Many of us have dishes and bakes that we make every year over the Thanksgiving/Christmas/ Hanukah holiday season. Things that we love to share with friends and family, things that make the time of year feel special. Whether it’s your grandmother’s Christmas pudding recipe or a secretly scrumptious way to roast parsnips, these are the dishes that say ‘Holiday joy!’. But if you’re looking for some new additions to your festive repertoire, we’ve gathered four brilliant recipes to try.
And who knows, maybe they will become family favourites next year?
A moist, citrusy Clementine cake
This is now a staple in our household at this time of year. Made with a pleasingly short list of ingredients, including seasonal clementines, and involving only the mildest bit of stirring, this is the ultimate in easy deliciousness. It’s gluten free (if you exclude the baking powder) and you can kid yourself that it’s healthy because it’s full of fruit. This is one of those unassuming cakes that looks quite simple and plain but tastes AMAZING. And it’s even better the day after it’s made, so it’s perfect for taking along to gatherings or making in advance. Full recipe here.
3-4 clementines, whole
6 large eggs
225g sugar (we use golden caster)
250g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
Grease and line an 8″ round cake tin. Preheat oven to 190ºC/ 375ºF. Put the clementines into a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 hours. Drain and cool, cutting the clementines in half to remove the pips. Blend into a smooth pulp. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs then stir in the rest of the ingredients, folding until completely combined. Mix in the pulped fruit. Bake for 1 hour, checking after 40 minutes in case the top is beginning to burn (in which case, cover with tin foil). Test with a skewer (or piece of spaghetti) to see if cooked. Cool in the tin on a rack, then remove the cake from the tin once completely cooled.
Serve on its own or with some lightly whipped cream or creme fraiche. But it doesn’t need anything, it’s completely delightful just as it is.
Vegetarian nut roast pie
Roast lunch or Christmas dinner is often all about the centrepiece: the meat. Much is made of the early morning turkey bastings, the pigs-in-blankets and perfectly crackled crackling. Vegetarians often make do with a plate piled high with vegetables and some stuffing, but for something special, try this nut roast pie. This is a clever take on the classic (and perhaps rather tired) nut roast, enveloping the nutty, herby, vegetably filling with a mouth-watering shortcrust pastry, topped with bright cranberries and served with a veggie-friendly gravy.
No vegetarian will feel overlooked or hard-doneby again. Full recipe here (this is a long one so we won’t list everything).
Mulled brandy-spiked cider
Oh yes, if ever there was a time to knock up some heady concoction this is it! Mulling your drinks always fills the house with festive smells and welcoming boozy aromas. For a fresh take on the traditional mulled wine, try this mulled cider laced with the dark caramel-smoothness of brandy. This recipe uses a slow cooker, but you could simmer it on a stove. Add as much or as little brandy as you fancy, adjusting to taste. The key is to add this last, so the spices can really do their work.
This is perfect for when you come home from a frosty walk and need warming up with a drink in front of a roaring fire or snuggled under a woolly blanket. Or for a mid-morning pick-me-up when guests drop round.
As children we always made biscuits that we decorated and hung on the tree. Occasionally we would snaffle one when nobody was looking and blame it on the dog, but actually these are more about the making than the eating. Make these on an afternoon when school is over and the kids are knocking about, impatient for presents and needing something constructive to do. They also make excellent gifts, wrapped in simple linen napkins with a ribbon or in a little paper-lined box.
150g dark muscovado sugar
4tbs golden syrup
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
For the icing:
water or lemon juice
Gather some festive-shaped cookie cutters (stars, bells, Christmas trees, angels etc). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 170ºC. Melt the sugar, syrup and butter together in a pan. Sift the dry ingredients together and then pour the melted ingredients over. Mix well to form a rollable dough. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out to about 5mm thickness. Then let the kids happily stamp and cut out shapes, lifting them onto the tray and re-rolling when needed. Bake for 10-12 minutes. As soon as they are out of the oven, pierce a hole in the top of each one with a skewer, then cool on a rack.
Put the icing sugar into a bowl and add liquid until it forms a smooth, but not too runny, paste. Using a piping bag decorate the cookies. You can make a coloured icing by adding a few drops of natural food colouring to a separate bowl of icing, but a simple white piping looks perfectly lovely enough. Add silver or gold balls or stars for some extra bling.
Do you have any trusty recipes that really make the Holidays? We would love to hear your family favourites so drop us a comment if you have time between all the mulling and mixing!