Aubergine steaks

A long-standing regular on the weekly menu, this recipe makes a great meat-free supper dish, substantial enough to justify the description ‘steak’. I came across it in Marie Claire magazine in the early 1990s, when I was in a five-year vegetarian phase that ended decisively over a dish of beef carpaccio, at Woz in NottingContinue reading “Aubergine steaks”

Pesto

Like vinaigrette, mayonnaise or hollandaise, pesto is a sauce you ought to be able to sling together on autopilot. The traditional Genoese version demands a lot of patient pounding with a large mortar and pestle, so use an electric blender instead to produce a vibrant, versatile paste in just seconds. The quantities below are approximateContinue reading “Pesto”

Coconut dal with lime kale

Last year, a pressing sense of responsibility towards the planet prompted us to sign up for Veganuary. We soldiered on through gamely, experimenting with all sorts of alternative foods, but were not prepared to commit to long-term veganism: the end of our month-long meat and dairy drought was marked by a slap-up full English breakfastContinue reading “Coconut dal with lime kale”

Chickpea & tomato soup

Here is another recipe originally from Sophie Grigson’s Food for Friends (see Aubergine Parmigiana). I’ve had to play around with it from the start because the officially published version has no tomatoes in it (in spite of the title) and, in any case, it lends itself to multiple variations. All sorts of tinned pulses willContinue reading “Chickpea & tomato soup”

Oven-baked mushroom risotto

The traditional method of making risotto involves the slow addition of warm stock and a lot of stirring over a hot stove to produce a creamy mass of al dente rice. This alternative approach, devised by Delia Smith, saves all that bother and leaves the cook free for other worthwhile activities (like polishing off theContinue reading “Oven-baked mushroom risotto”

Parmesan & poppyseed biscuits

These are a savoury version of kilted highlanders, the demerara-coated shortbread biscuits that Great-Granny would often wheel out at tea time. They’re incredibly easy to make, arresting to look at and make a great accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks. Given that the recipe comes from Ottolenghi (his first book), you might be surprised to recognise allContinue reading “Parmesan & poppyseed biscuits”

Brandy butter

The essential accompaniment to Christmas pudding, brandy butter is easy to make and keeps for ages in the fridge. I’ve learned from bitter experience not to go in too heavy with the brandy: it’s liable to split the mixture, which will still taste fine but will look, unappetisingly, like scrambled eggs. My version includes darkContinue reading “Brandy butter”

Christmas sauces

Here are foolproof instructions for two accompaniments to roast turkey: cranberry sauce and bread sauce. Both can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple of days. The cranberry sauce will in fact keep for much longer if kept in a sterilised jar. Cranberry sauce Serves 6 Ingredients Juice of 1Continue reading “Christmas sauces”

Mulled wine

An essential lubricant at this time of year, mulled wine always fills the house with evocative smells. After literally years of experimenting with different versions, I’ve concluded that Jamie Oliver’s recipe is the best. Follow this and you can dispense with those ghastly sachets of spice mix or – even worse – the pre-mixed bottlesContinue reading “Mulled wine”

Christmas pudding

You might question whether this meets the criteria for inclusion as an established family favourite: although it’s served every year at Christmas, some of you eat it only under sufferance and I’ve made it just twice myself. Nonetheless, it is traditional British fare, an important piece of culinary history, a cultural artefact, and pretty impressiveContinue reading “Christmas pudding”