I struggle with the start of autumn, with the shift from sitting out on long, light evenings to darkness and drear. Then, little by little, the joy of cooking with blackberries, plums and squash, of making stews and cakes, of practically snuggling up to every meal for warmth and comfort takes over and I am happily ensconced in my steamed-up kitchen, cooking, listening to music, feeling cosy.
But there are certain things I carry over from the summer, like the thought of particular dishes and drinks that I make repeatedly. This year, throughout July and August, I made a particular cocktail, the Rebujito, over and over again. And, already this autumn, I have discovered the colder weather equivalent, the Cadiz Bramble. Continue reading
Writing a book, I think, is quite a feat. Writing one and getting it published is even more impressive. And, considering both of those things, writing one and publishing it yourself seems practically superhuman. Self-publishing used to have a bad reputation but, these days, it is often both accepted for what it is (see tales of Amazon success here and here) and also seen as a very laudable route to finding a mainstream publisher.
So, in amongst the more ‘classic publishing’ cookbooks I have worked on this year, I was really proud to help someone self-publish their first. I was approached by a friend of a friend, Hilary Cacchio, to help her put together her book about sourdough and it is, if I say so myself, really lovely. Beautifully illustrated by animator Kate Charter, it is both a precise teach-yourself how to make bread book, but also a recipe book that will inspire you throughout the year. Continue reading
Fortnum & Mason is one of those places that, for a long time, I barely glanced at. It seemed to be a beautiful piece of history, in a lovely part of London but, a bit like a palace or a castle, not somewhere for the likes of me. But this year I worked on their first cookbook and I discovered so much about the shop and what it has been for the last 300 years that I rather fell in love with it. Continue reading
In UK publishing, the Christmas season is well under way. And sometimes, as the huge rush of new titles appears in the shops and online, it’s hard, even for a book-lover, to know where to start. As I wander round Foyle’s cookbook section, I have been known to wonder ‘what’s the point of publishing another one?’ Then a book comes along that is so complete, so knowledgeable and beautiful that I know exactly what the point is and shut up for another year. Brindisa is such a book. Continue reading
For as long as I can remember, my favourite dessert has been pavlova but, for some reason I have always thought meringue is beyond me. This summer I was determined to fix that, especially since I am fed-up with throwing away the egg whites I keep hopefully saving then discovering, too late, at the back of the fridge. And this, well this really is one of the best things I have learnt to make this year. Continue reading
As a Brit I find food and cooking more of a challenge in the summer than throughout the rest of the year, mainly because, just as hot-weather clothes are rarely needed in this country, so is hot-weather food. But this year we’ve had an exceptionally lovely summer in London and it’s still going. I have made gazpacho a lot (either this one or this one) and salads, such as watermelon and feta, tabbouleh and every variation on green leaves possible then, when I get tired of those, I light the barbecue and grill something. That, to be honest, is about as much effort as I can bear, when it’s sweltering. However, I still like to dress up barbecued meat or fish a little, usually with a salsa or mojo: this year, chimichurri has featured quite highly and so has this, a lemon salsa from a little book called, simply, Lemons.
My summer wardrobe began with a cocktail: refreshing, lovely and Spanish-inspired. But, on its own, a drink is not half as much fun as it could be. For that first drink of the evening, particularly in hot weather, I also want something salty to go with it. Not crisps. Not nuts. Something a bit, you know, dressed up. Something to say, especially if you’re drinking with friends, that you’ve made a bit of an effort.
These biscuits, a bit like the black and red skirt that I bought from Target ten years ago, come out every summer. And winter. Oh and the rest of the year. They were the poster child for my Kickstarter campaign for The French Home Cookbook two years ago and still remind me of the brilliance of that book which will, one day, get beyond a file folder on my computer. But mostly, they remind me of how brilliant a simple recipe can be and how much pleasure it can bring to lots of people, including me. Continue reading