The perception that there is the food we love, and the food that's good for us, and never the twain shall meet, is swept away by this stunning collection of delicious, heart-warming recipes that also happen to be packed with good things that help keep us well.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes our favourite foods healthier by not taking stuff out, but by putting more in: the best whole ingredients, celebrated in their colourful and seasonal diversity.
There are various incarnations of one-pan chicken and rice dishes, originating from all over the world, and this version, which includes some lovely Spanish flavours, is one of my favourites. It's delicious and satisfying, with tangy sweet peppers and tomatoes, and spicy chorizo, to balance the soothing rice, chicken and brothy juices.
1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
2. Put the onion(s), peppers, garlic and chorizo into a large roasting dish with just a trickle of oil (the chorizo will release its own fat so you don't need much). Add the bay leaf and some salt and pepper and toss together well. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
3. Tip the rice into a saucepan, cover with plenty of boiling water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until almost al dente (still firm to the bite), then drain.
4. Heat a trickle more oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken skin. Put half the chicken pieces into the pan, skin side down, and season their other sides. Fry the chicken for around eight minutes, turning occasionally, until each piece is nicely browned. Transfer to a dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Everything should be coming together at roughly the same time now: veg, rice and chicken! If the veg or rice get a few minutes more cooking, it doesn't matter.
5. When you've taken all of the chicken out of the frying pan, add the wine. Let it bubble while you scrape up any caramelised bits from the base of the pan, and simmer for three minutes or so, until reduced by about half. Add the stock and bring to a brisk simmer.
6. Take the tray of roast veg from the oven. Stir in the part-cooked rice then add the cherry tomatoes. Use tongs to place the browned chicken pieces on top, skin side up. Pour the hot stock around the chicken - it should just about cover the rice. Cover with foil and return to the oven for 30 minutes. Take off the foil, give the rice a gentle stir and finish in the oven for a final 15 minutes, or until everything is bubbling nicely and the chicken is cooked through.
7. Dish up the chicken, rice and veg with any juices from the tray spooned over. This is pretty much a complete dish, but some steamed greens, such as purple sprouting broccoli, cavolo nero or shredded Savoy cabbage, will go well with it.
This is straight-up gorgeous. The lightly sweetened version of my half-wholemeal pastry is a delight with the silky apple filling which, these days, I make with far less sugar. I find that citrus zest and juice is so delicious with apple and, despite the tartness, seems to enhance the fruit's sweetness.
1. Put all the citrus zest and juice into a large bowl. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, dropping them into the bowl as you do so, and tossing the apples in the juice occasionally.
2. Transfer the apples and juice to a fairly large saucepan and add the sugar. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often, for around 15 minutes until the apples collapse into a silky golden purée (if you use some eating apples, they will stay chunkier). Taste for sweetness and stir in a little more sugar only if you think it needs it. Allow to cool completely before you make the pie.
3. You can make the pastry while the apple is cooling. Wrap and place it in the fridge to rest.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C. Put a baking tray inside to heat up. Have ready an oval pie dish, about 28 x 19cm.
5. Divide the pastry into two pieces: roughly one-third for the top and two-thirds to line the base and sides of the dish. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece to the shape of your pie dish, until about 3mm thick. Use this to line the pie dish, allowing the excess pastry to overhang the rim.
6. Scatter the ground almonds, if using, over the base of the pastry case, and lightly press in. They aren't essential but they are a nice touch of flavour and texture in the base of the pie. Tip the cooled apple purée in and level it out.
7. Roll out the other piece of pastry for the pie lid, again to about a 3mm thickness. Brush the rim of the pie dish with water. Lift the piece of pastry over the pie, trim off the excess from around the edge, then press the pastry edges together firmly to seal, all the way round, using a knife, a fork or your fingers.
8. If you want to roll out the pastry trimmings to cut out leaves - or even an apple - to decorate the top of the pie, do so now, sticking them on with a little water (or just spread the trimmings on a lightly floured small baking tray and bake as a little treat).
9. Scatter another one tablespoon sugar all over the pastry lid, and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Place the dish on the hot baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 180C and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the pastry is a rich golden brown.
10. Let the pie sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with my lighter custard, crème frache, cream or yoghurt.
1. Combine the two flours with the salt and the sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter and either rub in with your fingertips, or by pulsing in the processor, until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the beaten egg gradually - either to the bowl, working it in with a table knife, or trickling it into the processor while it's running. Add a little cold water too, just enough to bring the pastry together into large clumps; don't overwork it.
2. Tip the pastry onto a floured surface and use your hands to bring it together, then knead it briefly into a ball. Flatten the ball into a thick slab. Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, ideally an hour or two, before using. It will keep for 48 hours.
3. If you are making a tart that requires blind baking, preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, a thinly as you possibly can turning once or twice and dusting with a little more flour. Use it to line a 24cm loose-based tart tin. If there are any cracks or it doesn't completely cover part of the tin's side, you can tear off some of the "overhang" and patch it up. Leave the remaining excess pastry overhanging the edges of the tart tin (this helps to stop the pastry shrinking).
4. Place the tart on a baking tray. Prick the pastry in a few places with a fork. Line the pastry with baking paper or foil, then add a layer of baking beans or dried beans, lentils or rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper or foil and beans and return the pastry to the oven for five to 10 minutes until it looks dry and cooked and is just starting to colour in places.
5. Leave the pastry case to cool a little, then with a small sharp knife, trim the overhanging pastry (chef's perks!). You can do all this up to 24 hours in advance of making the filling.
Makes enough for a 24cm pie case.
Two of my kids love spicy food and noodle soups, and they especially love a spicy noodle soup. I do too! I improvise many variations, depending on what veg I have to hand, and whether there might be some leftover fish or meat to bring to the party. But the underpinnings are pretty consistent: a well-flavoured stock, made hot, sour, savoury and aromatic with chilli, lemon or lime juice, soy, seaweed (sometimes), ginger and garlic (always). A few bashed makrut lime leaves will usually be part of the mix too, but that's by no means essential.
1. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain well, rinse thoroughly with cold water, and drain again. Toss with one teaspoon oil and keep ready.
2. Put the stock, garlic, ginger, seaweed if using, and the chilli (fresh or dried) into a large pan. Add the lime leaves or lemongrass if you have either. Bring to a simmer, then add the carrot, and kohlrabi or daikon if using, and return to a simmer. Cook for a minute then add the spring onions, and sliced pak choi if using. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a minute to just soften the pak choi stems. If using spinach, add the leaves at this point, to wilt. You can leave the soup as it is or stir in one of the extras below, prepped while the soup is cooking.
3. Give the extras a minute or so to heat through, then take off the heat. Stir in the tamari/soy, lime or lemon juice, sugar and some salt and pepper. Transfer a ladleful of the broth to a small bowl and taste - it should be hot, sour and aromatic. Add more chilli, tamari/soy, salt and/or lime or lemon juice to taste, as needed.
4. Divide the noodles between warmed soup bowls and ladle over the hot soup. Serve at once with chopsticks and/or spoons.
Meat: Scraps of chicken, pork or beef can be dropped straight in, or crisped in a frying pan first - in which case seasoning them with a little chopped garlic and chilli, and a pinch of salt, will add to their impact.
Fish: Add flakes of cooked fish, or small slices of raw fish that will cook through in just a minute or two. You can use fish stock (as above) if you're going to add fish, but it's not vital.
Eggs: Make a simple thin two-egg omelette, seasoned with pepper or a pinch of dried chilli flakes and a dash of soy sauce. Cook until firm, leave to cool then cut into 1-2cm strips.
Tofu: Cut 100g tofu into small cubes and fry until golden and crisp. Finish with toasted sesame seeds and a trickle of toasted sesame oil.
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