Lemon, polenta and almond cake, moist and crunchy. It’s also gluten free and while that’s incidental in my books, it could be a top asset in others’.
Lemon posset, the easiest and the loveliest dessert, served with crunchy biscuits. Posset in medieval times was a spiced, rich milky-wine concoction, served probably more often as a remedy than a dessert. They did mix their drinks in the olden days didn’t they?
Lemon and smoked paprika roasted potato wedges. This is definitely one of those dishes that look hugely better before cooking. Decorative lemon slices, pale yellow potatoes with a red dusting of paprika, glistening oil and the green sprigs of rosemary – pretty as a picture.
Warm salad of poached fish and raw samphire with lemongrass dressing. Samphire, or sea asparagus, is the salty marshland grass and not actually seaweed as some may think.
Lettuce and bacon salad with smoky dressing and crumbled blue cheese. To be honest, anything with blue cheese crumbled onto it has to be good, that’s the inherent quality of blue cheese.
Light rye bread with linseed, sunflower and pumpkin. Rye bread is a totally different story than wheat. Where wheat bread is fluffy, rye is stodgy. While white loaf is crusty, rye is practically all crumb. Wheat best fresh, rye has to stand overnight in order to even slice it.
Linguine with smoked salmon and homemade pesto - and lots of parmesan. This recipe uses, admittedly, fancy pasta from Carluccio. But to be honest, any good quality linguine will do, even if not sexily stripy pink, yellow and green…
Macarons basques - or mouchous - are different than the Parisian variety, they are both more crunchy and more chewy, no cream filling there but presented individually and looking quite rustic compared to their descendants of central France.
Classic French madeleines, buttery and melting. The cookie is lovely – and don’t listen to the evil people who tell you it’s all right to make madeleines with whole eggs.
Crusty and chewy French dimple rolls with whole grains and malted wheat flakes. A recently refreshed sourdough starter, malted flakes or powder, some whole grains and a dimple.
Maple shortbread bars with almonds and pistachios. I like nuts but pecans and walnuts are probably my least favourites so I replaced them with what I like best: almonds and pistachios.
Meatball casserole with courgettes, red peppers and tomato sauce. So okay, wait until you’ve made so many meatballs for one dinner you’ll have a pile left over for a casserole for another.
The best meatloaf baked with a maple syrup and mustard glaze. Meatloaf is a gorgeous dish, the mince just needs plenty of fillers. Try making it with pure meat, it won’t work – crumbly to oblivion and not very flavoursome. Whack more Parmesan into it than you think is feasible*. Fry an onion and add in. Pour in some soured cream, crème fraiche or indeed milk and you’re in business. T
Wild or exotic mushroom ragu, perfect to serve over pasta or gnocchi. It is, truly, a masterly recipe and the addition of tomato ketchup a stroke of genius.
Moules marinières with cream, fairly standard, but this recipe has a tiny twist. The usual spiel is to cook mussels with wine, take them out and then add cream – what a waste of time. I added the cream beforehand, turned up the heat full whack and threw the shells in...
Corn tortilla chips nachos with homemade beef chilli, corn and cheese. Nachos are an obscenely cunning trick of how to turn eating crisps into a full meal.
No knead bread is a good start for breadmaking deniers. I’m only going to ask you one question: have you got a cast iron casserole? If the answer is yes, you’re in business. This bread can be the first you’ve ever made.
Oatmeal biscuits, the healthiest cookies, sprinkled with pinhead oats. They are gluten-free and only contain three spoonfuls of sugar. Definitely good for your gut with all the fibre, but oatmeal apparently also lowers bad cholesterol levels while providing bags of nutrients.
Oatmeal raisin cookies, buttery, chewy and delicious. I recently realised I’ve been obsessed with oats. Porridge and I go back to before anyone else was interested in cooking oats first thing in the morning.
Oatmeal and banana smoothie with chia seeds, dairy and gluten free but not free of taste. Briefly – the epitome of what I usually sneer at. Vegan. Gluten free. Dairy free.
Old fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting. We used to have two apple trees in the garden: one eating, one cooking, fruiting every other year each, in alternative years – a perfect arrangement.
French onion soup with toasted bread slices loaded with cheese. The best thing to eat on a cold winter’s day is soup. Something so comforting about a good bowl of soup – better than a stew, much better than a salad and it even beats cheese on toast – sometimes. Not that much beats cheese on toast in my view.
Orange macaroon cake with dessicated coconut and orange liqueur. This is a glorious cake. Just the right moisture (wet), orange flavour fantastic (no, can’t be less), and slightly chewy on account of the coconut.
Steamed whole sea bass oriental style, with coriander and spring onions. Wok’s shape makes it possible to simply prop up a plate against the sides so it’s beautifully suspended over the water, no rack or even steaming basket needed.
King Oskar II cake - almond macaron style cake filled with buttercream. Apparently they sell them in Ikea, frozen, and tasty to boot, alongside the meatballs and pickled herring. I adore Swedes and Swedish food but detest Ikea.
Sea trout fillets oven steamed at low temperature. This works for salmon, trout and sea trout – the last in my experience particularly prone to drying out. Season ad lib, brown some butter and serve with samphire – or green veg if you’re not partial to seaweed.
Overnight oats with homemade yoghurt and fresh fruit, the healthiest breakfast. You don’t have to make your own yoghurt to enjoy this breakfast but it’s so amazingly easy that I challenge you to try.
Baked oyster mushrooms with garlic and blue cheese. This makes almost a sauce – if you want proper sauce, chop them smaller and add more cream. I like to bake them whole though and pile the unctuous, blue cheesy morsels on top of a perfectly cooked steak.
Padron peppers, pimientos de padron, a Spanish dish of blistered padron style green peppers.
Paella mixta, chicken and shrimp with crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan and incomparable flavour throughout. I am feeling quite pleased with myself as I’ve just read that paella is one of the top most difficult dishes to make at home.
Pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil. I love fresh tomatoes with good quality pasta. The question whether you should buy ’fresh’ supermarket pasta is a moot point – buy dry. Good.
Parker House rolls, created in the famous Boston hotel, are soft and buttery. They look a bit like Pacman and infuriatingly open up whilst being baked. Very, very nice though – all that butter doesn’t go in there for nothing.
Pasta fritta, fried orzo pasta with asparagus, garlic and mint. This really doesn’t require a list of ingredients as the truly essential are three – or two, at a push: cold pasta and fat of some description.
Pasta with asparagus and lemon butter, served with lots of Parmesan. Three tricks pasta and I’m pleased to announce that this is truly a pasta template, versatile as anything. I give you the pasta with lemon and any veg, plus Parmesan because pasta can’t be without it.
Peach jam with a hint of vanilla, easy to make and very flavoursome. Peach jam fools everyone. You think (well, I did) it doesn’t even exist or at most belongs with those quaint outlandish preserves made by niche artisan hipsters in tiny quantities, like courgette or banana.
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.
Perfect beef fillet steaks cooked medium rare, served with anchovy butter. Smoking hot pan still holds, no question, but to ensure the meat is cooked evenly through even with thickish cuts, and even at cuisson bleu, you need to flip the steak...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cake with soft fruit and streusel topping. Don’t you just love cake recipes which say ‘throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well’? This is just that kind of recipe. I must have made this cake about a thousand times, varying the fruit.
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.
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