Harira with Root Vegetables

Harira is an earthy, spicy, hearty Moroccan soup, often eaten to break the Ramadan fast. I like to close my eyes and imagine myself sitting round a camp fire under the stars somewhere near the Atlas Mountains. This is a high-risk strategy as eating soup with your eyes shut is generally not to be recommended unless you’re drinking it out of a mug. Continue reading

Oysters Hot and Cold

Standing in a battered boat on a cold creek in the middle of winter might not be most people’s idea of fun, but I loved it. I was with Bill Pinney (that’s him, at the top), whose family has been farming oysters in Suffolk since just after World War Two. Bill is a mine of information, not just on oysters but on marine life in general and the art of smoking. Continue reading

Truffles: The Cheapskate’s Fix

Image of black truffle

Black Périgord truffle, image courtesy moi-même

Truffles are divisive … you either love them or hate them, so if you’re looking ahead for a Valentine’s Day recipe for your beloved, it’s as well to check with them first. My husband once watched, with bemusement and possibly just a tinge of horror, as I troughed through an entire truffle-based menu at a French restaurant, from starter through to dessert. Continue reading

Scotch Broth

Image of frosted hydrangeaIn cold and icy weather there are few things more cheering than a big bowl of soup, thick with vegetables and pulses and preferably underpinned by something meaty.

There are probably as many versions of Scotch Broth – known in Glasgow as Your Granny’s Soup – as there are Scottish households. With not a drop of Scots blood in my veins, it is (unusually for a Sassenach) with some humility that I offer my version.  Continue reading

Suffolk Onion Soup

Some years ago, there used to be a cafe on St Martin’s Lane in London called, if I remember correctly, the Penguin. There’s a boutique hotel on the site now but back then it was a bistro with a bar and a handy place to meet up with friends. It did a superb onion soup which I ate at every opportunity, breathing allium fumes over potential boyfriends. It took me a long time to find a husband. Continue reading

Baked Brie with Hazelnuts, Thyme and Honey

Image of baked briePossible scenarios: there are only xx shopping days to Christmas, you are run off your feet, your partner has man flu, your child forgot to tell you s/he needed you to make a shepherd’s costume for the school Nativity play which is TOMORROW, the cat/dog is throwing up in the corner of the kitchen and the car is making peculiar grinding noises, delete as appropriate. You want a fast but tasty lunch or supper, or maybe a fuss-free starter for a supper party (OMG GUESTS!) and you want it before your head explodes.  Continue reading