It feels like a lot of the food I’ve made over the last few weeks is something of a metaphor for the life we’re currently living. I hadn’t planned to post the recipe for this no bake banoffee pie – surely anyone can throw together the basic combination of biscuits, bananas, toffee and cream – but your enthusiastic response to this photo on Instagram got me thinking about what we all appreciate on a day-to-day basis. Not fancy tiered cakes and complicated techniques but the joy of simplicity – the recipe equivalent of slow days snuggling on the sofa rather than a glamorous evening out. Continue reading →
‘There are a million and one directions in my waking hours, but I find there’s a welcome habit in cooking, in the routines of the kitchen around which our lives revolve. It’s what gets us going in the morning and brings us back together each night.’
This is the closing paragraph of the introduction to food blogger Tara O’Brady’s beautiful debut cookbook, Seven Spoons. It’s a sentence that seems to sum up her approach and the way this book will work its way into your kitchen. If you’re into cooking, I suspect that Tara’s is the kind of food you’re already making, but a new improved version, introduced with passion and such elegant prose, peppered with little surprises and tips along the way. Continue reading →
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and this year we’re going out. Not for a romantic meal, mind you, but because not just one but two of our friends are turning thirty, accompanied by the requisite parties and presents. Some people might be sad to miss out on ‘the most romantic night of the year’ but I’m happy to. We’ve never been ones for joining the doey-eyed masses in restaurants on Valentine’s Day, instead preferring a date night in with just each other for company and a menu I can take charge of. More specifically, a menu which includes a dessert like this Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream Pie with Bourbon Butterscotch and a Pretzel Crust.
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Seasonal baking is something that often seems to pass me by. Although I’ll eat the occasional mince pie (mostly for the pastry and an excuse to eat an extra spoonful of brandy butter), I’m not the biggest fan of mincemeat, while boozy Christmas pudding, marzipan-filled Simnel cake or stollen leave me pretty cold.
Rewind the calendar a month or so and Halloween, for me, has always been about the bags of sweets gleaned from a trick-or-treating spree rather than any great tradition of pumpkin-based treats. Not surprising then, perhaps, that until last week I’d never eaten, let alone attempted to make, a pumpkin pie. Continue reading →
Fresh mint ice cream with flecks of dark chocolate in a rich Bourbon biscuit crust
I love my kitchen. Regardless of the day I’m having, if I can take time to brush down the work surfaces, get in front of the stove and rootle around in the cupboards, I’m transported to a happy place. Preparing food is one of my favourite ways to relax, to completely clear my mind and to be as simple or creative as I choose. Cooking is a joy and my kitchen allows that to happen.
Good for me, then, that I don’t have to share it. I don’t mean with my nearest and dearest – Carnivorous Boyfriend and I will happily cook together side by side (as far as space allows) – I mean the kind of shared kitchen of my university years; the endless piles of washing up, slightly scummy surfaces, disappearing pints of milk and a fridge full of other peoples’ long-forgotten leftovers. My cupboards may be fit to bursting and my ingredients organized in a haphazard way, but they’re mine; I know exactly where everything is and I like it that way.
When I was growing up, my parents shared their house in Italy with a family friend. We’d sometimes go on holiday all together but, more often than not, the friend (who didn’t have any children) would visit outside school holidays, meaning we’d sometimes arrive a long time after he’d left. Down one side of the cool, dark kitchen was an enormous wooden cupboard where we stored dry goods. As it could often be up to six months in between our visits, the contents tended to be stripped back to the bare basics; kilner jars of slightly damp salt and sugar, half a packet of leftover risotto rice, a handful of teabags, a tube of tomato purée.
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