Borsch, watermelons and a goat called Shevardnadze, there are some unexpected turns in my podcast with @oliahercules.
I went to her house for lunch - the smell of beef stock filling the kitchen - and talked to Olia about things I’d wanted to ask her for years: how she gets into home kitchens in Georgia and Azerbaijan to find dishes she’s never tasted before, whether her research journeys are ever risky, how she started to write and what she feels about Russia. I learnt a lot. And then we had that borsch and fluffy bread brushed with warm sunflower oil, dill and crushed garlic. Our chat is on @prince_street_
now. Link to subscribe on @itunes
in bio. Join us
It is special when cookbooks become part of your life. Here is @nigellalawson
’s How to Eat, my original copy and my new copy of the 20th anniversary edition. I bought the original when I was in a pretty bad state. I’d had my first baby and was suffering from post-natal depression. I was hardly cooking at all (I wasn’t doing anything much) but went out, with my baby in his car seat, to buy this in Waterstones on a wet Saturday afternoon. It was such balm. It had food for children and babies in it, and menus for Saturday lunches that looked as if they’d be - eventually - possible (because they were so human and comforting and do-able). I didn’t go straight home but sat in the car and read it (my baby fast asleep in the back). I have used it ever since. And it isn’t just a recipe book but a book, as it says, about how to eat. It’s also a book about getting the best out of life - because there’s a lot of pleasure to be had around the table - even if your situation isn’t ideal. I got the new edition just recently but I’m not keeping it, it’s going to that baby, now my 20-year-old son and a keen cook. I can’t think of anything better to give a food-loving twenty-year-old. Thanks for both books, N. It hasn’t dated a single bit
Jamming. Plum, orange and cardamom. The plums are just brilliant this year. Too good not to be saved and turned into something else
The autumn cookbooks have started to appear and some books I’ve been waiting for for a long time are OUT. I have been following Nik Sharma @abrowntable
ever since I noticed his beautiful pictures on social media. Then I started following his blog and his column in the @sfchronicle.
Then he became a friend (his kindness if you need help with culinary questions knows no bounds). This is his first book and it is stunning. The photographs - Nik is self-taught - bear his trademark look: the food glows out of darkness. But the recipes are the thing (my copy will soon be plastered with post it notes, though it’s also a joy just to flick through, enjoying the pictures). Nik is from Bombay (he still calls it Bombay) and moved to the US when he was twenty to study (it was too hard for him to be gay in India). He worked as a scientist for years but gave it up to write about food. The reason I want to cook everything in this book is his understanding of spices - which he uses liberally - and citrus (in fact he loves all sour/acid flavours). I didn’t grow up cooking with turmeric or root ginger or lime and this book is teaching me. He uses flavour combinations and creates dishes that are completely new to me (time and again I wonder ‘how did he come up with that?’) Nik is a pal - so I am slightly biased - but if I had just stumbled across this book in a shop in California I’d have bought it immediately. Just look at what you can cook out of it: charred sugar snaps with bacon-guajillo salt, lamb and potato ‘chops’ with sambal oelek, raspberry-shiso sorbet, apple masala chai cake, toasted cumin lemonade, pineapple serrano gin....Convinced? It’s out in October. (And just in case you’re worried - because it’s an American book - the quantities in the recipes are listed in metric, imperial and cups).
Not often that you go to interview someone and find them making the bread that you’re going to have for lunch, but that’s @oliahercules
for you. We spent the morning talking about Ukrainian summer kitchens, Russia (and its shadow), how food writers collect their recipes and fermented apricots (which I’m now going home to make). The interview will be on @prince_street_
very soon (they do the best food podcasts!Subscribe so you don’t miss it). That bread was great by the way - drenched in warm garlic and dill butter.
Apricot croutes. Really a cheat’s bostock (didn’t make my own marzipan or brioche). Simple. Can’t bear the stone fruit to be finished so making the most of it
Even after writing a book devoted to it I can still think of more things to do with chicken (I love it). This Persian-spiced spatchcock chook (with quick-pickled red onions and dill yoghurt) is in @stella_telegraph @telegraphfood
today (in the magazine and online). There’s also a Burmese chicken salad and griddled chicken thighs with parsley and shallot vinaigrette. They’re all delicious. Link in bio. Picture by @haahaphotography
I’ve been away so much that I’ve hardly looked at any new books on food since April, but things have calmed down now and I’m in bed with a cold so today was a day of looking at cookbooks. The @honeyandco
title I have been cooking from, actually, and I think it’s their best yet. Lots of dishes I’d never even heard of, big flavours and - often - vegetables as the star. I also love the writing - honest, funny.
The aperitif is one of my favourite subjects - the range, the history, the making of them - so I was thrilled when @kate_hawkings
book was commissioned. Dazzling cover, great read and RECIPES (including @terminisoho
’s Marsala martini). Finally, Larder by Robin Gill from @thedairyclapham.
I’m not going to pretend this is an everyday book, the recipes have several components and call for smoking, brining and fermenting, but the basics on these - what Gill has in his larder - are what you want this book for (at least initially). There’s Nordic influence and a love of the sour and the tangy, also a real love of using every growing thing you can find. If you want to make potato bread with fermented potatoes, your own butter, fennel kimchi, your own smoked cod’s roe and beeswax ‘cream’ this is for you. Perfect if you’re a pickler and jammer but want to go further (some unusual and seductive sounding cocktails too). It has made me want to get on the tube to Clapham to eat at one of Gill’s restaurants
Plums baked with lime, preserved ginger and rum. Going to be eaten with muscovado cream
Devilled eggs on toast, part of my piece for @stella_telegraph @telegraphfood
on breakfasts. There’s also Scandi ‘shaken berries’ with rye granola (still plenty of berries around) and raw salmon with melon (lovely, fresh weekend breakfast). It’s not the season for porridge quite yet...Recipes now online, link in bio. Photograph by @liznmax
Oh my goodness! Sheer delight from start to finish (I went with children, but they were rather ‘big’ children). The perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday. (Not just a romp - some important messages from the bear of little brain...)
Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, fennel and - added later - goat’s cheese. Moistened with olive oil and shoved in the oven. Lunch.
New evening passion. Tasted it for the first time when I was on Skye. Infused - but not strongly - with sugar kelp, and there is a slight whiff of the seashore about it. I love the stuff (and no, they’re not paying me). I also liked the Isle of Colonsay gin I had there
Not very beautiful but pretty bloody delicious: roast aubergine flesh, x v olive oil, lemon, goat’s curd, chilli, smoked almonds and rosemary. To have with roast lamb
Some not very wonderful peaches (woolly, little juice) transformed by red wine, cassis, lemon juice, sugar and the heat of the oven. Always amazes me how much flavour the application of heat will pull out of unpromising stone fruit and tomatoes
Squid, black pudding, crushed potatoes and peppers with parsley. Served with allioli. Supper. And the recipe will be in @stella_telegraph
Chicken with onions, a whole head of garlic, feta, dill and lemon. A bowl of seasoned yoghurt on the side. Supper
The desserts I posted about a few weeks ago - when I was testing them - are in @stella_telegraph
today and online. This is the white peach sorbet with rose mascarpone and raspberries. There’s a white currant, elderflower and lemon tart too and also a lime granita with salt-and-chilli mango. Link in bio