Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes: Much as I love to have a pan bubbling away on the stove, I often feel that the most stress free way to feed people is by taking the oven route. When I'm frazzled, I firmly believe that the tray-bake is the safest way to go. Enjoy the easefulness of the oven: you just bung everything in, and you're done. I
Christmas Rocky Road: It’s not that I felt my usual Rocky Road Crunch Bars needed any improvement (though fiddling with recipes is one of life’s pleasures) but I thought they would benefit from some seasonal adjustment. So, out go the Rich Tea biscuits and in come amaretti and – in the seasonal spirit – I’ve crammed in some Brazil nuts and glacé cherries (as red as Rudolph’s nose), along with snowy mini marshmallows.
Cheddar Cheese Risotto: This might seem odd to Italians but it works beautifully: the starchy rice, the sharp Cheddar, both are the perfect counterpoint for each other. I make this on days when I need to escape to the kitchen and have a good, quiet, relaxing and mindless 20 minutes staring into the middle distance and stirring. I heartily recommend it.
Red Prawn and Mango Curry: This is one of the easiest suppers to make, but somehow, however much I know this, it always surprises me. Not in the cooking, so much as in the eating: I can't believe, each time anew, how deep and textured and full-throttle, in a sweet, comforting way, this tastes, when all I've done is a bit of shopping and some light stirring.
Forgotten Pudding: There is a wonderful poetry to the name of this pudding which, thankfully, once eaten could never be forgotten. It's an old, old recipe popularly exhumed - I believe - by the late, great Richard Sax. Think of it as a kind of marshmallow-based pavlova. That's to say, you whip egg whites as if making meringue, spread on a swiss roll tin (or that's how I make it) and put in an oven which you immediately switch off, leaving the pudding to cook overnight, hence "forgotten".
Flourless Chocolate Brownies With Hot Chocolate Sauce
Flourless Chocolate Brownies with Hot Chocolate Sauce: However much people have eaten, there is always, I've noticed, room for a brownie. This is a different kind of a brownie, most definitely for party-pudding, melting, fudgy and damply rich. I compound these qualities by serving it with ice cream and the hot chocolate sauce, but there is no need. Need is not really what we're talking about here, though, is it?
Star-Topped Mince Pies:This is the way I make my mince pies, and there is no changing me or them: they are small, to be popped straight into the mouth in one go; the pastry is plain, the better to contrast with the rich, fruited filling; and they have not full casings but little stars as lids, which makes them look beautiful and taste flutteringly light.
CHEESE FONDUE I don't suppose this is ever going to win plaudits from the World Health Organisation, but a cheese fondue is surely the stuff of dreams. On the plus side, health-wise, I love it best with radishes, chicory, spears of radicchio and carrots dipped in, but I don't know why I am trying to engage with that particular argument.
Edible Christmas Tree Decorations: I couldn’t have Christmas without these, or at least, not happily. Rituals are essential to give us meaning, a sense of ceremony, and making these peppery, gingerbready edible decorations is how I have always marked with my children that Christmas has begun.