Entertaining Special

Click through each page for a delicious recipe from Fresh & EasyWhat to Cook & How to Cook It.

Shrimp & Asparagus Skewers

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 6-7 minutes

Makes 6 skewers, easily doubled

Note: Keep the shells on shrimp for the barbecue, as they protect the meat from overcooking too quickly, and also hold in all of the tasty juices. I like to serve these skewers with a mint aoli. With an easy hand blender method, it’s a cinch to make.


12 asparagus spears, the fatter the better

18 large uncooked shrimp, with the shells on

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 lemons

1 clove garlic

1 tsp Dijon mustard

scant 1 cup olive oil

1 small handful fresh mint

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the bottom 2 inches (5 cm) from each asparagus spear, as the ends can often be a bit tough. Cut each spear into two finger-length pieces.
  2. Boil the spears for just 2 minutes, then drain. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking, then drain again.*
  3. Thread 3 shrimp and 4 pieces of asparagus onto 6 metal skewers. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
  4. To make the aoli, separate the eggs (see page 61) and put the yolks into a tall pitcher. Squeeze 1 lemon and roughly chop the garlic. Add the garlic, mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the oil to the yolks.* *
  5. Put an immersion blender to the very bottom of the pitcher, then start it running. Pull the blender very slowly from the bottom of the pitcher. As you bring the blender nearer the top of the pitcher, the mayonnaise will thicken dramatically and you will feel a suction puling under the blades. Add more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. If the mayonnaise is a bit thick but tastes lemony enough, add a splash of water and blend again. This can be made a few days in advance and kept well chilled, if you like.
  6. Before you begin cooking, check that your charcoal is glowing white hot, or your gas grill is preheated to 400ºF. Season the skewers with salt and pepper, then grill for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the asparagus is slightly charred and the shrimp are pink all over. Quickly chop the mint and add to the mayonnaise. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges to garnish. Serve immediately with the mint aoli.

*Why pre-cook? Without a little pre-cooking, the asparagus would take far longer then the shrimp to cook on the grill. It also makes it easier to poke the skewers through the asparagus.
* * Gently crack the shell against the side of the bowl. Slowly pull the shell apart as cleanly as possible along the crack, tipping the yolk into one half of the shell. Let the white drain away into a bowl below. Drop the yolk into another small bowl.

Click through for the Sticky BBQ Chicken & Slaw recipe.

Sticky BBQ Chicken & Slaw

From Fresh & Easy: What to Cook & How to Cook It

Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus marinating

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 6, easily doubled

Note: For chicken pieces that are tender right through, I always cook them ahead of time in the oven, then finish them on the grill (barbecue). That way the coals can impart a char-grilled taste, and the chicken will fall off the bone. It also means you’ll have more room on the grill. The sauce is ideal for dipping sausages and wings and is just a little bit addictive.


12 chicken pieces: thighs and drumsticks are best, skin on

2 tbsp paprika

1 handful fresh thyme

2 tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp chili powder

½ cup dark brown (dark muscovado) sugar

2/3 cup tomato ketchup

1 tsp Tabasco sauce

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 small red cabbage

2 crisp, tangy apples

1 onion

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 generous tsp black onion (kalonji) seeds

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Slash the chicken pieces with a sharp knife, going right down to the bone. This will help the smoky taste to sink into the chicken and will also help the heat get into the meat as it cooks.
  2. Mix the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, chili powder, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl or food storage bag, then add the chicken and rub well. Leave the chicken in the rub for at least 1 hour—ideally up to 12 hours in the fridge.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Make the barbecue sauce. Mix the remaining sugar, ketchup, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. This can be made several days ahead, and will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
  4. Spread out the chicken in a large roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, until cooked all the way through (make a cut with a sharp knife to check—the meat may still be a little pink, as it is darker leg meat; however, it should not be bloody). This can be done several hours ahead, if it helps—cool the chicken and put into the fridge as soon as possible.
  5. For the slaw, cut the cabbage into wedges, remove any very hard bits from the central core, then thinly slice.
  6. Thinly slice the onion and the apples (no need to peel the apples first), and add to the cabbage in a large bowl.
  7. Mix the mayonnaise and vinegar together to make the dressing.
  8. Toss the dressing into the slaw, season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with the onion seeds. The slaw can be made up to a day ahead.
  9. Before you begin the final cooking, check that your charcoal is glowing white hot, or your gas grill (barbecue) is preheated to 400ºF. Place the chicken onto the grill and cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly, until charred and sizzling and hot through to the middle. Spoon or brush some of the sauce over it, then serve the chicken with the slaw and the rest of the sauce for spooning.


If it rains—Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Roast the chicken for another 10 minutes in the oven until sizzling and dark, then finish with the sauce as before.

Click through for the Summer Pudding Trifle recipe.

Summer Pudding Trifle

From Fresh & Easy: What to Cook & How to Cook It

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus cooling and chilling

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 8

Note: This recipe takes all the best bits of summer pudding (lots of intense fruit) and a traditional trifle (rich vanilla custard, liquor, and billowing cream) to create a true taste of the season. The proportions of the berries can be varied: as long as you have 5 cups of summer berries, plus 2 ¾ cups ripe strawberries, things will turn out just fine.


2 1/3 cups raspberries

scant 2 cups blackberries

scant 1 cup red currants

scant 1 cup black currants

generous ½ cup superfine sugar, plus a little extra

2 ¾ cups strawberries

4 eggs

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 ¼ cups whole milk

2 ½ cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

7 oz good-quality brioche or pound cake

5 tbsp orange liqueur (or orange juice for a non-alcoholic version)


  1. Put three-quarters of the raspberries, blackberries and currants into a medium pan, then add scant ½ cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water*.
  2. Simmer for 2 minutes until the berries are surrounded with juice but mainly still intact. Remove the strawberry tops, then cut each strawberry in half or quarters if large. Stir most of the strawberries into the hot fruit, then let cool.
  3. To make the custard, separate the eggs and put the yolks into a bowl. Add the remaining sugar and the cornstarch**.
  4. Whisk everything together until smooth.
  5. Put the milk, 1¼ cups cream and half of the vanilla seeds into a medium pan, then bring just to a boil***.
  6. Pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you pour, until smooth and even.
  7. Return the custard to a clean pan, then bring to a boil over medium heat until thick and smooth, stirring all the time. Strain into a bowl, sprinkle the surface with a little sugar (this will stop a skin from forming) and let cool for 15 minutes. Cover and transfer to the fridge to cool completely.
  8. When the fruit and custard have cooled, it’s time to layer up the trifle. Tear the brioche into pieces and put some into the bottom of a large serving bowl or trifle dish at least 3 ½ inches deep and 6-cup capacity. Sprinkle with some of the liqueur and let soak for a few seconds.
  9. Spoon some of the fruit and its juice over the brioche, then layer the rest of the brioche and fruit until it has all been used up and the brioche is totally covered. Keep adding a little liqueur to the brioche as you go, saving 1 tablespoon for later.
  10. Give the custard a quick whisk to make sure it’s smooth, then spoon it on top of the fruit and spread to the edges. Chill the trifle for a few hours or overnight.
  11. Whip the remaining cream with the rest of the vanilla and liqueur, until thickened but not stiff.
  12. Spoon the cream over the trifle, then decorate with the reserved currants and berries.


* PREPARING CURRANTS: To remove currants from their stems, hold them over a bowl, then run a fork along the stem from top to bottom. The currants will come off easily.
** SEPARATING AN EGG: Gently crack the shell against the side of a small bowl. Slowly pull the shell apart as cleanly as possible along the crack, tipping the yolk into one half of the shell. Let the white drain away into a bowl below. Drop the yolk in another small bowl.
*** DE-SEEDING VANILLA BEANS: To scrape the vanilla seeds form the bean, slit the bean along its length, then run a small knife along each side.