Christmas Rocky Road: It’s not that I felt my usual Rocky Road Crunch Bars needed any improvement (though fiddling with recipes is one of life’s pleasures) but I thought they would benefit from some seasonal adjustment. So, out go the Rich Tea biscuits and in come amaretti and – in the seasonal spirit – I’ve crammed in some Brazil nuts and glacé cherries (as red as Rudolph’s nose), along with snowy mini marshmallows.
HOKEY POKEY Hokey pokey is a Cornish term for honeycomb. It is wonderful eaten in golden shards or crumbled into the best vanilla ice cream. It is also the perfect present to take to a dinner party. Better than flowers, as they need to be put into a vase, better than chocolate, which people tend to smile politely at, but put away in a drawer: no one can resist a bit of hokey pokey I've found.
Rocky Road Crunch Bars: No one is ever going to complain about having one of these in their lunchbox, and they're pretty handy to have around in the kitchen for a quick, snatched burst of energy at any time. I'm not claiming them to be a health food, but when you're talking about lunch on the run, packing quite a few calories into a small parcel can be seen as an advantage. That's my view, and I'm sticking to it.
Yule Log: A traditional French bûche de Noël always looks just the right side of cutely enchanting, and there is nothing hard to like about its tender, melting chocolatiness. But I warm to it most of all for the rich pagan symbolism: it is no less than a cake-emulation of the log that the Norsemen would drag home through the streets to burn in celebration of the winter solstice and to honour the gods and hope, thus, to cajole from them a good year to come.
American Breakfast Pancakes: These are those thick, spongy American pancakes that are often eaten with warm maple syrup and crisp fried bacon. I love them with the syrup alone, but if you do want bacon, I think streaky is best. You can easily cook these pancakes by dolloping the batter onto a hot griddle (smooth, nor ridged, side) or heavy based pan.
HASSELBACK POTATOES I think of these Swedish roast potatoes as being rather like sauteed potatoes on the stem: each one is cut into thin slices across almost right through, but not quite, and then roasted in buttery oil; as they cook, the potatoes fan out, like slightly fleshy crisps with their bottoms still attached.
Lemon Meringue Cake: In all honesty, the origin of this cake is simply that I cannot make a go of a lemon meringue pie. I've tried, and I've tried, and it's not that I've utterly failed, but I haven't completely delighted myself. There's enough of that kind of falling short in the rest of life, without having to usher in disappointment and self-loathing in the kitchen. This, then, is the easy option.