Recipes from A Simple Table

A Simple Table

by Michele Cranston

More than 100 fresh and fabulous recipes for every day, from one-pot, midweek suppers to shared plates and side dishes for a weekend feast

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This cake is slightly sponge-like in texture and it's always a surprise that it carries the weight of the cherries. I use bottled morello cherries because they have such a lovely sweet sourness and they can be sourced year round. They usually come with the seeds removed, but check them carefully before you add them to the base of the tin - an unexpected cherry seed comes as an unwelcome addition to any cake.


680 g (1 lb 8 oz) bottled morello cherries
3 large free-range eggs
330 g (111/2 oz/11/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
300 g (101/2 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
300 ml (101/2 fl oz) thickened cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 22 cm (81/2 inch) square cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid, and then arrange the cherries over the base of the tin.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, 275 g (93/4 oz/11/4 cups) of the sugar and the orange zest for about 5 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Add the olive oil and beat for a further 1 minute. Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and gently fold to combine.

Pour the batter over the cherries in the tin. Using a spatula, smooth the top of the batter, drawing the mixture up at the sides a little. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Meanwhile, put the reserved liquid from the cherries, the remaining 55 g (3 oz/1/4 cup) of sugar and the cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5–10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Turn the cake upside down onto a serving plate and spoon the syrup over the cake. Top with the whipped cream and dust with extra cinnamon.


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Lamb shanks always make me think of winter and, to be honest, it's the only time I really feel like cooking them. With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to bring some summery flavours to this wintery dish. I've given the shanks an Asian twist with Thai green curry paste, ginger, coconut milk and a scattering of fresh coriander.


80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) olive oil
4 lamb shanks (1 kg/2 lb 4 oz in total)
3 brown onions, sliced
2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
90 g (31/4 oz/1 bunch) coriander (cilantro), rinsed well
270 ml (91/2 fl oz) coconut milk
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby kipfler (fingerling) potatoes, scrubbed and halved
300 g (101/2 oz) green beans, trimmed and halved lengthways
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish or deep-sided frying pan over high heat and cook the lamb shanks until browned all over. Transfer the shanks to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Heat the remaining oil in the casserole dish over medium heat and add the onion, curry paste, ginger and turmeric. Finely chop the roots and stems of the coriander and add them to the onion, stirring to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is light golden, then pour in 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water. Return the lamb shanks to the dish.

Cook the shanks for 30 minutes, then pour the coconut milk into the dish and add the potatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, then add the green beans and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Just before serving, drizzle the lemon juice over the shanks and scatter with the coriander leaves.


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This salad is all about the play between the milky richness of the ricotta, the minty freshness of the peas and the salty sweetness of the prosciutto, so please only use the best ingredients - and by that I mean freshly sliced prosciutto and a thick wedge of full-fat ricotta from the delicatessen. Don't use the supermarket ricotta that comes in a tub, which I'll admit does have its culinary uses, but not in this salad.


140 g (5 oz/1 cup) frozen peas
100 g (31/2 oz) sugar snap peas, trimmed
10 mint leaves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small head of radicchio, cut into thin wedges
6 slices prosciutto, halved
115 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) fresh full-fat ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes, then add the sugar snap peas and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the mint, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drain the cooked peas and put them in the bowl with the mint and dressing. Stir to coat the peas.

Arrange the radicchio wedges in the base of two large shallow bowls. Top with the prosciutto, ricotta and dressed peas, then sprinkle with the pine nuts.

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