Courgette flowers (fiori di zuccha) in light batter, shallow fried in olive oil with a touch of mint inside each blossom. It’s pan-fried poetry!
Fried sliced mushrooms, cooked in butter and a little oil, perfect for breakfast. Who will argue that the simplest things are the best? You can add all kinds of seasoning to mushrooms, cheeses and creams; you can roast them or grill them or deep fry them; cook them whole or chop them up; have them raw if that’s what you fancy – but nothing beats crisp and golden slices fried in butter.
Baby new potatoes, Jersey Royals if you can get them, poached in oil with lemon slices and garlic cloves. It’s almost blasphemous to cook them other than in plenty of water and serve other than with a little butter and salt. But this is absolutely gorgeous and actually brings out the flavour even better. They are not at all greasy.
Garlic mushrooms with parsley - simple and delicious. Mushrooms are an excellent source of protein and fibre. Season them generously and fry them with garlic - so tasty just with a chunk of bread. This is a suggestion for a lovely side dish.
Garlicky runner beans in butter and Parmesan. Nobody likes to admit they were wrong. It’s in human nature I guess – nobody knows their stuff better than we do ours.
Latkes with roasted apple topping, crispy fried shredded potato pancakes traditionally eaten for Jewish Hanukkah. I like to make one giant latke for brunch, topped with crème fraiche and tart roasted apples.
A warm salad of Purple Majesty potatoes, zucchini and radishes. Dark potatoes are fairly common, but the ones I’d had before would turn ordinary white when boiled. Not these beauties! These are perfectly unique. To start with, the skin is almost completely black and while scrubbed, they reveal to have a thin film covering the tuber - like a second skin or, as I like to think, a veil.
Beans and tomatoes, blanched green beans served with sautéed tomatoes cooked with green chilies. A match made in heaven, green beans and tomatoes are for me the classic summery dish.
Green beans with Parmesan cream. The dish makes an elegant side; serve it over rice for a veggie main and throw in slices of cooked chicken for the meat option.
Grilled radicchio salad with Parmesan. Radicchio loses its bitterness when attacked with heat, salt and acid so that’s what I’ve done to make it collapse in a delicious heap.
Hasselback gratin - potato slices stacked like dominoes, baked in creamy and cheesy sauce. They will have their bottoms cooking in the cheese mix and the tops will get scorchy, crispy, crusty, lacey and all the other lovely adjectives that can be applied to cheese.
Hasselback potatoes, Swedish baked potatoes, are also known as ridgeback or hedgehogs. Take unpeeled, medium sized potatoes and slice them almost, but not quite through - that's the trick. Here's how!
Fresh salad with sliced raw beetroot, grated cheese and lots of fresh herbs. Of course I know that the textbook pairing of beetroot is with goat’s cheese, with a few pea shoots adorning the dish.
Gratin of thinly sliced jerusalem artichokes baked with bacon and cheese in a creamy sauce. I like the flavour and the taste – nutty, firmer and sweeter than spuds and not quite as starchy.
Two flavours of spiced kale crisps baked in the oven: garlic and chilli, and Middle Eastern coriander-cinnamon. Best for when you need a zero calorie snack.
Basic kimchi made with Chinese leaf cabbage and garlic, ginger and carrots. Kimchi is delicious with fried rice, adding a kick and a hit of sourness to the grain. You can also make kimchi pancakes, kimchijeon, which must be a lot like Japanese okonomiyaki. I haven’t tried the former, have the latter so can happily vouch for deliciousness.
Kohlrabi slaw, grated kohlrabi with creamy dressing is versatile and delicious. Try it instead of your regular slaw – this vegetable deserves more acclaim!
Leek and potato bake in creamy cheese sauce. A little like Tartiflette but onions replaced with leeks, no bacon, and I didn’t try to resource Reblochon but cleared out the post dinner party cheeses.
Leek and potato soup, homemade is the best. Soup is the easiest, cheapest and quickest thing to cook at home. Especially if you are a proponent of Soup With Bits, like me – you won’t need a blender.
Leek slaw, a simple leek salad with cucumber, seasoned with black pepper and honey. Leeks are good a filler in all sorts of bakes and casseroles. They can convincingly pretend to be onions for people who are not keen on the largest allium. Soups - can I start gushing about my all-time favourite leek and potato? P
Creamy leeks sautéed with wild garlic. Wild garlic, bear’s garlic or ramsons turns up in spring in woody, wet, marshy lands and down in the overgrown part of my garden.
Lemon and smoked paprika roasted potato wedges. This is definitely one of those dishes that look hugely better before cooking. Decorative lemon slices, pale yellow potatoes with a red dusting of paprika, glistening oil and the green sprigs of rosemary – pretty as a picture.
Thinly sliced fennel lightly wilted with salt and sugar is gorgeous, but the homemade ranch dressing with chives and dill is the star of the salad.
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.
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.
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.
Turnips roasted with thyme, rosemary and parmesan. They get a new line of life with this recipe, zinged with a dash of parmesan and thoroughly cooked through. Now I’m a hater of overcooked veg, but those babies, they need to be tender.
Deep fried parsnip fries, a delicious alternative to potato chips. Parsnip fries with gutsy seasoning are healthier than potato chips and can be also made in an air fryer.
Parsnip gratin, baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of spice. Another way to zing up a boring vegetable – parsnip gratin. What to do with all those root veg when the sexy ones have all gone out of season?
Dos and don'ts of making the best roast potatoes you have ever eaten. The ultimate golden, crispy roasties that make you forget about the roast beef.
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.
Potato, chorizo and cauliflower tray bake; a one pan dish seasoned with cinnamon and smoked paprika. A traybake – or a sheet pan dish – is not very often successful in my view.
Potato and fennel gratin, a super-comfort dish of sliced potatoes and fennel baked in garlicky cream and a generous sprinkle of Gruyere or Cheddar.
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
Potato babka is an unusual and tasty alternative to a boring nut roast, the vegetarian Christmas or Thanksgiving option. Lavishly seasoned grated potato mass studded with peppers and mushrooms baked till crisp in a loaf tin.
Potatoes boulangeres, potato slices baked with stock, onions and a little butter. A simple side of potatoes boulangeres is traditional with beef bourgignon.
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.
Easy one pan ratatouille with courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes, cooked on the hob. Classic side dish made simple.
Festive red cabbage stir fried with apples, raisins and spices, super quick to cook. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve cooked red cabbage slow and low before, with the obligatory red wine and spices, but since the generous crop this year I’ve had to look for quicker ways.
Celeriac remoulade with dressing made from mayo, creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard. Celeriac remoulade is a great salad, good with fish but with roast meat as well.
Carrots and parsnips roasted with garlic cloves, harissa, herbs and honey, that's a classic trimming for a Christmas dinner. But a tray of fragrant roast vegetables is far too good to only have once a year!
Chunks of beetroot roasted with honey, thyme, tarragon and balsamic vinegar. This is really gorgeous – beetroot baked long, loooong, you might even consider biscuit beetroot: cooked twice.
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.
Roasted savoy cabbage wedges with Parmesan and thyme, charred in the pan then oven roasted. It’s a perfect side for fish or pork.
Crispy, smashed and roasted potatoes with tangy cream topping, so glorious you can skip the meat from your Sunday or Christmas roast.
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