chinese style spare ribs


I can’t barbecue, I burn. These ribs are oven roasted, so foolproof!

First I make the marinade by mixing together a teaspoon of salt, a spoon of sugar, two tablespoons of soy sauce, two teaspoons of 5-spice, a crushed dried chilli, a splash of white wine and a teaspoon of tomato puree.  I cut the ribs in half with a meat cleaver and marinade  in the sauce for a few hours. I pre-heat the oven to 200°C and transfer the meat and marinade to a non-stick roasting pan. They cook for 40 minutes or so, I turn them over halfway.

This is a nice prelude to a barbecue, if I can get someone else to cook. Otherwise they’re perfect with a salad.


melon and feta salad


I love feta – its saltiness goes so well with the sweetness of melon.

I cube a melon and arrange in a dish. I cube feta cheese and add it to the melon. I sprinkle a little black pepper and a few torn leaves of basil and a trickle of olive oil.

The simple things in life are best!

baked perch and potatoes


I like an all-in-one dish that cooks by itself, with little or no skill!

First I peel and finely slice three large potatoes and arrange them in an oiled non-stick roasting dish. I then add a few tomatoes (halved cherry or date are good) and stoned black olives,  season well and add a dribble of olive oil. I mix chopped herbs (marjory or thyme or parsley would do) with breadcrumbs. I brush three fillets of perch with oil and press them into the breadcrumbs. I place the fish on top of the potatoes, season, strew with what’s left of the breadcrumbs and add another dribble of oil. The dish cooks for 30 minutes at 200°C.

Perch is good value, but other thick fillets of white fish would work too.

chinese chicken


…well, sort of Chinese. At the last minute William came round, so I had to make a small amount of chicken breast feed three.

I sautèed some onion and diced potato in a large pan with a little olive oil. I added grated fresh ginger and diced courgettes. I added salt and pepper. When cooked, I added chopped chicken breast to which I had added seven-spice powder and a spoon of flour. I stir-fried for a few minutes. In the meantime I boiled water and cooked angelhair pasta for 3 minutes. I added a good slug of soy sauce to the meat and vegetables and added the drained pasta too. A minute and everything was ready.

This is good with pork too.

ricotta and artichoke quiche


Artichokes are nearly over now, so this will be the last time I use them this year.

First I make the pastry with 150 gm flour and 75 gm butter and a pinch of salt. I use the pulse option on the magimix, adding a little cold water to form a ball of dough. This rests in the fridge while I prepare the filling. I remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and pare the stalks, cut in slices and sautè in olive oil until just tender (I need to add a little water and cover the pan).  I mix together a ricotta with a few tablespoons of grated parmesan, an egg and black pepper. Then, when cool, I add the artichokes to the mixture. I roll out the pastry and fill a buttered and lined tin. I bake the case the blind (10 minutes covered in paper and beans, 5 minutes without) at 180 °C. I let the case cool, then I fill with the artichoke and ricotta mixture and cook for 25 -30 minutes. 

This is good warm or cold, but won’t keep for more than a day, so…

spring beetroot


In spring we get a variety of beetroot with a pale pink flesh and delicate flavour which I really love.

I wash the root and boil until tender ( 20 to 30 minutes). While it cooks, I wash the leaves and boil them in their own water, as you do for spinach. When cool enough to handle, I squeeze out as much water as possible. Now it’s just a question of peeling and slicing the root and arranging the leaves alongside and dressing with salt, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

The beetroot is really good with some boiled potato. We had leftover boiled broccoli yesterday to go with it… sometimes a boiled egg or two makes it to the plate… or a little crumbled feta cheese…

big salad


If we’ve spent the day quietly at home or maybe over-indulged at lunchtime, then we often just have a big mixed salad in the evening.

I cut salad leaves into fine strips (sacrilege for purists, I know, who only tear salad leaves!) and slice cabbage and/or fennel on the mandolin. Beans sprouts are good too. I add cubes of cheese (feta or asiago or whatever), stoned black/green olives and chopped tomato. A few chopped leaves of mint or coriander are a nice addition. I dress with salt, pepper, one part vinegar and three parts extra virgin olive oil.

A piece of toasted bread is all you need …and  a glass of cold white wine!

cheese and ham bread


This ring of tasty bread is great with hams and cheeses at a party.

I boil two small potatoes (actually I wrap them in cling and microwave for 4 minutes), then I put them through the ricer and, when cool, I add them to 250 gm flour, a packet of fast action yeast, 2 eggs, 50 g melted butter and a teaspoon of salt in the Magimix. I add a few spoons of warm water to create a softish dough, which I work (the machine works!) until smooth and elastic. I transfer to a bowl, cover in film, and leave to rise for an hour. Then I add 100 gm of chopped cooked ham and a small mozzarella, chopped into small pieces. I put this into a buttered ring mould and leave to rise for an hour and a half. I cook it in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes. If it colours too quickly on top, I cover with foil in the last stages.

A ring mould is not essential, you can use an ordinary cake tin too. Actually, it’s easier to unmould from a cake tin!

broad bean falafel


This is the Eyptian version of falafel but you can use dried chick peas instead for the Israeli version.

First I soak dried broad beans (fava) in water overnight. The next morning I drain them  and process well in the mixer to form a paste.  I add a teaspoon of bicarbonate, a teaspoon of cumin seed, a crushed dried chilli, salt and pepper and leave for an hour. Then I add half a finely chopped onion and a handful of chopped herbs (mint, parsley and anything else).I form patties with the mixture and cook in olive oil for a few minutes each side in a non stick pan over a medium heat. They should be crisp outside and soft inside.

I serve simply with a salad.


cabbage salad with speck


Summer cabbage is my favourite salad vegetable, much more tender and tasty than the normal white cabbage. I like this Tirolean salad which uses speck instead of oil.

First I thinly slice the cabbage on the mandolin, put it in a serving bowl and add salt, pepper and caraway seeds. I then cut some speck into little sticks and heat it in a non-stick frying pan. When the fat starts to melt, I add a few tablespoons of white wine vinegar and let it bubble away for a few seconds. I then pour this over the cabbage, mix well and leave it to absorb the flavours for 5 minutes before serving.

If speck is not available, you could use smoky bacon.