Category: Spring/Summer

Chicken, leek & cider pie

Today, we’re nearly halfway through the Idiot Challenge for Idiot People. Set and voted upon by a group of university friends, the challenge forces us (the idiots) to work out in some way every day for the month of April. Chicken pie with leek and cider // The Dinner BellIt’s less stupid, now, than it otherwise might have been – we’ve negotiated “lighter” exercise, like yoga, in, in an effort to give our bodies a little rest. Two weeks in, and a few people have dropped days, but thanks to a refusal to give in, most of us are going strong, despite aches and the necessity to wake up before the sun to squeeze things in. We’re all exercising more, and better, for it – I guess it’s the way we support each other. This is what I left university with: one degree, and several stubborn, idiot friends.

And then, sticky dancefloors and counting coins in the half-dark. Bubbles up my nose and a too-strong fruit taste. Half-carrying my friend’s dad back to his house after too many “mystery strength” Somerset varieties. These are my memories of most ciders.

It was university, of course, that did that too. May we never drink cider and black again.

Quite understandably, I shy away from cider a little these days, lest I get caught out by something overly sweet and too full of bubbles; still, when given the opportunity to try the new ciders from Aspall, I leapt at it because, well, I have faith in Aspall.

And Waddlegoose did not let me down.
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In Season: April

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onger daylight hours, no more excuses to live on chocolate, and aaaaaall the green veg in season: April has landed!

The other new thing, as if it being light at 6pm wasn’t enough, is a handy little month-by-month index at The Dinner Bell. You can find the page, which, as the name suggests, lists what’s in season each month with clickable links for exploring, here, or via “season’s eatings” in the menu. Read More

Spicy spring pasta with spinach and pea pesto

Did I add those ingredients just so I could have a fun title? I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t part of the equation — but mostly it’s about the snuck-in secret veggies, because there’s something weirdly satisfying about being able to tick off your five a day very swiftly by whipping up spinach and pea pesto.

Spicy spring pasta with spinach and pea pesto // The Dinner BellWhat can I say? I lead a thoroughly rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

Honestly, this week we’re all craving green things, whether it’s because we’ve acquired a lot of chocolate or just down to the brighter skies that come with switching the clocks back, (although that always seems to mean losing an hour’s sleep).

But it’s time for fresh starts, again, and rediscovery — the “tomorrow” we were awaiting the arrival of before it’d be sensible to look to getting in shape is here. And so we shake off the darkness of winter, peeling it away like soggy shoes after a rainy commute, and we dig into recipe books, reminding ourselves what vegetables look like, and we chuck in some extras.
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In Season: March (and Easter!)

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t my parents’, we have an annual Easter egg hunt, despite the fact that we are all at least 12 years too old for such antics. The point of the hunt isn’t really finding the chocolate and gorging until we have to allocate one person to roll the rest of us into the dining room for lunch. The real point is finding the most difficult places for the eggs for my oldest brother, so we can sit back and snigger as he wanders about looking for them.

Until this year. This year, with one heart attack behind us and a wedding in the near future, we’re foregoing the chocolate. Instead, I’ll have to live vicariously through you lot and Instagram. This month’s round-up slightly reflects this.

Last thing before we hop off to the good stuff…don’t forget that you can get £10 off at Bloom & Wild (in time for Mothers Day) here! This isn’t even a paid-for endorsement, they’re just…really good. Read More

Honey-roasted peach and cinnamon muffins

Sometimes, the things you love most are the things you fear. I adore enormous bookstores but sometimes when I walk into them my heart beats faster, because Oh, excellent, there are so many books! but also Oh no. There are so many books and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to read even a small percentage of them all, why isn’t there more time in the day? 

PeachportI love holding my niece, who is six months old and squishy, with big blue eyes and very little hair, and she is wriggly and I. Must. Not. Drop. The. Squirmy. Baby. I stand her on my lap, one tiny, ticklish foot on each thigh, and I do not know what to say to her. Small talk is hard enough with a fully-grown human.

I will always want crispy bacon on my burgers, but if I grill it, I will watch it, cross-legged and unblinking on the floor like I’m on the Bake Off, just in case the fat catches and bursts into flames like it did that one time when I was a kid.

There’s a big place in my heart for huge, fluffy muffins – the properly craggy-topped ones, not supermarket double chocolates, all sticky on top and dry at the bottom – and I am convinced that I can’t make them. Read More

Raspberry breakfast rolls with cream cheese frosting

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couple of weeks back, on one of those many days when people were questioning if somebody had twisted the planet to place us back in February, with the threat of rain hanging over us, I went to a talk at Borough Market with Stephanie. It was based around what makes good food writing – the styles of recipe writing, how best to introduce a dish, how many ingredients is too many. The best bit of the night was probably the food after the panel, but as I tucked a blanket up around my neck and listened to how food writing should carry emotion and take a reader to another place, I couldn’t help thinking What if it’s just a recipe you like? What if it’s no more complicated than that? 

So. Here’s something that I like. It doesn’t need a personal essay or a link back to childhood. The recipe is all about a sweet, pillowy dough that makes a light floof sound when you turn it out and the joy of painting with jam and studding it with chocolate. Read More

Double chocolate raspberry tart

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ou know what’s a great idea in 30C summer heat? Laying around in the sun with a good supply of drinks. You know what’s not such a great idea? Making pastry.

So naturally, on Saturday afternoon/evening, the scene was me standing in my kitchen, swearing at an uncooperatively melty pastry case while I desperately tried to cool myself and it with a standing fan positioned next to us. Read More

In Season: May & June

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inally, finally, finally, we’re out of the cold. As I type this, I’m looking out on grey skies (oh, England), but there’s solace in the fact that the streets are increasingly lined with the bright colours of summer fruits with “British” on the sticker.

Related to all this, you can now browse recipes by ingredient (up….^^^ there) on this little ol’ blog. There’s even a dedicated salted caramel section, along with the less indulgent fruit and veg bits.

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Panko jalapeño poppers with sriracha

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m unashamedly a feeder. Pretty much anyone who has visited our flat will attest to that. It’s a trait that I get from my mother, and which means that no-one escapes through those doors without having been fed at the very least a custard cream, because this is the level at which we like to keep our biscuit tin. Read More