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. Continue reading →
That’s right – vol au vents. We’ve done some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff and landed squarely in the ’70s.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t around for their orange-tinted heyday that I have a soft spot for a bite-size foods. Or it could be that they leave your other hand free for a drink. The actual reason I like canapés? There’s a lot of scope for using cheese, in more ways than you could with one of those cheese boards that only feature as many varieties as cheese knives in that long-abandoned box (four).
It’s the tooth-squeak of a grilled halloumi skewer. The tongue-tingle of a good quality cheddar paired with pineapple. The nutty quality of an aged Comté. The soft ooze of burrata. If it came to it, I could give up steak, or bread, or pasta. Just don’t torture me, alone(y) without torta mascarpone.*
The cheese of the hour is goats cheese. To some people, it tastes “like a farm”. (When and why and where have all these people been licking barnyards?) But truly, it delivers an unbeatable tang that sits so wonderfully alongside sweet fruits and honey. Here, a soft goats cheese nestles with lightly honeyed caramelised onions and jammy fig to make a vol au vent that’s very much for the modern age. Continue reading →
hen I was at sixth form, I also worked three jobs (ish), and dreamed about all the free time I’d have as a grown up. Monday to Friday was sixth form – although around half of that time was sitting in the common room, or taking trips to Tesco in free periods – and Friday afternoon was cleaning for a family friend. Weekends in retail. Half-terms split between retail and a part-time feature writing job at a local magazine. Monday to Friday, nine to five, sounded glorious.
How adorable, right?
Now, it’s all busybusybusy, hours flying by before we can even stop to think how we’re spending them (the tube. The tube is where we’re spending them). And it’s for this reason that I’ve become a cheat in the kitchen, relying on recipes that can be made in a big batch and easily tweaked and recycled across multiple nights. For months, this was big bubbling pans of chili, made often enough that it became a flat joke. The holy grail of lazy home cooking? Big batches that can be frozen, and reheated fairly quickly. Continue reading →
t was the spring of 2012 and I was crying. Not the elegant kind you see in films, no quiet single tears rolling down a cheek: it was full on snotty, heaving, gasping crying. There was cold wood under my feet – the piece of wood between kitchen and living room where, if we got up early enough, we’d see slugs on their morning commute back to the garden – and a scrunched up Freddo packet on the counter of our pokey student kitchen.
I wasn’t crying about the slug wood.
For what felt like weeks – but was actually only about ten days – I’d been following the Dukan diet. You know, the one where you basically only eat chicken and yoghurt. There are photos of me tucking into, and, amazingly, finishing, an entire roast chicken, with a face of utter dejection. I lost weight, but also nearly lost both some friends and all of my marbles. Continue reading →
At the beginning of this month, vegetables made headlines. Not in terms of comedic shapes or astonishing size, but rather because we Britons aren’t getting enough of them. I know! What a shock! Honestly, it’s like we’re a nation raised on turkey twizzlers and chips or something.
Oh, how we guffawed. Seven a day, we’re meant to eat now, apparently. Seven different fruits and vegetables, about 80g per portion. The only way the average person in the UK will achieve that is if they reclassify potatoes as vegetables, instead of starchy carbs.
But we can, try, right? We can try sneaking the healthy stuff in. I got a julienne peeler for my birthday and it, along with a bit of mind trickery, helped me to totally up my vegetable game. So out with spaghetti. In with what people have dubbed courgetti/zoodles. This, I tell you, is something no-one who’s known me for more than 5 minutes would have predicted. Continue reading →
What I’ve done there is create possibly the worst food for me. Not in terms of nutrition or expenditure, but just because I have a bit of a lisp. And every time I take this into work, I’m forced to reply to queries as to what it is with a whole load of “th”s.
In every other way though, this soup is very, very good.
It’s no surprise to anyone that I get a bit giddy with food, and that the gourd family is the prime object of my affections. So when I spotted that New Covent Garden’s soup of the month was pumpkin, Stilton, and sage, I snapped it up and greedily snaffled it before they’d even announced it on social media.
And then I wanted more. Due to being A) inquisitive, and B) not made of money, I worked out the ratios from the packet and went on to make the best soup ever. The first time I used part butternut and part harlequin, but the second time was pure butternut and it was every bit as tasty. In fact, I’ve gone on to buy 3 more butternut squashes so I need never run out of them. Yep, I got weird looks at the checkout. Squash panic-buying is totally a thing.
The sweetness of butternut, the savoury touch of sage, and pure cheesiness from the Stilton combine to make a soup that’s truly comforting. A hug from the inside. It also doubles up perfectly as a sauce for pasta.
Additionally, it’s pretty cheap. One batch will cost less than £4* and provides six servings, which really puts the price of supermarket tubs of soup into perspective. If you chop the vegetables smaller, it’ll require less cooking time and therefore less fuel, too. It’s happy to be frozen, so can be made in advance and defrosted when you get out of the rain and need something quick, comforting and delicious. (I recommend these soup and sauce bags from Lakeland, which can stack in the freezer and be washed and reused.)
*Probably far, far less than this – I’m going by estimations and Waitrose prices. Continue reading →