It isn’t simply that the harvest is in November, the cranberry really appears to be like prefer it belongs on the Christmas tree – every glowing crimson berry threaded on a string amid the tufts of darkish inexperienced spruce. Culinary tinsel. The piercing tang is a welcome customer to the kitchen, too, bringing a snap of distinction to the richness of the feast.
This ruby-red berry deserves higher than to finish its days stewed with sugar and port as sauce for the nice chicken. I push the uncooked berries into the almond filling of a Christmas tart the place they blister and break up, their juice staining the pale ground-almond filling like lipstick on a pantomime dame’s lips. They do a lot to jolly up a mince pie, too.
That is additionally the second I rejoice the brussels sprout – effectively, somebody has to. You possibly can usually win refuseniks over for those who hold your sprouts away from water. I slice them in half and fry them within the bacon fats that lives in a cup within the fridge like my gran used for beef dripping. Toss in a few pecans or walnuts, or mash them with cream and a few chopped anchovies for those who dare. The neat, tight-leaved miniature cabbages make a festive salad, too, with pears, stilton and mustard.
I’m positive you recognize what you may be consuming on the day itself, so I gained’t intrude, however do take into consideration that cranberry tart, which is likely to be an thought for Christmas Day breakfast. Higher nonetheless, pack a few slices in an outdated toffee tin for your Boxing Day stroll.
Cranberry and apple frangipane tart
Serves 8 or extra
For the pastry:
caster sugar 100g
egg yolk 1, calmly crushed
plain flour 250g
baking powder 1 tsp
water 2 tbsp
For the filling:
caster sugar 125g, plus a little additional to complete
eggs 2, calmly crushed
self-raising flour 60g
floor almonds 125g
flaked almonds 3 tbsp
You have to a rectangular tart case roughly 30cm x 20cm x 4cm and a provide of baking beans.
For the pastry, cream the butter and caster sugar collectively till mild and fluffy – I exploit a meals mixer fitted with a paddle beater. Introduce the egg yolk. Mix and add the flour and baking powder, then add the water, a little at a time, to provide a agency dough. It’s possible you’ll want barely much less or extra relying in your flour.
Switch the dough to a calmly floured board, knead gently for lower than a minute (any longer and you threat toughening it), roll into a ball, wrap in greaseproof paper and refrigerate for about half-hour.
As soon as it has rested, roll the pastry out on a calmly floured board and use to line the bottom and sides of the tart tin. Trim any overhanging pastry, ensuring there aren’t any holes or tears. Chill for a additional half-hour.
Preheat the oven to 190C/gasoline mark 5. Place an empty baking sheet or pizza stone within the oven. Fill the pastry case with foil and baking beans, then bake for 20 minutes on the stone or sheet. Take away the beans and foil, then return the pastry to the oven for about 5 minutes till dry to the contact and pale biscuit-coloured. Take away from the oven and decrease the temperature to 160C/gasoline mark 3.
Make the filling: peel, core and slice the apples. Soften 30g of the butter, then add the apples and prepare dinner for 7-10 minutes till beginning to soften.
Beat the remainder of the butter and caster sugar collectively till pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar. If the combination curdles, add a little of the flour, repeatedly scraping down the perimeters of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Combine within the flour and floor almonds a little at a time, beating slowly till the flour is combined in. Unfold the combination into the pastry case, calmly smoothing the floor. Place the cranberries and cooked apples on high of the almond filling, then scatter with the flaked almonds and additional sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes, till spongy to the contact. Go away to settle for 20 minutes earlier than slicing.
A salad of brussels, pears and blue cheese
The brussels sprouts are blanched briefly, which softens their leaves and calms their pungency. Serves 2-3
brussels sprouts 350g
pears 2, massive and crisp
For the dressing:
coriander leaves 7g
parsley leaves 8g
mint leaves 6g
olive oil 6 tbsp
water 2 tbsp
spring onions 3
Make the dressing: put the coriander, parsley and mint leaves in a blender, then pour within the olive oil and water. Chop the spring onions and add them earlier than processing for a few seconds to a thick, inexperienced sauce. Season with a little salt and put aside.
Trim the sprouts and take away and reserve the outermost inexperienced leaves. Carry a deep pan of water to the boil. Finely shred the remaining sprouts.
Have a bowl of ice and water prepared by the cooker. Put the outermost leaves of the sprouts into the boiling water, go away for 1 minute, then take away with a spider or draining spoon and plunge them into the iced water.
Add the shredded sprouts to the boiling water, go away for a minute till the color has brightened, then drain and add to the iced water. Halve the pears from stalk to base, then take away the core and slice the flesh thinly. Drain the shredded sprouts and leaves (you should use a salad spinner in case you have one). Toss the pears and sprouts within the dressing and switch to a serving dish. Crumble over the stilton and serve.
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