Sunday, 23 December 2018

December 2018 Favourites List

Welcome to my final Favourites list of 2018. I hope it has been a good year for you. In the UK it has been a confusing and chaotic year politically. However, we had a glorious Summer. We also do our best to keep going when things go wrong, even if we like to moan a bit.

I've had a good year, teaching lovely students, gaining my Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy and getting the chance to indulge my passions for food and travel.

This month's pictures are of a recent street art project on Lewisham's Molesworth Street. It runs behind the High Street, parallel to the River Quaggy. Created by street artist Louis Masai, whose art reminds us of the many endangered species of animal life worldwide, this artwork is dedicated to otters. Otters are becoming increasingly rare in the UK, sadly.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May 2019 bring you joy, love and success.


Christmas inspiration from Nigel Slater; Oysters with pickled grapes, roast turkey leg with potatoes and tarragon trout tartare, turkey, pumpkin, quince pies, lemon Bundt, Golden sultana and candied orange cake:

How to cook your Christmas turkey - recipes and timings. (Non-premium content - you only need to sign up for a free account).

A Christmas dinner starter - tear and share savoury choux pastry wreath with smoked salmon and horseradish dip.

Part 1 of a 4 part series - Christmas party food; Meera Sodha’s baked onion bhajis, Nigella Lawson’s drunken devils on horseback, Trine Hahnemann’s Christmas salmon, Nicola Hordern’s crisps with Italian autumn truffle and creme fraiche, Rosio Sanchez’s churros with goat’s milk cajeta:

Part 2 of the 4 part Christmas party food special;

Jeremy Lee’s royal mincemeat pye, Rachel Roddy’s panelle di Fabrizia (Fabrizia’s chickpea fritters), Nigel Slater’s pork and partridge pie, Tomos Parry’s smoked cod roe, fennel butter and toast, Sam and Sam Clark’s chicharrones de Cádiz:

Part 3 of the 4 page series of ultimate Christmast party food: Richard H Turner’s spiced brown breadcrumbed Christmas ham, Vivek Singh’s sticky chicken wings, David Tanis’s filo pastries with mustard greens and za’atar, Simon Hopkinson’s Le Grand Aïoli, Dominique Ansel’s chestnut whiskey cream puffs:

The fourth and final part of the 20 ultimate Christmas party dishes: Andrew Wong’s pipa duck pancakes, Chantelle Nicholson’s caramelised parsnip, pickled walnut and crispy cavolo nero, Jeremy Lee’s Ogleshield sandwiches, Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s red pepper, vine leaf and goat’s cheese dolma cake (Honey & Co), Nigella Lawson’s Christmas rocky road:

Brown sugar glazed carrots - perfect side dish for Christmas dinner?

Spice up your cottage pie! Cottage pie with spiced parsnip and potato topping. A classic, tweaked! 

Sweet and sticky mushrooms with jasmine rice and spring onions, flavoured with ginger, garlic, chilli, oyster sauce, from Thomasina Miers:

Food writing and articles: 

This year we lost the food hero, author, chef and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain. Here is a tribute to him, from the people who knew him best. (The story of him feeding the skint foodie is particularly touching):

After the unintentionally hilarious "Millenials are ruining Mayonnaise" (do check it out if you haven't seen it before!) apparently the next thing Millenials are wrecking is tinned tuna... (please, can we just leave Millenials to like what they like - food fashions change, it's normal!):

The best present ideas for cheeky tipplers:

Christmas shopping for your foodie friends and family members? Here is a selection of the best food and drink books of 2018, from Kavey (Kavey Eats):

Khushbu Shah said on Twitter recently "Growing up, it was frustrating to see Indian food reduced to toilet jokes. In the past year, it has been frustrating too see Indian food reduced to the latest wellness trend". This struck a chord with me, as I see wellness gurus reinvent Haldi Dhood, and wax lyrical about the healing powers of ginger and turmeric as if they are new, unknown things, when they've been around for generations. Khushbu's fuller thoughts are here:


The Little Drummer Girl

Mrs Wilson

Big shout out to "Before We Die" currently free to watch on All 4 - a favourite box set from earlier this year!




Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Monday, 26 November 2018

November 2018 Favourites List

The clocks went back and there is a chill in the air. I’m beginning to wonder if it is still Autumn or whether Winter has crept in a little bit too quickly. I’ve dug out my gloves, with a pair stashed in my handbag “just in case”. The light coats have been tucked up for their regular hibernation, since they just can’t keep me snug any more. 

I hope that despite the cold, you are all well, my lovely readers. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will have noticed that I have gone all out for comfort food this season. Casseroles, stews, braises and sauces; the recipes call out to me from my cook books and internet browsing. The slow cooker and cast iron casserole dish have been recommissioned into action!

This weekend, many of you will have been baking your Christmas cakes and cooking up mincemeat, as the last weekend of November is the traditional time to do these things. The cakes will be carefully marinated over the period of Advent as we get closer to the big festivities. I enjoy seeing all the different traditions of Christmas food; gingerbread, mince pies, lebkuchen, made with love and kept ready for the holidays. 

My pictures this month are of a beautiful and inspiring recent piece of street art. “Round About Now” is a huge mural under the railway bridge at Lewisham Station. By Artmongers, the triptych is inspired by the logo of the local council, the London Borough of Lewisham. A group of people joyfully dancing, holding hands in a giant circle, forming a crown. As the artists say “the mural evolves… into a dynamic dance between diverse people having a great time together”. The sunshine colours bring energy and warmth to a little corner which ordinarily would have been walked past, as we rush around trying to get from one place to another. Pausing to take it in, the vibrant colours filled me with warmth on a recent journey into central London.


I hope you enjoy this month’s selection of stuff. 

Food articles and know-how: 

Foodie road trip in Kerala - Spice up a trip to this idyllic corner of south-west India by stopping off for chicken wrapped in cinnamon leaves, coconut dosas and cardamom-laced coffee.

I recently discovered (through another home cooking enthusiast on Twitter) that there is a new(ish) way of speeding up your cooking - the "Instant Pot". It's like a small electronic pressure cooker. Available in Canada, USA and UK:

Diwali, the festival of lights, happened this month. Here is a guide to Diwali celebration food:

A meditation on time, getting older, cooking and Makhan Malai by Aaron Vallance:


Four recipes from Asma Khan, the brains behind the wonderful Darjeeling Express:

Gajjar (carrot) halwa, dill and lamb keema rice, Masoor (red lentil) dahl - three more recipes from Darjeeling Express' Asma Khan:

Thrifty and quick, this Slovakian dish, Haluski, is made of pasta (of your choice), bacon or speck and cabbage. Perfect for weeknight dinner:

The miso ramen soup and Golabki (pork-stuffed cabbage rolls) have caught my eye here - slow cooked recipes by Gizzi Erskine:

Butternut squash risotto is one of my all time favourite cook at home dishes. This version has a twist - barley is used rather than risotto rice.

I've been making a lot of stews, casseroles and comfort dishes recently. Perhaps it is time to think about Autumnal salads. The Warm pear, mushroom and ricotta salad and the Freekeh and chickpea salad with pulled harissa lamb look delicious:

I have just discovered that Aldi sell the little floury soft tacos that you get in Wahaca (the Mexican street food restaurant founded by Thomasina Miers). I think I might have to make this...

Marinaded in olive oil, harissa (chilli paste) and lemon juice, this chicken thigh and chorizo one pot bake can be eaten hot in the weekend, then taken to work and enjoyed cold for packed lunch:

For cooking in either a slow cooker (crock pot), pressure cooker or Instant Pot, here is a Beef stew with carrot and peppers drawing on the flavours of the far east:

Over the weekend I made a beef stew with dumplings. I made mine on the stovetop and finished it in the oven (to bake the dumplings), but this recipe from Janice at Farmer's Girl Kitchen uses a slow cooker:

Chef Jeremy Pang shared his recipe for black pepper glazed brisket bao. I love bao - steamed light buns, filled with deliciousness. Who's going to be giving these a try?

Chef Angela Hartnett's recipe for Mushroom tagliatelle (with fresh, homemade pasta):

For Halloween Waitrose came up with a quirky "Eyeball" cocktail - with lychee and blueberry eyeballs in! I like this idea a lot. But I might just sub out the Cointreau and replace with Plum wine!

My other writing:

Not food writing - but my latest blog post for law students. Law essay 101. For LLB and GDL students.



Still Alice


John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky


Wild Japan


Johnny Marr – Call The Comet

Nadine Shah - Holiday Destinations

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.