We spent this weekend just gone at my parents’ house in Italy (yes, if you clicked the link, I’m finally on Instagram and a little bit addicted, come join me!). High in the Tuscan mountains with little more than the sun shining above us, trees around and valleys below, we had time to reflect on the important things in life. Love and family and food featured foremost, with pretty much equal emphasis on all three.
Leaving lessons in love and family aside, let’s focus on the food. There everything seems to just taste better, from freshly podded borlotti beans to creamy mozzarella cheese, ripe tomatoes, leafy greens and the heaviest of melons, sweet flesh replete with juice. Continue reading
There’s something about pre-packaged wraps that makes me sad. The cardboard cousin of plasticky sliced white, they’ve become synonymous with health in recent years, the ultimate ‘light lunch’ on the go, which in reality amounts to little more than minimal protein, soggy lettuce and over-seasoned sauce which weeps into each mean, thin layer.
A homemade wrap – on the other hand – is a thing of joy: puffed and tender, soft with a slight chew and enriched with any flavour you might care to add. In fact, let’s call it flatbread for what it is and allow ourselves to accept its carb-based origins. Bread isn’t always bad. In fact it can be fresh and light and altogether easier on the stomach than the stodge contained within that shop-bought wrap. Continue reading
July has arrived and with it hot, flat beams of sunshine, the smell of sunscreen and the promise of good things to come. With my birthday just a few weeks away, this is a favourite month of mine, forever associated with presents and laughter, long light evenings and time spent with family and friends. Celebration is the order of the day and ice cream is almost always on the agenda. Continue reading
Hands up if you’re the person who always orders the chocolate option for dessert in a restaurant?
Until recently, that was me. In fact I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t seriously consider something chocolate based if you took me out for dinner tomorrow. But as I’ve got older, I’ve started to appreciate other flavours on my plate, subtle sweetness, spice and seasonal ingredients like this simple honey almond cake with strawberries. Continue reading
Summer and strawberries go hand in hand. Wimbledon, barbecues and, being a summer baby, birthdays are all synonymous with a strawberry or two in my mind, the season kick starting with that first sweet burst at the end of May.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but memories of my childhood summers are dappled in sunshine, garden grass scorched by the sun as we took turns spraying each other with the hosepipe and praying that it wouldn’t be banned. As an adult, the Great British Summer seems a little wetter, certainly colder, the sky hung with clouds and even edible sunshine kept at bay with our strawberry season delayed by several weeks. Continue reading
If someone presented you with a ‘seriously nutty’ pistachio ice cream, what would you expect?
To me ‘seriously nutty’ suggests the presence – perhaps even an abundance – of nuts. And in the case of a pistachio ice cream, pistachio nuts. Call me an idealist, but if an ice cream is labelled as ‘nutty’, I’m expecting a whole load of the good stuff. Continue reading
Meringues will always make me think of my Granny.
Not my paternal grandmother – a skilled home baker whose larder was always stocked with a homemade chocolate cake, fluffy scones or knobbly rock buns the size of a fist – but my mother’s Mum. The same amazing woman who would serve stale Maltesers had little interest in baking, producing meringues from a packet and filling them with cream from a can, yet somehow this dessert remains utterly magical in my memory. Continue reading
I’m not very good at surprises.
This may well be one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of baking. I enjoy the precision that comes with planning, the security of weights and measurements and the specific anticipation which comes with the understanding of how a combination of ingredients will work together. Continue reading
On the eve of the French revolution, Marie Antoinette is said to have responded to claims that there wasn’t enough bread to feed the French people with the now infamous phrase, ‘Let them eat cake’. Historians have since refuted this, suggesting variously that it was completely made up, the much maligned queen was misquoted, or that something may have been lost in translation from the French into English.
Whichever way you like to look at it, there’s definitely some sort of confusion between bread and cake. Continue reading
Breakfast is such an important meal, but doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. If an army marches on its stomach, just imagine the unproductive days up and down the country for those who fail to fill themselves up first thing. Continue reading