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Nigel Slater’s festive recipes for roast cauliflower and chocolate treats | Food

I introduced a dish of baked cauliflower to the desk the opposite day – creamy-white clouds in a spiced, brick-red sauce. Humble, but one way or the other splendid with its festive colors and deep notes of harissa paste, lemon zest and coriander. We ate our dinner – fast, vegan, comparatively cheap – with a facet dish of chewy brown basmati rice with black pepper and chopped parsley.

Harissa paste is agreeable sufficient to make. You toast cumin and coriander seeds, crush them with dried and recent crimson chillies, copious cloves of garlic, then mash them right into a deep crimson paste with lemon juice and olive oil. Tomatoes are a well-liked addition, too, as are smoked paprika and dried rose petals. However I have a tendency to make use of harissa from a jar once I’m wanting time. And that, with the cake to ice and mince pies to make, means now.

There are a couple of last-minute, handmade items to make, too. I melted darkish – however removed from bitter – chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, then stirred in fruit and nuts from the row of stoppered jars within the cabinet. Delicate prunes roughly chopped, jewel-bright dried apricots, a handful of pricy inexperienced and mauve pistachios, golden sultanas and hazelnuts. The nuts had been skinned and toasted first and, as a result of I left them complete, gave the little clusters a rocky, rustic texture.

The purpose was the stability between the gentle dried fruit and crisp, toasted nuts. Dried figs work if prunes really feel a bit joyless and are so good with darkish chocolate, however dried cranberries or cherries, fats raisins or candied peel are potentialities, too. Almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts are advantageous substitutes if pistachios appear too extravagant.

Such treats are good for making a gift of as a Christmas present. They’d be welcome in a crackly cellophane bag with elegant crimson ribbon, however this time I tucked the clusters into shallow bins lined with tissue paper that made them really feel one way or the other extra particular. I had made beneficiant golf-ball sized lumps, however they may be much more pleasant set in smaller, teaspoon-sized clusters. Pile them in a shallow dish and cross them spherical after dinner.

Wishing you a really joyful Christmas!

Roast cauliflower with lemon harissa sauce

When you use a few small cauliflowers they are going to cook dinner throughout in good time. I discover exceptionally massive, thick-stalked cauliflowers trickier, the florets tending to overcook by the point the stalks are carried out. The sauce will be as delicate or spicy as you would like. A tablespoon of harissa paste will introduce mild heat relatively than spiky warmth, although a lot will depend upon the model. Style as you go. Must you get carried away, a spoonful of yoghurt, stirred in on the finish, ought to settle issues down. Coriander-phobes would possibly prefer to attempt a couple of mint leaves with the lemon zest as an alternative. Serves 4

cauliflower 2, small to medium ones
onion 1, medium
olive oil 3 tbsp
garlic 3 cloves
assorted tomatoes 800g

harissa paste 1 tbsp
lemon the zest of 1
coriander and parsley 25g

Preheat the oven to 200C/fuel mark 6. Trim the cauliflowers to discard the thickest a part of the stalk, taking care to go away the florets intact. Take away any tatty leaves. Put the cauliflowers in a roasting tin then pour in sufficient boiling water to return midway up the cauliflowers. Cowl tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. They’re prepared when gentle sufficient to effortlessly take a steel skewer by means of the stalks of the florets.

Peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, then add the onions and cook dinner for about quarter-hour till gentle and turning golden. Peel and slice the garlic and add to the onions.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to the onion, then proceed cooking over a reasonable warmth for about quarter-hour, till gentle and simply crushable. Season with salt and black pepper, then stir within the harissa paste and lemon zest. Take away the leaves from the herbs and chop finely, then stir into the sauce.

Take away the cauliflowers from the oven, drain totally and serve with harissa and lemon sauce.

Chocolate fruit and nut clusters

Keep them sweet: these chocolate fruit and nut clusters will delight your friends.
Hold them candy: these chocolate fruit and nut clusters will delight your pals. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

These little sweetmeats – for that’s what they’re – will preserve for a couple of days in a biscuit tin or hermetic container, however after some time the chocolate might discolour. In case you are giving them as a present, I feel it greatest to make them solely the day earlier than. Makes 10-12

darkish chocolate 100g
gentle dried prunes 60g
dried apricots 80g
shelled pistachios 50g
golden sultanas or dried cherries 50g
skinned hazelnuts 50g
crystallised rose petals 6

Put a small pan of water on to boil. Relaxation a heatproof glass bowl excessive of the pan, so it sits simply above the water stage. Break the chocolate into small items and soften within the bowl over the new water. Don’t stir. As quickly because the chocolate has melted, take away from the warmth.

Roughly chop the prunes and apricots and put them in a mixing bowl and add the pistachios and sultanas or cherries.

In a shallow pan over a reasonable warmth, toast the hazelnuts till golden brown, then add to the fruit and nuts. Tip the fruit and nuts into the melted chocolate and stir gently to coat all of it in chocolate.

Place heaped tablespoons of the combination on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. You must have about 10-12. Crush the crystallised rose petals with a heavy weight and sprinkle them over the chocolate clusters, then depart in a cool place to set. Take away the clusters from the paper and serve.

Comply with Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

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