Joe Swash’s ode to his father Ricky, who passed away suddenly when the
London-born actor and presenter was 11 years old, is incredibly moving.
“He was a
London taxi driver but he would do a lot of half marathons, he would run three
or four times a week,” Swash recalls with pride.
ate healthy. Like he would cut the fat off his bacon – I love the fat on my
bacon! The doctor said it was a thing called sudden death syndrome,” Swash
Now 40, the
former EastEnders star, who has just released his first recipe book, says he
had difficulty coming to terms with his grief as a child.
never had counselling, Swash says he’s always found cooking therapeutic, which
is why he’s the main chef in his household.
aims to help other busy parents put wholesome meals on the table. “Like a lot
of people, we’ve got families, we both work. It’s all the sort of things that
Stace and I do to make our lives easier,” says Swash.
and Marmite scrolls
white flour, plus extra for dusting
beaten, for brushing
1. Put the
flour and yeast in a bowl and stir. Drizzle in the oil, then add the Marmite,
salt and sugar or honey. Gradually work in the water until you have a fairly
2. Turn the
dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic.
There is a very simple test called the ‘window pane test’ to check if it has
been kneaded for long enough. Very gently stretch the dough – if you can
stretch it to the point where it is almost thin enough to see through, without
it breaking, it is ready.
3. Put the
dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave it somewhere warm
for one-and-a-half to two hours until it has puffed up to about twice the size.
4. Turn the
dough onto a floured surface and knock the air out of it so it deflates. Shape
it into a large rectangle – about 35 x 25cm. Mix the Marmite with the cream cheese
– it will go quite runny – and spread it all over the bread. Sprinkle with the
5. Roll up
the dough along the longest side, quite tightly, then cut it into 12 rounds.
Arrange the rounds over a baking tray lined with baking paper. Space them a
couple of centimetres apart as they will spread and touch one another – like a
tear and share bread.
with a damp tea towel and leave again – this time for about 30 minutes – until
the dough has increased in size but is still quite firm. Preheat your oven to
its highest setting.
the rounds with beaten egg and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in the oven for 20–25
minutes until they are cooked through and a deep golden brown. Serve warm from
the oven. Store any leftovers in an airtight tin for a few days.
onion or shallot, finely chopped
mushrooms (white/button/cremini/chestnut), finely chopped
cloves, very finely chopped
sprig of thyme, leaves picked
wine or Vermouth
chicken or mushroom stock
Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
mushrooms, sliced if large
cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1. Heat the
olive oil and half the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the onion or shallot
and the leek and cook very gently, stirring regularly, until soft and
2. Add the
mushrooms to the pan. Turn up the heat and fry until they have given out their
liquid and look dry but glossy. Add the garlic and thyme and stir for a couple
3. Add the
rice and stir for a couple of minutes until glossy with butter. Season with
salt and pepper. Pour in the wine or Vermouth and let it bubble away until
almost completely evaporated.
4. Add a
large ladleful of the hot stock. Stir constantly but slowly until most of the
liquid has been absorbed by the rice, then continue to add ladlefuls of stock
in the same way until the rice has plumped up and is al dente and the sauce
around it is creamy. You may have a small amount of the stock left.
5. Add the
remaining butter and the Parmesan and beat it into the risotto – this will make
the risotto extra creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cover
and keep warm.
6. Place a
frying pan over a high heat and add the butter. When it is foaming, add the
mixed mushrooms and fry them very quickly until well browned. Add the garlic
and stir for a couple of minutes, then season with salt and pepper.
the risotto garnished with the mushrooms and more grated Parmesan for people to
add at the table.
chocolate soufflés with raspberry sauce
chocolate, grated or chopped
3 pieces of
pared orange zest (optional)
a few drops
of vanilla extract
of tartar (optional)
To coat the
raspberries (frozen are fine)
A few more
berries (preferably fresh)
double cream (optional)
make the sauce. Put the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with
50ml of water. Heat slowly, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then
continue to cook until the raspberries have broken down.
2. If using
the cornflour to thicken, mix it with a splash of water. Stir into the berries
and keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Push through a sieve into
a clean saucepan and add the framboise, if using.
3. You need
four 150ml ramekins. To prepare them, brush melted butter around the insides.
Dust the insides with caster sugar and put the ramekins in the fridge to chill.
4. Mix the
sugar, flour, cornflour and white chocolate together in a medium bowl.
5. Heat the
milk with the pared orange zest, if using, and the vanilla extract. When the
milk is close to boiling point, pour it from a height over the flour mixture,
whisking as you do so. Keep whisking until the chocolate has melted and you
have a lump-free liquid.
6. Tip the
mixture back into the saucepan and heat, bringing it back up to boiling point.
Stir constantly as the custard mixture will thicken very quickly. As soon as
you can tell it is thickening, whisk vigorously to prevent any lumps forming.
the pan from the heat and transfer the custard to a bowl. Leave to cool, then
leave in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour or until you are close
to wanting to cook your soufflés.
the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Remove the custard from the fridge and beat
in the egg yolks.
the egg whites with the cream of tartar, if using, to stiff peaks stage. Fold
into the custard mixture, a third at a time. Be gentle, so you don’t knock all
the air out of the whites.
the mixture into the prepared ramekins right to the top. For the best rise, scrape
a palette knife cleanly across the top, then run your finger around the inside
rim of each ramekin.
11. Put the
dishes in a roasting tin and carefully pour just-boiled water around them. Bake
in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until well risen and lightly browned on top. Do
not open the oven door to check during this time, as it will cause the soufflés
Transfer the ramekins to four plates or shallow bowls. Pass the raspberry sauce
and berries round – it is traditional to break into the top of the soufflé and
pour in the sauce and/or cream or ice cream.
Kitchen: Homemade Meals For A Happy Family by Joe Swash is published by