Six dishes that scale easily (and some aïoli)

Sometimes you need to cook for 20+ with only a few hours to spare. What to do? Here are six dishes that scale easily… and are not very time-sensitive (unlike a soufflé).

  • A kitchen with two ovens is recommended.
  • As are good sharp knives (say, from Wüsthof, Zwilling – or a good Japanese Santoku).
  • Plus one, or ideally two, good-humoured people helping out – and a good playlist.


All what follows will go nicely with some aïoli. Get some good mayo, smash garlic to your heart’s content, mix. Done. That said, garlic is a broad category – Spanish Roja is a good choice for both this and the roasting uses suggested below.

Lemon Celeriac

This is the simplest of the dishes – you need just four ingredients:

  1. Celeriac – a kilo or so
  2. Unwaxed lemons
  3. Olive oil
  4. Salt

Get a good large celeriac root, remove the rough outer layer with a knife or a potato peeler. And then wash. You’ve now turned a beast into what will become beauty. Patiently and carefully cut – and then lay slices out on a baking tray (with oiled baking paper). Put a slice of good, unwaxed lemon in-between each celeriac circle as you stack them up. Add a pinch of salt and a generous drizzle of olive oil as you go along.

Cook in the oven for 45 min or so at 150°– that said, celeriac is delicious all the way from raw through to fully cooked, so adjust so it matches your own preference. A good source of Vitamin K either way.

Chickpeas Ras el Hanout

You’ll need just seven ingredients:

  1. The best chickpeas you can find – 1kg is a good amount
  2. Ras el Hanout
  3. Shallots
  4. Spanish Roja Garlic
  5. Olive oil
  6. Tomato
  7. Parsley

If you’re using dried chickpeas, don’t forget to soak them overnight in advance and then boil before starting this recipe.

Ras El Hanout from BartFinely chop shallots and garlic. Fry in the olive oil – and then add more fRas el Hanout than you think makes sense. If you’re not local to a good traditional spice market, or can’t fly to Marrakesh for the day, then I commend Bart’s to you.

Reduce the heat whilst stirring so it mixes rather than burns. If it gets too dry, add more olive oil. Then throw in the chickpeas, mix so they’re all well-covered and let them simmer.

Garnish before serving with some finely chopped tomato and a bit of parsley.

Rosemary & thyme potatoes

You need eight ingredients – so a bit more complex, yet nowhere as hard as the asks in Scarborough Fair.

  1. Potatoes – 2kg
  2. Olive oil
  3. Pepper
  4. Salt
  5. Rosemary
  6. Thyme
  7. Rosé / white wine
  8. Balsamic

Simon & Garfunkel cover - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and ThymeWash the potatoes but don’t peel them. Put salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme + olive oil into a large shakeable container (for example a large bowl with firmly closing lid). Add a large glass of a nice rosé or white wine (rewarding yourself with another glass). You can always cue up some a Keith Floyd to watch later.

Cut potatoes into boats and into the container. Shake vigorously. Decant into a very large oven tray (lined with baking paper). Stick a whole bulb of garlic in the corner. Ideally a very large one, or if smaller, 2-3… you can also scatter some cloves in-between the potato boats if you like.

Put into an oven which is 250°and turn it down to 150°C after a couple of minutes (the first blast is to burn off the alcohol and start the caramelisation process). Leave for a good hour and then you can turn down just below 100 and keep warm till the guests arrive.

Add fresh rosemary & thyme as you serve + a good turn with the black pepper mill. If you have a sharp knife you can halve the garlic so it is easier to access…

Macadamia & Walnut Aubergines

You need six things for this one:

  1. 3-4 large aubergines
  2. Garam Masala
  3. Olive oil
  4. Garlic
  5. Balsamic
  6. Salt

Slice aubergines lengthways. Smash garlic and mix with Garam Masala, olive oil and balsamic + a pinch salt (to taste). Use the shaking method from the potato recipe above.

Add to an oven tray (with oiled baking paper). Scatter macadamia and walnuts liberally.

Cook at 150°for 45min or so and then if the guest haven’t arrived, reduce the heat to just under 100°to keep them warm.

Pine nut & fennel seed courgettes

  1. Courgettes – 1kg
  2. A whole bag of pine nuts
  3. A handful of fennel seeds
  4. Pecorino or another salty hard cheese
  5. Olive oil
  6. Balsamic
  7. Freshly milled pepper

Stripe a courgette with a potato peeler and then cut it into big chunks. Mash / smash a couple of cloves of garlic (taking out the germ before you do it). Finely slice some shallots. Heat olive oil and fry onion and garlic – and then add pine nuts and fennel seeds. Once the pine nuts have a bit of colour, add courgette and fry. Grate some cheese and let it melt. Don’t worry if it sticks a bit to the pan, just scrape it – this is good stuff. Transfer to a large bowl, crack pepper, serve…

Multigrain bread

  • 500g of the best multigrain flour you can find
  • 350ml liquid (half beer, say and IPA or Alt + half hot water so you end up with something 35-40 degrees)
  • Olive oil to taste
  • 6-8g salt (to taste)
  • 1 packet of yeast (if you haven’t got fresh to hand)

Mix, knead, rest 5min, knead again, form one or two loaves. Rise for an hour or three. Heat oven to max. Put the bread in and check after 25-30min. Once they sound hollow when the base of the bread is knocked, they’re done. Be careful not to burn yourself when you do this test.

Serve – either with butter – or a plate of olive oil & balsamic. Or the aïoli above. Enjoy.

Good luck!

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