Sticky fig upside down cake. The figs get sticky and melt into the almond layer; and if they don’t look quite as appealing as I was hoping – well, the proof of the pudding and all that.
Sticky toffee pudding - date cake with delicious toffee sauce, best served warm. Let’s face it: it’s a date cake. Easy to make, nice and slightly gooey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with baking it, leaving it dry and eating a slice or two cold.
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)...
Strawberry fizz cocktail with prosecco and grenadine. Let’s try this at home – I didn’t have any cassis or Chambord; I didn’t want to waste champagne on unknown quality and I wanted fruit in. It’s not exactly a sunrise but it’s rather excellent – and very summery.
Homemade strawberry jam with a twist of lemon and a sprinkle of black pepper enhancing the strawberry flavour. Jamming is preserving fruit in sugar. Jam is fruit cooked in sugar. There isn’t anything fresh, low-calorie or low-carb about jam, let alone keto or other paleo-nonsense.
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.
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.
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 butter: a creamy spread with incredible flavour, super easy to make. It’s not really butter in terms of texture but it’s a miracle product. I lifted the recipe from Matt Tebbutt, didn’t like the skins floating about so I passed the lot through my newly purchased food sieve – I pass anything I can since I bought it - and that turned out to be the thing to do.
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...
Traditional panettone, sweet Italian Christmas bread, made with natural starter. You have to be patient. You have to have patience, lots of it. Patience, grasshopper.
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.
Venison steaks in red wine sauce. Lean and flavoursome, possibly more than beef. Loin is sureproof but staggeringly expensive, so the best end of haunch might be an equally good cut. I didn’t marinate the steaks but made a pan sauce instead.
A very chocolate ice cream, rich and creamy, made without eggs. The challenge for me was to create as chocolatey chocolate ice cream as those chez Glacerie Lambert – and they were very chocolatey indeed.
Vietnamese summer rolls in rice wrappers, with pork, shrimp and herb filling. Daintily packaged, with shrimp peeking pinkily through the thin film of the wrapper, like some kind of exotic reptile or jellyfish with transparent skin.
Tartine sourdough loaf with toasted walnut chunks. Squirrels have dug holes in my lawn, the sure sign of autumn. I don’t blame them much – they manage just about to scuff the grass and topsoil, puny diggers they are.
Vibrant winter rainbow salad with red and green cabbage, red and white onions, herbs and vinaigrette dressing.
Zombie fingers made of shortbread pastry - with almonds for nails. This is really a cool thing – and it’s surprisingly easy to make them lifelike, or deathlike actually. The almonds will fall off after a while, which I guess is due to decay…
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