Reading List (25/10)

Existential crises and the PhD.

More on the chef crisis in the restaurant industry.

Thirty thousand cookbooks. Life goals.

Great British Bake-Off has changed the way we think about cake.

Clean eating is dead. And make sure you read Bee Wilson’s article on clean eating that was linked to in the article.

I am reading Charlotte Mendelson’s Rhapsody in Green and it is wonderful. I love the voice and the different sections. Read it if you’re at all interested in growing, fruits and vegetables, and tiny gardens.

Do you plan your travels around bakeries and eateries? This list of bakeries to eat at in many US cities will help if, like me, you have a list of must visit places for food on any trip.

I’ve been listening with fascination to The Sporkful’s podcast on ‘Who is this restaurant for?’ These are thought-provoking discussions on race and eating out that have made me think a lot about restaurants and who eats where, and what that means.

This video on urban food systems.

MAD Yale.

The history of tiramisu.

The story of making 15 cakes in one day, for a photo shoot. Personally, I love the look of the pink champagne cake and this Smith Island cake.

And talking about cake, The Guardian has ‘the 20 best cakes’ part one and part two. At this time of year, I may have to make the ginger molasses cake on the list.

10 years of learning on Brainpickings.

I love love love this spooky gingerbread house!

Have a superb week! x


Reading List (18/10)

Is 40 hours a week in a restaurant kitchen ever 40 hours? And are you paid for all of them?

A sky projected onto the ceiling of a church in Paris.

More on authentic foods. Jamie Oliver was in trouble with Spaniards last week because of his paella.

A pumpkin farmer who wants you to cook the pumpkin, not carve it. Try making this pumpkin loaf.

Cooking competitions in the US.

A social enterprise in Scotland, running a pay-it-forward scheme and employing homeless people.

The internet had a mini meltdown over the weekend after a baby boomer suggested that giving up avocado toast would help millennials buy their first house. The responses here, here and here are all excellent, poignant and sadly funny.

On writing in libraries.

A bakery in Philadelphia that is doing things differently.

How is healthy defined?

Michelle Obama.

Next time we’re in Spain, I want to eat here.

A cheese souffle from Raymond Blanc. The new Le Manoir cookbook is on my Christmas wish list.

I devoured Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart this last week. Everything about the book is wonderful. It is filled with notes, essays, pictures, postcards and ephemera that George Whitman collected and kept throughout his years in the bookstore. The book charts the decades of the bookstore’s existence, but this narrative is interspersed with personal recollections, and stories of the Tumbleweeds who stayed in the store. It was like encountering an old friend and companion. If you love bookstores, read this book.

Have a good week! x

Reading List (11/10)

I’ve been wondering about the world this past week. More so than normal. Between the government here calling for firms to create lists of all foreign workers (later abandoned, fortunately), the scary statements on leaving the EU, and Trump’s comments about women, it has all made me nervous. Has it made you nervous? Should we be nervous? I no longer know. So I spent the weekend making cake (birthdays x 2) and a long, relaxed Sunday lunch. Because at times like this, cooking seems the best thing to make sense of other things. Or at least to concentrate on something life-giving and nourishing.


So making this pasta this week.

The 339 books read on Gilmore Girls. I really like this list. If I ever struggle to find something to read (unlikely, given the growing stash at my bed, on the coffee table, in the kitchen) I may refer to this.

The hidden realities of PhD life. And some of the potential monetary costs you will incur. Writing a thesis was incredibly hard, demoralising (most of the time), and confidence-knocking but this year post-thesis has, in fact, been harder. I no longer know certain about being an academic. Writing is hard work but the self-doubt, competition, and constant refrain of ‘not quite good enough’ has made me question the path I thought I would follow. Now I am focused on writing more widely, developing my own business, and finding somewhere we would like to live for a while (a key step towards all the rest).

Photographs of Foula, an island where just 30 people live.

How much of a crush do you have on Jacques Pépin after watching this video?

A long read from Michael Pollan on the legacy of the Obamas on food. And the plans to make the garden on the South Lawn long-lasting.

An infographic of London coffee-house names.

Should chefs be involved in shaping the food system?

Cultural appropriation and authentic cuisine.

It was Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday. I like the sound of all the foods, frankly, but the butter tarts! Oh my.

I worry a lot about how much we use the web, how often whilst watching a tv series or a movie I am tempted to check on something. Just quickly. I am actively working on reducing my mindless web use. This writer gave it all up for a while and discusses our addiction to information, the need for stillness and silence and the importance of sometimes switching everything off.

On the importance of books and libraries.

Molly Wizenberg on tastes of home and soup.

Gardening is good for you. And if you garden with children, you teach them important skills.

If you are in Cape Town, this looks like the most insanely cool event ever.



Reading List (4/10)

Welcome October! This is one of my favourite times of year. There is a nip in the morning air, a clarity of blue to the sky, and just the earliest hint of frost. The trees are rapidly turning from green to yellow, burnt orange and vibrant red. It is the season for scarves and jumpers, for soup, for books read with a blanket on your knees. It is just cold enough for me, and it is still light until 7pm.


This past week I’ve started Spanish (again) with a wonderful and inspiring new teacher. So I am hopeful this quest may continue. I attended Primary Lates to look at art and make gnocchi at Small Food Bakery.


We even made it out to the new Bar Iberico where we ate tapas (killer spicy ribs and jamón croquetas) and drank excellent wine.


But enough about my eating adventures, here is this week’s reading list!

New non-fiction food books to read this winter. And the new cookbooks.

This meditation instead of detention idea sounds like a stroke of genius.

Fascinating forks.

I love this blog that has essays from pastry chefs working in a variety of kitchens, detailing their work lives.

My life in sourdough is a video story about a girl looking for love, told through her food encounters. Each episode is short – around 5 minutes or so, and then there are recipe videos that follow. The beetroot and carrot salad with balsamic glaze is on my list of things to make this week!

I love the Saveur blog awards because it provides the opportunity to find new blogs I may have (will have) missed. Like this one: Southern Souffle whose voice in her post on Buttermilk Cake struck such a chord with me. Then I fell into a wormhole, looking at all the amazing food on the site that I want to spend the next few months making.

A profile of Diana Henry (one of my many food heroes) in the NYT.

A long read on the food movement, and whether it can become a social movement of force and change.

Anthony Bourdain on ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ by George Orwell.

Thirty years of food writing in San Francisco.

Community apiaries – this is such a cool idea. Does anyone know of anywhere in the UK that does this?

The legacy of Obama for food in the US.

I listened to Alain de Botton (of The School of Life) on On Being this weekend. I have read and reread his How Proust can change your life (in fact, I packed a copy into my suitcase when we left home last month). After listening to the podcast, I picked up my copy of Religion for Atheists. So much of what he talked about on the podcast made sense to me – this idea that one doesn’t necessarily have to believe in the various religions in order to interact with parts of them. I’ve always found it difficult to explain my love of Christmas (for example) because it is so heavily swathed in Christian tradition. But I love the holiday for other reasons – as a celebration of mid-winter, for the coming together of family and community, and for the sharing of food. I also love churches for their architectural feats and their beauty. de Botton suggests that some of the foundations of religion can teach those of us who are less religious about how to live – ideas about community, about kindness, about ritual, about beauty and about wisdom (to paraphrase Krista Tippett). The podcast is a fascinating discussion of these ideas.

Some more cookie ideas here and here. (And if any American friends want to send me the election-themed cookie cutters, I would be grateful forever more.) I’m baking this month’s Dorie’s Cookies recipe, breakfast biscotti, to take to a Bake Off viewing tomorrow.

If you’re in need of a pie recipe, I suggest you try this one. Ellen was one of the scholars I worked with at the LongHouse Food Scholars Programme and is a pie queen.

Mergers in the global seed and pesticide market. What does this mean for agriculture, our health and the future of farming? This is a fascinating article that points out some of the problems with the current food system and also suggests why it is so. Felicity Lawrence writes: ‘Corporate concentration in the food system has sucked the money to be made in the chain up to a handful of companies at the top. It works for the few but not for the many’. The concentration of wealth at the top also influences why the system cannot change, because wealth has power and influence over government policy. (Thanks Mom for sending!)

On making your own luck.

Health in South Africa. Do you think the advice is correct? That in the end, encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health is the only solution? What about the food environment? And the responsibility of corporations and supermarkets?

Autumn dinner ideas. And these maple oat scones.

If you’re making pumpkin pie this month (in celebration of PSL season), beware. Your canned pumpkin might not actually be pumpkin.

Whoopie pies.

Have a good week! x

The Everyday Table: Marcus Wareing’s Slow-roast Leg of Lamb


It was move-in weekend this one just past. I worked on Saturday morning, checking that things were running smoothly on campus, but I didn’t eat before leaving the house. (I have a total inability to eat before 9am at the earliest). So by 1.30pm, when I found myself in Sainsbury’s, I was going on three cups of coffee and a shortbread biscuit. I was hungry. So it is perhaps unsurprising that when I found Marcus Wareing’s new book Marcus at Home and started perusing it, I wanted to make everything in it. Literally everything.

But mostly I wanted to make this slow-roast lamb. You may have noticed a love of lamb on this site. It is one of the few cultural staples that I identify from my childhood. It was not uncommon to refer to there being ‘half a sheep’ in one’s freezer. And if anyone made a trip to the Karoo (where the best lamb and mutton is raised), inevitably there would be lamb upon return. So roast lamb, particularly on a Sunday, was something of a feature of my childhood growing up. We even had it with my aunts in Bloemfontein when we visited last month.

Marcus’s slow-roast lamb is clever (in my humble opinion anyway) because he blends the spices together to smother over the lamb before cooking. I’ve always pierced the lamb and stuffed it with garlic/rosemary/thyme, but Marcus has you blend the spices with olive oil and massage this mix into the lamb. It is frankly genius. I can’t think why this hasn’t occurred to me before. You cook the lamb on a few onions which turn into lamb-y onion-y goodness at the end. I also like the use of sherry as the liquid to baste the lamb. I don’t use sherry enough and the resulting jus is fragrant and complex.

I paired the lamb with killer roast potatoes. I think I have finally cracked the crispy but soft roast potato equation. Here is what I did this time:

  1. Par boil the peeled and chopped potatoes until almost tender – there should be a little resistance of the knife when you stab them.
  2. Drain and shake the potatoes around the pan so their edges are bashed.
  3. Toss in a handful of cornmeal/polenta/semolina (this tip is from my aunt Jo)
  4. Heat a fair amount of olive oil in a roasting pan in the oven. It is hot enough when a small amount of potato sizzles nicely. I had about one centimeter’s worth of oil in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Toss the potatoes carefully into the hot oil and return to the oven for several hours.

The lamb takes 3-3.5 hours to cook in a low oven at 160C. I cooked the potatoes for a good two of those. They were crispy and golden on the outside and soft on the inside.


For veggies I roasted a coquina squash, carrots and parsnips with some olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. I boiled some peas and courgettes until tender and then tossed in some butter and salt.

When the lamb was cooked, I rested it for ten minutes whilst I drained the jus and heated the peas again.


We shared some Warwick wine estate First Lady over dinner. Afterwards we binge watched more episodes of Great British Menu. I will definitely be making this lamb again. And will probably cook many more things from the book too. Watch this space!



The Everyday Table: Spanish pisto


This is the dish to eat when you are mostly in need of vegetables. Although Andrés would disagree, this is like the Spanish version of ratatouille. It is simple to make: dice the vegetables you want to use into small-ish chunks, about 1.5cm. You don’t want things so small that they disappear in the sauce. We used aubergines, courgettes (zucchini), onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. Cook these all separately until soft and tender. Heat a carton or tin of tomatoes in a large pot. Add all the vegetables back in and bring to a simmer. Serve with a fried egg and some bread for dipping, glooping-up the sauce. Voila!

Reading List (27/9)

Why do we eat chilis?

Drink your red wine slightly chilled.

Are you taking part in Dorie Greenspan’s #cookiesandkindness project? I am! I made cookies her World Peace cookies over the weekend and brought them to work yesterday because yesterday was the first day of Welcome Week and cookies were NEEDED.) You can listen to the Serious Eats/Special Sauce interview with Dorie here. It is wonderful. She is my new cookbook author crush.


A supermarket selling surplus food on a pay-as-you-feel basis.

Shakespeare and Company! I bought this new book on the shop in a moment of whimsy last week. Also, inspiration to open our cookbook shop if there ever was. If only we could find somewhere to live for a while.

For Mom: to eat, or not to eat?

I’ve been listening to this on repeat all day.

A farmer writes frankly about the realities of small farming in the US.

We don’t often get political on this blog, but this video. Watch it!

Cooking in Julia Child’s French kitchen.

Battles over school lunchtimes and what you should and should not eat (and who should decide).

Should you start a food blog?

I want to make these on the weekend. And this cake.

Autumn makes me want to make this pasta dish: butternut and sage with spicy sausage. Also this lemon pasta from Molly at Orangette.

Mother sauces of Spain.

On being connected to the land and culinary traditions.

On compassion, for the self.

Understanding the pumpkin spice phenomenon.

Did you read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? I loved the book  – I particularly loved the use of photographs throughout the novel – and now the movie is about to be released!