Good food is so wonderful that we often over-complicate it. In our heads, at least. So many recipes are straight-forward, easy-to-follow and rather basic, but we insist on thinking that we couldn't possibly tackle them.
But first, the power of the 'measure & mix' method.
Not true! With a bit of preparation, most recipes will take you less time to knock up than it takes to wait for home delivery. A few tips to make anything far easier:
1. Prep your ingredients - ensure you have everything you need on hand and group ingredients together in your pantry or fridge by category. This makes it so much easier to find everything you need when you're ready to cook.
2. Keep things neat - start with all your ingredients on the bench, measure out what you need and - here's the kicker - put things back away as you go. It's far nicer cooking in a clear, organised kitchen than one where a bomb has gone off (that bomb is, ahem, you).
3. Read through the recipe - you would be surprised at how often people plough straight into a recipe without actually knowing what comes next. Or you might not. It's definitely best to read straight through to the end before you start chopping, grating or stirring anything.
Most recipes will take you less time to knock up than it takes to wait for home delivery
Righto, we are ready to go with the simple recipes that result in elaborate things to eat.
Put your hand up if you've never used store-bought pastry rather than tackle a recipe? Good, you'll need both hands for whizzing through this 15-minute flaky pastry recipe.
Originating from Forfar in Scotland, the bridie pie is said to be named after a travelling food seller, Margaret Bridie, who sold them during the mid-19th century. Deliciously more-ish, they resemble the pastie in shape and concept but are surprisingly similar in taste and texture to a plain sausage roll. Whilst not traditional, a beetroot relish tomato chutney makes a perfect accompaniment. O why has it taken me so long to discover the bridie!
You may not wish to know how easy some of the most complicated-seeming biscuits actually are, for you will be making them all the time. For example, these Danish macaroons use just five ingredients and only take 15 minutes to pull together. Dangerous combination!
Unashamedly rich, these cookies are cute and clever – coated with icing sugar, a natural crackle pattern appears as they bake and rise, exposing the dark chocolate biscuit dough below.
Some breads indeed require more time than others (we're looking at you, sourdough), but others are actually very straightforward. You can't go wrong with most flatbreads, and this Italian focaccia is quickly pulled together.
A Swedish flatbread similar to thick pita, polar bread is soft, slightly chewy, has a light rye flavour and makes the perfect sandwich bread to split and fill.
Put anything into a tart shell (especially one you've made yourself) and you're instantly a chef.* Once you've nailed the pastry (see above), it's really just a matter of assembly. Get started with this pretty fig, honey and sage tart.
* With respect to actual chefs who toil away for years to earn their chef title.
Caramel in moderation works wonders for some savoury dishes, this being one of them. Serve wedges of this rich tarte tatin with dressed salad leaves and a dollop of crème fraîche for a deliciously simple starter or light meal.
With an entire industry built around someone else making pizza for us, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's tricky to make. It's not.
Baking your pizza in a super-hot cast iron pan will give a beautiful, golden base and crust, though it's hard to mimic a true Neapolitan pizza, which has been named a national treasure of Italy.
This glazed number looks like fun baked into a cake. The swirly, marbled pattern looks impressive, but is super-simple to achieve. The whole cake will take you just 25 minutes to prepare.
Chewy layers of cashew meringue are sandwiched with a rum-spiked buttercream to create this traditional Filipino dessert.
If you're not whipping up a weekly batch of muffins, you're missing out. Even though they are generally loaded with goodies, muffin making demands less of you - less fussing, less mixing and less cooking time than a cake. This banana, coconut and berry recipe is also dairy-free, gluten-free and trouble-free.
Persimmons are a little mysterious – often one of those fruits that you’re not really sure if you should even take home with you, let alone bake with. These muffins are simple, make the most of persimmon’s sweet, rich, slightly spicy flavour. Rest assured, you’ve invited the right stranger into your kitchen.
Once you've made your own crackers, you can never go back to store-bought. Mainly because they taste so good, but also because they are ten times easier to make than schlepping to the shops.
Laced with Indian spices of cumin, fennel and black pepper, these crackers make a surprisingly good partner for soft goat’s cheese. They are also wonderful served with a red lentil dip or hummus.
While a soufflé is never going to be called dead-simple, it's definitely within range of most cooks. What it lacks in ease, it makes up for in wow-factor, so it's worth working through a step-by-step recipe like this one here.
In Cantonese, we call this dish ‘water egg’ – egg whisked with water and a dab of salt, then steamed until it becomes a smooth, soft savoury custard.
Hailing from the mountainous region of Lorraine in northern France, quiche Lorraine is traditionally made with just eggs, crème fraîche and bacon. It began as a humble egg-and-bacon pie but has evolved to a more refined open tart. Some of the crème fraîche has been replaced with milk in this tart to make it slightly less rich and more suited our modern palates.
Brownies taste so good we imagine they must be difficult to bake. The truth is: they are ridiculously easy instead. Yep, even a masterpiece like these dulce de leche brownies.
This brownie one of those wickedly rich, unashamedly fudgy and completely over-the-top ones – the type that never disappoints. But be warned, only a small piece will suffice. Feel free to replace the brandy with an orange liqueur or whiskey. Alternatively, for a kid-friendly version, simply replace it with water. It is also particularly good served for dessert with a generous scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream.
If you want maximum bang for your bake, use a bundt tin. You can get them in all kinds of gorgeous patterns and they instantly turn a standard cake into a celebration. The bright saffron syrup takes this one-bowl orange cake straight into 'extra' territory.
The key to well risen and light popovers is to make sure the mixture is still warm when it goes into the oven – once you start making the mixture, don’t let it sit and cool before baking.
Portuguese custard tarts are one of those pastries that I just can’t go past and I love their rustic beauty.
Deliciously humble, the Louise cake is a simple layering of shortbread biscuit, raspberry jam and coconut meringue that exist in pure harmony.
Often savoury, briouats are traditionally fried. This sweet almond version is baked and generously soaked in honey – addictive in the best kind of way.
These lamingtons are based on a super simple, super quick, one-bowl butter cake recipe that requires no fussing at all. It is baked in a thin layer and then cut into fingers.
Reminiscent of the good old Digestives, these biscuits easily swing between savoury and sweet. Serve them with blue cheese or dip them in dark chocolate to give them the flavour preference you prefer.