Sweet and Salty Peanut Cookies

To quote Nigella, “If greed alone were the spur and measure, these would be my favorite cookies”. That seems like a good enough recommendation for me!!

1/3 cup light brown sugar, plus more for dipping later
scant 1/2 cup butter, plus a little more for melting
scant 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbs. self-rising flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. or 4 1/2 oz. salted peanuts

Heat the oven to 375°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, shortening, egg and vanilla. Mix together well, then stir in the flour and then the peanuts. Drop the dough in rounded teaspoons onto the baking sheets about 2″ apart. Brush the bottom of a glass with melted butter, then dip in some brown sugar and gently flatten the dough.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, by which time they should be cooked through. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 30

Pork Chops with Fennel Seeds and Allspice

Fragrant with savory spices, these pork chops are a jot to make and a joy to eat.

2 pork chops, not too lean
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. celery salt
punch ground cloves
freshly ground pepper
2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
5 tbs. Marsala

Cut the rind and most of the fat off the pork chops. Mix the flour, fennel seeds, allspice, celery salt, cloves and a good grinding of pepper on a dinner plate. Dredge the pork chops in the mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet that the chops will fit snugly in and cook the pork chops for 5 minutes on each side. Tip in the Marsala and cook the pork chops for 5 more minutes. Remove to heated plates and bubble the sauce until thickened. Pour it over the chops and serve.

Serves 2

Gingery-Hot Duck Salad

This sublime salad is a perfect recipe for duck. The citrus and ginger dressing is just right.

1 duck breast or leg and thigh
2 tbs. fish sauce
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small red chili, deseeded and finely chopped or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
few drops of sesame oil
2 green onions, sliced
handful greens such as spinach, arugula, watercress, etc.

Stir together the fish sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, chili, ginger and sesame oil. Set aside.

Grill or saute the duck, fat side down, if not removed, for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Leave to rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then slice into slices or pieces.

Pour any pan juices into the dressing. Arrange the greens on a plate, sprinkle with green onions, place duck on top and drizzle the dressing over.

Serves 2

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

These will be your new favorite potatoes – guaranteed!!!

1 lb. baby new potatoes
3 tbs. olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes

Steam the potatoes until tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Tip the oil into a small roasting tin and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. Tip the potatoes onto a plate and crush them with a fork. Add to the tin and cook for 20 minutes. Turn them over and cook a further 10 minutes. Remove to a serving bowl or plate and drizzle with the vinegar and sprinkle with the salt.

 

Custard

So many desserts and better served with custard. No offense to Byrd’s, but freshly made is so much better!

1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, slit down the length
2 1/4 cups light cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tbs. sugar

Fill the sink with cold water. You will need this too cool the custard once cooked, or to plunge the custard in if it starts to split.

If you are using a vanilla bean, put it in a pan with the cream and heat until nearly boing. Take off the heat, cover and leave to steep for 20 minutes.

If not using a vanilla bean, pour the extract and cream in a pan over the heat. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. When the cream is warm, slowly pour it over the egg mixture, beating all the while. Pour everything into the rinsed-out and dried pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Plunge into the sink of cold water for a minute or two to cool. You can eat it right away or make it in advance, keep it chilled and warm it over a pan of simmering water.

Serves 4

 

 

Garlic and Parsley Flatbreads

These are something between garlic nan and herby focaccia: dimpled, doughy and headily pungent.

3 1/2 cups white bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
1 tbs. salt
1 1/3 – 1 2/3 cups warm water
5 tbs. olive oil, plus more for pouring over the garlic and drizzling
3 heads of garlic
bunch of flat-leaf parsley
sea salt, for sprinkling

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Pour in 1 1/3 cups warm water and the oil and mix to form a soft, but firm dough, adding more water if needed. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside, turning once. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 375°F. Cut off the tops of the garlic heads and place in a small, foil-lined baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season and pull up the foil to form a parcel. Roast until soft and golden, about 45 minutes. Unwrap the foil and leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half and form each into a chunky oval. Place each on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Meanwhile, squeeze the garlic out of the bulbs into a small food processor. Add the parley leaves, then pour in enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Poke your fingers all over the tops of the breads to dimple them, then spread the garlic paste over the tops.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the breads are golden and the garlic paste is a darker brown. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Slice and serve.

One-Step No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

This is the most brilliant ice cream ever! The addition of coffee liqueur insures that the mixture will not freeze completely, leaving you with a soft, instant-serve scoop of wonderment.

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 tbs. espresso liqueur
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Put the sweetened condensed milk in a bowl and stir in the espresso powder and liqueur. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it reaches soft peaks. Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture, then pour into an air-tight freezable container. Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

Asparagus, Radish and New Potato Salad

This simple but sensational salad is dressed with a thick buttermilk vinaigrette. Nigella calls it, “a paean to Springtime”.

For the salad:
zest of 1/2 lemon
small bunch fresh mint
1 lb. baby new potatoes
1 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes or 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt flakes
3 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/2 cups halved radishes
4 cups peas shoots, watercress or other salad green, to serve

For the dressing:
1/4 cup buttermillk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 tbs. chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp. sea salt or a pinch fine sea salt
grinding of black papper

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Steam the potatoes with the lemon zest and 2 sprigs of mint for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the mint.

Put the asparagus in a small roasting tin and toss with the salt and olive oil. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes (6-8 minutes if they are skinny). Tumble the potatoes into the roasting tin, add the fresh tarragon and radishes.

Meanwhile, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Toss with the asparagus and potatoes. Arrange the greens in a bowl or on a plate, then mound the salad on top to serve.

Serves 6-8

Fruit Tea Loaf

The loaf is easy to make and is perfect with a cuppa or toasted and spread with butter for breakfast.

1 cup hot black tea
2 1/4 cups mixed dried fruit
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch cloves
1 egg

Stir together the tea, dried fruit and brown sugar in a large bowl. Cover and leave to macerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a standard loaf tin and line it with a strip of parchment paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cloves together, then stir into the fruit mixture. Add the egg, then scrape into the tin. Bake for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

Lemon Rice

This delicious and citrus-spiked rice is served with toasted black mustard seeds on top for a wonderful contrast and crunch.

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tbs. basmati rice
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. dried mint
juice and zest of 1 lemon
approx. 2 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1 tbs. black mustard seeds

Chose a saucepan with a close-fitting lid. Heat the oil gently before adding the rice. Stir to get a good coating, then add the turmeric and mint. Stir in the lemon juice, water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to low, clamp on the lid and simmer for about 15 minutes. The water should be absorbed and the rice tender. Add more water if needed.

Remove the lid, drape a tea towel over the top, replace the lid and leave to sit off the heat for about 30 minutes.

While the rice is sitting, fry the mustard seeds in a small frying pan for a few minutes to toast. Serve the rice sprinkled with the seeds and the lemon zest.

Serves 4-6

Lamb with Rosemary and Port

These quick and and savory lamb steaks have a lovely pan sauce and are tender and flavorful.

1 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp.Worcestershire sauce
2 boneless lamb leg steaks
1 tbs. butter
1 sprig rosemary, needles chopped
1 fat clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup ruby port

Mix together the olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then smear it over the lamb with a pastry brush.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet and cook the steaks for 3-4 minute per side, depending on thickness. Wrap them in foil and leave to rest.

Add the butter to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Add the rosemary and garlic, then tip in the port and bubble until thickened.

Place the steaks on warmed plates and top with the sauce.

Serves 2

Pilaf for a Curry Banquet

Fragrant and festive, this rice will go with any curry entree. The best thing is that it will keep warm for up to an hour after it cooks, so no last-minute stress!

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. nigella seeds
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Cook the onions over a medium-low heat in the oil in a deep saucepan that has a lid along with the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and nigella seeds. When the onion is slightly brown and softened, after about 10 minutes, stir in the rice.

Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pot with a clean dish towel and clamp the lid back on. Leave it for at least 10 minutes, or up to an hour. Fork the rice through when you are ready to serve and sprinkle the almonds on the top.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pots

If you like a gooey chocolate chip cookies, then you will be ever so thankful for this recipe. Using ramekins gives just the right goo-to-crust ratio. Nigella recommends serving them with cream or creme fraîche.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 tbs. soft butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanila extract or paste
1 extra large egg
3/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly butter 6 x 3 1/2″ ramekins. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Using an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter with the sugar until you have a creamy mixture. Add the vanilla and egg, then fold in the flour mixture and the chocolate chips. Divide between the ramekins and smooth the tops using an off-set spatula.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes. They will be quite gooey inside and golden brown on the top and around the edges. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Tarragon Chicken

This fast version of the French classic Polet A L’estragon will remind you of proper, old-fashioned comfort cooking.

2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
2 fat or 4 skinny scallions, sliced
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1/3 cup white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet or Dutch oven that has a lid and in which the chicken will fit snugly. Add the scallions and dried tarragon and stir for a minute. Season the chicken and place in the pan, curved side down. Cook for 5 minutes, watching that the scallions don’t burn – if they begin to, scrape them up and place them on the chicken.

Turn the chicken over and add the wine or vermouth. Let it bubble a bit, then put on the lid, turn the heat down and leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, then stir in the cream and bubble into a sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with fresh tarragon to serve.

Serves 2

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

The secret in this lovely ragu is red currant jelly. It brings out the natural sweetness of the lamb.

1 1/2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
4 green onions, sliced
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
250g ground lamb
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. red currant jelly
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
250g pappardelle
fresh mint to serve, optional

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions for a minute or two, then stir in the mint, oregano and chili flakes. Add the lamb and brown it whilst breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomatoes, red currant jelly, Worcestershire sauce and a good bit of seasoning. Simmer for 20 minutes to thicken.

Cook the pappardelle in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions. Drain and toss with the ragu.

Serves 2

Japanese Shrimp

Here is a wonderful, fast and simple supper for two. Using frozen shrimp is the key.

2 tbs. water
2 tbs. sake
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. wasabi powder or 1 tsp. wasabi paste
2 tsp. garlic flavored olive oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. frozen, raw, shell-off large shrimp
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a small jug, stir together the water, sake, salt, lime juice and wasabi.

Heat a wok or skillet and add the olive oil and green onions. Stir fry for a minute or so, then tip in the frozen shrimp. Cook for about 3 minutes until they start to turn pink and loose their frozen glaze.

Add the liquid from the jug and bubble everything together for 2-3 minute to make a sauce.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves 2

Turkey Escallops with Mushrooms and Chives

If you need to get supper on the table in 15 minutes, look no further. The key here is to not overcook the turkey.

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
3 1/2 cups chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 small bunch chives, snipped
4 turkey escallops
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

Pour the oil into a large skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat until they soften, adding half the chives midway through. Using a slotted spoon, remove while leaving the pan juices.

Season the escallops well and add to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the wine or vermouth. Allow to bubble for another 2-3 minutes, then transfer to two warmed plates. Tip the mushroom back into the skillet to warm up and spoon them over the turkey. Scatter over the remaining chives.

Serves 2

Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

The grated zest of an orange is what makes this marvelous chicken sing.

2 tbs. regular olive oil
12 chicken thighs (bone-in and skin-on)
1 3/4 lbs. chorizo sausage, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 1/4 lbs. baby white potatoes, halved
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
grated zest of 1 orange

Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the oil in a shallow roasting pan and add the chicken, turning to coat and ending up skin-side up. Season well. Nestle in the chorizo and the potatoes, then sprinkle over the onions, oregano and orange zest.

Cook for 1 hours, basting after 30 minutes with the pan juices. If there is not a lot of pan juice, tip in a bit of sherry to de-glaze the pan.

Serves 6

Sicilian Cauliflower Salad

The mixture of sweet, Marsala-soaked raisins, salty olives and a delicate saffron-scented dressing gives ordinary cauliflower the star treatment. This is a fabulous make-ahead salad.

1 head cauliflower
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/4 cup water from a recently boiled kettle
1/2 cup golden raisins
5 tbs. Marsala
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup oil-brined black olives
3 tbs. toasted pine nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Break the cauliflower into florets and put these in a saucepan that has a lid. Cover with cold water, add the salt and bay leaves, put the lid on, set the pan on a high heat and bring to a boil. Drain immediately and run under cold water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, put the saffron threads in a small bowl and add the boiled water. Let steep.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the Marsala and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

Add the shallots and lemon juice to the saffron water. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.

Tip the still-warm cauliflower into a serving bowl and add the raisins and any Marsala, the dressing and the olives. Toss well and check the seasoning. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Toss in most of the pine nuts and parsley, then scatter the rest over the top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Gluten-Free Banana Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts

This is equally as good in a non-gluten-free version simply by using all-purpose flour and regular baking powder.

1 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. rice flour (or other gluten-free flour)
1 cup ground almonds
2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 large, very ripe bananas
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, at room temperature
125ml vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces

Heat the oven to 325°F and line a 2lb. loaf tin with parchment paper.

Mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.

Peel the bananas and mash them in a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla and Greek yogurt, then add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the oil and the sugar. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then fold in the chocolate and walnuts.

Spread the batter in the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin.

Serves 10-12

Chicken with Garlic Cream Sauce

The title says it all: homey, comforting, easy and fabulous.

1 chicken, spatchcocked or cut into peices
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
2 fat garlic cloves, grated
2 tbs. softened butter
75ml dry white vermouth or wine (or 75ml chicken stock)

For the sauce:
300ml heavy cream
4 fat garlic cloves, grated
good grinding of black pepper
sea salt flakes, to taste
3 tbs. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbs. finely chopped chives

Start by making the sauce so that the garlic can infuse the cream. Combine the cream and garlic in a saucepan with the pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce and bubble for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Put the chicken or chicken pieces in a roasting tin skin-side down. Sprinkle with half of the salt and all of the grated garlic. Rub in gently then leave to sit for 30 minuets.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pour the vermouth in the bottom of the tin. Roast for approx. 45 minutes until the juices run clear and the skin is golden. Transfer the chicken to either a carving board or heated platter to rest. Add the pan juices to the cream sauce.

While the chicken is resting, bring the sauce back to a boil and add most of the herbs, simmer gently for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring it regularly. Taste and add salt to taste. (If the sauce fails to thicken, combine 1 tbs. soft butter with 1 tbs. flour and stir into the sauce.) Transfer to a warm jug.

Cut the chicken into pieces if spatchcocked and place on a heated platter. Top with some of the sauce and the remaining herbs.

Serves 6

Lemony Salmon with Cherry Tomato Couscous

Here is a lovely, snappy, little fish supper that is full of flavor and texture and a jot to make.

heaping 1 cup couscous
3 tsp. kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
1 cup boiling water
1/2 small red onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil, plus 1 tsp.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 salmon fillets
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl with 2 tsp.of the kosher salt (or 1 tsp. table salt), 1/4 tsp. of the paprika and the ginger. Give everything a stir, then pour in the boiling water. Cover the bowl and leave to one side.

Zest the lemon into a shallow dish large enough to hold the salmon, then stir in the remaining salt, remaining paprika and 1 tbs. of the oil. Add the salmon and turn over in the oily mixture.

Heat a large skillet and cook the salmon for 2-3 minutes per side (or longer, depending on thickness) until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and onions in a bowl with the 1 tsp. of oil and the juice of the lemon. Fluff the couscous with a fork, then stir in the tomato mixture and most of the cilantro. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, spoon some couscous onto a plate, place a salmon fillet alongside and sprinkle with a little more cilantro.

Serves 4

Juicy Beef Skewers with Horseradish Cream

This scrumptious skewers can be served as a entree or as a nibble with drinks.

1 lb. beef rump
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs. freshly grated horseradish or prepared hot horseradish sauce
2 tbs. rosemary needles or 1 tsp. dried
1 1/2 tbs. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. port
1 cup creme fraiche of sour cream
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped chives

Cut the beef into 1″ squares and put into a resealable bag or large bowl. Add 1 tbs. of the horseradish, the rosemary, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and port. Combine well and set aside for at least 20 minutes, or chill overnight.

Let the meat come to room temperature if it was chilled. Soak about 10 bamboo skewers in water at the same time, then thread 3 – 4 pieces of meat onto each.

Make the dip by whisking together the creme fraiche or sour cream with the remaining horseradish, mustard, salt and most of the chives. Place in a bowl and sprinkle the remaining chives on top. Set aside.

Heat a grill or griddle and cook the skewers for 2 minutes per side for rare, then remove to a plate. Serve with the horseradish dip.

Coq Au Riesling

As with any stew, this will taste better if made the day before and reheated.

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 cup cubed bacon
1 leek, finely sliced
12 skinless chicken thighs
750ml Riesling wine
10 oz. oyster mushrooms, torn into steps (4 cups)
3 bay leaves
2-3 tbs. heavy cream
1-2 tbs. chopped fresh dill

Heat the oil in a heavy casserole or large, wide pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Add the leeks and soften for a few minutes. Tip in the chicken, wine, mushrooms and bay leaves. Season well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 35-40 minutes. Stir in the cream and sprinkle with the dill to serve.

Serves 6

Spaghetti with Chard, Chili and Anchoves

Although the recipe indicates spaghetti, I only had linguine. Believe me, it was equally as wonderful.

1 bunch rainbow chard
3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovies fillets (from a jar or tin)
3 fat cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes
125ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
7 oz. dried spaghetti
2-3 tbs. freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus more to serve
drizzle of olive oil, to serve

Strip the leaves from the chard, then roll them and finely slice. Cut the stalks into pieces.

Heat the oil and anchovies in a large pan until the anchovies start to melt in the oil. Take the pan off the heat and grate in the garlic cloves and add the chili flakes. Put the pan back on the heat and turn it up to medium. Tip in the chard stalks and stir well. Add the water, cover and cook 5-7 minutes to soften the stalks.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente.

Add the chard leaves to the pan with the stalks, replace the lid and cook for 2-4 minutes to wilt. Turn off the heat and leave until the pasta is cooked.

Use tongs or a pasta fork to transfer the pasta directly from it’s pot to the pan with the chard. (You need to add about 4 tbs. of the cooking water to the sauce and this is an easy way to do that.) Toss everything together well and add the cheese. Spoon into warmed bowls and grate over more cheese, then drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serves 2 heartily

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

These savory potatoes are the perfect to serve alongside almost anything.

1 1/2 lbs. baking potatoes (about 3 average-sized), thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbs. white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. butter
2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, finely sliced to make 4 cups

Heat the oven to 425°F and butter a shallow baking dish or gratin pan.

Bring the sliced potatoes, milk, white wine and salt and pepper to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Pour the mushroom and any juices into the potatoes and stir to mix. Pour in the gratin dish and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is crisp.

Serves 4

Luscious Vegan Gingerbread

This is a moist and squidgy treat that is definitely grown up gingerbread. Both fresh ginger and ground ginger add just the right amount of warmth and flavor.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup black treacle or molasses
2/3 cup golden syrup
125g dark muscovado sugar
8 pitted prunes, finely chopped
2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ready-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
250ml oat milk
300g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. warm water
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Heat the oven to 325°F and line a 9″ square tin with parchment paper allowing it to hang over the sides.

In a large saucepan, measure in the oil, treacle or molasses, golden syrup, sugar, prunes, ginger, spices and seasonings. Whisk gently over a low heat to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, then stir in the flour in 3-4 batches to make a smooth batter.

In a jug bigger than you think you need, dissolve the baking soda in the warm water then add the vinegar. Stir into the batter and spread it in the prepared tin.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top bounces back when you tap it with your finger. Allow to cool in the tin, then wrap in parchment and foil. Leave for a day before serving.

Serves 12-18

Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry

This is a soft and mellow curry that has a gentle warmth rather than a fierce bite.

3 tbs. vegetable oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
3/4″ piece fresh ginger, minced
1 fat garlic clove, minced
2 small green chilis, deseeded and chopped (or 1 small can)
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
13 3/4 oz. tin unsweetened coconut milk
4 cardamom pods, bruised
2 lbs. boned, skinned chicken, cut into pieces
7 oz. green beans or asparagus, cut into pieces
1/2 cup cashew nuts
small bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a wok or a wide saucepan and gently fry the onions until soft. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for a minute or so, then stir in the coconut milk, chicken and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans or asparagus and cook a further 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry skillet until just golden. To serve, spoon the curry into bowl and top with the cashews and cilantro.

Serves 6

No-Fear Fish Stew

This fabulous fish stew is a workout for your spice drawer! Sweet potatoes and orange zest add a lovely sweetness to compliment the tender white fish.

1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato
small bunch of cilantro, stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
1 orange, zest and 1 tbs. juice
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomate paste
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 tsp. runny honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 lb. firm water fish, cut into thick large chunks

Measure all the spices in a little bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole that comes with a lid. Add the onions and cook gently until softened, about 20 minutes. Tip in the spices, cilantro stalks, ginger, garlic and the orange zest. Cook for a minute or two, then stir in the sweet potato, chopped tomatoes (fill each can halfway with water, swirl around and add), tomato paste, salt and honey or maple syrup and orange juice.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, clamp on the lid and leave to simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely soft and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the fish and bubble for 3-5 minutes without the cover, or until the fish is cooked through. Turn off the heat and leave for 2 minutes longer. Serve with the cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.

Serves 4

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds

These cold Japanese noodles go wonderfully well with so many things, especially salmon.

1/3 cup sesame seeds
8 oz. soba noodles
2 tsp. rice vinegar
5 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame oil
5 scallions, sliced

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over a high heat until golden brown, then tip them into a bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook the noodles for 6 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Drain again.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Toss in the noodles, scallions and sesame seeds. Leave for about 30 minutes for the flavors to develop, then serve.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course

Quick Christmas Cake with Cocoa and Tia Maria

No overnight fruit soaking needed for this luscious and festive fruitcake.

1 1/2 cups chopped soft prunes
1 cup raisins
2 tbs. currants
175ml honey
125ml Tia Maria or similar favorite
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. mixed spice
2 tbs. good quality cocoa powder
12 1/2 tbs. softened butter
7/8 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. ground almonds
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Tip the fruit into a large saucepan and add the honey, Tia Maria, orange zest and juice, mixed spice, cocoa, butter and sugar. Heat gently, then leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 300°F and line the bottom of an 8″ springform tin with parchment paper.

Add the eggs to the cooled fruit mixture, then stir in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well, then spread into the prepared tin. Bake for 2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cover with foil if the top is becoming too brown.

Leave to cool, then remove from the tin and decorate or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Spiced Bulgur Wheat with Roast Vegetables

This is indeed a treat for a vegetarian or anyone who adores wonderful flavors and textures plus it is a visual feast for the eyes. Enjoy!

For the bulgur wheat:

3 tbs. olive oil
small bunch coriander
2 fat garlic cloves
1 orange
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4 cup red lentils
375ml cold water
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt flakes

For the roast vegetables:

2 large leeks, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
2-3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
3 tbs. olive oil
6 radishes, topped and halved

First, make the bulgur wheat. Heat the oil over a low heat in a heavy pan that comes with a tight-fitting lid. Chop the stalks of the coriander and stir into the oil along with the grated zest of the orange and the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn up the heat to medium-low and stir in the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds, followed by the red chili flakes.

Turn the heat to high and stir in the bulgur wheat and lentils. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook gently for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and replace the lid. Leave for 40 minuets or up to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Tip all the ingredients for the roast vegetables along with 2 tbs. of the orange juice and 2 tbs. water into a shallow roasting tin that will fit them all snuggly. Toss everything together well and roast for 30 minutes. Stir in the radishes and roast another 10 minutes.

To serve, fork through the bulgur wheat to fluff it up and scoop it into a large bowl. Fork through a third of the vegetables, then chop the coriander leaves and fork through most the them. Taste for seasoning, then top with the remaining vegetables and coriander.

Snow-Flecked Brownies

The are luscious and meltingly-squidgy squares of heaven.

3 sticks plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
6 eggs
2 cups caster sugar
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate in a large pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with the sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Stir this into the semi-cooled chocolate, followed by the flour and salt. Fold in the white chocolate and spread in the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes. They will be ready when the sides pull away and the middle remains dark and gooey. Leave to cool in the pan, then cut into squares. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.

Festive Fusilli

This unfussy supper comes together in a jot. The recipe calls for “sun blush” tomatoes, which are half way between fresh and dried and come packed in seasoned oil. However, fresh tomatoes can be used as well, if they are nearer to hand.

2 cups sun blush tomatoes
3 tbs. vodka
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. fusilli or other short pasta
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
chopped fresh parsley
flaked Parmesan cheese, to serve

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl and toss with the vodka, salt and sugar. Leave this to steep while you cook the fusilli.

Salt the pasta water and cook the fusilli according the the package directions. Drain and put it back into the pot with the mascarpone, the tomato mixture and half of the chopped parsley. Mix together well. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the Parmesan cheese.

Serves 5-6

Cod with Broccolini and Chili

Perfect for a kitchen supper for two, this lovely and light dish is ready in no time.

3 tbs. olive oil
4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 oz. broccolini, trimmed
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 cod fillets (approx. 6 oz. each and no more than 1″ thick)
1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped

Heat the olive oil over a low heat in a large skillet with a lid and add the anchovy fillets. Stir to melt the anchovies into the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for about 30 seconds before adding the broccolini. Tip in the wine or vermouth and let it bubble, then cover and let the broccolini steam for 7 minutes, until tender-crisp.

Season the cod, then add to the skillet and let it bubble for 3-4 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.

Serve in warmed bowls with the pan juices and topped with red chili.

Serves 2

Radicchio, Chestnut and Blue Cheese Salad with a Citrus, Grain Mustard and Honey Dressing

This wonderful wintery salad is made of bitter leaves and salty cheese tossed with a fantastic dressing. If you are not partial to chestnuts, substitute in toasted walnuts. Serve it with a simple roast chicken and supper is sorted.

For the dressing:

2 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. grain mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 tbs. olive oil
a drop of sesame oil
sea salt flakes

For the salad:

1 large or 2 small radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chestnut pieces
1/2 cup fridge-cold blue cheese, crumbled

Put all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake well to mix, or whisk together in a bowl or jug.

Put the torn radicchio in to a large bowl. Pour over the dressing, then toss patiently and well. Add the chestnuts and most of the blue cheese and toss again gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

A French classic that’s been updated to use chicken thighs – quite rightly!!

2 tbs. regular olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 scallions, finely sliced
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (apprize. 3-4 heads)
2 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding of black pepper

Heat the oven the 350°F. In a large Dutch oven (one that has a lid and will fit the chicken in one layer), heat the oil and sear the chicken pieces over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.

Once the chicken is seared and resting in the bowl, stir in the scallions and the leaves of a few sprigs of the thyme. Add the garlic cloves, then arrange the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Pour in the vermouth and any juices left in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then add a few more whole thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

These lovely little cookies will delight all ages. The cranberries and white chocolate look like jewels!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
9 tbs. softened butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs. caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour mixture and stir to combine, then fold in the cranberries, pecans and white chocolate. Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Let rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pork Tacos

Nigella used left-over pork for this recipe. Not having any, I recreated it using a pork tenderloin with delicious results.

1 pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 large jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lime
tortillas, to serve
shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
pickled cabbage, to serve
diced avocado, to serve

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the pork until just pink. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, ground cumin, smoked paprika, lime juice, then let everything bubble for 4-5 minutes.

Serve the pork inside warm tortillas and topped with shredded lettuce, pickled cabbage and diced avocado.

Serves 4

Steak with Anchovy Elixir

This lovely elixir can be served with crudities or cooked potatoes for dipping or drizzled over steak.

20 salt-packed anchovies
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
125ml cold water

Soak the anchovies in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes. Throw out the water, add fresh water and soak for a further 5 minuets. Rinse each anchovy under running cold water and remove the tails. (Or use oil-packed anchovies that have been well-rinsed.)

Place the anchovies in a small food processor (or into a bowl if using a stick blender) with the remaining ingredients except the steaks. Blitz to a gloomily, fluid sauce. Decant into serving pieces.

Cook the steak to your liking, leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with the elixir.

Serves 4 with steaks or many more as a dip

Croque Monsieur Bake

This savory bake is perfect for brunch because everything is done the night before.

6 slices multi-grain brown bread
1/3 cup dijon mustard
4 oz. Gruyere cheese slices
3 slices ham (3 oz.)
6 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt ot 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tbs. grated Gruyere cheese
good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce

Spread the mustard on the bread slices and make sandwiches with the sliced cheese and ham. Cut each in half making two triangles. Squish the sandwiches into a baking dish approx. 10 x 8″.

Beat together the eggs, salt and milk, then pour over the sandwiches. Cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the sandwiches with the grated cheese and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella Seed

Nigella often says that if one has an ingredient with the same name, it would be rude not to use it! Here, Nigella seeds pair beautifully with bulgar wheat and it is ideal served with Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette.

1 tbs. olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. Nigella seeds
2 cups bulgar wheat
750 ml cold water
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
2/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the lemon zest, thyme, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and Nigella seeds. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the bulgar wheat. Pour in the water and add the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. By this time the water should be absorbed and the grains soft.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and leave for 10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the bulgar wheat and tip into a bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, almonds and parsley.

Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

The simplicity of this lovely salmon is what makes it perfection and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar is an ideal flavor pairing. It is wonderful with Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella seeds.

1 tbs. vegetable oil
8 thin scallops or fillets of salmon
6 tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 tbs. olive oil
small bunch chives, snipped (optional)

Heat a heavy-bottomed, well-seasoned skillet or a good non-stick skillet. Tip in the 1 tbs. of vegetable oil, then add the salmon and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or to your liking. Keep warm with tented foil.

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and the 6 tbs. of olive oil until warm. Serve poured over the salmon and sprinkled with chives.

Serves 4-6

Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans

The taste of autumn in a lovely side dish.

4 1/2 lbs. butternut squash
3 tbs. olive oil
6 stalks fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 cup pecans
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese

Heat the oven to  425°F. Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds. Cut into roughly 1″ cubes. Transfer to a roasting tin and toss with the oil and a bit of seasoning. Strip 4 of the thyme leaves over (or sprinkle with all of the dried thyme). Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.

Remove to a serving bowl and scatter over the pecans and cheese. Toss everything together and add the last 2 stalks of fresh thyme, torn into small sprigs, to decorate.

Serves 6-8

Chicken Barley

This thick, creamy potage is somewhere between a soup and a stew and absolutely delicious.

3 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3 medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 bone-in, skin-off chicken thighs
5 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. English mustard
chopped parsley, to serve

Tip the veggies into a large pot the comes with a lid. Add the barley and the chicken. Pour the stock into a jug and stir in the mustard, then pour into the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring it now and then. If it looks dry, add a little boiling water.

After the hour, remove from the heat and remove the chicken thighs. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bones and return it to the pot. Serve in heated bowls topped with chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Potato and Onion Hash

This is written to serve 1, but it can easily be increased. The cayenne pepper is the key.

1 small onion, halved and sliced into half moons
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cups all-purpose potatoes, skin-on and cut into 1/2″ dice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion, then cook over a medium heat with a sprinkle of salt until softened. Tip in the potatoes and cayenne pepper, turn the heat down and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the potatoes are tender and beginning to caramelize.

Turn the heat up and push the hash to one side. Crack the egg into the empty half and fry to your liking. Serve the egg over the hash.

Serves 1

Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Four ingredients for instant comfort food.

8 oz. trottole verde or any curly pasta of choice
4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. chopped, shelled pistachios

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot along with the gorgonzola and spinach. Put on the lid and leave to sit without heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, put the heat on low and stir everything together, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the sauce.

Take off the heat, toss in about two-thirds of the pistachios, then divide between 2 warmed bowls. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and a good grinding of black pepper to serve.

Serves 2

Pollo Alla Cacciatora

Usually Chicken Cacciatori is a lengthy affair to make. In this version, Nigella has simplified it without losing any of the slow-cooked, cozy, comfort-food qualities.

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta cubes
6 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 cup white wine
1 x 14 oz. tin chopped tomatos
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 x 14 oz. tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Put the oil in a pan with the pancetta, scallions and rosemary. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken, stirring well, and the celery salt. Pour in the wine and let it come to a bubble before adding the tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Put the lid on and let the pan simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover, and add the beans. Cook for a bit longer, then serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Serves 4

Beetroot Orzotto

As beautiful and vibrant to eat as it is to look at!!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups pearl barley
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
125ml dry vermouth or white wine
4 1/4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked beetroot cubes (not in vinegar)
150ml sour cream, plus more for serving
50g chopped pecans
3 tsp. chopped chives

Gently cook the onions in the oil in a deep, wide saucepan until softened. Stir in the barley and stir for about 2 minutes, then stir in the thyme. Tip in the vermouth and let it bubble up, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Meanwhile, puree half of the beetroot with half of the sour cream. Stir into the cooked barley along with the remaining cubed beetroot and warm through.

Spoon into a serving bowl and top with the pecans and chives and more sour cream, if using.

Serves 10-16 as part of a feast, or 8-10 if not

African Drumsticks

The secret ingredient in this dandy little recipe is apricot jam for flavor and sweetness. The drumsticks can also be grilled, basted the with marinade as you go.

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp. English mustard
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tbs. apricot jam
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
8 chicken drumsticks

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil

Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, ginger, jam and onion in a bowl and mix well. Toss in the chicken making sure everything gets a good coating. (Leave in the fridge overnight for more flavor.)

Brush the oil over the bottom of a roasting tin that the chicken will fit snugly in. Arrange the chicken in a single layer and tip over the marinade. Cook for 45 minute to 1 hour, basting once or twice.

Serves 4

The combination of ingredients for the marinade is fabulous. Serve with chutney, if you happen to have any about.

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tsp. English mustard

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tbs. apricot jam

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

8 chicken drumsticks

1 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil

Heat the oven to 400°F. Mix the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, ginger, jam and onion in a shallow dish. Dunk the drumsticks in this marinade to coat them all over. (It can be left overnight in the fridge.) Put them snuggly in a small roasting tin or baking dish and pour over any marinade.

Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting once or twice. The deeper the dish or tin, the longer the chicken will take to color and cook through.

Serves 4-6

Salmon with Greens and Shitake Mushrooms

This is sure to become a favorite in your kitchen. The salmon can be grilled on the barbecue is the weather is dry.

2 skinned, salmon fillets
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbs. vegetable oil
generous 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced or halved
1 3/4 cups roughly chopped bok choy, white stems and green leaves separted
3 tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
pepper to taste

Cook the salmon fillets in a good, non-stick pan or griddle until done to your liking. Remove to warmed plates and set aside.

In a heavy-based pan, fry the garlic in the vegetable oil for a few seconds, then stir in the mushrooms and bok choy stems. Cover for 5 minutes or so, then add the bok choy leaves, the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Leave to bubble until the vegetables are tender.

Pile the mushrooms and boo choy next to the salmon and serve.

Serves 2

Tarragon Salmon

This retro sauce is quick to make and a delicious pairing with salmon.

60ml dry white vermouth
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. dried chives
1 tsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
2 salmon fillets
60ml heavy cream
sea salt and pepper
1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or chives

Pour the vermouth into a cup and stir in the dried herbs, then set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a small skillet into which the salmon with fit snugly. When it begins to sizzle, add the salmon, hump-side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the salmon over, add the vermouth with the herbs and, once it comes to a bubble, cook a further 2 minutes.

Remove the salmon to 2 plates and stir in the cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh tarragon or chives. Bubble to thicken and serve over the salmon.

Serves 2