Table Manners: 3 delicious recipes from Jessie and Lennie Ware’s new cookbook

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Take home cooking, mother-daughter love and plenty of boisterous conversation, and you have all the ingredients for a hit foodie podcast. Now, Jessie and Lennie Ware are serving up more of the good stuff with their new recipe book Table Manners: The Cookbook – and they’ve shared three recipes with Stylist.  

If you love food and have ever rolled your eyes at a relative, you’re probably a fan of Table Manners. Musician Jessie Ware’s hit podcast with her social worker mum Lennie is one of our favourite listens for relaxed celebrity chats, nerdy debates about cooking and eating, and reassuring evidence that even pop stars occasionally yell at their mums. And we’re far from the podcast’s only fans: since it launched in 2017, it’s had over 8 million listens.

Now, the Wares are expanding their food media empire with a recipe book, aptly titled Table Manners: The Cookbook. Published by Penguin on 5 March, it contains over 100 recipes divided into seven helpful categories: Effortless, A Bit More Effort, Summertime, Desserts and Baking, Chrismukkah and Jewish-ish Food. 

Many of the recipes in Table Manners: The Cookbook are versions of dishes served up by Jessie and Lennie in the podcast – so if you’ve ever wanted to try the blackberry and custard tarts they made for Nigella Lawson, now you can (Lawson, incidentally, has described the book as “gorgeous”). But it also includes recipes passed on by friends, new creations and stories of the Wares’ favourite food memories.

“Throughout this book, we talk about special moments, souvenirs and domestic rituals for you to share and perhaps carry on with your loved ones,” says Jessie. “My mum has always said we put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional, which I guess is represented in this book. It’s a dance through all the worlds of food we love, with recipes that will live on through sharing.”

Read on for three mouthwatering recipes Jessie and Lennie have shared exclusively with Stylist: the turkey meatballs in tomato sauce they served to Sam Smith; Lennie’s simple courgette bake; and the ‘triple threat’ chocolate brownies they baked for Ed Sheeran. Delish.

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Jessie: These are light as a feather and seem to invite a confession, like when my dear friend the singer/songwriter Sam Smith explained they thought Mexico was in Spain while we fed these beauties to them.

Table Manners: The Cookbook: Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Serves 4–6

For the meatballs

  • 50g fresh white breadcrumbs 
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 500g minced turkey thighs
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 1 egg, beaten
  • 40g pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • About 1⁄4 nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp paprika (mild or hot)
  • 2 × 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves
  • 1⁄2–1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
Table Manners cookbook: musician Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie Ware, co-hosts of the hit Table Manners podcast

Method

First, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt and gently fry for 5–10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato purée and paprika and cook for another 2 minutes.

Tip in the tomatoes and chopped basil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and pour over the milk. Add the turkey, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cheese, oregano, nutmeg, salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Using your hands, gently combine, taking care not to overmix. With wet hands, gently shape the mixture into about 20 small - medium meatballs (about the size of golf balls – roughly 40g each and 5cm in diameter).

Gently drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, turning them after about 10 minutes and giving the pan a shake from time to time.

Remove the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve the meatballs with the basil leaves and a grating of pecorino or Parmesan.

Courgette Bake

Lennie: I made this up when a friend gave me a load of courgettes from her allotment and everyone loved it. We serve this as a veg accompaniment to a roast.

Table Manners: The Cookbook: Courgette Bake

Serves 8 as a side

Ingredients

  • Butter for greasing
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 courgettes (about 800g), ends discarded
  • 1 large egg
  • 80g cheddar, grated 1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Butter a baking dish.

Put the onion and courgettes into a food processor and whizz until evenly chopped. Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, just grate them. Add the egg, cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper and whizz again or stir through.

Tip the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes until browned on top. Serve hot.

‘Triple Threat’ Chocolate Brownies

Jessie: People have requested this recipe the most after hearing about it in the Ed Sheeran episode. A triple shot of chocolatey goodness, my doctor brother Alex says that it’s more like a ‘triple threat’ to your cholesterol levels, but don’t let that stop you from making them.

Get creative! Add whatever you like to your brownie batter. Generous chunks of white, milk or dark chocolate will all work well, as will roughly broken-up Oreos or any other chocolate confectionery.

I generally add three things to mine, hence the triple threat. Experiment. Ultimately, whatever you choose will be delicious.

These brownies are best if slightly undercooked, so they still retain their gooeyness. What you want is a brownie that gets stuck to your teeth when eating it.

Makes 9–18 (depending on levels of greediness)

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g dark chocolate, chopped

3 large eggs

275g caster sugar 90g plain our 50g cocoa powder

250–300g ingredients of your choice to add to the mix (white, dark or milk chocolate, chocolate biscuits, your favourite chocolate bar), chopped

Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie Ware and Lennie Ware

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Line a 23cm square baking tin with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and leave until they start to melt. Stir regularly, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Once completely melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

In a large bowl, using an electric whisk on high power, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and almost doubled in volume. Add the cooled chocolate and butter mix and gently combine, using a figure-of- eight motion to fold the 2 mixtures into one another.

Sift the our and cocoa powder together and then fold into the chocolate and egg mixture. Again, fold gently using a figure-of-eight motion until all is combined. It will appear dusty at first, but be patient and it will come together. Take care not to overdo the mixing: as soon as you cannot see any dusty our mix, you are there.

Now add your extra ingredients and gently fold in, reserving a few to scatter over the top if you like. Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tin, levelling it out and pressing any reserved ingredients into the top of the mixture. Bake for around 35 minutes. The top should be just firm, but the middle should be slightly undercooked and gooey: it will continue to cook in the tin once removed from the oven. Leave the tin on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware (£22, Ebury Press) is out 5 March

Photography: Ola O Smit

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.