May 2018 – Lime, Fried Mint and Chilli Salsa

From page 99 of Dinner & Party: Gatherings. Suppers. Feasts..

A very light and tangy sauce for those days off richness. Add to beef at the last minute, once carved and served, or the lime juice will 'cook' the meat.

Serves 6-8

8 small sprigs mint, leaves only
4 tbsp groundnut oil
juice of 4 limes
4 tbsp maple syrup, or more
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp Chinese red vinegar or rice vinegar
4 tbsp light soy sauce
4 spring onions, green part only, chopped
1-2 tsp chilli bean paste, or to taste

Fry the mint leaves in the oil over a medium heat for a few seconds, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.

Mix the lime juice with the maple syrup, then add more of the syrup if it is too acidic. Add the remaining ingredients, then stir in the mint and it is ready to serve.


April 2018 – Leftover Lamb Shepherd's Pie

From page 238 of The New English Table.

There are few better uses for leftover lamb. This is a quick version.

Mince the cold lamb, omitting the fat, and set to one side. If you have about 450g minced cold lamb, fry 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped celery stick and 2 chopped garlic cloves in a little vegetable oil until softened. Add the meat, with a heaped tablespoon of tomato purée, 600ml/1 pint lamb or other meat stock, or vegetable stock, and cook for about ¾-1 hour, until the meat is tender.

Add Worcestershire sauce to your taste, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato. 'Distress' the top with a fork, dot with butter and bake in a moderately hot oven until crisp on the surface, bubbling underneath. Serve with extra Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.


March 2018 – Warm Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Lemon and Oil

From page 339 of The New English Kitchen.

This is my favourite way of eating purple sprouting broccoli, and useful too, because timing vegetables to arrive hot at the table is one of my least favourite aspects of entertaining. Fiammetta Rocco, who is Kenyan-Italian and a wonderful natural cook, made it for me one winter lunchtime and I have been hooked ever since. She cooked it quite a while before we ate and served it in an unworried way at room temperature with roast lamb. As long as you drain the water fully out of the broccoli, it keeps its freshly cooked texture.

Serves 4

480g purple sprouting broccoli
olive oil
juice of 1/4 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Strip off the leaves from the broccoli, leaving the flower heads, and peel away any tough skin on the stalk using a potato peeler. Bring 4cm of salted water to the boil in a large pan and lower in the broccoli. Cook until just tender, then lift out with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a dry cloth.

Put the broccoli in a bowl and shake over some olive oil. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.


Februray 2018 – Scallops Baked in their Shells with Mace

From page 392 of The New Enlglish Table.

These look wonderful, wrapped up like a present as they come out of the oven, but smell even better when they are opened and a stream of mace-scented steam touches the tip of your nose.

Serves 4

8 large, fresh scallops
4 scallop shells (both parts)
2cm piece fresh ginger, crushed and then chopped
55g butter
½ lemon
4 small pieces of mace blade, or 4 pinches of ground mace

Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9. Put 2 scallops in each shell and divide the ginger between them. Put a quarter of the butter in each, plus a squeeze of lemon. Add a mace blade to each, or a pinch of ground mace, then put the flat shell on top. Place each shell on a large square of baking parchment, bring it up round the shell and twist tightly at the top to seal the contents. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

To serve, put a scallop shell on each plate and let everyone unwrap their own and get the first whiff of the heady ginger-butter-mace effect.


January 2018 – Braised Chicory with Butter and Lemon Juice

From page 132 of The New Enlglish Table.

A favourite way to eat chicory, and very good with roast lamb or chicken. It is also a very beautiful dish. The chicory, cut in half and cooked flat-side down in butter, will be tinged with brown on the edges like a botanical drawing. This style of cooking also releases the sugar in the chicory. A good vegetable dish to eat with the grilled cheap cuts of beef on pages 47-55 of The New English Table.

Serves 4

55g unsalted butter
4 chicory heads, halved lengthways
a few thyme leaves
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a wide pan over a medium heat. Lay the chicory, cut-side down, in the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the thyme leaves.

Cook for a few minutes then add the lemon juice and cover the pan.

Continue cooking over a low heat for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicory; they should brown underneath but not burn.

Turn them carefully in the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, until soft. Serve warm.


December 2017 – Roast Haunch of Venison

From page 330 of Kitchenella.

All breeds of venison (roe, sika, fallow and red) have fine grained meat with absolutely no fat marbling and a haunch cannot be roasted at a high temperature like a leg of lamb. There is a good chance it will dry out. Added to this, it is hard to be certain of the age of the animal, and unless it has been hung for long enough, it may never be tender. I do not agree that either marinating or larding (threading with strips of lard) whole pieces of meat helps.


Simply rub the whole joint with a lot of butter, season it then roast at 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 for approximately 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the meat inside reaches about 55°C/130°F. Use a thermometer probe to check, or keep an eye on the meat. You can also use the test on page 248 of Kitchenella.

When you see the juices are bubbling under the thick but transparent membrane that covers venison, take it out of the oven, cover with two layers of foil and rest for 1 hour. Essentially, you have brought the meat 'to the boil' and switched it off.

As it rests, the juices will gradually settle into the meat fibre. When you carve, the meat inside should be evenly pink throughout, like medium rare, and very juicy. Always serve on warm plates. And put a large jar of orchard fruit or rowanberry jelly on the table.


Make a gravy by pouring off half the fat in the pan in the pan, then placing over a higher heat and sautéing a rasher of smoked bacon and 2 shallots in it. Add a large splash of wine, simmer, then add 300ml/½ pint meat stock and a spoonful of rowan, redcurrant or other orchard fruit berry. Continue to simmer, then season to taste.


November 2017 – Baked Buttered White Cabbage

From page 283 of Kitchenella.

I only have to smell white cabbage baking in a covered dish in the oven with butter and I am back in my mother's kitchen, just before Sunday lunch; roast pork, armoured with auburn crackling, is ready to carve. The cabbage itself is transformed by baking into something smoky and sweet. I find it can have an off-putting smell as it cooks, but this is gone as soon as it is ready.

Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons butter, approximately
1 medium white cabbage, leaves shredded, the stalk more finely chopped
black pepper
10 cumin seeds
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. (A little hotter is fine if you are roasting potatoes at the same time.) Use half the butter to grease an ovenproof dish and put the cabbage into it, layering it with more butter and black pepper. Scatter the cumin seeds over and put the bay leaf on top. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes.


October 2017 – Porcini Pots

From page 168 of Kitchenella.

A wonderful pâté with forest aromas, nice to eat on hot bread but also good to heap onto a grilled steak or piece of chicken. The pots keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Serves 4

100g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
leaves from 1 sprig thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
sea salt and black pepper

Drain the porcini, reserving the liquid, then chop the mushrooms finely. Warm the oil in a pan and add the garlic, porcini, thyme, oregano and coriander. Fry over a low temperature, so as not to spoil the oil.

When the mixture becomes fragrant and the garlic has softened, add 4 tablespoons of the mushroom liquid and cook until it is reduced by two-thirds. Season with salt and pepper then spoon the mixture into 4 small pots. Allow to cool, and serve. Or refrigerate, covered with clingfilm, until needed.


September 2017 – Crab Pasties

From page 293 of The New English Kitchen.

Mandy Caws is the fiancée of Jim, a crab fisherman at Steephill Cove, within walking distance of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. She will become a member of the Wheeler family that has lived and worked at the cove for 400 years. Jim's father is the longshoreman. He cleans the beach, puts out deck chairs, helps push dinghies into the water and sticks a plaster on the occasional cut foot. For the trippers who walk down the steep steps to the beach, Mandy sells pasties stuffed with crab from her door. I prised her recipe, word for word, straight from her kitchen.

Makes 5

1 slice of wholemeal bread
240g crab meat
120g leeks, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
a walnut-sized piece of butter, melted
¼ teaspoon salt
a pinch of turmeric
480g bought puff pastry
a little milk
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Chop the bread in a food processor, transfer to a bowl and stir in the crabmeat, leeks, lemon juice, melted butter, salt, turmeric and some pepper.

Roll out the puff pastry thinly and cut out 5 circles about 15cm/6 inches in diameter. Place a heap of the crab mixture in the centre of each one. Brush the edges with milk and then fold over and pinch them together to form a pasty.

Brush the tops of the pasties with milk, place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden. Serve straight from the oven, as does Mandy Caws. Otherwise, they will keep for about 3 days.


August 2017 – Beefsteak Burgers and all the Trimmings

From page 112 of Kitchenella.

Given some minced lean steak, lettuce, tomatoes, cornichons, mayonnaise, ketchup and a baguette, I am my own burger bar.

To make 4 large beef burgers, mince or chop 450g/1lb lean rump or cheaper top rump of beef. Add 1 tablespoon celery salt, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then form into 4 evenly sized patties, about 2cm/¾ inch thick – use a round biscuit cutter to shape them, if you have one.

Heat a ridged grill pan until it begins to smoke. Place the burgers on the grill, turning it down to medium immediately. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side.

Split the baguette (ciabatta roll) and toast the cut side lightly. Spread with a little mayonnaise on one side and add a few sliced cornichons (baby gherkins). Lay a couple of small romaine (or cos) lettuce leaves over the mayonnaise, follow with a slice of tomato, the burger, the ketchup and, finally, the second slice of bread.


July 2017 – Aubergine and Pumpkin Seed Rice

From page 56 of The New English Kitchen.

When I want a warm and filling lunch that will not see me slump fast asleep over my desk mid afternoon, I heat a little cooked rice in a pan with some cooked vegetables, cumin and a few nuts or seeds. I eat it with plain yoghurt – there is usually some in the fridge – and a teaspoon of bought harissa, the hot pepper sauce of North Africa. The fresh ingredients in the following recipe could be replaced by tomatoes, shallots, spring greens, squash or pumpkin.

Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 aubergine, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 tablespoon green pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons stock or water
2 helpings of cooked basmati rice
leaves from 2 sprigs of mint
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and add the aubergine, onion and celery. Cook, stirring, until the aubergine is soft, then add the pumpkin seeds, cumin and stock or water. Mix in the rice and reheat thoroughly. Add the mint and season to taste.

Kitchen Note

For a richer, sweeter dish, substitute sherry for the stock or water.


June 2017 – Pickled Gooseberries

From page 355 of The New English Kitchen.

Pickled fruit with leftover meat and game, or braised or baked ham, makes a bright Saturday lunch that yields extras to add to Sunday supper pilaffs.

480g/1lb gooseberries
240g/8oz golden granulated sugar
a pinch each of ground cinnamon, allspice, coriander and cloves
4 cardamom pods
250ml/8fl oz white wine vinegar

Put all the ingredients except the fruit in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Pack the raw gooseberries into sterilised jars. Boil the pickling liquid fast to reduce it until thick, then pour it over the fruit and seal the jars.

Kitchen Note

Pickles can be eaten almost immediately. Don't make too much; they are best eaten within 5 months of being made.


May 2107 – Elderflower Cordial

From page 348 of The New English Kitchen.

Citric or tartaric acid is necessary to stop mould growing in this cordial. Buy it from Asian shops if possible; it is very expensive bought from the chemist.

Makes about 4 litres/7 pints

5 lemons, halved
5 oranges, halved
1.9kg golden granulated sugar
4 litres water
25 very large elderflower heads
60g citric acid

Put the fruit and sugar in a large pan and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then add the elderflower heads. Turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Add the citric acid, strain through a cloth into very clean bottles and cork. Drink diluted with water.


April 2017 – Beef, Sesame and Spring Greens in Soy Broth

From page 358 of Kitchenella.

Imitating the big bowls of food that my children love to eat in noodle bars, using thin slices of beef leftover from the roast; the secret is to lay the beef on top of the soup at the last minute, so it does not stew and turn tough in the hot broth.

Serves 2

2 nests of Chinese egg noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
600-900ml/1-1½ pints beef or chicken stock (see p390 of Kitchenella)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry
2 handfuls of finely shredded spring greens or pak choi
2 spring onions, green ends only, sliced into rounds
4 thin slices of cold beef
To serve: coriander leaves, sliced red chilli (optional)

Fill a large pan with water, bring to the boil and cook the egg noodle nests for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh with cold water and set to one side. It does not matter if they seem a little sticky, they will loosen up when added to the broth later.

Dry the pan and toast the sesame seeds over a medium-high heat until golden. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Heat the stock with the soy sauce and wine or sherry to boiling point then add the greens (but not the spring onion).

Simmer for about 3 minutes, then add back the noodles. Heat to boiling point again, taste for seasoning (add salt or more soy sauce if necessary) then ladle into two bowls. Scatter the spring onion over, then lay the beef slices on top. Finally, scatter over the toasted sesame seeds, the coriander and chilli (if using) and serve immediately.

Kitchen Note:

You can make this soup with cold chicken, pork or cooked prawns – or just simply use a good, deep-flavoured stock.


March 2017 – Crisp Smoked Bacon, Polenta Cubes, Bittersweet Chicory

From page 171 of Kitchenella.

Strong, contrasting flavours of precious endives with the comfort and economy of polenta.

Serves 4

8 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
450g ready-cooked polenta (see page 55 of Kitchenella), cut into 2cm dice
2 chicory (red or green), cut lengthways into strips
leaves from 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
salt and black pepper

Sauté the bacon until crisp in a frying pan over a medium heat, allowing it to cook in its own fat. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a warm plate.

Add the oil to the pan and sauté the polenta cubes, turning them carefully with a wooden spatula so they crisp a little. Add the chicory towards the end of cooking, and return the bacon to the pan. Stir-fry a little, and serve the dish when the leaves have begun to wilt and soften.

Add the parsley, season and serve.

Kitchen note:

You can use other bittersweet endives – choose from witloof chicory, chicoria, puntarelle, frisee...


February 2017 – Pan-Fried Smoked Eel with Mustard

From page 342 of Kitchenella.

Fresh eel has a strong cartilage which only breaks down and becomes tender after a long simmer. It is a lovely fish, however, and I like it simmered in a stew with shallots, garlic, olive oil, wine, tomato, Pernod and saffron, just as for bouillabaisse. But smoked eel is also a revelation, because the long time in the smoker will also break down any toughness.

Rich, delicate and tender, the fillets are elegant eaten cold as a starter with horseradish cream and a watercress salad, or this way, as a main course, sautéed in a pan – a dish I ate at the Severn and Wye Smokery, in Gloucestershire, cooked by chef Tania Steytler. Serve with mashed potato and watercress.

Serves 4

4 slices of speck (air-dried ham) or thinly cut smoked streaky bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
walnut-sized lump of butter
4 large smoked eel fillets
2 wineglasses white wine or cider
2 tablespoons Dijon seed mustard (moutarde de Meaux)
4 tbsps single cream
salt and black pepper

Have ready 4 warmed plates. Fry the ham in half the oil until it is crisp, place on a towel to drain and set aside. Wipe out the pan and reheat, adding the butter. Fry the eel fillets on both sides for 1 minute then put each on a plate.

Quickly add the wine to the pan and boil to reduce by one-third. Add the mustard and cream, bring to the boil then season. Pour some over the eel fillets on each plate, and serve with a slice of crisp ham.


January 2017 – Golden Broth with Parsley and Pearl Barley

From page 24 of Kitchenella.

A soup I eat often for lunch. I make a pot of it earlier in the week and heat it when needed. It costs little, and with a supply of stock to hand, it takes only 20 minutes to make. Its golden colour comes not only from browning the poultry bones when making stock (see page 390 of Kitchenella), but also from adding ground coriander seed, a subtle spice with the ability to 'join up' the flavours of the various ingredients as they simmer in the pan.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
200g/7oz pearl barley
1.2 litres/2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
salt and black pepper
flat-leaf parsley, chopped to serve

Heat the fat in a pan and add the onion, coriander and pearl barley. Stir over the heat for a minute or two until the onion softens, then add the stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until the pearl barley is just tender. Do not boil too vigorously or the liquid will evaporate. Season to taste, then add chopped parsley to each bowlful just before you eat.


December 2016 – Potted Duck with Chestnuts

From page 108 of The New English Table.

A lidded dish of potted meat – similar to a paté – in the fridge will take care of all those hurried lunches and suppers when 'can't be bothered' is the thought overriding cooking dinner. It is a humble meal made of cheaper cuts, but a masterpiece to look at and full of dulcet meatiness: the pink layers of different textures, the studs of spice or nuts and fruit, and the flavours that set in deep after slow cooking and a day's storage. It is smart enough to serve for dinner, with a piquant chutney, pickles or fruit jelly, but it is honest and ordinary enough to stick a slice between 2 pieces of buttered bread.

There are various potted meats in The New English Table (see pages 296, 325, 356 and 452) but this one concentrates on duck, working without pork, which is the usual mainstay of potted meats. This does mean it is more extravagant to make but if you use meat from duck legs, which are usually cheap (all the price is in the huge boneless breast), it will go a long way for relatively little. To make lighter work, ask the butcher to prepare the meat for you.

Serves 4

8 Duck legs, skinned, the meat taken off the bone (reserve the skin and cut it into thin strips)
225g/8oz duck livers, very finely chopped
1 wineglass of dry sherry
30g/1oz softened butter
20 vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut half the duck leg meat into strips and mince the rest (if you do not have a mincer, chop it into 5mm/¼ inch pieces). Put the mince and duck livers into a bowl with half the sherry, put the strips of duck in another bowl with the rest of the sherry and leave both to marinate for 1 hour.

Use the softened butter to grease a terrine dish, 750ml-1 litre/1¼-1¾ pints in capacity, and lay thin pieces of duck skin in a criss-cross pattern over the base. Put half the duck mince mixture into the terrine. Lay half the chestnuts on top, followed by the strips of marinated duck and the green peppercorns; add another layer of chestnuts, then finish with the remaining duck mince mixture.

Cover with foil, place in a roasting tin containing 2cm/¼ inch of boiling water and bake for 1¼ – 1½ hours. When it is done, the meat will shrink away from the sides of the dish. Remove from the oven, place a weight on top (2 cans of tomatoes will do) and leave to cool, then refrigerate.

Serve sliced, with buttered toast, pickles, or green leaves dressed with walnut oil.


November 2016 – Braised Sausages with Cider and Hot Potato Salad

From page 221 of The New English Kitchen.

My Aunt Dariel showed me how to make this. It became my economical party standard.

Serves 8

16 large, meaty pork sausages
about 300ml/½ pint dry cider
2kg/4½lb new potatoes, scrubbed or scraped
4 spring onions, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8. Place the sausages in a roasting dish and pour in enough cider to half-submerge them. Put them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until coloured. Turn over the sausages and bake for a further 20 minutes, until done.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until just tender – they should be slightly waxy in the centre. Drain well, then add the spring onions, oil, vinegar and some salt and pepper and give them a big stir. Serve with the sausages, using the cooked cider as a gravy.


October 2016 – Mushrooms on Toast

From page 267 of The New English Table.

An ideal supper dish that can be grand or humble, depending on the mushrooms you use.

For 2 people, butter or brush with oil 4 slices of sourdough bread (or the Wild Yeast Bread on p436 of The New English Table) and toast them in a flat, heavy-bottomed pan or in the oven until crisp and golden. Meanwhile, fry about 350g roughly chopped mushrooms in butter or olive oil until soft and browned in places.

Mix with plenty of parsley or chervil, or even watercress leaves, and pile on to one slice of the toast per person – place the other on top. Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce on the table.


September 2016 – Plum Cake

From page 192 of The Pocket Bakery.

A soggy fruit cake, which, if it does not fall into soft, fruity clods on the plate after slicing, is not the job. This cake is just as good a lunchbox cake as a grown-up fruit cake to decorate with gold and candied fruits for Christmas.

Serves 8


18cm/7inch round cake tin (10cm/4inch deep) with loose base. Butter the tin, line with baking parchment, butter again then dust with flour. To insulate for a longer cooking time, wrap 3 layers of baking parchment around the tin and secure with string.


125g/4½oz golden syrup
125g/4½oz soft dark brown sugar
125g/4½oz butter
85g/3oz pitted prunes, halved
85g/3oz raisins
85g/3oz sultanas
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 small dessert apple, grated
250g ground almonds

To glaze and decorate:
3 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water
squeeze of lemon juice
candied orange, kumquats or other fruit, edible gold leaf (optional decoration)


Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2 and prepare the tin. Put the syrup, sugar, butter and dried fruit in a pan. Allow the butter to melt, bring to the boil and boil – not too hard – for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the spices and beat in the eggs. Stir in the grated apple and ground almonds and transfer to the cake tin.

Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. The cake will rise a little but not much. To test for doneness, insert a skewer into the cake and pull it out. The cake is done if the skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

Boil the jam, water and lemon juice together then pass through a sieve. Paint all over the cake. Decorate with candied orange and a little gold leaf, if desired.


August 2016 – Aubergine and Pumpkin Seed Rice

From page 56 of The New English Kitchen.

When I want a warm and filling lunch that will not see me slump fast asleep over my desk mid afternoon, I heat a little cooked rice in a pan with some cooked vegetables, cumin and a few nuts or seeds. I eat it with plain yoghurt – there is usually some in the fridge – and a teaspoon of bought harissa, the hot pepper sauce of North Africa. The fresh ingredients in the following recipe could be replaced by tomatoes, shallots, spring greens, squash or pumpkin.

Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 aubergine, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 tablespoon green pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons stock or water
2 helpings of cooked basmati rice
leaves from 2 sprigs of mint
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and add the aubergine, onion and celery. Cook, stirring, until the aubergine is soft, then add the pumpkin seeds, cumin and stock or water. Mix in the rice and reheat thoroughly. Add the mint and season to taste.

Kitchen Note

For a richer, sweeter dish, substitute sherry for the stock or water.


July 2016 – Warm Salad of Squid with Potatoes and Shallots

From page 319 of The New English Kitchen.

There are two ways to cook squid and be sure it is tender – very fast or very slow. Anything in between will be indistinguishable from rubber.

Serves 4

12 new or waxy potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium squid, cleaned (see p319 of The New English Kitchen), cut into strips and left on a towel to absorb water
soft sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs of parsley, chopped

Boil the potatoes in water with a pinch of salt until just tender. Drain, quarter them and set aside in a bowl. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl or mug.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan and have ready a lid or mesh disc, because the oil is liable to spit when you cook the squid. Put the squid in the pan and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, until they turn from translucent to opaque white. Lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and put them on top of the potatoes. Pour over the dressing, season with salt and pepper, and it is ready.


June 2016– Savoury Pan Scones

From page 19 of The New English Kitchen.

Try to find stoneground white flour for these scones; it will give them a lovely chewiness. A really heavy-based frying pan or flat griddle is essential if you cook them on the hob, otherwise they'll burn. The nicest way to eat pan scones is while they are still warm, halved and buttered.

Makes 8-10 Scones

480g flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons salt
90g beef dripping (see page 185 of The New English Kitchen) or butter (or 6 tablespoons olive oil) 300ml sour milk*, buttermilk or low-fat yoghurt.

*To sour milk, warm it slightly, add about a teaspoon of lemon juice and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the fat. Make a well in the centre and stir in the milk, buttermilk or yoghurt to make a smooth dough.

With floured hands, quickly shape the dough into small rounds, 2cm thick. Heat a heavy-based frying pan or a flat griddle and cook the scones for 4 minutes on each side, until golden and slightly puffed. Alternatively, bake them in an oven preheated to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8 for 10 minutes.

Kitchen Note

You can play around with the flavour of scones, adding grated or chopped cheese (it's a good way to use cheese that is no longer presentable on the table). Try to use one of the many interesting British farmhouse hard cheeses. Crumbled pork crackling makes them wickedly delicious, too. Alternatively, try chopped spring onions, dried thyme or rosemary.


May 2016 – Baked Trout and Spring Greens

From page 285 of Kitchenella.

Trout are one of my favourite fish and even organically farmed are an economical buy.

Buy a trout weighing 450g for each person. Ask the fishmonger to gut it for you. Season with salt and pepper inside. Insert a few thin slices of lemon or fresh fennel (or both) into the cavity, then rub the outside with olive oil. Wrap in baking paper or foil, securing it like a cracker at each end.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Bake the trout for 15 minutes or until it feels firm to the touch and a pressed finger does not leave an imprint. This test is always the most reliable when baking fish. Remove the trout from the paper. Eat with a little melted butter, boiled new potatoes and some sautéed spring greens or chicory. Lift away the skin if you prefer not to eat it.


April 2016 – Lamb Braised with Thyme & Rosemary, Served with Egg Pasta

From page 230 of The New English Table.

A hearty, full-flavoured and rich-textured braise, using diced shoulder or neck of lamb, to eat with pasta.

Serves 8 generously

Olive oil or butter
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 onions, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2kg lamb shoulder or neck fillet, diced into 2cm pieces
2 sprigs of thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teacup of passata (puréed tomatoes)
2 wineglasses of white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
750g dried egg tagliatelle
a few leaves of fresh thyme and rosemary, if available, or some roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil or butter in a large casserole, add the garlic and fry until pale gold. Remove from the pan and add the onions and celery. Cook until soft and slightly coloured, then remove with a slotted spoon. Brown the lamb dice quickly over a high heat, then return the vegetables to the pan with the herbs, passata and wine. Boil for 1 minute, then add enough water to cover and simmer for 1-1.5 hours, until the lamb is tender. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a tablespoon of sea salt. Cook the tagliatelle until al dente (just tender, with a slight 'bite' in the centre), then drain. Serve immediately, with the sauce and a scattering of herbs. Do not serve with cheese.


March 2016 – Beef Braised with Rhubarb

From page 338 of The New English Kitchen.

This is adapted from Claudia Roden's recipe for khoresh in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food (Penguin, 1986).

Serves 4

60g butter
480g lean beef steak, cut into 1 cm cubes
beef stock or water, to cover
1 tsp ground allspice
480g forced rhubarb, cut into 2cm lengths
juice of ½ lemon
4 sprigs of dill, chopped
1 tablespoon shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat half the butter in a large casserole, add the onion and cook until pale gold. Add the meat and stir-fry until browned on all sides. Cover with beef-stock or water and add the allspice. Bring to the boil, skimming off any rising foam. Turn down to a simmer and cook slowly, partly covered, for 1-1 ½ hours, until the meat is tender.

Heat the remaining butter in a separate pan, add the rhubarb and cook for a few minutes, until just tender. Squeeze over the lemon juice, then stir into the simmering meat sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes, then season to taste. Serve over plain boiled white rice with the dill and pistachio nuts scattered over the top.


February 2016– Cauliflower with Lancashire Cheese

From page 86 of The New English Table.

The cheese sauce for this dish is a basic that you can pour over other leafy vegetables to make a filling supper – try it with Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, curly kale, spinach, lettuce hearts and beetroot tops.

Serves 4-6

1 large cauliflower, broken into chunks (use the leaves if they look fresh, slicing them into thin strips)
a pinch of ground mace or a few gratings of nutmeg
600ml milk
1 bay leaf
40g butter
40g plain flour
200g Lancashire cheese, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and the cauliflower and boil for about 7 minutes, until just tender but not soft.

Meanwhile, put the spice, milk and bay leaf into a small pan and bring to the boil. Pour into a jug and set to one side. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the flour. Mix to a paste and cook over a low heat until the paste has a sandy texture. Gradually whisk in the hot milk (having removed the bay leaf), making sure there are no lumps. Bring the sauce to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the cheese and stir once more, then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the cauliflower in a shallow ovenproof dish and pour the sauce over the top. Either brown it under the grill or bake for a few minutes in an oven preheated to 240°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9, until browned on top.


January 2016– Pheasant Curry

From page 75 of Kitchenella.

A child-friendly Pheasant curry, that my son, Jack, loved as a three-year-old. We used to buy cheap pheasants, then make a mild curry, mix it with rice and yoghurt and watch it go down by the bowlful. I used to love finishing up the leftovers in the bowl.

Serves 2 (or 4 – 8 children, depending on appetite)

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 dessertspoon mild curry powder
2 pheasant breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
4 tablespoons smooth tomato sauce or passata
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon smooth mild mango chutney
To serve: boiled rice, wholemilk yoghurt

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for a nice long time, about 10 minutes, until the onion is transparent but not coloured. Add the curry powder and sizzle for half a minute, then put in the pheasant and stir until the meat turns opaque. Add the tomato with the water and cook until the pheasant is tender. Remove from the heat. If serving to very young children, give the curry a little whizz in the food processor. Stir in the mango chutney. To serve, mix the heated curry with freshly cooked rice and a little wholemilk yoghurt.


December 2015 – Partridge and Pears

From page 295 of The New English Table.

Spatchcocked partridges served with pickled pears. To eat at Christmas.

Serves 4

4 partridges
2 tbsp melted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pickled pears:
300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
200g golden granulated sugar
3 pink peppercorns
1 bay leaf
6 pears, quartered lengthways and cored
12 long French breakfast radishes, halved lengthways

To make the pickled pears, put the vinegar in a pan, add the sugar, peppercorns and bay leaf and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until syrupy, then add the pears and radishes, making sure both are covered with the mixture. Bring back to the boil, turn off the heat and store until needed.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8. To spatchcock the partridges, turn them over so the backbone faces you, then snip (using scissors) 2 lines down either side of the backbone to remove it. Turn the partridges over again, so the breastbone is uppermost, and use the heel of your hand on the actual ridge of the breastbone to press them flat. If given plenty of warning, a butcher will do all this for you.

Use a pastry brush to paint the birds all over with melted butter (undersides, too) then season with salt and pepper. Put them in a roasting tin and roast for 20-25 minutes (no red juices should appear when the thicker part of the breast or thigh is pricked with a skewer). Once cooked, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. Serve with the pickled pears and a bitter leaf salad (chicory or radicchio) dressed with a sweet mustard dressing.


Novmeber 2015 – Baked Figs with Pear Purée

From page 182 of The New English Table.

Pears, figs and walnuts – an autumn trinity. A creamy, acidic blue cheese follows this well. Eat it with a green salad dressed with walnut oil, or buttered oatcakes (see p274 of the New English Table).

Serves 4

8 ripe black or green figs, cut in half
acacia honey or other runny flower honey
a few walnuts, crushed and lightly toasted in a frying pan

For the pear purée:
5 Williams or other yellow pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
juice of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8 (or, if you have a grill, you can use this instead).

Put the pears in a pan with about 2cm of water and cook gently until just soft, then purée in a liquidiser until smooth. Add the lemon juice and leave to cool. The pear purée will darken to a rust colour as it cools.

Arrange the fig halves in an ovenproof dish in a single layer and spoon about ½ teaspoon of honey on to each. Bake in the oven (or place under a hot grill) for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the figs catch a little colour. Serve hot or cold, with the pear purée and the walnuts scattered on top.


October 2015 – Carrot Butter Sauce

From page 372 of The New English Table.

The Irish chef Richard Corrigan showed me how to make this sauce. He put it beside turbot but you could serve it with steaks cut from brill – a flat fish with a flavour (when very fresh) that comes near to the valuable turbot – or pollock (a cod alternative). I have since tried it with roast duck legs, eating it with egg noodles. Buttery carrots and duck like each other and it is an unusual way to dress pasta.

Serves 4

15 green cardamom pods
400g unsalted butter
1kg carrots, finely grated
vegetable stock, to cover
a little white wine vinegar (preferably Forum Chardonnay vinegar)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crush the cardamom pods and extract the seeds. Melt the butter in a pan and add the grated carrots and cardamom seeds. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, then cover with vegetable stock and cook for 15 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavours can develop and amalgamate.

Set a metal sieve over a second pan and tip the contents of the first pan into it, pushing through as much liquid as you can with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste the sauce and add a drop or two of white wine vinegar to sharpen it, then season with a little salt and pepper. Serve with grilled fish or try other things with it, such as grilled goat's cheese or braised butterbeans (see page 40 of The New English Table).


September 2015 – Runner Beans with Shallot, Mustard, Oil and Vinegar

From page 381 of The New English Table.

A useful dish to eat at room temperature – it will sit happily waiting while you prepare other food. At the height of their season, the green beans will be crisp and fresh-flavoured, and the piquant mustard dressing will not overpower them.

Make a dressing with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 chopped shallots, 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar. Mix with 500g runner beans that have been cooked in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Leave for a few minutes to let the flavours develop.

You can eat these beans alone or with almost anything – cold ham or roast chicken. But I like them with semi-soft boiled eggs. Put the eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then plunge into cold water. Peel and quarter the eggs, then put them on top of the beans.


August 2015 – Honeycomb Cream with Hazelnut Meringue and Raspberries

From page 220 of The New English Table

An unusual fool with chunks of honeycomb, raspberries and crisp pieces of nutty meringue. Just a little in a glass is enough for pudding but you can also serve it with shortbread.

Serves 6

2 egg whites
115g icing sugar, sifted
85g hazelnuts, chopped, toasted in a dry pan and cooled
400ml double cream
115g cut honeycomb
4 tbsp raspberries

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.

Put the egg whites and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until stiff peaks of white foam are formed. This will take about 9 minutes, so a tabletop food mixer is best, although you can use a handheld mixer.

Fold the nuts into the meringue. Drop small dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking parchment, 5cm apart. You should fit approximately 9 onto each sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, until very pale brown and slightly cracked. Allow the meringues to cool on the trays, then lift them off the baking parchment.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Cut the honeycomb into chunks and fold it roughly into the cream. Serve spooned over the meringues, with the raspberries scattered on top.


July 2015 – Chicken, Broad Beans and Tarragon

From page 400 of The New English Kitchen

Very rich stuffed pancakes, for a supper dish.

Serves 4

30g butter
30g plain flour
150ml chicken stock
4 sprigs of tarragon, chopped
2 egg yolks
240g roast chicken (or pheasant), cut into bite-sized pieces
8 heaped teaspoons frozen broad beans, the green centres only (see p80 of The New English Kitchen)
4 pancakes (see p398 of The New English Kitchen)
15g hard cheese, such as Saval, Somerset Rambler or Pecorino, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and butter an ovenproof dish that will accommodate 4 rolled pancakes. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Cook for 1 minute, until the texture is gritty, then remove from the heat and slowly add the stock, stirring or whisking all the time so the sauce is lump free.

Season with nutmeg and black pepper, bring to the boil, stirring, and simmer for 3 minutes to 'cook out' the flour. Add the cream and tarragon, whisk in the egg yolks and taste for seasoning.

Divide the meat and beans between the pancakes, pour over some of the sauce and roll them up. Place side by side in the baking dish and pour over the remaining sauce. Dust with the grated cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, until browned on top.


June 2015 – Canned Pilchards with New Potatoes

From page 384 of The New English Table

The easiest salad, in desperate need, however, of Nick Howell's canned pilchards ( and good, waxy new-season Cornish potatoes.

For 4 people, brush or scrape the skin off 12-16 new potatoes and boil until just tender; they should not be falling apart. If the potatoes appear not quite done when pierced with a sharp knife, take them off the heat anyway. They tend to continue cooking even after they have been drained. Leave to cool, then slice and serve with 1 can of drained pilchard fillets, some lemon juice, parsley, chives and olive oil.

Some good-quality olives are an asset, as is a halved semi-soft boiled egg. To cook an egg in this way, put it in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then run it under a cold tap.


May 2015 – Pea Soup with Lettuce and Herbs

From page 302 of The New English Table

This is the soup, or pottage, I imagine being eaten in medieval Britain. Peas grew with ease then, feeding people and pigs. Herbs and edible leaves were randomly used and a little cream at the end of cooking would make the broth feel nice in the mouth. I use fresh British peas when available, or frozen ones.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2 onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with a little salt
1.2 litres water, or any stock
450g podded green peas, defrosted if frozen
4 teaspoons salted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Any or all of the following:

a few celery leaves
hearts of romaine or Cos lettuce, roughly chopped
a few lovage leaves
4 sprigs of chervil, chopped
red mustard leaves
young spinach leaves
sorrel leaves (be aware that sorrel turns dark when cooked)

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat until they soften. Cover with the water or stock, bring to the boil, then add the peas with the leaves of your choice and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and put a knob of butter on the surface of each to melt.


April 2015 – Lamb rice, with golden onions

From page 365 of Kitchenella

A sweet rich and filling refried lamb and rice dish, and my unparalleled favourite way to rehash cold lamb quickly in a pan. The secret is in making sure all the vegetables are cooked until sweet.

Serves 2

1 tbsp beef dripping or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp golden sultanas
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground coriander
2 pinches of ground cumin
about 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2-4 slices of cold lamb, cut into slivers
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 heaped tablespoons cooked basmati or long grain rice
salt and black pepper
to serve: mint leaves or chopped parsley leaves; 2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted in the pan first with no fat until golden, then set aside; pomegranate pips (optional); 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Heat the dripping or butter and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat until it turns pale gold and smells fragrant. Add the sultanas and spices and cook for 1 minute more, then add the tomatoes. Cook gently for another 5-7 minutes, until they begin to take on a little colour.

Add the lamb and garlic and stir-fry for a minute, then stir in the rice. Cook, stirring from time to time, until well heated through – this is very important with leftover cooked rice. Season to taste. To serve, scatter the leaves, pinenuts and pomegranate pips over the top and eat with yoghurt.


March 2015– South coast stew of gurnard, cod, mussels, saffron, new garlic and butter beans

From page 179 of Kitchenella

A quick-to-make stew that can match the glories of the famous French bouillabaisse any day.

Serves 4

2 heaped tablespoons butter
1 bulb wet garlic, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
8 saffron strands
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 fillets from a large gurnard, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
450g cod fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 litre mussels
2 wineglasses white wine
2 teaspoons tomato purée
1 x 450g tin butter beans, drained
toasted bread, to serve

Melt the butter in a casserole dish and add the garlic, celery and spices (including the saffron strands). Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until soft but not coloured. Add the fish, and turn it in the butter before it flakes. Throw in the mussels, then pour in the wine. Cook until the wine bubbles, then add the tomato purée, the butter beans and just enough water to cover.

Bring to the boil and cook gently for a few minutes until the fish is cooked and the mussels are wide open. Discard any that do not open. Serve spooned into bowls, with toasted bread on the side.


February 2015 – Raw Roots

From page 370 of The New English Table

Four vibrant salads made from grated vegetables: parsnip and apple; beetroot; celeriac and broad bean; and swede. Eat them with charcuterie, boiled bacon or any of the potted meats and fish on pages 108, 296, 325, 356 and 452 of The New English Table.

I like to eat these rich little salads, which the French call rémoulade, with other vegetables – they match the Potato and Fresh Cheese in an Olive Oil Pastry Pie on page 339 of TNET well. Good food for feeding the masses. An electric grating attachment to the mixer helps enormously. Save washing up time by making the beetroot salad last.

Serves 10 as part of a meal with cured meat or the potato pie on page 339 of TNET.

600ml/1 pint single cream

For the parsnip and apple:
2 medium parsnips, peeled and grated
3 crisp, fibrous apples (such as Cox's), cored and grated
juice of 1 lemon
leaves from 4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
10 cornichons (baby gherkins), sliced into small rounds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the celeriac and broad bean:
1 large celeriac, peeled and grated
400g broad beans, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, then pinched from their skins (or use frozen beans, which do not need blanching)
2 tbsp capers, washed and chopped
leaves from 4 sprigs of tarragon, washed and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the swede:
1 large swede, peeled and grated
2 carrots, scraped and grated
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp unsalted shelled pistachio nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan, then chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted with the pistachios
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beetroot:
3 fresh, crisp beetroot, peeled and grated
leaves from 4 sprigs of dill
10 pink peppercorns, crushed
sea salt

Put all the ingredients for each rémoulade except the salt and pepper into separate serving bowls. Pour 150ml/¼ pint of cream over each and mix well. If the salad is too stiff, add a little water. Taste each and add salt if necessary. Add black pepper where applicable. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


January 2015 – Salmon Rocket and Horseradish Hash

From page 370 of Kitchenella

A quick hash to make in a pan, and serve on toasted bread.

Serves 2

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
4 tablespoons flaked cooked salmon
2 handfuls of rocket leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons creamed horseradish, or to taste
1 teaspoon english mustard
salt and black pepper

Heat the fat in a pan and add the fish. Warm through then stir in the rocket leaves. Stir in the horseradish and mustard, season with salt and pepper, then serve on toast or grilled bread (see page 134 of Kitchenella).

Kitchen Note

Watercress can be substituted for the rocket leaves.


December 2014 – Christmas Stollen

From page 302 of Kitchenella

Sybille Wilkinson is a great baker, and this is her Austrian grandmother Maria Vogginger's recipe, blissfully free of the marzipan worm that most commercial stollen has in its middle. Note that you need a day and two nights to make this – not that you will have to work hard: the slowness of the recipe develops the flavour. Sybille recommends making this cake two weeks in advance of eating it.

100g raisins
100g sultanas
4 tbsp rum
15g dried easy-bake yeast
125ml milk, heated until lukewarm
125g caster sugar
500g plain flour
175g softened butter
2 eggs, beaten
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
100g candied peel (optional)
100g chopped almonds
zest of 1 lemon
To glaze: 30g melted butter; icing sugar

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the rum overnight. The following day, mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and caster sugar. Put the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre, add the yeast mixture and partially mix. Leave for 30 minutes.

Work in the butter, using a wooden spoon, then stir in the eggs, salt and cinnamon. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and bubbly. Drain the raisins and sultanas and add them to the mixture along with the candied peel, chopped almonds and lemon zest. Leave overnight to prove.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into an oblong about 2.5cm/1in thick. Make into a stollen shape with two overlapping folds, one from each side. Place onto a floured baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Leave to 'prove' for 20 minutes, then bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes – the stollen is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Take out of the oven, brush with more melted butter and dust with icing sugar. Wrap in foil and cling film when cool and store.

November 2014 – Roast Quince

From page 352 of The New English Table

Once roasted, quince can be eaten with both sweet and savoury things. They are good with game birds and roast pork, but also with vanilla ice cream.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Wash 4 quince, rubbing away any dusty flock on their skins. Quarter each quince, holding it firmly and using a knife with a strong blade. Boil the quinces in water for about 3-5 minutes, until just soft. Drain them then cut out the hardcore from each quarter. Brush with melted butter, then place in an ovenproof dish and roast until golden.

Add sugar as they come out of the oven if you are eating them sweet, or leave the sugar out if you are serving them with meat, or eat hot and sour with cheese.

To serve the quince with ice cream, I make a sauce with 115g butter, 115g brown sugar, 1/2 lemon grass stalk, chopped, and 1 wine glass of sweet wine or other unused Christmas-present liquor. Boil the ingredients together until you have a slightly thickened sauce to pour over the quince and ice cream.


October 2014 – Lamb and Butternut Squash Hash with Cumin and Coriander

From page 203 of The New English Kitchen

I buy butternut squash thinking, how useful, and then it sits for weeks on the side. They are very forgiving, however. There is always enough juicy, orange flesh left under its hard skin for this late-night fry-up.

Serves 2

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 cm pieces
1 onion, chopped
oil for frying
leftover roast lamb, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten
4 sprigs of coriander, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the squash in a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and leave on a cloth or kitchen paper. While it cools, fry the onion in a little oil until golden. Put it into a bowl, add all the rest of the ingredients, including the squash, and combine them into a well-amalgamated hash.

Heat some oil in a large frying pan and tip the hash into it. Press it down with the back of a spoon and fry for about 4 minutes on either side, until browned. Eat with mango chutney.

Kitchen note:

You can also use cold beef in this recipe.


September 2014 – Fried Fresh Goat's Cheese with Apples, Victoria Plums and Orange Blossom Honey

From page 101 of The New English Table

Autumn Saturday breakfast or light supper, and a treat if you can find a nice handmade goat's cheese, with a flavour-enhancing natural mould on its surface, like Dorstone. Monika Linton, who imports Spanish food for her London company, Brindisa, introduced me to the method of dipping goat's cheese first in flour then in egg, on a trip to an exceptional goat's cheese dairy near Madrid, Monte Enebro. Small, fresh goat's cheese 'buttons' are also ideal – try Chabis. To buy Monte Enebro cheese, contact Brindisa:

Serves 2

2 apples, cored and very thinly sliced
4-6 Victoria plums, pitted and quartered
a squeeze of orange juice
a few lemon balm or mint leaves, plus maybe a few rocket flowers if available
50g plain flour
2 eggs
2 slices of fresh goat's cheese, about 1.5cm thick
150ml olive oil
3 tbsp runny orange blossom honey

Mix the apples and plums with the orange juice and herb leaves and divide between two serving plates.

Spread the flour over a plate and beat the eggs together in a bowl. Cut each slice of cheese in half diagonally, then dip all 4 pieces in the flour. Turn to coat them on both sides, then submerge in the beaten egg. Heat the oil in a small frying pan until a drop of water sizzles when dropped in at arm's length. Put the goat's cheese slices quickly into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden and drain quickly on kitchen paper. Put 2 pieces on each plate, zigzag the honey over them and eat straight away. Toast and marmalade follows this nicely.

August – Starter – Ricotta with broad beans

From page 140 of Kitchenella

Ricotta was daring at the time but it has endures as a lovely ingredient to have in the kitchen for hurried, delicious, good-for-you food. In Real Fast Food, Slater wrote: '[Ricotta] must be very fresh if it is to be good, and there should be no yellowing around the edges, which indicates ageing. For me it is at its best when eaten as an accompaniment to baby broad beans. Just put the beans on the table with a lump of the ricotta, let everybody scoop up the cheese, and shell the beans, themselves.' This is dinner, stripped to nudity, but very pretty and nourishing. Not a recipe so much as a great idea.


Main – Aunts Pasta, with sweet cooked tomato and anchovy

From page 403 of Kitchenella

I learned to cook this dish in Naples, home of the best tomatoes, which are grown in the threatening shadow of Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano. Past eruptions have made this one of the most fertile places in the world and the balance of nutrients in the Neapolitan volcanic soil is always given as the reason why the area produces the sweetest tomatoes in the world.

Serves 6

500g paccheri or other large tubular pasta (choose one without a ridged surface)
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
10 capers
15 black olives, pitted
400g sweet cooked tomato (see page 400 and Kitchen Note, p405 of Kitchenella)
1 tbsp raisins
black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8-12 good quality anchovies, drained of their oil, or fresh (head and backbone removed), if you can get them, roughly chopped
2 tbsp grated pecorino, plus extra to serve
1 handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put a very large pan of water on to boil then add 2 teaspoons salt and the paccheri and cook for about 18 minutes until al dente (a little firm when bitten) – note that smaller tubes cook in less time, about 12-14 minutes.

A few minutes before the pasta is ready, make the sauce. Heat the oil with the garlic and add the capers and olives. Stir with a wooden spoon, using it to crush the contents. Add the sweet cooked tomato and the raisins, a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and the oregano, plus a tablespoon of water. Cook over a high temperature for 15 seconds then turn off the heat. Add the anchovies and stir – you do not want to 'cook' them. Stir in the pasta with the cheese and serve with the parsley and more cheese on the table.


Dessert – Gooseberry Fool

From page 79 of The New English Table

Eat this with the Pistachio Biscuits on page 311 of The New English Table.

Serves 4

300g fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed
golden caster sugar
150ml double cream

Put the gooseberries in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and cook gently until just soft. Remove from the heat, leave to cool and then chill. Sweeten with sugar to taste.

Whip the cream until thick, then fold it into the gooseberries. Serve in little glasses.


July 2014 – Starter – Potato Salad

From page 79 of The New English Kitchen

This is the best salad to eat with cold ham or beef. The sweeter the onions, the better it will taste. If you can find Breton or Roscoff onions – they are still sold in strings – so much the better. So-called banana shallots, which are in fact onions, make a good substitute.

Serves 4

1kg salad potatoes
1 tsp salt
6 shallots, or pink Roscoff onions if you can find them, sliced
Mayonnaise (see p393 of The New English Kitchen)

Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with water and add the salt. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender – they should still be waxy in the centre when you cut them open. Drain and leave to cool, then slice thickly. Put them in a bowl and add the shallots and enough mayonnaise to coat. Mix well.


Main – Sausage with shredded spring greens and apple

From page 172 of Kitchenella

Use a meaty, well-seasoned spicy or garlic sausage. Cumberland or Toulouse sausages are ideal for this inexpensive dish, which can be eaten at any time of year.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-8 large sausages, skinned and sliced
a few rosemary leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 heads of spring greens or hispi cabbage, shredded into very thin strips
2 dessert apples, cored and sliced
4 tablespoons dry cider, wine or stock

Heat the oil and stir-fry the sausage meat with the rosemary over a medium-high heat. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add the garlic, greens and apple to the pan and cook over a lower heat until the greens are tender. Add the cider, wine or stock and bring to the boil. Pile the sausage meat on top and put the whole pan on the table. Good with boiled potatoes.


Dessert – Summer Pudding

From page 79 of The New English Kitchen

This moulded pudding made from dry white bread and a mixture of lightly stewed berries doesn't require an exact recipe. You will need enough fruit to fill the pudding basin you wish to use, plus a little over. You could use a traditional pudding basin, a soufflé dish or any shallow dish. I sometimes make summer pudding in large plastic containers for children's meals, serving helpings from them as and when needed. Raspberries, blackberries, tayberries, red and blackcurrants are all suitable for the filling – it's best to use a mixture, but the pectin-rich raspberries are pretty much essential. You can use strawberries, but they tend to disintegrate wastefully when cooked.

Simply stew the fruit gently until the juices run and add enough sugar to remove any sourness. Line the pudding basin with slices of day-old white bread, pour in the compote and cover with a 'lid' of sliced bread, then a saucer small enough to fit inside the basin. Put a weight on top – a can of tomatoes will do – and leave in the fridge overnight.

Push any leftover compote through a sieve to make a sauce. To turn the pudding out, run a blunt knife between the bread casing and the bowl. Invert a plate on top and turn the basin and plate over. If you have ever got water in your gumboots, you will know the noise a summer pudding makes when it unmoulds. Pour over the sauce to cover any white patches. Serve with crème fraîche.


June 2014 – Starter – Radish Salad

From page 224 of Kitchenella

Serve as a starter or as an accompaniment to the main.

Serves 4

2 bunches of radishes, washed and thinly sliced, plus a few radish leaves (in good condition) to add to the salad
1 red shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

Put the radishes and the leaves in a bowl with the shallot. Add the vinegar and oil and mix well. Season with salt before serving. If you make this salad too far in advance, the radishes lose their colour and heat. You can prepare them in advance, but then dress the salad at the last minute.

Main – Potted Pork

From page 223 of Kitchenella

This is my own version of plain pork rillettes, made with shallots.

Serves 4

2 tbsp duck fat
4 red shallots
5 think slices smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into 2cm pieces
250g fresh pork belly, cut into large dice
½ tsp ground mace
small pinch of ground cloves
180ml dry cider, rosé or white wine
chicken stock or water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Put half the duck fat in a heavy-based casserole over a medium heat and add the shallots with the bacon, fresh pork and spices. Cook until pale golden, then add the cider or wine. Cook for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any caramelised 'bits', then cover with stock or water. Add the thyme and bay leaf.

Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat breaks apart easily. Strain into a bowl, reserving the cooking liquid. Remove the bay leaf and mash the meat with a fork to make a rough paste. Put in a dish with a total of about 250ml of the cooking liquor (you can use up any remaining stock for soup or gravies).

Season with salt if necessary (note that the bacon already contains salt) and add pepper. Melt the rest of the duck fat and pour over the top. Cover and leave to set in the fridge.

Dessert – Fresh Fruit Brioche 'Sandwich' with Berries and Cream

From page 105 of The Pocket Bakery

This is a brioche layer cake; we daresay much better than any other cream cake filled with strawberries.

Serves 6-8


25cm/10-inch tart ring and a baking sheet, or a similar size cake tin


¾ quantity brioche dough (p101 of The Pocket Bakery) prepared to the end of stage 2 (mixed and proved overnight in the fridge); use the remainder to make some bunnies (p107 of The Pocket Bakery)

For the egg wash:

1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 pinch salt
60g nibbed sugar

For the filling:
300ml whipped cream
500g strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

Take the dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (about 1-1½ hours). Shape it into one large ball on a floured surface – gently so as not to lose the air. Roll it into a circle 25cm/10-inch across and place on the baking sheet, inside the tart ring. Alternatively, put it in a cake tin. Brush with egg wash and leave to prove for 1-1½ hours until risen well but not beginning to fall.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Scatter the nibbed sugar over the surface. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven and slide the baked brioche disk on to a rack. Allow to cool. Once it is completely cool, cut the cake horizontally in two and fill with strawberries and whipped cream.


May – Starter – Crepe-wrapped asparagus with grated cheese

From page 312 of Kitchenella

The exception to simple boiled asparagus: an adaptation of a dish made by Jeremy Lee, who cooks at the Blueprint Cafe in London. Rolled up in thin, rich crepes, a few stalks of asparagus will go a little further – but nothing is taken from their flavour. Use the crepe recipe on page 113 of Kitchenella.

Serves 8

1kg asparagus
8 crepes, kept warm in a teacloth, piled on a plate
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons Berkswell or other hard ewe's milk cheese, grated (if you cannot find British cheese, use pecorino or Parmesan)

If necessary, cut the pale, dry, woody part of the stalk from the asparagus (some early asparagus is green, tender and juicy from one end to the other). Fill a large shallow pan with water and bring to the boil. Add a large pinch of salt. Drop the asparagus gently into the simmering water and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

Remove with tongs and place on a towel to drain. It is better to handle the spears gently, like this, than to tip them into a colander. Transfer to a plate and shake over the olive oil, mainly on the spear end. Agitate the plate from side to side to spread the oil.

To serve, roll three to four spears in a warm crepe, then sprinkle with the grated cheese.


Main – Bacon and potato salad with green celery leaf and cider vinegar

From page 20 of The New English Table

Be sure to chop the celery leaves finely for this warm salad so there is all the flavour and no fibrous texture. This is a perfectly good and economical dish to eat alone – the bacon means you need no other protein, but you could follow it with some cheese and buttered oatcakes.

Serves 4

20 new potatoes
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut very thin, or the rind cut off
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
175ml light olive oil or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or apple vinegar
2 tablespoons water
a handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until just tender but not too soft. Drain, cut each one in half and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the rashers in half and put them in a frying pan (with no fat). Place over a medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until crisp as a cracker.

Put the sugar, mustard, oil, vinegar and water in a bowl and mix until well emulsified. Stir in the celery leaves and shallots. Taste and add salt if necessary, then season with black pepper.

Put the potatoes in a big bowl, throw the crisp rashers over the top and pour over the dressing. Mix well. It doesn't matter if the rashers break up – that way it just tastes better.


Dessert – Ginger syrup cake

From page 189 of The Pocket Bakery

A favourite cake my family have been making in one form or another for many years. My mother made this cake to Constance Spry's Belvoir Cake recipe, laboriously creaming the butter and sugar. I tried the boiling method one day when I had forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge, and think it gives the cake a toffee stickiness it had lacked before. This cake improves and becomes yet more intensely gingery four days after being made, and will keep for several weeks in a tin.

Serves 12


20cm/10 inch square cake tin with loose base: butter the tin, line the base with baking parchment, butter again, then dust with flour.


200g black treacle
200g muscovado sugar
200g butter
2 tsp ground ginger
3 eggs, beaten
150g crystallised ginger, sliced
200g ground almonds
175g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

To glaze:
3 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp water
squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2 and prepare the tin.

Put the treacle, sugar and butter in a pan. Allow the butter to melt, bring to the boil and boil – not too hard – for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the ground ginger and beat in the eggs. Stir in half the crystallised ginger, followed by the ground almonds. Put the flour and bicarbonate of soda in a separate bowl and whisk together for a few seconds. Fold into the cake mixture.

Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes. To test if it is done, insert a skewer into the cake. The cake is done if the skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

Boil the ingredients for the glaze together together then pass through a sieve. Paint all over the cake. Scatter over the remaining crystallised ginger.


April – Starter – Blood orange and onion salad

From page 342 of The New English Kitchen

In Sicily the cold winter nights followed by the mellow days develop the anthocyanin in these unique oranges – the pigment that gives them their colour. Try to find very mild, sweet shallots for this salad, which is lovely served with cold duck leftovers.

Serves 4

4 blood oranges
4 sweet pink shallots
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and slice the oranges, removing any pips, and put them in a dish. Peel the shallots and slice them as thinly as you can. Mix with the oranges, then shake the oil on top. Throw over a little sea salt and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Main – Roast Lamb

From page 199 of The New English Kitchen

I like cooking roast lamb the French way, over a layer of chopped vegetables, then chucking in a little water or stock near the end of cooking. You end up with juicy lamb that is pink in the centre, plus a rich, clear, russet gravy. Raymond Blanc cooks lamb this way in his book, Cooking for Friends (Headline, 1991), a second-hand copy of which is well worth seeking out for its wonderful recipes for home cooking.

Suitable roasting joints include a leg or half leg of lamb, or a boned and rolled shoulder.

Serves 6

4 tablespoons of olive oil
a few lamb bones (the butcher should be only too happy to give them to you)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2kg leg of lamb
a large pinch of dried rosemary, or 1 sprig fresh rosemary
a large pinch of dried thyme
3 tomatoes, chopped
600ml water or meat stock
1 glass of white wine (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Heat the oil in a roasting tin on the hob and brown the lamb bones in it. Add the vegetables and garlic and mix well with the oil. Rub the lamb with a little more oil and place it on top of the bones and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and scatter the rosemary and thyme over everything.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, tilt the roasting tin and spoon out any excess fat. Add the tomatoes, water or stock and the wine, if using, and return the tin to the oven. Reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, put the lamb in a dish and leave to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes, covered with foil.

Strain the juices from the roasting tin into a warm jug, discarding the vegetables and bones. Add any juices that seep from the resting joint of lamb. Serve the lamb with the juices.

Dessert – Pudding in a Pan

From page 181 of Kitchenella

Faced with the task of producing something sweet in no time, there is a simple solution with a bunch of bananas and a couple of oranges. Split the bananas lengthways and sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon. Heat 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar in a pan with 2 tablespoons butter and add 2 cardamom pods (if you wish). Add about 3 tablespoons orange juice.

Bring to the boil; cook until you have a thick syrup then poach the bananas in it until soft. Remember to pick out and discard the cardamom before you serve the bananas, with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.


March – Starter – Tomato Tart with Anchovies

From page 145 of The Pocket Bakery

A reminder of walks through Antibes market with my grandmother who lived near the town for 50 years and loved the local food.

Serves 4-6


1 baking sheet measuring approximately 25x40cm/10x15inches


For the cooked tomato:

400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil

For the tart:

Flour, for dusting
300g rough puff pastry (pages 136-137 of The Pocket Bakery)
12 anchovies, cut lengthways in 2
12 black olives (preferably Niçoise), halved and stoned

To glaze:

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 pinch salt


Put all the ingredients for the cooked tomato in a pan, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender/food processor, or put through a food mill (mouli).

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7 and put the baking sheet you will be using in the oven. Dust the worktop with flour and roll the pastry out to ¼cm thickness. Pick it up, rolling it onto a well-floured rolling pin, then unroll it onto a sheet of baking parchment. This will be easily slipped on to the preheated baking sheet and ensures the base of the tart will be crisp.

Spread the cooked tomato on to the pastry leaving a border of about 2cm; place the anchovies all over the surface, plus the olives, all evenly spaced.

Brush the edges with egg wash and bake for 15-25 minutes until the pastry edges are golden. Check that the base is cooked by gently lifting the corner of the tart and looking underneath. If not quite cooked, give the tart a few more minutes, turning the oven down so you do not burn the edges.

Eat hot from the oven, or at room temperature. This tart reheats very nicely.

Main – Grilled Mackerel

From page 257 of The New English Table

It is not how you cook it but how you buy it. Track down the freshest mackerel, wash and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side, preferably outside over charcoal. Mackerel flesh is buff coloured and translucent before cooking; once grilled it turns white, and the meat is succulent and firm. The flavour of a very fresh mackerel, like all the best fish, is very delicate.

As to what to eat it with, many old recipe books suggest stewed fruit, but I suspect these sauces were created to hide the taste of stale fish oil in less than fresh fish. Much better to eat it with a fresh sauce of cucumber, red chilli, spring onion, lime flesh and juice, and a little very good olive oil. If you still want fruit, try it with pomegranate seeds or even a small dice of melon.

Dessert – Rhubarb Fool

From page 339 of The New English Kitchen

Serves 4

480g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
150g golden caster sugar (or you could substitute apple jelly – see page 365 of The New English Kitchen)
300ml whipping cream

To serve:

demerara sugar, or multi-coloured sugar crystals and Moroccan dried rose petals

Put the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar and a splash of water, then cover and cook gently until soft. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. Whip the cream until it holds its shape and fold it into the rhubarb. Spoon into a glass bowl or individual glass dishes and dust with a little demerara sugar or a few coloured sugar crystals and Moroccan rose petals.

February – Starter – Cauliflower Soup

From page 87 of The New English Table

Gently fry a chopped onion in butter or oil, then add cooked cauliflower (boiled in lightly salted water for about 7 minutes, until just tender but not soft). Season with a little English mustard powder, cover with milk and stock (50/50) and bring to the boil. Liquidise and season, then serve hot with a little cream and chopped chives – or my favourite herb, chervil, if you can get it.

Main – Fried Sole

From page 298 of The New English Kitchen

Fry whole small fish in a mixture of butter and olive oil for a few minutes on each side , until they feel firm when pressed with a finger. Serve with melted butter, very finely chopped parsley and lemon juice.

Dessert – Chocolate paper pie with chocolate ganache and pears

From page 167 of The Pocket Bakery

An unusual, rich pudding that is encased in a thin chocolate pastry

Serves 8

Adding cocoa and a different type of oil to the olive oil pastry brought about this unusual, very rich chocolate pudding with pears, encased in the thinnest pastry. The filling is a type of ganache, or thick chocolate cream, but this one contains eggs and so can be baked without spoiling. Use ripe yellow pears, not green conference pears. Yellow pears have a creamy flesh that goes well with chocolate. Serve with whipped cream.

For the pastry

125g Italian ‘00’ white flour
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp icing sugar
1½ tbsp groundnut or grapeseed oil
75-100ml iced water

For the chocolate ganache filling

140g whipping cream
70g caster sugar
200g unsweetened chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
75g melted butter
2 beaten egg yolks
6 ripe yellow pears, peeled, cored and cut in quarters, then placed in water with a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning
Icing sugar, for dusting

First make the pastry. Put the flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a mixing bowl, or stand mixer with dough hook attached, and mix in the oil. Add 75ml of the water and mix – adding more water until you have a soft dough that does not stick to the mixing bowl but is a little tacky to touch. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and knead until completely smooth on a lightly floured worktop. It will feel elastic and soft. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Now make the chocolate ganache filling. Put the whipping cream in a pan with the caster sugar. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat, bring to the boil then remove from the heat. In a separate pan melt the chocolate over a very low temperature – heat to 40C (just above hand-hot). Transfer to a bowl with the cream mixture and stir the two together – the mixture will become thick. Add the melted butter and stir until glossy. Add the beaten egg yolks and mix. At this point the ganache will curdle, but beat it well with a wooden spoon for a minute or two and it will cool, come together and become quite elastic and glossy again. Cover the surface of the chocolate filling with clingfilm, to prevent a skin forming, and set to one side.

Take the dough from the fridge and dust the worktop with a very small amount of flour. Roll the dough into a disc, about the size of a dessert plate. Leave for two minutes for it to relax (making sure it is not sticking to the worktop – you may need more flour). Roll again very thin, until it is the size of a dinner plate and about ¼cm thick. Place the disc of dough on a 25x40cm baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Gently pull at the edge, holding the dough lightly in floured fingers, stretching at one point and moving around the whole circumference of the dough. The circle will expand in size until the dough roughly covers the whole of the baking sheet. You will find that if you work patiently and slowly, and allow the dough to rest between stretching, from time to time, it will allow you to stretch it quite thin. If little tears appear, it does not matter, you will be surprised how this dough does not change shape during cooking and how the tears do not get bigger. When the dough is about 40cm across, it is ready to fill.

Spread the chocolate filling on to the pastry base, covering an area the size of a small dinner plate. Arrange the pears in a star pattern on top of the filling then bring the surplus pastry towards the centre of the pie, gathering it in pleats at the middle. Trim off the thicker edges of the gathered pastry. Refrigerate the pie for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry has dried out and is crisp. It may leak a little in places, but do not worry as it will look tidy when removed from the baking tray after cooling. Allow to cool on the baking tray completely, then dust a little icing sugar on top.

January – Starter – Celeriac remoulade with smoked haddock tartare

From page 159 of Kitchenella

The classic French salad of grated celeriac, tarragon, capers and mayonnaise, twisted with the wood-smoke flavour of cured raw haddock.

Serves 4

1 celeriac, grated
250ml mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried and chopped
leaves from 6 sprigs tarragon
450g undyed smoked haddock, off the bone
juice of 1 lemon
slices of pumpernickel bread, to serve

Combine the celeriac with the mayonnaise, cream, capers and tarragon. Slice the haddock as thinly as possible and mix it in a small bowl with the lemon juice. Add to the salad and eat on slices of nutty dark pumpernickel.

Main – Roast Partridge

From page 262 of The New English Kitchen

You will need one bird per person. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Put a little butter, salt and pepper in the cavity of each bird, rub the skin with oil and place a strip of pork fat or unsmoked bacon on top to baste. Roast for 25-30 minutes. Eat with fried breadcrumbs.

Dessert – Almond and orange cake

From page 45 of The New English Kitchen

Based on Anna del Conte's recipe in her book, Secrets of an Italian Kitchen, this is a subtle cake to eat after a meal with a little crème fraîche.

150g blanched almonds, whole or flaked
3 eggs, separated
150g golden caster sugar
60g potato flour
1½ oranges
a pinch of salt
30g butter, softened
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Chop the almonds in a food processor, or finely by hand, until they have a crumb-like texture. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the almonds and the potato flour. Grate the zest of the whole orange into the mixture, then add the juice of 1½ oranges.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the orange and egg mixture. Butter a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin – use up all the butter; when it cooks it will be absorbed into the cake and form a delicious crust. Pour in the mixture and bake for 50 minutes, until the cake has shrunk from the side of the tin and feels springy when you press the surface with a finger. Unmould the cake and cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar.

December - Starter – Hot Chestnut and Honey Soup

From page 107 of The New English Table

I found a similar soup to this one in the Arndale Centre, Manchester, where a specialist and fresh food market is open every day. The chestnuts are the body, the part of the soup that does most of the warming and filling – as soups should – but they are not dominant in the sense that they make a thick, starchy soup. This one is more broth than ballast, and even elegant. The vegetables add a few layers of flavour, while the honey gives it some fruit. At Christmas it is a perfect candidate for using up all that turkey stock. I confess I never buy fresh chestnuts and peel them; it makes not a jot of difference to this soup and the process is hard work. Peeling chestnuts is a little like including whole wheat in a recipe for Victoria sponge and asking you to grind it yourself.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 medium-sized turnip, peeled and cut into chunks
½ swede, peeled and cut into chunks
a large pinch of dried thyme
200g vacuum-packed sweet chestnuts
1.2 litres meat stock or water
1 tablespoon honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan, add all the vegetables and cook gently until they begin to soften. Do not let them brown. Add the thyme and chestnuts, then pour in the stock or water. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender. Blend until smooth in a liquidiser, then add the honey. Stir well and season to taste. Serve very hot.

Main – Roast Grouse

From page 259 of The New English Kitchen

Serve one bird per person. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Put four raspberries or four cranberries inside each bird with a teaspoon of butter and some salt and pepper, then rub some softened butter into the breast. Roast for 35-45 minutes, depending on how rare you want it to be, basting once during cooking. Leave to rest in a warm place for about 15 minutes – this allows all the juices that have rushed to the surface of the bird in the short cooking time to work their way back to the centre. The result will be a much juicier grouse. Serve with fried breadcrumbs, rowanberry jelly and fried potatoes.

Kitchen Note:

Grouse is nice served on a piece of bread fried in duck fat – all you will need on the side is a watercress salad.

Dessert – Baked Pear Custard

From page 403 of The New English Kitchen

An easy pudding that uses up ripe or unripe pears.

Serves 4

4 eggs
120g caster sugar
20g plain flour
small pinch salt
100ml whole milk
150ml single cream
half teaspoon vanilla extract
4 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
15g butter
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy; then beat in the flour with the salt. You should have a smooth batter. Add the milk, cream and vanilla, whisking constantly. Butter a shallow rectangular baking tin and lightly dust it with flour.

Arrange the pears in the dish, pour over the custard mixture and bake for about 25 minutes, until it is just set, puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then dust with a little icing sugar.

November - Starter – Squash and Chickpea Soup with Single Gloucester Cheese

From page 126 of The New English Table

The chickpeas do not feature heavily here but they add substance. The Single Gloucester cheese is distinctively flavoured and responsible for the rich texture of this soup. Look for Smart's Single Gloucester.

Serves 4

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock or water
1 can of chickpeas (drained weight, 225g), drained
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 courgette, cut into small dice
leaves from 2 sprigs of parsley
115g Single Gloucester cheese, grated

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan and add the onions. Cook over a low heat for a minute or two, until they become translucent, then add the squash and cook for a couple of minutes longer. Do not let the onions or the squash brown. Add the stock or water, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender. Transfer to a liquidiser and blend until smooth, adding more stock or water if the soup is too thick. It should have the consistency of single cream.

Roughly mash the chickpeas in a bowl. Heat the remaining oil in a small pan and add the garlic, chickpeas, courgette and parsley. Cook until they are hot through and sizzling.

Pour the soup into 4 bowls. Add a spoonful of the chickpea mixture to each and then scatter over a handful of the cheese. Put the remaining cheese into a bowl and put it on the table with the soup.


Main – Roast Duck Legs stuffed with Apple and Black Pudding

From page 282 of Kitchenella

A humble roast using cheap-to-buy duck legs, glorious with the addition of a little equally modest stuffing under the skin.

Serves 4

4 duck legs
1 English dessert apple
200g black pudding, cut into chunks
4 heaped tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Make a cavity between the duck skin and thigh flesh, using your finger to separate the two. A small sharp knife will help but do not pierce the skin. Mix the apple, black pudding, breadcrumbs and egg into a course paste and stuff as much as you can under the skin. Smooth the skin back into place. Put in a roasting pan (preferably lined with baking paper) and sprinkle a little salt on top. Roast for one hour, rest the dish in a warm place for 15 minutes and serve.

Dessert – Quince Frangipane Tart

From page 368 of The New English Kitchen

From Barbara Garnsworthy's kitchen in Chettle, Dorset. Barbara uses a lot of local food. She also runs a terrific store cupboard full of fruit jellies and cheeses, which she uses in her cooking.

Serves 10

240g unsalted butter
240g golden caster sugar
240g ground almonds
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons quince cheese
flaked almonds

For the sweet pastry:
60g icing sugar
270g plain flour
a pinch of salt
135g softened unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1-1½ tablespoons double cream

You can make sweet pastry using a light, cool touch with your fingers, but it is quicker and even better made in a food processor. Put the icing sugar, flour and salt in the processor and whiz for a few seconds. Add the butter with the egg yolk and enough double cream to form a paste when the mixture is whizzed briefly. Do not overwork the paste. Remove from the food processor, place on a well-floured board and lightly work into a ball, then roll out to about 5mm thick. The pastry will be very soft. Lift it by wrapping it around the rolling pin, then use to line a 28cm/11 inch tart tin. Don't worry if it tears; just patch it up with square pieces of pastry. Chill for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Prick the base of the pastry randomly with a fork, cover with greaseproof paper and fill with dry rice or beans (this will prevent the pastry bubbling up). Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the base of the pastry dry. You may want to lift away the paper and beans for the last 5 minutes of cooking so the base can dry out.

Remove the pastry case from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile, make the frangipane. Melt the butter and sugar together over a low heat, stirring with a spoon or whisk, and then cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture has a golden fudge consistency. Remove from the heat, add the ground almonds and the beaten eggs and stir until well combined.

Turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Spread the quince cheese over the base of the tart and pour the almond mixture on top. Scatter a few flaked almonds over the surface and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the frangipane is just firm and slightly puffed. Eat hot or cold.

October - Starter - Raw Beetroot Salad

From page 371 of The New English Table

A vibrant salad made from grated vegetables. Eat with charcuterie, boiled bacon or potted meats or fish. I like to eat this rich little salad, which the French call rémoulade, with other vegetables.

150ml single cream
3 fresh, crisp beetroot, peeled and grated
leaves from 4 sprigs of dill
10 pink peppercorns, crushed
sea salt

Put the beetroot and dill into a mixing bowl. Pour in the cream and mix well. If the salad is too stiff, add a little water. Taste and add salt if necessary. Add the pepper. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Eat as part of the Raw Roots salad on p370 of The New English Kitchen.

Main – Pan-fried plaice with lettuce hearts and lemon

From page 173 of Kitchenella

The gentle, easy flavour of plaice, with the sweet taste of sautéed lettuce hearts, sharpened a little with lemon. Use cos or romaine hearts, or the lovely, ever so English, soft and floppy butterhead lettuce.

Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons butter
8 skinless fillets cut from 2 plaice (ask the fishmonger to do this)
salt and black pepper
4 lettuce hearts, cut into quarters
juice of 1 lemon

Have ready 4 warmed plates. Heat the butter in a large frying pan until it foams. Season the plaice fillets with salt and pepper and lower each one gently into the butter. Add the lettuce hearts to the pan, cut-side down – finding space for them between the fillets. Cook for 1-2 minutes then turn the fish and the lettuce. When the fish is opaque and slightly firm, remove from the pan and divide among the plates. Continue to cook the lettuce in the butter for a minute or two more; lift out of the pan with a slotted spoon and divide among the plates. Add the lemon juice to the pan and heat through. Spoon a little over each plate.

Dessert – Wild Blackberry and Apple Charlotte

From page 350-1 of Kitchenella

How striking that a blackberry, once the symbol of a lazy afternoon's forage along the hedgerows, is now synonymous with high technology and a lifestyle where your time is no longer your own. For anyone who feels this way, a remedy is there in the scent of stewing blackberries. Make just one panful and it will stay in your sensory memory for ever. The picking season in late August – October will be an unmissable event and the pudding made afterwards a reminder that, in the end, there is more genius in nature than in a street full of phone shops.

Serves 4

500g blackberries, rinsed
300g dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
caster sugar
200g butter
8 thin slices slightly stale white bread, each cut into 4 squares/triangles
2 pinches of cinnamon
2 dessertspoons caster sugar, to dust
custard or thick double or clotted cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Put the blackberries in a pan with the apples and stew until softened but not too pulpy. Add sugar to taste and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Melt the butter in a pan and dip the bread slices into it quickly, so they get an even coating. Lay the pieces on the surface of the blackberry mixture, arranging them in an overlapping pattern, like roof tiles. Stir the cinnamon into the sugar, then scatter over the charlotte. Bake until the surface of the charlotte is crisp. Serve with the custard or cream.

September - Runner Beans with Shallot, Mustard, Oil and Vinegar

From page 381 of The New English Table

A useful dish to eat at room temperature – it will sit happily waiting while you prepare other food. At the height of their season, the green beans will be crisp and fresh-flavoured, and the piquant mustard dressing will not overpower them.

Make a dressing with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 2 chopped shallots, 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar. Mix with 500g runner beans that have been cooked in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Leave for a few minutes to let the flavours develop.

You can eat these beans alone or with almost anything – cold ham or roast chicken. But I like them with semi-soft boiled eggs. Put the eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, then plunge into cold water. Peel and quarter the eggs, then put them on top of the beans.

Main – Veal Meatballs

From page 443 of The New English Kitchen

Veal mince can be taken from the cheap cuts. Eat these simple meatballs with pasta dressed with a dash of sherry and cream. The uncooked meatballs freeze well, so it’s worth making double the quantity and storing half of them in the freezer (or in the fridge for 3 days).

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small glass of sherry or white wine
300ml/1/2 pint veal or chicken stock
125ml/4fl oz double cream
parsley leaves

For the meatballs:

480g/1lb minced veal
a few gratings of lemon zest
60g/2oz breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or similar British cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and roll them into spheres the size of golf balls. Heat the oil in a large casserole and gently fry the meatballs until golden all over. Add the sherry or wine and the stock, carefully scraping up any juices from the bottom of the pan without breaking up the meatballs. Simmer for 20–30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Quickly stir in the cream. Serve with spaghetti or egg noodles, scattering over the extra parsley as you take it to the table.

Dessert – Brioche and Fig Pudding

From page 42 of The New English Kitchen

Serves 4

10 slices of brioche
5 ready-to-eat dried figs, sliced
4 egg yolks
300ml/1/2 pint whole milk
125ml/4fl oz double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of grated nutmeg
caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Toast the brioche slices in a dry frying pan over a medium heat; they burn very easily, so be careful. Cut the slices into triangles and arrange them in overlapping layers in a greased ovenproof dish, points/corners up. Slot a slice of fig between each one.

Whisk the egg yolks into the milk and add the cream and vanilla. Put in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, but do not let it boil. As soon as it thickens slightly, pour it over the brioche and figs and scatter a pinch of nutmeg on to the surface. Bake the pudding for 20–30 minutes, until golden on top and just set. Dust with caster sugar and serve with cream.

August - Chilled tomato, lime, basil and lemongrass soup

From page 408 of The New English Table

A cooling soup, and a little different from a gazpacho.

Serves 4-6

2kg/4/1/2lb ripe tomatoes, de-seeded, the hard area of the stalk removed
juice of 4 limes
1 tablespoon palm sugar (available in Asian shops) or soft brown sugar
2 lemongrass sticks, sliced thinly, then chopped
4cm//11/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
600ml/1 pint tomato juice
sea salt

To serve:
finely chopped Thai holy basil leaves or ordinary basil if you can’t get it
deseeded green chilli (optional)
a little olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a liquidiser, in several batches, and blend until smooth. Taste and add sea salt if necessary then chill in the refrigerator. Serve in soup bowls or cups, scattered with a little basil and green chilli, if using, and with a little flavoured oil zigzagged over the surface to bring out the flavour


Jason Wain Photography
Photograph by Jason Wain

Main – Crab and potato salad, mustard and egg dressing

From page 343 of Kitchenella

Buying ‘dressed crab’ takes all the work out of this salad, which uses both the brown and white meat from the shell. The brown adds rich creaminess, the white meat delicate luxury. Both can take the mild kick of mustard, however, and young waxy potatoes will add bulk without diluting the flavour.

Serves 4

For the dressing:
2 egg yolks
1 heaped tablespoon Dijon mustard
200ml/7 fl oz groundnut oil (or 50ml/2fl oz olive oil, 150ml/5 fl oz groundnut oil, to make a tarter-flavoured sauce)
juice of half a lemon: about 1 tablespoon
salt and white pepper
large pinch of cayenne pepper
the brown and white meat from 2 medium-sized dressed crabs
24 small new potatoes, boiled until just tender, cooled and cut into 4 pieces
1 romaine (cos) lettuce, washed and sliced into ribbons

Put the egg yolks in a bowl, add the mustard and gradually whisk in the oil (or oils). This will take less time than it takes to make mayonnaise because the mustard prevents curdling. Add the lemon juice, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Finish by stirring in the cayenne pepper.

Put the brown meat of the crab, the potatoes and the lettuce ribbons into a bowl and add the sauce. Mix gently, so everything is covered in dressing but not broken down. Add most of the white meat, then stir again carefully and serve.

Dessert – Raspberry clotted-cream fool, with honeycomb

From page 315 of Kitchenella

A radiant pudding, to show off in a big glass bowl, to eat at a big dinner. It can be made hours in advance and stored in the fridge.

Serves 8–10

1kg/2 1/4lb raspberries
1 tablespoon caster sugar
300ml/1/2 pint clotted cream, stirred to loosen
8 teaspoons honeycomb

Put the raspberries in a bowl and stir in the sugar and clotted cream. Mix well, folding with a spoon until the raspberries have broken down and the cream is incorporated. It does not matter if some of the cream is visible. Pour into the serving bowl and refrigerate. Dot with honeycomb pieces before serving.

July - Starter - Lettuce and courgette 'butter' soup

From page 18 of Kitchenella

I love this soup not only for its lovely colour and delicate flavour – the lettuce adds a sharpness that sits beautifully with the soup’s buttery richness – but because I can buy the ingredients anywhere, at any time of year. Make this soup with water; the secret is in adding a larger amount of butter than usual. 

Serves 4 

1 litre/1 3/4 pints water or stock
4 onions, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with the back of a knife and peeled
1 floury potato, peeled and cut into dice, then rinsed under water
3 walnut-sized lumps of butter
3 courgettes, sliced
1 large green lettuce (romaine or cos is ideal) or two butterhead lettuce (the soft-leaved English type), roughly chopped
salt and white pepper
90ml/6 tablespoons whipping cream 

Put the water or stock in a pan and heat to simmering point. Pour into a jug and put the onions, garlic, potato and butter into the same pan and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir from time to time, and, if the potato sticks to the base of the pan, add about half a mug of water. 

Add the courgettes and lettuce leaves and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the hot water or stock. Cook for 5 minutes, transfer to a liquidiser or food processor and process until very smooth. A perfectionist French cook would sieve the soup to remove any leaf fibres, but this really will not make any real difference to the enjoyment. If you want to do this – put the soup through a hand-operated food mill, or mouli legumes. 

Return the soup to the pan and reheat to just below boiling point. Taste and add salt if necessary, then add pepper. Add the cream, stir, and serve immediately.


Main – Beef Burgers

From page 209 of The New English Kitchen

The best burger I have ever eaten was in a restaurant on California’s staggeringly beautiful coastal road, Highway One, which runs through Big Sur. The restaurant was named Nepenthe, after the herb recommended by the ancients for forgetting sorrow, and sure enough, this place was manned by ageing hippies, with grey hair and beards down to their waists. We sat side by side at tables positioned at the optimum angle to watch the grey whale migration north, washing down the burgers with dry martinis. At Nepenthe they sandwich the burgers in crisp French bread, toasted on the inside. Sheer bliss. 

French and Italian butchers are in the habit of mincing meat to order, in front of you – a practice I like because you can be absolutely sure of what meat you are buying. An alternative is to buy the meat you want, and chop it yourself in a food processor. 

Makes 4 

480g/1lb well-hung rump steak, or a mixture of chuck and rump steak
4 pinches of celery salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (if frying the burgers)
freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

either 4 thick chunks of baguette, split open and toasted lightly on the cut side (I do this in a frying pan while I cook the burgers);
or 4 soft baps (easy for children with wobbly teeth) 

Trimmings – choose from the following:

thin slices of cheese – Malvern, Durras or Oxford Blue would be good
sweet German mustard (or your favourite mustard)
tomato chutney or ketchup
Cos or romaine lettuce
sprouting seeds (see page 69 of The New English Kitchen)
chopped coriander
cornichons, thinly sliced lengthways
good-quality bought mayonnaise (home-made is just not as good with burgers) 

Cut the meat into 2cm/3/4 inch pieces and chop in a food processor, being careful not to process it to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the celery salt and some black pepper. Shape into 4 round patties. 

Cook the burgers either on a barbecue or indoors. To cook them indoors, heat the oil on a large ridged grill pan or in a heavy-based frying pan until it begins to smoke. Put the burgers in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. For a rare burger, cook for about 2 minutes on each side; for a well-cooked burger, cook for about 4 minutes per side. To test, prise open the centre of a burger with a sharp knife and take a look. Don’t worry if this spoils the appearance, the burger will soon be inside the bun. If you are making a cheese burger, put a slice of cheese on the burger while it is still in the pan, approximately 2 minutes before it is ready. 

To assemble the burgers, spread one side of the bread with mustard and tomato chutney or ketchup. The burger goes on top, followed by the salad ingredients, then mayonnaise.

Dessert – Lemon lapsang souchong jelly

From page 401 of The New English Table

A boiled cake made with dried fruit, steeped in tea until nearly bursting. The bitterness of the tea tempers the sweetness of the fruit. 

225g/8oz dried mixed fruit, such as raisins, sultanas, currants, chopped prunes, natural ‘brown’ apricots, dried Bing cherries
1 litre/1 3/4 pints boiling-hot Earl Grey or jasmine green tea, medium strength
115g/4oz unsalted butter
115g/4oz soft brown sugar
280g/10oz golden syrup
2 eggs
85g/3oz plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
140g/5oz ground almonds 

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Put all the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the tea. Leave to steep for about 45 minutes, until the fruit is soft and swollen. Strain the fruit, then put it in a large pan with the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Place over the heat, bring to the boil and boil gently for exactly 5 minutes. Set aside to cool until just hand hot. Beat in the eggs, one by one. Sift in the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and almonds and fold in well. 

Line a 23cm/9 inch long loaf tin with baking parchment. Turn the mixture into it and bake for 45–55 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, turn the cake out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

June - Starter - Radish and Horseradish Sauce for Grilled Summer Meat

From page 358 of The New English Table

Get the radish family together for a salsa. It sounds terrible, but is irresistible when eaten with grilled mackerel, sardines, pork, beef or chicken. 

Serves 4 

1 bunch of radishes (about 20), with their leaves
5cm/2 inch piece of fresh horseradish 
2 spring onions, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon English or French mustard, whichever preferred
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Separate the leaves from the radishes, then chop both leaves and radishes into small dice. Put them in a bowl. Grate the horseradish into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well and leave for 20 minutes or so, until the flavours have amalgamated.

Main – Sea Trout and Lentils

From page 322 of The New English Kitchen

Lovely colours – grey-greens and pinks, with bright green leaves. No one will ever know this is leftovers. 

Serves 4 

120g/4oz Puy lentils
240g/8oz cooked sea trout, in large flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing: 

1 garlic clove, crushed
1cm/1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1cm/1/2 inch piece of lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2–1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or lemon juice
4 tablespoons avocado oil
6 sprigs of coriander, chopped

Put the lentils in a pan, cover generously with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender, then drain and leave to cool. Season to taste. 

Break the sea trout into large flakes and mix it lightly with the lentils. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour it over the top. 

Kitchen Note 

This salad will also work with smoked white fish, very fresh grilled mackerel or trout, and even the flesh pulled from kippers.

Dessert – Flowerpot Cheesecake Decorated with Flowers

From page 102 of The New English Table

Without a doubt, this is the prettiest cheesecake for a spring feast, slightly sweet, rich yet light from the addition of egg white (which helps with the set). It is not baked, so eat with strawberries, and some sweet nutty biscuits like those on page 311 of The New English Table. 

You will need a spotless middle-sized flowerpot (approximately 600ml/1 pint in capacity), lined with enough clean, damp muslin to overhang the edges. 

Serves 4–6 

300ml/½ pint double cream
225g/8oz full-fat cream cheese, or whole-milk ricotta cheese
55g/2oz caster sugar
2 egg whites 

To serve: 

grated zest of 1 lemon
various edible flower petals, such as pansies, marigolds and nasturtiums – gaudy windowbox colours are good
fresh berries, such as strawberries, red currants and white currants 

Lightly whip the double cream until thickened. Push the cream cheese or ricotta through a sieve, then combine with the cream. Do not over mix. Stir in the sugar. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the cheese mixture. Pile into the lined flowerpot and bring the muslin over the top to cover. Stand the flowerpot on a rack placed above a bowl in the fridge and leave overnight. 

To serve, un-mould, sprinkle over the lemon zest and decorate with fresh edible flowers, then eat with fresh berries.

May - Cucumber Salad with Mustard

From page 94 of The New English Kitchen

Serves 4

1 cucumber
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tsp golden caster sugar
½ tsp soft crystal sea salt
2 tablespoons water
4 sprigs of dill, chopped
10 chives, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the cucumber, peel it, halve it lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Slice thinly, then place in a colander in the sink and throw a little salt over it. Leave for an hour, during which time the water will seep out of the cucumber flesh. Pat dry with a towel, which will absorb the water and excess salt. 

Combine the cucumber with all the remaining ingredients, scattering the herbs on top. Serve with fried sole (see page 298 of the New English Kitchen).

Main – Curried Lamb and Brown Lentil Broth

From page 229 of The New English Table

An easy soup that is a meal in itself. Serve it with the Thin Breads on page 00 or simply buy pitta bread, brush with a little melted butter and toast in the oven. 

Serves 4 generously 

55g/2oz butter
4–8 good-sized lamb chops
2 onions, chopped
200g/7oz small brown lentils
1 heaped tablespoon medium curry powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons passata (puréed tomatoes)
1 litre/13/4 pints lamb or other stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
mint leaves, whole-milk yoghurt and nigella seeds, to serve

Melt half the butter in a large casserole, add the chops and brown on both sides. Add the remaining butter and the onions, turn down the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened. Try not to let them burn. Add the lentils, then the curry powder and the cayenne pepper, if using, and stir to coat the contents of the pan. Add the passata and stock, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until the lentils and lamb are tender. Season to taste. Serve with mint leaves, and yoghurt with a few nigella seeds scattered over the broth.

Dessert - Banana and Almond Cake

Banana and Almond Cake
Photograph by Jason Wain

From page 298 of Kitchenella

Perfect food to carry around; a slice of something to kill hunger and give a little energy along with sweetness. The joy for me is that this is made with ground almonds, so it never dries out and has a real cakey texture.

115g/4oz butter, plus extra for greasing
115g/4oz dark muscovado sugar
115g/4oz golden syrup
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium-ripe bananas, roughly mashed
2 eggs
250g/9oz ground almonds

Preheat the oven to150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Grease a loaf tin, about 20cm/8in long. Boil the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan together for 3 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes, then stir in the cinnamon and banana. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and fold in the ground almonds. Bake for about 1 1/2–2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Makes a soggy cake that lasts for about 5 days.

April - Starter – Asparagus with Butter

From page 311 of Kitchenella

It is not just the long wait through a slow-to-happen spring that makes English asparagus so special, but the taste. Growers say that our cold winters and delayed growing season (European asparagus arrives up to two months earlier) allow the hardy asparagus in British fields to develop more flavour. Since one of the best asparagus farms I have come across happens to be in Angus, Scotland, this rings true.

Almost always, I serve asparagus boiled, with melted butter. Occasionally I add chopped parsley and grated lemon zest into the hot butter, or sometimes sprinkle a little grated hard ewe's milk cheese over the spears, either a pecorino, Manchego or British-made equivalent. To boil asparagus, lower the stems into boiling salted water and cook for 5 minutes, slightly more if the spears are very large. Do not dump the spears into a colander to drain after cooking. They are very delicate. Lift them out and drain on a towel. Melt some salted butter and pour over the still warm asparagus, once at the table. Hollandaise sauce (see page 313 of Kitchenella) is the rich and very delicious alternative.

Photograph by Jason Wain

Main – Two Person Pork or Lamb Roast

From page 251 of Kitchenella

Sometimes, just for two, I buy inexpensive fillets of pork or lamb, taken from the neck, for a small, ready-in-half-an-hour roast to eat in a variety of ways (see below). These cuts are easy to buy in butchers and are filleted off the bone. They can dry out, so be careful to time them correctly.

Serves 2 

1 neck fillet of lamb, or pork fillet (weighing approximately 350-500g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. rub the fillet with the oil and season with the oregano, salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan over a high heat on the hob and quickly brown the fillet on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. This is quite a low temperature for roasting and the meat should not dry out. If you like lamb pink, remove it after 20 minutes, and allow to rest under a sheet of foil. Rest the pork after roasting too. To serve, slice quite thinly. 

Things to eat with pork or lamb fillet 

Lamb with mint, broad beans and lentils – buy frozen broad beans, plunge into boiling water for 1 minute and pop them out of their skins. Mix with braised puy lentils (see page 53 of Kitchenella), olive oil and chopped fresh mint.
Lamb with mother's aubergines (see page 259 of Kitchenella)
Lamb with warm tomatoes, oregano and feta cheese (see page 127 of Kitchenella)
Pork with butter beans, olive oil, black olive paste, parsley and courgettes (see page 160 of Kitchenella)
Pork with french bean vinaigrette with shallots (see page 163 of Kitchenella).
Pork or lamb with chickpea and rocket salad (see page 149 of Kitchenella).

Dessert - Blancmange with Crystallised Rose Petals

From page 378 of The New English Table

The best rose petals to use are from the Provins rose, or Rosa gallica officinalis, but other red or dark-pink damask rose petals will be fine. 

Serves 4 

250g ground almonds
600ml whole milk
85g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
2 gelatine leaves
200ml whipping cream, lightly whipped

For the crystallised rose petals:

about 24 rose petals
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
caster sugar

You will need a wire rack and some tweezers when crystallising rose petals. Pick up a petal with the tweezers, dip it in the egg white and then in the sugar, coating it well. Place on a wire rack and repeat with the remaining petals. Leave to dry in a warm place for several hours – an airing cupboard is perfect.

Put the ground almonds in a bowl. Heat the milk to boiling point, pour it over the almonds and leave to infuse for several hours.

Strain the milk through a fine sieve, pushing every last drop of it from the almonds with a spoon. Throw away the almonds. Measure the milk, making it up to 600ml with fresh milk if necessary.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a separate bowl until pale and thick. Bring the almond milk to the boil and gradually stir it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, over a very low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly; do not let it boil. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 10 minutes.

As soon as the mixture has thickened, pass it through a sieve into a bowl. Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine and drop the leaves into the mixture. Stir until dissolved. Sit the bowl in a second one filled with iced water, and stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Fold in the cream, using a whisk, then divide the mixture between four glasses and leave in the fridge until set.

Scatter the crystallised rose petals over the surface just before serving.


March - Starter – Spinach with Pine Nuts

From page 82 of The New English Kitchen

Serves 4

2 tablespoons pine nuts
480g frozen whole-leaf spinach, defrosted and the water squeezed out
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dry-toast the pine nuts in a frying pan until lightly browned, then set them aside in a bowl. Warm the spinach through in a pan and add the oil. Transfer to a dish, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and scatter the pine nuts on top. Finish with the lemon juice.


Main – Steamed Mussels with Wine and Shallots

Mackerel and Rhubarb
Photograph by Jason Wain

From page 306 of The New English Kitchen

Serves 4 

1 tablespoon butter
6 shallots, sliced
2 glasses of dry white wine
2kg mussels – Scotch preferably, or French – cleaned

Melt the butter in your biggest pan and cook the shallots in it until soft. Add the wine, bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Put the lid on the pan and cook over a fairly high heat, shaking every now and then to move the mussels so their shells can open wide: 2-3 minutes should be enough. Put the pan in the centre of the table, give everyone a bowl and a bowl for the empty shells, and get on with devouring them. Don't eat mussels whose shells remain closed.

Find more steamed mussels ideas on p306 of The New English Kitchen.

Dessert - Damsons, Boiled Gingerbread and Lemon Cream

From page 164 of The New English Table

A trifle inspired by Grasmere in Cumbria, near the place where damsons grow so well. You could use the famous, heavenly spiced Grasmere gingerbread in this recipe – buy it direct from the bakery (; tel: 015394 35428). Or instead, here is a hybrid, a boiled spicy cake I featured in The New English Kitchen, which has become a favourite of my friends because we always have it at parties alongside the cheese. You will have some gingerbread left over after serving but that's no bad thing. It keeps for ever. I forgot about some I had left over from a party where we served it with Cheddar cheese, and it was fine six months later, with not a spot of mould.

Serves 4

450g damsons
golden caster sugar, to taste
4 teaspoons damson gin (see p165 of The New English Table), or French plum liqueur, or use ordinary gin
2 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar

For the gingerbread:
115g unsalted butter
115g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
280g black treacle
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
2 eggs
175g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
55g ground almonds

For the lemon cream:
300ml double cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

First make the gingerbread. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Put the butter, sugar, water and black treacle into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for exactly five minutes, then set aside to cool until just hand hot. Beat in the ginger, then the eggs, one by one. Sift in the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and almonds and fold in well.

Use baking parchment to line a 23cm shallow cake tin or a small baking tray about 25 x 17cm. Turn the mixture into it and bake for 30-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Put the damsons in a pan and cook them to a pulp. Remove the stones, picking them out with your fingers, then add sugar to taste – it is good for this part of the pudding to be quite tart.

For the lemon cream, whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the icing sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice (don't add the lemon juice if the cream is very thick or the mixture will become cakey).

Cut the gingerbread into 2cm squares and put a few in the bottom of 4 tumblers (flat-bottomed glasses are best for this recipe). Spoon in some cooked damsons and splash over a teaspoon of damson gin or liqueur. Spoon the lemon cream on top and finish with the dark muscovado sugar.

February - Starter – Cauliflower and Fresh Goats Cheese Pancakes

From page 399 of The New English Kitchen

These pancakes are a lighter take on cauliflower cheese, and make use of cooked cauliflower, perhaps left over from another meal. Look for a soft British goat's cheese with a fresh aroma, such as Chabis or Golden Cross. The goat's cheeses sold in small cartons in supermarkets are fine. Alternatively, try the soft British ewe's milk cheese, Flower Marie. These cheeses will not heat to a runny melt but to a nice, soft, cakey texture.

You could also substitute chopped field mushrooms, sautéed in a little oil, for the cauliflower.


Serves 4

240g fresh goat's cheese

4 egg yolks

a pinch of grated nutmeg

2 egg whites

4 pancakes

240g cooked cauliflower, broken into florets

15g hard cheese, such as Saval, Somerset Rambler, Cheddar or Pecorino,

grated soft sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and butter an ovenproof dish that will accommodate four rolled pancakes. Mix together the cheese and egg yolks and season with the nutmeg and some pepper. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and fold them into the cheese mixture. Fill each pancake first with the cauliflower and then with the cheese mixture, roll them up loosely and place in the baking dish side by side. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes. They will puff up, browning on the surface. Serve immediately, a green salad to one side.


Main – Mackerel with Rhubarb and Chilli

Mackerel and Rhubarb
Photograph by Jason Wain

From page 304 of The New English Kitchen

This recipe transformed my opinion of both mackerel and rhubarb. Make it, if possible, with the bright pink rhubarb from Yorkshire, sometimes sold as champagne rhubarb, that is available between December and April. It has been grown in the dark and has beautifully tender scarlet stalks. The look of this dish – silver mackerel, shocking-pink sauce – is nearly as good as the taste.

Serves 2 

2 pink rhubarb stalks, cut into 1cm/½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 mild red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
the fillets from 2 fresh mackerel
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar and lemon juice and cook gently until just soft but still holding its shape. Add the chilli, stir once, and leave to cool. 

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Season the mackerel, add it to the pan skin-side down and cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side, until firm to the touch. Serve the mackerel – skin side up for looks – with a large spoonful of the rhubarb sauce on the side and a big watercress salad.

Kitchen Note: grilled mackerel is also good with hot sauces such as mustard and horseradish.

Dessert - Fresh Pomegranate Jelly

From page 314 of The New English Table

This jelly can be made a day or two before it is needed. It is a wonderful winter festival fruit, and holds much symbolism for Middle Eastern countries at that time.

Pomegranates have lovely sweet seeds but bitter pith. When squeezing them, it is better to use a levered citrus press (which looks like a giant garlic press). You can also use an electric citrus press but you will need to cut the pomegranates in half. Do not overwork them or the flavour of the pith will enter the juice.

Serves 6

8-10 large, ripe pomegranates, cut into quarters
caster sugar (optional)
4 gelatin leaves
extra pomegranate seeds, to decorate

Use a levered citrus press to extract as much juice as possible from the pomegranates (you will need approximately 600ml/1 pint), then pour it through a small sieve into a bowl. Do not be put off if the juice is cloudy; it will have a far more intense flavour then fully filtered juice. Taste the juice – if it is very sour, stir in sugar to taste.

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 10 minutes. Put half the pomegranate juice into a small pan and heat gently. Squeeze the cold water from the gelatin leaves, add them to the pan and stir until they are dissolved. The juice must become slightly warmer than hand-hot for the gelatin to dissolve. Remove from the heat, pour into the remaining juice, and stir once or twice. Pour the mixture into six glasses and leave to cool, then chill for several hours until set. Serve decorated with a few spare pomegranate seeds.

January - Starter - Coconut Spiced Soup with Chicken

From page 41 of Kitchenella

Traveling in Sri Lanka two years ago I had breakfast with Champika Sajeewani, mother of two-year-old Sewwandi. Champika's family are part of an organic farming producer group. They grow tea and spices and their products have Fairtrade certification.


Champika is known for her delicate cooking and she showed me how to brew fresh coconut flesh to make a stock to add to curries. I cannot buy fresh coconut in the UK but I have used unsweetened desiccated coconut to very decent effect. The bonus is that you have a byproduct of soaked coconut to use in biscuits, or to make the raw pickle that is added to this gently spicy soup.


Serves 4


4 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned and sliced

1 tablespoon raw coconut oil or olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 stalk lemongrass, crushed with a rolling pin but left whole

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4cm/1 ½ piece fresh ginger, grated

2-3 teaspoons mild curry powder

¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

200g/7oz desiccated coconut or fresh coconut flesh if available – soaked in 1.2 litres/2 pints boiling water for 5 minutes to make a 'tea'

salt (optional)


For the relish:

4 tablespoons soaked coconut flesh

1 handful of mint leaves

1-2 shredded, deseeded red or green chillies

1 chopped shallot


Cut the chicken into small pieces and put into a pan with the oil, garlic, lemongrass, onion, ginger and spices. Warm it all through until the onion softens, then add the strained coconut 'tea'. Bring to the boil and simmer the broth for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the relish.


Taste the broth and add salt if necessary. Serve hot with a spoonful of the dry coconut relish, removing the stick of lemongrass from the soup beforehand.


Main - Venison Steaks with Warm Porcini and Watercress

From page 328 of Kitchenella

Quick to prepare, with flavours that conjure the woods and streams of the West Country. Venison steaks are nicest eaten rare, flashed briefly on a hot grill then rested for a few minutes in a warm place. Keep in mind that this is meat with no fat, which can dry out if overcooked. Any venison breed, red, roe, sika or fallow, is suitable for this dish. Eat with any of the following: braised puy lentils (page 53 of Kitchenella), boiled new potatoes, parsnips sautéed with butter or roasted slices of squash or pumpkin.


Serves 4

100g/3½oz dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in a cup of boiling water or stock.

3 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sherry

1 teaspoon honey

butter for grilling

4 boneless venison leg or loin steaks or medallions, weighing 150-250g/5½-9oz, cut to about 2cm/¾in thick

salt and black peppercorns

1 large bunch of watercress, chopped


Have ready some warm plates: venison cools very quickly once sliced.


Drain the porcini, reserving the liquid, then chop finely. Melt the butter in a pan then add the garlic and porcini. Fry over a low temperature until glossy and fragrant, then add 100ml/3½fl oz of the soaking liquid, the sherry and honey. Cook, simmering, for about three minutes, then turn off the heat and set to one side.


Shortly before serving, heat a grill pan and melt a little butter in it. Season the venison steaks with salt and pepper, then cook them for approximately 1-2 minutes either side or until you can see little red droplets rise to the surface of the meat (indicating rare/medium-rare). Remove from the pan and allow to rest, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the sauce until it bubbles, and add the watercress. Cook for about 2 minutes.


Serve each steak with the sauce beside it.


Dessert - Plain, Soggy Chocolate Brownies

Soggy Brownies
Photograph by Jason Wain

From page 118 of Kitchenella

It is not just me who hates brownies with nuts... A good recipe that makes a store of brownies to last the week. Eat as a pudding treat with ice cream and soft fruit.


Makes 9-12


375g/13oz unsalted butter

375g/13oz plain chocolate

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

500g/1lb 2oz caster sugar

200g/7oz flour


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line a high-sided baking tin (25 x 30cm/10 x 12in) with baking paper. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a low heat, then allow to cool. Beat in the eggs, one by one, then add the vanilla and sugar. Fold in the flour well, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 25 minutes and no longer – or you will dry out the brownies. Cool in the tin before storing in an airtight box.   


Recipes from Kitchenella. Signed copies are available for purchase here.  

December - Roasted Mixed Root Vegetables

From page 369 of The New English Table

It is not only the richness of the colours – the orange, yellow, purple and pink stripes – that makes this hot pan of vegetables remarkable, it is also the sweet toffee smells, the myriad flavours and, last but not least, the ease with which I can throw it together.

I often make this for big sunday lunches because it provides a wide variety of vegetables without having to hover over individual pans of boiling water on top of the stove. Once all is in the oven, you can forget it for at least 40 minutes while tending to other vital things, like mixing Bloody Marys. And tasting them. Having said this, if you have a small oven that can hold only the roast on one shelf and one other roasting tin, you can make this in advance and reheat quickly while the meat is resting. Vegetables cooked this way are delicious with sausages, Pearl Barley with Turmeric, Lemon and Black Cardamom (see page 27), or Farro with Potatoes and Basil Oil (see page 445).


Serves 8


4 large carrots, peeled and cut into diagonal chunks about 3cm/1¼ inches thick, or 8 whole smaller (not baby) carrots, scraped.

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into diagonal chunks

8 medium beetroot (any colour – red, stripy pink 'chioggia' or golden), halved (do not trim the pointed end)

8 small turnips, cut into quarters

1 large salsify, peeled and cut into diagonal chunks

125ml/4fl oz olive oil

4 sprigs thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200oc/400oF/Gas Mark 6. you will probably need 2 large roasting tins. Put the prepared vegetables into the tins and add half the olive oil to each. Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and roast until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender when pierced with a knife – about 15 minutes. They will be quite sugary at this stage and can easily burn, so keep an eye on them.  


More root vegetable recipes and buying advice can be found in The New English Table. Signed copies are available for purchase here.  

November - Bacon Wrapped Pheasant

From page 306 of The New English Table

If you share your table with a pheasant-loving person, who cannot return from a trip to the butcher's or the countryside without charging through the door clutching yet more of them, fatigue sets in around December. It does not help that the older the bird gets, and the deeper into winter, the more the little traces of yellow fat under the skin disappear and you are left with a bird with no inbuilt basting tool.


Pheasants do not have much of a skin to speak of, so create your own and solve both problems. Buy 225g/8oz very thinly sliced smoked streaky bacon. Lay a few small sprigs of woody herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary – the latter in tiny amounts) on to the skin, season the bird with pepper, then cover with the bacon slices until completely wrapped. Secure with string and roast for 45-55 minutes in an oven preheated to 230oC/450oF/Gas Mark 8. The pheasant is ready when the juices in the leg run clear when pricked with a skewer. Inside, the meat should be as juicy as a pheasant can be. To serve, pull off the bacon wrapper and divide it among the plates, then carve the pheasant.


Make a reservoir of bread sauce to eat with it: 300ml/½ pint hot milk infused for half an hour with 1 chopped white onion, 4 cloves, a few gratings of nutmeg, a bay leaf and 6 crushed pink peppercorns, strained, then reheated with enough dryish breadcrumbs to make a sloppy sauce.


More pheasant recipes and buying advice can be found in The New English Table. Signed copies are available for purchase here.  

October - Toasted Garlic Bread and Squash Soup

From page 21 of Kitchenella

Years ago Laura, my sister, pointed out to me that sweet vegetables like squash and pumpkin make slimy, cloying soups unless other textures are added. This recipe uses toasted garlic-rubbed bread, which also dilutes the sweetness to just the right degree.


Serves 4


3 walnut-sized lumps of butter

450g/1lb – 1 whole butternut – squash. Peeled and diced.

2 garlic cloves, pounded to a paste with salt

2 slices of ciabatta or white sourdough bread, toasted until golden

1 litre/1¾ pints water, at boiling point

salt and black pepper

90ml/6 tablespoons whipping cream


Melt the butter in a large pan, add the squash and cook for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the garlic paste onto the bread and allow it to sink in. add the water to the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the squash is tender. Add the bread and allow to soften in the soup. Transfer all to a food processor and liquidise until very smooth. Clean the pan and put back the soup. Taste and add salt if necessary, then add pepper. Add the cream and reheat. Serve hot – this soup stores well.


The same soup – with alternative vegetables


Replace the squash with the equivalent weight of pumpkin (with 2 extra garlic cloves because it is so sweet), sweet potato, turnip, celeriac or golden beetroot.


Recipe from Kitchenella. You can read about it and purchase it here.

September - Quick Apple Tart

From page 117 of Kitchenella.

My sister Laura has always made this quick tart for my children when we visit, cramming it into a very small gas stove, which singes it in places, rather deliciously. In France they row about the colour of pastry (and why not?). The rustic pastry of the artisanal peasant is darkly burnished, reminiscent of traditionally fired ovens. Golden pastry is for wimps.

1 slab (approximately 500g) butter puff pastry
6 dessert apples (use juicy, tart flavoured ones such as Gala, Cox's or Granny Smith), cored and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons apricot jam/apple jelly
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 230oC/450oF/Gas 8. Roll the pastry into a large rectangle and transfer to a buttered baking tray. Prick all over with a fork, so the entire surface is perforated at regular intervals. This stops the pastry puffing up in great bubbles during cooking, upsetting the rows of apple slices. Lay the apple slices on the surface of the pastry in neat-ish rows, each slice overlapping the one next to it. Bake in the oven until the pastry is crisp, brown (but not black-brown) and the apples are singed with colour. Remove from the oven and cool. Meanwhile, heat the jam or jelly with the water until it bubbles and breaks down into a liquid. Strain through a small sieve and use a pastry brush to paint a glaze onto the whole surface of the tart.

Recipe from Kitchenella. You can read about it and purchase it here.

Quick Apple Tart

Photo by Jason Wain

August - Potted Crab

From page 153 of The New English Table.

My favourite way to eat crab. The mace warms the flavour a little, the cayenne pepper a touch more. The crab is so rich that you need do nothing else to it eat with salad leaves or toast.

Serves 4

2 whole medium sized crabs or 350g/12oz mixed brown and white crab meat – or the meat from two dressed crabs
½ teaspoon ground mace
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lemon
a few gratings of lemon zest
175g/6oz salted butter
a few chervil leaves or small parsley leaves, to garnish
½ red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
rye sourdough bread, for toast, or Three-minute Spelt Bread (see page 440) to serve

To Pick the Crab

First pick the crabs: crack the claws and remove the white meat, then open up the whole carapace by snapping the little tab beneath the eyes and pulling it apart with your hands. Remove the dead man's fingers – the ghoulish, grey-green gills attached to the inner shell. Use a spoon to remove the brown meat and any red coral found on the inside of the main carapace. Crack apart the skeleton that holds the smaller legs and pull off the legs. Pick as much white meat as you can from inside the skeleton, then crack open the legs and pull out any meat you can get your hands on. I usually give up the will to live at this point, especially if the crabs are small.

To Pot the Crab

Put the brown and white crab meat in a bowl, add the spices, lemon juice and zest, and stir to combine. Season the mixture with a little freshly ground black pepper, then pack it into a shallow pot. The meat should be about 2.5cm/1 inch deep.

Melt the butter slowly in a pan, then tip it very slowly over the crab, taking care that the watery white sediment at the bottom is left behind. Scatter over the herb leaves. Press them down with your fingers to submerge them in the butter, then add the chilli if you are using it. Leave to set in the fridge; it will only take a few minutes.

Serve the potted crab, spooned from the bowl, with hot toast and a mustard and cress salad.

Further uses for leftover potted crab, crab recipes and buying advice can be found in The New English Table. Purchase a copy here.

Asparagus with Pea Shoots and Mint

From The New English Table

Pea shoots are an established vegetable now. They have been stocked by Sainsbury's for the past five years and I often see them in markets. They are increasingly available in good food shops, too, and you can get them via mail order from Goodness Direct (; tel: 0871 871 6611). 

When they are cooked – lightly fried in a little oil or butter, or even steamed for a minute – they have all the taste of a good, sweet garden pea, or indeed a frozen pea, but with the added bonus of being lively plants. They appear around the same time as English asparagus and, while I am always happy to eat asparagus plain, the combination of the sweetness in the pea shoots and the unique grassy flavour of the asparagus is joyfully vernal. 

Serves 4-6 

1kg/2¼lb new-season asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 punnets of pea shoots
a few small mint leaves
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the sauce:
1 shallot, chopped
a grating or two of nutmeg
2 wineglasses of white wine
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
225g/8oz unsalted butter, softened

Pare away the outer skin of each spear, taking off about 6cm/2½ inches from the base of the stem. Bring a large, shallow pan of water to the boil. Before cooking the asparagus, however, make the sauce. Put the shallot, nutmeg, white wine and white wine vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook until the liquid has reduced to about 3 tablespoons, then strain it through a sieve and return it to the pan, discarding the shallot. Add the butter, about a teaspoon at a time, whisking it into the liquor over a low heat. When all the butter has been used, the sauce should be thick and creamy. 

Add the asparagus to the pan of boiling water; it will need about 5 minutes' simmering to become just tender. Meanwhile, put the oil in a small frying pan and fry the pea shoots in it until they collapse slightly. 

Using tongs, lift the asparagus out of the water and drain on a cloth (I find asparagus breaks up if you tip it into a colander, and that it needs the cloth to get rid of excess water, which can make it soggy). Divide the asparagus between 4-6 warm serving plates and heap the pea shoots over the tips. Give the sauce one final whisk over the heat to amalgamate it (it will split a little if left, but it will 'come back'), then pour it generously over the asparagus. Season with a little salt and pepper and scatter the mint leaves and lemon zest over the top. Eat immediately, and, if you are in festive mode, serve as a starter before Fried Megrim Sole (on page 260 of The New English Table) or the lamb with sprig vegetables on page 235 of the same book. 

Recipe from The New English Table. Purchase a signed copy here.


Mother’s Aubergines

This remarkable aubergine gratin was my introduction to a Greek, or rather Cretan, chef, Adonis Babelakis, whose stories of his mother’s ingenious cooking inspired me to write a book about women’s contribution to cooking. Babelakis serves it every day in his taverna, in Elounda, Crete. It was his mother’s way to cook aubergines, and he credits her in naming the dish.

A measure of its greatness begins with the fact that my husband, an aubergine sceptic, will eat it. Other reasons include the faint flavour of goat butter, the way that Babelakis’s mother prepared the aubergines for frying, the spearmint, the clever way water is used to allow the tomatoes to sweeten without drying out in the pan, and that olive oil is used to cook but then drained off so the dish is not a target of the usual complaint about Greek food – oiliness. Choose firm, long, slim aubergines. They have fewer seeds and a meatier texture. A shallow pan that can be used in oven and on hob is best for this, otherwise you may need to use a frying pan and a gratin dish.

Aubergines, image copyright Rose Prince











Serves 4 

- 6 aubergines
- 2 tablespoons fine salt
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 200ml/7fl oz water
- 1 tablespoon goat butter
- leaves from 8 sprigs of spearmint (or ordinary mint), chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 5 tomatoes, grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- 3 tablespoons grated hard ewe’s milk cheese (Lord of the Hundreds, Somerset Rambler or pecorino are perfect)
- leaves from 4 sprigs of parsley, chopped

Prepare the aubergines in advance. Peel and slice them, sprinkle with the salt and put in a plastic bag with holes punched in the base. Shake the bag and leave in a large bowl to catch the bitter water for 1 1/2–2 hours – no more or the aubergines will dry out. Wash and dry the aubergines, then fry them quickly, in batches using half the oil. It does not matter if they are not fully cooked because they will be baked again later. Drain on a towel and set to one side.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a casserole and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add 100ml/3 1/2fl oz of the water. Bring to the boil, then add the goat butter, noting the lovely change in aroma. Add a handful of the chopped spearmint leaves and the ground cumin, then simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the salt and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes until thick. Add the remaining 100ml/3 1/2fl oz water, then cook for another 5 minutes. Tilt the pan and spoon out the excess oil, which can be discarded, then tip the tomato mixture into a bowl. Layer the aubergines in the pan, alternating with the tomato mixture, more chopped mint, little handfuls of chopped parsley and scatterings of the grated cheese. Finish with a little more grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes. This is good either hot or at room temperature, and it reheats beautifully.

Kitchen Note: 

You can make this dish into a moussaka, using either fresh lamb mince or (better) minced leftover roasted lamb. For 4 people, use about 500g/1lb lamb, raw or cooked. Fry the lamb with a little garlic in a small amount of olive oil and set it to one side. Layer the dish exactly as explained in the recipe, but starting with the mince in a single layer, and excluding the cheese. Make a topping, mixing the cheese in the ingredients list (3 tablespoons) with 200ml/7fl oz double cream and 3 egg yolks. Pour it on top of the moussaka and bake as for the recipe.


Puff pastry pie filled with squash and washed-rind cheese, from Kitchenella.

This recipe is one I shared with Laura Hynd, whose photographs illustrate The Lost Kitchen. I have worked with Laura since 2007. Sent on an assignment to Italy, we drove through a thunderstorm, arriving late for dinner. I had warned Sarah Sesti, our host, in advance that Laura did not eat meat or fish. 'Pig's liver, OK?' she said, relieved we had finally arrived. Um, Laura doesn’t . . .’ I started.But without blinking Sarah produced a dish Laura could eat. I vaguely remember her making a frittata (vegetable omelette) in minutes, or something similar. What a contrast to the afterthought vegetarian option, often added grudgingly to chef’s menus in restaurants where facilities are perfect for a variety of choice. Whenever I work with Laura she unwittingly concentrates my mind on vegetables, and ways to use them that honour both the vegetable, and the person who loves them.

This is a pie to eat hot or at room temperature; the pungency of the cheese counters the sweetness of squash. I like it baked properly, at a high temperature, with dark glistening pastry.


Serves 4–6


1 medium butternut squash, quartered, the seeds removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

500g/1lb 2oz ready prepared puff pastry

plain flour for dusting

salt and black pepper

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 whole egg, beaten

100ml/3 1/2fl oz milk

100ml/3 1/2fl oz double cream

200g slices of semi-soft, washed-rind cheese, e.g. Stinking Bishop, Celtic Promise, Munster – or any smelly French cheese

1 egg, for glaze



You will need a shallow 25cm/10in baking tin.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Rub the squash with the olive oil, place in a roasting tin and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove, allow to cool a little; cut the flesh from the hard skin and slice. Set to one side.

Cut the pastry in half, dust the work surface with flour and roll out each piece into a circle, slightly larger than the baking tin. Roll the pastry as thinly as possible. Take one piece and line the baking tin with it.

Fill the pasty liner with the squash. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together the egg yolks, eggs, milk and cream and carefully pour over the squash, but do not overfill. You will probably have some of the mixture left – it is hard to say. Lay the slices of cheese on top of the squash. Brush the edges of the pastry liner with the beaten egg and place the second circle of pastry on top. Pinch the edges together. Brush the whole surface with the beaten egg and make a cut in the centre of the pie with a knife to allow steam to escape during baking. Bake for 45 minutes then remove from the oven and serve.


Watercress Soup

I make most smooth vegetable soups with meat or vegetable stock as the primary liquid and milk or a dab of cream coming secondary. But you can also make some soups with mainly whole milk. Using vegetables such as watercress, squash, mushrooms or frozen peas, I liquidise the soup until it is very smooth, and a foam forms on top. This is soup to eat in small quantities. It makes a lovely starter or a filling lunch. You can garnish it with ground pink peppercorns, which are very good with vegetables, or add finely chopped crisp bacon. For the richest soup of all, drop a whole peeled semi-soft-boiled egg into the watercress version.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 white onions, roughly chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 litre/13/4 pints whole milk
250ml/8fl oz stock – veal, chicken, beef or vegetable
2 bunches of watercress, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the potatoes, milk and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the watercress and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Liquidise the soup until very smooth. It is well worth passing it through a mouli-légumes (food mill) as well to remove any threads of watercress stalk, but not absolutely necessary. Reheat without letting it boil, adding 2 pinches of white pepper and sea salt to taste.

Tuna Cakes

Lovely, delicate cakes to eat for supper – tuna-loving children will adore them. Serve with a green sauce.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
300ml/1/2 pint milk
180g/6oz canned tuna, drained
2 shallots, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
dried breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for shallow-frying
salt and white pepper

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the flour. Cook gently for a minute, then remove from the heat.

Gradually stir in the milk, then cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and finally boils. Remove from the heat, add the tuna, stirring to break up the flakes, then add the shallots, lemon juice and Parmesan. Season with a little white pepper and the barest pinch of salt.

Refrigerate the mixture until very cold, then roll it into a cylinder shape, about 4cm/11/2 inches in diameter. Cut it into pastilles 2.5cm/1 inch thick and roll each one in dried breadcrumbs. Shallow-fry the tuna cakes in sunflower oil for 3–4 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper.

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