Wednesday, 27 April 2016

These apple crumble sundaes are the second recipe that I shot with Jo (the first was these pesto breakfast pizzas!) and I love the way the photos turned out.

This recipe is inspired by an apple pie sundae I had at Soho House and I knew these pretty glasses from H&M Home would be perfect for the decadent layers of vanilla ice cream, spiced apples and crumbly, crunchy topping - which is taken from this recipe.

For the crumble
110g plain flour
A pinch of fine sea salt
100g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
75g granulated or demerara sugar
50g medium oatmeal, ground almonds or porridge oats

For the apples
5 - 6 medium-sized apples - I used Braeburn
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
50g butter
Half a lemon
1tbsp honey
1tbsp demerara sugar

Vanilla ice cream to serve

For the crumble, which you can make ahead, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub together with your fingertips until you have a crumbly dough. Squeeze the mixture to form clumps, then crumble on to a large baking tray and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway, until golden and crisp. Cool and keep in an airtight container until ready to use.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut them into quarters or sixths. Arrange in a baking tray and sprinkle over the ingredients so that the apples are evenly coated. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until apples are soft to your liking.

To serve, simply layer the ice cream, apples and crumble topping and enjoy straight away. The topping will keep in an airtight container for a week or so and is delicious sprinkled over yoghurt and fruit. 


Friday, 22 April 2016

Introducing the reason why I haven't blogged in ages! It's been a week since we picked up our puppy and life hasn't stopped, even for a minute, since.

First things first, his name is Baki - named after Darren's favourite Japanese manga character. We might have shot ourselves in the foot a bit as Baki is a wrestler and this boisterous little pup is certainly living up to his name! He's a Staffordshire Bull Terrier x Labrador cross - our two favourite dogs! We've been wanting a dog for years and decided that it's never going to be 'the right time'. The first night we got him we were a bit shellshocked - he has SO much energy - but we've settled into the swing of things. We've been getting up in the night with him to make sure he goes to the toilet in the right place and not in his bed...I'm not expecting to have a lie in now for at least a few months!

He chews absolutely everything so we had to do some serious puppy proofing after he arrived; there is literally nothing on the floor anymore as he wants to play with all of the things! Apart from a bit of nipping, he is a total babe and when he curls up in your lap to sleep...well there's just nothing better.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

My lovely friend Jo (who's shooting our wedding!) came over a few weeks ago for a cooking and photographing day; I can't tell you how nice it was to have someone snapping along while I cooked, so I didn't have to stop to take pictures. And of course the photos are gorgeous! Scroll to the bottom - it's hard to choose between pictures when they're all awesome - for the recipe and some tips on how to get the perfect runny yolk.

Ingredients for 2
2 flatbread pizza bases (recipe here)
A few tablespoons pesto (the homemade stuff is best - recipe here)
100g smoked lardons
2 eggs

Pre-heat the grill.

Make the bases using my flatbread recipe linked above. Make the pesto - also linked above. Fry the lardons until crisp. Separate the yolk and white of each egg - it's easiest to do this using a small bowl or ramekin to put the white into, and leave the yolk in one half of the shell, keeping it upright in an egg cup. Spread a tablespoon of pesto over the base and sprinkle half of the lardons over it. Pour the egg white onto the pizza and pop under the grill for a few minutes, until the white is nearly set. Take the pizzas out of the oven and pour the yolk into the centre of the whites - return to the grill for a few more minutes until the yolk is set to your liking.

This may seem like a bit of a faff, but after a little experimentation, I found that this is the best way to make sure the yolk stays runny, which is VITAL (in my humble opinion). One recipe I'd seen suggested baking the pizza (with both white and yolk added at the same time) - but the result was a strangely marbled, hardened yolk and a barely-cooked white, which you can see in my instagram snap here; still tasty though!

Thanks for the photos, Jo! Please can you come be my live-in photographer?


Friday, 1 April 2016

Cooking for other people can be a daunting prospect. For many people, food is their love language and cooking for friends and family is such an intrinsic part of who they are. For me, that natural confidence is often missing; having people over for dinner makes me anxious. What should I cook? Will they like it? What if they don't!? I love to cook and I'm sure the fact that I've cooked on telly for one of Britain's most famous chefs should point to the fact that I'm confident about my cooking, but the truth of the matter is - far from it! 

Of course, there are compliments from friends, but most dinner guests (at least, the ones I like to have around my table!) are mostly likely to tell you it's delicious, even if it's only moderately so. Sometimes I have quite weird tastes...I love certain things together that shouldn't go together and I'm indiscriminate in my love of hotdog frankfurters and cheap greasy spoon sausages. Sorry, not sorry! So for that reason, it can be hard to tell if something I've made is good...or I just think it is! Having an honest boyfriend (whom I cook for most nights) definitely solves some of the mystery, but he can be brutally honest - for example, he didn't like the Vietnamese salad dish I made on Humble Pie!

I'm currently re-reading Cooking For Mr Latte, in which she makes the case for a signature menu. Like me, the author loves cooking; so much so, that she rarely cooks the same dish more than a few times, choosing to flit between newly-discovered techniques and ingredients. But, she notes, hosting a dinner party sends her into a spiral of panic, whereas having a tried-and-tested set of dishes ready to go takes the anxiety out of preparing food for others and leaves you open for being a relaxed, attentive host. I think that will have to be my next project – starting with making the perfect meatballs: I always come back to this article, about how having people over doesn’t need to be a ‘special occasion’ where you put on your best show. Really, it’s just about bringing people together. Amen!

So I'm curious; what gives you confidence in your cooking? Does cooking come naturally to you? Do you have a signature dish that does the job for dinner parties, leaving you free to be the perfect host? Any kitchen disasters that knocked your confidence? 

Recipes from top to bottom: Mini lemon and blackberry cakes, Breakfast burritos w/ homemade tortillas, Double-wrapped spring rolls (as part of this dish), Bombay omelette inspired by Dishoom, Chipotle macaroni cheese, Homemade furikake rice bowls, Courgetti and halloumi.