Fresh green asparagus cooked gently with butter, served with some shavings of parmesan. Cook them simply. Don’t overcook; they need to have a bite. They love butter, not too high heat, a squeeze of lemon and some parmesan.
Savoury breakfast muffins with bacon, apple and cheese. I adopted this recipe from Nigel Slater who uses ham in his muffins. Say what you will, bacon always wins over ham at breakfast time and these things are meant for breakfast.
Baked figs can be a starter, a dessert or a full lunch or brunch dish, with a bit of nice bread. Trim them and cut a cross in each to about halfway down the fruit. Put them on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil, balsamic and honey. Bake for about 10 minutes...
Banana muffins with dried mango and pineapple chunks. This is a good cake mix – the best, the banana cake. I honestly can’t recall where the recipe comes from.
Beet, horseradish and dill cured salmon, it takes only three days and the taste is unparallelled. Beetroot doesn't do much for the taste but the colour is to die for. Next - pork belly!
Rib-eye steak with green vegetables and blue cheese sauce. Simplicity itself and one of the best dinners you can have. If you’re really shopping for food on the night you eat it then the key thing – bring meat to room temperature – is a bit of a challenge.
Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home. Here’s how.
Blueberry muffins. The best. The easiest. By all means use frozen berries in the bleak mid-winter. Better that than paying extortionate price of bluebs imported from Darkest Peru. And frozen ones are very well-behaved: they stir nicely into the mix, don’t go mushy like raspberries and retain their shapes.
Blueberry parfait with strained yoghurt and lightly roasted blueberries. My blueberry parfait is uncertain what it wants to be: for some it will be breakfast and others will insist it’s only fit for after dinner
Couscous with raisins, yoghurt and honey, an excellent breakfast idea. Honey and yoghurt are a must though – in fact, another brilliant breakfast is just plain yoghurt with honey drizzled over.
Broccoli and Stilton soup, the easiest and tastiest - and no blender needed. Blended soup is my pet hate, worse than mushy peas or smoothies (though mind: purée - justified; milkshake - okay).
Fresh raw broccoli salad marinated in oriental dressing. Broccoli has come a long way since being served to twelve year old me in the shape of whole boiled head, tasteless and mushy.
Brown cake - the easiest apple cake with cocoa and spices. I’ve had the recipe for so long I can’t say where it comes from, just a printout without any heading. It must have been one of my first attempts at baking, I liked it so much that one year...
A simple vegetarian dish of brown rice with mushrooms. Brown rice with brown mushrooms is not going to win me any photographic awards, that’s for sure. There’s no denying the fact that it’s brown - completely and utterly.
Crispy smoked bacon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Talk about moreish – this glazed bacon makes the most moreish nibble in the world.
Bucatini pasta with creamy Alfredo sauce and a handful of peas and spinach. I’m offering the ‘new’ classic with cream and all, rest assured, and have added a bit of greenery to it: pasta with spinach is irresistible.
Breakfast American-style buttermilk pancakes, with optional blueberries. I’ve been having a buttermilk week. It started off with these pancakes, proceeded to simply exquisite fried chicken marinated overnight in buttermilk; via salad dressing with lots of dill and garlic and finishing with buttermilk island cake.
Light and moist scones with buttermilk and raisin, cut into triangles. You can replace buttermilk with yoghurt – but I’d strongly encourage giving a go as it makes for a nice crust and very moist crumb. These are a bit more cakey than the ordinary scones.
Calamari rings pan-fried with chorizo and spring onions. Squid is a cinch to cook, it just needs a gutsy flavour to go with it - like chorizo. My view is this is a match made in heaven.
Carrot cake - what a classic! Staple in every respectable old-fashioned English tea room, and in those quaint eateries that line up puddings on the counter, under the glass cloches, and the choice you get is invariably victoria sponge, cheesecake and carrot cake.
Cheat's sourdough, with yeast but fermenting over 24 hours. The texture is great, big air bubbles like in the real article and the taste is very, very close. Crusty on the outside, chewy crumb, you might be easily fooled into thinking it’s IT.
Crunchy cheese and black pepper biscuits shaped like buttons. Crisp, peppery, with a hint of garlic. Only the button element arguably redundant, especially that it’s damn difficult to make these biscuits perfectly round and stay round whilst baking. I found the recipe in Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard.
An omelette is such a lovely dish and can take on such different forms that it’s easy to forget it’s just egg. Spinach omelette. Ham and cheese. Just cheese. Chorizo and beans. Throw in some peppers and potatoes and you have a tortilla.
Cheese biscuits or cheese straws made from Rugelach pastry rolled up with copious quantity of grated cheese. Lethal. Devastating. Deadly little things if you’re watching your weight. You can’t have just one.
Cherry and marzipan cake: a simple buttermilk cake batter with glace cherries and a layer of homemade marzipan. Result: stunning. Just try. And don’t you DARE use shop bought marzipan!
Chicken chow mein takeaway style, with crispy noodles. What can I say? I adore noodles. I could live on noodles, be it wheat or rice, udon or glass. As long as they are dressed with some decent sauce, a few shreds of pak choi or beansprouts, I’m theirs until the bottom of the bowl.
Slow cooked chili con carne with beef and red and white beans. This is one hell of a contentious dish. First off, the name is wrong: purists call it just chili. Second, the provenience.
The easiest chocolate mousse dessert, whipped ganache flavoured with Grand Marnier. I’m offering the grownup version here: darkest chocolate, Grand Marnier; but it’s made just as well with milk chocolate and no alcohol, or even white chocolate (skip sugar in both cases).
Double chocolate muffins, wonderfully gooey in the centre and a doddle to make. These little things will surely be firm favourites with whoever you make them for, builders or not. Incredibly easy to make it must be said - you needn’t even take care not to overmix like usually with muffins.
Easy chocolate cake with yoghurt, honey and shaved chocolate. The batter is ready in about three minutes and the cake is almost healthy – not much fat and not much sugar.
Cod and crisp, herby potato bake. This is awesome – deconstructed fish and chips without the need for vats of boiling oil, batter or the all-permeating smell.
Soft cookies made with condensed milk, with added chocolate chips and cranberries. These things are truly disgustingly nice (there should be a Disgustingly Nice category on Fiend, don’t you think?), unbelievably easy to make and keep, if you let them.
Côte de bœuf seasoned with dry mustard, seared in a pan and roasted in the oven. Côte de bœuf is basically an enormous rib-eye steak with the bone in.
One pan creamy chicken with leeks and mushrooms. Chicken template. Chicken archetype. Basically, you can chuck in any vegetables and seasoning you like or think will go with chicken and cream (which is just about EVERYTHING)...
Croquants aux amandes, French almond cookies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if these cookies should be crunchy or gooey. ‘Croquant’ suggests the former, meaning precisely that, but I found the ones baked a bit less nicer.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Crunchy cabbage salad with chopped gherkins and vinaigrette dressing. Raw shredded cabbage is better than the best lettuce, and this salad recipe is the absolute go-to garnish for tacos, gyros, summer rolls and all dishes that want for a bit of crunchy flavoursome greenery.
Curried mussels with saffron and ginger, steamed in light creamy sauce. No, I still don’t like curries. One of the very few dishes that revolt me, out there with mushy peas, kale, barley and any veiny, tendony, gelatinous meat.
Easy chocolate brownie, intense and fudgy but unbelievably quick to make. My best to date recipe for brownie is quite intricate, with beating eggs to a fluff and then folding and folding.
Easy Danish dough, homemade apple and raspberry filling. So what you are supposed to do is simply mix the butter a bit with yeasty flour and some liquid, leave it in the fridge and then roll out once or twice.
Fig confit with fresh fig chunks in madeira syrup, great with cheese or charcuterie. Something with figs but not jam was the objective. Why not jam?
Celeriac fondant is a lovely way of cooking one of the more boring vegetables. Fondant - most often potatoes - are cooked in both butter and liquid. They should be cut in a very fancy way, in a shape of little barrels, then placed in a pan into foaming butter.
Fresh clams cooked with plenty of garlic and white wine. And then – off they go into spaghetti or linguine, or soup or chowder , or just as a splendid dish of little morsels of saltiness with the juices mopped by some good bread.
Gâteau Basque, the traditional butter pastry from the Basque region. The pastry is awfully rich, buttery and heavy, like a posh relative to shortcrust. Easy to put together, especially that, unlike shortcrust, it doesn’t need chilling in the fridge
Grilled red mullet brushed with anchovy and coriander butter. It is not frequently that the smaller the fish the better it tastes, bones becoming too much of a key player usually, but it’s completely the case with red mullet.
Haloumi burgers with roasted pepper, aubergine and onion. I love the cheese. Gorgeously rubbery, gooey but not dissolving, tasting of nothing much at all, it must be the mother of processed cheese. I bet the founders of Kraft Foods were Cypriots.
Island buttermilk cake: no eggs, no butter, just fresh berries and the magic ingredient - buttermilk. The cake originates from Cranberry Island Bakery in Maine which sadly is no more. Huge shame as their defunct Facebook page also shows some divine whoopies.
Italian ricotta cookies, soft and tender lemon biscuits made with ricotta cheese and butter. Soft and pillowy, the icing is optional and the sprinkles even more so.
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