What to do with lots of lemons, clever ways with rice, homemade stock and warming soups, and how to cook with beer – inventive ideas from David Neville..


Lemons are a miracle food: they don’t necessarily require a seed to grow. Usually, this ability was reserved only for deities. In this sense, that explains their happy yellow colour and how they are used for food, fun and medicine. They are the essence of citrus, a fruit-forward sourness that, in blind tastings, we immediately can separate from vinegar.


Lemon, white bean & yoghurt soup
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 2 minced cloves garlic and sweat for 5-7 minutes until softened. Pour in 4 cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add 400g cooked, drained and rinsed white beans to the pot and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before blending the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in 1 cup plain yoghurt and the juice and zest of a lemon. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and reheat it over medium heat until it’s heated through. Garnish with some finely grated parmesan and serve the soup immediately.

Roasted heirloom carrots with lemon & pinenuts
Wash 500g heirloom carrots and trim off the tops. Place the carrots on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt, sugar and pepper. Roast the carrots in the oven at 170℃ for 20-25 minutes until they’re tender and lightly browned. Toast ¼ cup pinenuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until they’re lightly golden brown. Remove carrots from the oven and transfer them to a serving dish. Squeeze over the juice of ½ lemon and sprinkle with toasted pinenuts.

Lemon leaf tea
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat. Add two fresh lemon leaves and the juice of ½ lemon to the water and steep for 3-5 minutes. Discard the tea leaves and pour the tea into cups. Sweeten with honey or sugar to taste.


It is a close battle in the arena of world staples between rice, potatoes and flour. That said, can potatoes and flour make risotto, paella, congee and sushi, and be used in soups, salads and stir fries? Can potatoes sit in a bag for two years with little problem? I don’t think so… rice is the clear winner.


Winter chicken, lemon & rice soup
Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 2 minced cloves garlic and cook for five minutes until softened. Pour in 6 cups chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Add 1 cup rinsed short-grain rice to the pot and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Stir through ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 cups cooked shredded chicken. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Forbidden black rice pudding
Rinse 1 cup forbidden black rice and put into a medium-sized saucepan with 400ml coconut milk, 1 cup water, ½ cup brown sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over a medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring regularly. An additional ½ cup water may be required if the rice looks dry. Once the pudding is cooked and creamy, remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with slices of fresh banana.

Brown rice & chicken casserole
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven-style casserole dish. Add 1 diced onion, 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 cup diced celery and 1 cup sliced mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until becoming tender. Dice 4 skinless chicken thighs into 2cm pieces, add to the pot and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the outside of the chicken has turned white. Add 2 cups brown long-grain rice and 4 cups light chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and put into the oven at 180℃ for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and black pepper. Grate over ½ cup cheddar-style cheese and return to the oven for 8-10 minutes to melt and gently blister. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 6-8 minutes. Serve with gently steamed green vegetables.

Simple congee
Rinse 1 cup rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Put 2½ litres stock into a large pot, add the rice and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 1 hour, stirring regularly. As the rice cooks, it will start to break down and thicken the mixture. Keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and season with light soy and sesame oil. Garnishes could include crisp shallots, fresh spring onion, coriander, boiled eggs and shredded chicken.

Wild rice & herb stuffing
Cook 1 cup wild rice in 3 cups water for 45 minutes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 2 minced cloves garlic and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add ½ cup each chopped celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Once the rice is done, add to the pan with the vegetables and stir to combine. Stir in ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley and season to taste. Stuff into the cavity of a chicken before roasting.


If you keep something long enough, it comes back into fashion: life is a cosmic rotation. Craft beer has been rising for some time, so it was evitable that stout would get its day. Unlike some beers, stout is versatile in culinary use, adding to its resurgence.


Stout macaroni & cheese
Cook 500g macaroni until it’s al dente. Drain and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in ¼ cup plain flour to create a roux. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes over a low heat. Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk and 1 cup stout, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes until it’s thickened and bubbling. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and stir in 2 loose cups grated cheddar cheese, whisking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir until the macaroni is evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Stout-braised lamb shanks
Heat the oven to 140℃. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over a medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add 4 lamb shanks and sear until browned on all sides then remove from the pan. Add 1 diced onion to the pan and cook until softened. Add three minced cloves garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in 1 cup stout, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 2 cups beef stock and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, submerging them fully in the liquid. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Braise for about 2½-3 hours or until the lamb is tender and falls off the bone.

Stout & chocolate sauce
Put 1 cup stout in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until it simmers. Cook the beer for about 10 minutes until it is reduced by half. Add ½ cup whipping cream, ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup caster sugar and stir well to combine. Cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved, then cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 125g finely chopped dark chocolate. Stir the sauce until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and glossy. This is ideal with dark chocolate ice cream.

Stout & Worcestershire marinade
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup stout, ½ cup Worcestershire sauce and ¼ cup olive oil until well combined. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary and 1 teaspoon black pepper and whisk again to combine all ingredients. Put any red meat into a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the meat, seal the bag and toss to coat the meat thoroughly. Marinate the meat in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight. Remove and pat dry before grilling or roasting.

Velvet Neville cocktail
Place 1 cup milk stout into a small pot and heat until it has reduced by half. Add ¼ cup brown sugar and stir to dissolve and form a syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. For each cocktail, put 30ml of this stout syrup into a glass and add 60ml coffee liqueur (try Kahlua, Baileys or something similar). Fill each glass half full with ice and then drizzle in 15-30ml cream. If you are a fan of a Black Russian, you will enjoy sipping this earthy, sweet mix.


Stocks are liquid soul food, but they can be soul- crushingly time-consuming to cook. The slow simmer is part of the stock’s journey and gives it the depth that instant soups and sauces lack.


Wedding soup
In a large bowl, combine 500g minced beef, 1 cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated parmesan, ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mix well, then shape into 2cm-diameter meatballs. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes until browned on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the pot and set them aside. To the same pot, add 1 chopped onion, 2 minced cloves garlic, 2 chopped carrots and 2 chopped celery stalks. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Add 2 litres stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the meatballs to the pot. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

Winter beef & barley broth
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add 500g diced stewing beef and cook until browned on all sides. Add 2 chopped onions, 1 chopped carrot, the sliced white stem of a leek and 2 minced cloves garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add 2 litres stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 cup pearl barley and stir to combine. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to a bare simmer and let the broth cook for about 2 hours until the beef is tender.

Caramelised onion & cheese soup
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot. Thinly slice 4 large onions and add to the pot with 1 teaspoon dried thyme and cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the onions are soft and turning light golden. Add 1 cup dry red wine and reduce by half. Add 1.2 litres stock and bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the flavours have melded together. While the soup is simmering, heat the oven to 180℃. Bake 4 slices bread for 6-7 minutes until toasted. To serve, ladle the onion soup into bowls and place a slice of toasted bread on top of each bowl. Sprinkle with grated cheddar and put under a grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly.