Cider braised ham with apples and garlic. This is truly the best way to cook gammon/ham. It is out of this world and will make ham sandwiches to die for.
Asparagus risotto with Parmesan crackers. Making a good risotto is tricky: the proportion of liquid to rice; when to add on the add-ons; how to score the precise result between tough grains and a slop bucket; whether to use a wooden spoon or a whisk in the absence of the magical girariso and how much butter it REALLY needs.
Aubergine parmigiana in homemade tomato sauce, with mozarella, Parmesan and basil - the classic. It's a delicious standalone dish but also a good side to a steak.
Baked ziti, penne or rigatoni with bacon and roasted aubergine: it does not drown in cheese, there is no tomato sauce, and it is not a million calories like your usual pasta bake.
Homemade baked beans with bacon and molasses, cooked for five hours in the oven. Baked beans from scratch? Soaked overnight and all? Instead of just opening a tin? Why not, if they can do it in Boston?
Oven baked mackerel fillets stuffed with capers and olives. This turned out to be such a fantastic thing that I might give up on my sticky pan-fried fillets and do this whenever I cook mackerel, it’s so good.
Orzo pasta baked in the oven with porcini mushrooms and pancetta. Those Italians! Not enough for them to make pasta in the shape of radiators, ears, bow ties, wagon wheels – they also make pasta that masquerades as rice.
These are baked sardine fillets, with garlic, lemon and basil. I’m a bit fussy about sardines – even though I like the taste, like miniature mackerels, with crispy grilled skin – but the bones! The bones! Now the other day my fishmonger had some filleted fresh sardines...
My baked rice pilaf is a veggie dish, with three kinds of mushrooms just for variety; and because there aren’t many things that can’t be improved with dried porcini flavour.
Homemade beef burgers in Hokkaido milk buns. Burgers crown the list and I think the secret really is in that slice of gherkin that a burger should be topped with. Joking aside - good minced beef has lots of flavour and sometimes, but sometimes, it can beat an average steak for me.
Beef fillet roulade with porcini mushroom stuffing. The execution could not be easier: if you get a nice middle cut of fillet - but frankly any part will go - all you do is open it up like a book with a sharp knife, spread with the stuffing and roll it up again.
Crusty tart with beetroot greens and garlic topping. If you get hold of really new, baby beets with vibrant, tender leaves, use them in salads.
I thought I’d make blanquette de veau with some diced English rose veal from my butcher’s. How haute cuisine and poncey that sounds, eh? Two things have transpired this morning however: one – when I opened my veal vacuumed pack...
Rib-eye steak with green vegetables and blue cheese sauce. Simplicity itself and one of the best dinners you can have. If you’re really shopping for food on the night you eat it then the key thing – bring meat to room temperature – is a bit of a challenge.
Blueberry duck, roast duck fillet with blueberry and rosemary sauce. I’m starting to think the division into sweet and savoury is completely artificial, perhaps excluding meringues.
Beef brisket braised with onions, mushrooms and sweet wine. The choice of aromatics is free but I’ll say this particular selection made very good sauce.
Braised pork shoulder with chilies, Mexican style. The result is epic: tasty, juicy and so tender it falls apart when you look at it. Serve it sliced as if it was a roast, like below; for an ultimate pulled pork taco experience shred it with two forks when hot and toss in the strained sauce.
Sea bream baked in a herby salt crust. WARNING: there will be mess. You might end up with the kitchen covered in salt chipping merrily off the crust while trying to chisel in. You may well be serving scraps of fish gone cold.
Christmas turkey - wonderfully moist, brined for 36 hours, worth every minute of the effort. Some other points worth bearing in mind: don’t cover it. It will steam instead of roasting. But by all means pour some liquid into the tray so it cooks in slightly moist environment.
A simple vegetarian dish of brown rice with mushrooms. Brown rice with brown mushrooms is not going to win me any photographic awards, that’s for sure. There’s no denying the fact that it’s brown - completely and utterly.
Bucatini pasta with creamy Alfredo sauce and a handful of peas and spinach. I’m offering the ‘new’ classic with cream and all, rest assured, and have added a bit of greenery to it: pasta with spinach is irresistible.
Bulgogi, Korean marinated grilled beef wrapped in a lettuce leaf. This is the ultimate fast food: wholesome and no-carb and no-salt! And a fusion version: instead of loading the grilled meat into lettuce leaves, pack them into pitas, top with lettuce and sauce and you can have an Asian/Middle Eastern experience.
Fish poached in herby butter, a fantastic way to cook it. The fish is lovely, flaky and slimy, in a good way, not easy to overcook it and it has a lovely buttery flavour. Delishh
Buttermilk brined pork tenderloin fried in cornmeal and herb coating. Pork tenderloin or fillet mignon is supposed to be the easiest meat cut to cook.
Baked Camembert parcel in cornmeal shortcrust with Cheddar and thyme. It is so tasty, pastry made from scratch and all, that if you don’t try it once in your life, you won’t know you’ve lived. T
Carne asada, a Mexican dish of marinated, grilled and thinly sliced beef. The fact is, marinade cooks things. It imparts flavour all right but we sometimes forget that’s not its only role – it tenderises tougher cuts.
Cassoulet - the ultimate comfort dish, with duck and pork. Pork belly provided the fat, a little bacon a little smokiness; and I sprinkled breadcrumbs over the casserole as well as the serving bowls.
Sharing steak cooked in the oven on a cast iron pan, served with Roquefort butter. I can’t quite work out what makes this cooking method so effective but it is that.
Oven roasted celeriac steak with sweet potato chips, vegetarian bliss with no meat substitutes in sight. And it’s made vegan with a simple tweak. Who needs Quorn?
The best cheese fondue, smooth as velvet and comforting as a blanket. This tastes absolutely fantastic. And so it should – it’s Heston’s recipe from the book ‘Heston Blumenthal at home’.
Chicken alla Fiorentina with fresh spinach and creamy sauce. I know - it should all be cooked in separate dishes, the chicken cut in escalopes, spinach just tossed with butter, and the sauce should not mix with it. But isn’t life too short to wash three different pans when you can wash just one?
Chicken and mushroom pie with cheddar and thyme homemade crust. I think I’ve achieved almost perfection here, below, with my cheddar thyme pastry packed with chicken and porcini mix cooked from scratch.
My take on chicken Caesar salad has chicken fried in breadcrumbs and the best dressing. Purists and critics might comment that it’s a Chicken Nugget Salad, not Caesar. So be it. Damn tasty. Might be a hit with kids if you stick to that name.
Chicken chow mein takeaway style, with crispy noodles. What can I say? I adore noodles. I could live on noodles, be it wheat or rice, udon or glass. As long as they are dressed with some decent sauce, a few shreds of pak choi or beansprouts, I’m theirs until the bottom of the bowl.
Chicken enchiladas with green tomato salsa verde. The salsa can be shop-bought, very well, but if you have some green tomatoes – one easy thing to grow in England – you can try from scratch.
Fresh green salad with sliced chicken, melon and avocado, with feta, seeds and filo crumble. The right combination is the whole secret to a salad: tomatoes and soft cheese, feta and cucumbers, walnuts and apple, anchovies and Parmesan.
Chicken parcel stuffed with mozzarella, basil and garlic wrapped and baked in parchment paper. For the record, one portion is about 575cal. For masochists, 275 without the mozarrella.
Oven baked chicken rice pilaf is an easy dinner: a one pot casserole ready in total of forty-five minutes. Chicken never lets you down, right?
Chicken saltimbocca - thin escalopes of chicken fillet layered with sage leaves, parmesan and prosciutto ham. Saltimbocca means ‘jump in the mouth’ and it does. Classically made with veal escalopes hammered down thin.
Chicken and red peppers tagine with raisins and barberries. This is an adjusted recipe: do not be tempted to add more liquid unless you peeked in (well done, you) and saw it becoming too dry.
Chicken thighs stuffed with chorizo and garlic, cooked under a skillet. The classic version of this performance features a brick – a London brick ideally, handmade and used widely for (you’d never guess) building houses in the first half of the 20th century.
Slow cooked chili con carne with beef and red and white beans. This is one hell of a contentious dish. First off, the name is wrong: purists call it just chili. Second, the provenience.
Classic Caesar with chicken, bacon, Parmesan croutons and anchovy dressing. Anyway – nice and not too anchovy dressing, best ever croutons, meaty fresh lettuce and good quality roast chicken.
Cod and crisp, herby potato bake. This is awesome – deconstructed fish and chips without the need for vats of boiling oil, batter or the all-permeating smell.
Jumbo pasta shells, conchiglioni, stuffed with ground beef and baked with mozzarella and parmesan. There are only so many things you can do with minced meat; and depending on whereabouts you are, the flavourings, additions and textures will change subject to available produce.
Côte de bœuf seasoned with dry mustard, seared in a pan and roasted in the oven. Côte de bœuf is basically an enormous rib-eye steak with the bone in.
Courgette and spinach tian with garlic, pine nuts and cheese. Make a note of the courgette treatment – that’s how this boring vegetable needs to be handled. Squeeze the living daylights out of it and it might just be vaguely tasty.
Zucchini parmigiana becomes here zucchini alla pecorino – let’s stick to courgette gratin, shall we? I like courgette but do agree it needs some oomph to make it less bland and it must borrow flavour from elsewhere – tomato sauce for instance.
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