Christmassy Cranberry Sauce

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Cranberry sauce – traditionally accompanying the roast turkey on Christmas Day, it’s rarely regarded as the great all-round year perfect partner for white meats that it is, adding an air of vibrancy and a tart taste to sandwiches, too.

Ingredients

450g of fresh cranberries, washed

500g of sugar (any kind)

330ml of water

1 orange

Method

  • Grate or pare the rind from the orange, avoiding carrying the white pith off it. Juice the juice from the orange.
  • Place the orange rind, cranberries and sugar in a saucepan adding the water.
  • Bring the ingredients to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the cranberries begin to burst.

Dawn: At this point, I taste the mixture and slowly add the orange juice as I prefer a hint of orange rather than an overwhelming explosion of orangey flavours. 

Andrew: That’s a good tip, Dawn and this recipe is so easy to make! 

Dawn: It is, isn’t it? And the thing is, once you make your own cranberry sauce, your taste buds will really tell the difference when you next sample mass manufactured. 

Andrew: Also, it’s worth checking that the ingredients might need a little more hot water added as they cook, to prevent them from sticking to the saucepan. 

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Gorgeous Garlic Potatoes

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Another simple and easy side dish that works well with stews, casseroles and roasts.

Ingredients

Serves up to 6

1 onion, peeled, sliced and chopped

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed

300ml of vegetable stock

25g of extra mature cheddar cheese, grated

a tiny curl of butter

Salt and pepper

Method

Dawn: This makes a nice alternative potato dish to accompany a traditional Sunday roast.

Andrew: Yes, there are many varieties of potatoes and all are so versatile when cooking.

Dawn: There is that old saying: “Variety is the spice of life”! And our food needs to be varied to provide us with all the nutrition our bodies demand. That’s an excellent point, Andrew. There are over 80 varieties in the UK that are grown commercially and being from the carbohydrate family, provide a valuable source of energy which our bodies need. 

  • Put the butter in a large frying pan and melt; then, add the onion and garlic cooking for a few minutes until softened. Set aside in a dish.
  • Next, place the potatoes in the frying pan using the juices from the onion. Layer the potatoes. As you do this, add a little of the softened onion and garlic to each layer, evenly scattering the mixture upon each layer.
  • Pour over the vegetable stock over the potatoes making sure all have been covered with the stock.

Andrew: Can I use a creamy white sauce instead? 

Dawn: Yes, that would make a delicious alternative to this healthier version. 

Andrew: In fact, a super quick version of this dish could be made using a tin of chicken soup rather than vegetable stock. 

  • Add the grated cheese to the top of the dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the ovenproof dish with kitchen foil.
  • Place in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 6, 200°C electric for 1 hour. Then, remove the kitchen foil and cook for a further 20-30 minutes while the top browns. Test to see if the potatoes are cooked by sticking a fork into them and if tender, they’re cooked.

Andrew: Mmm…certainly smells lovely!

Dawn: And tastes divine!

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Plentiful Curried Parsnip Soup

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So morish a recipe if ever there was one! Filling, tasty and a firm favourite that makes a great starter or a substantial lunch.

Ingredients

Serves upto 6

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 onion, sliced and chopped

600g of parsnips, peeled and chopped

1.2l vegetable stock (using two-three stock cubes)

Method

  • Put the cumin seeds into a large saucepan and toast for about 5 minutes until they are releasing their heady aromas.
  • Add the chopped onion.

Andrew: Where’s the cooking oil?

Dawn: I’m not using any in this recipe but it can be added to the saucepan after the cumin seeds have been toasted, if you prefer. 

Andrew: You could also use coriander seed and cardamom seed. Let them ‘pop’ in the pan and then crush with the back of a spoon or with a pestle and mortar before continuing.

Dawn: Interesting twist. I will try that one.

  • Cook the chopped onion until softened, for approximately 5 minutes or until tender.
  • Next, add the vegetable stock and the chopped parsnips.
  • Bring the saucepan contents up to boil and lower the heat.
  • Simmer until the parsnips are soft, for approximately 20 minutes.
  • With an electric hand whisk, blend the parsnips, cumin and vegetable stock mixture to form a smooth texture.
  • Serve warm with crusty, tasty wholemeal bread and add a twirl of single cream into the top.

Andrew: I love this soup! A veggie friend make some some time ago and it was delicious. For a fabulous variation grate some Bramley apple into the soup after it has been blended, heating through for 3-4 minutes to add the apple flavour and texture.

Dawn: And oh, so very simple to make!!! Costs pennies to achieve a really tasty and nutritious meal. 

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