Ants climbing a tree is a Sichuan dish of crispy fried minced pork with noodles. My caramelised pork mince is served with egg noodles, so the poor ants have more traction. Who would want to climb glass trees?
Crispy and spicy roasted chickpeas with grilled peppers, a wholesome vegetarian lunch or dinner as chickpeas are an excellent source of protein and fibre.
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.
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?
Financier cakes, French almond biscuits made with brown butter are deliciously moist, light and tender, quite similar to madeleines and really easy to make.
Five spice duck is an excellent dish. The duck is nice and pink (or so it should be to my liking, feel free to cook it a bit longer) and one good size fillet serves two easily.
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.
Old fashioned molasses cake? Think again – this one has fresh grated ginger added for the zing, and you don’t even need an electric mixer to make it.
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.
Quick and simple glace cherries recipe: make your own candied fruit. They will last for a couple of weeks in a jar. Joking, of course – they’ll never last that long…
Homemade granola, easy and healthy with just the fruit and nut mix you like; only waiting for milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit. Take back control of your breakfast!
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.
Quick grilled lamb neck fillet marinated overnight in rosemary, mint and honey. Buy it cheap, cook it quick - beats the pricey lamb chops or steaks.
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.
Jamaican hummingbird cake is a wonderful thing: easy and unpretentious, but gorgeous enough for a birthday or wedding. Try my version with crushed pineapple, pistachios and apple buttercream.
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.
Large supersized jam tart with easy shortcrust pastry bottom and lid, and no rolling out involved. Get that jar of your best raspberry jam into action!
Koulourakia are Greek Easter butter cookies, rolled and snailed and coiled into twisty shapes. This recipe is with traditional ammonia as raising agent and exotic mahlep spice.
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.
Lime yoghurt pistachio cake with lime and rosewater syrup drizzled all over it: I swear there isn't a better cake made with yoghurt. Or lime. Or pistachios.
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…
Mouchous, traditional macarons basques, easier to make than the Parisian variety but just as delicious though presented individually and quite rustic compared to Paris macarons.
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.
Thinly sliced fennel lightly wilted with salt and sugar is gorgeous, but the homemade ranch dressing with chives and dill is the star of the salad.
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