German apple Kuchen with roasted apples and breadcrumb and nut topping. Kuchen, I recall, is what my Grandmother used to bake on Sundays, to be consumed, still warm, after lunch with a coffee.
Perfect apple pie with homemade pastry and apple and raisin filling. I have twisted the classic a little by making sweetened crust but if you use tart cooking apples and not a lot of sugar in the filling, it creates a nice balance.
Cheat's apple strudel with apple chunks and raisins wrapped in sweet tea bread dough. This is a cheat’s recipe. There’s no stretching and stretching and stretching and reading love letters through the dough involved.
Apricot frangipane tart, fresh apricots on a frangipane layer, with Italian shortcrust pastry base. There are three recipes in this one. The tart base is made from pasta frôlla, the Italian equivalent to sable or shortcrust; not really very different but less flaky and crumbly than their Anglo-French brothers
Quick and easy apricot jam with a touch of spice. Kids usually like red jams, at least I did when I was one. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry; once I was hugely let down by redcurrant which was too sour and pippy; and I didn’t quite trust black jams with the exception of blueberry.
Apricot upside-down butter cake. Just when I thought I've seen it all when it comes to cake batters, here comes this little number and what a lovely one it is. The texture is gorgeous, it's not hard to make and it keeps if you let it.
Avocado ice cream, dairy free and vegan, made without ice cream maker. For the people who don’t like ice cream, desserts, chocolate, cake, cookies or pudding I have a real treat today: avo ice. Y
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 fried with bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup, a great breakfast on its own or on a toasted slice of sourdough. Let’s be honest: this is not a major culinary discovery. It’s not a new umami, raw fish, salted caramel or cooking things in Coca-Cola.
Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home. Here’s how.
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
Bramble jelly, seedless jam made from wild blackberries. Bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging – they are plentiful and in plain view, unlike mushrooms
Striped pattern berry cake with buckwheat and almond flour. This is lovely, the sooner served after leaving the oven, the better, as with time the berries start to leach juice a bit and the thing looks much messier.
Indulgent cherry jam with preserved chunks of cherries. The best thing about eating cherries is spitting out the pips, right ahead, no matter where.
Wholemeal cider bread with chunks of apples. They allegedly came up with this bread in Normandy but I think anyone could do it: just have a drop of cider (or calvados) and decide you’ll chuck all those apples into the bread do, for a prank.
Slow roasted tomato confit. It brings out the flavour hidden deep when it comes to those plasticky looking imported fruits. It’s a slow job – the longer the better. They should still retain their shape but become very soft and quite a bit darker in colour.
Cranberry ketchup is a sweet, sour and salty condiment with a festive tang, excellent with roast meats instead of the usual cranberry sauce. Tomato ketchup is what springs to mind these days but it wasn’t always so - fish as above, mushroom in 18th century and even walnuts here and there.
Simple and easy cranberry sauce to serve with your turkey. It can be made well ahead of time as it stores well in the fridge. If you prefer it a little tarter, reduce the amount of sugar.
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?
Lumberjack date and apple cake with caramelised coconut topping. Try as I might, I can’t trace the origin of lumberjack cake or why it is called thus.
Smooth mango ice cream without eggs, churned in an ice cream maker. Make sure the fruit is as ripe as it can be; apart from the insufficient sweetness, unripe mango smells a bit off-putting.
Oatmeal and banana smoothie with chia seeds, dairy and gluten free but not free of taste. Briefly – the epitome of what I usually sneer at. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free.
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.
Baked peach with blue cheese and cinnamon crumble. I like a savoury take on a dessert dish. You expect a roasted peach, honey and pillows of whipped cream or mascarpone and here’s blue cheese with its sharp, salty sting.
Pimm's special for the summer, with a secret ingredient. Let’s have a Pimm's this summer, rain or shine (the former more likely). The worst that can happen is we’ll have to run inside sheltering the jugs and the strawberries!
Light and airy sponge cake with a layer of raspberries on top. The secret is to push the fruit into the cake mix, otherwise you’ll end up looking into the oven every five minutes and deciding it’s still not cooked in the very middle – the raspberries on top are too juicy and wet!
Making jam is the easiest thing. 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.
Raspberry muffers are not muffins. There’s no milk, or cream or yoghurt in the ingredients. It’s an ordinary cake mix baked in muffin tins, just for the variety. And no – they aren’t cupcakes either because no icing? No pink colouring? No little roses...
Classic British dessert, rhubarb fool made with rhubarb puree and whipped cream. I thought a fool will be a raspberry fool – now that’s oh yeah; blueberry fool or passion fruit for the in-crowd. Well, what do you know, I’ve changed my mind.
Schiacciata di uva - Tuscan grape focaccia. The Italian and the French have a lovely way with flat dough – they salt it, stuff it with olives, ham, cheese, soft fruit, preserves, sugar - whatever you like. This one is harvest festive bread.
To celebrate my spiderless autumns, I make a warming autumnal dish of spiced pears with blue cheese. It makes an excellent side to pork or lamb, or a sweet-savoury dessert.
Sticky fig upside down cake. The figs get sticky and melt into the almond layer; and if they don’t look quite as appealing as I was hoping – well, the proof of the pudding and all that.
Light Victoria sponge cake filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Airy sponge, almost-melted zesty strawberries, a pillow of cream…
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)...
Strawberry fizz cocktail with prosecco and grenadine. Let’s try this at home – I didn’t have any cassis or Chambord; I didn’t want to waste champagne on unknown quality and I wanted fruit in. It’s not exactly a sunrise but it’s rather excellent – and very summery.
Homemade strawberry jam with a twist of lemon and a sprinkle of black pepper enhancing the strawberry flavour. Jamming is preserving fruit in sugar. Jam is fruit cooked in sugar. There isn’t anything fresh, low-calorie or low-carb about jam, let alone keto or other paleo-nonsense.
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.
Tomato tarte tatin with caramelised plum tomatoes and shortcrust thyme pastry. Cut corners by all means and use puff pastry. But it’s so much more rewarding when it’s a proper tart: slicing into shortcrust base rather than the squishy puff which goes soggy much too soon is worth the effort of producing the pastry.
Tomato and fig salad with blue cheese and balsamic dressing. This is a particularly well-matched couple: tomatoes and figs. The blue cheese adds a salty touch – otherwise it would be too much of a Mills & Boone book cover.
Tomato butter: a creamy spread with incredible flavour, super easy to make. It’s not really butter in terms of texture but it’s a miracle product. I lifted the recipe from Matt Tebbutt, didn’t like the skins floating about so I passed the lot through my newly purchased food sieve – I pass anything I can since I bought it - and that turned out to be the thing to do.
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.
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