Creme Caramel for One

Who says eating alone is boring? This fabulous dessert is the most delicious solitary treat with just the right amount of wobble in the middle.

2 tbs. caster sugar
2 tbs. cold water
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. caster sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
150ml whole milk

Heat the oven to 300°F.

In a small saucepan or butter warmer, bring the 2 tbs. of sugar and water to a boil. Never stir the caramel or it will seize. Instead, swirl it around in the pan every few minutes until the mixture caramelizes. Watch it at the end, this often happens very quickly.

Pour the caramel into a 200ml ramekin, or other oven-proof dish and swirl a bit up the sides.

In a jug with a spout, stir together the egg yolks, 2 tsp. of sugar and vanilla extract. Warm the milk for 40 seconds in the microwave, then gradually pour into the jug. Using a tea strainer, strain this over the caramel. If there are any bubbles on the top, spoon them off.

Place the ramekin in a small baking dish. Pour water from a recently boiled kettle to come up 1/3 of the way. Cover with a little square of foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

Leave to cool completely, then chill for at least 6 hours. To unmold, run a palette knife around the edges then dip the ramekin in a dish with 2″of hot water for 5 seconds. Put a saucer on top and flip the ramekin over.

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

Crab Mac ‘N’ Cheese

There are few words to describe this. We are forever indebted to you Nigella!!!

1 cup (packed) grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/8 tsp. Aleppo pepper or hot paprika, plus more to sprinkle
250 whole milk
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tbs. butter
1 fat clove garlic, grated
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
7 oz. conchigilie rigate pasta (or other large shell shape)
100g mixed white and dark crab

Stir together the cheese and set aside. Stir together the flour and spices and set aside. Pour the milk into a jug and stir in the tomato paste, then set aside.

Melt the butter in a smallish, heavy-based saucepan over a lowish heat. Stir in the garlic, then whisk in the flour mixture to make a foaming, orange paste. Take off the heat and gradually whisk in the tomatoey milk until completely smooth. Put back on the heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce. Take off the heat and stir in the cheeses. Cover and leave until the pasta is ready.

Cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling, salted water. Using a spider, ladle the pasta into the sauce and stir to combine. Fold in the crab and serve sprinkled with more Aleppo pepper or hot paprika.

Serves 2

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

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

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

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