Mast o khiar is Persian yoghurt and cucumber dip with fresh herbs, walnuts and raisins. Samin Nosrat’s recipe suggests using labneh, strained yoghurt cheese, and that is a complete winner.
Matcha (green tea) sponge cake with lemon and bay leaf scented whipped cream frosting. It’s a beautiful dessert, beautifully simple to make (but nobody will believe you how easy it is).
Meatball casserole with courgettes, red peppers and tomato sauce. So okay, wait until you’ve made so many meatballs for one dinner you’ll have a pile left over for a casserole for another.
The best meatloaf baked with a maple syrup and mustard glaze. Meatloaf is a gorgeous dish, the mince just needs plenty of fillers. Try making it with pure meat, it won’t work – crumbly to oblivion and not very flavoursome. Whack more Parmesan into it than you think is feasible*. Fry an onion and add in. Pour in some soured cream, crème fraiche or indeed milk and you’re in business. T
Wild or exotic mushroom ragu, perfect to serve over pasta or gnocchi. It is, truly, a masterly recipe and the addition of tomato ketchup a stroke of genius.
Corn tortilla chips nachos with homemade beef chilli, corn and cheese. Nachos are an obscenely cunning trick of how to turn eating crisps into a full meal.
Negimaki-style veal escalopes, marinated in teriyaki and sliced across like sushi rolls. A party snack with a wow-factor or a dish for the special dinner à deux.
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.
Easy cheesy oregano cheese straws from homemade shortcrust pastry; flaky, buttery and melting in a mouth. Everyone’s all-time best ever favourite snack.
Steamed whole sea bass oriental style, with coriander and spring onions. Wok’s shape makes it possible to simply prop up a plate against the sides so it’s beautifully suspended over the water, no rack or even steaming basket needed.
King Oskar II cake - almond macaron style cake filled with buttercream. Apparently they sell them in Ikea, frozen, and tasty to boot, alongside the meatballs and pickled herring. I adore Swedes and Swedish food but detest Ikea.
Paella mixta, chicken and shrimp with crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan and incomparable flavour throughout. I am feeling quite pleased with myself as I’ve just read that paella is one of the top most difficult dishes to make at home.
Parker House rolls, created in the famous Boston hotel, are soft and buttery. They look a bit like Pacman and infuriatingly open up whilst being baked. Very, very nice though – all that butter doesn’t go in there for nothing.
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.
Penne pasta bake with leeks and mushrooms. There is only one dish that’s nicer than pasta and that is pasta al forno, lasagne is clearly the tops – but it’s a bit of a chore. You can have a pasta bake the easy way.
Perfect beef fillet steaks cooked medium rare, served with anchovy butter. Smoking hot pan still holds, no question, but to ensure the meat is cooked evenly through even with thickish cuts, and even at cuisson bleu, you need to flip the steak...
Quick pickled jalapeño peppers, crunchy and sweet and hot. The best pickled jalapeños are homemade, and these are ready within about an hour. Make sure you wear gloves!
Pistachio and cherry tart based on Ottolenghi’s recipe, with pistachio paste frangipane filling studded with glace cherries. It’s bliss. It’s the queen of tarts.
Cake with soft fruit and streusel topping. Don’t you just love cake recipes which say ‘throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well’? This is just that kind of recipe. I must have made this cake about a thousand times, varying the fruit.
Poilâne-style loaf, whole grain sourdough rustic bread. Pain Poilâne is all about stoneground flour, natural fermentation and wood-fired oven. Lacking the last element, I can’t very well say I’ve made pain Poilâne
Slow roasted pork belly glazed with soy sauce, honey and black bean paste. A bit like gammon, it should ideally be boiled first or - like I’ve done - steamed in the oven under a foil tent. Only the last hour or so the proper roasting should take place.
Haitian pork griot, twice cooked, baked and fried pork. Shoulder or belly are the best pork cuts for griot, marinated overnight for fantastic flavour.
Greek pork gyros served with tzatziki and pita bread. Another street dish impossible to replicate at home? Wrong: you can cook it in the oven.
Pork loin roasted at low temperature, served with blueberry sauce. There are two things worth mentioning about this recipe: it’s pork, but not as you know it; and it comes with the dressing that usually hangs out with pancakes.
Pork and mushroom stroganoff: perfect for when you want to cook an easy but special dish and can’t afford to spend a small fortune on the ingredients.
Filled pasta cooked potsticker style: fry-steam-fry, with a handful of frozen peas and some shaved Parmesan thrown in. egone, boring boiled tortellini with boring pesto and cream - it’s now a Chinese-Italian fusion. Quite a bit of historical justice - after all Marco Polo allegedly stole the idea of pasta off the Chinese…
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.
Provolone pasta bake with homemade tomato marinara sauce. The star of this show is provolone. It’s an Italian cheese which comes in dolce or piccante variety, made from cow’s milk and granted DOP designation.
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.
Meringue roulade with raspberries and whipped mascarpone cream filling, decorated with rose petals and pistachios. Just when you thought meringue-related desserts couldn’t get any better – this thing turns up.
Redcurrant cake, light and buttery sponge topped with fresh tart redcurrants. Redcurrants doth not only jelly maketh, but cake in summer too.
Whole roast duck with a spice rub and honey and dark soy glaze. This one is cooked through but not overdone, moist and flavoursome thanks to the honey and the spices, and very tender.
Roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic, rosemary and anchovies. The roast lamb leg is gorgeous, you might want to ask your butcher to butterfly it and remove the bone (it might mean the same thing, I’m not that clued up on butchery lingo).
Roast sirloin of beef cooked at low temperature produces as fantastic result as sous-vide cooking. The caveat: abandon all hope if you don’t own a digital probe of some kind.
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.
Plain focaccia with rosemary and salt flakes; easy to make, divine to eat, warm or cold. Authentic Ligurian recipe from Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat.
Roast chicken rôtisserie style, with potatoes cooking beneath, the best outside a French village market. The ultimate salivating lunchtime temptation. Such a match made in heaven: chickens browning and crisping evenly and the spuds underneath, basting in the glorious fat, shaken about every now and then.
Incredibly tasty famous San Francisco sourdough bread - baked using two different methods. The recipe comes from ‘Baking with Passion’ by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington.
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.
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.
The best chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting. Now what we’ve got here is a shortcut to the best birthday cake ever.
Perfect oven baked haddock fillet with saffron sauce, roasted at a very low temperature. That really is the best fish you’ll have ever eaten!
Slow roasted shoulder of lamb - how slow dare I cook it? I got this lamb shoulder and I was very tempted to cook it at gas mark 1 (140C/275F). But had a vision of getting on to 7 in the evening, lamb still not done...
Spanakopita, Greek spinach pie wrapped in filo pastry. Pies are a whole skills set; unless you call meat covered with puff pastry a pie (don’t). Pie needs a bottom as well as the hat and they both should be crusty, not soggy.
Spinach and ricotta lasagne with cooked cream instead of bechamel. Lasagne is the best pasta. It took me a while to work out that ‘lasagne’ is actually used in the same grammatical fashion as ‘tagliatelle’ or spaghetti’ – it means the type of pasta in the plural.
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.
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.
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