French onion soup with toasted bread slices loaded with cheese. The best thing to eat on a cold winter’s day is soup. Something so comforting about a good bowl of soup – better than a stew, much better than a salad and it even beats cheese on toast – sometimes. Not that much beats cheese on toast in my view.
Oven baked arancini, mushroom risotto balls filled with prosciutto and mozzarella. It’s the starter you wish was a main. It’s the leftovers dish that’s better than the original.
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.
Pan-fried wood pigeon breast fillets with orange caramel. I’m sure wood pigeon is much underrated. You look out of the window into your garden, and on seeing those puffed-up, bolshy bullies on the lawn you don’t think ‘FOOD!’
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.
Parmesan fish balls inspired by Tom Kerridge’s fish burgers, with parsley, capers and mustard for flavourings. Fish balls, fishcakes, fish burgers – processed fish can be glorious.
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 crispy capers, bacon and breadcrumbs or pappardelle con pangrattato. Breadcrumbs are an age-old pasta dressing, poor man’s Parmesan. Textures are great here; everything is crispy and crunchy and salty
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.
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.
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 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.
Piperade is the Basque take on ratatouille with the heat of espelette pepper. This recipe is easy and simple, like a lot of best things in life.
Pissaladiere Provençal, a simple savoury tart on pizza dough with onion, anchovy and olive topping. And that is one of the best snack/street food/ starter/nibble in the world.
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).
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
Gyoza, Japanese dumplings filled with prawn and cabbage mix. Good news: prawn gyoza have only about 50cal apiece. Bad news: they are irresistible.
Prawns with stewed tomatoes. The other night I went out for dinner (a respite from all this cooking, shooting and Fiending) and had a very decent red mullet served with tomato and raisin stew. The stew was simply AMAZING.
Puff pastry tartlets with three kinds of filling: prawn and garlic, spinach and blue cheese and bacon and Cheddar. Puff pastry – party food rescue, the solution for when you crave pizza-type food but can’t be bothered to make the real thing...
A summer salad of cucumbers, radish and lots of fresh herbs with feta cheese and a simple dressing. Cucumber, my favourite underrated fruit is usually included in vaguely Greek salads with tomato and feta cheese.
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.
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.
Roasted red peppers, soft cheese and basil salad. The peppers actually will keep very well in oil or the type of dressing I suggested below; you can jar them and they will keep even longer.
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.
Salt baked celeriac, sweet and earthy and a Michelin grade impressive centrepiece dish. Salt crust made from flavoured salt and flour, you crack it open like an enormous soft boiled egg. Or a pathologist opening the skull.
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.
Scallops thermidor, fat little molluscs baked in creamy fragrant Thermidor sauce on a bed of spelt and pancetta. Who needs lobster?
Fresh scallops, flash fried, with discs of fried chorizo. Fantastically healthy chunks of pure protein, they are easy to cook but just as easy to overcook and turn rubbery. A minute on each side in a very hot pan.
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.
Shaved Brussels sprout salad with toasted walnuts and Manchego cheese; the sprouts are raw, the walnuts are toasted and the cheese is mashed into a dressing. Feed it to a sworn Brussels hater and see what happens.
Slow roasted salmon with easy dill sauce. It’s flavoursome – at low temperature just a little salt and olive oil is sufficient to enhance the salmoney taste. It can be served hot, warm or cold and the bed of aromatics.
Roasted turnips with flaky smoked fish, olives and capers make an exciting salad. Turnips deserve better: full of fibre and over four times less calorific than potatoes.
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.
Baked pears with blue cheese, a great starter, dessert or a side dish. These roasted pears are spiced with cinnamon and topped with Gorgonzola.
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.
Hot and spicy fried aubergine, a simple side or starter. Aubergine slices are dusted with flour to stop it guzzling oil so much and make the dish healthier.
Spicy prawns cooked with garlic, lemon and sriracha. Serve in individual cast iron dishes if you have them - it looks pretty. Serve with some crusty freshly baked, a green salad and your lunch or supper is sorted.
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 empanada wrapped in filo pastry and baked in the oven, with honey and pine nuts topping. Spanish empanada meets Greek spanakopita!
Deep fried sprats can be eaten whole, head, tail and all but it’s very easy to lop the heads off and clean the sprats a bit. An easy, cheap and delicious treat.
Steak tartare with crispy capers should be served deconstructed, the diner mixing it to their taste. My secret to perfect tartare is three Cs: the cut, the chop and the crunch.
Steamed salmon in a parcel is truly delicious – I had it warm, almost straight from the steamer (bar shooting a few pictures) but it tasted even better the next day, provided you bring it up to room temperature.
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!
Baked tomatoes stuffed with herby breadcrumb filling. Stuffed tomatoes in French are tomates farcies. Whether you have a smattering of French or not, there’s no denying the fact that the dish sounds so much more appealing en Française.
Thai style fish cakes with spicy cucumber dip. My original idea of fish cakes with Thai style flavours – cause I wouldn’t dream of calling my production authentic – was appealing.
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.
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.
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