Mushrooms on Ciabatta (Serves 2)
My older brother served this as a starter for our Christmas dinner and it was absolutely amazing. This is a fantastic starter, but chuck in a few extra mushrooms and some salad, and it makes a lovely main course as well.
All you need is shitake and closed-cup mushrooms, double cream, tarragon, pepper, one clove of garlic, a lemon, and a ciabatta loaf. The ciabatta can go in the oven at gas mark 4 for ten minutes while you’re cooking the mushrooms, which need to be cooked in a frying pan in a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic until tender, before you pour in 50ml of cream. Shake in a pinch of tarragon and cook on a low flame for five minutes, then set to one side for a moment.
Slice the ciabatta four ways, then fry on both sides in a dash of olive oil until the outsides are a nice gold-brown colour. Arrange on plates and top with the mushrooms, adding a squeeze of lemon juice at the last second before serving. Great with a few rocket leaves on the side.
Mackerel with chilli, lime and ginger (Serves 2)
I saw Nigel Slater, my favourite cook of all time, make this on one of his TV shows when I was back in London for the Christmas holidays. It’s incredibly simple- you can get the freshest mackerel possible from the market in town for about £2.50, and they’ll fillet it for you themselves so you don’t have the bother of picking out all the bones at home.
Put the fillets in the oven on a tray with deep sides for 10 minutes at gas mark 5 while you fry a chopped red chilli, ginger, half a leek and a clove of garlic in a pan. Once the ten minutes is up, bring the fish out of the oven, cover with the rest of the ingredients and add a good squeeze of lime juice before giving it another twenty minutes at the same temperature. Serve with boiled new potatoes, salad, and a wedge of lime.
Cheat’s Dessert (Serves 2)
This is one from Jamie Oliver, for those times when you want to impress some last-minute guests but don’t have much in the way of ingredients.
Just crush half a pack of ginger biscuits until they’re completely broken up, smooth down at the bottom of a bowl, then add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. If you’re really showing off, add some lemon or lime zest, or grate chocolate over the ice-cream. Voila.