Asparagus and hollandaise

Prep 10 minCook 15 minServes 4

24 spears green asparagus4 egg yolks300g unsalted butter, melted1 good squeeze lemonSalt and white pepper

Holding the asparagus towards its base, gently bend the spear so that the woody end snaps off. Wash well.

To make the hollandaise, put the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Add a small splash of water (about a teaspoon’s worth) and whisk together until the yolks are thick and frothy. Very slowly whisk in the butter in a thin stream until the sauce has the consistency of yoghurt. Add a squeeze of lemon and season with salt and white pepper. Take off the heat and keep warm.

Boil the asparagus in salted water for about four minutes. They want to be tender – neither crunchy nor mushy. A good way to test this is to give the middle of the asparagus spear a squeeze with your fingers; the asparagus should just yield to the pressure.

Drain the asparagus well, arrange on a serving dish and pour over lashings of hollandaise. Some bread for mopping up is a wise idea.

Slow-roast duck legs with bacon and onions
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Anna Tobias’ slow-roast duck legs, onions and jersey royals.

Prep 10 minCook 2 hr 15 minServes 4

For the duck legs4 duck legsSalt and black pepper150g lardons80g button onions or shallots, peeled and left whole½ bunch sage, leaves picked225ml dry marsala100ml water2 bay leaves

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan) gas 5. Choose a casserole or baking dish that will fit the duck legs in a single layer. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper and put in the casserole or a frying pan skin side down. Put the pan on a medium heat but do not add any oil to the pan – the duck should let out enough of its own fat to fry itself. Brown the legs well on both sides then remove from the pan.

Add the lardons to the pan and fry until golden and crisp. Then add the onions and fry until they too are golden. Sprinkle in the sage leaves and let them soak up the remaining fat, and fry for a minute or two. Add the marsala and water to the pan and boil for two minutes.

Pour off any excess fat so you are left with about two or three tablespoons still in the pan (it’s important to leave some fat as it adds flavour).

Put the duck legs back in the casserole skin side up, along with the bay leaves. If using a baking dish, then transfer all of the ingredients to this now. Cover snugly with a piece of grease-proof paper (or cover with foil if using a baking dish). Put in the oven and bake for an hour and a half.

Check the legs after this time: they should be cooked through and yielding. Put a skewer through the thigh and gently twist – the flesh should ease away from the bone. If they are still a little tough, then return to the oven for another half an hour.

Increase the oven temperature to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6.Remove the lid/foil and cartouche and put the casserole back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the duck skin is crisp and golden. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Serve the duck with the peas and buttered, seasoned jersey royals. Ensure that everyone gets some bacon, onions and gravy on their plate.

Braised peas and lettuce
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Anna Tobias’ braised peas and lettuce.

Prep 10 minCook 25 minServes 4

4 heads little gem lettuce1 bunch spring onions40g unsalted butter500g fresh or frozen peas (shelled weight if using fresh)Salt and black pepper1 splash sherry vinegar1 small bunch of curly parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped

Remove the outer leaves of the little gem if they look ragged, and discard. Split the gems in half lengthways and swill around in water to wash them Peel back the outer layer of the spring onions, trim the bases and roughly chop.

In a lidded pan that will hold the gem in one layer, melt 25g of the butter and sweat the spring onions on a gentle heat for five minutes to soften them. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Very lightly brown the gem halves cut side down in the fat. Turn right side up and scatter over the spring onions and peas. Give the pan a little shake so everything nestles in together, and season.

Pour in three tablespoons of water. Put a lid on top and put on a high heat for two minutes to get things going. Then reduce the heat right down and allow the peas and lettuce to braise slowly. Check the pan every so often to make sure it is not boiling dry – add extra water if this is the case.

After about 20 minutes, the peas should be cooked and sweet. Stir in the remaining butter and add a small splash of sherry vinegar. Bubble for a minute then remove from the heat. Check the seasoning and finally, sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with buttered, seasoned jersey royals.

Rice pudding with loose fruit jam
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Anna Tobias’ rice pudding with loose fruit compote. We used rhubarb here, but you can use cherries instead. Photograph: Kim Lightbody/The Guardian. Food styling: Sam Dixon, Prop styling: Louie Waller

Prep 10 minCook 1 hr 40 minServes 4

For the fruit jam400g rhubarb or 500g cherriesZest and juice of 1 orangeJuice of ½ lemon (if using rhubarb)200g caster sugar (if using rhubarb)100ml water (for the cherry version)

For the rice pudding80g unsalted butter100g sugar135g pudding rice1 litre whole milk200ml double cream1 tsp vanilla extract1 pinch salt

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan) gas 4. To make the rice pudding, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the sugar, and cook until you have a dark-golden caramel.

Add the rice and stir for two minutes. Add the milk, cream, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, and slowly bring to a boil. The caramel will solidify when you add the cold liquid, but don’t panic: it will melt again as it warms up.

When boiling point is reached, pour the mixture into an oven dish and put in the oven. Bake for an hour and a half, until golden brown on top.

Meanwhile, make the jam (which is really something between a compote and a jam), wash the fruit (and trim the ends off if you are using rhubarb, or stone the cherries if you are using them). Cut into 5cm lengths, put into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients, and mix. Put on a medium-high heat and cook at a vigorous bubble for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit has the consistency of a thick compote. Stir every now and then to ensure the fruit does not catch, and skim off any froth as it forms. Leave to cool.

When the rice pudding cooking time has passed, remove it from the oven. It may still look a little loose, but it thickens as it cools. Serve warm with a dollop of the jam on top.

If you have any leftovers, put some of the pudding in a glass or ramekin, then cover in a layer of jam. Put this in the fridge and you have a posh, homemade ‘Muller’ rice pudding treat for the next day.