Slow roasted shoulder of lamb - how slow dare I cook it? I got this lamb shoulder and I was very tempted to cook it at gas mark 1 (140C/275F). But had a vision of getting on to 7 in the evening, lamb still not done...
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.
Salad of smoked mackerel, avocado, cucumber and celeriac; tasty and super-healthy. Tonnes of omega 3 from the mackerel - and it's mighty tasty!
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 no knead white bread on starter made with pineapple juice. Very tasty bread – next time I’ll add some wholemeal or even whole grain flours for a sharper taste.
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.
Chocolate cake with dark chocolate topping and spider web white chocolate drizzle. The cake is so easy to make it’s embarrassing – but excellent for the kids to be engaged.
Oven baked spinach and mozzarella balls, a fantastic side or appetizer. It’s the signature dish of my favourite chef and he often makes them for a starter. His are fancier and frequently involve bacon which is never a bad thing. I
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.
Spinach and cheese bake, a healthy casserole served as a side dish or for brunch. Cheese is able to cover a multitude of sins. There aren’t many dishes that can’t be improved by throwing some cheese at them.
Spring cabbage salad - cabbage appears to contain more vitamin C than oranges. It’s also rich in vitamin K and anti-oxidants. Eat more cabbage! Only the name is so off-putting… But I have a solution: Sauerkraut. Kimchi. Surkål. Choucroute. Tsukemono.
Steamed salmon in a parcel is truly delicious – I had it warm, almost straight from the steamer (bar shooting a few pictures) but it tasted even better the next day, provided you bring it up to room temperature.
Pan fried mackerel fillet with sweet sticky sauce. There are two secrets to successfully pan-frying fish. One is a smoking hot pan and the other – the skin of the fish PERFECTLY dry. Otherwise you’ll be scraping the fish bits off the pan forever.
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’?
Stir fry cabbage - super quick, super tasty, with herbs, garlic and honey. First off – buy the right stuff. The new season, loosely packed cabbage is the best, in fact the less on the head, the better. What the supermarkets call spring cabbage will do too.
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…
Strawberry cake - or use the mix with any soft seasonal fruit. Very easy, melt-in-your-mouth cake. Once I got so pissed off with l’homme de ma vie that I ate six pieces at one go to make me feel better. It did. The bathroom scales the next morning didn’t though. The basic recipe is pretty much a simple pound cake...
Easy strawberry cake with crumble. This is what I call a bucket cake. Not because it should be on everyone's list of cakes-you-must-eat-before-you-kick-the-bucket ( although it's a lovely cake)...
Boned and rolled guinea fowl with pork and dried fruit stuffing. Poultry, game birds and pork love sweet, fruity and spicy company. Ham cooked in Coca-Cola, chicken in chocolate sauce, duck with prunes or a l’orange to name just a few classics.
Summer berry ice cream, the easiest no eggs recipe for homemade ice cream. Yes, I know – proper ice cream involves custard. Contrary to what The Weather Man believes*, there are eggs in the best Italian gelati. You temper eggs, make custard and watch so it doesn’t come to the boil – fuss and bother.
Summer cherry cake with a hint of cinnamon and minimal effort involved. This cake mix is pathetically simple – and fool proof every time. No mixer needed, it’s almost what the Americans call a ‘dump cake’.
Toasted crunchy oats with summer fruit compote, perfect for breakfast. I call it ‘fruit compote’ but it most probably is a completely wrong term technically.
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.
Date cake with tamarind paste and lemon and cardamom icing. I'm sure it would go amazingly with a caramel sauce, served warm from the oven or heated up in a microwave but it’s really good just left at the ‘cake’ stage.
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.
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.
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.
Pasta bake with tomato sauce and aubergines. I’m really not quite sure if I prefer the chunky pasta shapes or the long, challenging ones. Of course they are each meant for different sauces: the chunky shapes are for robust sauces...
Tomato and fig salad with blue cheese and balsamic dressing. This is a particularly well-matched couple: tomatoes and figs. The blue cheese adds a salty touch – otherwise it would be too much of a Mills & Boone book cover.
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.
Very easy, basic tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, only to warm it up. Add the chopped tomatoes (or the contents of a tin), season generously...
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.
Black rye bread with treacle, seeds and sultanas, easily adapted to be gluten free. Swap the bread flour for a white spelt, in which case possibly replace dark rye with light, so the texture isn’t too ‘short’.
Tuna tartare with chopped gherkins, red onion and a splash of soya sauce. ‘Tartare’, contrary to popular beliefs, originally meant a dish served with tartar sauce. I am fond of the popular belief relating the origins to the Tartar people of Central Asia...
Twice roasted beetroots with figs and pomegranate seeds. Crimson central – this is a dish of red, red and more red, suitable for the season of flaming gold on tree branches and misty mornings.
The easiest Valentine cake in the world: a mini Victoria sponge sandwich, shaped like a heart, filled with jam and whipped cream. This is a ridiculously easy little cake to make - takes all of five minutes to prepare and half an hour to bake
The best vanilla ice cream: no eggs, full fat cream and milk and real vanilla pods make totally luscious vanilla ice cream. Vanilla is really expensive at the moment but there’s no question that no extract matches up to the genuine article.
Veal T-bone steaks with a dry rub, perfect for a barbecue. The dry rub creates a bit of protective coating for the event of burning, and on the bone is more resilient than off the bone. A nice touch will be a bit of veg kebabbed and barbied alongside the meat and don't you dare burn THOSE.
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?
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