Angel food cake, light as air and fat-free. It’s like eating cloud. Really sweet cloud. But surprisingly, it can be sliced and layered, filled with cream and fruit and curd without fear of collapsing. What it is basically is a butterless, fatless, egg yolk-less sponge. Airy-fairy.
Cider braised ham with apples and garlic. This is truly the best way to cook gammon/ham. It is out of this world and will make ham sandwiches to die for.
German apple Kuchen with roasted apples and breadcrumb and nut topping. Kuchen, I recall, is what my Grandmother used to bake on Sundays, to be consumed, still warm, after lunch with a coffee.
Perfect apple pie with homemade pastry and apple and raisin filling. I have twisted the classic a little by making sweetened crust but if you use tart cooking apples and not a lot of sugar in the filling, it creates a nice balance.
Cheat's apple strudel with apple chunks and raisins wrapped in sweet tea bread dough. This is a cheat’s recipe. There’s no stretching and stretching and stretching and reading love letters through the dough involved.
Christmas pork, apricot and fig stuffing for turkey, duck, goose or chicken. This stuffing has a wonderful flavour, sweet with the dried fruit and spiced with nutmeg and mace. but is very easy to make.
Buttery loaf cake with dried apricot chunks and generous crumble topping; it’s a winter version of the fruit crumble cake, and all the ingredients you should have in your pantry.
Apricot frangipane tart, fresh apricots on a frangipane layer, with Italian shortcrust pastry base. There are three recipes in this one. The tart base is made from pasta frôlla, the Italian equivalent to sable or shortcrust; not really very different but less flaky and crumbly than their Anglo-French brothers
Quick and easy apricot jam with a touch of spice. Kids usually like red jams, at least I did when I was one. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry; once I was hugely let down by redcurrant which was too sour and pippy; and I didn’t quite trust black jams with the exception of blueberry.
Apricot upside-down butter cake. Just when I thought I've seen it all when it comes to cake batters, here comes this little number and what a lovely one it is. The texture is gorgeous, it's not hard to make and it keeps if you let it.
Fresh green asparagus cooked gently with butter, served with some shavings of parmesan. Cook them simply. Don’t overcook; they need to have a bite. They love butter, not too high heat, a squeeze of lemon and some parmesan.
Asparagus risotto with Parmesan crackers. Making a good risotto is tricky: the proportion of liquid to rice; when to add on the add-ons; how to score the precise result between tough grains and a slop bucket; whether to use a wooden spoon or a whisk in the absence of the magical girariso and how much butter it REALLY needs.
Raw asparagus salad with lemon and olive oil dressing. This is a simple salad and of course you can choose not to bother with the peeling, but it makes for a good contrast of textures. The dressing marinates the asparagus a bit and the Parmesan complements them nicely. As fresh green shoots as you can get – and it’s spring by the mouthful!
A Greek twist on Eton mess: fresh blueberries or strawberries, lightly whipped cream and filo pastry shards. You’ll never want the Eton version again!
Avocado ice cream, dairy free and vegan, made without ice cream maker. For the people who don’t like ice cream, desserts, chocolate, cake, cookies or pudding I have a real treat today: avo ice. Y
Baked fennel with tomatoes and plums: three ingredients and what a burst of flavour. It makes a good vegetarian lunch or an interesting side for meat or fish.
Baked figs can be a starter, a dessert or a full lunch or brunch dish, with a bit of nice bread. Trim them and cut a cross in each to about halfway down the fruit. Put them on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil, balsamic and honey. Bake for about 10 minutes...
These are my best barbecue ideas for meat and vegetable kebabs so you only need green salad and pita bread to serve as side dishes.
Homemade beef burgers in Hokkaido milk buns. Burgers crown the list and I think the secret really is in that slice of gherkin that a burger should be topped with. Joking aside - good minced beef has lots of flavour and sometimes, but sometimes, it can beat an average steak for me.
Beef fillet roulade with porcini mushroom stuffing. The execution could not be easier: if you get a nice middle cut of fillet - but frankly any part will go - all you do is open it up like a book with a sharp knife, spread with the stuffing and roll it up again.
Crusty tart with beetroot greens and garlic topping. If you get hold of really new, baby beets with vibrant, tender leaves, use them in salads.
Caribbean Christmas black cake with rum soaked fruit and burnt sugar flavour. It is the Jamaican or Trinidad cousin of British Christmas cake and it stands tall in comparison!
Blueberry Victoria sponge cake, with layers of lightly roasted blueberries and whipped cream. Sponge cake, as the name cleverly suggests, is supposed to soak up the filling/syrup/drizzle/jam/cream.
Blueberry buckle cake with wholemeal flour and quinoa and oats topping. That of course refers to the way the topping buckles on top of the fruit in a wavy manner. Very descriptive. I think I’ll adopt it now, especially that the blueberry kind is the most common buckle and that is my firm favourite.
Blueberry cornmeal shortbread tart from Alison Roman, slightly tweaked, is the best pie/tart/cobbler for the summer season. No soggy bottom!
Sweet focaccia-style tea bread topped with blueberries and crumble. Ordinarily, thinking focaccia will bring to mind an image of flat, thin bread decorated sparsely with whatever, preferably savoury, preferably olives.
Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home. Here’s how.
Fragrant blueberry jam made in a small batch with a sprig of rosemary is the flavour match made in heaven. This will be your all-time best homemade jar of jam.
Blueberry poppy seed cake, easier to make than a pie and delicious warm or cold. It is a pie of sorts or a tart, or flan, with the filling surrounded by a golden brown crust.
Blueberry upside down polenta cake. Polenta cake batter is so nice because of its crunch. And let's be honest: since anything with blueberries is gorgeous, so is this and I shouldn't have doubted it for a second.
Braised pork shoulder with chilies, Mexican style. The result is epic: tasty, juicy and so tender it falls apart when you look at it. Serve it sliced as if it was a roast, like below; for an ultimate pulled pork taco experience shred it with two forks when hot and toss in the strained sauce.
Bramble jelly, seedless jam made from wild blackberries. Bramble picking would be the nicest and the most rewarding type of foraging – they are plentiful and in plain view, unlike mushrooms
Simple brine for juicy festive turkey, advice on roasting times and a recipe for the best gravy - that's all I want for Christmas.
Broad bean and smashed pea bruschetta with herbs and garlic and a drizzle of olive oil is a starter, lunch or appetiser to kill for. And new beans need just 5 minutes to cook!
Broccoli and Stilton soup, the easiest and tastiest - and no blender needed. Blended soup is my pet hate, worse than mushy peas or smoothies (though mind: purée - justified; milkshake - okay).
Spiced brown apple cake with cocoa, probably the easiest apple cake recipe of the 'mix and bake' kind. It's fragrant with cinnamon and cloves, dark brown with cocoa and dotted with pale chunks of apples.
Crispy roasted brussels sprouts and blanched sprout tops with almonds. They need to be salted and peppered about twice as much as an amount you think sensible.
Brussels sprouts cooked with fennel and caraway seeds and coated in crushed walnuts, parmesan and breadcrumbs. For a vegetarian option of course leave out the bacon. The fennel and caraway seeds add flavour.
Yule log, or buche de Noel made with chocolate sponge and chocolate whipped cream filling. This is DEFINITELY the best dessert on Christmas day. It rides onto the table when everyone is in deep gluttonous stupor after third helpings of turkey and just one more last spoonful of stuffing, and suddenly they perk up mumbling ‘this is a bit of all right’ and ‘I might have room for the thinnest slice more’.
Striped pattern berry cake with buckwheat and almond flour. This is lovely, the sooner served after leaving the oven, the better, as with time the berries start to leach juice a bit and the thing looks much messier.
Butter Stollen, German Christmas bread, at its most indulgent. Two kinds of Stollen in one recipe: packed with fruit and almonds, and swirled with smooth nut filling.
Camembert en croute: baked Camembert wrapped in homemade shortcrust pastry. A divine cheese parcel in cornmeal shortcrust with Cheddar and thyme. Who doesn't love baked cheese?
Carrot cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting. Best cupcakes ever – adopted for Halloween because carrot cake mix is a/ comforting, b/ easy to make with kids...
Cassoulet - the ultimate comfort dish, with duck and pork. Pork belly provided the fat, a little bacon a little smokiness; and I sprinkled breadcrumbs over the casserole as well as the serving bowls.
Cauliflower cheese with spices, garlic and creamy sauce. Interesting thing about comfort foods is that they usually tend to be quite bland. I guess when it's cold outside or you're feeling a bit down you don't fancy stimulating senses too much.
Celeriac gratin - thinly sliced celeriac baked in cream, garlic and Gruyère cheese sauce. Adding cheesy sauce to most veg transforms them into something delishhh so celeriac gratin will work even for people not that keen on the knobbly brute.
Fresh chanterelles sautéed in a little butter, piled on thick slices of toasted bread, make lunch, starter or a snack fit for gods. Scottish or French chanterelles, sunny yellow wild mushrooms, are autumn’s best.
The best cheese fondue, smooth as velvet and comforting as a blanket. This tastes absolutely fantastic. And so it should – it’s Heston’s recipe from the book ‘Heston Blumenthal at home’.
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