Easy dinner recipes the whole family will love

This hearty mac and cheese is great for when you’ve got a lot of mouths…

This hearty mac and cheese is great for when you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed (Issy Croker)

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t adore this – indulgent love on a plate,” write Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones in their new book, Love. Food. Family.

If you’ve got a lot of mouths to feed at dinner time, you can’t go wrong with this hearty mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese with crunchy sage breadcrumb topping

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

150g salted butter

5 garlic cloves, finely sliced

6 tbsp plain flour

1½ tbsp English mustard powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

6 bay leaves

2L semi-skimmed milk

600g dried macaroni

300g cheddar cheese, grated

100g parmesan cheese, grated

200g panko breadcrumbs

15 sage leaves

150g ball of mozzarella

Olive oil, for drizzling

Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C (425F), gas mark 7. Put the butter and garlic in a large saucepan and melt over a medium heat, then add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the mustard powder, paprika and bay leaves, reduce the heat and cook, stirring continuously, for five minutes.

2. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking as you go to avoid lumps. Bring the sauce to the boil, then leave it over a low heat to simmer, making sure you stir it often.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to a rapid boil over a high heat. Add the pasta and cook for six minutes.

4. Remove the bay leaves from the sauce, then drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Remove from the heat, give it a good stir and add two-thirds of the grated cheeses. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Tip the mixture into a 30 × 20cm baking dish, scatter over the breadcrumbs and place the sage leaves on top. Scatter over the remaining grated cheese and tear the mozzarella on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy on top.

Cod and chorizo stew

Quick to make but full of flavour (Issy Croker)

Quick to make but full of flavour (Issy Croker)

“We adore this stew. It’s quick to make but full of flavour (and tastes even better as leftovers the next day),” write Ellis-Bextor and Jones.

Here’s how to whip it up for your clan.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

200g cooking chorizo, chopped into bite-sized chunks

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 celery sticks, chopped

2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

400ml red wine

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 × 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

200g couscous

1 vegetable stock cube

300ml boiling water

400g cod fillets

½ bunch of flat leaf parsley leaves

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and chuck in the chorizo. Fry for a few minutes or until it starts to release a little of its oil, then add the onion and garlic and fry for a further five minutes.

2. Add the celery and peppers, along with the coriander and fennel seeds and fry for a further five minutes. Pour in the wine and let it evaporate a little, then add the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes and dried chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, bring the kettle to the boil. Place the couscous in a medium mixing bowl. Pop the stock cube into a measuring jug and pour over the measured boiling water, then give it a good mix. Pour 200ml of the stock over the couscous and cover or place a lid on top. Leave to steam for five to eight minutes.

4. Pour the remaining stock into the tomato pan and bring to the boil. Carefully nestle the cod fillets into the sauce so they are mostly covered, then pop a lid on the pan and simmer for five minutes.

5. Fluff the couscous with a fork. When the fish is lovely and flaky, serve the stew with a sprinkle of parsley leaves, with lemon wedges and some fluffy couscous on the side.

Our wedding tiramisu

The perfect romantic dessert (Issy Croker)

The perfect romantic dessert (Issy Croker)

Ellis-Bextor and Jones got married in Italy – and they reckon 90 per cent of the decision to wed there was based on Italian food.

“Tiramisu is our kind of pudding,” they write in their cookbook, Love. Food. Family. “Sweet but not too sweet, creamy but not too creamy and light enough to have seconds. Please.”

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 free-range eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

450g mascarpone cheese

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

150ml  double cream

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

300ml freshly brewed coffee (warm, not hot)

100ml dessert wine

200g Savoiardi biscuits or sponge fingers

50g hazelnut chocolate, finely grated

Cacao nibs (optional)

Method:

1. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two large mixing bowls.

2. Add half the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth and a little paler in colour. Add the mascarpone and vanilla bean paste and whisk until smooth. Pour in the cream and continue to whisk until it is completely incorporated.

3. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the egg whites and whisk until you have soft peaks. You can do this by hand or use an electric whisk. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture and mix until well incorporated.

4. Pour the warm coffee into a shallow dish along with the dessert wine and the remaining sugar. Place two dollops of the mascarpone mixture in a 25 × 15cm dish, and swirl it around to cover the base of the dish.

5. Soak a few sponge fingers in the coffee mixture for 10 seconds, or until a little soft but not falling apart. Layer the soaked fingers on top of the mascarpone layer and continue with this soaking and layering process, until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone mixture.

6. Top with the grated hazelnut chocolate and cacao nibs to finish. Chill in the fridge for one hour before serving. You can also make this ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight.

‘Love. Food. Family: Recipes From The Kitchen Disco’ by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones (published by Hamlyn, £20; food photography by Issy Croker).

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