A WRITER once noted that we get the restaurants we deserve: if people do not support a business, it will shut. What remains, for better or worse, are the places that punters do visit. Since May 2004, when I submitted my first ever column to this paper, I have seen many restaurants come and go. I have learned, too, that writing is quite like cooking: it’s not as easy as it looks, everyone thinks they could do it and everyone has an opinion. My mission here has always been simple: make cooking techniques more transparent and less intimidating, so people enjoy cooking more at home. Some amazing readers have inspired me, especially the man who, for a full year, cooked each week’s recipes. It has been a privilege to be here every Sunday for the last 12 years. But nothing lasts forever; today is my last column. So, what parting cooking advice then?

Be patient. Be prepared to make cock-ups – mistakes are good teachers. Cook to satisfy, not to impress. Shop when you are hungry – you will be prepared to pay more and buy better. Use less salt and more herbs. Eat your veggies. Not rocket science.

And what recipes should conclude these 12 years? Some childhood favourites my mother cooked seems fitting: home, after all, is where it all started. Meanwhile, if you want your favourite restaurant to survive, keep visiting. And if you still want to have newspapers, with passionate journalists, then buy one. Regularly.

Thank you and goodnight.

Ultimate chocolate pots

200g dark chocolate

240ml single cream

dash of brandy or rum

1 egg

For the topping:

180g dark chocolate

3 tbsp golden syrup

1-2 tbsp caster sugar

55g butter

1 dsstsp custard powder

8fl oz water

1. Break the egg into a small bowl and whisk thoroughly to mix. Add chosen alcohol and mix again.

2. Break the chocolate into small pieces. Put the cream in a saucepan and bring almost to boiling point. Remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces and stir with a small whisk till blended. When the chocolate-cream mix is completely smooth, pour in the egg and alcohol mixture, through a sieve, then whisk to emulsify.

3. Arrange six espresso cups or small glasses on a tray. Pour chocolate mix into them, dividing evenly, then place in the fridge to cool and set. Once cold, cover with cling film while they finish setting.

4. For the topping (only make this once the pots have set): heat the first four ingredients slowly in a saucepan until melted. Now combine a little of the water and custard powder, whisk to a smooth paste, then add the rest of the water to make the custard. Whisk this into the chocolate base and then return to a gentle heat for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to stand for a few minutes. Once cooled a little, pour a small amount of this over the chocolate cups, to make a covering, about 3mm thick. Allow to set completely. This topping will make more than you need, but it can be kept for use as a chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream.

5. To serve, remove from fridge about 20-30 minutes before serving. Serve with a teaspoon for each person, perhaps with amaretto biscuits or shortbread on the side. Personally, I never thought they needed anything else with them.

The "standard-by-which-all-other-cheesecakes-are-judged" cheesecake

For the base:

120g of digestive biscuits

60g butter, melted, plus butter for greasing

For the filling

450g cream cheese

235ml of double cream

120g sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

Vanilla essence to taste

1. Grease the sides and base of a 23cm cake tin (with a spring-release side) and chill the greased tin.

2. Place the digestive biscuits in a plastic bag and beat to crumbs with a rolling pin. Transfer the biscuits to a bowl and add the butter, stirring in well so the crumbs are soaked and can stick together. Press evenly into the base of the prepared cake tin, then chill again for at least 30 minutes.

3. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on a very low setting for a minute to break up the cheese. Now turn off the mixer, pour in the cream and vanilla essence and turn on the mixer again, still on a low setting, so the double cream is incorporated and not splashing around.

4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a bowl with a fork and set aside.

5. Slightly increase the mixer speed and gradually add the sugar. Once added, add the beaten egg little by little, allowing the egg to be absorbed each time before adding the next little bit.

6. Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and tap the base a little to help spread the mix so it is flat. Place in a preheated oven at 160C. The aim is to bake just long enough so the centre is still very slightly squashy when the shelf is jolted. Imagine a slight wobble like a jelly. The residual heat within the cheesecake is enough to finish the cooking as it cools. This cooking time will probably require baking for a total of 40-45 minutes, but start to check after 35 minutes, according to your oven. Once you are satisfied that it is at the barely set stage, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature before chilling (in its tin, undisturbed) for at least four hours.

7. Once chilled, run a thin knife around the tin to release the edges of the cheesecake from the sides of the tin then remove the cheesecake from the tin itself. Use a spatula to loosen the base from the cake tin base then lift onto a serving platter. If you are anxious about this, simply leave it on its base as is. Before serving in our household, it was traditional to pipe a criss-cross lattice of whipped cream on the top and serve with raspberries spooned over at the table.

Geoffrey Smeddle continues to be the chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk