Punkin’ (Pumpkin) Jam


The smallest girl in our household calls pumpkins ‘punkins’ – hence the name ‘Punkin Jam’! If you think carving pumpkins are bland and boring and inedible, this might just be the thing to change your mind… I’m typing this with some hot buttered toast between my teeth with some soft, sweet jam on top… And that handsome chap in the […]

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Photograph by Allegra McEvedy

I read with some horror in this week’s Independent that in the UK we will throw away 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin flesh this week (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/save-our-pumpkins-uk-wastes-18000-tons-of-food-while-carving-halloween-jack-olanterns-9820896.html) while carving out Jack O Lanterns. I eyed the one sitting on the kitchen table with suspicion and dread and the stirring feeling of a mission bubbling away in my little brain… So this morning, […]

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No-eggs little dollar pancakes


Yesterday morning we woke the toddlers with a promise of pancakes for breakfast, one of the small pleasures of the half term holidays being that breakfast can be a more leisurely family affair, rather than a melee of cereals and juice while trying to make packed lunches and brush hair and keep uniforms clean, one eye on the clock watching […]

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Happy book-birthday, hurrah!


Happy book birthday! And so the day is finally here, and true to form on publication day, I’ve spent most of my waking hours on various radio stations and chatting to journalists, not to mention signing a pile of 503 quite large and heavy books in the Penguin offices on the Strand. And now, finally collapsing in a quiet corner […]

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Cauli Mac-N-Cheese, as seen on ITV!

Photo courtesy of ITV This Morning, October 2014.

This is part mac ‘n’ cheese, part cauliflower cheese, and deliciously golden and moreish with some crispy bacon thrown in for good measure. Baking it at the end to melt the cheese isn’t essential, but oh, it’s so good. It’s a quicker method than the traditional ‘melt some butter and flour to make a roux then thin with a little […]

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That OFM award: A thanks to Nigel, Nigella and Allegra…

The highlight of the Observer Food Monthly awards last Thursday, for me, was being able to personally thank two of the people whose recipes I learned and loved over the last decade, to the point where, in my bleakest times of staring at a few white-labelled value range groceries and some frozen or canned vegetables, I could recall good recipes from my repertoire that – with a little tweak here and a substitution or two there – would form the basis of good, nutritious, cheap meals. Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson might not have known it, but their books and their food instilled in me a love of cooking, and the confidence to explore, experiment and create, with what little I had. My pasta alla genovese was based on a recipe from Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’ (albeit with sunflower oil instead of olive, tinned potatoes and cheap spaghetti) as was my Spanish chicken. Nigel Slater’s words, his columns, his books, took me through a looking glass into a wonderland of technicolor sensuality – from bleak desperation to tentative exploration of smells, tastes, flavours, in-season fruits and vegetables and the transformative effects of lots and lots of gorgeous garlic. I remember watching his Simple Suppers series, some years ago, always with a notebook and a pen in my hand, and digging out that notebook when times got tough. He unknowingly taught me about herbs, flavours, excited me, delighted me, talked to me about […]

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This week’s Guardian recipe: Black pudding hangover hash…

There’s a thing that happens when your better half runs a pork restaurant – you start to incorporate all things piggy into all meals of the day in the same way that you used to use onions, or garlic, with gay abandon and without question. It starts with lardo on toast, bacon sandwiches for lunch, porchetta for dinner, bacon in ice cream (you’ll have to pop down to Blackfoot for it if you’re curious), and emergency sausages in the meat drawer for the kids, the pasta, the ribollita, the essential top-up of the ‘Vitamin P’. The meat drawer that might as well be called the pork drawer, because it sees nary a sniff of anything else. And then – once you have a reputation as a pig obsessive – people shower you with porcine presents: where they might have once bought flowers, or a card, you get a packet of sausages or a fennel rub instead. A particularly memorable piggy gift recently was from my German friend Lea, who left London a few weeks ago with a trail of Blutwurst in her wake. Soft, dense, meaty and delicious, Blutwurst is black pudding for black pudding obsessives – and so the morning after her boozy leaving lunch-into-dinner the night before, this happened. Hangover food at its finest, with no more foggy-headed incompetency required than to grate some stuff, blearily mash it together, and dollop it into a frying pan. Bliss. And […]

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Marie Claire Women At The Top Awards

Last night I was proud to have been invited to the Women On Top Awards, hosted by Marie Claire. I was given an award for activism and anti-poverty campaigning, and as I said in a few short words, I was both humbled and slightly bewildered to be counted among such trailblazing and inspiring women. Women who were given awards included Laura Richards, who founded the Paladin service for victims of stalking and harrasment; Pip Lines, a Major with the Sixth Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of Decoded; Dr Alice Bunn, the UK Space Agency’s Director of Policy in the Civil Service; Polly Stenham, playwright; Emma Hopkins, who worked with Angelina Jolie and William Hague on the Preventing Sexual Violence In Conflict campaign, Daniela Cecilio, CEO and founder of the shopping app ASAP54; Shabana Mahmood, one of the first female Muslim MPs; and Jennie Dawson, founder of ethical chutney brand Rubies In The Rubble, repurposing unwanted fruit and vegetables. Read more at http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/547446/our-2014-women-at-the-top-winners-share-their-top-career-advice.html#sfxqbMvSIdEwBVDg.99

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Cauliflower Pasanda

Over the past few years, I’ve hosted regular all-you-can-eat charity curry nights at my place. It is based on the home restaurant concept – people pay a set price, turn up, I cook huge bowls of curry and the money goes to neighbourhood charities, such as our local food bank and homeless shelter. This was one of the most popular dishes I ever made. You can pan-fry the cauliflower, but roasting it brings out a deep, earthy flavour that’s just too good to miss… (Serves 4) 1 head of cauliflower Oil for cooking (I like sunflower or groundnut) 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated 1 tsp turmeric 2 large onions, finely sliced 4 fat cloves of garlic, roughly chopped 1 red chilli, finely chopped 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp garam masala 300ml natural yoghurt 300ml double cream Fistful of fresh coriander A handful of sultanas Chopped almonds (optional) Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark four. Get your thumbs into the middle of your cauliflower and prise it apart. It falls into florets, looks better, makes less mess and is faster than chopping. Put the pieces in a roasting tin, splash with oil, scatter with ginger and turmeric, and roast in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, until slightly crispy and browned around the edges. Put the onions and garlic into a large pan with another splash of oil. Add the chilli, cumin seeds and garam masala, and […]

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