Quick and simple, yet sophisticated and utterly delicious, these scallops are the perfect way to start a dinner party. For hungry diners, add one or two extra scallops per person.
Based on the classic twice-baked Italian biscuit, these savoury bites are a great alternative to crisps. Their long, thin shape also makes them perfect for dunking into dips.
This wonderful salty cheese is traditionally served grilled or fried, when it softens to a deliciously chewy texture. You’ll find it in supermarkets and Mediterranean food stores.
This thick, Italian-style omelette is delicious served in wedges as a chunky snack with pre-dinner drinks or with a salad for a formal appetiser.
You can usually buy bocconcini – the bite-size balls of mozzarella – in most good cheese shops, larger supermarkets and delis. Alternatively, use regular mozzarella and cut it into bite-size pieces.
These colourful crisps made from wafer thin slices of beetroot are easy to make and are great with drinks. Serve them on their own or with a little bowl of creamy dip.
This is a rustic Greek-style salad with baked feta cheese, walnuts, mixed salad greens and thinly sliced fresh radish and courgettes, tossed with a tangy lemon–garlic dressing.
These crunchy Italian breadsticks are delicious eaten as they are or served with a tangy dip. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making a few different varieties to serve together.
These pretty red and white skewers take no time to put together. The salsa’s also quick to whizz up and you can make it in advance to save time when guests arrive.
The dish literally takes minutes to bring together, but if you let it sit for a short time, the flavours intensify.
These pumpkin gnocchi taste sweet and delicious and look gorgeous with their deep orange colour. They are especially delectable when served with sage butter.
Although the authentic Mayan recipe involved a wild pig known as a peccary, you can approximate the flavour with domestic pork shoulder. Wrapping the meat in a banana leaf keeps the juices in and adds a slightly herbaceous flavour. In place of banana leaves, you can use a paper bag – just put the meat in the bag and fold the open end closed.
One of the best things about cannelloni is that they are so versatile and can be filled with almost anything (such as this mushroom filling) before being coated with sauce and baked. You can prepare it in advance and then bake just before serving.
Normally to make a ballotine — a boned and rolled joint — is considered a little bit tricky. So get your butcher to do the hard work of boning the meat, leaving you the easy task of stuffing and rolling. The result is fantastic juicy meat with aromatic stuffing.
Melt-in-the-mouth venison steak is never better than when complemented with port.
Another under used cut of meat is the hanger steak, also known as butcher's steak, which is very lean and tender. It becomes a good wintry starter when paired with celeriac.
This classic dish is normally made using milk-fed baby lambs. Most butchered lambs are around a year of age and on a solid diet, making their meat darker and richer. Milk-fed lamb is therefore hard to find. This recipe calls for half a lamb shoulder, making it the perfect size to bring to the table and tear apart.
The great thing about oxtail is that it makes a perfect tapas portion when serving only one or two bones. Served with a delicate parsnip puree, this can be served as a main meal.
This tasty but light dish is made all the more special when drizzled with a little truffle oil. Celeriac brings an unusual freshness of flavour to the gratin, cutting through the richness of the cream.
To make these rillettes (which are similar to a pâté), the duck is slowly cooked in its own fat and then shredded, mixed with some of the duck fat and juices, and allowed to set in a terrine. Normally served with cornichons, these rillettes have a Spanish twist and are served with membrillo (quince paste) and hot toast.
Lamb cutlets are a ready-made finger food, with their own holders making them a really fun addition to your tapas menu. This recipe shows off lamb at its best. Get a rack of lamb that's either middle neck, which is cheaper with more flavour but only five bones or the best end of neck, which is more delicate and more expensive, with eight bones.
Chilli crab is an all-time favourite at hawker stalls and cafés in Singapore. To eat the crabs, crack the shells, then suck and dip the meat into the cooking sauce. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Bowls are usually provided for the discarded pieces of shell and another with water for cleaning your fingers.
A jalfrezi is a type of curry in which marinated meat, fish or vegetables are fried in oil and spices to make a thick, dry dish. Since prawns tend to not have a strong flavour of their own, they are a perfect candidate to pair with the robustness of tomatoes, which makes them all the more succulent.
Margaritas are delicious for drinking, but they’re also great as a marinade and glaze for fish, shellfish and chicken on the grill.
Spit-roasted in the streets or oven-roasted in the home kitchen for celebratory feasts, variations of aromatic roast chicken can be found all over the Philippines.
Roulades make impressive and popular desserts and are ideal for parties because they can be made ahead and need no last-minute attention.
The tuile recipe will make more than you need, so store the extras to serve with coffee.
Chocolate and coffee are natural partners and combine together beautifully in this classic French dessert. Once the egg yolks have been added, transfer the mixture to a measuring jug to make it easier to pour into the ramekins.
A classic chocolate dessert that’s rich, dark and oh so satisfying. It’s important to serve the puddings as soon as they come out of the oven so the soft gooey centres don’t overcook and become dry.
Adding cornflour and either lemon juice or vinegar to the mixture keeps the centre of the baked meringue marshmallow-soft and the outside crisp.
Light and crumbly on the outside and moist and melting on the inside, this divine chocolate torte is perfect served for dessert with thick cream poured over the top.
Rich and indulgent, this dark chocolate cake with its even darker icing is the ultimate cake for hardened chocoholics!
To make the pastry by hand, sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the butter and egg yolk in the well and mix to a coarse paste. Draw the flour over egg mixture and chop through with a palette knife. Sprinkle with water and bring the dough together with your hands, kneading until smooth.
This delicious Piedmontese speciality is gaining in popularity and fame all over Italy and beyond. The skill of the dessert lies in getting it to set without being at all rubbery, so just the right amount of gelatine needs to be used. I prefer to use gelatine sheets for this recipe; if you must use powdered gelatine, it may be a bit tricky to get the right consistency at first. Here is the basic plain vanilla panna cotta.
The perfect dessert that can also double as a birthday cake for anyone who finds chocolate brownies irresistible – and, let’s face it, that means most of us! Keep an eye on the brownie layers towards the end of the cooking time. If they’re left too long in the oven, the centres will dry out rather than remaining gooey and dark.
When you roll out the pastry, be careful not to stretch it or it will shrink back during baking and the mille-feuille layers will be uneven. Do not assemble these more than two hours before serving or the pastry will become soft.
Who said that you kiss goodbye to creamy tastes when you became a vegan? This delicious spinach dish is so quick and easy to make that it will earn its place on your list of favourites. You can make your own non-dairy cream cheese and mayo or purchase them from the health food shop. If you are in a hurry, you can leave out the onion and garlic.
This very special risotto combines the rich intensity of roast cherry tomatoes and flecks of sun-dried tomato with the subtlety of tomato-flavoured bouillon.
This is a simple and tasty snack for two or can be cut into small squares and served as part of an antipasto for larger groups.
This delicious dish of stirfried potatoes is often served on its own as a snack with pickled vegetables. It is also a tasty accompaniment to a number of curries and grilled dishes.
The combination of the walnuts and the stinging sharpness of the vinegar used in this recipe gives this Greek dip, called 'melitzanosalata me karythia', a nice tart taste that goes wonderfully with wedges of pitta bread, raw vegetables and salty cheeses.
Traditionally spring rolls were prepared to celebrate the spring harvest and were, accordingly, packed with vegetables. Spring roll wrappers are available in Asian markets.
Leaf-wrapping foods is an ancient rainforest cooking method that was popular with both Mayan and Incan cultures. The leaves allow the fish to stay moist, delicious and gently flavoured. You can find banana leaves, fresh and frozen in some large supermarkets and specialist shops. Serve these fillets with slow-simmered black beans and Mexican confetti rice.
This chutney is a great accompaniment to stuffed Indian breads called parathas, and works perfectly served alongside a simple dal.
Marinated in Mexican beer – hence the “drunken” or borrachos in the title – then grilled to perfection, these skewers can be served with Mexican rice, black beans and guacamole.
Veracruz is known for its sugarcane, citrus and tropical fruits, avocados, coffee and vanilla. Foods cooked in the Veracruz style usually include fresh citrus, and this lamb is a delicious example. Achiote is a packaged seasoning and food dye made from annatto seeds; it is available in the Hispanic section of the supermarket.
Churros are sausage-shaped donuts that are meant for plunging in the thick chocolate sauce served with them. They're a tradition all day and are also eaten for breakfast.
This traditional Filipino dish of baby squid stuffed with a tasty mixture of breadcrumbs and Spanish ham reflects the Spanish influence in the nation’s cuisine.
Indian cuisine favours strong robust flavours, and there is no better way for them to come through than in a relish like this one.
Filling and wholesome, I defy anyone not to absolutely love this lunchtime treat!
This dough is quite wet, so do not be tempted to add more flour during mixing.
A spring vegetable native to the Mediterranean, asparagus is well worth the wait for its unbeatable flavour and freshness. This dish is so simple to prepare and the combination of textures from the asparagus, spinach and pine kernels is a treat.
Sharing boards are popular in many restaurants and provide a sociable, informal start to a meal or a casual evening in with friends. The deli counter is laden with goodies, so take the ones suggested here as a starting point. Look for foods with a range of colours and textures and take a few minutes to fold salami in half or arrange the ham in rolls to look good. Choose an attractive loaf of bread to serve on the side.
You can serve this dish as a side with some chicken or fish curry and a helping of rice. Throw in a salad, and you’ll have a complete, well-balanced meal.
There is always the temptation to buy bargain-basement burgers for reasons of both time and economy. However, if you want to impress, make your own – they are simplicity itself to prepare and the reward exceeds the effort. Do not buy very lean minced beef, as the fat is essential to bind the burger together and keep it whole.
Tip: If the dough of this recipe is too stiff, add water; if it’s too wet, simply add flour.
This way of flavouring olives is very traditional in Sicily, where it is known as olive cunsati. The longer the olives are left in their marinade, the stronger the flavour they will take on, but they can be equally delicious served almost immediately after being dressed. Add a handful of these olives to any dish of cured meats for an easy antipasto.
Baking slices of chorizo in red wine tenderises the chorizo and also gives them a lovely winey kick. The heady rich sauce is just gorgeous sopped up with a chunk of crusty gluten-free bread.
This is such a simple and easy dish to make. Serve as an alternative to crisps or as a side dish for a curry, or stuff into a wholegrain pitta bread with some falafel and salad.
The ultimate comfort food: creamy mashed potatoes with garlic. You can stir in four tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for a richer version, too. Fry it up for breakfast with bacon and egg or serve with a steak.
A good summer party drink when home-grown strawberries are at their best. Although strawberries lose their texture when frozen, it doesn’t matter as they are puréed for this drink. If you have extra strawberries freeze them to use later in the year.
Perfect for an alfresco summer party when soft fruits are at their sweetest and most fragrant. Because raspberries freeze well, this warm-weather sparkler can be enjoyed all year.
When an enterprising bartender created this creamy, frothy confection, he fulfilled every chocoholic’s fantasy. Use dark bitter chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids for a seriously indulgent hit.
Relaxing days by the pool followed by romantic nights under the stars — there’s no better way to relive the pleasures of that lazy Spanish break than with a glass of this refreshing summer drink. If mixing jugs of Sangria for a party, avoid making them more than 2 hours before serving. Keep the jugs tightly covered with plastic wrap, or the red wine will start to oxidise and the drink will lose its freshness.
It’s not surprising that many bartenders have claimed they created the Margarita, one of the world’s most famous cocktails. Carlos “Danny” Herrera’s case is certainly one of the most colourful. In the late 1930s American showgirl Marjorie King was a regular customer at Herrera’s Bar, Mexico. Marjorie was allergic to all spirits apart from tequila, and, because she refused to drink it straight, Danny struggled to serve her. One night he came up with the idea of blending tequila and Cointreau with fresh lime juice and crushed ice, a concoction he dubbed “Margarita”, the Mexican version of Marjorie.
The Cosmo, as it is affectionately known, is definitely one for the ladies, in particular those four sassy New Yorkers from Sex and the City. Bartender Cheryl Cook takes the credit for inventing the Cosmopolitan in the 1980s at her South Beach bar in Florida, but a similar drink was popular before that during the late 1970s at San Francisco’s gay bars. However, it was only when Toby Cecchini began serving Cosmopolitans at his Odeon bar in New York in the 1990s that it became the iconic cocktail it is today.
The true origins of the Martini are as clouded by myth and mystery as all other legends. Did this iconic cocktail evolve from an 1862 drink called a “Martinez”, a sweet blend of gin, bitters and red vermouth? Should Martini di Arma di Taggia, the barman at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, take the credit with his 1911 mix of gin, white vermouth and orange bitters? Or should we believe the plaque on the corner of Alhambra Street and Masonic Street in Martinez, California, claiming the first Martini was mixed there? Whatever the truth, there’s no disputing the Martini’s enduring popularity, and every bartender will tell you his or hers is the real deal!
The classic Martini mix lends itself to all manner of exciting variations, and shaking vodka or gin with fruit liqueurs and juices works particularly well. Make sure both the bottles and the glass are very well chilled before starting to make the drink.
Champagne hasn’t earned its nickname “giggle wine” for nothing, as no other drink can match it for making a party go with a swing. If the genuine article is beyond your budget, substitute a good sparkling wine such as Cava.
These lightly spiced lamb skewers make a tasty start to any meal, or as a main meal for kids. Serve with a tomato salsa and, if you like, a chopped vegetable salad as well.
Not only does this cocktail look beautiful, but its intoxicating flavour and aroma will instantly transport you to a world of white coral beaches and warm blue seas. Prosecco can be used instead of champagne, if you wish.
This is one of the easiest cocktails to mix, because it requires no special skills or equipment — beyond a steady hand! A drink similar to today’s champagne cocktail first appeared in 1862 in Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks cocktail book; but it didn’t catch on until 1899, when John Dougherty submitted a version of the cocktail to a New York competition. To recreate John Dougherty’s original drink, rub the sugar cube over the zest of an orange before adding it to the glass. When pouring the champagne, reduce its froth by holding the glass at a 45-degree angle.
Champagne was a popular celebration drink among upper-class Victorians, but in 1861 the sudden death of the Queen’s Consort, Prince Albert, plunged the whole of England into mourning. Still wanting to serve champagne but feeling it should be in mourning too, the bartender at Brooks’s Club in London combined it with Guinness as a suitably sombre way to mark the occasion. He dubbed the cocktail Black Velvet and served it in a beer tankard, but today a goblet or champagne flute is normally used. The drink became a favourite of Prince Otto von Bismarck, and in Germany it is known by his name.
Fruit salad in a glass tankard is how many fans think of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup. This gin-based cocktail mix grew from humble beginnings as a house specialty during the 1840s at James Pimm’s London Oyster Bar. It has grown to become a permanent fixture on today’s English social calendar, enjoyed at all the best Henley, Ascot and Wimbledon parties. Fresh strawberries muddled with the traditional mix add a refreshing, summery flavour. Mixed in a jug, this makes a good alfresco party drink — increase the quantities according to the number of your guests.
The first report of a drink called a piña colada can be traced back to the December 1922 edition of Travel magazine. Translated from Spanish, the name means “strained pineapple”, and back then the cocktail was simply fresh pineapple juice, ice, sugar, lime juice and white rum shaken together and strained into a glass. Ramon “Monchito” Marrero is one of several bartenders claiming the credit for adding coconut milk. A plaque in Puerto Rico states he served the first modern piña colada in the bar of the Caribe Hilton Hotel on August 15, 1954, after spending three months perfecting his mix.
Along with cigars, the Mojito is one of Cuba’s most famous exports. Its name (pronounced mo-hee-toe) comes from the African word “mojo”, meaning to cast a little spell. Ernest Hemingway was known to down the odd Mojito in Havana’s La Bodeguita del Medio bar, and James Bond followed his lead in Die Another Day.
Lightly cooked vegetables are given an intense, bright flavour using Japanese-style sauces.
This classic tapas recipe is delicious served with a selection of other dishes to start a meal. Choose simple complementary dishes, such as marinated olives and artichoke hearts, and serve with chunks of crusty bread.