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

Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts

This lovely and last-minute pasta is a great supper on it’s own or can be served as a side to the entree.

2 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 lb. cavatappi, fusilli or other short, curly pasta
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 lb. frozen spinach
8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
3-4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (either toasted in a dry skillet or the oven)

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook over a lowish flame for 8 – 10 minutes, until soft. Add the allspice and spinach and stir to defrost and melt in the spinach.

Cook the pasta according to the package direction in a large pot of boiling and salted water. Reserve a cupful of the cooking water, then drain. Tip into the pan with the spinach and add the feta, stirring it to melt a bit. Season everything and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve sprinkled with the toasted pine nuts.

Serves 4

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.

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

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.

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