SUCCOUR TIME:Bee Wilson’s dishes offer a fresh perspective on comfort food and are both straightforward and filling.

SUCCOUR TIME:Bee Wilson’s dishes offer a fresh perspective on comfort food and are both straightforward and filling.

SUCCOUR TIME: A new take on comfort food, Bee Wilson’s recipes are as simple as they are satisfyingBy Bee Wilson For The Daily Mail Updated: 07:13 EDT, 26 August 2023

SAUSAGE, GREENS AND POLENTA This is based on a recipe in Home Cookery Year by Claire Thomson, who comments that it is the kind of dish that makes you feel ‘replenished, and that all is well with the world’. The sausages are removed from their skins, browned and cooked with sturdy greens and chilli before being piled on top of soft cheesy polenta.Serves 1 20g butter or olive oil2 sausages (about 130g), squeezed out of their skins (if they are vegetarian sausages, chop them)150g cavolo nero (or any greens such as pak choi or spring greens), finely chopped, any tough stalks removed1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped a few rosemary, thyme or sage leaves, choppeda pinch of chilli flakes tiny dash of vinegar40g quick-cook polentaa grating of parmesanMelt half the butter or oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the sausage meat and cook until well browned. Add the greens, garlic, herbs and chilli, then cook until wilted. Taste the greens. If they’re not tender, add a spoonful of water and put a lid on the pan for a minute. Keep doing this until the greens are cooked to your liking. Add a tiny dash of vinegar.Meanwhile, combine the polenta with 250ml of water and a pinch of salt in a small to medium pan and cook over a medium heat, whisking, until thick. Stir the remaining butter or oil into the polenta and add the parmesan to taste. Serve in a shallow bowl with the sausage and greens mixture on top.TEN-MINUTE CHANA MASALA You can get this full-flavoured chana masala (Indian chickpeas) on the table in minutes. I would happily eat this for lunch every day, and leftovers are good for breakfast with a fried egg.Serves 22 tbsp oil4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated2cm piece of ginger, grated250g fresh tomatoes, washed and blitzed with a hand-held blender1 tbsp tomato purée1 tsp garam masala¼ tsp ground turmeric¼ tsp chilli flakes1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drainedflat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan or frying pan, and cookthe spring onions until softened – a minute. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a minute more, then add the tomatoes and tomato purée plus ½ teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add the spices and chickpeas and simmer for a couple of minutes more or until the sauce is thick and delicious. Check for seasoning, and sprinkle with parsley, if you wish. Serve with flatbreads and yogurt or on hot buttered toast.CHICKEN STEW This is easier than most casseroles because instead of laboriously softening onions, you throw in leeks, carrots and potatoes, which happily cook in the broth without any sautéeing. But I do think it tastes better if you brown the chicken in butter before the vegetables go in. If you make a big batch, you can live off this for a couple of days. It also means a bit of meat goes a long way.Serves 6-10500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (organic and/or free range) 25g unsalted butter400g leeks700g carrots500g baby new potatoes250ml white wine (or, if you are feeding children, you can use all water instead)6 cloves of garlic30g flat-leaf parsley, chopped (or use dill, tarragon, chives or oregano)At the enda squeeze of lemon plus some zest (optional) a spoonful or two of double creamTrim any big pieces of fat off the chicken and cut each thigh into 4 or 5 pieces. Alternatively, you can skip this stage for speed. In a large shallow lidded pan, heat the butter over a medium-high heat and add the chicken and a light sprinkle of salt.While the chicken is browning, clean your chopping board and knife and prep the veg. Cut the leeks in half lengthways, rinse out any grit and cut them into 1cm pieces. Peel the carrots and cut them into thick coins. Halve the potatoes.After each prepping job, check on the chicken in the pan and turn it to brown on all sides. Pour the wine into the pan. It will create billows of savoury steam and pick up the lovely brown chicken bits in the pan. Add the vegetables, including the unpeeled separated cloves of garlic, plus half the parsley or other herbs, 1 teaspoon of salt (this is optional; if feeding toddlers you can leave it out and season at the table) and 400ml of water. Cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender (check a couple of potatoes).Taste to see if it needs lemon and add a spoonful or two of cream and the remaining parsley or other herbs (or add at the table if you are feeding any parsley objectors). Eat in bowls and feel restored.VEGAN PEAR, LEMON AND GINGER CAKE  This is the kind of soft cake you might eat as easily with a fork for pudding as with fingers for afternoon tea. I make it in a square tin and decorate it with thin slices of whole pear because I always feel that the pregnant shape of the fruit is one of the most beautiful things in nature.Serves 83 medium pears (total weight about 300g, but don’t worry if it’s a bit over or under)2cm piece of ginger, grated40g soft brown sugar1 unwaxed lemonFor the cake200g self-raising flour1½ tsp baking powder160g soft brown sugar100ml light oil or olive oil100ml non-dairy milk, such as oat or coconut30g crystallised ginger, chopped (optional)demerara sugarPeel 2 of the pears, core them and cut into the tiniest dice you can manage. Put them in a bowl with the ginger, brown sugar, zest of the lemon and half its juice.Line a square 24cm cake tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6. Take the remaining pear, peel it and cut off 4 thin slices, core and all, which show its full swollen-bellied outline. Eat the remaining scraps of pear.In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the cake ingredients (except for the demerara sugar) along with the remaining lemon juice. Fold in the pear mix from the bowl. Scrape the mixture into the tin, decorate with the pear slices, sprinkle with a little demerara sugar and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is risen and a skewer comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for at least half an hour before eating.BREAD SALAD WITH COURGETTES AND GRAPES  This – a great way to use up stale bread from a good loaf – is pretty much my perfect stand-alone lunch salad, whether boxed up and taken somewhere or eaten from a plate at the table. What I love most about it is the way that the crispy pieces of bread become impregnated with vinaigrette.Serves 430g pine nuts100g spring onions450g courgettes, the freshest you can get and ideally yellow or pale green6 tbsp good olive oil200g substantial bread such as sourdough, sliced and torn into bitesize pieces1 tbsp rice vinegar1 lemon200g salad greens, washed and dried (I usually use spinach leaves but rocket plus lettuce would also be good, and if you have any mint leaves, throw them in too)150g red grapes, washed and halved100g-200g crumbly white cheese such as feta or goat’s cheesePreheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the pine nuts on a baking tray and into the oven for 3 minutes or until toasted (this can happen incredibly fast and a burned pine nut is not a happy thing). When they are done, tip them into a bowl to cool. Meanwhile, trim and thinly slice the spring onions, cut the courgettes into rounds and combine them with 2 tablespoons of oil and a few pinches of salt on the now-empty baking tray. On another baking tray combine the bread with 2 more tablespoons of oil. Put both trays in the oven. After 10 minutes, check to see if the courgettes are roasted and the bread is golden and crisp. You might need to give the courgettes another 5 minutes. When they are ready, tip the crispy bread on to the courgette tray. Mix together 100ml of water, a tablespoon of oil, a big pinch of salt and the rice vinegar. Pour this all over the tray and return it to the oven for another 5 minutes.Meanwhile, juice the lemon and combine it with the final tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Put the washed salad greens into a big bowl and mix with the lemon-and-oil mixture, the courgettes and bread. Scatter over the grapes, the pine nuts and the cheese, crumbled or cubed.JAMMY PLUMS WITH COCONUT CREAM Jam – including marmalade – is one of the most underrated fast ingredients for dessert. You can use it to glaze fruit tarts, to fill cakes or to make these glistening sugarplums, cooked in minutes on the hob. If the plums seem like work enough, don’t feel you need to make the coconut cream. Some plain coconut yogurt plus a drizzle of agave syrup or similar would be a fine accompaniment.Serves 2½ tbsp neutral oil4-6 plums (depending on size), halved and destoned1 tbsp sugar1 tbsp plum or damson jam (or any jam you have)½ tsp ground cinnamona pinch of ground cardamomrose petals, dry or fresh, to serveFor the coconut cream1 tin of coconut cream (160ml) or 1 tin of regular coconut milk (but make sure it is the good stuff, ideally Thai and not ‘light’)15g icing sugar½ tsp vanilla extractFirst, make the coconut cream. Spoon off the thick top layer of the coconut cream into a mixing bowl. (Save the watery part for another recipe such as soup, or use it to make porridge the next day.) Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract to the coconut cream and whisk – preferably with an electric whisk but a balloon whisk will do – until thick and cloud-like. No matter how long you whisk it, coconut never develops quite the same texture as dairy cream but it has another texture – half watery, half creamy – that is excellent in its own way when you develop a taste for it.Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, preferably cast iron, and cook the plums for a minute, cut side down. Add the sugar and continue to cook until the plums catch at the edges and go caramel-brown. Add the jam and gently continue to turn the plums in the pan until they are thoroughly glazed. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and cardamom. Put a dollop of the coconut cream on each of two plates, put the plums on top, then scatter over the rose petals.Now buy the bookOur recipes are from The Secret of Cooking: Recipes for an Easier Life in the Kitchen by Bee Wilson, with photographs by Matt Russell, to be published by HarperCollins on 31 August, £28. To pre-order a copy for £18 until 10 September, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £25

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