Baking is the magic that turns flour, eggs and sugar into the pleasure that is cake. Simply apply heat and a little effort and you will create amazing varieties of bread, the limitless possibilities of chocolate cakes and cheesecakes, plenty of beautiful biscuits and all kinds of incredible pies.
Sweets for my sweet, honey for my honey... Homemade sweets are such a treat - find recipes here for rich chocolate truffles to end your dinner party on a luxury note, piles of pretty pink perfumed turkish delight to add glamour to your morning coffee and decadently rich cream fudge to nibble on any time you need a quick pick-me-up
Make a curry to suit your mood - they run the gamut from delicately mild and creamy coconut curries of Malaysia to spectacularly hot and fiery curries of south India. Make vegetables the star of the meal or find comfort in porridgy dals. Celebrate with biryani or simply share chicken tikka masala with those you love.
A time to entertain friends or celebrate with family, to eat well and maybe show off a little, a dinner party is a fun event that rewards a bit of forethought with a great night for all. Think of all your favourite food then ruthlessly decide what goes well together. Find a starter and a dessert you can make ahead and a main course that is first and foremost impressive and preferably easy with it. Put it all together and you'll have night that is low on stress and definitely enjoyed by all.
Make delightful treats in pretty packages to spoil your loved ones and show you care. Easter is easy, chocolate galore but think too of lush truffles and perfumed turkish delight. Do cake pops for every occasion, cut out pretty cookies and ice them with flair. Bring joy every day with home made pickles and jam, chutney and marmalade are always a treat to receive, just tie the jars with a prominent ribbon.
Hot toast deserves great marmalade, it makes starting the day that bit better. Bottle abundant summer fruit as jewelled jams to slather on crusty sandwiches and for the filling your sponges and cakes deserve. Steep stone fruit in alcohol and spices for a long time and be rewarded with a gorgeous topping for ice cream, dessert ready in a moment.
Simple to cook, inexpensive to buy with an infinite number of outcomes, pasta goes with pretty much everything. Quick mid week suppers toss summer vegetables and crème fraiche with some penne, earthy mushroom and bacon cheer up the autumn, the gooey delights of lasagne warm winter cockles and a delicate tangle of spaghetti with the earliest vegetables - asparagus, peas and spring onions - welcomes the spring. The delights of pasta are endless.
How can you not love a good pie? Creamy leek and chicken light with golden puff, rich beef and ale with a crisp suet lid, smoky fish under a thick crust of cheesy mash, spinach and feta redolent of herbs wrapped in the crunch of filo - there's a pie for every occasion. Don't stop at savoury - apple and rhubarb inside sweet shortcrust, delicate lemon curd with a cloud of meringue or chocolate biscuits, brownies and custard layered beneath whipped cream - make sweetie pie endings to dinner.
Pudding is a bit of a catch all term, much like the dish itself. Line a bowl with suet pastry, fill it with savoury bits and bobs and steam it for an hour or two for a perfect winter dinner, albeit one that is falling out of fashion. Sweet puddings still come in myriad forms - bread and butter, sticky toffee, Sussex pond, vanilla rice served with a big spoon of jam, sticky golden syrup and the final hurrah at the festive lunch, Christmas pudding and for these there is much pudding love.
Rice is grown in almost one hundred countries across the world and is such a versatile grain that it is an integral part of all their cuisines. Try the beautiful rice and bean dishes of South America, the endless varieties of Italian risotto, Spain's flavoursome paella and the celebratory biryanis of India to have rice front and centre. Very good too away from the spotlight, simply steamed with a stir fry, pressed into cubes for gado gado, vinegared in sushi and mixed with herbs and chopped onion for stuffing. Great for desserts, Brits love rice pudding which in India is perfumed with saffron.
Roasting is a simple healthy method of cooking meat, poultry, fish or vegetables in the heat of a naked flame or the radiant heat of an oven. Roasting caramelises the outside and intensifies the flavour as moisture evaporates taking the food to rich satisfying depths unattainable any other way. The process that creates great crackling on pork is the same as that which blackens peppers and onions for couscous for amazing textures and flavour.
Salads are simply wonderful. Sweet and cool with fruit over yoghurt to start the day and with whipped cream for a luscious dessert after dinner. Robust enough for a main course - think of fragrant Asian crispy beef with glass noodles and shredded vegetables, they can also be an elegant take on lunch like the French classic niçoise. Salads create an endless option for a side dish to enhance the main course with a delicate tangle of leaves and micro herbs, a creamy coleslaw or the fresh herb extravaganza of tabbouli. Raw or cooked, dressed with oil and vinegar, spices and herbs to enhance the dominant elements of the dish, salads are a genius element of dining.
Great whenever hunger strikes, sandwiches and wraps offer so many satisfying riffs on the quick snack theme. There is much to be said for the classic sandwich - thick sliced crusty granary full of egg mayonnaise or wafer thin buttered bread and dainty cucumber which always taste better cut into triangles. Wraps filled with kofta, spicy chicken or hummus laced roasted vegetables are more substantial and such a delight, just like quesadilla for Saturday lunch. Transparent rice paper rolled around pretty shreds of vegetables topped with king prawn are like see through summer elegance dipped in sweet chilli sauce.
Sauce brings a whole other dimension to a dish in a way that nothing else does, bernaise with grilled steak adds and intensifies the meat's richness - mustard on the side for balance creates a perfect plate of food. Sauces seductively clothe a dish, hiding and revealing at the same time like ketchup with sausages, wasabi with sushi and the vibrant splash of strawberry over sponge.
A little something to go with a drink, a delicate nibble with champagne, a proper mouthful to have with a beer or an intriguing selection to choose from before dinner is served - small bites are an art worth pursuing.
The versatility of soup stretches from luxuriously smooth bowls of velvety delight through elegant bowls of chilled summer refreshment to chunky meat or vegetable laden concoctions using all manner of bits and bobs, they are a whole meal in a bowl. Every version is good, especially with crusty bread on the side.
One delight of winter and the endless cold weather is making a casserole to pop in the oven, the slow cooking melding the elements and tenderising the meat and the lovely warmth and smell from the oven filling the house with the blissful comfort of knowing dinner is on the way. Go trad with pork and white beans, try the richness of beef and red wine or the simple pleasure of lamb cooked with barley and herbs and serve with a buttery mash of root vegetables with a smattering of fine shredded greens.