About twenty miles from my parents’ house in Italy, down from the mountains in a valley where the land rolls gently under golden fields of dinner plate-sized sunflowers, there is a wonderful pizzeria. Serving simple, understated but utterly delicious pizzas, until the age of about fifteen I didn’t even know its name: the doorway lacking in any obvious signage, we simply called the restaurant after the little village in which it was located, a trip to the village and the pizzeria being pretty much one and the same. Continue reading
When I was a much littler loaf and unable to be left on my own in the house, I used to accompany my Mum on the weekly supermarket shop. Just small enough to sit in the seat at the front of the trolley, I found it so exciting cruising up and down the aisles, deciphering illegible words from a scrawled shopping list and begging for exotic items that we’d never normally be allowed Continue reading
When was the last time you tried to recreate a restaurant dessert at home?
One of the joys of eating out is the complexity of the dishes on offer. I love to cook and bake but it’s not often I’ll take the time to make the numerous reductions, drizzles and sprinkles that often adorn a single plate. Continue reading
Hot cross loaf made with wonderful, natural ingredients
Coconut is one of those ingredients I’ve never been one hundred percent sure about.
As a little girl, I can remember waiting for what seemed like forever at the local fair while my Dad and brother threw wooden balls at a row of coconuts in the attempt to win this exotic prize. Once the hairy husk was prized open and crumbly white flesh exposed, I’d try a tiny nub but soon be distracted by the other edible excitements on offer: burgers from the BBQ, bags of sweets or a stick of candy floss that melted with every messy, fuzzy mouthful. Continue reading
Soft slices of light rye bread – perfect with cheese or smoked salmon
‘All sorrows are less with bread’ – Miguel de Cervantes.
While I’d like to accredit the infamous Spaniard with being as big a fan of baking as I am, he is, of course, referring to the importance of a full stomach to society in general, daily bread being a synonym for food. Going back tens of thousands of years, bread has been a staple of cultures around the world, playing its part in everything from riots and revolution to tea time treats and the humble packed lunch. Continue reading
Sweet, soft & full of interesting flavours
‘Every time I’m forced to watch [my friends] eat egg whites, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed’.
My attitude to egg white-only omelettes is pretty much in line with the Nora Ephron quote above. After a major custard or ice cream making spree, I’ve occasionally attempted to scale the mountain of leftover albumen by making an anaemic omelette, but I’m almost always disappointed by the odd consistency and insipid flavour which result. Continue reading
Coffee ice cream, crisp choux pastry & hot chocolate caramel
Coffee ice cream will always make me think of the Caribbean.
I’m aware of how horribly pretentious that sounds, but bear with me. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog-worthy story hidden somewhere within that statement.
When I was about eleven, my parents took us on holiday to the Cayman Islands. My Dad spent part of his childhood living in Jamaica and still has some family on the islands. This holiday was the perfect opportunity to introduce us to a few distant relatives, as well as a wonderful excuse for a serious dose of sun, sea and sand.
Squidgy chocolate brownies packed with caramelized white chocolate
The simple magic of an oven will never cease to amaze me.
Subjected to its heat, pudgy rounds of dough become crusty loaves, liquid batter rises into golden-crowned cakes, pastry puffs, biscuits bake and incredible aromas escape around the edges of its door.
Normally baking requires some sort of skill, an understanding of the alchemy of ingredients and an ability to weigh, whisk, beat and blend. Butter, sugar and flour are combined, flavours and textures far greater than the sum of their parts created. Whether an amateur cook or a professional chef, it’s satisfying to know that baking is both a science and an art. Continue reading