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 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.
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.
Challah - rich with eggs, glazed with egg wash plaited festive bread. It is traditionally baked for the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, commemorating the manna from heaven to the children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt.
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...
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
Ciabatta bread - a terror to make but delicious. The end product tasted great though, definitely authentic, even though it looked like nothing at all. Excellent toasted. Delishhh hot-pressed into a panino. It is a ‘panino’, mind – you only ever order a single one, don’t you? Well, it’s a ‘panino’ in singular, ‘panini’ what the place has on offer, plural.
Wholemeal cider bread with chunks of apples. They allegedly came up with this bread in Normandy but I think anyone could do it: just have a drop of cider (or calvados) and decide you’ll chuck all those apples into the bread do, for a prank.
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
Crusty and airy ciabatta loaves. Why ‘coccodrillo’? Oh please - don’t these loaves look just like gnarly little crocodiles?
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.
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.
Colomba Pasquale - Italian Easter bread baked in the shape of a dove. I know that different parts of the world have different celebration cakes for Easter: Simnel, Roisinbrot, Kulich, and so many others.
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.
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.
Savoury muffins with sweetcorn and bacon, with plain flour and polenta in the mix. A little bit like old fashioned corn fritters except baked into muffin shapes. The recipe comes from Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’.
Côte de bœuf seasoned with dry mustard, seared in a pan and roasted in the oven. Côte de bœuf is basically an enormous rib-eye steak with the bone in.
Courgette and spinach tian with garlic, pine nuts and cheese. Make a note of the courgette treatment – that’s how this boring vegetable needs to be handled. Squeeze the living daylights out of it and it might just be vaguely tasty.
Couscous salad with chicken and red peppers - lovely salad. As with most salads, the ingredients may vary – depending on your fancy and the contents of the fridge. I like to add some kind of cooked, warm vegetables.
Simple and easy cranberry sauce to serve with your turkey. It can be made well ahead of time as it stores well in the fridge. If you prefer it a little tarter, reduce the amount of sugar.
Creamed corn with blue cheese and fresh ripe tomatoes. Creamed corn in fact is now my number one method of cooking corn and that’s how I’ll continue until the end of the summer and beyond – it’s gorgeous.
Ants climbing a tree is a Sichuan dish of crispy fried minced pork with noodles. My caramelised pork mince is served with egg noodles, so the poor ants have more traction. Who would want to climb glass trees?
Croissants made with overnight proving dough laminated with butter. If you’re lucky enough to be living in France you get them from your boulangerie, but actually there's nothing like the homemade thing in terms of flavour. Is it difficult?
Croquants aux amandes, French almond cookies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if these cookies should be crunchy or gooey. ‘Croquant’ suggests the former, meaning precisely that, but I found the ones baked a bit less nicer.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Curried mussels with saffron and ginger, steamed in light creamy sauce. No, I still don’t like curries. One of the very few dishes that revolt me, out there with mushy peas, kale, barley and any veiny, tendony, gelatinous meat.
Dabo - Ethiopian honey and milk bread. Delicious fresh from the oven, but it makes great toast as well. You can shape it into a plain round loaf or plait it like challah.
Danish bagel wheels, savoury pastry pinwheels with sesame, poppy and almonds. A savoury twist on raisin wheels, these pastries are made the easy way: the laminating process, usually so troublesome, is shortened here by maturing the dough in the fridge for a couple of days.
Danish pastries with jam and raisin wheels - brushed with lemon icing. Just about the best thing ever – laminated dough. On average I bet people don’t realise that it’s actually simple bread dough enriched with butter.
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