Belfast Telegraph

Recipes: Simple ingredients for quick and easy meals


Getting home late and hungry only to find bare cupboards and the fridge empty - aside from some old lettuce leaves and a dribble of ketchup - is no fun for anyone. But, there is a way to avoid this depressing predicament.

In Zimbabwe-born, and now Bristol-based, Claire Thomson's new cookbook, The Art Of The Larder, the chef shares her thoughts and ideas for building up a store cupboard of ingredients.

The chef behind @5oclockapron believes anyone can cook, they just need the supplies to get them started. "It's about understanding ingredients and having everything in your store cupboard, then you're able to cook with greater ease and confidence," she explains.

"It just needs to be your everyday pulses, pasta, noodles, rice, jarred goods. Your larder needs to encompass all those things that mean when you get back from work, you can cook something from anything.

"Pasta and noodles are brilliant. They're the quick, thrifty food that can be made into a meal in minutes - you can go anywhere with them.

"My thing with pasta is often that I should be able to make the sauce in the time it takes for the pasta to cook.

"Pulses are a brilliant thing - you can go salads, soups, stews."

She adds: "Grains are fundamental too - but be adventurous with which ones you buy and use. Rice, lentils and flours - I'm all about diversity, buy little and often.

"Lots and lots of ingredients isn't good cooking husbandry. As a chef, you're encouraged to cook and use stuff with zero waste and use ingredients well and wisely.

"If you have loads of stuff on your shelves, sell-by dates on packets do work. For instance, pasta should be used within three months of opening."

Consider your fridge and freezer an extension of your larder, Claire says.

"Frozen spinach is a wonderful thing- it's like frozen peas in that it retains its nutrients.

"Fresh spinach can be difficult to come by, but frozen spinach you get quite a high yield for quite a small amount of money - chuck that in curries with coconut milk."

Here are a selection of Claire's recipes.

  • The Art Of The Larder, by Claire Thompson, photography Mike Lusmore, is published by Quadrille priced £25. Available now

Pork chops with rhubarb, honey, hazelnuts and ginger

Pork chops with rhubarb, honey, hazelnuts and ginger

What you'll need

  • 4 x 3cm-thick, bone-in pork chops
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 4tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30g hazelnuts, finely chopped or crushed
  • 300g rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces


  1. Place the pork chops between two sheets of clingfilm or greaseproof paper and, using a rolling pin, pound the fleshy part down to flatten slightly.
  2. Mix together two tablespoons of vegetable oil, half the ginger, three tablespoons of the honey, one teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of the hazelnuts and rub over both sides of the pork.
  3. Refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight or throughout the day is best).
  4. When ready to cook the pork, preheat the grill or pan to a medium-high heat. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan with the remaining tablespoon of honey, the remaining half a teaspoon of ginger and two tablespoons of water and cook over a low heat until tender, about six to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  5. Grill the pork chops on one side for four to six minutes, then turn over and grill on the other side for a further four to six minutes, until caramelised and cooked through. Remove from the grill and rest for five minutes.
  6. Serve the meat onto on a puddle of warm rhubarb, along with any of the meat resting juices. Finally, scatter everything with the remaining hazelnuts.

Pappardelle with cream, radicchio and prosciutto

Pappardelle with cream, radicchio and prosciutto

What you'll need

  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ a radicchio, finely shredded
  • 100g prosciutto, sliced into 5mm-1cm ribbons
  • 75ml double cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • nutmeg, freshly grated to taste, about 1/6tsp is ideal
  • 300g pappardelle, fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • 50-75g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Heat the butter in a large pan over a moderate heat and cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about eight to 10 minutes. Stir in the radicchio and the prosciutto and cook for one to two minutes, enough for the radicchio to wilt.
  2. Add the cream and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions and drain.
  3. Toss the cooked pasta in the cream sauce for a minute over the heat for the flavours to meld. Serve immediately with the grated cheese.

Pea sott'olio

Pea sott'olio

What you'll need

  • 80ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, very finely sliced, or 1 shallot, very finely sliced
  • a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves roughly chopped (use basil if you like)
  • 500g frozen peas, thawed
  • 1tsp (level) salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • grated zest of 1 lemon


  1. Put three-quarters of the oil into a saucepan with the garlic or shallot, mint and peas. Add the salt and pepper, together with about three tablespoons of cold water. Cover with a lid and simmer over a moderate heat for about five minutes, then remove from the heat and add the lemon zest.
  2. Pour the peas into a wide, shallow dish and top with the remaining oil. Check the seasoning and leave to sit for five minutes before serving.

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