Potatoes are basically starch sponges. If you want super crispy ones, boil them until they’re just about to fall apart, then air dry them and put them in the roasting tin/baking tray with a liberal sprinkling of oil. That works for both roast potatoes and chips. Conversely, if you want them to be a bit harder, say dauphinoise, you do NOT want to boil them at all, as this will suck the liquid out of the mixture and make them generally absorb more.
Roast Beef or Pork
If possible prepare night before by rubbing meat in oil and salt then stabbing it a few times for garlic cloves and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Next day bring it out of the fridge and allow it to rise to room temp for 30 minutes while heating oven to a medium heat. After giving it a good sear on all sides in a heated oiled pan on the stove top, place in an oven-proofed dish and throw in half an onion, a few garlic cloves and celery and/or carrots or and/parsnip with herbs such as rosemary if liked. Add about three cups of liquid (water or gravy or even packet soup) Place in the middle of the oven for about 2 hours, depending on how much meat weighs. Check meat every 30 minutes and baste with liquid, adding more if dried out but make sure it is warm before adding or it will add onto cooking time. Add 2 tomatoes, quartered, and sprinkle them around half an hour before serving. This adds to the succulence of the meat.
16 oz of cream cheese at room temperature (Brand name preferably)
1/4 cup of caster sugar (or a 1/3 if you like it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
(Adding a little citrus fruit zest as well greatly improves flavour)
9″ premade base crust (shop bought or additional recipe below)
Mix all together and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool on the counter top for 2 hrs and refrigerate for 2 hrs before serving.
Cover with cream or any desired fruit or flavoured topping, remove from tin and serve.
Biscuit base, prepared in advance
Place any sweet biscuits (such as a cheap packet of digestives) in a polythene bag. Take a rolling pin or other heavy object and hit bag on work top to crush biscuits into small pieces – very cathartic.
Put biscuit crumbs in to pot on stove at low heat with a large knob of butter. Mix together well over heat. Once butter is melted mix through biscuits until all biscuits are coated but not greasy – add more butter or biscuits if necessary. Once consistency is correct according to personal taste, use biscuit/butter mix to line bottom of cake tin and harden in fridge for an hour before filling with cheesecake mixture.
Baked Peaches – much quicker than cheesecake
Ingredients:4 peaches, 4 Tablespoons of honey, 4 Tablespoons of Mascarpone cheese or cream cheese if you have some to finish off.
Pre-heat oven to about 350 F. Halve the peaches and scoop out the pits. Add a half tablespoon of honey to each peach half. Put peaches in oven and bake around 15 minutes or until soft and bubbly . Put a half tablespoon of Mascarpone/cream cheese in each peach halve.
Grate any 4 small packs of different cheese. One should have a bite like Cheddar or Wensleydale and one should melt well such as Mozzarella or Edam for that stringy look. Partially boil any pasta type, but traditional macaroni looks best. While doing this, preheat oven to a medium heat. Drain macaroni and place in oven-proofed dish, Pour in a little milk with a tablespoon of cornstarch at the bottom of the dish and add some small pats of butter through the dish. Mix four cheeses together and sprinkle liberally over the macaroni dish and place in oven for 40-50 minutes. Finished macaroni should look crispy and golden, not burned so keep checking after 30 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or potato wedges but this is not a low-calorie meal so small portions and served with a large green salad if you are aiming for thin hips!
An alternative version is to put all the same ingredients into smaller ramekins and cook for much less time. That helps with portion control and keeps hot food away from the cold salad.
Moreover some people add in bacon pieces through the macaroni but that doesn’t appeal to me personally.
Pasta with a basil pesto
Ridiculously easy but always pleases.
Cook any pasta shape to any level of softness that you prefer – Italians like al dente but it does not follow that you will. Meanwhile crush some basil leaves with a mortar and pestle if you have one or with a heavy spoon and a dish of you do not. Lightly fry some sunflower seeds with a little bit of olive oil, some finely chopped rosemary, and a generous dose of salt and pepper on top. Toss all ingredients together for a divine flavour, simply executed. Put grated parmesan on top for that final flourish, if available.
Baked Stuffed Mushrooms
Take four large portabella mushroom caps and set aside. In a pan, combine 1 1/2 cups of a mixture of mushrooms : oyster, shiitake, chanterelle, etc) with 2 tbsp olive oil and let cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and mix in sea salt, cracked pepper, onion powder, and 1 tbsp fresh garlic for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat once combined.
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 box garlic Boursin, 8oz. Chive cream cheese, 2 tbsp sour cream, and 1 cup bread crumbs. Add in cooked mushrooms and beat together until thoroughly combined. Stuff those big bellas and top with any strong cheese and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until the mushrooms start releasing water onto the baking sheet.
Large tin of chopped tomatoes (or chop a large portion of your own)
Tube of tomato purée, added to simmering stock until you get the desired colour.
Two pints of stock (or stock cubes and boiled water)
Dried or fresh herbs, chopped, such as parsley / chives / rosemary / coriander
Salt and pepper if desired, but not necessary.
Very finely chopped onion and/or garlic and/or carrot
Put all ingredients in a pot and simmer on a stove for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and liquidise (or not if you prefer chunkier consistency.) Plate up and slowly add in single cream swirls to the top. Serve with a side of chunky bread, topped with cheese if desired. A complete meal in itself.