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.
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.
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…
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. Amazing how often my place is like a restaurant – cooking separate things for each person. I shouldn’t put up with it...
Vegetarian Thai noodles flavoured with cinnamon, star anise, ketjap manis and ginger. This was originally Nigella Lawson’s recipe which had been originally her Thai chef’s one while on holiday there; Nigella, not chef or me.
Tomato crostata with honey and thyme flavour on flaky pastry made from scratch. Delightfully flaky pastry, with or without sneaky cheese addition, is full of carbs, those floury devils.
Savoury tarte Tatin with confit tomatoes. Tomatoes are generally rubbish through three quarters of the year in the non-Mediterranean part of Europe. Tasteless and watery, with thick skins and not much flavour.
Traditional panettone, sweet Italian Christmas bread, made with natural starter. You have to be patient. You have to have patience, lots of it. Patience, grasshopper.
Triple chocolate chip cookies, chewy inside and crunchy around the edges. What a sadistic recipe this is! It comes from NY Times Cooking, which I unreservedly trust, but this is (excuse the lame pun) taking the biscuit (cookie). 24 hours’ wait for the first cookie? They are having a laugh.
Vanilla chocolate cupcakes with meringue buttercream frosting. These are good though for a dinner party dessert: you dish out individual items which is neat and stops people from devouring the whole large cake in one sitting.
Vegetable egg fried rice, the best homemade takeaway. Fried rice is a freewheeling recipe: anything you fancy goes. Those tiny dried shrimp - gorgeous. Just scallions and beansprouts - why not?
Vegetarian chili with pickled red onions. The recipe is dead simple beside that, and a good weekday supper if you put in canned beans. Soaking and boiling is as much worth the bother as it gives you the right crookedness – tinned beans might get mushy after half an hour in the company of tomatoes.
Venetian carrot cake, gluten free carrot cake with pine nuts and a handful of boozy raisins. This is a lovely cake, squidgy and wet (‘wet’ being the word I’m campaigning for to replace the hateful ‘moist’).
Vietnamese summer rolls in rice wrappers, with pork, shrimp and herb filling. Daintily packaged, with shrimp peeking pinkily through the thin film of the wrapper, like some kind of exotic reptile or jellyfish with transparent skin.
Tartine sourdough loaf with toasted walnut chunks. Squirrels have dug holes in my lawn, the sure sign of autumn. I don’t blame them much – they manage just about to scuff the grass and topsoil, puny diggers they are.
Raspberry muffins with white chocolate chunks. Muffin is not a biscuit. It's not a cake. It's not quite breakfast fodder. It's this weird cakey thing that you grab when on the go, when hungry but its not lunchtime.
White chocolate kladdkaka. Swedish 'sticky cake' can be made with white, milk or dark chocolate.
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