Amirim Lemon-scented Labneh with Zhoug

Labneh is a beautiful soft cheese simply made from strained yoghurt that can be eaten with pretty much everything but which is an especially good friend to rich and spicy mezzes. The first time I tasted it I was sat at a little linen-covered table on the edge of a vegetable garden in Amirim, an entirely vegetarian organic…

Santorini Fava with Lemon and Capers

In Greece, fava is a dearly beloved dish of puréed yellow split peas the most prized of which come from Santorini, an island that is also justly proud of its incredible tomatoes – check out my recipe for tomato keftedes – and its wine. You can thank the volcanic soil for that. Served at room temperature on a summer’s…

Acre Amba Sauce

Amba sauce. When I think about it, I feel utter love because it’s such a beautiful thing. If Amba were a man, I would run away with him. My first experience of this Iraqi sweet and sour mango condiment was as I sat on the harbour wall in the Crusader town of Acre north of Haifa in Israel….

Umbrian Rocket and Walnut Pesto

‘When we first started cooking, dishes like lasagne and cannelloni were treated with suspicion. Few people knew what to expect. Thirty years ago these dishes were virtually unknown to the British population; only a few who had travelled to Italy had tried them. These dishes always had to be described in great detail before people…

Lebanese Batata Harra, Turmeric Spiced Potato Salad

Across the eastern Mediterranean – and, indeed, the whole of the Middle East – vegetable-based dishes are as much revered as any that may contain meat or fish. They are the heroes of mezze-based feasts; they are stuffed, they are stewed, deep-fried, sautéed and steamed. Above all, they are always in season and often purchased on…

Jerez Caramelised Shallot Tarte Tatin with Oloroso Sherry

It may seem crazy talking about Easter as we quietly start the dance with autumn but we’ve just returned from Italy and all I had in my kitchen was a pack of frozen puff pastry, some slightly bedraggled banana shallots and a half a bottle of Oloroso, the sweet robust fortified wine of Jerez de…

Turkish Ezme Salad

Eager to shake off the cold of an early spring evening, we literally fell through the doorway of Asmalı Cavit, a treasured wooden-fronted traditional meyhane (tavern) in the centre of Pera in Istanbul. Here, the raki flows like the waters of the glittering Bosphorus; never ending and always a sight to behold. Our friends are known to the…

Italian Herb-marinated Bocconcini

In spring, the meadows of Parque del Monte Subasio near Spello in Umbria are smothered with a carpet of flowers and aromatic herbs; over 80 specimens of them in fact. It is here that peasants used to come after the harsh winter to forage for seasonal pops of flavour to brighten their soups, stews and rustic…

Kasbah Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

As the sun dipped down above the High Atlas mountains, the pink plaster walls of the kasbah shone like bronze. The call to prayer from the Medieval Kasbah Mosque fell softly from its glorious minaret, the flickering lights from the Moroccan lantern threw jewels onto our table and, in the streets below, dozens of men and women…