Starter

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.

Main

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.

One of the fishmongers in Swansea’s indoor market

Dessert

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.

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