Crunchy cheese and black pepper biscuits shaped like buttons. Crisp, peppery, with a hint of garlic. Only the button element arguably redundant, especially that it’s damn difficult to make these biscuits perfectly round and stay round whilst baking. I found the recipe in Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard.
An omelette is such a lovely dish and can take on such different forms that it’s easy to forget it’s just egg. Spinach omelette. Ham and cheese. Just cheese. Chorizo and beans. Throw in some peppers and potatoes and you have a tortilla.
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.
Cheese bites made with rugelach pastry, with grated cheddar. Rugelach is the pastry base and it’s the easiest and nicest pastry in the world – just three ingredients, kneaded together by hand or in a mixer in no time at all and can be used in all kinds of products.
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!
Sweet triple cherry buns - with jam, dried and glace cherries. The dough is gorgeous. My grandmother used to make this type of dough, stretch it, focaccia style, into the bottom of a large baking tray, then put fresh soft fruit on top and cover the lot in crumble.
Indulgent cherry jam with preserved chunks of cherries. The best thing about eating cherries is spitting out the pips, right ahead, no matter where.
Tasty Christmas stuffing made with minced pork, chestnuts and porcini mushrooms. ‘Stuffing’ – such a misnomer. You should NOT stuff the turkey. It will cook better and quicker all alone, with perhaps just an onion or an apple in the cavity.
Chicken alla Fiorentina with fresh spinach and creamy sauce. I know - it should all be cooked in separate dishes, the chicken cut in escalopes, spinach just tossed with butter, and the sauce should not mix with it. But isn’t life too short to wash three different pans when you can wash just one?
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.
My take on chicken Caesar salad has chicken fried in breadcrumbs and the best dressing. Purists and critics might comment that it’s a Chicken Nugget Salad, not Caesar. So be it. Damn tasty. Might be a hit with kids if you stick to that name.
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.
Fresh green salad with sliced chicken, melon and avocado, with feta, seeds and filo crumble. The right combination is the whole secret to a salad: tomatoes and soft cheese, feta and cucumbers, walnuts and apple, anchovies and Parmesan.
Chicken parcel stuffed with mozzarella, basil and garlic wrapped and baked in parchment paper. For the record, one portion is about 575cal. For masochists, 275 without the mozarrella.
Oven baked chicken rice pilaf is an easy dinner: a one pot casserole ready in total of forty-five minutes. Chicken never lets you down, right?
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.
Chicken and red peppers tagine with raisins and barberries. This is an adjusted recipe: do not be tempted to add more liquid unless you peeked in (well done, you) and saw it becoming too dry.
Chicken thighs stuffed with chorizo and garlic, cooked under a skillet. The classic version of this performance features a brick – a London brick ideally, handmade and used widely for (you’d never guess) building houses in the first half of the 20th century.
Tinned chickpeas dry roasted in a pan, with pancetta, a red pepper and Parmesan shavings. Chickpeas are actually a tasty snack, not difficult to make. They just need a bit of oomph – raid your spice cupboard and anything red or yellow will do.
Slow cooked chili con carne with beef and red and white beans. This is one hell of a contentious dish. First off, the name is wrong: purists call it just chili. Second, the provenience.
Crab butter with Thai chilli flavour, fantastic spread on toast or fresh bread. Chili crab butter is easy to make and can be served as a dip or sandwich spread.
Braided chocolate brioche, not too sweet and perfect for breakfast. The braided bread is quite a challenge for me, the messy baker. I’m absolutely no good at tidy shaping. My challahs invariably have one end thicker than the other. Spacing of cookies suffers in giant quadruples melded together. And I am a lousy cake decorator
The best chocolate cake with tart apricot jam filling and chocolate ganache layers. Rich and fudgy gateau, not very difficult to make. Your next birthday cake?
Biscuits with milk and white chocolate chip chunks. These are very nice biscuits – Dan Lepard’s recipe from Baking with Passion – but cookies they ain’t. A bit too austere, not quite the whacking amount of sugars as in the classic cookies, a bit too much flour and they don’t spread.
Chocolate covered lebkuchen filled with jam. Lebkuchen or gingerbread cookies are rather indulgent spiced honey cookies and I’ve taken the indulgence to the next level here – by filling them with jam and dipping them in chocolate.
Crack or crinkle cookies, deliciously soft and chocolatey, wrapped in cracked icing sugar coating. These biscuits are fairly easy to make, although the eggs need to be beaten to almost a genoise volume.
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).
Double chocolate muffins, wonderfully gooey in the centre and a doddle to make. These little things will surely be firm favourites with whoever you make them for, builders or not. Incredibly easy to make it must be said - you needn’t even take care not to overmix like usually with muffins.
Chocolate loaf cake with crunchy streusel; not too sweet, not too sickly, just right. With a large mug of milky coffee it will go down a treat even at half past seven in the morning.
Chocolate whoopie pies with marshmallow frosting. The classic is chocolate but they come in other flavours: vanilla, raspberry, red velvet or pumpkin. The filling should be marshmallow (made with Marshmallow Fluff if you’re in New England), but cream cheese, buttercream or chocolate all acceptable too.
Easy chocolate cake with yoghurt, honey and shaved chocolate. The batter is ready in about three minutes and the cake is almost healthy – not much fat and not much sugar.
A different take on a Christmas pudding, with carrots and dates, baked instead of steamed. A cross between a carrot and date cake, a lighter sticky toffee pudding, baked not steamed, sauce still served – this is the one to try.
Christmas Stollen with homemade marzipan. Stollen tastes absolutely divine when still warm from the oven but it keeps very well. The German Christmas bread symbolised baby Jesus swaddled in clothing
Easy sour cream cake with a cinnamon swirl. I set out to make the cinnamon marble cake and recalled an abysmally failed marbling from a couple of years back – a massive clump of white batter was sitting on top of the dark, or the other way round.
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.
Classic plain English scones, light and fluffy. Cream tea is an afternoon meal, not necessarily taken in the afternoon and not always incorporating tea.
Homemade clotted cream, thickened cream made by long and slow heating double/heavy cream in a shallow dish. The first time I made it, we had people staying for the weekend. We all went out for food, or I cooked, and at one or two occasions
Super easy coconut loaf made with shredded coconut. This must be the quickest cake in the world. I wish I could say it is also the finest but the two things rarely go hand in hand.
Coconut porridge, dairy free, with toasted coconut chips. Porridge is an excellent thing to have for breakfast but I’m suspicious whether it aids weight loss as it is often alleged.
Cod and crisp, herby potato bake. This is awesome – deconstructed fish and chips without the need for vats of boiling oil, batter or the all-permeating smell.
Cold brewed delicious coffee for a smooth iced drink. Cold brewing works, the coffee is tasty and slightly less bitter than hot-brewed; it’s damn refreshing on a hot day and it miles healthier than any iced concoction bought from Starbucks or Costa.
Coleslaw made from slightly fermented cabbage with yoghurt and lemon dressing. Fermentation is crucial – everyone now sings the praise of fermented foods and kimchi seems to rule the world, so take time, all of 10 minutes of it, and leave your cabbage salted until it wilts.
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.
Slow roasted tomato confit. It brings out the flavour hidden deep when it comes to those plasticky looking imported fruits. It’s a slow job – the longer the better. They should still retain their shape but become very soft and quite a bit darker in colour.
Soft cookies made with condensed milk, with added chocolate chips and cranberries. These things are truly disgustingly nice (there should be a Disgustingly Nice category on Fiend, don’t you think?), unbelievably easy to make and keep, if you let them.
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