More from life

How doughnuts took over my life

For almost a decade, doughnuts ruled my life. When I first began baking professionally, I fell into doughnut-making. It was entirely my own fault: after graduating from culinary school, I decided the best thing I could do to improve my pastry skills was to bake regularly. So I knocked together a product and price list

The shame of Ian, the lockdown pup

The park we go to every day is Victorian – large, full of mock landscapes and extravagantly diverse settings, lakes, woodlands, formal gardens and tiny wildernesses. We went on a guided tour of Buckingham Palace’s gardens three years ago, and afterwards my husband said: ‘Well, it was very nice. But Battersea Park is nicer.’ Above

Grumpiness is a way of life

I used to be a terrible grump who would rant and rage against the 1,001 irritations of modern British life. And then one day I decided life was too short to be permanently enraged by everything and everyone.  ‘These kind people simply want to share their music with me! How thoughtful!’ For grumpy me, the

Why foreigners can’t speak Thai

For 12 years now I have been learning Thai from my maid, Pi Nong, who has been employed in our building for decades. It’s a much misunderstood relationship. Here the maid is an obligatory fixture, integrated into daily life for foreigners and Thais over the age of 45 and over a fairly modest income level.

How not to talk to builders

It’s week eight of the installation of a cheap Ikea kitchen in my flat, and an Albanian builder is slumped in an armchair in my sitting room. He’s shielding his face with his hand, Princess Diana-style, to hide the fact that he’s weeping. My kitchen sink drama began when I rang a firm of local

The death of royalty

The cohorts of Hamas have invaded my neighbourhood. I was walking my dog, Maxi, in the afterglow of a shower that had lit the pavements with a pearlescence you normally see only in the piazzas of Syracuse, when I paused to look at the posters of kidnapped Israelis that someone had hung opposite Gail’s. I

They call me the ‘problem teetotaller’

My guts went on strike last July. I was staying in a hotel and I spent several days sprawled on the bed, vomiting occasionally, eating and drinking nothing and barely able even to wet my lips with water. Meanwhile, a bottle of Prosecco offered by the management stood untouched next to the widescreen TV. I

Glorious and nostalgic: how to make corned beef pie

A few weeks ago I was at the super-market juggling a toddler, several heavy bags and, it transpired, no pound coin to insert into a trolley. A kind employee came to my rescue: on her key ring was one of those little keys you use to open tins of corned beef, which she deftly inserted

The timeless beauty of a French apple tart

There is, as the saying goes, more than one way to skin a cat. The same could be said – although rather more appealingly – about the number of ways to make a French apple tart. French apple tarts are ubiquitous in their home country but, despite the umbrella name, no two recipes are the

My two tips for perfect aubergine parmigiana

In the middle of an unpredictable Indian summer, here is a recipe from sultry southern Italy which is suitable for the changing seasons. While aubergine parmigiana (or parmigiana di melanzane) was born of hot Italian summers, it is also perfect for autumn, as the days shorten and darken. There is inherent comfort in the hot,

Tarte tropézienne, the glamorous dessert named by Brigitte Bardot

Is there a more glamorous piece of pâtisserie than the tarte tropézienne? Born in the inherently chic Saint-Tropez, named by Brigitte Bardot on the set of a film before becoming such a cult favourite that it  graces virtually every bakery on the French Riviera, the tarte tropézienne has star quality. But for some reason, it’s

Fish and chips: the fast food that made me

The last meal my parents had before I graced the world with my presence was fish and chips, so I like to think it forms part of my origin story. Growing up on the coast, fish and chips featured in all its forms: bags of chips clutched on windy beach walks; takeaway fish suppers brought

Pavlova: the crumble of summer

Whenever I tell someone that I’m making a pavlova the response is the same: sheer joy. Even the most fervent pudding-denier struggles to resist a slice of pav. It makes sense – fragile, crisp meringue with a tender, mallowy centre, soft waves of cream and some kind of fruit is such a brilliant combination. You

French tomato tart: a simple celebration of summer

Last year, we grew tomatoes for the first time. And we did so with our characteristic enthusiasm, lack of knowledge and ignoring of instructions. So inside our raised bed we planted out radishes and beetroot, chard and kale, tenderstem broccoli and Brussels sprouts – and one very busy row of tomatoes. We didn’t let this

How to make proper vanilla ice cream

I could map out my life geographically and temporally in scoops of ice cream. From the oyster delights handed over in tracing-paper napkins from Minchella’s hatch in South Shields on the beachfront, to the little silver coupe bowls of ice cream we ordered every night on family holiday in France (always the same, one ball

Cobb salad: a bright idea for summer suppers

They do salads differently in America. Caesar salad, Waldorf salad, even their egg salads and potato salads: they’re big, they’re gutsy and often they’re the main event, not an afterthought shoved to one side. This is never more true than when it comes to the Cobb salad: a riot of colour and instantly recognisable thanks

Yoghurt pot cake: the perfect sugary blank canvas

I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to most aspects of cooking. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from being dogmatic or dictatorial. It’s just supper, at the end of the day. There are, as they say, many ways to skin a rabbit. And cooking is supposed to be about joy; it’s not an

Confit: the best (and most delicious) way of cooking duck

Of all the myriad ways of preserving, confit always strikes me as wonderfully improbable. The ability to preserve meat just through cooking it slowly in its own fat feels particularly wild. And the fact that this simple, unlikely process makes the meat more tender, more flavoursome than any other way of handling it only adds