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.
Pork loin roasted at low temperature, served with blueberry sauce. There are two things worth mentioning about this recipe: it’s pork, but not as you know it; and it comes with the dressing that usually hangs out with pancakes.
Pork and mushroom stroganoff: perfect for when you want to cook an easy but special dish and can’t afford to spend a small fortune on the ingredients.
My best porridge: pinhead oats soaked overnight, served with creme fraiche and honey. Pinhead oats are tougher, with more bite, but thanks to that also more satisfying - and actually keep you going for longer: I guess all those pinheads in the stomach take more time to be digested.
Potato salad with pancetta and asparagus, delicious warm or cold. I’m really not sure what the deal with the ‘only three ingredients!’ recipes is. Or only four or five for that matter - the authors of those seem to take pride in putting together as few foodstuffs as possible
Potatoes boulangeres, potato slices baked with stock, onions and a little butter. A simple side of potatoes boulangeres is traditional with beef bourgignon.
Filled pasta cooked potsticker style: fry-steam-fry, with a handful of frozen peas and some shaved Parmesan thrown in. egone, boring boiled tortellini with boring pesto and cream - it’s now a Chinese-Italian fusion. Quite a bit of historical justice - after all Marco Polo allegedly stole the idea of pasta off the Chinese…
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.
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.
Prawns with stewed tomatoes. The other night I went out for dinner (a respite from all this cooking, shooting and Fiending) and had a very decent red mullet served with tomato and raisin stew. The stew was simply AMAZING.
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 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.
Raisin cake with a hint of spice, baked in a round Bundt tin. A bucket cake, this, well and truly. Bucket cake, if it needs reminding, is a concoction created by throwing things into a bucket and stirring them around a bit.
Homemade raspberry jam. I used to think that to make jam you need tonnes and tonnes of fruit and it takes hours and hours of boiling the stuff in huge pans, with lots of splattering and covering the kitchen with sticky gunk – NO.
Meringue roulade with raspberries and whipped mascarpone cream filling, decorated with rose petals and pistachios. Just when you thought meringue-related desserts couldn’t get any better – this thing turns up.
No churn raspberry ripple ice cream made in five minutes with three ingredients. Does having ice cream about three times a year justify spending three hundred quid on a Gaggia or SubZero ice cream maker, even assuming I had that cash floating about idle?
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.
Celeriac remoulade with dressing made from mayo, creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard. Celeriac remoulade is a great salad, good with fish but with roast meat as well.
Whole roast duck with a spice rub and honey and dark soy glaze. This one is cooked through but not overdone, moist and flavoursome thanks to the honey and the spices, and very tender.
Roast leg of lamb flavoured with garlic, rosemary and anchovies. The roast lamb leg is gorgeous, you might want to ask your butcher to butterfly it and remove the bone (it might mean the same thing, I’m not that clued up on butchery lingo).
Roast sirloin of beef cooked at low temperature produces as fantastic result as sous-vide cooking. The caveat: abandon all hope if you don’t own a digital probe of some kind.
Roasted cauliflower florets with togarashi seasoning and a grating of Parmesan. Roasted cauliflower is very, VERY tasty. Go freehand on it: butter, parsley and parmesan are as good as gochujang, ginger and sesame oil.
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.
Cheat's sourdough, with yeast but fermenting over 24 hours, with added rosemary and seeds. The taste beats no knead. The texture is fantastic every time. If you have a clay cloche or a cast iron casserole – a no brainer and will come out crusty as anything.
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.
Rye sourdough bread on rye starter, made with 60% rye and some wheat flour, flavoured with caraway seeds. Let it cool completely before slicing; it's best after a day or two.
Salmon, broccoli and courgette baked with creme fraiche, mustard and dill. One pot wonder – courgettes and broccoli will do for veg, and if you really need a filler, return those spuds into the equation. Tasty. Very tasty.
Salmon and potato dish cooked under the grill - let’s try to tackle fish like it wasn’t fish. Like it was chicken – only slightly different colour. The recipe below is dead – FIENDISHLY – easy, cooks in ten minutes and the only prepping involved is boiling potatoes.
Salmon fillet cooked with oyster sauce and brown sugar. Oyster sauce is a weird and wonderful thing that makes boring food suddenly taste fantastic. Simple green vegetables, boring broccoli and beans, get a sudden oomph when drizzled over with a bit of that pungent salty gunk, and a spoonful of sesame oil.
Baked salmon pâté with tarragon and chopped gherkins. Fresh salmon marinated in soy sauce and honey is turned into flavoursome pâté in this simple recipe.
Salmon fillets with blue cheese topping baked in foil parcels. Easy – fiendishly easy cooked like below, just stick some blue cheese on it, wrap in foil and sling in the oven for ten. And you can even call it fancy: en papilotte!
Baked salmon fillets in maple syrup, soya sauce and garlic marinade. Salmon is pretty versatile and can happily take various treatments – see my recipes for steamed salmon and baked with potatoes. With all the cooking techniques I find the timing is the trick.
Salt and pepper halibut, seared in a flash. Halibut used to be my all time favourite fish. But now it's apparently overfished, not sustainable and it just makes you feel plain bad eating it. So it's a rare treat for me. But I've noticed it doesn't taste as lovely as it used to. So I've figured - cook it as quick as I can...
Salted caramel ice cream: three ingredients, no churning, just a bowl and a whisk needed. Make it without salt – it will be one of those ‘only 2 ingredients!’ shticks. Add less salt if you’re keen but sensitive to the taste; a
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.
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