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The Knife Skills Recipe Collection

Christian Wagner's recipe diary contained the recipes that he held most dear to his heart, which Paul's students made for their final meal together. Recipes in the The Knife Skills Recipe Collection tested and photographed by Angela Nilsen.

Orlando Murrin | Crime Fiction Author | Christian Wagner's Recipes for Knife Skills for Beginners


Process into a dough 170g plain flour, 150g each of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and chilled, cubed butter, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon flaky salt and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Roll into two neat cylinders about an inch in diameter and chill until firm. Brush with beaten egg and roll in a mixture of sesame, nigella and poppyseeds (2 tablespoons of each) and chill again.

Slice into thick coins and bake at 180C/160C fan/350F for about 18 minutes until darkly golden.

Makes 50-60. These keep well in a tin and are excellent with sherry. The key is not to add water to the dough. I discovered by accident that they taste better if you slightly overbake them.


Orlando Murrin | Crime Fiction Author | Christian Wagner's Recipes for Knife Skills for Beginners

Hardboil 7 eggs and cool. Peel, halve neatly and remove the yolks to a bowl. Discard the two scrappiest-looking whites or better still give them to the dog.

Mash the yolks with 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard, ½ teaspoon wine or cider vinegar and a splash of Worcestershire Sauce; plus lots of seasoning. Pipe or spoon onto the whites.

Nestle in a layer of lightly dressed shredded lettuce. Makes a nice lunch or starter, in which case serve three halves per person.

(I'm suggesting a few variations - mixing into the yolks fried chopped bacon; mashed crabmeat; blue cheese).

POULET EN DEUIL (Poached chicken with two sauces)

Orlando Murrin | Crime Fiction Author | Christian Wagner's Recipes for Knife Skills for Beginners

Put a couple each of onions, celery, sliced garlic cloves, with 5 bay leaves, a bouquet garni, handful of peppercorns, half a sliced lemon, seasoning and a large chicken in a pot and just cover with water. Poach covered for 1¼ –1 ½ hours, till cooked, and remove to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken (save broth for another purpose) and remove and shred flesh, keeping white and dark meat separate.

For the white chicken, melt 25g butter with 300ml cream, simmer to thicken (3– 4 minutes) and add the juice of quarter a lemon and seasoning. Add white chicken meat to heat through.

For the dark chicken, whisk 3 tablespoons oil with 2 tablespoons each of Dijon mustard, mango chutney, Worcestershire Sauce and pinch of cayenne till gloopy. Coat the dark meat in this and grill till spotty in places, 3-5 minutes.

Serve light and dark meats side by side. Enough for 4 generously.


Fry a chopped onion in about 25g butter till softened, then stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook till it’s golden, a minute more.

Slowly whisk in 200ml chicken stock and 150ml milk (see comment below re amount I used) or cream (or a mixture), and cook till smooth and thick. Stir in a 640g pack of frozen hash browns. Cook till thawed and broken down (7-8 minutes, turning occasionally) then stir in 75ml soured cream (to add moisture) and 85g grated cheese.

Pile into a baking dish, top with crushed cheese and onion crisps (or crushed cornflakes, to be authentic) and bake for about half an hour at 180oC/160C fan/350F, until golden and bubbling at edges.


Orlando Murrin | Crime Fiction Author | Christian Wagner's Recipes for Knife Skills for Beginners

For the cake, cream 120g softened butter with 100g caster sugar and 4 egg yolks until creamy, then beat in just till mixed 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons milk and 120g self-raising flour. Divide between two buttered and base-lined 20cm tins and spread thinly and evenly.

Whisk 4 egg whites till frothy, then continue whipping, gradually adding 150g sugar, until thick and meringue-like, but still spreadable. Spread evenly on top of cake batter and sprinkle each layer with 3 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds and 1/2 tablespoon demerara sugar. (This will give the layers a nougatine topping.).

Bake at 180C/160C fan/350F for about 30 minutes, till puffed and nuts are browned; the meringue will sink as it cools.

To assemble, put one cake layer meringue-side up on a serving dish. Spread delicately with home-made or bought salted caramel icing (about 250g) and the same of clotted cream (don't stir or it will go runny). Top with remaining layer.

Decorate as you wish – some ideas are crystallised rose petals; chocolate curls; edible gold leaf. Serves 8-10.


Orlando Murrin | Crime Fiction Author | Christian Wagner's Recipes for Knife Skills for Beginners

Gently melt together 130g butter, 200g best dark chocolate and 50g golden syrup. Stir in 100g broken plain biscuits and 6 tablespoons broken crunchy honeycomb pieces, then 50g mini-marshmallows.

Turn into a shallow tin (18cm square) lined with baking paper. Leave Chill to set for 2 hours or longer. Cut into squares or rectangles – depending on size, anything from 12–20.

Can be decorated if you wish with a coating of dark chocolate ganache, swirls of white chocolate (in the style of Jackson Pollock), a dusting of grated tonka bean and crushed crystallised violets.


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