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Rich colours and luscious flavours


Scallops with a crisp crust and parsley and lemon

Everyone loves scallops and this is a simple but delicious recipe. You could substitute light panko crumbs for the polenta if you prefer.

Moroccan inspired chicken

I love the colours in this dish. Golden hue from the saffron and the deeper notes from the pumpkin. And the marvellous flavour of preserved lemon which is absolutely essential.

Gratin of silverbeet

The dramatic deep green of the silverbeet gratin goes well with the juices or it can be served as a completely separate course, accompanied by triangles of bread quickly fried in olive oil.

Crêpes Suzette

An old-fashioned combination but so delicious. The crepes do need to be thin.

winter dinner

Prepare-ahead winter dinner


Planning is very important to successful entertaining. These dishes can all be started hours before your guests are due. I have sometimes made a potato gratin the day before I intend to serve it.


Parsnip and curry soup

This comforting soup just needs a quick reheat and a crisping of the garnish of curry leaves.

Seven hour leg of lamb with anchovy and garlic

The seven-hour lamb recipe has been much admired. Depending on the size of the leg you may find as I did that the meat was falling off the bone after five hours. My cast-iron casserole has a very tight lid so the sealing paste was not necessary.

Potato gratin

I find that this is a winner every time. In fact it doesn’t matter how large I make it – it is always finished off!

Pears baked as in Savoy

This is a good dish to serve whilst the oven is on for such a long time with the lamb. The recipe suggests 160degC for the pears and 120degC for the lamb. I think I would compromise on 140degC for both, and be prepared to raise the temperature for the final hour of the pears’ cooking time, after the lamb has been cooked.

Winter already


Every year the year seems to rush past faster than the one before. And I have been travelling so much that I feel I missed much of the autumn colour. Never mind, I have now adjusted to darker afternoons and cosy evenings.


Leafy salad with crisp persimmons

The persimmons to use for this salad are the crunchy ones. They look lovely when contrasted with red and green salad leaves and the rest of the salad is up to you. Don’t add too many rich ingredients as the main course to follow is.

Whole cabbage stuffed with pork and chestnuts

Search out the pre-peeled and cooked Australian chestnuts available at good food shops. This is a very substantial main course and great fun to serve the entire cabbage to the centre of the table and cut it like a cake

Lemon delicious pudding

This all-time favourite is light and tangy after the cabbage. It can be gently baking in the oven whilst you serve the main course.

Le Cassoulet

Le Cassoulet

This is a celebratory lunch for hearty eaters. To make a traditional French cassoulet takes at least two days, and there are quite a few processes, but properly-made it is one of the glories of French regional cuisine. A warning – it needs to be followed by a brisk walk or a snooze in a comfy chair! First and final courses need to be light.


Radis au beurre or Crudités with anchois

Crisp radishes with a smear of unsalted butter and a tiny flake of salt are surprisingly addictive. If this seems a bit too Spartan, extend the platter with other raw vegetables such as inner sticks of celery, fennel, spears of witlof, even tiny florets of cauliflower. Add a few anchovy fillets and some extra virgin olive oil for dipping.


Le Cassoulet

Bring it to the table in its earthenware or cast-iron pot for maximum drama. It should have a golden crust with juices just bubbling at the edges.

It is traditional in the south-west of France to faire chabrol – meaning to tip a small glass of wine into the last morsels in one’s plate.


Pear and walnut salad with slivers of Roquefort

After this rich main dish a salad of mixed green leaves will be very welcome. Include some wintry tastes such as mâcheor watercress sprigs or some torn friséeor radicchio. The sliced pears will add a touch of sweetness, the walnuts a bit of crunch.



Others may want to finish their long lunch with a tiny glass of armagnac or eau-de-vie and for the ultimate indulgence, nibble on one or two eugénies – candied strips of orange peel dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in cocoa.



Bruschetta of cavolo nero

Winter warmers

As winter settles in I find I want to spend a bit more time chopping and stirring.
A pot of soup, maybe a pie, and certainly a pudding.


Bruschetta of cavolo nero

Tuscan kale grows so well during the colder months. This starter of braised deeply-green leaves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, piled on grilled sourdough takes me right back to a glorious lunch in Florence.


Rich chicken broth, finished with shredded breast of chicken, sliced leeks, beef shin and prunes. The success of this sixteenth century Scottish recipe relies on the quality of the broth, the tenderness of the meats and the leeks.

Mum’s steak and kidney pie

Choose floury potatoes for this pie as the potatoes will lightly thicken the juices. The pie has a top crust only and needs a china eggcup or a proper china ‘blackbird’ to hold up the crust.

I love it with Buttered Brussels sprout leaves and Creamy carrot


Marmalade and caramel steamed puddings

These puddings are sponge-cake light. Be generous with the marmalade and do make the Orange and Grand Marnier sauce to accompany them.