Rich and dark with a lacquer-like shine, chocolate sauce is a classic and it is easy. The most important ingredient is clearly the chocolate, so search for the best quality you can find. I use Valhrona, a wonderful chocolate from France, and generally use the 62% cocoa solid version. If I need a particularly intensely flavoured sauce I will use 70% cocoa solids. I serve the sauce with ice creams and some chocolate puddings. The sauce is best when freshly made but will keep in the fridge for several weeks. If I have stored it for a while, I always warm it up gently before serving.
These puddings, soft and yielding, are delicious and, without doubt, made for chocolate lovers. The combination of ingredients is a classic one but with timeless appeal. The cooked puddings will sit happily in a warm oven for at least an hour before serving and, indeed, could be made ahead of time, allowed to cool and re-heated in a bain-marie in a warm oven. The prunes in the recipe can be replaced with cherries - a delicious variation - in which case I would soak them in Kirsch. Cognac can replace the slightly dryer Armagnac with the prunes. The pudding can be cooked in a large dish or in individual ramekins or even tea cups.
There are lots of green vegetables in the summer garden that are suitable for adding to a bowl of mashed potatoes. There are the obvious ones like cabbage, peas and green onions. Some perhaps more unexpected additions are broad bean leaves, pea leaves, chard leaves and stalks and what I am going to use in this recipe, green or yellow courgettes. Generally speaking, I prefer to use courgettes when they are very small, about 10cm, and crisp with a nutty flavour. Here they can be a bit bigger, say 15cm. If your courgettes are any bigger, half the courgettes and remove the watery seeds before cooking. The potatoes are cooked in the normal way for the mash recipes and the courgettes are coarsely chopped, sautéed with garlic, fennel and chilli in olive oil and added with chicken stock and marjoram to the potatoes. The result should be a green and yellow-flecked bowl of comforting potato softness with a little river of olive oil running through it.
Moroccan food is one of the great cuisines of the world and in the hands of the skilled and knowledgeable cook strikes a beautiful balance of sweetness, saltiness, sourness and heady aromatic flavours. In Morocco this soup is traditionally served to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. There are thousands of different recipes for the soup, with each household adding their own twist. I prefer to use lamb rather than beef and find a more balanced flavour is achieved. This is a purely personal preference - and I don't think there is a right or a wrong combination of ingredients. You may find the addition of the rice at the end of cooking to be an unusual choice, but it gives a velvety finish to the soup. Sometimes the rice is replaced with tiny bits of pasta, like orzo. This soup is substantial - I like to serve it with lots of fresh chopped coriander and a lemon wedge on the side. The warmer the weather, the more inclined I am to squeeze a little juice into the soup.
This is a great technique for cooking fillets of fish which are not particularly thick and which don't stand up so well to pan frying or grilling – so haddock is perfect here. I serve the fish and salsa with a green vegetable, and romanesco when in season is a particular favourite.
This technique for cooking rice provides a rich, delicious and flavoursome result. The technique can be used to create many different variations on the theme and depending on the additions to the rice while cooking, the pilaf can be served as a rice dish to accompany other meat, fish or vegetable dishes or can itself be the main event for an informal lunch or supper. The possible additions to a pilaf are many, and you can think about those in the same way as you would a risotto and, indeed, the two dishes have similarities. Try to keep vegetable additions in season.
Sometimes when I want a spiced chicken dish, I want a 'no-holds-barred' hot and aromatic experience. At other times, I am in the mood for tender and succulent slices of chicken with a lightly spiced, thin cream or juice to accompany it. This recipe is the latter. The chicken is casserole roasted with a light sprinkling of spices and fragrant green chillies. The spiced cooking juices, with the addition of cream, become the light sauce. The chillies will collapse in the cooking, but infuse the sauce with their own special flavour. Some will want to eat the cooked chillies, others will avoid them. Serve this dish with a plain Pilaf Rice.
This is a really simple and lovely ice to make with our furry friends. The sauce is delicious and makes the whole combination into a thoroughly refreshing dessert. I serve this with Sugar Biscuits.
This way of cooking fish is perceived as being rather old fashioned, but if you have a really fresh fish, it can be fabulous and quite contemporary in its simplicity. Hake, cod, ling and mackerel are all delicious cooked in this way. The relish served here is classic, and when properly prepared, it will remind you why herbs, butter and lemon will always have a place at the table when fresh fish is being served.
These lacy and deliciously crisp biscuits keep perfectly for several days. Serve them with ice creams, sorbets, granitas, mousses and soufflés and anything to do with chocolate. They are also perfect with perfectly ripe fruit such as pears or peaches.