Pasta has been around for thousands of years; so has rice, so has couscous, so has polenta. Yet when you introduce them into conversation and describe how you made them yourself, you are immediately accorded some form of celebrity status.
Italian restaurants still paint ’homemade pasta’ on their windows as though it’s as unique as a sighting of the Tasmanian tiger, [...]
These are the books I have perused over many years, for inspiration, motivation, or pure joy. When you start cooking as a kitchen illiterate, you need all the props you can find. I found mine in the works of all sorts of cooks: from marvellous professionals, geniuses even, through to mere hard workers, compilers of tradition and detail. Those here are not listed in any particular order.
On the way through a work like this you come across little odds and ends that, by themselves, might be insufficient to form a recipe, or a tale, but can often lead to little surprises within a dish, on a buffet, or at a barbecue – or these days, as part of a flash antipasto.
Baking is not one of my strengths. For one simple reason. The best baker is one who methodically follows routines and directions. That’s not me. The best baker is one who bakes constantly; who has taken the routines into the soul and can reproduce them this way and that at will; that’s not me either. [...]
The best dessert ever made starts with a punnet of perfectly ripe raspberries, fresh from the vine, picked at summer’s dusk; warmed through until the berries give just a little of their juice. The lot is then poured over vanilla bean ice cream, fresh from the churn.
But if you stop there, you stopped watching cricket [...]
It’s easy to sneer at chickens, especially if you’ve watched them at close quarters in the coop. They always make me laugh, and it would certainly be a five-setter between a chicken and a lamb in any intelligence championship.
We sneer, too, at their rather flat flavour these days – an insult to a bird which, [...]
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love vegetables. All you have to do is to love essential, splendid flavours, enjoy flamboyant shapes and colours, and look on vegetable cooking as one component of the kitchen craft which is forever changing and surprising.
Vegetables are remarkable for their ability to provide so many different textures, [...]
Don’t be frightened by fish. Not so long back, you might have thought you needed to be a star in the kitchen to be able to handle the slinky creatures of the deep and not so deep. I say baaagh to that. Certainly it is not true to suggest that all fish are the same [...]
The best thing I did in the early days of cooking was to learn to make perfect pastry cream. I learned something else as well: always read new recipes right through before trying them on.
For most of us, cooking is not about recipes, or routines, it’s about what’s in the fridge, or what’s cheap, or what’s growing in the garden. Recipes, I have noticed, are for special occasions, or for those things which need fine detail to make them work. For me, that is more likely to be for [...]