Have you ever watched Ratatouille? We know it’s a kids film, but it really is fantastic. And we won’t offer any spoilers to this animation about a rat chef who is trying to make it big in Paris, but there is this one very heartwarming scene we want to recap on. It’s when the wasp-tongued critic Anton Ego (fabulously voiced by Peter O’Toole) takes a mouthful of Remy the rat’s ratatouille and is transported back to his comforting, bucolic upbringing in France and the ratatouille recipe that his mother cooked.
It’s so magical because it’s something most of us can relate to. Whether it’s your uncle’s Christmas beef wellington, your mother’s chocolate birthday cake or simply the pear travel sweets that were hidden in your grandmother’s glove compartment in her beaten up volvo – each of these flavours refer back to a specific time and place simply through taste and smell. So we’ve spoken to chefs around the globe to find a host of secret family recipes.
My family spag bol
Chef Tristan Welch at Parker’s Tavern
“Spag bol has long been a go-to dish for many families and mine is no different! My version was created out of the pure fixation on transforming something simple into something luxurious… taking this dish to the next level! This recipe is for the weekend cook, for the parent who doesn’t normally have time during the week but can dedicated a few hours over the weekend, with a delicious reward at the end.
“Although don’t worry, lots of the time is to allow the meat to cook slowly, so there is plenty of time to entertain little ones and do chores around the house!
“The recipe uses three cuts of beef, bacon and lashings of tomatoes, this is a spaghetti Bolognese is frankly unforgettable and is on its way to becoming legendary at Parker’s Tavern.
“The way the meat breaks down into the sauce and thickens as it reduces, gives a rich Bolognese sauce and my top tip would be, don’t forget to cook the spaghetti for two minutes less than it says on the packet, pop it in to the sauce and finish cooking the spag cooking together. The end result is a well cooked and coated pasta.”
600g braising steak
6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
4 cloves of garlic
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 generous tbsp tomato paste
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 medium onions
1 stick celery
½ bottle red wine
2 litres stock beef
1 Tbsp butter
Pre heat your oven to 140c. To make the Bolognaise sauce heat the butter in a large oven proof sauce pan, season the steak with salt a pepper and brown with the bacon for about 20 minutes.
Finley chop the celery, garlic and onion, add to the pan, and continue to cook until softened. Stir in the tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme, fry gently for minute, add the wine and let bubble a little allowing the alcohol to evaporate.
Dilute with stock, cover with grease proof paper and place in the oven for 3hrs checking every 30 minutes or so, add a little more stock if it starts to dry out. Once cooked allow to rest stir with a wooden spoon to break the tender meat into smaller chunks.
To serve cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than it says on the packet reserving some of the cooking water, warm up the bolognaise sauce add a little of the pasta cooking water stir in the pasta and boil for a minuet allowing the pasta to soak up the sauce.
Serve hot and for an extra British touch, serve it with freshly grated Berkswell cheese, its slightly similar to parmesan which naturally works well too.
Tortelli for our big family gatherings
Chef Baldassare Amodio at Novikov
“This classic tortelli recipe is one I have enjoyed making and eating with my family for many years. It’s a great sharing dish, not too difficult to put together, and the quantity of ingredients can be increased if additional family or friends drop by unexpectedly for dinner.”
For the filling:
500g mashed potato
250g grated pecorino cheese
10 mint leaves finely chopped
For the pepper passata:
5 horn peppers, diced
1 garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper
For the tortelli dough:
400ml pasteurised whole eggs
50ml olive oil
For the pasta dough, in a large bowl mix the entire ingredients well, until you have a uniform mixture. Place the dough in a container wrapped with cling and leave in the fridge for 30 minute before use.
For the filling combine all the ingredients together, adjust the seasoning and place in a piping bag. For the passata, fry the garlic with olive oil until the garlic is golden brown in colour, then add the red pepper and cook until soft. Place the passata in a blender and make a smooth sauce.
In a large pot with boiling salted water add the tortelli and cook for 4 minutes, and when they rise, drain the water. Serve with the pepper passata underneath the tortelli.
Apple and cyder crumble cake, a collaboration between my relatives
Chef Alan Stewart at The Newt
“This recipe is very special to me for a couple of reasons. It was one of the first recipes I created at The Newt and it has been served in various venues across the estate ever since, including our online delivery. It is influenced by my mum’s apple cyder cake, with my (German) sister-in-law’s sugary streusel topping – a true family collaboration.”
175g unsalted butter
175 light brown sugar
3 medium eggs
250g self-raising flour
100ml The Newt cyder
500g cooking apples
For the streusel topping:
130g cold butter
100g ground almonds
1tsp ground cinnamon
130g brown granulated sugar
Peel and dice the apples in roughly 1cm chunks, add to a bowl with the raisins and pour over the cyder. Leave to marinate.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs then add flour and stir in the apple, cyder and raisin mix. Pour into a lined round cake tin.
To make the streusel topping, cube the cold butter and rub together with the dry ingredients.
Sprinkle this over the cake mixture and bake the whole thing at 160°C for approximately 45mins until cooked.
My dad’s jackfruit stir fry
Chef Sameer Taneja at Benares
“Up until the age of five I was told this was lamb as I had never had jackfruit before! During the whole cooking process, apart from dish being delicious, I could see all my dad’s love and care towards the family. I miss him and his cooking terribly.”
750g young green Jackfruit, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
150ml cooking grade mustard oil
4 tbsp chopped red onion
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 medium ripe tomatoes, pureed
½ tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 tsp chopped birds eye green chilli (with seeds)
1 tsp garam masala (Dad used pre bought)
2 tbsp gram flour
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Cover the jackfruit with water and add pinch of salt. Cook until 70% done or until it becomes tender but retaining the shape. Drain the jackfruit and reserve the water.
Heat the mustard oil until it smokes, then lower the heat and let the temperature of the oil come down until it is not smoking. Add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger with a pinch of salt. Sweat / sauté until the onions are soft. Add the tomato purée, and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat.
Add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and garam masala, then continue cooking for 5 – 7 mins on a medium heat (add 3-4 tbsp of reserve water if necessary if the mixture dries up).
Sprinkle gram flour on the boiled jackfruit and slowly place on onion and tomato mixture. Let it simmer for 5-6 mins, do not stir, just move them around so they don’t stick to the pan.
Turn the jackfruit individually and let it simmer for another 5- 6 mins, from other side, do not stir, just move the jackfruit around lightly.
Check seasoning, finish with lime juice and freshly snipped fresh coriander. Enjoy with griddled roti or steamed basmati rice.
Succulent salmon inspired by my parents
Chef Naz Ramadan at Bando Belly
“I’ve always been inspired by my family’s home cooking. My dad’s Turkish and my mum’s Jamaican, so in our house, nobody was ever used to eating the same thing twice – my dad was very adamant about this, so there was always something new when we created food at home.
“This dish is influenced by my love for Asian-American cuisine and my mum’s home cooking. My mum produced her own brand of sauce ‘Black Mamba Sauce’ – containing oyster sauce, garlic, coriander, hoisin and much more – and I’ve incorporated these family flavours into this dish.”
1 side of salmon
Finley minced prawns 200g
Spring onions 4 bunch (green bits only), finely chopped
Panko breadcrumb 1/2 cup
3 red chilli, finely diced
Ginger thumb grated
3 garlic cloves grated
1tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp old bay seasoning
2tbsp veg oil
3 finely diced shallots
Garlic, finely diced
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
Fresh herbs for garnish (I use coriander, mint, red chilli and Thai basil)
Our sibling shakshuka
Chefs and sisters Georgia and Megan Salamat at The Açaí Girls
“The menu is a celebration of all the fresh, delicious, local food inspired by our travels around the world. No matter where we went, food was the universal language that brought people together and the dishes on our menu takes us back to those happy places and little pieces of paradise. We’re super excited to be sharing our journey with others.”
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions finely chopped
1 aubergine, chopped in small chunks
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 x 400g tins good-quality chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
4 free-range eggs
1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
Salt and pepper
For the garnish:
Spring onion – sliced
Red chillies – sliced
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan with a lid. Once hot, add the onion and cook for around 5 mins until they are soft and translucent. Add the spices (paprika, cumin, cayenne and mustard seeds) and cook for a further 3 mins.
Now add the chopped aubergine, sliced pepper and garlic, cook for a further 5 mins to allow the veg to start to gain a little colour. Stir frequently to make sure nothing burns at the bottom on the pan.
Now add half of the chopped parsley, season generously with salt, cracked pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice and then add the tinned tomatoes and sugar. Cover the pan with its lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for at least 20 minutes, but around 30–40 is better as just means the flavours are more intensified and the sauce will be richer.
After at least 20 mins, hollow out four holes in the tomato mixture ready for the eggs. Crack in the eggs and cover with a lid again. Cook for around 5 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked but the yolk is still runny.
Sprinkle with crumble feta, pomegranate seeds, chopped spring onion, fresh red chillies and chopped parsley. Serve with buttery toasted sough-dough or flatbreads.
Winter gazpacho for my daughter
Chef Victor Garvey at Sola Soho
“Spanish food is in my blood. My late mother was half Spanish and I lived in Barcelona from the age of six until adulthood.
For the Gazpacho:
760g Marinda Tomatoes (or best tomatoes you can find) 55g shallots, peeled and diced
75g cucumber, peeled and diced
50g green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
70g sherry vinegar
60g rice vinegar
100g olive oil
3g xanthan gum
Salt to taste
For the Sorbet:
250g golden beetroot, peeled and chopped into half inch dice 80g caster sugar
10g lime juice
1g xanthan gum
Roasted red pepper
Peeled diced cucumber
For the gazpacho:
Place all ingredients except xanthan gum and olive oil in a container and let marinate overnight. Once rested, place them all in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve or chinoise once and then return the filtered mix to the blender. Add the xanthan gum and begin blending again on medium speed for 1 minute. Once it starts to thicken, trickle olive oil in while blending as if making mayonnaise. This will give it a silky texture that coats the palate. Once emulsified, place in a non-metallic container in the fridge to chill.
For the sorbet:
Place beetroot, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until tender and most of the water is evaporated (about 25 minutes). Let cool and then, in a blender, add lime juice and xanthan gum and blend until smooth (this will take some time). Pass through a fine sieve or chinoise and – if you have one – freeze in your ice-cream maker. If you don’t have one, you can freeze the mixture in a deep tray and scrape or shave it to make into a granita.
Ricotta and spinach-filled maremmani pasta from my village
Chef Aurora Baccheschi–Berti at Castello di Vicarello.
“This tortelli maremmani recipe was given to me by the women in our nearest village, Poggi del Sasso, but I have altered it and made it my own with my own mix of ingredients.”
Ingredients (serves 4-5):
For the ricotta and spinach:
150 g (5 1/4 oz) spinach
250 g (8 3/4 oz/ generous 1 cup) sheep milk ricotta
For the tortelli dough
200 g (7 oz/ generous 1 1/2 cup) plain white flour
100 g (3 1/2 oz/ generous 3/4 cup) hard (durum wheat) flour
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the ricotta and spinach:
Boil the spinach, squeeze it to eliminate any water and chop it finely. Add the ricotta, a generous amount of grated cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta:
Mix the two flours well and add the egg, oil and a pinch of salt. Work the dough into a smooth ball. Place it in a bowl covered with clingfilm or simply wrap it in clingfilm directly, and leave it in the fridge for anything between one and 24 hours. With a rolling pin or a pasta making machine, roll out strips 12cm (5 in) wide (or wider if you prefer larger tortelli) by one metre long.
On one strip, place lengthwise helpings of the ricotta and spinach mixture at regular intervals, then lay another strip on top. With your fingers, gently press as much air as possible out from between the strips, then cut them into tortelli with a knife or pastry wheel, and seal them well all around
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the tortelli for about eight minutes. Serve with melted butter and sage, or with fresh tomato sauce