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.
Feta cheese, roasted grapes and crunchy walnuts is a perfect combination of juicy, sweet, crunchy and salty. I roast grapes like I like to roast summer berries when so plentiful they get a little tired: sprinkled with very little sugar and blasted with big brief heat.
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?
Quick refrigerator pickles made with cucumbers, asparagus and carrot slices. There are some quite peculiar myths concerning food and eating that people believe in.
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.
Fried sliced mushrooms, cooked in butter and a little oil, perfect for breakfast. Who will argue that the simplest things are the best? You can add all kinds of seasoning to mushrooms, cheeses and creams; you can roast them or grill them or deep fry them; cook them whole or chop them up; have them raw if that’s what you fancy – but nothing beats crisp and golden slices fried in 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
Israeli couscous salad with tomatoes, roasted peppers and feta cheese. Couscous is not a plant: it’s processed grain, whacked to shape of tiny or slightly bigger crumbs/lumps.
Ginger cake with candied ginger pieces, jam filling and maple syrup icing. I always thought ‘gingerbread’ referred only to cookies until I saw the cranberry gingerbread cake in NYTimes Cooking.
Grilled sea bream with balsamic marinade. Whole fish is much more fun – you have to gut it (which smells) and scale it (which covers the WHOLE place in invisible crap), unless you’re boring and ask the fishmonger to do it for you.
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.
Ice cream sandwiches in choux pastry buns, with ice cream flavour of choice, homemade or your favourite brand. I first made choux pastry at the age of about 11, in my technology lesson at school.
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.
Italian yoghurt cake, or torta allo yogurt, or torta 7 vasetti. Also known as gâteau au yaourt in France. Lovely and moist, fragrant with lemon zest.
Kung pao chicken made at home, with the spiciness from chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Dried chilies and Sichuan peppers are my favourite heat explosion; make sure you stand back when they land in the hot wok.
Lazy bread: no kneading, no shaping but still a good flavour. It’s a good option when you’re feeling particularly lazy, that’s why I called it lazy bread.
Lebkuchen - soft, honeyed cookies, similar to gingerbreads. Lebkuchen are of German provenance, invented by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Leek and potato soup, homemade is the best. Soup is the easiest, cheapest and quickest thing to cook at home. Especially if you are a proponent of Soup With Bits, like me – you won’t need a blender.
Lemon and pistachio bars with nutty lemon topping on shortcrust base. It was the pistachios that attracted me in this recipe, featured in NY Times Cooking.
Lemon chilli chicken with quarters of lemon cooked in creamy sauce. This dish is another take on the creamy chicken recipe which is my kind of chicken fillet matrix dish.
Pound cake with lemon syrup drizzle and light icing glaze. This was a super-disappearing cake – only a few crumbs were left by Sunday afternoon.
Lemon posset, the easiest and the loveliest dessert, served with crunchy biscuits. Posset in medieval times was a spiced, rich milky-wine concoction, served probably more often as a remedy than a dessert. They did mix their drinks in the olden days didn’t they?
Lemon and smoked paprika roasted potato wedges. This is definitely one of those dishes that look hugely better before cooking. Decorative lemon slices, pale yellow potatoes with a red dusting of paprika, glistening oil and the green sprigs of rosemary – pretty as a picture.
Lettuce and bacon salad with smoky dressing and crumbled blue cheese. To be honest, anything with blue cheese crumbled onto it has to be good, that’s the inherent quality of blue cheese.
Linguine with smoked salmon and homemade pesto - and lots of parmesan. This recipe uses, admittedly, fancy pasta from Carluccio. But to be honest, any good quality linguine will do, even if not sexily stripy pink, yellow and green…
Macarons basques - or mouchous - are different than the Parisian variety, they are both more crunchy and more chewy, no cream filling there but presented individually and looking quite rustic compared to their descendants of central France.
Maple shortbread bars with almonds and pistachios. I like nuts but pecans and walnuts are probably my least favourites so I replaced them with what I like best: almonds and pistachios.
The best meatloaf baked with a maple syrup and mustard glaze. Meatloaf is a gorgeous dish, the mince just needs plenty of fillers. Try making it with pure meat, it won’t work – crumbly to oblivion and not very flavoursome. Whack more Parmesan into it than you think is feasible*. Fry an onion and add in. Pour in some soured cream, crème fraiche or indeed milk and you’re in business. T
Moules marinières with cream, fairly standard, but this recipe has a tiny twist. The usual spiel is to cook mussels with wine, take them out and then add cream – what a waste of time. I added the cream beforehand, turned up the heat full whack and threw the shells in...
No knead bread is a good start for breadmaking deniers. I’m only going to ask you one question: have you got a cast iron casserole? If the answer is yes, you’re in business. This bread can be the first you’ve ever made.
Oatmeal biscuits, the healthiest cookies, sprinkled with pinhead oats. They are gluten-free and only contain three spoonfuls of sugar. Definitely good for your gut with all the fibre, but oatmeal apparently also lowers bad cholesterol levels while providing bags of nutrients.
Oatmeal raisin cookies, buttery, chewy and delicious. I recently realised I’ve been obsessed with oats. Porridge and I go back to before anyone else was interested in cooking oats first thing in the morning.
Old fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting. We used to have two apple trees in the garden: one eating, one cooking, fruiting every other year each, in alternative years – a perfect arrangement.
Orange macaroon cake with dessicated coconut and orange liqueur. This is a glorious cake. Just the right moisture (wet), orange flavour fantastic (no, can’t be less), and slightly chewy on account of the coconut.
Overnight oats with homemade yoghurt and fresh fruit, the healthiest breakfast. You don’t have to make your own yoghurt to enjoy this breakfast but it’s so amazingly easy that I challenge you to try.
Baked oyster mushrooms with garlic and blue cheese. This makes almost a sauce – if you want proper sauce, chop them smaller and add more cream. I like to bake them whole though and pile the unctuous, blue cheesy morsels on top of a perfectly cooked steak.
Padron peppers, pimientos de padron, a Spanish dish of blistered padron style green peppers.
Pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil. I love fresh tomatoes with good quality pasta. The question whether you should buy ’fresh’ supermarket pasta is a moot point – buy dry. Good.
Pasta fritta, fried orzo pasta with asparagus, garlic and mint. This really doesn’t require a list of ingredients as the truly essential are three – or two, at a push: cold pasta and fat of some description.
Pasta with asparagus and lemon butter, served with lots of Parmesan. Three tricks pasta and I’m pleased to announce that this is truly a pasta template, versatile as anything. I give you the pasta with lemon and any veg, plus Parmesan because pasta can’t be without it.
Peach jam with a hint of vanilla, easy to make and very flavoursome. Peach jam fools everyone. You think (well, I did) it doesn’t even exist or at most belongs with those quaint outlandish preserves made by niche artisan hipsters in tiny quantities, like courgette or banana.
Penne pasta bake with leeks and mushrooms. There is only one dish that’s nicer than pasta and that is pasta al forno, lasagne is clearly the tops – but it’s a bit of a chore. You can have a pasta bake the easy way.
Penne pasta with chanterelles and pied-de-moutons, and plenty of parmesan. A very simple dish – good ingredients don’t need elaborate processing, and fresh wild mushrooms are as good as it gets.
Homemade pesto - the classic with basil and a hint of garlic. Grab a handful of pine nuts, toast them in a dry pan, grate some parmesan, tear up a lot of basil leaves and that’s it – you’ve embraced the Italian in you.
Plain scones with pineapple flavour, soft and light. There is no butter in the mix and pineapple juice instead of milk. It turns out you can make scones pretty much out of anything.
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