Bread rolls with porridge base made of toasted oats and ale or stout. Definitely one of the all-time top 10 breads. The ale and the porridge base make them moist and they stay fresh for a good few days.
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.
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.
The dough for these sweet apricot buns is very versatile. Try spreading it out, focaccia-style, in a baking tray and topping with fruit and crumble. Try putting lots of dried fruit on top, folding in half or rolling and baking into a strudel.
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.
Perfect crunchy chips oven baked then twice fried. I am not an expert on chips, the only method of preparing potatoes that I’m not terribly keen on.
Baked scamorza, aged mozzarella, with grilled garlic bruschetta. Baked scamorza with bruschetta is nothing other than posh Italian cheese on toast.
Banana muffins with dried mango and pineapple chunks. This is a good cake mix – the best, the banana cake. I honestly can’t recall where the recipe comes from.
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.
Blueberry Victoria sponge cake, with layers of lightly roasted blueberries and whipped cream. Sponge cake, as the name cleverly suggests, is supposed to soak up the filling/syrup/drizzle/jam/cream.
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
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.
Breton butter biscuits, rich with extra egg yolks, made with beurre de baratte. Almost a shame to bake with it – but since I propose that the biscuits below are the best in the world, it’s only fitting that they should be made with the best butter.
Fresh raw broccoli salad marinated in oriental dressing. Broccoli has come a long way since being served to twelve year old me in the shape of whole boiled head, tasteless and mushy.
Crispy smoked bacon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Talk about moreish – this glazed bacon makes the most moreish nibble in the world.
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.
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
Caraway and parmesan pain de mie - soft crusted sandwich loaf with fantastic flavour. Pain de mie means a soft crust loaf, ideal for sandwiches, and it’s traditionally baked in a loaf tin closed with a lid.
Carrot cake - what a classic! Staple in every respectable old-fashioned English tea room, and in those quaint eateries that line up puddings on the counter, under the glass cloches, and the choice you get is invariably victoria sponge, cheesecake and carrot cake.
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.
Cauliflower cheese with spices, garlic and creamy sauce. Interesting thing about comfort foods is that they usually tend to be quite bland. I guess when it's cold outside or you're feeling a bit down you don't fancy stimulating senses too much.
Cheese scones don't rise as imposingly as fruit or plain scones – the cheese weighs things down after all considerably, so they will be a bit squatty and wonky. You might shirk from the idea of using diced cheese rather than grated...
Cheddar and spring onion torpedo rolls. So we’re talking here about a cheese sandwich ready baked – cheesy bread. I dare you not to devour one of those torpedoes straight from the oven. I dare you to keep them in the house longer than a couple of days.
Cheese biscuits or cheese straws made from Rugelach pastry rolled up with copious quantity of grated cheese. Lethal. Devastating. Deadly little things if you’re watching your weight. You can’t have just one.
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’.
Cherry and marzipan cake: a simple buttermilk cake batter with glace cherries and a layer of homemade marzipan. Result: stunning. Just try. And don’t you DARE use shop bought marzipan!
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.
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.
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.
Chocolate cake with apricot filling and chocolate ganache. So what’s special? It’s chocolaty all right, but it’s got a whisper of apricot jam which was made to be in a marriage with chocolate, it has dark chocolate ganache...
Chocolate genoise cake with layer of raspberry buttercream and whipped chocolate ganache frosting. I can wholeheartedly recommend that combination for a birthday or a non-birthday cake. It can be prepared in stages.
The easiest chocolate mousse dessert, whipped ganache flavoured with Grand Marnier. I’m offering the grownup version here: darkest chocolate, Grand Marnier; but it’s made just as well with milk chocolate and no alcohol, or even white chocolate (skip sugar in both cases).
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.
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.
Crispy fried chicken with a spicy rub, extra crunchy in coating of cornmeal and panko breadcrumbs. It’s interesting how words can change the taste of food. An astonishingly awful lot of people react negatively not as much to the taste of a dish but to its name.
Crispy tobacco onions - they had me at first bite. There weren’t too many bites to follow because the Former Onion Hater took care of most of the bowl. They go best with steak, chops and burgers – but you might just polish them on their own given a chance...
Cupcakes with smashed blueberries and lemon zest. Whatever you call these, and I decided in the end to rechristen them ‘cupcakes’, they are damn nice.
Deli style rye bread with caraway seeds, great for sandwiches and excellent for toasting. Leave out caraway if you don’t like it!
Easy chocolate brownie, intense and fudgy but unbelievably quick to make. My best to date recipe for brownie is quite intricate, with beating eggs to a fluff and then folding and folding.
Ebi fry, Japanese style breaded and deep fried shrimp with tonkatsu sauce. Ebi-furai can fortuitously be pronounced ‘ebi fry’ and that’s what it is: shrimp fry. It’s not katsu - I’ve spent some time around various websites featuring katsu, tonkatsu and such, only to find that there is no ebi katsu.
Fennel and gorgonzola fettucine - I love pasta. I could eat pasta every day, if it only didn’t contain carbs. Since it does (hell, what other reason it tastes so good?), it’s an occasional treat.
Fish pie topped with a crispy layer of sliced potatoes. Use the best fish you can, not just sad offcuts from the bottom of the freezer. The combination of ingredients is anyone’s flight of fancy and I have stuck to the classic selection: haddock fresh, haddock smoked, salmon and prawns.
Five spice duck is an excellent dish. The duck is nice and pink (or so it should be to my liking, feel free to cook it a bit longer) and one good size fillet serves two easily.
Five spice shrimp with greens and crispy noodles. This is different to your usual stir fry: it’s a warm stir fried salad. The crispy noodles are totally optional: you can do soft noodles or no noodles.
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