This is a simple and tasty pasta dish with a twist. That twist comes at the end with the addition of one egg and a sprinkle of lemon zest. The egg should be added raw when the pasta is ready to serve. The heat of the pasta and courgettes cooks the egg slightly, giving it a creamy texture, like a meat-free carbonara sauce. The lemon zest adds an extra kick, and plenty of Parmesan at the end helps to bind everything together.
Preparation time: 40 minutes. Serves 6 as starter or 4 as main course
This is the time of year you just cannot help getting hooked by the health bug. Your television screen is filled with celebrities jumping up and down, advising you on how to lose two stone in two minutes (Ok, JP exaggeration) and Hello! magazine is saying goodbye to festive excess and sporting the latest revolutionary diet.
Meanwhile, you are dosing yourself up with bottles of echinacea and working out if one vitamin pill can cure all ills — or if you will need to invest in several to boost your immune system.
I love baking cakes, and have made hundreds over the years for family and friends. My late mother was a professional cook and passed on many tips and recipes which I have adapted to suit today’s trend for organic and free-range food. When my two children were small, I made novelty and celebration cakes from home, and when they became more independent, I ran a coffee shop in Mill Hill making not only dozens of cakes a week, but, salads and imaginative baked potato and sandwich fillings. However, the cakes were always the talking point. This Caramel Frosted Gingerbread became a favourite.
Growing up in a middle of the road, Ashkenazi home in north Manchester, there were only two types of beans in our culinary repertoire: baked beans and butter beans (and a few has-beens, but we won’t go into that). Baked beans were a symbol of assimilation but butter beans frankly were a step too far— mealy, stodgy and unpleasantly ubiquitous in chicken soup – and so uncompromisingly large!
One of my favourite ways of preparing chicken is to make these marinated yakitori chicken skewers. Mirin is a sweetened sake or rice wine with a light syrupy texture and it adds a wonderful taste to this dish. In Japan yakitori chicken is a street food and many people will grab some from special stalls on their way home from work. Here in Britain it is served up as a delicacy in trendy Japanese restaurants. Traditionally it is made with chicken thigh rather than breast as it has a better flavour and remains lovely and moist.
Caponata is a traditional aubergine dish from Sicily. It is a delicious blend of aubergines, tomatoes, olives, sugar and vinegar, giving it a sweet and sour twist, and there are endless versions. Jews lived in Sicily in large numbers until the Inquisition in 1492. When they left they brought their cooking traditions and ingredients, introducing this delicious dish, to the central and northern regions of Italy. The original recipe is made with deep fried aubergines. However, here I propose a lighter version with shallow fried aubergines. The Caponata is good eaten hot, warm or cold.
Jews have long had a love affair with Chinese food but we have rather neglected that other British passion, Indian cuisine. Perhaps this is because many Indian dishes have an unhealthy reputation or combine meat and dairy products. However there are many which are both healthy and kosher. Either way, we are missing out so it is time that we caught up with our compatriots.
Cupcakes are certainly all the rage at the moment, and who could resist these red velvet cupcakes with luscious cream cheese icing? Mine are slightly different from other versions as I prefer to use sour cream and chocolate rather than buttermilk and cocoa and much less red food colouring than most recipes require. I also add cranberries — but if you prefer you can leave these out.
Its quite fun to wrap your cupcakes in beautifully designed cupcake wrappers (take a look at www.squires-shop.com). These would make any tea party a special event.
Frittata is an Italian classic, and can be made with the vegetables of your choice, with or without cheese. It is a type of Italian omelette but served unfolded and round, taking the shape of the frying pan in which it has been cooked.