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.
If making a Hollandaise sauce strikes fear into you, then maybe this sauce, which is easier, will give you more confidence. The sauce, apart from being delicious with flat fish, is also great with prawns and shrimps and is surprisingly good with oily fish like mackerel and salmon. It is an immensely useful sauce that I predict you will use over and over again. It is rich, so should not be too thick when being served. I usually stir in a few tablespoons of the fish cooking water into the sauce before serving. This thins the sauce to the consistency you require and also adds a little of the flavour of the skin and bones of the fish to the sauce.
The sirloin of beef on the bone is a lovely cut and somewhat easier to carve than the more traditional wing rib. It's another of those cuts of meat that will be best if ordered from your butcher a little in advance, so as to give your butcher time to put aside a piece of properly hung beef. Like most cuts, especially the larger ones, this meat will sit quite happily for at least half an hour after cooking before serving. You can make a simple gravy, which would be lovely, or you can pull out all the stops and make the very grown-up sauce that I am suggesting. This is serious cooking: not difficult, but serious. And when you pull off this sauce, you should clap yourself thunderously on the back. I am recommending a 'roast chicken stock' for the sauce, that is to say, the bones either raw or from a cooked chicken are roasted before being made into a stock. The sauce is also excellent with a roast filet of beef or a grilled steak.
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 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.