Rustle up a feast with Ollie Dabbous

Impress your friends at your next dinner party with these three recipes from the celebrated chef’s new book Essential

Food and Drink 6 Sep 2021

After a series of accolades, it’s clear Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous knows a thing or two about how to rustle up a good meal, and now we can all take a leaf from his book (literally) thanks to the release of his new book Essential – a kitchen bible on how to keep it simple, refined and delicious. The Hide chef promises ‘boldly refined home cooking’ where ‘simple techniques, good taste and concise ingredients underpin every dish’. Try your hand at one of the following recipes.


A vibrant summer salad. Candy beetroot 89 lack the earthiness of regular beetroot and are sweeter and somehow more summery in flavour, marrying beautifully with red fruits. Like any good salad, this is full of counterpoints: simultaneously soft and crisp, sweet and salty. In autumn, try it with regular beetroot, tarragon, hazelnuts and blackberries.



4–6 candy beetroot, depending on size
fine sea salt

Raspberry dressing

150g raspberries
2 tablespoons Chardonnay vinegar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
6 tablespoons olive oil
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of black pepper


100g almonds, unpeeled


4 handfuls of mixed leaves
150g feta cheese, crumbled
handful of mint leaves (12 per person)



~ Place the beetroot in a large pan of water, deep enough to cover them.

~ Simmer for about 90 minutes until tender, then drain. Leave until cool

enough to handle, then peel.

~ Cut into large pieces, season with salt and dress while still warm in the raspberry dressing.

 Raspberry dressing

~ Crush half the raspberries with a fork and mix in the remaining ingredients

~ Add the remaining whole raspberries.


– Preheat the oven to 170 oC. Spread the almonds on a baking tray and toast in

the oven for 10–15 minutes or until lightly golden, then remove and cool. Roughly slice them; they should be small enough to mix with the other salad components, but need to retain identity and crunch.


~ Mix the leaves carefully with the beetroot and dressing, being careful not to crush the whole berries.

~ Scatter over a platter or individual dishes, then sprinkle over the feta, almonds, salad leaves and mint.



Brown shrimps can stand up to anything; they’re delicious with Indian spices, or tossed with buttery pasta.



360g whole milk
1 teaspoon malt extract
1 teaspoon caster sugar
8g fresh yeast, or 4g dried yeast
150g strong white bread flour
100g plain wholemeal flour
6g fine sea salt
1 tablespoon virgin rapeseed oil
sunflower oil, to fry
julienned spring onions (optional)


200g salted butter
150g peeled brown shrimps
pinch of ground mace
pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ garlic clove, crushed
juice of ¼ lemon
¼ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and
finely chopped
1 teaspoon Chardonnay vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons samphire, picked and blanched for 10 seconds in boiling water
pinch of fine sea salt



~ Warm the milk to 40 oC (just above body temperature), then remove from the heat and whisk in the malt extract, sugar and yeast to dissolve.

~ Mix both flours and the salt in a bowl, then whisk in the warm milk, followed by the rapeseed oil. Cover and leave to prove at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

~ Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with a small amount of sunflower oil.

~ Take a small ladle of the mixture for each pikelet and fry, in batches, for 2–3 minutes on each side, until light golden and cooked within. Transfer to a warm plate while you cook the rest.



~ Warm the butter until melted but not foaming and pour it over the shrimps, spices, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir to allow the flavours to combine.

~ Mix the cucumber, salt and vinegar in a bowl and leave for 15 minutes.

~ Stir the cucumber, parsley and samphire into the potted shrimps.


To serve

~ Place a warm pikelet on each plate and spoon over the shrimps, adding julienned spring onions, if you like.



Tea and cake, but not as you know it. This combination of bergamot from the tea with the ginger is delicious, while serving it warm and soft, just out the oven, adds a level of indulgence and comfort. It is definitely best served when it’s cold outside. Only seven ingredients needed here! The egg yolks go into the custard, the whites into the meringue.



Gingerbread custard

250g whole milk
250g whipping cream
6 egg yolks
65g caster sugar
140g Jamaican ginger cake, or
gingerbread, chopped

Earl grey meringue

1 Earl Grey teabag
120g caster sugar
3 egg whites
finely grated zest of pink grapefruit


Gingerbread Custard

~ Preheat the oven to 140 oC. Bring the milk and cream to the boil in a pan.

~ Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the hot milk. Pour into a blender and blend in the cake.

~ Place a clean tea towel in a roasting tray and sit 4 teacups within.

~ Pour the custard into these to come three-quarters of the way up and individually cover with cling film. Fill the tray to halfway up the cups with just-boiled water from a kettle.

~ Bake for 30 minutes until just set.Remove from the oven and from the water bath, then remove the clingfilm. As soon as the custard comes out

Earl Grey Meringue

~ Make a cup of tea with 100g water and the teabag, infusing it for 3 minutes. Pour this into a saucepan, removing the teabag.

~ Add the sugar and cook over a medium-high heat until it reaches 121C on a thermometer.

~ Separately whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a food mixer, then slowly beat in the sugar syrup, trying to avoid the beater, until shiny and stiff. Add the zest and mix well.

~ Transfer to a piping bag, then pipe the meringue on to the custard, or just spoon it on in a swirly shape.

~ Blowtorch to colour the meringue all over, or place under a hot grill, then serve while still warm.

All recipes from Essential by Ollie Dabbous (£30, Bloomsbury), published on 16 September