Chocolate and chilli might sound like an odd combination but sweet and spicy do work together. I first tried the combination in hot chocolate. It’s a subtle heat that you can taste, but instead of dominating the dessert it’s an interesting extra note that adds to the flavour of the chocolate. However, do feel free to leave the chilli out if you prefer. These puds have an oozing liquid chocolate interior and can be made in advance and placed in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake, which I used to get in my school lunchbox around Halloween every year. Traditionally, a ring is baked into the cake, and there would be great excitement every year as to who would get the slice with the ring in it. I always like to think it was Barmbrack that inspired the writers of Father Ted to come up with the episode where Mrs. Doyle bakes a jumper into a cake! This recipe makes a really beautiful, moist loaf, packed with flavour from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which has sat overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness.
Swedish cinnamon buns, or 'Kanelbulle', were the first thing I learned to bake when I stayed in Sweden. Pearl sugar is sprinkled on top to give it that distinctive finishing touch, but if you can't get your hands on any simply sprinkle a little Demerara sugar to finish.
Crispy crackling and tender pork belly meat paired with Chinese five-spice powder – a match made in heaven. For just the tiniest amount of work in the kitchen, using an inexpensive piece of meat, you get the most amazing results, which will feed a crowd. There are many different things you can do with pork belly as it’s quite versatile, but I like the simplicity of this method; it’s a nod to Asia, where this is an incredibly popular cut of meat.
Roasted squash produces wonderful soups with a velvety consistency when blitzed smooth. The addition of coconut milk adds a creamy and exotic flavour, but if you don’t want to use it, you could replace with vegetable stock. This is a warming soup, ideal in autumn and winter. Serves between four and six people.