Friday, 22 August 2014

Friday cocktail: Bank holiday martini

The ultimate no-mucking about cocktail is the martini: gin, a bit of vermouth, and maybe a splash of bitters and that’s it. But it needs a good gin – there’s nowhere for it to hide, so this isn’t a job for the cooking gin.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

It's out! The new Oxford Companion to Food (and you could win a signed copy)

By Susan Low

The third edition of a classic
I have an obsession. Its cookbooks, and I can’t stop collecting them. As with the true obsessive, ‘need’ isn’t a consideration. I don’t need a newly published Azerbaijani cookbook, or a tome on Iceland’s take on New Nordic cuisine – although, following a recent trip to Reykjavik, the latter book’s firmly on my ‘must-buy’ list. But the fact is I want these books.

Every year or so, I force myself to undergo a ritual clear-out of the bookshelves, to make space for the new and sacrifice (at least that’s how it feels) some of the older ones that I no longer cook from. It’s a painful process that makes me feel a bit like Medea murdering her children.

There’s one particular book, though, that I could never stand to see carted off to Oxfam, and that’s The Oxford Companion to Food, the third edition of which is out this week...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Who ‘took the biscuit’ in episode two of Bake Off?

Enwezor left the tent in week two
Biscuits, everyone loves biscuits. Indeed our own poll a few weeks back revealed the ginger nut as your favourite. Of course this being Great British Bake Off, no simple biscuit will do. They have to have the GBBO magic – that little bit extra to please Mary and Paul.

I thought this was a really well balanced episode. People often think of baking as centring around sweet things, so it was nice to explore, if only briefly, the savoury biscuit as a vehicle for cheese.

Highlights for me were...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Bake Off: the return

It might be warm and muggy outside - i.e, not exactly baking weather - but who cares? It's time to breathe a sigh of relief, put the kettle on, cosy down on the sofa with the cat and believe in a rosier world where the thwack of cricket balls, the tinkle of china and the smell of just-out-of-the-oven scones makes everything somehow better. Yes, it's back – the programme that has us all wishing Mel and Sue were our sisters and Queen Mary were our grandma. What about acid-tongued old blue-eyes? I'd like him to stop grumbling and mow the grass.

So who's in the line-up – and who's standing out so far among the melée of baking hopefuls?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Brunch rules at Foxcroft and Ginger

Time for brunch at F&G
Brunch is by far my favourite meal of the day. Breakfast comes too early but brunch always means an indulgent, lazy morning. I'd spent weeks with my nose pressing up against the bus window every time I passed Foxcroft and Ginger, in the heart of London's East End, on my way to work with my stomach rumbling at the thought of what brunchtime treats lay within. One Saturday morning, I headed inside to find out how brunch has gone upmarket and to sample some of their artisan offerings. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Friday cocktail: piña colada

Can't stretch to the backdrop for your piña colada? Close your eyes…

The poor old piña colada, the national drink of Puerto Rico, is a bit of a joke cocktail these days, associated with Del Boy and all things naff. But It's Friday, I'm feeling a bit retro, we're still (whisper it) having a summer – and I'm not ashamed to say I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Plus, I've been sent a coconut-flavoured rum from Jamaica, newly available in the UK, called Koko Kanu. So let's get tropical!