The weekend doesn’t feel right if I have not spent at least one of the days leisurely planning, prepping and cooking a feast for family or friends. A simple Sunday roast cooked at home in the countryside for my family, or a more elaborate dinner for friends eaten crowded around my coffee table in London, nothing beats having the luxury of taking your time and having delicious smells in the house all day.
I plan to keep these weekend feast posts regular and seasonal but to begin below is some of the most delicious meals I have cooked over the last year and where to find the recipes.
Winter is about cosy days hidden inside slow cooking meats and leisurely making comforting risottos for friends. Cook this low and slow pork belly with jalepeńo creamed corn with honeyed greens and crispy pan potatoes for an American South inspired Sunday lunch.
I love Thomasina Mier’s recipes in The Guardian, so was enticed to try this parsnip, stilton and thyme risotto. Topped with caramelised parsnips and a zingy hazelnut dressing, this addition is the antidote to the problem I find with risottos that every mouthful is the same. Generally the most delicious and comforting meal I have cooked in ages. This meal ended the way all meals should, a large plate of cheese, quince jelly, crackers and grapes.
The perfect recipe for a long relaxing day of easy cooking, this slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with sticky chilli jam and rosemary is the perfect treat for a Sunday roast with a twist. Served with dangerous levels of creamy buttery mash, greens and a lovely recipe of more sweet stickiness – honey and balsamic roasted heritage carrots with hazelnuts. This is a great recipe that has become a regular go to for the weekends and took a starring roll at Christmas.
Another recipe from the wonderful Delicious Magazine, this Slow-cooked lamb shank and red wine hotpot is the ultimate in comforting winter warmers. Lamb shanks are totally underrated and I love them, let them bubble away on the hob whilst you go about your day and top later with potato.
When the afternoons start to get a little lighter, so do my weekend feasts. Not lighter in size it should be said! This was a wonderful Italian inspired feast to welcome spring, made from recipes of another favourite magazine Bon Appétit. The star being this stuffed and rolled lamb breast with lemon, ricotta and oregano. Served with sides of Cacio e Pepe potatoes, cannelloni beans with spinach and a fennel tomato gratin.
Another spring lamb feast (and cooked while I was very hungover for my Dad’s birthday) is this Roast rack of lamb cooked atop crushed anya potatoes, olives and tomatoes. Served with a herby salsa verde. This was followed by a simple dessert of roasted rhubarb with ginger and orange zest.
Summer for me is about escaping down to my Mum and Dad’s to abuse their BBQ and to spend long evenings outside in the garden eating and drinking wine. When I’m not lucky to have escaped to an available BBQ, I love simple pasta dishes served with big dishes of colourful tomatoes dressed simply with good extra virgin olive oil, basil and mozzarella. Two of the best simple pastas have to be the ludicrously simple linguini Cacio e Pepe which never fails. Discovered this year was the recipe for linguine with courgettes, egg and parmesan by the wonderful Rachel Roddy who has a column in the Guardian Cook. Another weekend favourite is to have a relaxed evening with wine and some market finds. Fresh bread, burrata and cured meats drizzled with honey and toasted hazelnuts.
BBQ season is all about the charcoal cooked meats, fish and vegetables. However this year I discovered the perfect recipe for a no cooking accompanying salad that will rival anything that comes of the barbecue – Avocado with radish, carrot, quick pickled onion and a delicious fresh chimichurri. A few other new barbecue season discoverys are grilled scallops with lemony salsa verde, king prawns with garlic, chile and parsley and then the best rub for a barbecued steak – a mixture of cocoa, coffee, coriander and sugar. All summer meals should end with a big bowl of roasted berries, baked simply with sugar and lime zest. Topped with some good quality ice cream of course.
It’s a return to mash potato and comfort food as the evenings get dark and cold again. This chicken, leek & cider pie is the perfect partner to that mash. Another cider based mash partner is this recipe for butcher’s sausages braised with smoky bacon and cider. For a lighter autumnal evening, make Sophie Dahl’s unbeatable butternut squash soup with sherry and cayenne pepper, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, parmesan and parsley. Finally for a more indulgent weekend feast, fry thick cut butchers pork chops simply in butter and sage. Serve with baked autumn apples and a creamy dish of bubbling dauphinois topped with breadcrumbs and thyme.