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 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 buckle cake with wholemeal flour and quinoa and oats topping. That of course refers to the way the topping buckles on top of the fruit in a wavy manner. Very descriptive. I think I’ll adopt it now, especially that the blueberry kind is the most common buckle and that is my firm favourite.
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.
Sweet focaccia-style tea bread topped with blueberries and crumble. Ordinarily, thinking focaccia will bring to mind an image of flat, thin bread decorated sparsely with whatever, preferably savoury, preferably olives.
Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home. Here’s how.
Blueberry muffins. The best. The easiest. By all means use frozen berries in the bleak mid-winter. Better that than paying extortionate price of bluebs imported from Darkest Peru. And frozen ones are very well-behaved: they stir nicely into the mix, don’t go mushy like raspberries and retain their shapes.
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
Blueberry poppy seed cake, easier to make than a pie and delicious warm or cold. It is a pie of sorts or a tart, or flan, with the filling surrounded by a golden brown crust.
Blueberry upside down polenta cake. Polenta cake batter is so nice because of its crunch. And let's be honest: since anything with blueberries is gorgeous, so is this and I shouldn't have doubted it for a second.
Roasted bone marrow with salty, herby topping is the quintessence of umami. Marrow is ultra-nutritious and needs just 20 minutes’ roasting in a hot oven.
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.
Bramble jelly, seedless jam made from wild blackberries. Bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging – they are plentiful and in plain view, unlike mushrooms
Couscous with raisins, yoghurt and honey, an excellent breakfast idea. Honey and yoghurt are a must though – in fact, another brilliant breakfast is just plain yoghurt with honey drizzled over.
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.
Broccoli and Stilton soup, the easiest and tastiest - and no blender needed. Blended soup is my pet hate, worse than mushy peas or smoothies (though mind: purée - justified; milkshake - okay).
Broccoli cheese spiced up with anchovies and Cayenne pepper, an excellent alternative to cauliflower cheese.
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.
Brown cake - the easiest apple cake with cocoa and spices. I’ve had the recipe for so long I can’t say where it comes from, just a printout without any heading. It must have been one of my first attempts at baking, I liked it so much that one year...
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.
Crispy smoked bacon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze. Talk about moreish – this glazed bacon makes the most moreish nibble in the world.
The ultimate brownie - the best you've ever eaten, with milk and white chocolate chunks, just to be extra indulgent. I do understand chocoholics and this is specially for them. Good old fashioned brownie. Hits the right spot without fail.
Crispy roasted brussels sprouts and blanched sprout tops with almonds. They need to be salted and peppered about twice as much as an amount you think sensible.
Brussels sprouts cooked with fennel and caraway seeds and coated in crushed walnuts, parmesan and breadcrumbs. For a vegetarian option of course leave out the bacon. The fennel and caraway seeds add flavour.
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.
Yule log, or buche de Noel made with chocolate sponge and chocolate whipped cream filling. This is DEFINITELY the best dessert on Christmas day. It rides onto the table when everyone is in deep gluttonous stupor after third helpings of turkey and just one more last spoonful of stuffing, and suddenly they perk up mumbling ‘this is a bit of all right’ and ‘I might have room for the thinnest slice more’.
Austrian Buchteln, baked jam-filled doughnuts, pull-apart breakfast treats. Some special Sundays my Austrian grandmother would fluff up the dough, butter a tin, find a jar of plum preserve in the larder and magic them out of the oven an hour or so later.
Striped pattern berry cake with buckwheat and almond flour. This is lovely, the sooner served after leaving the oven, the better, as with time the berries start to leach juice a bit and the thing looks much messier.
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.
Burnt white chocolate blondie with cherries and pistachios, fudgy squares of bliss. I simply pity everyone who will never try one of these.
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
Traditional Canadian butter tarts with raisins and maple syrup filling. Of all the contradictory recipes out there, butter tarts, the traditional Canadian treat, are the most confusing. You’d think there’s nothing to it: little pastry cases filled with butter and sugar mixture.
Simple buttered spinach sauteed with thinly sliced garlic. My favourite way of preparing spinach is the simplest: wilted, buttered and then buttered again. It must be fresh, picked off stems, young and tender leaves only. It’s so, so good I can have it on its own, and every other day.
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.
Breakfast American-style buttermilk pancakes, with optional blueberries. I’ve been having a buttermilk week. It started off with these pancakes, proceeded to simply exquisite fried chicken marinated overnight in buttermilk; via salad dressing with lots of dill and garlic and finishing with buttermilk island cake.
Light and moist scones with buttermilk and raisin, cut into triangles. You can replace buttermilk with yoghurt – but I’d strongly encourage giving a go as it makes for a nice crust and very moist crumb. These are a bit more cakey than the ordinary scones.
Calamari rings pan-fried with chorizo and spring onions. Squid is a cinch to cook, it just needs a gutsy flavour to go with it - like chorizo. My view is this is a match made in heaven.
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.
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.
Carrot cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting. Best cupcakes ever – adopted for Halloween because carrot cake mix is a/ comforting, b/ easy to make with kids...
Carrot and ginger cake, two of the best cake flavours together, with cream cheese frosting on top. Easy to make like all carrot cakes but the end result is stunning.
Carrot cake with a fancy twist - with oranges and pistachios, flavoured with tahini and pomegranate molasses, with cream cheese frosting. Posh carrot cake. Fancy carrot cake. Use your regular recipe 364 days a year but make THIS once for a special occasion.
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.
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