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. 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.
Easter spiced biscuits with currants and vanilla icing. This particular recipe uses a mix of wholemeal and plain white flours and – as dubious as I might be about its authenticity, it is a winner as the biscuits taste more unusually crunchy and earthy, less like something you might find next to your coffee cup in any old café.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeded rye sourdough, German style blonde Pumpernickel. Sourdough on rye starter with only a small addition of wheat flour which can be replaced with spelt.
Takeaway-style sesame noodles with spring onions and beans, served with chopped peanuts and cucumbers. These are plain, vegetarian, sesame flavoured, takeaway-style noodles with peanuts, cucumber and beans.
Sfogliatelle, Italian leafy pastry bites, with creamy ricotta filling. Lobster tails, as they are also known (easy to guess why), must be one of the nicest things that come out of Italy – and that’s of course a serious claim.
Best red wine braised short ribs of beef with plum sauce, sweet and tender, called Obama’s short ribs, after the dish served to Barack Obama in a Harlem restaurant.
Classic shortbread made in the easiest way, flavoured with lemon and sprinkled with sugar. Short. Crunchy. Melty. A spray of crumbs when broken. Sugar covered.
Sicilian pistachio cookies are delicious, meltaway biscuits easily made gluten free. They are about the second best thing you can do with only egg whites, nuts and sugar. Up there with madeleines, financières, said macarons, tuiles and croquants.
The best chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting. Now what we’ve got here is a shortcut to the best birthday cake ever.
Easter Simnel cake with dried fruit, marzipan layer and icing on top. I decided to forgo the double marzipan whammy for fear that it would make an impossibly sickly end product – also I don’t have confidence in my grill, and my homemade marzipan needs to be cooked.
Easter Simnel cake made with yeasty dough, with marzipan layer inside and marzipan topping. This is Simnel cake made with yeast dough – it appears that the Victorian version was baked thus, unlike the modern variety which, basically, is just like the Christmas cake sans so much booze and fruit.
Sizzling beef in black bean sauce: a spicy oriental stir-fry with tender beef strips and mixed vegetables. The Chinese have some truly weird and wonderful names for dishes.
Chinese smashed cucumber salad with chilli, garlic and sesame oil. Cucumbers, the skinniest member of the gourd family of portly melons, squashes, pumpkins and marrows is technically not a vegetable but fruit.
Smoked fish and rice salad bowl with Arbroath smokie and Vietnamese dressing. Arbroath smokie is a whole small haddock fish, dry salted in tubs and smoked over smoking pits.
Snickerdoodles, butter cookies with cinnamon coating. Make them with kids so they roll the dough balls in sugared cinnamon like dung beetles. Also tempting to add choc chips – but then you’d turn the funky snickerdoodles into plain old choc chip cookies which would be a shame.
Sourdough baguettes on wheat starter, fermenting over 36 hours. I’ve made these baguettes three times now - completely successful, and just look at those air bubbles…
Spanakopita, Greek spinach pie wrapped in filo pastry. Pies are a whole skills set; unless you call meat covered with puff pastry a pie (don’t). Pie needs a bottom as well as the hat and they both should be crusty, not soggy.
Monkfish tail fillet cooked in a curried sauce with ginger and saffron. The fish are basically a tasty tail (a bit like lobster tail, hence probably the comparisons) attached to an enormous gaping mouth.
Fiery bacon, spiced but still cool cucumber and mild new potatoes in a warm salad. The bacon and cucumber salad on its own will make a great spicy snack or starter - I’ve thrown new potatoes in to a/ dampen the fire a bit and b/ make it into a main course.
Spicy prawns cooked with garlic, lemon and sriracha. Serve in individual cast iron dishes if you have them - it looks pretty. Serve with some crusty freshly baked, a green salad and your lunch or supper is sorted.
Oriental style stir-fried asparagus with chilies, ginger and garlic, seasoned with sesame oil. Asparagus works well but you might like to apply this treatment to broccoli - God knows it’s bland enough to use some heat.
Spinach and ricotta lasagne with cooked cream instead of bechamel. Lasagne is the best pasta. It took me a while to work out that ‘lasagne’ is actually used in the same grammatical fashion as ‘tagliatelle’ or spaghetti’ – it means the type of pasta in the plural.
Steak and ale pie with flaky homemade shortcrust pastry. Supremely flavourful, hitting all the right spots with the salty, the meaty and the earthy from the mushrooms
Sticky pork and vegetables stir fry, with honey and soy marinade. A wok is a truly weird and wonderful utensil. Vessel. Cooking implement? Surely it's not just a ‘pot’?
Sticky toffee pudding - date cake with delicious toffee sauce, best served warm. Let’s face it: it’s a date cake. Easy to make, nice and slightly gooey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with baking it, leaving it dry and eating a slice or two cold.
Mixed vegetable stir-fry seasoned with ginger, oyster sauce and sesame oil. I like to stir fry veg as a side to not-necessarily-oriental mains like fish or steaks but this recipe works as a good veggie stir-fry too, to be served over plain rice or noodles.
Salmon stir fried with ginger, lemon and palm sugar served with green veg. I was a bit worried that my nice bit of salmon I had my mind set on this time would disintegrate. So I had to watch that bit of the documentary again. How did they do it? Below's how – just leave it alone for a while, then turn and that’s it.
Light Victoria sponge cake filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Airy sponge, almost-melted zesty strawberries, a pillow of cream…
Baked jalapenos stuffed with cheesy herby filling, easy to prepare, healthier than deep fried peppers and tasty to die for. Make sure you use gloves!
Swedish Tosca cake with almond caramel topping. A nice little number, easy to whip up in 15 minutes plus the baking time and actually perfect for afters or pudding as it can be baked in advance, topped and blasted under the grill at the last minute.
Sweet and sour duck stir fry with pineapple and red peppers topped with duck skin scratchings. This recipe is a tasty sweet and sour stir fry - feel free to swap the duck for chicken.
Tarta de Santiago, traditional Spanish almond cake. Three basic ingredients and no electric appliances required: that’s St James’ cake, or tarta de Santiago. It’s a Galician specialty going back to Middle Ages;
Tomato tarte tatin with caramelised plum tomatoes and shortcrust thyme pastry. Cut corners by all means and use puff pastry. But it’s so much more rewarding when it’s a proper tart: slicing into shortcrust base rather than the squishy puff which goes soggy much too soon is worth the effort of producing the pastry.
Tartiflette, the best potato and cheese dish ever invented; with bacon lardons and Reblochon cheese. Tartiflette is the definitive comfort food. Potatoes, bacon and cheese – you can’t go wrong with that. It’s a simple dish and like any recipe coming from the highlands of any country, it looks in the pantry, finds stale bits and bobs and puts them together for dinner both nutritious and satisfying.
Tartine style sourdough country bread made from scratch. Tartine is brilliant – if you know your way around flour, water and levains, give it a go.
Teriyaki chicken made with the best homemade teriyaki sauce. Goodbye, Kikkoman. Farewell, Blue Dragon. I won’t see you now unless for soy sauce.
Thai fish stir fry with mushrooms, beans and noodles. The secret is to marinate it senseless, cook it on medium heat and handle it with (chopsticks and) care when in and out of (and then in again) the wok.
Thai style fish cakes with spicy cucumber dip. My original idea of fish cakes with Thai style flavours – cause I wouldn’t dream of calling my production authentic – was appealing.
Oriental grilled trout served with buttered broccoli. A simple ginger, chilli and coriander marinade works wonders on the fish in just about thirty minutes.
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