Simnel cake

This delicious fruit cake is a tradition Ester cake packed with dried fruits and candied peel, topped with marzipan disciple.

Ingredients (makes one cake, in a 20cm square baking tin)

For the cake:

  • 240g raisins
  • 350g sultanas
  • 200g dried sour cherries
  • 100g prunes pitted and chopped
  • 110g candied peel diced
  • 50ml brandy
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 110g blanched almonds chopped
  • 170g muscovado sugar
  • 228g plain flour
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp grated nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 170g butter, melted

For the marzipan:

  • 290g ground almonds
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 106g muscovado sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp Cognac
  • 2tsp almond extract
  • 1tsp salt


The day before, mix together the sultanas, raisins, prunes and cherries and brandy. Allow to soak overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 130C on a low fan.

Place the fruit into a large mixing bowl, add the chopped almonds, zest of lemon and orange and muscovado sugar.

Next, evenly sift the dried ingredients into another large mixing bowl. Add the butter and eggs and mix until it’s all combined. Add this batter to the fruit and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Butter and line your tin, then fill them with the cake mix and firmly press into the tin.

Bake for 1-2 hours, until the cake is firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. It may take longer depending on the oven, so use common sense when checking to see if it’s done. If the cake begins to darken too quickly, loosely cover with tin foil.

This cake can be made in advance and stored in airtight container.

To make the marzipan, combine ground almonds, icing sugar, muscovado sugar and cornflour into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine the egg, Cognac, extract and salt. Stir to dissolve the salt, then add to the almond mixture. Beat until well combined. Remove from the bowl and gently knead into a ball.

Roll out the marzipan into to a square to fit top of the cake. Brush the cake with marmalade or apricot jam and top with marzipan squares, then add your marzipan balls.

Preserved lemons

  • 250g/8oz coarse sea salt
  • 8 lemons, well washed and cut into quarters
  • Extra lemon juice, to cover

Scatter a spoonful of salt into a one-litre sterilised jar. Place the lemons in a bowl with the rest of the salt and toss together well. Now simply pack the lemon quarters into the jar. Press down firmly on the fruit to release as much juice as possible. Spoon in the rest of the salt mixture from the bottom of the bowl and add enough extra lemon juice to cover. Place the lid on the jar. Let the lemons stand for a month in a cool place – though not the fridge. To use, rinse well and add to whatever you fancy.

Apple galette

Serves 6-8

  • 180g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 80ml chilled water
  • For the almond layer
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • For the apple topping
  • 6–8 apples (depending on size)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 20g chilled butter, cut into small flakes

To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and process for 5 seconds. The butter should still be visible and in small pieces. Add the water and process for 5 seconds more – just enough time for the dough to start holding together. Little pieces of butter should still be visible throughout (this is important to achieve a delicate, flaky pastry).

Remove from the machine and lightly gather into a dough with your hands. Form into a ball, flatten slightly and wrap in cling film. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured cool surface to a large, thin round, about 30cm in diameter. Lift the dough onto a baking sheet.

For the almond layer, toss together the ground almonds, flour and sugar and scatter over the pastry.

Peel, quarter and core the apples, then slice into 3mm wedges. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and all but 1 tbsp of the sugar. Toss well to combine. Taste and add a little more salt if the apple seems too sweet.

Arrange the apples evenly over the pastry, leaving a 5cm clear border. Fold the edges of the pastry up over the fruit, crimping and tucking them gently as you do so. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top, scatter over the walnuts and dot with the butter.

Bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. For the best possible flavour and fragrance, eat within an hour.

Cucumbers with roasted tomatoes

Although it may sound a little strange, cucumbers that are gently cooked have a delicate taste that is very appealing. We often serve it in the restaurant with slow-cooked rabbit.

Serves 4

4 small cucumbers
1 tbsp mild-tasting olive oil
12 small ripe tomatoes
250ml/8fl oz verjus or slightly sweet white wine
20g/¾oz unsalted butter
A dozen black olives
Sea salt and a little freshly ground black pepper

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, cut into half-inch slices and set aside. Place a medium-based heavy pan over a gentle flame and add the olive oil. Once warm, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring now and then until the tomatoes have begun to soften. Now add the verjus or wine and turn up the heat slightly. Allow all the liquid to reduce by a third then add the cucumbers, knob of butter, olives and salt and pepper, cook for a minute then remove from the stove and serve.

Pickled cucumber salad

This very clean and sharp salad is perfect for this time of year. It is good with poached salmon or even slightly oily fish such as mackerel or sardines. It is better to make a couple of hours ahead of time so that the cucumbers can steep in the dressing.

Serves 4

5 small cucumbers
¾ tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 bunch of dill, leaves only, finely chopped
A good pinch of sea salt
A handful of pea shoots

Rinse the cucumbers and pat dry. Using a vegetable peeler slice the cucumber lengthwise so that you have long, fine slices. Place in a colander and weigh down using a heavy plate – this will help remove most of the water that seeps from the cucumber. Put the sugar and vinegar in a bowl, add the dill and salt and stir well to combine.

After 20 minutes or so, remove the plate from the cucumbers and gently squeeze out any excess water. Place the cucumbers in the bowl and toss well together so that the cucumbers are very well dressed. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use. Toss the pea shoots through just before serving.

Cucumber and buttermilk soup

This sings of summer almost like nothing else I know – cool, clean and green in flavour with a pleasant and thirst-quenching acidity lent by the buttermilk. Its a favourite lunch dish when the weather is warm enough to sit outside. There is genuinely no cooking involved, takes no more than 10 minutes to prepare and should be made as close to serving as possible to ensure it maintains its clean, pure flavour.

Serves 4

For the soup
long green cucumbers 2
buttermilk 400ml
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
cucumber pickle optional (see recipe below)
garden herbs 1 tbsp each of chervil, dill, mint, basil
extra virgin olive oil for serving

For the cucumber pickle
small pickling cucumbers 1kg
sea salt 90g
caster sugar 100g
good quality white wine vinegar 700ml
fresh bay leaf 1
red chilli 1
coriander seeds 1 tbsp
yellow mustard seeds 1 tbsp
fresh dill a handful, coarsely chopped

To make the pickled cucumber, wash and pat dry the cucumbers. Slice into fine rounds – a mandoline is perfect for this. Place them in a colander and layer with the salt. Cover and weigh down for one hour, drain away the excess liquid and rinse.

Place the sugar, vinegar, bay leaf and chilli in a saucepan and put on a low heat. Once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat to a simmer for a couple of minutes or so.

Pack the cucumber slices into sterilised jars, add the spices and chopped dill and pour over the hot pickling liquid. Store in a cool, dark place, then in the fridge once opened.

For the soup, put four soup plates in the fridge to chill. Peel the cucumbers and slice in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds using a teaspoon, then chop into 2cm pieces. Place the chopped cucumber into a blender with the buttermilk and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and place in the fridge to thoroughly chill.

Serve in the chilled soup plates with a spoonful of pickled cucumber, if using. Scatter the herbs over the top and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Dates with mascarpone, orange flower water & walnuts

Serves 6

12 plump mesh oil dates

75 g mascarpone

25 g icing sugar

A few drops of orange flower water

12 x walnuts

Using a small sharp knife, cut down through the dates horizontally and remove the stone. Place the mascarpone into a bowl and sift over the icing sugar, add the orange flower water and stir really well to incorporate. Place the sweetened mascarpone into a piping bag and pipe into the incision you have made in the date. Repeat this until all the dates are full. Arrange the walnuts on top. Place in the fridge to set for a couple of hours before serving.


Buttermilk dressing

1 organic free-range egg yolk

1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 tbsp good quality cider vinegar

180ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp buttermilk

Put the egg yolk, mustard, honey and vinegar into a small bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper and stir vigorously to combine. Now whisk in the olive oil slowly, almost drop by drip to begin with, increasing the flow slightly once the dressing begins to homogenise. Continue until all the oil is incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk, then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Salad of beetroot, tomatoes, goat’s curd and radicchio

Serves 4

12 small beetroot (ideally a mix of ruby, yellow and Chioggia varieties)
2tbs red wine vinegar
About 50ml extra virgin olive oil
200g baby broad beans, freshly podded
About 8 large radicchio leaves
About 8 little gem lettuce leaves
Juice of ½ lemon
4-6 ripe tomatoes, depending on size (ideally a heritage variety)
200g goats’ curd or young goats’ cheese
2tbs good quality black olives, pitted (optional)
Small handful of basil leaves
Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the basil oil
A bunch of basil, leaves only
100ml extra virgin olive oil

Scrub the beetroot well under cool running water, then place in a saucepan and pour on enough water to cover. Add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Lower the heat slightly and cook for about 35 minutes until just tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

Once cooked, drain the beetroot and place in a bowl. Add the wine vinegar and about two tablespoons of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat the beetroot in the dressing. Set aside to macerate and cool.

Blanch the broad beans in boiling water for one minute, then drain and refresh in cold water; drain well.

Put the radicchio and lettuce leaves in another bowl. Dress with the lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper and toss lightly using your hands. Slice the tomatoes or halve them if small.

To assemble, arrange the salad leaves on serving plates with the beetroot and tomatoes. Add the goats’ curd and scatter over the broad beans and the olives, if using. Spoon on the basil oil and finish with the basil leaves. Serve at once.

Wild Garlic and Walnut Sauce

70g wild garlic
2 garlic cloved
70g spinach
50g walnuts
25g parmesan
50g olive oil
5g butter
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C and heat the walnuts for around 7 minutes until lightly toasted. Pound in a pestle and mortar until the texture of rough breadcrumbs.

Blitz wild garlic, spinach, garlic with olive oil and butter.

Stir through finely grated parmesan and the pounded walnuts.

Loosen with more oil if necessary.

Blood orange jelly and set cream with honey and rosemary

Serves 6

For the jelly-

300ml blood orange juice, strained
50g sugar
1 3/4 leaf gelatine sheets

For the set cream-

125ml double cream
100ml whole milk
25g sugar
1/2 lemon, zested
1 leaf gelatine sheet

Begin by making the jelly. Measure half of the blood orange juice along with the sugar in a saucepan. Place on very low heat.

Meanwhile, soak the gelatine sheets in cold water, to soften. Once the liquid begins to steam, immediately take off the heat. Squeeze the water from the soft gelatine, add to the saucepan and stir to dissolve. Finally, add the remaining blood orange juice. Taste the mixture, it may need a sprinkle of sugar.

Divide the jelly mixture amongst six small moulds, ramekins or teacups. Carefully place in the fridge for at least two hours to set.

When the jelly has set, begin to make the set cream. Place the cream, milk, sugar, zest and a pinch of salt in a saucepan on low heat. Soften the remaining sheet of gelatine. Once the cream mixture is hot, remove from the heat and add the gelatine. Leave to cool over a bowl of ice water, stirring often. When the cream begins to thicken, pour over the chilled jelly. Place back in the fridge until fully set.

To infuse honey with fresh rosemary sprigs, gently heat the two together in a small pan until warm, then leave to cool.

To serve, slice a couple of blood oranges, removing any skin and pith. Dip each mould in a bowl of hot water for five seconds, just to release the edges. Then place a serving bowl over the top and, with conviction, turn over to release the layered dessert. Serve with a few slices of blood orange and a drizzle of rosemary honey.

Chicken-liver pâté

Serves 2

500g/1lb chicken livers
200ml/7fl oz milk
200g/7oz unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
A small bunch of thyme, leaves only
2 fresh bay leaves
100ml/3 fl oz Cognac
A generous grinding of black pepper

It is important to use the freshest chicken livers. Look for those pale in colour, as their flavour is mellower and sweeter.

Soak the chicken livers in milk for two hours, then discard the milk.

Add four tablespoons of butter to a pan and place over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted and just begun to foam, add the onion and cook until soft and transparent – about 5 minutes. Now add the garlic, thyme and bay, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the chicken livers and cook for 2-3 minutes: the livers should be brown on the inside and still pink in the middle. Add the Cognac, turn up the heat a little and cook until just slightly reduced. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Allow to cool slightly then place in a food processor. Adding the rest of the butter in small pieces, purée until smooth.

Line an eight-inch terrine mould with butter and spoon in the pâté. Allow to cool completely before covering with a thin layer of butter and placing in the fridge to chill and firm – a minimum of 6 hours. We like to drop a whole bay leaf on top of the butter as it cools, so it looks beautiful when you serve it at the table. Eat alongside toast, and a few cornichons if you like.