In seven years of this blog, pasta, the ultimate ‘daily solution to an eternal problem’, has only ever featured as a footnote to recipes designed for use with gnocchi. Thirteen years ago, thanks to a very stressful job (180 newly branded and packaged books to press in six months…yay!) my diet went a bit haywire and I suddenly couldn’t eat anything wheat-related. I left the job, relaxed tenfold and slowly went back to eating normally. However, pasta, even the freshest River-Café pasta, which I was lucky enough to try once, made me unwell. And, after many messy attempts to make it part of my diet, I made my peace with its absence.
Not long after this, I started working on cookbooks. I edited or proofread my way through the likes of Made in Sicily, trullo, Anna Jones’ excellent The Modern Cook’s Year and Brindisa, always knowing that alla Norma, one-pot pasta and fideuà were never going to enter my repertoire. Or appear in blog posts. Since pasta is the base ingredient of some of the quickest, cheapest and, generally, easiest meals on the planet, this has always been a very obvious gap but, as I couldn’t eat it, then I wasn’t going to cook it. Continue reading
On the Side, by Ed Smith, is a book that most foodies I know have heard of but it may not have reached people who are not immersed in cookbooks every day. Which is a shame because it is quite, quite* transformative. If you’re the sort of cook, and I often am, who knows that shoving a chicken or a piece of fish in the oven is really the simplest way to make dinner (if only because there’s no more work), yet you want to make something a bit dressy to go with it, this really helps because it focuses on solely that.
However, don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a quiet little unnecessary book, an extra like its contents. This book makes food into dinner: add broccoli with tarragon and/or anchoïade potatoes (my two favourites) to a couple of roast chicken legs and you have something special, not everyday. There are recipes for what I think of as ‘standard’ vegetables and sides (e.g. potatoes, cabbage and rice) which lift them very simply (so chorizo roast potatoes, cabbage with juniper butter and three-pepper rice) as well as ones for the not-so standard, which means whether you’re only just venturing beyond roasties or are familiar with your flower sprouts, freekeh and fregola you will find inspiration here. Continue reading
I’ve always thought that those who live in consistently hot climates must simply never bake. A friend, who is a great baker of cakes, lives in Granada, Spain and I once asked her how she managed to bake anything when it was so hot that turning on the oven felt like punishment. ‘I bake at 2am,’ she said, ‘when it’s cooler.’ Continue reading
I have my lovely friend Tony to thank for this. He was on his way to cook for a crowd a few weeks ago, and came clutching a copy of this recipe from the excellent Three Good Things by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a book that is full of very short, and so far, very good, recipes (the publisher’s website suggests it is out of print, so if you can find a copy buy it!). When I was cooking for eight a few weeks later, I copied his idea, tweaking the recipe slightly to make it even shorter and more effortless (no jointing chickens in 30°C for me…).
Reader, it’s brilliant. It only has six ingredients, takes about an hour and, if you sear the chicken, as I do, in the roasting tin, or in any ovenproof pan that can hold all the chicken, it is also one-pot. Serve it with something to soak up all the lovely juices, like rice or new potatoes. Oh, and it’s really easy to double so make extra, so you can have it all over again for lunch the next day. Thanks Tony.
The fashionista’s greatest joy, it always seems to me, is an outfit that can be up- and downgraded; ‘for day and night’, I think is the phrase. I have never understood this concept with clothes (do people really change at the end of the day, after work, to go out in the evening, unless there’s a dress code?) but I do see its value in food.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a few posts about the recipes that were on repeat all summer long, the things that I just kept coming back to. This year, thanks to weeks of glorious sunshine, I already have several contenders (I wrote about one, the no-churn ice cream, last month), so I thought I’d make another list of perfect summer staples. Continue reading
Do you like ice cream? If so this is going to change your life. I’ve only known about it for a month or so and it has already changed mine.