3 Easy Recipes To Make This Weekend

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Northumbrian chef Chris Baber announced his debut cookbook, Easy, on Instagram last year. Within hours, Tom Daley and Gordon Ramsay were shouting about it on social media. Chris’s YouTube videos have now been viewed more than 4.5m times by fans eager for more of his tips, tricks and recipes for making good cooking simple. He gave us three fun dishes to try this weekend…

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I’ve had a passion for cooking ever since I can remember. Growing up in a small town in Northumberland, I’d come in from school and make dinner for the family most nights. I started off like most kids learning their way around the kitchen, mastering the classics like a good spag bol and trying new things when my confidence grew. It’s the way food brings people together and makes them happy that made me fall in love with cooking in those early days. 

I’ve always enjoyed the process, something I definitely got from my grandad. Every time we went over for food, he’d be in the kitchen singing away to the radio. He showed me that cooking isn’t just about the end goal, it’s an experience and the act of cooking can be just as satisfying as the act of eating. To this day, the first step in any of my recipes is to get the music going. The more you enjoy it, the more you’ll do it.

My love for cooking didn’t end in the family kitchen up north though. I began sharing my recipes online in 2016 for fun, taking photos of my dinner and banging it on social media for no real reason other than wanting to share good food with people and to make the kitchen feel accessible for anyone. 

My love for cooking didn’t end in the family kitchen up north though. I began sharing my recipes online in 2016 for fun, taking photos of my dinner and banging it on social media for no real reason other than wanting to share good food with people and to make the kitchen feel accessible for anyone. 

Later that year I won the BBC’s show for home cooks, Yes Chef. One of my food heroes, Atul Kochhar, was a judge during my run on the show and he offered me a job with him in his Michelin-starred restaurant in Mayfair. As a passionate home cook, I never aspired to work in a restaurant, but two weeks later I found myself cooking in one of the best places to eat in London, which was a real pinch-me moment. Taking everything I learned from Atul, I aspired to bring those skills into the home kitchen of the nation. I revved up my Instagram and remembered just how rewarding it was to help people fall in love with cooking. There’s nothing quite like hearing from a young family saying they made a recipe of mine and it’s become a family favourite.

Inspired? Here Are Three Of Chris’s Recipes To Try At Home…

Five-Spice Hoisin Duck & Rice Bowls

This is a mashup of duck with hoisin sauce and roast peking duck and rice. Roasting a whole duck is a real art form and takes over a day to prep, so I’ve used duck breasts to keep this quick and simple. They stay super juicy and I think are best served pink.

Serves
2
Total Time
25 Minutes
Ingredients
Ingredients
2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
2 tbsp of honey
2 duck breasts
2 tsp of Chinese five spice
250g of jasmine rice
½ cucumber, diced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp of toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
Salt
Method
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan
Step 2
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and honey to make a glaze. Set aside.
Step 3
Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the duck in a chequerboard pattern. Be careful not to score into the flesh.
Step 4
Pat the duck dry with kitchen paper. Season with salt and evenly coat in the Chinese five spice.
Step 5
Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
Step 6
Put the duck into a cold pan, skin-side down. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn the duck over. Pour over the glaze to evenly coat the duck.
Step 7
If your pan is ovenproof, transfer it straight into the oven. If it's not, put the duck on a preheated baking tray. Cook for 8-10 minutes for blushing pink meat or slightly longer for well done.
Step 8
Remove from the oven. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into thin slices.
Step 9
Serve on top of the rice with the cucumber and spring onions. Drizzle with the sesame oil and hoisin sauce. Give it all a good mix together before getting stuck in.

Bean Chilli Loaded Wedges

My loaded wedges make veg the star of the show. Bang them in the middle of the table and let everyone dive in. Pick and choose any toppings you like – the more the merrier for me. I love the contrast of creamy avo and soured cream against the rich spicy chilli and, for some extra indulgence, don’t hold back on the cheese.

Serves
4-6
Total Time
50 Minutes
Ingredients
Ingredients
6 sweet potatoes, skin on, cut into thick wedges
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
400g can of kidney beans
400g can of chickpeas
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp of brown sugar
100g pf cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
To Serve (Optional)
1 avocado, sliced
6 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp of sour cream or yoghurt
1 lime, cut into wedges
Method
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan.
Step 2
Put the wedges into a baking tray. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of oil, season and toss together. Bake for 30-40 minutes until slightly golden and cooked through.
Step 3
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and peppers. Season and fry for 10-12 minutes until the veg has softened and taken on a little colour.
Step 4
Add the paprika, cumin and chilli powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add the beans and chickpeas with the liquid from the cans along with the chopped tomatoes and sugar.
Season and bring to the boil.
Step 5
Cover loosely and simmer for 30 minutes until you have a thick, rich sauce. If the pan becomes dry during cooking, add a splash of water. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Step 6
Pour the chilli over the cooked wedges, then scatter over the cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Step 7
Scatter over your chosen toppings and serve.

Pesto Baked Eggs

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.

Serves
1
Total Time
20 Minutes
Ingredients
Ingredients
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 garlic clove, sliced
400g can cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp basil pesto
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Bread, to serve
Method
Step 1
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat.
Step 2
Fry the garlic for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the pesto and season with salt and pepper.
Step 3
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.
Step 4
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.
Step 5
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.

Easy by Chris Baber is out on 7th April. Buy it here.

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