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.
Penne pasta with chanterelles and pied-de-moutons, and plenty of parmesan. A very simple dish – good ingredients don’t need elaborate processing, and fresh wild mushrooms are as good as it gets.
Dos and don'ts of roasting the best potatoes you have ever eaten! Do: pre-boil them, use lots of fat, start them off on the hob...
Persian baked rice with courgettes and mushrooms, and crispy tahdig layer at the bottom. I didn’t half struggle to achieve tahdig in my Persian style rice.
Homemade pesto - the classic with basil and a hint of garlic. Grab a handful of pine nuts, toast them in a dry pan, grate some parmesan, tear up a lot of basil leaves and that’s it – you’ve embraced the Italian in you.
Pimm's special for the summer, with a secret ingredient. Let’s have a Pimm's this summer, rain or shine (the former more likely). The worst that can happen is we’ll have to run inside sheltering the jugs and the strawberries!
Plain scones with pineapple flavour, soft and light. There is no butter in the mix and pineapple juice instead of milk. It turns out you can make scones pretty much out of anything.
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.
Pistachio and chocolate chip cookies - chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. No brainer how to make them, is it? Mix the brown with the white sugar, add enough butter and just a little flour and you’re in business.
Easy pita bread, ready in an hour. Pita is very gratifying because you eat bread, but so thin and not a lot of it that you can pretend you’re having a no-bread salad.
Pizza bianca, traditional Roman flat bread, with prosciutto crudo and provolone cheese. There are some very complicated instructions as to make the bianca dough but I figured that Romans wouldn’t bother to make special dough, separate to the rounds and rounds of pizza that the forni di Roma churn out.
Plain scones, or biscuits as they are known in America. This version has cheese in it but a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and some cinnamon will make a decent sweet version.
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
Hawaiian poke bowl with yellowfin tuna, seasoned with shichimi togarashi. Originating from Hawaii, it’s a salad/starter/appetiser of raw fish, sliced (which is what ‘poke’ literally means in Hawaiian).
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.
Pork griot, a much loved Haitian dish, is twice cooked pork chunks, seared in a frying pan after cooking with scotch bonnet chilies and a mix of citrus juice and vinegar.
Oven roasted Greek pork gyros served with tzatziki and pita bread. You’d think it was another street dish impossible to replicate at home but no – perfectly doable in the oven, just watch it because it’s a blink of an eye between crisp and burnt.
Tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork in crisp panko breadcrumb coating. Between you and me, these are pretty much the same thing as schnitzel, escalope Milanese or cordon bleu without the cheese.
Pork parmigiana, with pork tenderloin cutlets fried in breadcrumbs, then baked in tomato sauce and mozzarella. My reservations were all blown: pork will be tough? Meltingly tender if you mallet it into behaving.
A good schnitzel can take on a steak – I swear. If your thoughts are ‘meh’ it means you’ve only had the sorry dried-out-and-greasy versions that non-Germanic countries dish out. Wiener Schnitzel is the crown prince of course...
Potatoes boulangeres, potato slices baked with stock, onions and a little butter. A simple side of potatoes boulangeres is traditional with beef bourgignon.
A classic pound cake also known as quatre-quarts or madeira. You don’t need to frost or layer it, there are no raisins thrown into the mix, no chocolate goes near it and the only adornment should be a discreet dusting of icing sugar - or a lick of good jam.
Gyoza, Japanese dumplings filled with shrimp and Napa cabbage. I like the shrimp gyoza because they let you indulge without a huge calorie burden.
Prawn pasta bake with frozen prawns and a handful of spinach. I seem to be cooking just one pasta dish all the time: boil the noodles, throw a handful of greenery into the boiling water by the end, drain the lot and stir in some cheese/sauce/butter.
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.
Pumpkin pie with crust made from scratch and a cranberry layer. What do you know? It is an improvement – and marrying the festive, autumnal couple clearly produces a stable relationship.
Pumpkin bread spiced with cinnamon and cloves, with walnuts and cranberries. I’ll say it very quickly: pumpkin bread is good. Very much the thing to do with this tin of puree knocking about the cupboard.
Breakfast quesadillas with avcado, mushrooms and bacon. Now quesadilla is my perfect toasted cheese sandwich as I’ve only just realised. It ticks all the above boxes plus one huge box on top of that: there’s no bread.
A summer salad of cucumbers, radish and lots of fresh herbs with feta cheese and a simple dressing. Cucumber, my favourite underrated fruit is usually included in vaguely Greek salads with tomato and feta cheese.
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.
Simple and easy ratatouille. Purists of French cooking – look away now. I know, I know – cook each kind of vegetable separately, then put all together in a baking dish and stick in the oven. So yes, I agree that this is a completely unorthodox version.
Red velvet cake frosted with a cream cheese, mascarpone and whipped cream filling. It’s an excellent cake, totally suited for a birthday, layered and all, frosted and decorated – a beauty.
Remoulade, or celeriac salad. My version has a little twist – I add carrots and a bit of apple, and a few raisins for the sweetness. Ah well, as if you need a justification for adding raisins to anything! I also julienne the vegetables instead of grating them.
Classic British dessert, rhubarb fool made with rhubarb puree and whipped cream. I thought a fool will be a raspberry fool – now that’s oh yeah; blueberry fool or passion fruit for the in-crowd. Well, what do you know, I’ve changed my mind.
One skillet dish of rice with corn and chorizo sausage. We have a fine dish here, which, if you follow the method, can be varied as you wish.
Carrots and parsnips roasted with harissa, herbs and honey. Roasted root vegetables – excellent with a roast, Christmas Day can’t be without them. I find the simpler the better they are.
Roast grouse served with game chips. Grouse is a grown-up’s game. For beginners, quail or guinea fowl will be a tame enough start. Intermediate gamers will enjoy partridge and pheasant lest it’s inexpertly dried out in the oven.
Roast partridge is the taste of autumn because we don’t get to eat game all year round. That’s the beauty of truly seasonal food – you appreciate it when in season as no partridges can be flown in from Peru in the middle of June. The trick is to cook it just right.
Roast pheasant with best Brussel sprouts and garlic spinach mushrooms. Game birds roasted inevitably evoke the spirit of Christmas, especially when paired with disputably fragrant aroma of cooking Brussels sprouts.
What a glorious thing roast beef is. Perfect invention for a Sunday, to stick a quarter of a cow into the oven and forget about it for the time it takes to get to church and back – or play a stint of World of Warcraft upstairs.
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.
Potato, beetroot and celeriac rösti. A very Swiss thing. It’s the Alpine dish where you get the starch, the oil, the crispiness of frying, the seasoning – and preferably a sliver of bacon on top – which is just what you need after a day of skiing.
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.
Sacher torte - as close as you can get to the real thing, rich in chocolate with a hint of apricot jam. This particular recipe should be trusted because it’s Austrian – from Austrian official travel site.
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.
Homemade sausage rolls – or rather home assembled. A twist more than a recipe. No, no, no – adventurous as I am, I don’t make my own puff pastry, even celebrated master bakers say it’s perfectly fine to use good quality shop bought stuff. The twist is...
Scallop ceviche with citrus juice and fresh plums. Contrary to what you might think, a dish of raw fish is actually a pretty common thing.
Schiacciata di uva - Tuscan grape focaccia. The Italian and the French have a lovely way with flat dough – they salt it, stuff it with olives, ham, cheese, soft fruit, preserves, sugar - whatever you like. This one is harvest festive bread.
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