Curry night (not from the takeaway but the freezer)

Curry night (not from the takeaway but the freezer)

Saturday night is more often than night curry night in our house. We draw the curtains, light the fire, choose a film or some Saturday night TV, and snuggle down. My husband has something like a Madras and some pilau rice, whilst I have a daal, onion bhajis and a Peshwari Naan. We rarely deviate from this tried and tested formula, but recently (duh duh duhhhhh!) the kids have been staying up and having it with us. They are at that age now where we can’t fob them off with a seven o’clock bed time because one is nearly 11 and the other is 8. Our time together as a couple has shrunk but actually, Saturday night curry is starting to be a wonderful family routine. We started the girls on pappadums (aka giant crisps), before progressing to Naan bread and then chicken tikka. They have yet to embrace my tarka daal or even a bhaji, but I actually caught my eldest eating cold curry from the fridge the other day, and whilst mildly annoyed she was tucking into my leftovers, I also thought she had all the hallmarks of becoming a fine McDonald. We have experimented with our local takeaways but on a recent dash around Centerparc’s supermarket I grabbed some Cook frozen curries, out of desperation really. I had low expectations, but was confounded and the frozen food chain (they deliver and have fairly good animal welfare credentials) has bumped my local takeaway Peppers off the top spot. The Chicken Korma and Beef Madras felt fresh and just spicy enough and most importantly they didn’t have that greasy film...
How to drink less (maybe)

How to drink less (maybe)

“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” ― Charles Bukowski We all know we’re supposed to drink less (some experts say a couple of consecutive booze free nights a week is ideal – because it gives your body a break and resets your tolerance levels) but at this time of year? C’mon! Prosecco at a neighbours at 10am? Well it’s Christmas! A slug of brandy in your hot chocolate? Very hygge. A glass of red wine? Well, we have lit the fire. Drinking is almost an obligation. To yourself. To your host. To that bottle of half-drunk Pinot Gris in the fridge. I mean, you wouldn’t want it to feel unwanted, would you? This may surprise those that know me, but I don’t enjoy drinking every night. Once something loses its treat status, it becomes a bit boring and besides I am a lightweight. All too often I have a midweek glass of red only to wake an hour later on the sofa, with dribble down my chin and a whole night wasted. My husband argues a snooze on the sofa is an evening well spent, but on my booze-free nights the house becomes a well-oiled operation worthy of a feature in Good Housekeeping. The ironing gets done. The forgotten emails sent. The window boxes watered. I am on fire. Often for me the ritual of having a drink – the popping of a cork, the...
Panettone ice cream bomb recipe

Panettone ice cream bomb recipe

Some foodie friends came for dinner last month bearing white truffles, Pinot Noir and extra virgin olive oil (my kind of people). They run a swanky grocers in Chelsea and to be honest, I slightly dread having them over, because despite the fact we love them very much, they are such good hosts (and even better guests) that I worry my cooking is not going to be up to par. My tip with dinner parties is to do as much as you can in advance, to avoid a mid-course nervous breakdown. So I did a burrata for starter – unaware until I wrote it down that it rhymes – with olive-studded bread from a fabulous new Italian deli near my house, before serving Claire’s legendary pork ragu recipe which I made the day before, alongside some roasted broccoli and M&S mash potato. I know I should know better and make my own, but I find the stress of making lump-free mash under scrutiny too much, so decanted this into a terracotta dish for the homemade look. But the star of the show was this Panettone ice cream bomb. It was a trial run for Christmas – Claire is cooking this year – hurrah! – and as well as our mum’s Christmas pudding, we will be eating this for afters. It can be made well in advance and only takes 15m to throw together. You literally just hollow out a Panettone, whip up some double cream and condensed milk, stir in some sour cherries and pistachios, fill up the hollow and freeze for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, you...
Apple tarte tatin recipe

Apple tarte tatin recipe

Many of us could do with a little comfort at the moment. And I am not just talking about the weather. Although I can’t promise this apple Tarte Tatin will bring world harmony or help you make sense of any of 2016, it will lift the soul ever such a little. It’s a bit of higgledy piggledy affair, but takes no time at all to make (shop bought pastry obviously) and if it fails to lift your mood, may I suggest this warm apple and rum cocktail instead.  Takes: 15m to make, 30 to bake – but very easy! Ingredients 50g butter 50g caster sugar ½ tsp ground cinammone 6 sweet medium apples 1 sheet ready rolled all butter pastry     Preheat the oven to 200c (fan). Melt the butter in a 20cm frying pan. One that you can put in the oven. Stir in the sugar and cook until it starts to caramelise. It will go sticky and brown, but careful you don’t want it to burn! Stir in the cinnamon. Pile in the apples and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Unroll the pastry and prick it all over with a fork. Quickly lay the pastry over the apples. Trim away any excess with a sharp kinfe, allowing a rim of about 2cm, then tuck the pastry snugly round the apples down the inside of the pan. Bake the tin in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is risen, firm and golden. Serve with icecream or...
Hot apple and rum cocktail recipe

Hot apple and rum cocktail recipe

Fingers crossed November is as mild and dry as October. This Autumn has been glorious and reinforced my love for Britain’s seasons. OK, I know we are obsessed with the weather here, but the magic of watching the seasons changed is one of our – unsung – national treasures. Autumn 2016 has been almost poetical in its beauty. Blue skies, crisp air and spectacularly coloured leaves. But the transition between seasons, is not just a change of weather and outfits but a change in what we eat. What I love most about this time of the year is that hunkering down with a bowl of apple and blackberry crumble and custard is not just one of life’s biggest pleasures, but a legitimate way to spend a Friday night.  So with that in mind this month over on YouTube (if you’ve not already subscribed to our channel, it only takes a second, is free and means you will find out what we’ve eating before anyone else) we have been cooking some of our favourite Autumn dishes.  All of them perfect for celebrating Bonfire Night this Saturday. There is our very easy sausage one pot, our ingenious lid potatoes (jacket potatoes with the top lopped off – made this way, they are very transportable and can be wrapped in foil and eaten easily outdoors) stuffed with bacon and cheese or even baked with an egg in the top. And a delicious apple, ginger, pear and rum cocktail (inspired by a recipe from the wonderful Anna Jones) that will warm the cockles of your heart, put some colour in your cheeks and a spring in your step. On...