We’re so close now. Christmas is here and so are the last stages of gift buying and wrapping. For the last few years I’ve made various edible gifts, and the best ones now come back annually. Candied clementine slices dipped in chocolate are a must, and always disappear before new year. This year in particular I’m trying to cut down on unnecessary presents, and only give things that will last or be loved, even if that’s just something small.
Sometimes food stays with you for a really long time. Years ago, my sister and I took our mum to an incredible ‘High Chai’ afternoon tea at Cinnamon Soho in London. The dishes were all spins on English afternoon tea staples: finger sandwiches full of tandori chicken and punchy chutney; scones with a tangy spiced relish; cups of masala chai. But the thing that really stood out for me was an unassuming slice of cake spiced with garam masala. Spicy, sweet and moreish, it was everything I wanted from a cake, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
If magazines and Facebook adverts are to be believed, January is a time for post-Christmas self-denial and flagellation. Drink a green juice, exercise until you cry, give up sugar…the list of what we supposedly should be doing goes on and on, and I just can’t be bothered with any of it. The nights are still long and cold with summer almost unimaginably far away, and I still need a bit of comfort. Instead of self-improvement through denial, I’m focusing on using all all those bits and bobs that sit in the cupboard of the fridge for weeks and months and never get used up because the next thing comes along. I’m talking endless half-jars of jam and marmalade and chutneys which stare accusingly at me every time I want the butter or eggs.
There’s something about making ingredients from scratch that gives you a better understanding and appreciation of it. For a long time I’ve wanted to try making cheese, partly to see if I could, partly for the bragging rights!
Homemade Paneer was top of my list. It’s one of my favourite cheeses to cook with, and I already have a whole host of recipes to use it up in. I’d also seen several recipes and the process seemed pretty simple.
One of the most frustrating things about having a nut allergy is severe fear of missing out (FOMO).
There are so many foods that look bloody delicious but I’ll never be able to try. I just know if I could eat them I’d be such a nut enthusiast! So I fantasize about macarons, frangipane tarts, nut butters and other delicious (I’m assuming!) nutty goodies and then plot to create my own nut-free versions.