Everyone’s kitchen: pre-Christmas meal
Gingerbread men and roasted chestnut
Harvest of the day: Leeks, thyme, broccoli leaves, tomatoes
For this wreath you will need … leftovers! There is no specific recipe to follow. You will need some puff pastry and imagination. Today we will have a vegetarian base with cheese. We will use:
Mushroom, sundried tomato, olives, chard or spinach, chickpea, onion, garlic and thyme.
When making your own, try to be seasonal as much as possible.
Here are more suggestions:
The cheesy one: mozzarella, gorgonzola and parmesan
Oh my goat! : goat cheese with honey and walnut
Completely vegan: Silken tofu with spices
Christmas on a plate: butternut and chestnut with cranberry sauce
Mexican: Red peppers, sweet corn, red beans, chilli
With meat: Spinach, sausages and mustard
Stir fry your vegetables (Always start with the onions to give them a caramelised flavour.)
Roll your puff pastry to make a circle and cut a star in the middle *
Place your mixture around it. Always use a spatula with holes to make sure your mixture doesn’t have much water/oil.
Join the centre and the outside of the puff pastry.
Brush the wreath with one egg and bake for 30min – 190C
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g unsalted butter
100g soft brown sugar
100g golden syrup
Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Sieve the flour, salt, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl. Heat the butter, sugar and syrup until dissolved. Leave the sugar mixture to cool slightly, then mix into the dry ingredients to form a dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 mins.
On a surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Stamp out the gingerbread men shapes with a cutter, then re-roll any off-cuts and repeat. Place your gingerbread shapes on the lined trays, allowing space for them to spread. Cook for 10-15 mins, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
16 chestnuts (or as many as you need), choose large, shiny looking nuts
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put each chestnut flat-side down on a chopping board. Hold the chestnut carefully and, using a sharp knife, cut a long slit or a cross in the top. Make sure you cut through the shell but not the nut inside. The shell is tough and flexible like a skin rather than rock hard like other nut shells, so a small kitchen knife works well.
Tip the nuts onto a baking sheet or into a roasting tin and arrange them cut-side up. Roast for 30 mins. The cuts should open up and the shell will start to peel back.
Leave the nuts in the tin to cool down to warm – they will be very hot inside. Put a board on top of the tin while they cool to trap the steam and make them easier to peel. Serve as they are for people to peel, or peel them yourself to use in a recipe.
If you peel them, you may want to remove the inner, slightly fluffy, membrane as well. If the membrane is difficult to get off (it shouldn’t be if you steam them as they cool), you can soak the nuts in boiling water for a minute to loosen. Drain and peel.