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.
There are very few things about modern cookery that actually make me sad. For my dad, the great tragedy is chilli being added to everything – chilli ketchup, chilli chocolate…other things. Some might be disappointed by the rise of burgers, or perhaps by how their native or favourite cuisine has been bastardised as its slipped into the mainstream, like Mexican food expert Diane Kennedy is.
I’m just sad that if you google macaroon, you get pages and pages of macarons, with not a shred of coconut in sight. Instead of golden, moist treats, it’s all smooth domed meringue, glued together with ganache or curd. The humble coconut macaroon has been usurped by the finicky French macaron. Read More
inally, finally, it’s Feeding Month. For 31-ish days, it seems perfectly reasonable to bounce from caffeine high to sugar high to booze.
I for one am full in the throes of festive eating – the table between my colleague and I is now mostly orange citrus fruits and shortbread.
Four years on since my last Christmas in retail, I’m not sure I can say, “Well, Christmas starts in October for me!” these days, but it can start now. I’ve bought wintery candles, and started writing party food lists, and decided to put the tree up when my flatmates were out, because that is the most boring bit. The moment when you drop the box and scoot back in case of spiders; the trying to work out how the hell the base goes together. The lengthy task of separating out branches.
But with that done, it’s all fairy lights and glitter from here. And a lil too much food, of course. Read More
his weekend, a message popped up on my phone screen that set off a domino run of panic in my mind.
“I was thinking this morning…”, said one of my closest friends, the one I got to know in the school library when we were both chubby little book nerds, “Can we have a Christmassy London weekend?”
A moment’s consideration and a flip through my mental diary later, I realised I only have one weekend free between now and 2015. How did that happen? How can I fit everything in? When did I become a person who says, Sorry, I’m all booked up till next year? Read More
ears ago, there was a bakery back home that has since become the stuff of legends for those of us lucky enough to grow up with it in the village. The building is a pizza place now, but during my childhood it was a sugar-laden Aladdin’s cave of cakes and pastry and huge triangle slices of the best caramel shortbread I’ve ever had. I mourn for what used to be whenever I walk past now and the street smells of grease rather than sugar and butter.
Perched beside the pavement, roughly at the halfway point on the walk to school, the village bakery smelt so good it was basically impossible to stroll past without at the very least slowing down to take in the aromas of fresh bread, cheese straws, and a plethora of biscuits. A tiny room, there was only just enough space for a small round table and two chairs, tucked underneath a pin board that covered all aspects of village life: craft fairs, church services dance classes. It was old-fashioned, without the pretense you get these days in bakeries that declare themselves “artisanal”; all crisp paper bags and motherly staff.
The loaves of bread I used to buy most mornings on the way to high school for about a year – I was chubby for a reason – were still warm at 8am, and perfect on their own. The marshmallow cones were a regular childhood treat, and those caramel shortbreads were out of this world. But for true decadence, it was all about the date slice.
Don’t get me wrong, the dates slices weren’t a sophisticated affair. A hefty slab, they were essentially two hunks of shortbread sandwiched together with a thick, sticky date puree, and sprinkled with sugar. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes.
Years on, it’s up to us to recreate the treats from our childhoods. Here, the humble date slice is tarted up a bit, making the most of the end of Bramley apple season and taking on a flapjack-y twist with the addition of oats. Read More