The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.
I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I've returned to Norfolk after eight years away, but little bits of my heart still belong to London, where I lived for almost fives years, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.
Stripped-back meals are the order of the day here at TDB HQ. It’s the best time of year to have that kind of constraint, with produce tasting good enough on its own that all it takes is a decent pairing and a sprinkle of salt.
That’s not to say that we’ll be without treats. You may have already noticed a new name around here – Sophie‘s recipes will be popping up regularly, and there are some beautiful bakes in the pipeline. I hope you all like chocolate!
Why so little time? Well, next month I’m leaving London. After nearly five years of sweaty tube rides, balanced out with access to gorgeous food and never being more than five minutes away from a coffee shop, I’m getting a train outta here. And then getting another train via London a couple of weeks later, but that’s not the point. Read More
Well, this is quite a ride, isn’t it? Waking up to political chaos, walking into work while it rains and taking a lunchbreak in the sunshine. I mean, it would be quite a ride, if turmoil and multi-season days hadn’t become the new normal for a British summer over the past few years. I’m excited to see what we’re going to vote on next June.
Another classic reaction to stressful situations in the UK is biscuits, and so today we return to shortbread, via fingers plunged into butter, bits of dough snuck into mouths before it can hit the oven, and the scent of freshly zested lemon.
For 23 years, I hated tomatoes. I hated them with a passion – cutting them, touching them, sometimes even looking at them made me recoil. It’s the firm outside and squishy inside. Or its the way they spurt when you bite into them, and the weird jelly that surrounds the seeds. For 23 years, my dad asked me on at least a monthly basis if I liked tomatoes, making a shudder pass through me as I contemplated them. No.
And then one day the answer was yes…right as he learned that I do not like tomatoes. We’re now three years into the reversal, and sometimes when I see a photo of a dark, juicy, fleshy specimen I salivate instead of sneer in disgust. Now that we’re in British tomato season, that happens with alarming regularity, a craving I never thought I’d feel. Read More
I held back on the alliteration in that title – after all, I used brown bread, and British vegetables, and considered some bonus bacon. But I figured just the four Bs would be cheesy enough.
Having the time and space to make a proper breakfast feels like a funny little luxury to me. It’s the pottering around in a quiet kitchen, coffee brewing on the table while I whisk ingredients. It’s the joy of keeping one eye on what’s cooking and your mind on how the day might unfold. Breakfast is the reason I dream of having a big kitchen with lots of natural light – as much as I love the challenge of a layer cake or the satisfaction of making a complicated dinner, it’s those mornings sipping sweet tea and flipping pancakes in pyjamas that I fantasise about.
There’s a possibility it’s the wrong week to suggest making breakfast in your oven, but I’ll say this: at least it isn’t waffles. I spent Monday morning sweating away in the kitchen making waffles for breakfast, stood over the iron and in front of the oven keeping them warm and occasionally putting my head into the fridge. Worth it? Yeah, especially when I realised I had leftover crumble topping to throw on them, but I can’t say I’ll be repeating it while the weather is so warm. This recipe means you can pop it in and leave the room to avoid overheating.
It makes the most of leftovers – the half pack of mushrooms, a handful of spinach, a few slices of bread, however much cheese you’ve got kicking about – and uses the vegetables that are in season right now.
We do it like this.
Serves four, or three quite hungry people.
100g mushrooms, sliced
12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed and stems cut into thirds
3 large eggs
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
6 slices old bread, halved diagonally
A generous handful of spinach
Chunk of cheese (as much as you like! I did not get these thighs by measuring cheese)
Butter, for greasing
Preheat your oven to 180C, and grease a medium sized baking dish.
Over medium heat in a large pan, cook the asparagus pieces and mushroom slices until just softening. As they cook, whisk together the eggs, milk, and mustard.
Remove the mushrooms and asparagus from the heat. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, transfer to the baking dish, almost-standing, and layer with mushroom, asparagus and spinach, and repeat. When all the bread and vegetables are arranged in the dish, grate as much cheese as you fancy over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
If you imagine me coming to a screeching halt like a cartoon character approaching the edge of a cliff, you’d be about right. I’ve barely had time to come up for air since Easter, let alone do any food experiments – my go-to dinner has become rushed noodle soup or store-bought fishcakes at a push.
As anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, I’ve mostly been eating ice cream in various corners of the country, which, although a great pastime, and one that I fully intend to continue, has left me craving savoury. Just the odd vegetable, please. Read More
Bread is a bit of a weakness of mine, in two ways: I love eating it fresh…but I’m not great at making it. Enriched dough? Fine, no problem. Pizza dough? My nemesis.
I’ve tried, truly. I’ve spent hours looking at flavour combinations I’d like to try and dreamed of jammy balsamic toppings. I’ve put the hours in. Pizza doughs that take a whole day: failed. Pizza dough that’s quick: failed.
Cheaty pizza dough made from a supermarket ciabatta mix? Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
There’s something about making pizza at home that means you can overlook the mountain of cheese because, well, at least it’s not Dominos, right? It’s a pizza recipe you can make on a work night, without faffing about with yeast. That, my friends, is my kinda meal. Read More
Summer’s here, y’all! I’ve got hastily cobbled together spring wardrobe to prove it. It would seem this is the year my friends and I have aged – when we got together for a picnic in Regent’s Park yesterday we all took suncream (factor 30 to 50), wailed over the lack of need for the word “listicle”, when “list” is perfectly good (okay, that one was just me), and, in the most ridiculous show of no longer being the partiers we once were, discussed our favourite humous varieties (a lot of support for original, and red pepper).
But seriously, invite us to all your wildest raves, we’re a scream. We’ll be the ones with wine and water bottles.
Anyway, now we’ve had our first scorching weekend of the year, we can start to look forward to those glorious months of abundant produce, beginning with a vegetable that has legions of loyal fans: asparagus. Read More
“I,” I declared to my flatmate, four and a half years ago, “am going to get a waffle iron, to celebrate moving to London.”
Spoiler: I did not get a waffle iron. Until thismonth, when my lovely colleagues bought me one.I am an idiot, and it is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Admittedly, I once said that about a pod coffee machine too, but we have all been young and foolish (and then older and foolish).
Anyway, a waffle habit is a hard one to sustain, due to the fact that a lot of the recipes out there use a load of butter. I mean…enough butter to make a 12-person cake with, some of them. A horrendous quantity.
So! Waffles, made fluffy with egg white, with minimal, and even then, optional, butter. A lil bit of sugar. A good basis for fruit and yoghurt, or avocado and eggs, or cheese, under the grill. Read More