Rick Stein has written more than 25 cookbooks, but this is the first to celebrate his all-time favourite home-cooked meals.
Any other year, British restaurateur and peripatetic TV presenter Rick Stein might have been living out of a suitcase while seeking recipe inspiration far and wide, as he has while making cooking shows in India, France and around the Middle East. But being grounded in Cornwall for much of 2020 gave Stein the time and the opportunity to think about the pleasures of home cooking.
His latest cookbook, Rick Stein At Home, celebrates the meals that come up trumps when he's at home – not fancy dinner party pieces but the dishes he puts on the table when friends and family are around, using local ingredients as well as what he happens to have in the fridge.
The thought behind this recipe was to come up with a dish that uses all the vegetables currently grown by the farmers who supply our Cornwall restaurants in late August – things like carrots, zucchini, broccoli and new potatoes. Ross Geach at Trerethern Farm, also known as Padstow Kitchen Garden, grows wonderful vegetables on his land overlooking the Camel estuary. The view alone makes you feel the vegetables will taste really special, which indeed they do. I cooked this for a sequence in my Rick Stein's Cornwall series, having remembered a lovely slow-cooked vegetable dish called briam from the island of Corfu, and it works a treat. As our local vegetables don't perhaps have the intense sweetness of Mediterranean produce, I added some chilli and feta to give it a bit more oomph.
- 150ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 500g waxy new potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into 5mm slices
- 400g carrots, peeled or scrubbed and sliced lengthways
- 2 large zucchini (about 400g), sliced lengthways
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 300g broccolini
- 4 large tomatoes (or 6 medium), thickly sliced
- 1 red or green finger chilli, sliced
- handful flatleaf parsley, chopped
- a few thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from the woody stalks
- 200ml passata
- 100g feta, crumbled
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced (190C conventional). Grease a roasting tin or a shallow, lidded casserole dish with oil. Spread the potato slices in a single layer and season well with salt and pepper.
- Layer the carrots on top, then the zucchini, then the onion and garlic, seasoning each layer with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Scatter over the broccolini and cover it with tomato slices. Add the chilli, herbs and a final sprinkling of salt and pepper. Pour over the passata and the olive oil.
- Cover the roasting tin tightly with foil or put a tight-fitting lid on the dish and place in the oven for about 1¼ hours. Sprinkle over the crumbled feta and return the tin to the oven, uncovered, for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Allow it to cool slightly before serving as a side dish or as a main with crusty bread or rice.
Tip You can use any late summer vegetables you have for this dish.
Vietnamese poached chicken salad with mint and coriander
What appeals to me about this salad is the combination of lightly poached chicken, bean sprouts, spring onions and herbs with roasted chopped nuts and sesame seeds, and the slightly gloopy fish sauce, lime juice and chilli dressing.
- 50g root ginger, peeled and sliced
- 4 small skinless, boneless, free-range chicken breasts
- ½ large cucumber
- 8 spring onions, trimmed, halved and shredded
- 150g fresh bean sprouts
- small handful mint, leaves torn into small pieces
- small handful fresh coriander sprigs
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 60g roasted, salted peanuts, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp light soft brown sugar
- ½ tsp cornflour
- 1 medium-hot red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Put the ginger into a large, shallow pan with a litre of water and bring to the boil. Add the chicken breasts and leave them to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the liquid.
- For the dressing, put the Thai fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice and sugar into a small pan and bring to the boil. Mix the cornflour with a teaspoon of water, stir this into the pan and simmer gently for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then stir in the red chilli and garlic.
- For the salad, peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut the flesh into 5cm-long matchsticks and add them to a large bowl with the spring onions, bean sprouts, mint and coriander, then toss together.
- Lift the chicken breasts out of the poaching liquid and pull them into long chunky strips. Add these to the salad bowl and mix gently. Serve the salad with the dressing drizzled over the top and scattered with sesame seeds and chopped peanuts.
Tip When peeling ginger, use the bowl end of a teaspoon to scrape the skin off. It's much easier than using a peeler.
Chicken and prawn stir-fry with black bean sauce and coriander
I can't claim this is an authentic Chinese recipe. It's just something I make because the flavours of the black bean sauce, Chinese five-spice and plenty of chilli appeal to me. I often cook this dish with strips of pork tenderloin, but most popular with my family is this chicken and prawn version. The cooking of the vegetables is a bit arbitrary; all you need to ensure is that they retain plenty of crunch. My stir-fries vary – sometimes I use baby corn, sometimes zucchini. It's really down to what you have in the fridge.
- 1 x 1.3kg free-range chicken, boned and skinned, or 2 chicken breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks, boned and skinned
- 45ml sunflower oil
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 10cm root ginger, peeled and sliced or grated
- 2 tbsp black bean sauce
- ½ tsp Chinese five-spice
- 60ml Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 30ml soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 2 red chillies, sliced
- 100g green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
- 100g snowpeas
- 100g button mushrooms, sliced
- 100g raw peeled prawns
- 100g bean sprouts
- 1 tbsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
- 30g coriander, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and sliced diagonally
- steamed jasmine rice
- chilli oil or soy sauce
- Cut the chicken into finger-sized pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant and golden. Add the black bean sauce, Chinese five-spice, Shaoxing wine or sherry, soy sauce, salt, sugar and chicken, then fry until the chicken is browned but not fully cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and keep them warm.
- Add a little more oil if needed, then the red pepper, chillies, green beans, snowpeas and mushrooms. Cook for a minute or so, then put the chicken back in the wok and add the prawns, bean sprouts and 100ml of water. Let the mixture bubble, add the cornflour paste and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened to a silky, clear honey-like consistency that clings to the chicken. Stir in the coriander and spring onions and remove from the heat.
- Serve with steamed jasmine rice and chilli oil or soy sauce.
Tip When making this, keep the chicken bones for stock and the skin for delicious crispy chicken skin snacks.