive oil and serve with Greek yoghurt on the side



Cranberry Liqueur

This is slightly adapted from “The Essential New York Times” recipe book by Amanda Hesser.

Yields 2 cups

2 cups cranberries
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
12 oz vodka
2 cinnamon sticks

Combine the cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Boil until cranberries are soft and start to pop, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.
Pour into a jar and add the vodka and cinnamon sticks.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 week and up to 3 weeks.

Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth if you don’t want any straggling seeds.

Serve and/or refrigerate and it will last for up to 1 year!