PERFECT ROAST POTATOES Needs must and all that, so I have always been an open anti-perfectionist, but in truth (and I’m sorry to repeat what I’ve said before) it is impossible to cook roast potatoes without needing them to be perfect, which to me means sweet and soft inside and a golden-brown carapace of crunch without.
REDDER THAN RED CRANBERRY SAUCE When I was a child, I don’t think fresh cranberries were ever seen in England. For me, cranberry sauce came out of a jar – and my mother was the sort of person who made her own mayonnaise. Actually, I have nothing against shop-bought cranberry sauce (and recommend it in various recipes), but I personally don’t quite see the point: it is ridiculously easy to make, and tastes so much better homemade.
CHESTNUT AND PANCETTA SALAD In the original recipe, I used escarole lettuce and you still could but I find a mixture between laziness, ease and aesthetics leans me now more towards those mixed bags of many-coloured designer salad leaves. This is one of my favourite first courses.
BUTTERNUT AND SWEET POTATO SOUP Ever since I overcame my prejudices about buying pre-chopped fruit and veg, my cooking life has got a lot simpler. And you should know that in Italian markets, storeholders regularly sell peeled and prepared vegetables bagged up to make their customers' life easier.