Easy by Chris Baber – and Yes, it is Easy! – Not that confident in the kitchen? Perhaps one of your offspring is heading to uni soon and starting cooking for themselves? If so, I’ve got the perfect answer: Chef Chris Baber’s debut cookbook, Easy, published last month by Ebury at £16.99 for a softback, with great photography by Haraala Hamilton.
Chris is perhaps known to many as the chef consultant for a well-known high street store chain, but he’s able to boast a sterling track record at the stove. Aged 25 he won BBC 1’s Yes Chef, where his potential was noted by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, who invited Chris to train alongside him in his Mayfair restaurant. Lockdown gave Chris the opportunity to create 96 simple, delicious, home-cooking recipes for Easy. What I particularly like about the book is that it starts with some solid background information about key spices and other ingredients, equipment and store cupboard essentials. With no fancy language, unattainable ingredients or extortionately expensive kitchen equipment, His aim is simple: no matter who you are, you can make a fuss-free, tasty dinner. From Spicy Prawn Tostadas and Honey and Harissa Spatchcock Chicken to Spiced Veggie Pilaf with Fried Halloumi and Summer Strawberry and Raspberry Crumble. Easy is a great cookbook for making mouth-watering meals without spending hours in the kitchen.
Recipes are divided into six sections: Brunch, Family Faves, Fakeaway, One Pan, Feeding a Crowd and Sweet. All are accompanied by handy tips, tricks, kit lists and store cupboard essentials.
Here are a couple of recipes from Easy to demonstrate what a simple, speedy, and delicious repertoire is in store for readers.
Pesto Baked Eggs (Serves 1 / 20 minutes)
“This tasty little number goes to show you can make a belter of a brunch with a few simple store cupboard ingredients in no time. If you have any fresh herbs lying around like basil or parsley, throw them on at the end. If you can’t get any canned cherry tomatoes, a can of chopped tomatoes works just as well.”
I tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 garlic clove, sliced
400g can cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp basil pesto
Salt and pepper
Bread, to serve
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat.
Fry the garlic for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomatoes and 2 tbsp of the pesto and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover loosely and simmer for 8–10 minutes until you have a fairly thick sauce.
Use a spoon to make 2 wells in the tomatoes. Crack an egg into each well, cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft.
Take off the heat, spoon over the remaining pesto and drizzle with a little more oil. Serve with bread to dip in the egg yolk and sauce.
This crumble is a perfect summer dessert. The recipe comes from one of my best mates and is something we always have round his house after dinner. I love the sweet, cakey layer the ground almonds give between the fruit and crumble. Serve it warm with a good dollop of clotted cream. Bliss!
Remove the stalks from the strawberries and cut any larger ones in half. Put the strawberries and raspberries into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over 1 tbsp of the sugar, then scatter over the ground almonds.
Put the flour and butter into a mixing bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the remaining sugar and flaked almonds.
Scatter the mixture evenly over the fruit.
Bake for 30–35 minutes until lightly golden.
Serve with clotted cream.
Recipes extracted from Easy by Chris Baber, out now.