The bells of St Clement’s


Roast Harissa Prawns, oranges and lemons, root vegetables

I find the Christmas season exotic, the yuletide of my childhood being rich with citrus, pineapple, Turkish delight, figs, dates and the like. The magic carpet of my mind is transported to the middle east and beyond at this time of year. I can’t decide if this is a fading tradition here in the UK, if the children of today will have any such association, maybe in this world where foods are available year round it simply isn’t a thang anymore?img_9080

In our home, the desire for fresh and dried fruits at Christmas remains, it’s always been the way in my family. When we join together over the next few days to break bread, there will be a healthy selection of delicacies that evoke many years of tradition, we know we are lucky. I’m grateful for the fact that I not only love my extended family, but I like them too….they are always ready to laugh. Reason to be cheerful.

In addition to all the other things that have infected 2016, I’ve been upset this week, about Syria, (not just this week actually, and not just about that…but those are other tales)  with Christmas day approaching and the news reports from Aleppo, the horror has just been overwhelming. I told Rocket, of all the awful things that have happened I can’t remember one like this…he pointed out that there have been others but this is up close now and it seems unreal. You don’t choose where you are born, I’m finding this hard to write, those people simply don’t deserve the loss, terror and despair to which they are subject, and here I am writing about fruit….it’s impossible to imagine what they have been though. Then the awful events in Germany unfolded, you could fall into a hole if you let yourself, so I’m going to try and focus on human kindness instead.

Before I carry on about cooking temperatures and marinades…here are some links, this one is particularly fabulous: Cook for Syria

This is also a great reference point: means that retailers make a donation to a charity of your choosing everytime you shop with them. It costs you nothing – and all the contributions support charities – fabulous for shopping the January sales. I found out about this through a blog I love which is written by the funny and inspirational Jelly Woman, you can find her here:

dsc_0168Back to the tale, and just before I get to the point of signing off for Christmas and start singing… When thinking about a supper for yesterday we put together a simple tray bake of veg and some prawns mingled with the exotica we recall when we think of this time of year. For the touch of Christmas luxury we were seeking we wanted to add some succulant spicy prawns. To make it a veggie feast, use big chunks of feta cheese and the same marinade as that for the prawns, then add them at the same point in cooking.

IMG_9074.JPGWe put some harissa paste into a bowl with a few glugs of olive oil and a chopped preserved lemon.

Next, we added some olive oil to an oven proof dish and put in chunks of potato, carrot and onion. We added a few bay leaves, some more sliced preserved lemons and some slices of orange. We sprinkled over some ras al hanout, a little sumac and some paprika then popped the dish into the oven on 180. I had added dried cranberries but they burnt so I can’t recommend that!

img_9067In the meantime, Rocket made a spicy tomato sauce to drizzle over after cooking. He used a tin of cherry tomatoes, added to some fried onions, a red chilli a pinch of sumac, a little harissa and cooked it out for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, we turned the veg over, mixing it around and returned to the oven.

Next we let down a little yoghurt with some milk, stirred well and put into a dish and topped with pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts.

After a further 10 minutes in the oven, we added the prawns to thedsc_0206 veg and cooked on for another 10 minutes, the oranges ensured that everything caramelized nicely before we removed the dish from the oven.

Finally, we drizzled the veg and prawns with the tomato sauce and a little yoghurt and garnished with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds, before mopping it up with some warm flat bread.

So it remains for me to wish you all a merry, merry Christmas and a happy new year, let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. This is our family Christmas song…, it seemed apt.  We sing ‘plenty of beer’ instead but….I’m hoping for ‘no fear’ too….

Sing along?


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