(Theguardian) – Nigella’s drunken devils on horseback, Meera Sodha’s no-fuss bhajis and Christmas cured salmon – the first part of our 20 favourite recipes for festive entertaining
Meera Sodha’s baked onion bhajis
These are a step forward from the deep-fried favourites: they are healthier, more pleasant to cook, and just as tasty. I like to serve these with a fresh coriander or mango chutney, or beetroot raita.
ginger 3cm, peeled and roughly chopped
green finger chilli 1, chopped
cumin seeds 2 tsp
brown onions 1kg
rapeseed oil 4 tbsp
chickpea (gram) flour 180g
fresh coriander 40g, roughly chopped
red chilli powder ½ tsp
ground coriander 1 tsp
ground turmeric ½ tsp
lemon juice 1 tbsp
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with lightly oiled foil. Put the ginger, green chilli and cumin seeds into a pestle and mortar along with a small pinch of salt, bash to a coarse paste and leave to one side.
Peel and halve the onions, then slice them into ½cm half-moon shapes. Put the oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the onions. Fry for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re translucent and just soft enough to cut with a wooden spoon.
Put the onions into a bowl and add the ginger, green chilli and cumin paste, along with the chickpea flour, fresh coriander, red chilli powder, ground coriander, turmeric, lemon juice and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Mix thoroughly and, little by little, add up to 30ml of water, until you have a very thick batter.
Take a tablespoon of the mixture and drop it on to a tray. Repeat with the rest of the mix, leaving a couple of centimetres between each bhaji.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the bhajis start to crisp up and brown on top. Remove from the oven – you may need to gently lever them off the foil using a palette knife – and place on a plate alongside some chutney before devouring.
Nigella Lawson’s drunken devils on horseback
ready-to-eat, stoneless dried prunes 24
American-style bacon rashers 12 (see note) or 24 thin slices of pancetta
On a board, spread out a rasher of bacon and cut in half horizontally to give 2 shorter pieces, or use a whole pancetta slice. Then take a soaked prune from your bowl and roll it up in one of the half pieces of bacon, or a pancetta slice, securing it with a cocktail stick. Repeat this process with the remaining prunes, wrapping each in bacon, and place them on a lined baking sheet.
Cook the drunken devils in the oven for 10-15 minutes, then let them cool a little, to avoid burnt fingers and mouths, before plating them up to serve.
Note: These 24 prunes use up exactly 1 x 200g packet of Oscar Mayer American-style bacon or use rindless streaky bacon.
Trine Hahnemann’s Christmas salmon
Serves 8-10 people
whole coriander seeds 2 tbsp
whole cloves 1 tbsp
whole black peppercorns 2 tbsp
unwaxed orange finely grated zest of 1
flaky sea salt 150g, or fine sea salt
side of salmon 1.2 kg, skin on
toasted rye bread to serve
For the citrus cream
full-fat Greek yogurt 200g (10% fat content)
unwaxed lemon finely grated zest of 1
lemon juice 2 tbsp
fresh thyme 1 tbsp, chopped
fresh dill 4 tbsp, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
Using a pestle and mortar, lightly crush the coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns together. Add to the bowl with the orange zest, the salt and sugar and mix well.
Line a ceramic dish at least 40cm long with clingfilm, letting it overhang the sides, and place the salmon fillet skin-side down inside the dish. Spoon the spice cure evenly over the salmon, making sure the whole fillet is covered. Wrap the clingfilm tightly around the fillet so the mixture stays in place. Refrigerate for 3 days to cure.
Rinse the cure mixture off and make sure to wipe the fish clean.
For the citrus cream, mix the yogurt with lemon zest and juice, thyme and dill, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut the salmon away from the skin into thin slices and serve with citrus cream and rye toast.
Nicola Hordern’s crisps with Italian autumn truffle and creme fraiche
You can play with the flavours here – using dried seaweed (nori or dulse) instead of ceps and trout or salmon roe instead of truffle makes an equally delicious combination.
floury potatoes 1kg, suitable for frying, eg Maris Piper or King Edward
dried ceps a few handfuls, or other mixture of dried wild mushrooms
creme fraiche 1 x 280g tub (we use Marybelle)
Italian autumn truffle 1, or Wiltshire autumn truffle
To make the crisps, peel the potatoes and, using a mandoline, finely slice the potatoes to around 3mm thick. Too thin and they will disintegrate when eating, too thick and you won’t achieve that essential crunch. They will all need to be of a similar size to ensure they cook evenly.
Put the sliced potatoes under running water, swirling them around every so often to remove the starch and then pat dry using a clean tea towel.
Either using a deep fat fryer or a deep pan filled to around a third with oil, heat the oil to 165C and, cooking in batches, gently drop in the potatoes. Don’t overfill the pan as they will start to steam and not crisp up. Move the crisps around gently in the pan to stop them sticking and, once they are crisp and have sufficient colour, remove from the pan and place in a bowl lined with kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt. Do this until all of the potatoes are cooked. The potatoes should cook quite quickly – if you leave them for too long on a low heat they become greasy; too hot and you will have quickly cooked, burnt crisps.
Make a cep powder by popping a handful or 2 of dried ceps into a blender – a Nutribullet would be ideal for the job – and blitz until you have a fine powder.
Dollop some creme fraiche on a plate or platter, pile some crisps on top, sprinkle with cep powder and then either finely slice the truffle on top using a mandoline or truffle shaver or grate using a Microplane