Hot cross buns with raisins, dried apricots and citrus peel. Try this – by all means. It’s still a good bun and none you can buy in the shops are a patch on it. They keep rather well and only on the third day had to be toasted a little.
Ice cream sandwiches in choux pastry buns, with ice cream flavour of choice, homemade or your favourite brand. I first made choux pastry at the age of about 11, in my technology lesson at school.
Gratin of thinly sliced jerusalem artichokes baked with bacon and cheese in a creamy sauce. I like the flavour and the taste – nutty, firmer and sweeter than spuds and not quite as starchy.
Joululimppu - Finnish Christmas bread with buttermilk, black treacle and caraway and fennel seeds. What a lovely bread this is! Unlike any other loaf. Goes beautifully with a little smoked salmon on Christmas morning.
Julekake, Norwegian Christmas bread with raisins, citrus peel and cardamom flavour. Now this is what I call Christmas Day breakfast - and even better on Boxing Day, toasted and thickly buttered. Better than a brioche - firmer and more substantial, and not so rich.
Koulourakia are Greek Easter butter cookies, rolled and snailed and coiled into twisty shapes. This recipe is with traditional ammonia as raising agent and exotic mahlep spice.
Festive Krantz cake with chocolate and walnut filling - quite unusual. No idea what its name means and no, it’s not the same as Kranz – creamy ‘crown’ cake. I found my recipe in ‘Baking with Passion’ by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington.
Greek style lamb koftas with harissa dip. So get yourself a pound of mince lamb or even better, put it through an old fashioned porkit machine yourself.
A rack of lamb, roasted with a herb and parmesan crust. I believe in simple seasoning of this arguably best cut of lamb, but the coating of mainly herbs and parmesan - without too much breadcrumbs - really works.
Lamb shank basted with caper and anchovy butter, served with stir fried cabbage. I had a shank languishing in the freezer for a while, won at a meat auction held in a restaurant a while back, so waste not – want not, I cooked it.
Lebkuchen - soft, honeyed cookies, similar to gingerbreads. Lebkuchen are of German provenance, invented by Franciscan monks in the 13th century.
Leek and potato soup, homemade is the best. Soup is the easiest, cheapest and quickest thing to cook at home. Especially if you are a proponent of Soup With Bits, like me – you won’t need a blender.
Leek slaw, a simple leek salad with cucumber, seasoned with black pepper and honey. Leeks are good a filler in all sorts of bakes and casseroles. They can convincingly pretend to be onions for people who are not keen on the largest allium. Soups - can I start gushing about my all-time favourite leek and potato? P
Creamy leeks sautéed with wild garlic. Wild garlic, bear’s garlic or ramsons turns up in spring in woody, wet, marshy lands and down in the overgrown part of my garden.
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?
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.
Lentils and spicy chorizo casserole with fresh tomatoes. Spicy, hearty, tomatoey and earthy with cheese on top – a perfect autumnal dish you might say, except it tastes as good all year round.
Lumberjack date and apple cake with caramelised coconut topping. Try as I might, I can’t trace the origin of lumberjack cake or why it is called thus.
Smooth mango ice cream without eggs, churned in an ice cream maker. Make sure the fruit is as ripe as it can be; apart from the insufficient sweetness, unripe mango smells a bit off-putting.
Mascarpone blueberry cake, rich and velvety with a tangy flavour from the blueberries. Mascarpone works lovely in this recipe; especially that it also has blueberries in the mix - both things my firm favourite.
Matcha and white chocolate creamy eggless ice cream. More ice cream; this time it’s the creamiest, softest ice cream as claimed by Heston Blumenthal, published a good many years ago in one of the weekend supplements.
Meringue kisses: pink coloured mini meringues, filled with white and dark chocolate ganache. It’s not all fun making them though – meringue has the tendency of going its own ways, clinging to everything but the inside of the piping bag.
My recipe for mince pies has the best shortcrust pastry and the nicest mincemeat filling - easy to make too. They go back to the times of crusades and the Middle Eastern approach to sweet and savoury, mixing meat with spices, fruit and nuts.
Mini Pavlovas - individual meringues with whipped cream and fruit toppings: passion fruit, pomegranate and raspberry. Simple – and gorgeous. Any time of year. And what’s more important – small meringues are much easier to bake than a whole big Pavlova.
Mini sausage rolls made with cream cheese pastry and pork and mushroom filling. Party food – or a perfect snack. The filling can be fashioned out of cooked or raw meat – using leftover Christmas turkey, Sunday roast chicken or pork, or raw meat like here.
Festive Stollen with sweet, spiced poppy seed filling. Poppy seeds make such a fantastic festive filling for breads, cakes and little bites that it’s a shame they are not more popular in the bits of Europe west and south of Dresden.
The best, darkest, gooey-est chocolate cake ever – so I’ve called it Morticia’s cake. A bit of effort involved, separating eggs and folding the batter carefully but the end product is pure Addams Family.
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...
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 and spice muffins with candied citrus peel. These smell lovely while they’re baking – orange-and-spice, Christmas-just-around-the-corner aroma.
Tartlets with ricotta and almond filling, topped with candied orange slices. I can’t honestly say which filling is nicer – the bonus about the ricotta one I guess that you can stick the leftovers into a buttered and floured ramekin and bake for a mini cheesecake.
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.
Crêpes, or wheat pancakes, with spinach and blue cheese filling. The batter is a doddle to make and it annoys me so to see the dry mix sold in supermarkets. Mix eggs with flour and milk – a toddler can do it, no? The art of pancake is tricky, but the difficulty lies in tools rather than ingredients.
Pandoro, Italian festive 'golden bread', the sweet buttery panettone's rival. Come on, Italians - just have both. I’m having both this year, although my pandoro is baked in a panettone tin - and my recipe is a somewhat hacked version of an Italian one.
Panettone - classic Italian Christmas sweet bread. Yes – it’s doable. A word of warning though: it’s a fickle, capricious beast in the truly Italian style, la donna è mobile and so is panettone.
Pan-fried wood pigeon breast fillets with orange caramel. I’m sure wood pigeon is much underrated. You look out of the window into your garden, and on seeing those puffed-up, bolshy bullies on the lawn you don’t think ‘FOOD!’
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.
Turnips roasted with thyme, rosemary and parmesan. They get a new line of life with this recipe, zinged with a dash of parmesan and thoroughly cooked through. Now I’m a hater of overcooked veg, but those babies, they need to be tender.
Parsnip and orange cake with cinnamon and raisins. Very similar to carrot cake though not quite as moist, it’s good enough to bake at Christmas instead of the fruit cake.
Chunky parsnip fries with spicy seasoning. Let me tell you: my parsnip chips are fried. Fried. In hot oil. Lots of it. And that’s why I call them fries.
Parsnip gratin, baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of spice. Another way to zing up a boring vegetable – parsnip gratin. What to do with all those root veg when the sexy ones have all gone out of season?
Pan fried partridge breast fillets with grilled peppers, mushrooms and aubergine. This recipe has the partridge breasts coated in spiced flour and pan-fried for just 4 minutes in total.
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.
Baked peach with blue cheese and cinnamon crumble. I like a savoury take on a dessert dish. You expect a roasted peach, honey and pillows of whipped cream or mascarpone and here’s blue cheese with its sharp, salty sting.
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 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.
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