MY FAVOURITE STUFFING
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sweat for 10–15 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the prunes, chestnuts, herbs and some salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for another 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat.
- When the mixture has cooled a little, mix in all but a handful of the breadcrumbs until well combined. You can add a dash of warm water or veg stock if that’s needed to bring it together.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Oil an ovenproof dish and pile in the stuffing, packing it down fairly firmly. Rough up the surface a bit with a fork, then scatter over the reserved breadcrumbs and hazelnuts and/or pumpkin seeds. Trickle over a little more oil and bake for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and crisp on top. Serve hot.
DATE, GOAT’S CHEESE & BACON DEVILS
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Then make a slit along the side of each date and extract the stone. Set the dates aside. For the filling, in a bowl, mix the soft goat’s cheese with the citrus zest and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Trim the leaves from one end of each rosemary sprig, roughly to halfway along, to make sticks. Cut the streaky bacon rashers across in half. Spoon a generous teaspoonful of goat’s cheese into each date cavity. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date and secure with a rosemary stick. Place on a non-stick (or foil-lined) baking tray.
- Bake the stuffed dates in the oven for 20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked as you like it. Transfer to a plate and serve still warm… although they are delicious cold too.
RED CABBAGE AND BEETROOT PICKLE
- First, prepare the pickling liquor. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, pour on 200ml water and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for an hour.
- Meanwhile, put the beetroot, red cabbage, orange zest and spices into a bowl and toss to mix. Bring the infused pickling liquor back to the boil, then pour it through a sieve straight over the veg mix. Stir to combine.
- This pickle is nice to eat as soon as it cools, but ideally should be packed into a sterilised 1.5 litre Kilner jar, sealed and left for a couple of weeks. It will keep in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 6 months; once opened, it needs to be stored in the fridge.