Christmas is coming and, as is my wont, I like to recommend a few good cookery books for those who are short of ideas, for themselves or for their food-loving friends. I wear several work ‘hats’ and one of them is that of a freelance project editor, helping to pull the myriad parts of cookery books together to make them into whole beautiful objects. This year, I have worked on several, and loved many of them, which makes this task a real joy. And my first recommendation, Anna Jones‘s new book, The Modern Cook’s Year, deserves a home in everyone’s kitchen. Continue reading
I’ve been rather busy for the last six weeks and both cooking, and blogging, have been very low on my agenda. Why? Well, if you have read this blog often, or for a few years, you may remember that about three years ago (oh yes, I am very much the tortoise…) I launched a tiny cookbook publishing company called Poach my Lobster. I bought the rights to a brilliant French cookbook, translated it myself, ran a Kickstarter campaign, which didn’t reach its target and then pretty much retreated from the whole idea, once I worked out that the costs were beyond me… Continue reading
It’s rare that I make a recipe more than once in a year; I am renowned for reading new ones whilst eating something I have never tried before, and yet there are probably only twenty things that I repeat. Which means that half of the things I read, Post-it enthusiastically or turn the corners down on, are failures, either of my technique or in the simplicity/deliciousness of the dish. So the fact that I made this back in April and then, as soon as it turned cold again, started to hunt around for the recipe in my magazine pile, suggests that this is a bit of keeper. Continue reading
Cold, isn’t it? I turned the heating on for the first time this week and I didn’t once feel guilty about how early in September it was. And, when the light dips along with the mercury, my thoughts turn to long, slow-cooked things. Like stew. Not a good word that, stew. It makes me think of school, and of stringy, gristly bits of meat in a thin sauce with lumpy and oversalted mash. Give me a spam fritter any day.
I’ve not been cooking, or baking very much recently. There was the small matter of having to move out of my flat for three weeks whilst it was redecorated, then there was a heatwave which never inspires me to go in to the kitchen then, in the middle of all that, the whole building nearly flooded, thanks to a broken stopcock downstairs. Oh, and the most recent terror attack in London happened in the street next to my flat. So, you know, exhausted by household and heat drama, and the state of the world, I pretty much left everything food-related to the barbecue king. More of him, and the summer joy of using charcoal outdoors, another time.
However, in the last few days, I’ve started to turn down the pages of magazines again, and think about who I might cook what for. And, since I am now back in an office five days per week, my afternoons need a sugar lift every day around 4pm and this cake has been fulfilling that role rather beautifully. I’ve made it three times already, served it as dessert for the first balcony dinner of the year, and today I am making it twice, once for us and once for the neighbour whose pragmatism saved my building of four flats from a disastrous flood and a massive buildings insurance claim. It is straightforward, summery and has been just the recipe to get me back into my kitchen mojo. It will take you about half an hour of prep, around an hour to bake and will, if you love a little treat every day, cheer you up all week. Continue reading
I didn’t think I’d get a chance to share this post before next winter, what with the sun coming out and all thoughts of food turning to asparagus and barbecues. But, suddenly, it’s really cold again and these beans are just what you need when the spring sunshine has deceived you into thinking that you don’t need a scarf and gloves and you come home with no feeling in your head or fingers…
The recipe comes from one of my favourite books of last year, the River Cottage A to Z, one of those rare books that is written for everyone, both the cookbook geeks like me and those who just like to cook now and again. I have learnt more about ingredients, whether the everyday such as bicarbonate of soda or unusual fish such as gurnard, from its recipes than from any other book in the last few years. And this is a really good example of the sort of easygoing dish that it excels at. Continue reading
Palomar is a restaurant in central London that I discovered, along with an awful lot of other people, a couple of years ago. I ate there, for the first and only time, on my birthday after we found that our chosen, unbookable (aka irritating) place already had a queue half an hour before it opened. I refuse to queue for a restaurant so, hoping but unconvinced that we would get in, we headed south to another place high on the list: Palomar. By some happy coincidence, two spaces at the bar were free and we snuck in, sat down and were regaled for the next few hours by exceptionally entertaining waiters and the punchiest, brightest, most unusual combination of flavours this side of the Red Sea. Continue reading