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Cook With M&S and Chris Baber

Inspired by our new range of Cook With M&S shortcut ingredients, all designed to make cooking dinner easier, chef Chris Baber has created some easy, speedy family recipes. Get set to bid goodbye to that ‘what do I make for dinner?’ dilemma

Meet Chris Baber

“I’ve always loved food,” says Chris, who’s been cooking up a storm in the M&S kitchen to create some family-friendly recipes for you to enjoy. “Growing up in Hexham, Northumberland, I used to cook dinner for my mum and dad every day. I trained with Atul Kochhar at his Michelin-starred London restaurant, but my real passion is inspiring others and making home cooking accessible for everyone.

“I'm all about giving people kitchen confidence, and Cook With M&S shortcut ingredients help you do exactly that. They're all about adding flavour to the food and can be super little time-saving shortcuts – these secret ingredients will ensure your dishes taste amazing, every time."

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Try Chris' tasty recipes

The best roast chicken

"You just can't beat roast chicken on a Sunday, and this version tastes extra-special thanks to my secret ingredient: Cook With M&S magic sprinkle. It can bring instant flavour to all sorts of dishes – try adding a little to your gravy, too."

Ingredients (serves 4, with leftovers)

1 medium M&S Oakham chicken
75g unsalted butter, softened
1 pack Cook With M&S magic sprinkle
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ a lemon

Preheat the oven to 210˚C/190˚C fan/gas mark 6.

Pick the leaves from three of the thyme sprigs and mix with the butter and half of the Cook With M&S magic sprinkle.

Gently ease the skin away from the flesh of the chicken at the neck, and carefully rub the butter mixture underneath between the skin and flesh, reserving a little butter for the outside. Rub the remaining butter all over the skin.

Stuff half a lemon and the remaining thyme sprig inside the bird, then scatter the remaining Cook With M&S Magic Sprinkle over the skin. Cook for around 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

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Smokey sausage cassoulet

"The Cook With M&S smoked tomato paste is a store cupboard superhero that tastes great on anything from scrambled eggs to sandwiches, and it gives this easy one-pot casserole a proper flavour punch.”


Ingredients (serves 4)

Vegetable oil, for frying
12 Cumberland sausages
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 red onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 jar Cook With M&S smoked tomato paste
A tin of butterbeans, drained, with ¼ of the liquid reserved
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1cm cubes
500ml vegetable stock
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped


Heat a splash of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and sear the sausages, turning occasionally, for about 6 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the peppers, onions, garlic and thyme for 5 minutes, until soft and starting to colour. Add the Cook With M&S smoked tomato paste, stir and cook for a further minute.

Add the butterbeans and liquid, sweet potatoes and stock, season then return the sausages to the pan. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.

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Quick fishcakes with pea & mint mash

“Homemade fishcakes are a family favourite, and they’re easier than you think – especially thanks to the Cook With M&S pea and mint mash, which gives the dish a fresh flavour and vibrant green colour. Plus, it doubles up as a side.”

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 large Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 salmon fillets
1 tub Cook With M&S pea and mint mash
A bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salad, to serve

Boil the potatoes over a medium heat in a large pan of salted water for 12 minutes. Add the salmon fillets to the and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and allow everything to steam-dry in a colander, then return the fish and potatoes to the pan.

In the same pan, add the parsley, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 heaped tablespoons of Cook With M&S pea and mint Mash. Mash with a fork until it just comes together and set aside to cool slightly.

Divide the flour, egg and breadcrumbs between three plates. Preheat the oven to 210˚C/190˚C fan/gas mark 6. Form the mix into four patties, and lightly coat each fishcake in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Pan-fry the fishcakes for a few minutes on each side, until golden, then finish in the oven for 5 minutes, to heat through. Serve with the remaining Cook With M&S pea and mint mash, heated, lemon wedges and salad.

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Easy aubergine parmigiana

“Cook With M&S Mediterranean paste can bring a taste of sunshine to all sorts of dishes. Here I’ve used it in my super-easy take on the Italian classic, with a melty mozzarella topping."


Ingredients (serves 4)

2 aubergines, halved
1 jar Cook With M&S Mediterranean paste
½ jar M&S Italian tomato pasta sauce
100g grated mozzarella
30g parmesan, grated
A handful of fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 210˚C/190˚C fan/gas mark 6. Score the flesh of the aubergines in a criss-cross pattern with a knife. Spread the aubergines all over with the Cook With M&S Mediterranean paste. Place in a medium-sized, shallow ovenproof dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, remove and discard the foil, and top with the Italian tomato pasta sauce, grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Return to the oven then bake for a further 15 minutes until golden and bubbling. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread, if you like.

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Mushroom and lentil bolognese

"The Cook With M&S roasted garlic and mushroom paste brings an umami-rich depth of flavour to this vegan take on spag bol. This hearty, meat-free dish is a great way to feed the family on a budget."


Ingredients (serves 4)

320g spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
300g chestnut mushrooms, diced
1 pack M&S sofrito mix
1 tsp oregano
½ jar Cook With M&S roasted garlic and mushroom paste
A tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
200g puy lentils, cooked
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
½ pack fresh parsley, finely chopped


Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and pan-fry the mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until caramelised. Add the sofrito mix and oregano, turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the veg softens and becomes lightly caramelised.

Add the Cook With M&S roasted garlic and mushroom paste and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stock, then simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the lentils and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, so you have a rich ragu.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions

Meanwhile, add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and, once hot, add the grated garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden, then stir through the parsley and take off the heat.

Serve the ragu tumbled through the pasta, topped with the breadcrumbs.

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Fig upside down cake

"If you're baking in support of the World's Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan this year, try this easy upside-down cake. It makes sweet, in-season M&S Select Farms Bursa figs the stars of the show, paired with orange, almonds and a sticky glaze. Perfect served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt."

Ingredients (serves 8)

5tbsp honey
2 oranges
A sprig of rosemary
4-6 Bursa figs, halved
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
40g orange marmalade
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
A handful of flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/170˚C fan/gas mark 5.

In a small saucepan, boil the honey, juice of 1 orange and rosemary over a high heat until it forms a thick syrup. Pour the syrup into a lined 20cm cake tin, reserving 2 tablespoons for the glaze. Arrange the figs on top of the syrup, cut-side down.

Beat together the zest of 2 oranges, egg yolks and half the sugar into a paste. Stir in the marmalade, ground almonds and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Bit by bit, fold and mix the egg whites into the yolk and almond mixture. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is fully incorporated. Spoon the mixture over the figs in the tin and spread out evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out with just a few crumbs, but no liquid. Allow to cool then turn out onto a serving plate. Finish with 2 tbsp of the glaze and a scattering of toasted flaked almonds.

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