"Food can never just be about the bald story of the recipe: the meals we eat say something fundamental about who we are and how we want to live. Whenever an…
Simnel Cake Originally, this cake was made for Mothering Sunday, but it has for a long, long time been an essential Easter confection, the marzipan balls on top representing the apostles: eleven in total as, for understandable reasons, Judas is persona non grata. I make this a very light fruit cake, totally different in taste and texture from the damp, dark offerings of Christmas.
Pasta with Anchovy Sauce: I have a feeling that this is another recipe with a del Conte derivation, although I have cooked it so often over the years, I can't now remember what I've added to it and when. I know that people feel very strongly about anchovies, but this is guaranteed - as much as one can guarantee anything - to overcome the most squealing of prejudices.
When I was a child, we often had Scotch pancakes (out of a packet) when we got home from school. And the thing - for those of you who don't know - about Scotch pancakes is that they are not eaten like pancakes - hot with syrup and a knife and fork - but like toast, spread with butter and jam. I always remember them being on the cold side of lukewarm, but I think warm, though not so hot as to burn your fingers, is what you're aiming for.
Nursery Fish Pie: There are certain days when only something soothing and comforting and topped with mash potato will do; on such days, this pie could make you weep with gratitude. In extremis, top quality bought mash (such as from the Good As Going Out range at Waitrose) will do as a substitute for peeling, cooking and mashing real potatoes.
Cornbread-Topped Chilli Con Carne: There are few more welcome sights than a big vat of chilli. The cornbread topping is a glorious golden touch, that everyone can crumble into the spiced meat as they eat, for ballast and crunchy contrast. It makes your life easier and the chilli better if you make the meat up in advance, adding the topping and baking the lot just before you serve.
Lemon Meringue Cake: In all honesty, the origin of this cake is simply that I cannot make a go of a lemon meringue pie. I've tried, and I've tried, and it's not that I've utterly failed, but I haven't completely delighted myself. There's enough of that kind of falling short in the rest of life, without having to usher in disappointment and self-loathing in the kitchen. This, then, is the easy option.
Roast Lamb for One: I know that I am often regarded as somewhat odd for cooking entire meals just for myself, alone. I wouldn't think of apologising. On the whole I am not someone either good with her own company or with a gift for solitude, but when it comes to eating, I am all for solitary pleasures.
Baci de Ricotta: I don't deny that having to stand stoveside frying 30 teaspoons of ricotta at the end of dinner is a slight drawback, but these are so good, I really do think it's worth it. Besides, there's no getting around it. Somehow, that makes things easier for me. I just accept what has to be done, and get on with it.