Category Archives: Make ahead

Healthy Pizza

Or, as per the message I sent to my vegetarian friend, “come round for dinner? I’ve made cauliflower pizza dough, so we can eat like hipsters”.

It might not quite be hipster pizza, because I forgot to put the kale on top, but I consider this relatively healthy pizza – with a thin wholewheat crust, half made up of vegetables, topped with reduced fat cheese and more vegetables (spoiler alert: heaps of vegetable ribbons, instead of tomato sauce), it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable for a weeknight dinner.

Traditional pizza with asparagus, mozzarella and fresh basil

Healthier version: thin crust courgette pizza with aubergine, salami and reduced fat cheese

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Indoor “Barbecued” Beef Ribs

Ribs are my favourite cut of beef, for roasting (US prime rib, UK standing rib/forerib), seared and juicy steaks (ribeye), braising (short rib/thin rib – although I’m also partial to shin and oxtail) and for low-and-slow smoked barbecue, narrowly beating brisket.

Until very recently, the best barbecue in London was available down the road for very reasonable prices at The Horatia, where Texas Joe’s had their residency. Their smoked brisket was a thing of wonder – tender and perfectly pink, with a smoky bark and a richly marbled interior. I can’t pass by the pub without thinking about it. Unfortunately, it’s on my commute, so this occurs at least twice a day.

How to cope, then, with the long winter of our barbecue withdrawal? It is still far too cold to barbecue outside and Joe’s haven’t yet announced their new location.

Like this:



Marinated ribs cooked low-and-slow, glazed and grilled to finish

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Mozzarella Garlic Bread

A particularly bouncy, airy bread; edges crisped and burnished with garlic butter and topped with strings of melted cheese. What could be more welcoming than a huge pan of fragrant bread, brought out of the oven as guests arrive? and Well, perhaps a tidy house. No matter. People who come round to our house generously describe it as having a “relaxed atmosphere”, and assure me that they feel more at home because I didn’t go to the effort of tidying up. What they don’t realise is that I actually did…

Cheesy Garlic Bread

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The Fat Duck’s Black Forest Cake

A seven-layer chocolate-cherry extravaganza combining juicy cherries, velvety ganache, dense chocolate cake, airy mousse…I could go on. Respectfully ripped off from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook, even my pragmatically streamlined version of the recipe takes most of a day to make, but behold: The Lazy Duck’s Black Forest Cake.

Black Forest Cake

Hopefully you can see the layers, which are (from top to bottom):

1. Dark chocolate-cherry ganache icing – originally chocolate mousse and chocolate spraypaint
2. Cherry ripple vanilla mousse – originally kirsch mousse
3. Flourless chocolate cake
4. Morello cherries (from a jar) – in the original, fresh cherries soaked in kirsch
5. (layered with) Dark chocolate ganache
6. Whipped milk chocolate ganache – aerated chocolate in the original
7. Honey madeleine

[two months later as I write this post, I’ve realised that the flourless chocolate cake layer was in the wrong position – it should have been layer 3., (in between the cherry/ganache layer and the cherry jam vanilla mousse) – so the instructions below in terms of assembly are for what I should have done, rather than what I actually did]

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Jam Sandwich Ice Cream (Bramble & Brown Bread)

I’d be misleading you if I pretended that ice cream was a trivial thing to make, but I’d be doing you a worse disservice if I pretended it wasn’t worth it. Desserts, I rather feel, SHOULD be a bit more effort. A treat. A celebration!

This ice cream is, for me, a true celebration of English summer – it tastes like the simple joy of a perfect picnic and has a silk-and-velvet mouthfeel that is pure luxury. Homemade ice cream, additive-free and unique in flavour, is a wonderful thing to make – and with an ice cream maker and a few non-classical tricks, a reliable one too. Please don’t let the length of the recipe put you off – if you can make cake, you can easily make the ice cream base – a custard-based vanilla gelato.

If you wanted to ripple through some homemade stewed fruit (simple as leaving apples in a pan over heat to make applesauce, or caramelising bananas with some butter and brown sugar on the stove, or a saucepan of frozen berries cooked down into a sauce), you’ve already made a wonderful concoction far better, I believe, than any fruit-based ice cream because fresh fruit flavours just cannot be replicated on an industrial scale. (In fairness, I prefer bought ice creams for chocolate, caramel and nut flavours – when I’ve tried making my own, these are not better than their good quality bought counterparts. And, just to be clear – and contradicting my first paragraph – I very much enjoy a good bought ice cream, which sometimes should be in the freezer and available with absolutely no effort at all.)

But can I suggest you have a go at this version, with brown bread praline (easy to make!) and bramble jam? The buttery nutty caramel flavour is a wonderful warm counterpoint to the delicate high notes of freshly-picked blackberries, which add a lightness to the ice cream like sunbeams breaking through the trees, dappling bramble thickets with spots of dancing light.

Jam Sandwich Ice Cream

Bramble & Brown Bread ice cream, pre-freezer

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Easy Beef Pho (more “Faux” than authentic “Pho”)

This is a cheap, comforting-but-healthy bowl of tender rib meat and bone broth. And it’s super-easy to make – the passage of time does all the work for you. It’s hands-off pho, as 1. apart from roughly chopping some aromatics and slipping the tender meat off the bones at the end of cooking, you really don’t do much, and 2. it also stands for “Hands off my pho!” because once I’ve got my slurp on with a bowl of this umami sensation, I’m not prepared to share! Vietnamese Beef Pho Continue reading

Short Rib Bourguignon

As I write this, my husband and I are sharing a Fray Bentos pie, passing the tin (balanced on a plate) between us and sharing the same fork. I tell you this not because I’m proud of us – I’m really not – but just to demonstrate that I am both lazy and economical (he bought the pies upon finding them on sale at Morrison’s for a pound each, bearing them home in triumph. I let him enjoy it for approximately two seconds  before observing that they are always available at Poundland). Anyway, this meal easy, inexpensive and gloriously delicious – it’s honestly once of the nicest dishes I can make. We made it recently for dining club with my siblings and my brother has asked me for the recipe almost daily ever since.

Short Rib Bourgignon

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