Monday, 25 October 2010

KITCHEN CONFESSIONAL

What do you eat for breakfast?
Usually, Activia fig yoghurt. Not because I believe the advertising blurb, but because I like it. When it's cold, I like porridge, with a swirl of maple syrup. Fry-ups are reserved for camping trips. I love scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, boiled egg with Marmite soldiers, or fried tomatoes on toasted sourdough.

What food reminds you of your childhood?
Anything with kidneys or liver. My mother's puddings: 'Sylvabella' - a sort of chocolate mousse with boudoir fingers soaked in alcohol; Charlottoe Malakoff - almonds, cream, sugar and butter on top of boudoir fingers soaked in alchohol.


Ever eaten anything just to be polite?
No. If I don't like something, I just leave it. I cannot bear oysters, celery or dried fruits.

Marmite. Love it or hate it?
I LOVE it!! And I cannot recommend Nigella's marmite spaghetti too highly - delicious!

Coffee or tea?
I'm a big tea drinker and get through at least 10 cups a day - it's what keeps me going when I'm teaching. My favourites are Redbush and Lapsang Souchong. I like my tea weak and milky with one teaspoon of sugar. I like coffee, but I am fussy about it.

Favourite alcoholic drinks?
Prosecco, a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Campari and Orange, Caipirinha cocktail, Leffe Belgian beer.

Are you a competitive cook?
Oooh yes, I am terribly competitive, so much so that my friend Nick calls me The Kitchen Nazi, and will not allow me in the kitchen when he is cooking because I have a dreadful tendency to meddle and tell everyone else how to do it because I am convinced I am right - all the time!

What kitchen gadget could you not live without?
My trusty Kitchenaid mixer. Ultra-powerful and uber retro, it makes fantastic bread dough and the lightest meringues. Also, my Ikea garlic press: the best one I've ever owned.

What do you always keep in your fridge?
Skimmed milk, Greek yoghurt, garlic, Belazu rose harissa, eggs, fresh Parmesan cheese, Feta and Halloumi cheese, President unsalted French butter

What is your signature dish/dishes?
'Fran Bread' (my foccaccia)
Pollo al ajillo (Spanish chicken with garlic and white wine)
Chocolate brownies
Kleftiko (Greek lamb stew)
Indian leg of lamb

What are your guiltiest food pleasures?
Lying in bed with a good book or my Macbook, drinking Lapsang Souchong tea and eating Green & Black's White Chocolate.
Cheese - especially gooey soft cheeses like Gorgonzola and Camembert.

Fantasy dinner guests?
Kevin McCloud, Phil Spencer, Kirstie Allsopp, Nigella Lawson, Richard Dawkins, Dr Brian Cox, Professor Jim Al Khalili, Ian Bostridge, Beethoven, pianist Sviatoslav Richter. Could be an interesting evening - music, science and popular culture! Oh, and my food.

Dinner party disasters?
Do I look like the kind of person who has dinner party disasters?! My tip is never to cook an untried dish for dinner guests. I always have a dry run if I'm doing something new.

Is the kitchen the most important room in your house?
In a way........it's where I go to think and cook. I find cooking very therapeutic - half an hour chopping and stirring with The Archers on the radio is my way of unwinding at the end of the day. I would love to have a big kitchen so that friends could sit and chat to me while I cook.

Most memorable meal?
A recent 12-course tasting menu at Ca' Mea, a restaurant near Baldalucco in Liguria (see earlier post).

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