Raisin scones

Raisin scones are a British institution

While I’m a big fan of scones, for some reason I hadn’t made any until a few weeks ago. While on the face of it they’re very simple, after my third time of making them, I can see there’s more to them.

To me, there’s three key things to a good scone. 1) light and fluffy texture yet just a little bit crumbly, 2) that crack that appears in the middle, which leads to 3), they have to split easily when top and bottom are pulled apart.

Rather than going through what I feel like I’ve done wrong, let’s look at what I’ll do differently next time.

  • Knead the dough a little less. I think I did about 2-3 minutes. Maybe 1-2 minutes is enough?
  • Lower the oven temperature to 180°C. These weren’t baked all the way through. Our fan oven is hotter/faster than normals ones. In a conventional oven, you’d set the temperature to about 220°C
  • Heat the oven before starting to make the dough so I can put them straight in after cutting
  • Find my digital scales. Last couple of months I’ve been using volume instead of more accurate weight to measure my ingredients

Scones

Ingredients

  • 225 g self-raisin flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 55 g butter
  • 30 g sugar
  • 150 ml milk
  • an egg
  • raisins

Method

  1. Start by mixing the flour and salt, then then work in the butter
  2. Stir in the sugar followed by the milk. Mix until you have a soft dough
  3. Turn the dough on to a work surface and kneed gently for a minute or two
  4. Pat down to about 2 cm thick sheet. Cut using a cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet
  5. Give the scones an egg wash and bake at 180°C for 12-15 minutes or until we’ll risen and golden brown
  6. Serve with clotted cream or butter and strawberry jam

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 104

Autumn book contest – The Little Paris Kitchen

If there ever was a twee cooking show, it was The Little Paris Kitchen earlier this year on BBC2. French classics with mixed with Rachel Khoo’s own modern twists. Instant TV classic, I think.

And, as with every self-respecting cookery programme, there’s the book to go with it.

Here’s what A. Burnes had to say about the book:

The recipes are excellent. They are all relatively simple, the ingredients are realistic (none of them either ridiculously expensive or too difficult to find), and there is always some edge to them that gives even the most familiar dishes an unusual touch.

That’s exactly what I loved about the show; if Khoo was able to cook these dishes in her tiny kitchen, I can give them a good try in mine. They were clever, yet there was nothing intimidating about them.

So, how does this work? How can you get one? We’re giving away a copy of the book to one lucky Crofton Kitchen subscriber. If you have subscribed to the mailing list, you’re already in the draw. If you haven’t yet, just fill in your email below. The draw will take place on 28th September 2012.

Take part in the competition.



Obviously, if you really really can’t wait to get the book, you can get it here on Amazon.

Small print: We can only send the book within the UK If you’re not in the UK and win, you can always ask it to be sent to a friend.

Korvapuusti

Korvapuusti is made with a traditional ‘pulla’ dough. Pulla is a Finnish sweet bread style dessert flavoured with cardamom. Similar to English Hot Cross Bun.

You can use this recipe for making many different kinds of pulla. I’ve struggled finding coarse cardamom in the UK where normally it’s sold in the pod. It’s very laborious to peal and grind them as you’ll need something like a tablespoon of it. If you live in London, you can always visit The Finnish Church in Rotherhithe and buy some from their Finnish food store.

Korvapuusti

Ingredients

  • 50 cl milk
  • 1 egg
  • 170 g sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • 20 g dry yeast
  • 1000 g plain flour
  • 200 g butter

Ingredients, filling and topping

  • 100 g very soft butter
  • 85 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • sugar crystals

Method, pulla dough

  1. Add yeast to milk that is slightly warm to touch
  2. Mix in the egg, sugar, salt, cardamom, some of the flour and butter.
  3. Keep mixing while adding rest of the flour. Mix till smooth and stretchy.
  4. Prove the dough in a warm place till it’s doubled in size, about 45 minutes
  5. Kneed the dough to remove air bubbles

Method

  1. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular on your work surface. 40×70 cm is a good size.
  2. Spread it with butter and then sprinkle it with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Don’t be too tight here, if you feel like it needs a bit more sugar and cinnamon, go for it
  3. Now make a roll out of it, a bit like a Swiss-roll, starting from the long edge. You should end up with a roll that is about 70 cm long. Make sure the seam is in the bottom
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough roll into little pyramids (see 16 seconds in in the time lapse video below)
  5. Place the korvapuusti’s on a paper baking tray with the pointy side up and press them down with your finger. Korva is ear in Finnish, this is where they get their name from.
  6. Prove under a tea towel for 40 minutes
  7. Brush them with the egg and sprinkle some sugar crystals on top
  8. Bake at 225°C for 10-15 minutes
  9. Enjoy while still hot with a glass of cold milk

Preparation time: 30 minute(s) plus proving time

Cooking time: 12 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Not yet a domestic goddess

It was a big independence day for me this year as I became an American citizen last week! I’m very excited about this because now I have dual citizenship. Now instead of fumbling for a hopefully witty but primarily self deprecating answer when someone asks me if I feel more British or American I can proudly look him / her in the face and declare that I am equal parts both.

So, I am back in LA and have been for just under two weeks. Two changes occur in my life when I’m in LA: The first is that I eat 95% of my meals in restaurants, and the second is that it becomes blatantly obvious that I need to lose 1Olbs. Ironically, the second one would be a lot easier if the first were not true. The stereotype that everyone walking around LA is stick thin is just not true, but there definitely are a lot more stick thin people here than anywhere else I have ever been.

Anyway, back to the point. To celebrate my citizenship, and a very good friend’s birthday, my family and I threw a barbecue on the 4th. I had big plans to learn how to make some classic BBQ staples: the ultimate potato salad, coleslaw, and as a way of uniting my two countries – a 4th of July trifle. I made none of these however, as the day before my mum decided to delegated them to someone who can actually cook… Even the trifle. I recovered from this blow and decided to make patriotic cupcakes instead.

In “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” Nigella Lawson has what she claims to be an incredibly easy recipe for fairy cakes. So easy, she claims, that one can rustle up a batch after dinner and have them ready in time for dessert. I feel I should write to Nigella and tell her this is just a lie. I had six hours to make my cupcakes and they were still not ready in time for dessert. My cupcakes were, to put it bluntly, catastrophic.

It does look easy enough… Nigella lists the ingredients and then just says to chuck them all into a food processor. We have a pretty good blender, it’s old but it still works so I wasn’t worried. Everything started out fine… Eggs – check, sugar – check, butter – check,  vanilla – check. I casually look over the ingredients for what to out out in next and realize that it doesn’t say two tablespoons of vanilla, it says half a tablespoon. My first mistake. It’s made even worse by the fact that I couldn’t find tablespoon measures so I made a rather generous estimation when pouring in the vanilla. Oh well, it’s already in there, and everyone loves vanilla. So I persevere and continue to blend. Then I realize I’ve forgotten the flour. That’s not a big deal though, just a blonde moment. I add the flour, blend a bit more, and then put it on pulse and add in the milk… and it’s great. It looks like batter, it tastes like batter, and even the vanilla seems to have mellowed out a bit. It’s so good actually that I just start shamelessly eating it with a spoon. At this point, I’ll be honest, I feel pretty good about myself. Maybe this is my calling, maybe baking is my new “thing.” (I’ll save you the suspense, it’s not).

The cupcakes go in the oven.

Here is a key difference between my life in England and my life in LA – in England I would have been shamed into making the icing from scratch. I would have asked my friends for their recipes and they would have offered tips. As it was, in LA, I had spent the entire morning before in Whole Foods insisting for the tenth time to my mum that I was NOT going to buy cupcake mix. (“But it’s so much easier! No one will be able to tell,” “that’s not the point mum, I’m supposed to be learning how to make them,” “but you can just BUY cupcakes!”) I did however cave and buy icing in a tub. In my defense, even Nigella recommends you do that in the recipe, so I didn’t feel too guilty.

I went to the oven, almost giddy with excitement, envisioning my perfectly fluffy cupcakes… only to find that the stupid things hadn’t risen. They were like little flat rocks. Little, flat, hard, dry, very vanilla-ry rocks.

Here’s a fun fact: all purpose baking flour does not rise on it’s own. In England there is a mysterious, wondrous thing called Self Raising Flour, and it does just that… It raises itself!! Why doesn’t ALL PURPOSE BAKING FLOUR rise????? Why America?? All my revived patriotism of my newest country faded instantly.

Another fun fact: British cupcake recipes are not designed for American sized muffin trays. I think if I had had more batter or a smaller tray they might have worked out better.

Who am I kidding? It’s a poor carpenter who blames her tools. My cupcakes would have been shit even if I had baked them in Nigella’s personal muffin tray.

But neither the flour I used or the tray I baked them in were the real culprits. It is an even poorer carpenter who just flat out uses the wrong tools. Nigella’s instructions call for throwing the ingredients into a food processor. Here in lies my real failure. It turns out that a blender is not the same as a food processor. Two days later I was talking to the chef at our local restaurant and telling him about my cupcake failure. I found myself deep an emotional outburst on America’s lack of self raising flour. “It’s the flour’s fault!” I adamantly declared, and explained that I had followed the instructions and thrown all of the ingredients into a blender. Suddenly the attentive look on his face turned to pure hysteria. Apparently the key to cupcakes has something to do with gluten and by using a blender I had not only sucked all of  the air out of the batter but had also completely destroyed the balance of gluten to whatever, causing it all to collapse in the oven. Also, 400 degrees was far too hot to bake them in (even though Nigella specifically said 400) and in an American oven I should have baked them at 350. And P.S. of course you can buy self raising flour in the US.

So they were a disaster. A complete disaster. I showed them to my dad who grabbed my wrist when I went to taste it and shouted “don’t! It’ll make you sick!!” with genuine concern.

I decorated them anyway, and while they came with a  “do not eat” warning when I presented them at the BBQ they were well admired… If not as well admired as the trifle, which was beautiful, and, as a bonus, actually edible.

Teaspoon cookies

These cookies are a crowd pleaser at any reception you might host. They’re different enough and look like some effort has gone into them to get some attention but are actually surprisingly easy to make. I don’t think my mum has hosted a single family occasion without making them.

Teaspoon cookies

Or lusikkaleivät, as they’re called in Finnish.

Ingredients

  • 200 g butter
  • 15 cl sugar
  • 40 cl plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Method

  1. Bring your butter to a low simmer for 5 minutes. Once the foam starts to recede, pour the butter in to a bowl, add sugar and whisk until cool. Placing the bowl in a water bath help.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the dough. Mix until even and smooth.
  3. Press the dough into halved tear drop shapes using a teaspoon and place on a baking tray round side up.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes in 175°C until they’re pale brown.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled down, spread a little bit of raspberry jam on the flat side and press two sides together. Finally, roll in sugar.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 12 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 30

The Royal Dubonnet cake

As I alluded to in my previous recipe, Dubonnet with gin, Darina had an idea of making a cake based on the Queen’s favourite drink. After giving it a little thought, I decided to use my old recipe for lemon drizzle with gin and combine it with some sort of Dubonnet ‘element’.

Dubonnet is classed as a fortified wine which is flavoured with herbs and spices. I’ve not come across it before last week but I’m instantly a big fan. It’s similar to port wines but even a little sweeter and those herbs give it a slightly unusual, more complex taste.

But how to incorporate this lovely drink in a cake that already is an adventure by itself? Three words: royal icing & jelly. I’m not a fan of cream cheese or buttercream icing but what I do like is royal icing (no eggs in mine). The Dubonnet gives the icing a beautiful, soft, colour that is somewhere between pink and purple. Kind of reminds me of flowering heather.

I’ve not made jelly in a long time so this was quite a lot of fun. Idea behind that was to leave a more distinctive and noticeable appearance of the wine in the cake, you could eat it by itself from inside the cake. My jelly layer ended being just over 1 cm thick (using 23 cm cake base and 50 cl of fluid, more on this in a bit), you could shine a light through it as it sat there sandwiched between two layers of lemon drizzle.

OK, enough chat, on to the recipe. I really hope you give this a try, I know it’s a bit of work but it’s quite likely the best cake I’ve ever made–or tasted for that matter.

The Royal Dubonnet cake

Moist cake that’ll definitely impress your guests. Pretty alcoholic so don’t let kids go crazy with this.

Ingredients: Lemon drizzle base

  • 225 g soft butter
  • 255 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 255 g self raising (or plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder)
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 20 cl lemon gin liqueur
  • 10 cl apple juice
  • juice of one lemon
  • 25 g sugar

Ingredients: Dubonnet jelly

  • 30 cl Dubonnet
  • 20 cl red grape juice
  • gelatine (vegetarian if available)

Ingredients: Royal icing

  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 40 ml Dubonnet

Method: lemon drizzle base

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Mix soft butter with sugar using a hand mixer. Continue mixing and add eggs one at a time
  3. Then add flour and lemon zest. Only mix until dough is thoroughly mixed
  4. Pour into a 23 cm cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until ready. (Normally I don’t recommend using a silicone base but as we’re using the same base to make our jelly it is advisable. It is perhaps easier to get the jelly out of a silicone one.)
  5. When ready, let it cool for 5 minutes, remove from the base and slice in two. Horizontally, obviously.
  6. Dribble the mix of gin, apple juice and sugar on the cake to moisten it. Remember to do both sides and pour on the cut side.

Method: jelly

  1. Pour the red grape juice and Dubonnet in a small sauce pan
  2. Whisk in the gelatine
  3. carefully bring to boil and simmer for a minute
  4. Pour the mix in to the cake base used for making the cake (make sure it’s not one with a removable bottom)
  5. Put it in a fridge for at least an hour to set

Method: the assembly

  1. Once the jelly has set or you’re almost ready to serve it, place bottom of the cake with cut side down on top of the jelly.
  2. Put a plate on top and in one continues fast movement bring the whole thing upside down
  3. Place it on a table and carefully remove the cake tin. You should end up with cake in the bottom with a clear layer of jelly on top of it
  4. Now all you need to do is put the other half of the cake on and spread royal icing on top
  5. When mixing the royal icing, make sure it’s very thick. It will suck moisture out of the cake and flow down the sides

Quick notes

While it’s OK to make the lemon drizzle base the day before serving, do not add the jelly layer much before serving. The sponge will literally suck the jelly dry in about a day and you’re left with a layer of jam.

Preparation time: 1 Hours

Cooking time: 2 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

A Dubonnet with gin, shaken

I wasn’t planning on posting this but what the heck. It was so nice I can’t keep it to myself.

I had a chat a few days ago with Darina about what kind of cake I should make for this years street party and she suggested doing something Royal. Perhaps somethings based on the Queens favourite drink. As it happens it is not a gin and tonic but a Dubonnet with gin. (Yeah, I know… You can never be sure what her favourite drink is. I mean, I keep changing my mind through out the evening.) Dubonnet isn’t something I’d normally have in the house and as I’m not making the cakes until tomorrow morning, we thought we might as well give Her drink ago. Turns out the drink is actually really good. Here’s how to make one.

Dubonnet and gin cocktail

Favourite drink of Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth II. Allegedly.

Ingredients

  • 4 cl Dubonnet
  • 3 cl gin
  • slice of lemon
  • ice

Method

  1. Mix Dubonnet and gin in a shaker with some ice
  2. Strain on top of the lemon and ice in a glass
  3. Drink and think of England

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

The Cannelloni

This weekend I made mushroom and spinach cannelloni. I actually did.

I picked the cannelloni partly because I’m currently a pescetarian (after we visited a farm on Easter and the little piglets looked up at me with their little snouts and little eyes that pleaded “let us live!”… I’m hoping it’s just a phase though.) but mostly because I kept seeing cannelloni tubes at the supermarket and, never having known such things existed before, was intrigued. The recipe was from the Mary Berry and Lucy Young book Cook Up A Feast.

This weekend I made mushroom and spinach cannelloni. I actually did.

I picked the cannelloni partly because I’m currently a pescetarian (after we visited a farm on Easter and the little piglets looked up at me with their little snouts and little eyes that pleaded “let us live!”… I’m hoping it’s just a phase though.) but mostly because I kept seeing cannelloni tubes at the supermarket and, never having known such things existed before, was intrigued. The recipe was from the Mary Berry and Lucy Young book Cook up a Feast.

My fist hurdle came when preparing the ingredients. I innocently went to get the called for can of tomatoes but when I opened the cupboard door something threw itself off the shelf at high speed only to break it’s fall in the casserole dish, which naturally shattered. Great. What on earth am I supposed to cook the cannelloni in now? And if that weren’t enough, at that moment, as if inspired, an opened bag of spaghetti followed suit and emptied its contents everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. I’ll be honest, I didn’t take it well, I may have even in the heat of the moment used an expletive. Internally I rounded on my boyfriend, Conor. It never would have happened, I raged to myself, if someone hadn’t overstuffed the cupboard, if someone knew how to organize things, if someone hadn’t just shoved everything up there when they unpacked the shopping last time… And then it hit me. That someone was me. I overstuffed the cupboard, I don’t know how to organize things, and I had unpacked the shopping last time. Sorry Conor.

My next hurdle: mushrooms. The recipe calls for 500g of mixed mushrooms roughly chopped. 500g is a lot of mushrooms. More than a lot. It’s loads. Conor and I have an ongoing debate on how to clean mushrooms (we also talk about interesting things). I was taught, although admittedly I can’t remember by whom, that you should dab mushrooms with a wet paper towel, or cloth or whatever, so that the mushroom doesn’t absorb too much water. Conor insists this is rubbish and that you can just rinse them. So here it was, Sunday afternoon, and I was righteously giving each mushroom a tender loving sponge bath. I had got through perhaps ten when I thought to myself “I’m doing pretty well here!” and checked the pile of mushrooms to admire the hefty dent I felt sure I was making in it. My pile was still 500g of mushroom strong… minus ten. This was going to take ages. So very calmly I made sure that Conor was not only out of the room, but in a far away enough room that I’d have time to hide the evidence should he start heading towards the kitchen, and I started grabbing mushrooms by the handful – chestnut, shiitake, button alike – and shoving them under the tap. Water absorption… really? They were fine.

So. 500g of mushrooms now washed. 500g of mushrooms now to chop. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say it took half an hour.

Now to actually make the cannelloni. The first step is to fry the mushrooms with the spinach in a frying pan. It crossed my mind, while trying to fit the mushrooms and spinach into a British size frying pan, that either Mary Berry and Lucy Young have never actually seen 500g of roughly chopped mushrooms and 225g of roughly chopped spinach, or they have access king sized frying pans. Whichever it was, 725g of food does not fit into my frying pans. I somewhat lost my cool as my carefully washed and roughy chopped to perfection mushrooms cascaded to the floor and periodically flew across the room. Enter my boyfriend. Calm in the face of crisis (and always confused by my freak outs in the kitchen) suggested I cook them in batches. It took some serious explanations, and eventually a physical demonstration for me to understand how he intended me to do this, but admittedly it was a good idea.

The rest was pretty easy. For those with patience, dedication to mushrooms, and giant frying pans, this recipe isn’t too complicated. I found a smaller casserole dish to cook it in and was relieved to see the cannelloni tubes were actually much smaller than I had imagined and would fit into it- although that did make spooning in the eventually fried mushroom and spinach mix a bit fiddly.

It came out of the oven looking amazing, and, to my delight, potentially edible. Admittedly the presentation went to pot as I spooned it out onto the plates, but I am very proud to say that it was not only edible, but was actually quite tasty.

In the future, if I make it again I will: buy pre chopped mushrooms, rinse them from the start (only when Conor isn’t paying attention), get bigger frying pans, and cook the mushrooms for longer (not all of them were fried enough and were a bit tough after being baked in the oven).

Not bad for a first timer, right?

Here’s the recipe:

Cannelloni

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 225g baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g can tomatoes, drained and juice disgarded
  • 2tbsp pesto
  • 75g freshly grated parmesan
  • 12 cannelloni tubes
  • For the sauce

  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 900ml hot milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 heaped tbsp pesto

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms, and fry over a high heat for 2 mins, or until just cooked. Add the garlic and spinach and toss together until the spinach is just wilted. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside to cool.
  2. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Whisking all the time, gradually blend in the hot milk and the cream and bring to the boil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, remove from the heat, and stir in the pesto.
  3. Put the tomatoes into a mixing bowl, add the cooled mushroom mixture, the pesto, and one – third of the Parmesan. Stir to combine.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius (180 fan / 400F / Gas 6). Meanwhile, fill the cannelloni tubes with the mushroom and spinach filling, diving it equally among them.
  5. Spoon one – third of the sauce into the base of the ovenproof dish and arrange the filled cannelloni on top in neat rows. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.
  6. Bake for 30 – 35 mins.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30-35 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Shortbread

Having always been a fan of shortbread, it’s surprising I’ve not made any before last week. I was inspired by our friend Sara Macdonald who gave some of her home baked shortbread to Darina for her birthday.

Turns out, shortbread is very easy to make. Just look at the main ingredients; flour, butter and sugar. Very simple, even regular bread has more ingredients.

Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter
  • 60 g sugar and extra for topping
  • 180 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Start by mixing sugar, soft butter, salt and vanilla using an electric whisk
  3. Add flour and mix until just properly mixed. You should now have a bowl of crumbs
  4. Press into brick using your hand and place on the work surface
  5. Roll into a 1 cm thick rectangular and cut into fingers
  6. Place the shortbread fingers on a baking tray and freeze for 5-10 minutes
  7. Once they’ve gone a little hard, roll them in sugar and place back on the baking tray
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they start looking golden brown around the edges

Quick notes

Be careful not to over bake or make them too thin, this will make them too cruncy. Unless of course, you want them too cruncy.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 12-20

Introducing Kate Robinson

I have a confession: I am 22 years old and I cannot cook.
Or bake. Or fry, or grill, or sauté, or flambé… I am, to put it bluntly, a complete disaster in the kitchen. To be honest, I’ve never really minded that much. There are lots of good restaurants, and ready meals, and I can make a salad, which requires little to no skill. But let’s be honest, when all else fails and I’m broke from the aforementioned reliance on restaurants, cereal for dinner never fails. Continue»

Note from the editor: Crofton Kitchen is now just under a year old. I started it simply as a place for me to share recipes I love but of course I’ve want to see it grow from that. I personally don’t have enough time to dedicate to writing new posts all the time as this still remains a hobby to me.

That’s why, I’m very happy to announce that Kate Robinson is starting her own column on the site. She’ll be here every couple weeks writing about her travels around the world and her journey of learning to cook. (She’s actually already a very decent cook but that’s besides the point.)

You should definitely follow her on Twitter: @littlest_robo and from the menu bar above under Kate’s Column. Big cheer everybody and over to you, Kate.


I have a confession: I am 22 years old and I cannot cook.
Or bake. Or fry, or grill, or sauté, or flambé… I am, to put it bluntly, a complete disaster in the kitchen. To be honest, I’ve never really minded that much. There are lots of good restaurants, and ready meals, and I can make a salad, which requires little to no skill. But let’s be honest, when all else fails and I’m broke from the aforementioned reliance on restaurants, cereal for dinner never fails.

So no, for the vast majority of my life it hadn’t even occurred to me to learn how to cook. Until I moved to London. (This requires a little back story, so bare with me, I’ll make it quick. I am originally from Stratford Upon Avon but moved with my family to Los Angeles when I was twelve. I have just moved to back to the UK, but to London via a 9 month stint in New York.)
Each place I have lived in has been an entirely unique experience, with each town / city being completely different from the last. There are all sorts of contrasts between them, which I will get onto another time, but the biggest one for me has been food. Not just what you eat, although that is relevant too, but the whole culture surrounding food. The mindset of eating.

You’d have thought, at least in the western world that eating is eating no matter where you are, but it’s not.

To be honest, my head is a cultural dumping ground when it comes to food. It’s a mess of contradictions and extremes. But I love food. Not just food, I love eating. And a long the way I seem to have surrounded myself with good cooks. It seems everyone here knows at the very least the basics. So, I have decided that now, inspired by those around me, and trying to sort through the cultural clutter going on in my head, is as good a time as any to learn how to cook. I’m excited to start!

I plan on sharing all of my successes–and the inevitable failures–along the long road to culinary competency… if not excellence.