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DAILY BREAD

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Bread truly is a wonderful thing. By a simple chemical process involving flour, water and a 'leaven'  (yeast or a fermented "starter") is achieved something that is tasty and nutritious.

When I stopped full-time work 21 years ago to have my son, I decided I would teach myself how to make bread properly. Fed up with commercial bread which I found generally tasteless and expensive (except for breads like Poilane sourdough which is tasty and very expensive!), through a process of trial and error, different types of flour, hot stones in the oven and other "tricks", I learnt how to make a decent focaccia-style white bread using a mixture of strong white bread flour and semolina flour. Since this is our family "daily bread", I don't usually bother with the traditional toppings for focaccia of rosemary, olive oil and salt. With its lighter texture it toasts really well and is easy to freeze. It is rare for us not to have homemade bread in the house.

SIMPLE, KNOBBLY PLEASURES

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Jerusalem Artichokes

I've always loved Jerusalem Artichokes, those bulbous brown knobbly tubers with an unusual earthy, nutty flavour. My father used to grow them and we ate them freshly-dug from the garden. Because of their rather unsociable side-effects they were of course called 'Fartichokes' at home and that name has stuck....



They are no relation to the globe artichoke, nor do they hail from Jerusalem, but they taste delicious and make a wonderful silky, comforting autumnal soup. (I usually combine 50/50 artichokes and parsnips.) They are very versatile: use them like new potatoes or as part of a tray of roasted root veg, or in a gratin.

For a more sophisticated treatment, they can be served as a carpaccio - raw and thinly sliced - or deep-fried as crisps. Peel them and place in aciduated water to prevent disolouring if you're not using them immediately.

This from Ottolenghi is one of my favourite recipes using Jerusalem Artichokes (it's from his book 'Jer…

MEMORIES ARE MADE OF......MALAKOFF

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In the late 70s and early 80s my parents did a lot of entertaining at home and my mum produced wonderful dinner party food inspired by cooks like Fanny Cradock, Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and John Tovey. Her well-used cookery books were full of mouth-watering pictures of elaborate starters and main courses, but it was the desserts which always caught my imagination - and taste buds. I remember being particularly fascinated by a picture of and recipe for meringue swans (a Fanny Cradock confection as I recall).

I learnt to cook standing beside my mum and watching her prepare and create food and meals. I would watch the progress of a dinner party through the bannisters on the landing - people arriving, pre-dinner aperitifs being drunk, lively conservations, assembling around the dining table and the exclamations of delight as my mum served the food. Her puddings were always very popular - usually she made two - and I often enjoyed the leftovers the day after. One of my favourite puddi…

THE BEST THING ABOUT CHRISTMAS IS THE LEFTOVERS

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It's Boxing Day and everyone is feeling a little jaded after a day spent eating and drinking and doing little. The fridge is full of leftovers - a few roast potatoes, some tired-looking sprouts, the remains of the bird or joint of meat, stuffing, pigs in blankets, some congealed gravy and bread sauce..... But no self-respecting cook would dream of throwing out these tasty morsels.

I am not very keen on Christmas food. A lifelong dislike of raisins, currants and sultanas means that Christmas cake and mince pies are off my food list (though I do like Panettone and Stollen), and I find turkey one of the most disappointing and uninteresting meats. (Having said that, I do like "the trimmings" - roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts with chestnuts and bacon bits, gravy.) Even as I am tucking in to Christmas dinner I'm thinking of how to transfrom the leftovers into a succession of tasty snacks and suppers.



Roast turkey may be boring, but it's much nicer cold, sliced …

BOX OF DELIGHTS

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The vegetable box, or "veg box", delivered to your door from a farm or organic supplier, is now a familiar aspect of food purchase and consumption for many people, who prefer to eat seasonal fruit and veg rather than asparagus that has been flown in from Peru, out of season.

The meat box is a rather newer innovation, offering organic/outdoor-reared/sustainably-sourced meat and related products, delivered direct to address.

I am an unapologetic meat eater. I like meat and I believe it is an important part of our omnivorous diet. However, I am careful about how I buy meat, preferring free-range rather than factory-produced. The meat box fulfills these requirements while also offering more unusual meats not readily available in the supermarket, such as game, mutton and goat.

When I moved to Portland in Dorset in the summer, I was concerned to find a good meat supplier, since my local supermarket does not really offer what I want to buy and cook with. I saw an advert for The Do…

THE GREAT BRITISH MENU

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There's a glut of food programmes on TV these days - and even more on Netflix (my chef son likes Mind of a Chef and Chef's Table). Too many to watch really. I've enjoyed Masterchef, though after watching the most recent professional and amateur series, I feel the programme is ready for an update, including the replacement of the leering, gurning Gregg Wallace with another judge, preferably female.....

One of the more interesting food programmes is The Great British Menu, an annual contest in which top chefs (many holding Michelin stars) from regions around the UK compete for the chance for one of their dishes to be included in a prestigious 4-course banquet (last year in celebration of the 140th anniversary of Wimbledon), Over the course of 5 days, the three regional finalists cook a starter, fish course, main course and dessert. During the week, the chefs' individual dishes are judged by another leading chef (including a number of GBM former winners) who also offers a…

DEMON COOK IS BACK!

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To celebrate the return of Demon Cook, a post which combines my twin passions - food and music!

If you're barbecuing this weekend, don't forget the.......