The Family Kitchen

Top chef and father of three, Rob Kirby, shares his best home cooking recipes and ideas for feeding the whole family. From quick and easy weekday meals and on-the-move train tapas to special-occasion cooking and leisurely weekend lunches. Whether you’re packing lunchboxes or picnic hampers, The Family Kitchen is filled with delicious recipes that will ensure you’re creating wonderful food for the people you love the most. Rob Kirby is also the author of the award-winning Cook With Kids.

MasterChef: the Finalists

The three finalists of the popular 2013 MasterChef series have come together to compose a symphony of skilled flavours in 90 divine dishes to cook at home. This beautiful book showcases 15 recipes from each finalist created during the programme, as well as a further 15 new recipes from each. The background and profile of the talented contestants are explored, as well as their inspirational journey to the final of the prestigious amateur competition. Every delicious plate is photographed in the most stylishly designed tie-in to the MasterChef TV series ever published.

An outstanding contribution to British food

When Le Champignon Sauvage picked up the Outstanding Contribution award at last week’s 2013 Observer Food Monthly awards, there could have been no more deserving a winner than a restaurant that had shown such consistent excellence as the one run for 26 years by David Everitt-Matthias and his wife, Helen. Here, we pay our own tribute to David, to Helen, to his team and their work…

Sometimes, it requires time to be able to reflect on something properly. It was in November of 2011 that we tasted the first dishes that would make it into the third book of recipes from David Everitt-Matthias. Back then, we had discussed, via a few conversations, the kind of recipes that might feature, and how these might differ from his first book, Essence (2006) and its follow-up, Dessert (2009). Essence won the World Gourmand Cookbook Award for the UK’s ‘Most Innovative Cookbook’. Dessert won the World Gourmand Cookbook Award for the UK’s ‘Best Cookbook’, and took second place in the overall world rankings. These books so richly deserved their rewards: they were fantastic books which looked good and featured recipes that worked. What more could you want from a recipe book? What they also did, though, was to bring the remarkable skill and creativity of a chef, awarded and highly praised within his own industry, to the masses; to those who hadn’t eaten at his restaurant. To the initiated, David’s first two books showed off the trademarks of his food: exciting combinations of flavour and a use of ‘wild’ ingredients, which reflected a love and knowledge of foraging. They also showcased the talents of Lisa Barber, whose elegant images captured the variety and beauty of David’s food.

In 2011, when the first ideas were fizzing around for this third book, Beyond Essence, David had just reintroduced a tasting menu at Le Champignon Sauvage. It was the perfect way to reacquaint ourselves with his food. But it was less a reacquaintance with a food we thought we knew and more a revelation: a realisation that the bar had been raised even higher. Things that were so moved on from our first meal there some six years previously. All of the incredible dishes we tasted that day made it into the book, from the sweet, smoky, salty flavours of his Witchill Potatoes, Caramelised Onion Purée, Buffalo Milk and Turkey Prosciutto, to the Tartare of Dexter Beef, Homemade Beef and Wasabi Mayonnaise. These were amazingly memorable things to taste.

When Beyond Essence was published at the beginning of this year, it seemed a pertinent title on more than one level. It is a second mixed collection of both savoury and sweet recipes. But this is a collection that shows just how much David’s food has evolved over those years, onwards and upwards from where his food was. Always remaining true to its foundations, but always trying new things, daring to go further, do more.

Go to Le Champignon Sauvage and eat David’s food: ignore the Michelin stars and the reviews and all the other accolades, and just focus on what you’re engaged with: you would have to conclude that you were eating some of the best food you had ever tasted and would be doing so very affordably indeed. You would have to rethink flavours, because they are presented to you tasting more of themselves than you will ever have noticed before. You would find such harmony in the way that ingredients and elements are brought together in a dish. In short, you would appreciate all of the craft and learning that one man can put into a dish.

Cook from David’s books and you will find something of this magic across every recipe. He is one of the finest chefs of his generation in the world. He just so happens to be one of its finest teachers too, and these books bear testament.

Author photograph © Lisa Barber

More National Chocolate Week!

Earlier this week, we gave you a recipe from our lovely boutique chocolate book, Melt. Today, since we’re obviously all still gorging on chocolate, we’re sharing a recipe from the amazing Divine recipe book, written by one of the doyennes of the food writing world, Linda Collister.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rather than using the usual supermarket chocolate drops, these cookies are made with proper chunks of lovely dark chocolate, plus extra cocoa and crunchy nuts.

Makes 18 large cookies

1 x 100g (3 and a half oz) bar Divine dark chocolate
100g (1 cup) walnut or pecan pieces
125g (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
100g (half cup) caster sugar
100g (two thirds cup) light muscovado sugar
1 large free range egg
220g (1 and two thirds cup) plain flour
3 tablespoons Divine cocoa powder
half teaspoon baking powder
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 non-stick baking trays, ungreased

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Break up the chocolate into squares and mix with the nuts. Set aside until needed.

Put the soft butter and the sugars into the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides then beat in the egg.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl. Mix well then stir in the chocolate squares and nuts.

Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture for each cookie, roll the mixture into balls then arrange them on the baking trays, flatten slightly with your fingers, spacing the cookies well apart to allow for spreading. Bake in the heated oven for about 12–15 minutes or until just firm, and then remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days or freeze for up to a month.

Recipe taken from The Divine Chocolate Cookbook by Linda Collister. Photography © Lisa Babrber.

Meet the MasterChefs!

On Thursday 24th October, Foyles, of Charing Cross Road will be giving you the chance to meet the fantastic finalists from MasterChef: Natalie Coleman, Larkin Cen and Dale Williams. They will be talking about their experience and introducing their fantastic new cookery book!

You can find out more about the event here.

Then, the following night, Friday 25th October, our MasterChefs will be meeting and greeting and signing copies of the new book at Waterstone’s in Cardiff.

Find out more about this event here.

National Chocolate Week

A fortnight that includes National Curry Week followed by National Chocolate Week sounds like too heavenly a combination to miss out on! We’ve decided to spoil you with a couple of recipes this week from two of our most decadently sweet books from recent years. On Thursday, we’ll share a recipe from the amazing Divine recipe book. But for today, we have this exquisite macaroon recipe from the magical book of chocolate recipes from Louise Nason’s incredible Notting Hill chocolate boutique, Melt.

Chocolate Macaroons


Shop-bought macaroons have a tendency to be far too sweet and powdery. However, since we make ours in a small kitchen with a domestic oven, as you would at home, and not on an industrial scale, we think Melt macaroons have more depth. We fill them with a really thick layer of ganache, which is utterly delectable.

Makes about 80

250g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
45g good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
210g organic egg whites
250g caster sugar
75g water

For the ganache
290g dark chocolate (66 per cent cocoa solids), finely chopped
250g double cream
70g milk
60g liquid glucose
70g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Put the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and whizz until fine and lump free. Transfer to a large bowl.

Measure out 105g of the egg whites, add to the ground almond mixture and stir until you have a paste. Set aside. Put the remaining 105g egg whites in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Put the caster sugar and water in a small, heavy-based pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil, without stirring, until it reaches 118°C on a sugar thermometer. Shortly before it reaches this temperature, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed, just to aerate them. Slowly pour in the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl, whisking all the time. After the sugar syrup has all been added, continue to whisk on medium speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks; it should be at body temperature.

Add about half the meringue to the ground almond mixture and fold in roughly to loosen it. Quickly mix in the remaining meringue until just combined; be careful not to overwork it or it will become too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle. Pipe it into 2.5cm rounds on to baking sheets lined with baking parchment or silicone baking mats. Lightly tap each baking sheet on the work surface a few times to smooth the top of the macaroons. Leave to stand for 30 minutes, until slightly dry to the touch. Preheat the oven to 130˚C/Gas Mark three-quarters.

Bake the macaroons for 10–15 minutes – lift one off the paper to check if they’re done; it should come off with only a little resistance. If your macaroons have succeeded perfectly, each one will have a little frilly section at the base – this is known as the ‘foot’. Remove the baking parchment or silicone mats from the trays, complete with macaroons, and leave on a work surface to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the ganache. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Place the cream, milk and glucose in a small pan and heat to boiling point, then pour on to the chocolate. Stir from the middle to emulsify. Check on a digital thermometer that the temperature is no higher than 45°C, then gently mix in the butter. Leave in a cool place until firm enough to pipe.

Carefully peel the macaroons off the paper. Match them up into pairs of equal size. Put the ganache in a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle and pipe on to the flat side of half the macaroons, then sandwich them together with their matching halves. They are best left in the fridge overnight before serving, but bring them to room temperature before you eat them.

Recipe taken from Melt: A Book of Chocolate by Louise Nason and Chika Watanabe. Photography © Jean Cazals.

National Curry Week

Yes, National Curry Week and we’re rather spoilt for choice when it comes to sharing a few recipes from our books over the years. Most recently, there’s been Atul Kochhar’s masterful Curries Of The World. You can get a great glimpse of that book here, courtesy of our friends at Bloomsbury. For this page though, we thought we’d treat you to a couple of recipes from Vivek Singh’s wonderful 2008 book, Curry: Classic and Contemporary. Something very simple and something a little more adventurous for you. Enjoy!


Home-style Curry of Potatoes and Cauliflower

(Aloo Gobhi)

This is probably the most common and basic vegetable curry you will find anywhere in India. Cooked pretty much nine months of the year, it is one of those recipes that sparks an intense debate over authenticity. One of the disadvantages of its universal appeal is that there is no such thing as a universal recipe!

Serves 4

3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
4 green chillies, slit open lengthwise
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm (1-inch) dice
1 cauliflower, divided into florets
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 tomatoes, chopped
half a teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
5cm (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, cut into fine strips
juice of half a lime

Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan and add the cumin seeds, followed by the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few seconds longer. Add the green chillies and potatoes and sauté over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Tip in the cauliflower, turmeric and salt, mix well, then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add the tomatoes and garam masala and cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are completely tender. Sprinkle in the chopped coriander and the ginger, squeeze over the lime juice and serve – either with chapattis or as a side dish.

Cook’s notes
* If you cut the cauliflower florets slightly bigger than the potatoes, they will cook in roughly the same time, rather than overcooking and disintegrating before the potatoes are done.
* It’s important to use a wide, shallow pan for this dish. If you use a deep pan or a wok instead, don’t overcrowd it with the vegetables or they will start to disintegrate.

Modern Raan

Traditionally, raan is braised, but I find that if the meat is good quality it can be roasted instead and works just as well, if not better. I’ve added a step of tunnel-boning the leg (you could ask your butcher to do this) to create a pocket, which can be filled with paneer cheese and dried fruits. This makes it truly special, just as a raan should be! Also, roasting this way keeps the meat moist compared to braising, where the meat is cooked through and therefore can be dry.

Serves 4

1 leg of young lamb, weighing about
1.5 kg (3-and-one-quarter lb)

For the marinade
250g (1 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons fried onion paste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
half a teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1-and-a-half teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil

For the filling
60g (half a cup) khoya (reduced milk cakes, available in Indian stores), grated
75g (half a cup) paneer, grated
60g (half a cup) Cheddar cheese, grated
2 onions, sliced and fried until crisp
4 dried figs, cut into 5mm (quarter-inch) dice
4 dried apricots, cut into 5mm (quarter-inch) dice
1 tablespoon raisins
2 tablespoons cashew nuts, fried in a little oil until golden
5cm (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, chopped
4 green chillies, chopped
half a teaspoon royal (black) cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lime

For the onion salad
2 red onions, thinly sliced
half a cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 tomato, deseeded and thinly sliced
half a teaspoon salt
half a teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted in a dry frying pan and then crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
juice of half a lime

Trim the excess fat off the lamb and, if your butcher hasn’t tunnel-boned it for you, remove the thighbone by cutting around it carefully with a carving knife to leave a cavity. Prick the leg on the outside with a fork.

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Rub the marinade over the leg of lamb, both outside and inside the cavity, and leave for 15 minutes.

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients and then use to stuff the lamb leg. Truss the leg using a butcher’s needle and twine to close the open part completely. Transfer to a roasting tray and place in an oven preheated to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the onion salad. Put all the cut vegetables except the tomato in a bowl of ice-cold water for 10 minutes to crisp them up. Strain and sprinkle with the salt, cumin and fresh coriander. Squeeze the lime juice over.

Cut the meat into slices 1cm (half an inch) thick and serve with the onion salad.

Cook’s note
* For something like this to be enjoyed at it’s best, it is very important to rest the meat before serving. This makes it more tender and you won’t lose the juices when you slice it.

Recipes taken from ‘Curry: Classic and Contemporary’ by Vivek Singh. Photography © Cristian Barnett.

Shaken Not Stirred

Which Highland glen was famous for its whisky smugglers? Who said: ‘If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.’? How many times is Irish whiskey normally distilled? What do Armagnac and the French musketeer d’Artagnan have in common?

Such questions abound in Shaken, not Stirred, the brilliant quiz book for trivia-loving bibulous friends. There are 500 questions in 50 themed sections embracing wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, drinking terms and toasts, as well as drink-related songs, movies, fiction, advertising slogans and famous quotes. This compilation of spirituous delights is the ultimate boozy companion to the foodie quiz book Everything But the Oink! and promises many entertaining evenings when sharing a bottle or two. As Benjamin Franklin said: There cannot be good living where there is no good drinking!