Making time to cook has become one of the most important things I do in my life. When we stop for a moment and do it, even in the simplest sense, it makes us feel good inside. Not only does it nourish our bodies and sustain our minds, but it’s vital for our happiness and wellbeing. Cooking has opened my eyes to change. I feel closer to my past, but equally I feel closer to the present and to the environment in which I live, because the things I love to cook and eat are so intrinsically connected to my surroundings.
Cooking can be a brilliant way to establish gentler, healthier rhythms in the way we live, as families and as individuals. It is a way to mark the passing of time; it is a way to celebrate it, but also remember it. I believe that every time we make something good to eat, we make a memory.
There are recipes in my new book that I’ve been cooking for many years. When I sit down and eat the dishes, they take me back to an exact point in my life. Back to the kitchen of our little townhouse or back to a particular night’s work at River Cottage. They can remind me of conversations I’ve had, and things that, over time, I’ve learned.
There are recipes that have personal meaning to me – something my mum made, or one of the dishes I cooked in my first home with my young family. These are recipes I want to preserve, but also share. Among all this, there are recipes that I simply enjoy cooking; recipes that make me feel at home.
Roast artichokes with garlic, sage and hazelnuts, and lemon and fennel mayonnaise
Work through the outer leaves first – pull them off, dip them in the mayonnaise. When you reach the hearts, squeeze some roast garlic over bread or toast, top with the mayonnaise, followed by a few cracked hazelnuts. Top with slices of the soft, buttery heart.
globe artichokes 4 large, heavy
garlic 6-8 small-to-medium wet or green bulbs, tops trimmed
hazelnuts 50g, lightly bashed
sage 1 good handful of small leaves
extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp
For the mayonnaise
egg yolks 2 large
garlic ½ small clove, grated
English mustard ½ tsp
lemon juice and finely grated zest of 1 small
fennel seeds ½ tsp, toasted and ground
sunflower oil 175ml
extra virgin olive oil 75ml
fennel tops 1 small bunch, chopped
First, make the mayonnaise. Place the yolks, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and zest and fennel seeds in a food processor. Season and whizz for 30 seconds. Combine the oils in a jug. With the processor running, slowly add them to the mixture, a few drops at first, then in a trickle. Once you’ve added all the oil, you should have a thick, glossy mayo that holds its shape. Stir in the fennel tops, taste and add more salt, pepper, mustard or lemon, if required. If the mayo seems too thick, stir in 1-2 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the artichokes (in batches, if necessary) and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for 15-40 minutes (depending on size and freshness) with the lid on, until the bases of the artichokes take the point of a knife. Lift from the water and set aside to cool. Add the garlic bulbs to the same boiling water and bring back to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7. Cut each artichoke in half from top to bottom. Use a teaspoon to remove the hairy chokes from the centres and remove any loose leaves from the outside. Arrange the hearts and garlic bulbs over a large roasting tray. Place a little butter inside each artichoke half. Scatter over the hazelnuts and sage leaves. Trickle the olive oil over everything and season well. Place the tray in the oven and roast, turning everything once or twice, for 30-35 minutes. Bring to the table with the mayonnaise and some good bread.
Crayfish salad with radishes, apple, poppy seeds and soured cream
Crayfish meat is sweet and juicy and absolutely delicious served simply with brown bread, butter, dill and lemon. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, this quick salad with crunchy radish, sharp apples and the bite of poppy seeds showcases crayfish beautifully.
radishes a big bunch (about 16 radishes)
dessert apples 2 small
crayfish meat about 400g
lemon juice of ½
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
mint 1 small bunch, leaves picked and chopped
dill ½ small bunch, chopped, plus a few extra sprigs to decorate
poppy seeds 2-3 tsp
For the dressing
lemon juice of ½
sugar 2 tsp
soured cream 2 tsp
extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim and wash the radishes. If they have their green tops on and they’re in good condition, you can use them in the salad. If not, don’t worry. Slice the radishes into nice, thin rounds, about 2-3mm thick.
Peel, quarter and core the apple, then slice each quarter thinly. Place the crayfish meat in a large bowl with the radish and apple slices. Pour over the lemon juice, spoon over the olive oil and scatter over the chopped herbs. Season well with salt and pepper, then gently tumble everything together.
To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl, season well with salt and pepper, and whisk or mix well to combine.
Arrange the salad over four plates or one large serving platter, spoon equal amounts of the dressing over each serving, then scatter over the poppy seeds. Finish with a few sprigs of dill.
Wild mushroom tart
butter a knob
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
dried ceps 20g, soaked for 20–25 minutes in warm water to rehydrate, then drained, soaking water reserved
mushrooms 250g, a mixture of wild and cultivated is fine
flat-leaf parsley 1 tbsp, chopped
thyme leaves 2 tsp
onion 1 large, thinly sliced
garlic 2 cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
double cream 185ml
eggs 2, plus 1 egg yolk
parmesan a scattering, or hard, aged sheep’s cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the short crust pastry
plain flour 300g
butter 150g, cubed and chilled
fine salt a pinch
chilled water about 150ml
First, make the short crust pastry. Pulse the flour, butter and salt in a food processor to the consistency of breadcrumbs. With the motor running, steadily add the water, stopping as soon as the dough comes together. Remove the dough, knead it a couple of times, then wrap it in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Roll the chilled dough into a thin round large enough to line a 24cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin, with an overhang. Prick the base, then line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until the base is dry and lightly coloured. Trim any overhanging pastry from the tart and set aside.
Next, make the filling. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and half the oil. When the fat is bubbling away, add both the soaked and fresh mushrooms, along with the parsley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the mushrooms around the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Tip the mushrooms into a large bowl, then return the pan to the heat, add the remaining oil, and the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 8-10 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add all but the last spoonful (which may be gritty) of the mushroom liquid to the onion mixture and reduce until it’s almost gone. Combine the onion with the mushrooms, and season.
Put the cream, eggs and egg yolk in a bowl, season, then combine to form a custard. Fill the tart case with the onion and mushroom mixture and pour over the custard. Don’t worry if a few mushrooms poke out. Scatter over a gesture of cheese and bake the tart for 30-35 minutes, until it has a mottled golden top and is slightly raised. Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Mussels with parsley, white wine and sauté potatoes
When it’s served with chips, it’s called moules-frites, Belgium’s national dish and something we see on menus throughout much of France. But I like to make my version with sauté potatoes instead. I find them less hassle than chips, and actually they’re tastier.
butter a knob
olive oil 1 tbsp
shallots 2 or 3 small, diced
garlic 1 clove, peeled and thinly sliced
white wine ½ glass
double cream 100ml
mussels 2.5kg large, cleaned and debearded (discard any with broken or open shells)
parsley a small bunch, leaves picked and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauté potatoes
white potatoes 500g large, peeled and cut into smallish bite-sized cubes
olive oil 4 tbsp, or a lighter oil
oregano or marjoram 1 small bunch (or 2 tsp dried)
First, make the sauté potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Salt the water, then place the pan over a medium-high heat. Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook, uncovered, until they are just tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain the potatoes, gently roughing their edges with a little shake of the colander, and then leave them in the colander for the steam to evaporate. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, and when hot add the potatoes in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches). Scatter over the oregano or marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to turn the potatoes every so often, until they are golden and crisp on all sides, about 15-20 minutes. Line a dish with some kitchen paper, gently tip in the potatoes and keep them warm in a low oven.
To cook the mussels, heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. When it’s bubbling away, add the shallots and garlic, along with a pinch of salt and a good twist of black pepper. Cook the shallots, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes, until soft, but not coloured. Turn up the heat to high and add the wine and cream. As soon as the liquid comes to a rolling boil, throw in the mussels. Stir carefully, then immediately place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes, giving the pan a good shake every so often, until the mussel shells are all just open. Turn the parsley through the mussels and remove the pan from the heat.
Discard any mussels that haven’t opened up. Transfer the mussels and all their sauce to a large, shallow dish, scatter over the warm, crispy potatoes and bring the whole lot to the table.
Plum and almond tart with star anise and vanilla
A rather sticky, greedy, almond tart, flavoured with star anise, a spice that has cool, sweet, aromatic undertones and complements the plum beautifully.
plum jam 4 tbsp
plums 6-8 ripe, halved and destoned
flaked almonds a handful
For the pastry
icing sugar 90g
plain flour 340g, plus extra for dusting
butter 170g, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing
iced water 2 tbsp
For the frangipane
unsalted butter 110g
golden caster sugar 110g
vanilla pod ½, split and seeds scraped
star anise 2, finely crushed
eggs 3, beaten
ground almonds 110g
First, make the pastry. Combine the icing sugar and plain flour in a medium bowl. Rub in the chilled butter cubes until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can also do this in a food processor). Add in the egg and iced water, and stir through to combine. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands, kneading lightly to achieve a smooth finish. Wrap the pastry tightly in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is about 2-3mm thick. Grease and flour a 28cm round, loose-bottomed tart tin, then lay over the pastry, tucking it into the corners of the tin and leaving an overhang. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans and blind bake the tart case for 25 minutes, then remove the baking beans and parchment, trim the overhang, and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the base is just starting to colour. Remove and set aside, but leave the oven on.
For the frangipane, cream the butter, caster sugar, vanilla seeds and star anise until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and ground almonds, and mix until combined. Set aside.
To make the tart, spread the plum jam over the base of the pastry case, then spoon over the frangipane mix. Arrange the plums over the frangipane, cut-side down, pushing them in lightly with your fingers. Finally, scatter over the flaked almonds. Bake the tart in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until golden and set on the outside and still a little soft in the middle. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Baked apples with vanilla, butter, lemon and brown sugar
dessert apples 3 or 4, such as Cox’s or russet
unsalted butter 50g, softened
vanilla pod 1, split and seeds scraped
soft brown sugar 2 tbsp
lemon pared zest of 1
double cream to serve (optional)
Heat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Halve the apples (I like to leave in the core) and arrange them in the middle of a sheet of baking parchment large enough to be able to fold over the apples to encase them in a parcel.
Place the butter in a small bowl, add the vanilla seeds and sugar, and mix well. Dot a little of this sweet vanilla butter over the top of each apple. Scatter over the lemon zest and chuck the vanilla pod on for good measure. Fold the parchment carefully over the apples to create a nice, neat parcel, then tie the parcel with some string to hold the paper in place.
Place the apples on a baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the tray from the oven and carefully open the steamy parchment parcel. Serve the hot apples and all their lemony, vanilla-y, buttery juices with a generous lick of double cream, if you wish.