Roasted butternut squash, quinoa, kale, cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese salad

A stunning array of flavors from the toasty walnuts to the sweet cranberries added to the very flavorful quinoa and goat cheese… Need I go on?
This recipe is from a blog called “Stuck on Sweet”

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Serves: 4

1 small to medium butternut squash, diced fairly small
2 large leaves of kale, stems removed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Use chicken stock instead of water to add flavor. Cool completely.
While the quinoa is cooking, add a few drizzles of olive oil to a saute pan and place over medium heat. Add the diced butternut squash and saute until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool.
In the same saute pan add a little more olive oil and the kale. Wilt slightly, 1-2 minutes, you want the kale to still be slightly crunchy. Remove from pan and roughly chop. Set aside to also cool.
Again, in the same pan add the walnut pieces, no olive oil is necessary. Toast for a few minutes on low heat – careful not to burn! Remove from pan and let cool.
Add all of the cooled ingredients along with the cranberries, goat cheese, a little salt and pepper, and gently mix.
If you want to add a little more olive oil you can, but I don;t think it needs it.

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No-bake cranberry almond energy balls

This is a lovely and super simple recipe from the food blog “Skinny Me” Your kids will love them too and they will be able to help you make them

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1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup natural almond butter, (optional peanut butter)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup almonds, crushed
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed

In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Roasted cauliflower steak with capers, pancetta and raisins

Another magical cauliflower recipe.
Don’t have two 12-inch ovenproof skillets? Sear off the cauliflower steaks in two batches, then roast all four steaks on a half-sheet pan, instead of in the two skillets.

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5 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta (5 ounces), diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
2 pinches of sugar
1 large head cauliflower, sliced into 4 thick “steaks”. (Don’t worry if you get several smaller “steaks” instead, it’s hard not to break them up a bit)
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup capers, drained

Put the oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400F.

Cook the pancetta in 1 dry 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off the fat and wipe the skillet clean.

Stir together the raisins and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp salt, and a pinch each of sugar and pepper in 2 x 12-inch skillets over medium-high heat, swirling skillets occasionally, until butter begins to brown.
Add 2 cauliflower steaks to each skillet and lightly season with salt and pepper then cook until the undersides are golden, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the skillets to the oven and roast the cauliflower, without turning, switching the position of the skillets halfway through roasting, until the cauliflower is just tender and the undersides are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness).

While the cauliflower roasts, bring the water just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in the pancetta, capers, and raisins with lemon juice. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter, and stir until incorporated.
Remove from the heat, and season with pepper.
Carefully invert the cauliflower steaks with a spatula onto a platter, and spoon the sauce over them.

Dried apricot-cured salmon

This recipe comes from “The Girl and the Fig” cookbook and it really stood out as something worth doing.

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Apricot-Cured Salmon
Yield depends on usage 

½ cup dried apricots
½ cup Pernod
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 fennel fronds
1 pound wild salmon, skin on

Place the apricots in a bowl with ½ cup hot water and the Pernod and rehydrate for 20 minutes. Purée the apricots in a food processor. Mix the purée with the salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel fronds.

Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to cover the salmon. Place the cheesecloth in a large baking dish and lay the salmon skin-side down on the cheesecloth. Cover the salmon evenly with the apricot-salt mixture and wrap it with the cheesecloth. Place another baking pan over the cheesecloth and weigh it down with at least 3 pounds of pressure (you can use water jugs, tomato cans, or even books). Refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Remove the weights and unwrap the salmon. Remove the excess salt mixture from the salmon and pat dry.

Slice very thin to serve.

Hot Cross Scones

I adore hot cross buns but can’t seem to find them in Los Angeles. These hot cross “scones” have the flavor of hot cross buns but are much easier to make and they’re moist and moreish!

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8oz self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
3oz butter, softened
3 tbsp light muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/3 cup small golden raisins (sultanas)
1/4 cup cut mixed peel
½ tsp ground mixed spice, see the recipe below. (It’s nothing like allspice)
1 large egg, beaten
3 tbsp buttermilk or 4 tbsp milk, plus extra for brushing
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Sift the self-raising flour into a large bowl; rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the muscovado sugar, sultanas, peel and spice.

In a pitcher, beat together the egg, buttermilk and a pinch of salt. Pour into the flour mixture and bring together to make a soft dough.
Lightly dust a work surface with extra flour, then roll out the dough to no thinner than 1/2 inch. Using a 1 inch cutter, stamp out the rounds – try not to twist the cutter as this makes the scones rise unevenly.

Re-roll the trimmings and stamp out more. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet.
Make the crosses. Mix together the plain flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water and knead to make a smooth dough. Roll out, cut into thin strips and put a cross on top of each scone. Brush with milk, then bake for 15 minutes, until well risen and golden.

For the glaze, dissolve the sugar in 2 tablespoons boiling water. Use to brush the tops of the scones as soon as they come out of the oven. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or split and toast the next day and serve with a smudge of butter.

Allspice recipe

1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground Ginger
Blend all spices together, and store in a sealed jar away from light.

Chicken with potatoes, prunes and pomegranate molasses

Again, here is another gem from Yotam Ottolenghi with a stunning mixture of flavors.
It is SO easy that you just throw everything into a bowl, mix well together then throw into a large baking/roasting dish. Bingo!
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Serves 4 to 6

8 whole chicken legs (each with a drumstick and thigh attached, about 4 1/2 lbs in all)
16 medium fingerling or baby Yukon potatoes, peeled
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
5 oz pitted prunes
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp maple syrup
5 oz sweet mango chutney
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tbsp oregano sprigs, plus a few picked for garnish

Heat the oven to 400 F
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, then tip it all into a large ovenproof roasting or baking dish.
Cover with a lid or thick foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Lower the heat to 350 F, remove the foil and cook for 1 1/2 more hours, stirring every now and then. If it starts to burn a bit, replace the foil or lid.

When the time is up, remove the dish from the oven, stir once more, cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes to rest and allow the flavors to mingle. Garnish with a few oregano leaves and serve with a sharp green salad and some good bread to mop up the lovely juices

Pasta with cauliflower, raisins, saffron and pine nuts

I realize I have many cauliflower recipes and am happy to add yet another. Such a humble, unpretentious vegetable, the cauliflower, where the repertoire of flavor combinations is endless. Yet again, this Sicilian-style recipe is a must.

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Serves 4

12 oz bucatini pasta or a one of your choice
1 small cauliflower,cut into florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp raisins, soaked in warm water for 20 mins, drained
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
2 salted anchovies, soaked in water for 1 hour,drained
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tomato, finely chopped
A good pinch of saffron strands (soaked in 1 tbsp warm water)
Approx 10 basil leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve: Freshly grated pecorino cheese Toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Fill a large (approx. 6 litre) heavy bottomed saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add approx. 1 tbsp of salt.
Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cook for a few minutes (they should still be crunchy). Drain the cauliflower and reserve the cooking water.
Add the olive oil to the pan and gently fry the garlic and finely chopped anchovies, till the anchovies have melted and the garlic is soft.
Next add the tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins and saffron.
Cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for about 5-6 mins.
Add the drained cauliflower to the pan and season with salt and black pepper.
Cover and cook (medium heat) for a further 5 mins, adding a couple of tablespoons of the cauliflower water occasionally, to stop the mixture from sticking.
Reduce the heat, then remove the lid and continue cooking while you prepare the pasta (stir the cauliflower regularly).
Using the cauliflower water, cook the pasta so it’s a little undercooked (a little harder than “al dente”).
Drain,leaving a little water clinging to the pasta, then add to the sauce. Mix well, then cover and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, or until pasta is completely cooked.
Finally add the chopped basil leaves and stir. 1
Toss the finished pasta with a little extra olive oil and serve with some grated pecorino.
You can also serve this pasta dish topped with some fried breadcrumbs instead of the cheese.