Matcha (green tea) sponge cake with lemon and bay leaf scented whipped cream frosting. It’s a beautiful dessert, beautifully simple to make (but nobody will believe you how easy it is).
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.
Dan Lepard’s orange and walnut loaf cake with cinnamon and fresh ginger, a wonderful combination of flavours. One saucepan, a loaf tin and zest from five oranges!
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.
Pear and grilled haloumi salad with roasted parsnip and salty pumpkin seeds. Everything is there: the wholesome, the sweet, the salty and the crunch. A perfect salad?
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.
Easy pita bread, ready in an hour. Pita is very gratifying because you eat bread, but so thin and not a lot of it that you can pretend you’re having a no-bread salad.
Plain scones, or biscuits as they are known in America. This version has cheese in it but a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and some cinnamon will make a decent sweet version.
Cake with soft fruit and streusel topping. Don’t you just love cake recipes which say ‘throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well’? This is just that kind of recipe. I must have made this cake about a thousand times, varying the fruit.
Hawaiian poke bowl with yellowfin tuna, seasoned with shichimi togarashi. Originating from Hawaii, it’s a salad/starter/appetiser of raw fish, sliced (which is what ‘poke’ literally means in Hawaiian).
Pork and mushroom stroganoff: perfect for when you want to cook an easy but special dish and can’t afford to spend a small fortune on the ingredients.
Potato salad with pancetta and asparagus, delicious warm or cold. I’m really not sure what the deal with the ‘only three ingredients!’ recipes is. Or only four or five for that matter - the authors of those seem to take pride in putting together as few foodstuffs as possible
Potatoes boulangeres, potato slices baked with stock, onions and a little butter. A simple side of potatoes boulangeres is traditional with beef bourgignon.
Filled pasta cooked potsticker style: fry-steam-fry, with a handful of frozen peas and some shaved Parmesan thrown in. egone, boring boiled tortellini with boring pesto and cream - it’s now a Chinese-Italian fusion. Quite a bit of historical justice - after all Marco Polo allegedly stole the idea of pasta off the Chinese…
A classic pound cake also known as quatre-quarts or madeira. You don’t need to frost or layer it, there are no raisins thrown into the mix, no chocolate goes near it and the only adornment should be a discreet dusting of icing sugar - or a lick of good jam.
Prawn pasta bake with frozen prawns and a handful of spinach. I seem to be cooking just one pasta dish all the time: boil the noodles, throw a handful of greenery into the boiling water by the end, drain the lot and stir in some cheese/sauce/butter.
Provolone pasta bake with homemade tomato marinara sauce. The star of this show is provolone. It’s an Italian cheese which comes in dolce or piccante variety, made from cow’s milk and granted DOP designation.
Pumpkin bread spiced with cinnamon and cloves, with walnuts and cranberries. I’ll say it very quickly: pumpkin bread is good. Very much the thing to do with this tin of puree knocking about the cupboard.
Breakfast quesadillas with avcado, mushrooms and bacon. Now quesadilla is my perfect toasted cheese sandwich as I’ve only just realised. It ticks all the above boxes plus one huge box on top of that: there’s no bread.
Italian beef ragu; pasta sauce with beef and pork mince, soffrito and tomato sauce. The amount of about 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce per person gives the perfect balance between Italian sparsity and British overload.
Raisin cake with a hint of spice, baked in a round Bundt tin. A bucket cake, this, well and truly. Bucket cake, if it needs reminding, is a concoction created by throwing things into a bucket and stirring them around a bit.
Homemade raspberry jam. I used to think that to make jam you need tonnes and tonnes of fruit and it takes hours and hours of boiling the stuff in huge pans, with lots of splattering and covering the kitchen with sticky gunk – NO.
No churn raspberry ripple ice cream made in five minutes with three ingredients. Does having ice cream about three times a year justify spending three hundred quid on a Gaggia or SubZero ice cream maker, even assuming I had that cash floating about idle?
Simple and easy ratatouille. Purists of French cooking – look away now. I know, I know – cook each kind of vegetable separately, then put all together in a baking dish and stick in the oven. So yes, I agree that this is a completely unorthodox version.
Roasted cauliflower florets with togarashi seasoning and a grating of Parmesan. Roasted cauliflower is very, VERY tasty. Go freehand on it: butter, parsley and parmesan are as good as gochujang, ginger and sesame oil.
Cheat's sourdough, with yeast but fermenting over 24 hours, with added rosemary and seeds. The taste beats no knead. The texture is fantastic every time. If you have a clay cloche or a cast iron casserole – a no brainer and will come out crusty as anything.
Salmon, broccoli and courgette baked with creme fraiche, mustard and dill. One pot wonder – courgettes and broccoli will do for veg, and if you really need a filler, return those spuds into the equation. Tasty. Very tasty.
Salmon and potato tray bake with dill and mustard; it's a deconstructed salmon fishcake or fish pie, with full flavour, fewer calories and zero effort.
Salmon fillet cooked with oyster sauce and brown sugar. Oyster sauce is a weird and wonderful thing that makes boring food suddenly taste fantastic. Simple green vegetables, boring broccoli and beans, get a sudden oomph when drizzled over with a bit of that pungent salty gunk, and a spoonful of sesame oil.
Baked salmon pâté with tarragon and chopped gherkins. Fresh salmon marinated in soy sauce and honey is turned into flavoursome pâté in this simple recipe.
Salmon fillets with blue cheese topping baked in foil parcels. Easy – fiendishly easy cooked like below, just stick some blue cheese on it, wrap in foil and sling in the oven for ten. And you can even call it fancy: en papilotte!
Baked salmon fillets in maple syrup, soya sauce and garlic marinade. Salmon is pretty versatile and can happily take various treatments – see my recipes for steamed salmon and baked with potatoes. With all the cooking techniques I find the timing is the trick.
Salt and pepper halibut, seared in a flash. Halibut used to be my all time favourite fish. But now it's apparently overfished, not sustainable and it just makes you feel plain bad eating it. So it's a rare treat for me. But I've noticed it doesn't taste as lovely as it used to. So I've figured - cook it as quick as I can...
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