You see, at the end of the day, Delia always WINS, because what Delia has is Recipes. These are recipes you can actually make, recipes that she will explain to you simply enough so that you can make them, and recipes you're probably going to want to make again and again. (And lots of them are suitable for vegetarians, which is good if you're me.) I have the reputation of being a good cook, but I would be nothing if I hadn't had Delia's "One Is Fun" cookbook when I was a student. This small tome taught me almost everything I know about kitchen-related endeavour, and pulled me away from ready-meals and jars of stir-fry sauce into the mystic land in which you can buy raw ingredients and actually turn them into something not only edible, but actually nice. The other great thing about Delia is that you don't even need to buy her books, because loads of her recipes are available from her website Delia Online, free, gratis and for nothing. She's a one-woman public service, she really is. So without further ado, I present:
Six Delia Smith Recipes That I Love
1. Gratin of Gnocchi with Gorgonzola
Why this Recipe is Good: For a start, it's really, really quick, so you can have dinner ready in about 10 minutes. The sauce (which is basically creme fraiche and gorgonzola melted together) is an also excellent and quick thing to stir into pasta, especially if you add some grated parmesan, and if you're feeling adventurous, some chopped toasted pecans and/or some rocket (that's arugula to Americans).
Eat it with: Some sort of green leafiness – it doesn't have to be the salad she suggests, although something peppery like watercress does work very well. She knows whereof she speaks, this woman.
2. Souffled Macaroni Cheese
Why this Recipe is Good: Well, macaroni cheese is a classic to feed vegetarians with, but too often it can get a bit dull. This is basically a fancier breed of macaroni cheese for the hip and happening Noughties. It puffs up in an impressive fashion and can even make people go "oooh!" at the dinner table. For a change, you can also put a bit of gorgonzola in the sauce (if you have some left from the previous recipe, for instance.)
Eat it with: A tomato-based salad and more green leafiness.
3. Egg and Lentil Curry
Why this Recipe is Good: It's a curry recipe that is actually worth making at home, since it's nicer than a lot of Indian takeaways. It involves whole roast spices, which are a very excellent thing and make any curry feel terribly authentic (even if it's probably not) and most importantly, taste amazingly yummy. You can leave out the eggs if you want, you can make it spicier or less spicy and it's still nice, and best of all, it has a benefit shared by a lot of lentil-related dishes, which is that it's excellent reheated the next day, so you can make a big batch and feed off it for ages, like a squirrel in winter. (Not that I've ever seen a squirrel having a curry, mind you.)
Eat it with: Pilau rice, or I like it with Pillsbury fry-in-the-pan Parathas (Indian flatbreads), if you can get them near where you live.
4. Roast Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart
Why this Recipe is Good: It's ideal for lazy hostesses, since it's very quick and easy to make but dinner guests can often be unduly impressed by it.
Eat it with: One or more vegetable or salad dishes: this warm potato salad is especially good.
5. Vegetarian Moussaka
Why this Recipe is Good: This is an excellent dinner party recipe for when you've got a bit more time or you really need to fill your guests up (perhaps to stop them drinking themselves into oblivion too quickly). A mate of mine once made this recipe to feed twenty, for a party. She nearly had a nervous breakdown, but the dinner was great.
Eat it with: Loads of red wine. Hoorah!
6. Goats Cheese, Onion and Potato Bread
Why this Recipe is Good: This is a bread that doesn't need yeast, and the result rather like a savoury cake. A really good plan is to make it with feta instead of goat's cheese, and add a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes and/or olives into the mix as well. Yum. It's also great toasted the next day. Delia also does other versions using different cheeses and/or different root vegetables (eg. Celeriac and Lancashire Cheese bread) so it's worth experimenting.
Eat it with: Any home-made soup. It's also good when having to bring stuff to a buffet or party, or to go on a picnic with, because as Delia points out, you've got the bread and cheese in one package.
And a P.S. By the way, Delia's site also has lots to offer meat-eaters, so don't let a dislike of vegetables put you off exploring it. As a starting point, I can tell you that my carnivorous family are all very fond of Chicken Basque....