Röstis are great, deliciously crispy on the outside with lovely tender ribbons of potato squashed together on the inside crammed with flavour. This one, made with celeriac and carrot is a slightly healthier, low-carbohydrate alternative with an amazing sweetness from both of the vegetables which goes so well with the spice in this recipe.

I served this as an all vegetarian meal alongside caramelised hispi cabbage, fine beans, almonds and red onion but it would go really well with any red meat.

Makes 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Celeriac
  • 6 large Carrots, of any colour
  • 2 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 small bunch of Fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp Plain flour
  • Sunflower oil

Method:

  1. Wash, peel and grate the vegetables and place into a large bowl.
  2. Spinkle a good amount of salt over the vegetables and stir through. Cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes. The salt will draw some of the moisture out of the vegetables and help the mixture to hold together.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a pan until they become fragrant and then crush them in a pestle and mortar. Pick the leaves from the thyme and finely chop.
  1. Tip the vegetables out onto a clean tea towel and wring as much moisture out as you can. This will also help you get a lovely caramelisation on your röstis.
  2. Return the wringed vegetables into the bowl along with the spices, herbs, flour and a good crack of black pepper and then mix together until evenly combined. Add the egg and again mix until evenly combined.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 C.
  4. Take a small spoonful and fry it off in a little oil to test the seasoning. Adjust it as necessary.
  5. Heat enough of the oil in a frying pan so that it generously coats the base of the pan over a medium – high heat. Place an 8cm, round pastry cutter into the oil and then pack it tightly up to the top with the mixture – it should sizzle. If you haven’t got a pastry cutter, you can form it into a pattie with your hands.
  6. Turn the heat down to a medium heat and cook until it’s a deep-golden colour. Then carefully flip the rösti and repeat on the other side.
  7. Lift the rösti out of the pan and place on a baking tray. Carefully lift off the pastry cutter and return this to the oil and repeat steps 8 – 9 for the remaining mix.
  8. Once all of the röstis are a beautiful golden colour, roast them in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until a skewer pushed through the middle of them offers no resistance.
  9. Once they are cooked, serve them immediately while nice and hot.

This recipe uses my favourite cut of pork, the belly. It’s easy to cook, you can pack it full of flavour and the end product is so juicy and tender my mouth waters just thinking about it! The end result will be better if you start preparing your piece of meat a couple of days in advance so be prepared for that.

I had the use of an outside kitchen with a really cool BBQ which was fitted on to two old car jacks. This meant I could raise the cooking platform away from the heat and cook this beautiful bit of meat slowly over wood and coals. The only thing it didn’t have was a lid and so it did take a long time to cook!

It’s just as easy over a conventional BBQ though – gas or solid fuelled – just make sure that your BBQ has a cooler zone not directly over ther heat source.

Serves 4 (with plenty to spare!)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Pork belly, skin-on (preferably with bone)
  • 30g Maldon sea salt
  • 20g Fresh rosemary
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Firstly, we need to ensure that the skin of the pork belly is as dry as possible using some kitchen roll.
  2. Next, on a meat board, using a very sharp knife or a stanley knife, score the skin diagonally across the piece of meat. The aim is to cut right the way through the skin, but to leave the flesh and most of the fat intact – this may take a bit of practice!
  1. Turn the meat 90 degrees and score the meat again so your cutting into the skin perpendicular to the first scores. Set the meat aside while you prepare your rosemary rub.
  2. Pick all of the leaves from the rosemary ensuring you discard any woody bit of stalk and place in a small food processor. Place 20g of the Maldon into the processor alongside and whizz it until it’s well combined and you have a sort of rosemary salt. Turn the pork belly skin side down on the board and rub this rosemary salt all over the flesh ensuring that you push it in to all of the cracks and crevices.
  3. Place the meat, scored skin facing up, into a tall-sided dish. Rub the remaining salt all over the skin, again, making sure you work it well into the scores. Place this into the fridge, uncovered, for 24 – 48 hours. This gives the skin time to dry out, so that you can produce great crackling and also allows for the rosemary salt rub to penetrate the meat.
  4. When the meat is ready for cooking and your BBQ is up to temperature, rub the skin liberally with the oil and place the meat, skin side down onto the grill. This part of the cook wants to be at a moderate temperature, the skin wants to crisp up, but it doesn’t want to burn so keep an eye on it. Move the meat around a bit as well so that it crisps nice and evenly.
  5. After about half an hour, the skin should be golden and crispy and ready for the slow cook of the remaining meat. Flip it and seal the fleshy side of the meat.
  6. Move the meat away from the heat source onto the cooler section of the BBQ – it’s at this point I added the wood to give the meat an additional wood-smoked flavour. Close the lid of the BBQ and cook slowly for approximately 2 – 2.5 hours checking every half hour or so to check it’s not cooking too quickly.
  7. The meat is cooked when the juices run clear (although I don’t mind eating pork a little pink) and has a firm sponginess when prodded. If you have a meat probe or digital thermometer, the temperature I cook it to is just over 60 C.
  8. Remove it from the grill and allow it to rest somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to eat, remove the rib bones from the underside and carve into thick, juicy steaks.

Serve this as a BBQ centre piece and I promise, people will come back!

This pudding came about whilst in isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak because my father panic bought sumac. I love sumac, but I’m of the opinion that if you have one jar, you’re probably covered for the foreseeable – not so in my father’s head.

In Middle Eastern cooking, sumac is used to add tartness to savoury dishes, often in conjunction with or as a replacement to lemon. So this got me wondering whether it would be good in a dessert, which obviously I think it now is or it wouldn’t be on here!

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:

Beetroot meringue:

  • 4 Eggs, whites only
  • 400g icing sugar, approx. (2 x weight of egg white)
  • 65ml Beetroot concentrate

Buttermilk panna cotta:

  • 600g Double cream
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste
  • 3 leaves of Gelatine
  • 500g Buttermilk

Sumac roasted almonds:

  • 100g Whole almonds
  • 2 tbsp Sumac
  • 20g Honey
  • Pinch of Maldon salt

Lemon and rose curd:

  • 120g Lemon juice
  • 10g Rose water
  • 100g sugar
  • 3 – 4 eggs (150g in weight), beaten
  • 1 leaf of Gelatine
  • 175g Butter

Method:

Beetroot meringue:

  1. Preheat the oven to 90 C.
  2. Find a mixing bowl that fits snugly over the top of a pan and fill that pan a third of the way up with water ensuring that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water when placed on top. Bring the water up to the boil.
  3. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and icing sugar in the selected mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until well combined. Once the water has come up to the boil, remove it from the heat and place the bowl over the top. Whisk the whites and sugar until you can stand a teaspoon up in the mixture – this should take approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk the meringue until it’s cool. Add the concentrate when the meringue is nearly completely cool and whisk until evenly combined.
  5. Using a palette knife, spread the mixture evenly over a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. The meringue wants to be approximately 0.5cm thick.
  6. Cook the meringue in the oven until it is brittle, completely dried out and comes away from the paper easily. This will be approximately 1.5 – 2 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Once cool, break into large shards.

Buttermilk panna cotta:

  1. Place the cream, sugar and vanilla in a pan and warm over a low to medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally to ensure that the sugar doesn’t catch on the base of the pan.
  2. Soak the gelatine in water until it has softened, remove the leaves squeezing out any excess water and then add these to the cream. Stir the mixture until all of the gelatine has dissolved.
  3. Allow the cream to come down to room temperature. Meanwhile, remove the buttermilk from the fridge and allow this to come up to room temperature. Once both are similar in temperature, add the two together and whisk until they are evenly combined.
  4. At this point, we are going to pour the mixture into a container to set. I like to spoon my set panna cotta onto the plate for service, so I just use an airtight container to set it in, but you can just as easily set it in individual ramekins or moulds. If you are using moulds, brush the inside with a little flavourless oil to assist with the turning out process.
  5. Place the mixture in the fridge for at least 8 hours to set.

Sumac roasted almonds:

  1. Roast the almonds in an oven preheated to 150 C for 20 minutes and then allow to cool. Turn the oven up to 180 C.
  2. Combine the nuts with the honey, sumac and salt and tip out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast the nuts again in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes until the honey has caramelised a little. Allow to cool completely and then blitz the nuts to a coarse consistency.

Lemon and rose curd:

  1. Similar to the whisking of the meringue, place a pan a third full of water on to boil. Place the lemon juice, rose water, sugar and egg in a bowl that fits snugly over the top of the pan without touching the water. Stir the mixture continuously until it thickens.
  2. Soak the gelatine in water and once soft, squeeze any excess water out and add to the lemon and rose mixture and stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Then whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time, ensuring that it is mixed in completely before adding the next piece. Allow the curd to cool before placing it in a piping bag (or just in a bowl) ready for service.

Assembly:

You can assemble this dish however you want – it’s good fun – particularly if you had had a few wines by this point! I really like the idea of the shards of meringue hiding the other elements of the dessert but play around with it and do what you think looks good. Finish off with a sprinkle of extra sumac – if you have any to spare!

The ultimate comfort food. Mac ‘n’ Cheese is one of those dishes that always instils memories of childhood (or hangover recoveries) in me and will always be a crowd pleaser no matter the age of your audience!

Use up any dry pasta you have in the cupboard to make this, although it won’t suit spaghetti or linguine or anything like that very well.

Serves 6 (with some leftovers… possibly)

Ingredients:

  • 350g Macaroni (or dried pasta)
  • 40g Butter
  • 5 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Small red chilli, finely diced
  • 40g Plain flour
  • Pinch of English mustard powder
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 700ml Whole milk
  • 200g Mature cheddar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice of stale bread
  • 10g Parmesan, grated
  • 3 sprigs of Rosemary

Method:

  1. Place a pan of generously salted water on to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and fry off the garlic and chilli for a minute or so.
  3. Add the flour and combine until a smooth paste is formed. Cook this out for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk slowly, whisking all the time to prevent any lumps forming.
  5. Once all of the milk has been added, return the pan to the heat and turn up to medium. Stir continuously until the sauce comes to the boil and then leaver to thicken for 2 minutes.
  1. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese and stir until it’s all melted. Adjust the seasoning.
  2. Pour the sauce into the drained pasta and then tip this into an oven-proof dish.
  3. Blitz the bread, Parmesan and rosemary until fine and then sprinkle this all over the top of the pasta.
  4. Place under a preheated grill until the top is lightly golden and crunchy. Serve straight away.

For anyone who isn’t the biggest fan of rice pudding, me included, I challenge you to not enjoy this recipe. The rich creaminess from the white chocolate and that slight heat and zing from the stem ginger is a match made in heaven. Serve it with mango and lime and the acidity from the juice just lifts it perfectly!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 400ml Whole milk
  • 200ml Double cream
  • 2 balls of Stem ginger, cut into strips
  • 200g White chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 100g Pudding rice
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Lime

Method:

  1. Place the milk, cream, ginger, chocolate and sugar in a pan and melt the chocolate over a low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom catching.
  2. Add the rice and continue cooking over a low heat until the rice is soft – this will be approximately 45 minutes.
  1. Meanwhile, dice the mango and combine with the zest and juice of the lime.
  2. When the rice is done, it should still have some texture but no hard bite. By this time the sauce will be thick and creamy.
  3. Serve the rice pudding warm, with the mango salsa piled on top.