Welcome to this special selection from my new book.
The recipes in this collection lie at the very heart of my cooking. They are my essential dishes – those that will always be in my repertoire. Whether welcome revivals or timeless classics given a modern twist, it’s a pleasure to cook and serve them as I know they will always go down well, guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of family and friends. I’m delighted to share them here.
With every recipe I’ve tried to give as much guidance as possible both in the method and in key classic tips at the end of each one. I’ve also included cooking and chilling times to give you an idea of how long a dish is likely to take.
I have so enjoyed putting the recipes together, becoming reacquainted with old favourites from the past and discovering ways of rejuvenating them for a new generation. I do hope you’ll enjoy them, too, and add them to your repertoire – maybe even start building up your own classic collection.
An old favourite of mine and one the family still loves. Tender chicken that comes off the bone easily with a barbecue-style charred appearance and flavour. So easy – just put it in the oven and leave it to do its magic. If you would like smaller portions, use the same weight of thighs and drumsticks (six of each).
If you don’t have yorkshire pudding tins, you could make one large toad in the hole instead in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish – it will take 30-35 minutes to cook.
A lovely way to add interest to a leg of lamb. Many butchers and supermarkets sell part-boned legs of lamb, which saves on the cooking time. No need to tie up the meat before cooking to hold the stuffing; the tunnel-boned cavity keeps it all neatly in place.
Tender strips of prime beef in a classic sauce. So quick and easy, it makes a speedy but special meal. The gherkins make a tasty topping.
Classic, rich and deep in flavour. My husband lived in Malaysia – Malaya, as it was then – for a time in his youth so he loves a homemade curry. He raves about this one’s lovely, authentic-tasting flavours.
Quiche, tart – all the same, and all with a thin layer of pastry and an abundant filling. Although it looks a long cooking time, this can be prepared in easy stages: cooking the base first and leaving to cool, and then filling later.
An Italian classic, but now a classic here too! Using dried lasagne sheets, I like to leave the assembled lasagne for about 2 hours to soften before cooking. This is rich tasting and delicious and it’s very cheesy with a deep rich, tomatoey sauce. The mozzarella adds a lovely stringy texture.
My favourite crumble when the trees are laden with fruits. To make an apple version, use the same quantity of peeled, chopped and cored Bramley apples.
This is a great cake: it will become your go-to recipe for all the traybakes needed for fetes, coffee mornings, friends moving house, etc. The all-in-one method of making, whisked in one bowl, is minimum fuss and super quick. It’s easy to ice, transport and will freeze well too, making it a great standby to tuck in the freezer.
Life before banoffee pie seems prehistoric as it is such a loved dessert! I have made it as a salted caramel banoffee (add a teaspoon of sea salt), though I prefer the classic version. Full of calories and no apologies!
The gooiest of brownies, moist and soft, and ideal as a decadent dessert to serve with ice cream. Wowwee, delicious! These don’t contain flour so are perfect for anyone who can’t tolerate gluten.
In the past I have always covered the baked roulade with a damp tea towel and left it overnight. Now I find there is no need to do this. Simple, but indulgent and luxurious, and pleasantly alcoholic!
The classic ‘upside down’ French tart, usually served warm as a pudding. Do not butter the tin before pouring in the caramel otherwise the caramel will be cloudy and not clear.
These lovely well-risen, light-textured moist cakes are perfect for when the bananas are over-ripe in the fruit bowl and no one is keen on eating them! The seeds and sugar topping adds crunch and nuttiness. Baking two small cakes is perfect when making for school fetes, etc. While one goes out the door never to be tasted or seen again, the other can stay at home to please the family!
One of my absolute favourite dishes and a really tasty combination of flavours – the fried onion topping and soft-boiled egg complement the smoky fish and spiced rice. Check halfway through cooking and if a little dry, add more stock. For more crunch and extra flavour, add a topping of about 25g toasted flaked almonds.
Chocolate truffle pots
Velvety smooth, light and chocolatey, this mousse in these chocolate truffle pots recipe is divine. The truffle on the top gives an extra crunch – buy them if you would rather not make them! Use a whisky cream liqueur or any chocolate or coffee cream liqueur of your choice.
Chocolate and vanilla swirl cake
Sometimes called marble cake, this cake recipe is the perfect slice to go with a cuppa. Also good served warm as a dessert with custard.
Roast loin of pork with crackling
Loin pork is a delicious, moist cut and easy to carve. Good crackling is all about the preparation before it goes into the oven: the oil will crisp the skin and the salt draws out extra moisture, drying it out and, of course, adding flavour. I have taken the crackling off the joint and cut it into strips to get it very crisp.
This recipe is a great British classic. The all-in-one method makes it one of the simplest cakes to make, but it looks really impressive. The classic version has just jam, but I like to add whipped cream to make it extra special. I made it as part of a tennis tea and it was welcomed with lots of complimentary oohs and ahhs!
SAVE 20 PER CENT ON MARY’S NEW BOOK
Classic, published by BBC Books on 25th January, price £26. As well as Mary’s introduction the book contains more than 100 all-new recipes, with Mary’s crucial tips for each one. Chapters include canapés and first courses, fish, poultry and game, pork, lamb and beef, vegetarian, puddings and desserts, and teatime. To order a copy for £20.80 until 4th February, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.