My mother gave me this recipe when I was 7 or 8, and I have had it committed to memory ever since – I know it as I know my 2 times tables (convenient if you want to double the recipe). It may not be how the French would approach this icon of classical cuisine, but it is how my mother taught me, so to me, this recipe is gospel.
4 oz flour
½ pint of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Salt and sugar to taste
Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl – ensure it is light, frothy, and there are no lumps. Spoon some butter into a large, non-stick frying pan, and let it melt across its surface. Pour in a ladle-full of batter, or enough to coat the pan thinly. Once the edges are coming away, and you can see slight browning on the other side, flip the crêpe and brown this side slightly too. Et voila! Complete with lemon and sugar, ham and cheese, or, my personal favourite, dark chocolate, sliced banana, dried coconut, and a splash of spiced rum.
My take on a Carbonara (Not Italian-approved)
An Italian friend of mine was once horrified that I had corrupted his nation’s delicacy with a huge swathe of double cream and some peas; this is apparently high treason to Italian cuisine, one that is the fault of us clueless Brits. ‘Real’ carbonara sauce is just egg yolk, however, there is a comfort and luxury that is afforded by these additions. So, whether you want to show reverence to Italian heritage, or trail-blaze with your non-conformity, I will leave up to you – It is delicious either way.
A few rashers of bacon or a chicken breast
Pasta of choice
A handful of frozen peas (optional)
1-2 egg yolks per person
A slosh of double cream (optional)
Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
Start with frying a few rashers of bacon, or if you are feeling healthier, roast and shred a chicken breast (or just use a store-bought, pre-cooked one.) Then, boil some of your favourite pasta with a generous amount of salt, and when it is a few minutes from being cooked, and only if you want to, add a handful of frozen peas. When the peas are tender and the pasta is cooked, strain, and add a couple off whisked egg yolks, with or without the controversial double-cream, a massive heap of Parmesan or Grana Padano (the latter is slightly cheaper), and your meat of choice. The cheese is salty enough, but seasoning with some pepper can add a welcoming note of heat. Mix off the heat until the sauce has warmed thoroughly – do not do this on the heat or you will have lumpy scrambled eggs – and garnish with some parsley for a fresh hit. And now – Buon Appetito!
The fishcake is the ultimate relic of nursery nostalgia, a comforting call back to the days of returning from school to munch on their crispy goodness, alongside potato smileys dunked in a deluge of ketchup. They bring us back to a simpler life, where for a brief moment, we feel free, and un-affected by the stresses of adulthood, as the weight of our precarious existence evaporates into the steamy, fishy ether around us – and, they are surprisingly easy to make.
1 can of tuna / salmon
Peas or other vegetables
Breadcrumbs / flour
This recipe is perfect for using up yesterday’s leftover mashed potato, but you can very quickly just boil a few peeled potatoes and mash them up. Mix in a can of salmon or tuna, some boiled peas or whichever vegetables you choose (chopped broccoli works great), and a beaten egg to bind it all together. Season well, form into balls, and then flatten into thick disks. Leave in the fridge for half an hour to firm up, then dip each one into beaten egg, and then flour or breadcrumbs. Fry each in butter until golden brown, sprinkle on some salt while still hot, and relax as you are transported through time to the welcoming embrace of your infancy.
Vegan stuffed peppers
This recipe, although it appears quite fussy, is in fact incredibly easy. As a light lunch, a healthy snack, or an exciting starter, these colourful delights are perfect for showing off to friends and family. They are also versatile, so you can add almost any herbs or spices you want to dress them up. I love them with garlic and parsley, but you could also do chilli, oregano and parmesan, rosemary and white wine, or tomato and za’atar – Whatever you want!
2 bell peppers
1 packet of mushrooms
Herbs and spices of your choice
Start by dicing an onion and frying it on a low heat with some olive oil, seasoning, and whichever herbs and spices you like. When it is soft, add some diced mushrooms, and cook them down until all the water has evaporated (we don’t want soggy peppers). Now, cut the top off and scoop the insides out of a few peppers, and fill them up with your onion and mushroom mixture. Place the top of the pepper back on as a lid for your edible cups, askew so the steam can release. Bake at 180°c with fan for 30-40 minutes until the peppers are tender, and dig in.
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