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Favourite festive recipes from Babington House made with herbs from the Walled Garden

Neil Smith, chef and General Manager at Babington House, shares some of his wintery dishes

By Megan Murray

They say the kitchen is the heart of a home, and in winter when we want nothing more than to cosy up indoors, this saying feels especially true. Babington House, with its open fireplaces and free-standing baths, is designed to keep our members as comfortable as possible in the colder months - which extends to the food that we serve in the restaurant.

Set in the English countryside, one of Babington House's most well-known features is the Walled Garden. Here, we grow produce and herbs, which inspire our chefs and inform our menus, depending on what's in season.

'Whether you have a windowsill or space for a greenhouse, you can grow fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary all year round,' says Neil Smith, who worked in the kitchen at Babington House before becoming General Manager. 'By using ingredients grown just outside the kitchen window, we try to give our members food that feels authentic.'

Recreate some of Smith's favourite wintery recipes, which include ingredients from the Walled Garden at home, to share with your friends and family.

Roast Turkey

Serves four or eight

Ingredients

1 turkey | Salt and pepper | Butter | 2 parsnips | 2 carrots | 2 turnips


Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.

2. Season the turkey with salt and pepper, and rub a knob of butter onto the breast and legs. Massage well all over.

3. Peel and chop some root vegetables of your choice and cover the bottom of your dish with them.

4. Place the turkey onto the root vegetables as this will protect its base.

5. Cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey - we suggest 20 minutes per 500g of meat.

6. Keep an eye on how quickly the meat starts to colour. If it browns too quickly, cover lightly with tin foil. But remember to remove the foil for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

7. Once cooked, allow the turkey to rest by turning it upside down to allow all the juices to flow back into the meat for at least 20 minutes. This will keep it moist and tasty.

Roast Potatoes

Serves six to eight

Ingredients

6 tbsp duck fat | 16 medium-sized Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes | 8 garlic cloves | 4 sprigs thyme | 4 sprigs rosemary | Sea salt


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

2. Par boil the potatoes in salted water for around six to eight minutes or until just cooked. They should be firm on the outside and soft in the middle.

3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake them until the edges are a little rough - this will give you those little crispy bits.

4. Heat the duck fat in a thick-bottomed roasting tray for a few minutes.

5. Add the potatoes and a sprinkle of salt, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the garlic and herbs, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Festive Sprouts

Serves four to six

Ingredients

1kg Brussel sprouts | 200g pancetta or bacon | 50g dried cranberries | 1 clementine | 1 onion, diced | 2 cloves garlic, diced | 20g butter | ½ bunch of fresh sage | Salt and pepper


Method

1. Trim the sprouts and remove the outer leaves. Cut them in half, then boil for four minutes in salted water. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Fry half the sage leaves in the butter until crispy, then set aside.

3. Add the pancetta to the sage-flavoured butter and fry until crispy. Add the diced onion, garlic, and remaining chopped sage.

4. Fry for five minutes, then add the cranberries, clementine zest, juice and sprouts back in.

5. Toss together, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with crispy sage.

Apple Caramel Cake

Serves eight

Ingredients

225g gluten-free SR flour | ¼ tsp fine salt | ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda | ½ tsp ground cinnamon | ¼ tsp ground nutmeg | ½ cup vegetable oil | ½ cup apple sauce | ¼ cup maple syrup | 175g brown sugar | 2 eggs / 1 tsp vanilla essence | 2 apples, peeled and grated


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Peel and grate the apples, then put them into a cloth and ring out the juice.

3. Next, make the batter. Beat the eggs and then mix them with the other wet ingredients: vanilla essence, vegetable oil, apple sauce, and maple syrup.

4. Mix the dry ingredients: brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, fine salt, and flour.

5. Add both mixtures together and combine thoroughly, including the apple.

6. Fold in caramel sauce through the cake mixture (recipe below).

7. Prepare your baking tin with parchment paper and evenly add your mix.

8. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Salted caramel sauce

Ingredients

375g double cream | 185g dark brown sugar | 65g salted butter


Method

1. Boil the brown sugar and cream together.

2. When it's simmering, add the butter and whisk until the consistency is smooth and thick.

3. Leave to chill in the fridge.