Salted caramel ice cream: three ingredients, no churning, just a bowl and a whisk needed. Make it without salt – it will be one of those ‘only 2 ingredients!’ shticks. Add less salt if you’re keen but sensitive to the taste; a
Homemade spiced sauerkraut, dead easy, can be made in small quantities. I should be talking all about raw and fermented so I’m side-tracking. Recipes abound, everyone is fermenting like crazy and the reports of all those good bacteria doing wonders to our guts are making poor old sauerkraut blush.
Scallop ceviche with citrus juice and fresh plums. Contrary to what you might think, a dish of raw fish is actually a pretty common thing.
Pan fried scallops with pancetta and spiced Napa cabbage. This dish has all my favourite tastes combined: it’s salty and sweet and spicy and sour.
Sea bass fillets baked in a creamy spinach sauce. Spinach is rich in iron and has lots of vitamins C and K. Great stuff. And another good thing about it is that prepared as below, it keeps the fish succulent and moist even if you use defrosted fillets.
Takeaway-style sesame noodles with spring onions and beans, served with chopped peanuts and cucumbers. These are plain, vegetarian, sesame flavoured, takeaway-style noodles with peanuts, cucumber and beans.
Classic shortbread made in the easiest way, flavoured with lemon and sprinkled with sugar. Short. Crunchy. Melty. A spray of crumbs when broken. Sugar covered.
Sicilian pistachio cookies are delicious, meltaway biscuits easily made gluten free. They are about the second best thing you can do with only egg whites, nuts and sugar. Up there with madeleines, financières, said macarons, tuiles and croquants.
The best chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting. Now what we’ve got here is a shortcut to the best birthday cake ever.
Chinese smashed cucumber salad with chilli, garlic and sesame oil. Cucumbers, the skinniest member of the gourd family of portly melons, squashes, pumpkins and marrows is technically not a vegetable but fruit.
Snickerdoodles, butter cookies with cinnamon coating. Make them with kids so they roll the dough balls in sugared cinnamon like dung beetles. Also tempting to add choc chips – but then you’d turn the funky snickerdoodles into plain old choc chip cookies which would be a shame.
Sourdough no knead white bread on starter made with pineapple juice. Very tasty bread – next time I’ll add some wholemeal or even whole grain flours for a sharper taste.
Monkfish tail fillet cooked in a curried sauce with ginger and saffron. The fish are basically a tasty tail (a bit like lobster tail, hence probably the comparisons) attached to an enormous gaping mouth.
Fiery bacon, spiced but still cool cucumber and mild new potatoes in a warm salad. The bacon and cucumber salad on its own will make a great spicy snack or starter - I’ve thrown new potatoes in to a/ dampen the fire a bit and b/ make it into a main course.
Chocolate cake with dark chocolate topping and spider web white chocolate drizzle. The cake is so easy to make it’s embarrassing – but excellent for the kids to be engaged.
Oven baked spinach and mozzarella balls, a fantastic side or appetizer. It’s the signature dish of my favourite chef and he often makes them for a starter. His are fancier and frequently involve bacon which is never a bad thing. I
Spinach and cheese bake, a healthy casserole served as a side dish or for brunch. Cheese is able to cover a multitude of sins. There aren’t many dishes that can’t be improved by throwing some cheese at them.
Homemade egg white sponge fingers, aka ladyfingers or savoiardi, for your next trifle, tiramisu or chocolate mousse. Or they might just disappear on their own.
Spring cabbage salad - cabbage appears to contain more vitamin C than oranges. It’s also rich in vitamin K and anti-oxidants. Eat more cabbage! Only the name is so off-putting… But I have a solution: Sauerkraut. Kimchi. Surkål. Choucroute. Tsukemono.
Sticky pork and vegetables stir fry, with honey and soy marinade. A wok is a truly weird and wonderful utensil. Vessel. Cooking implement? Surely it's not just a ‘pot’?
Stir fry cabbage - super quick, super tasty, with herbs, garlic and honey. First off – buy the right stuff. The new season, loosely packed cabbage is the best, in fact the less on the head, the better. What the supermarkets call spring cabbage will do too.
Mixed vegetable stir-fry seasoned with ginger, oyster sauce and sesame oil. I like to stir fry veg as a side to not-necessarily-oriental mains like fish or steaks but this recipe works as a good veggie stir-fry too, to be served over plain rice or noodles.
Strawberry cake - or use the mix with any soft seasonal fruit. Very easy, melt-in-your-mouth cake. Once I got so pissed off with l’homme de ma vie that I ate six pieces at one go to make me feel better. It did. The bathroom scales the next morning didn’t though. The basic recipe is pretty much a simple pound cake...
Easy strawberry cake with crumble. This is what I call a bucket cake. Not because it should be on everyone's list of cakes-you-must-eat-before-you-kick-the-bucket ( although it's a lovely cake)...
Baked jalapenos stuffed with cheesy herby filling, easy to prepare, healthier than deep fried peppers and tasty to die for. Make sure you use gloves!
Summer berry ice cream, the easiest no eggs recipe for homemade ice cream. Yes, I know – proper ice cream involves custard. Contrary to what The Weather Man believes*, there are eggs in the best Italian gelati. You temper eggs, make custard and watch so it doesn’t come to the boil – fuss and bother.
Summer cherry cake with a hint of cinnamon and minimal effort involved. This cake mix is pathetically simple – and fool proof every time. No mixer needed, it’s almost what the Americans call a ‘dump cake’.
Toasted crunchy oats with summer fruit compote, perfect for breakfast. I call it ‘fruit compote’ but it most probably is a completely wrong term technically.
Swedish Tosca cake with almond caramel topping. A nice little number, easy to whip up in 15 minutes plus the baking time and actually perfect for afters or pudding as it can be baked in advance, topped and blasted under the grill at the last minute.
Tarta de Santiago, traditional Spanish almond cake. Three basic ingredients and no electric appliances required: that’s St James’ cake, or tarta de Santiago. It’s a Galician specialty going back to Middle Ages;
Tartiflette, the best potato and cheese dish ever invented; with bacon lardons and Reblochon cheese. Tartiflette is the definitive comfort food. Potatoes, bacon and cheese – you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a simple dish and like any recipe coming from the highlands of any country, it looks in the pantry, finds stale bits and bobs and puts them together for dinner both nutritious and satisfying.
Oriental grilled trout served with buttered broccoli. A simple ginger, chilli and coriander marinade works wonders on the fish in just about thirty minutes.
Vegetarian Thai noodles flavoured with cinnamon, star anise, ketjap manis and ginger. This was originally Nigella Lawson’s recipe which had been originally her Thai chef’s one while on holiday there; Nigella, not chef or me.
Thai tom yum soup with rice vermicelli noodles and fresh clams. I’ve concocted the recipe from an extensive search through various, more and less authentic-looking sources.
Pasta bake with tomato sauce and aubergines. I’m really not quite sure if I prefer the chunky pasta shapes or the long, challenging ones. Of course they are each meant for different sauces: the chunky shapes are for robust sauces...
Very easy, basic tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, only to warm it up. Add the chopped tomatoes (or the contents of a tin), season generously...
Savoury tarte Tatin with confit tomatoes. Tomatoes are generally rubbish through three quarters of the year in the non-Mediterranean part of Europe. Tasteless and watery, with thick skins and not much flavour.
Twice roasted beetroots with figs and pomegranate seeds. Crimson central – this is a dish of red, red and more red, suitable for the season of flaming gold on tree branches and misty mornings.
The easiest Valentine cake in the world: a mini Victoria sponge sandwich, shaped like a heart, filled with jam and whipped cream. This is a ridiculously easy little cake to make - takes all of five minutes to prepare and half an hour to bake
Veal T-bone steaks with a dry rub, perfect for a barbecue. The dry rub creates a bit of protective coating for the event of burning, and on the bone is more resilient than off the bone. A nice touch will be a bit of veg kebabbed and barbied alongside the meat and don't you dare burn THOSE.
Vegetarian chili with pickled red onions. The recipe is dead simple beside that, and a good weekday supper if you put in canned beans. Soaking and boiling is as much worth the bother as it gives you the right crookedness – tinned beans might get mushy after half an hour in the company of tomatoes.
Venetian carrot cake, gluten free carrot cake with pine nuts and a handful of boozy raisins. This is a lovely cake, squidgy and wet (‘wet’ being the word I’m campaigning for to replace the hateful ‘moist’).
Vietnamese summer rolls in rice wrappers, with pork, shrimp and herb filling. Daintily packaged, with shrimp peeking pinkily through the thin film of the wrapper, like some kind of exotic reptile or jellyfish with transparent skin.
Smoked mackerel and roasted potato salad with peppers and cucumbers. This dish is the best of all possible worlds: not only a potato salad but ROASTED potatoes
Raspberry muffins with white chocolate chunks. Muffin is not a biscuit. It's not a cake. It's not quite breakfast fodder. It's this weird cakey thing that you grab when on the go, when hungry but its not lunchtime.
Wholemeal seeded bloomer - the recipe for the uninitiated. The end product tastes a bit like sourdough, depending of course on the mix of flours. The suggestion below will bring you closest to the sourdough semblance.
Vibrant winter rainbow salad with red and green cabbage, red and white onions, herbs and vinaigrette dressing.
Zingy carrot salad with raw grated carrots, chilli, ginger and soured cream. Raw carrots have to be exceptionally good for me to crunch one for a snack.
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