homemade peanut butter

peanut butter
A few weeks ago a friend came to stay for the weekend. Normally I try to have a few things in that I know that my guests will like. But horror of horror when we toddled home after a night of gentle carousing, I only had half of the components for his favourite midnight snack – a Marmite and peanut butter sarnie.”

perfect with roast chicken: lemon, herb and garlic butter

lemon, herb and garlic butter
I have mentioned before how good compound butters are at giving a bit of oomph with minimal effort to whatever you are cooking. One of my favourites is a buttery mash of herbs such as parsley and basil with lemon zest. 

it's easy being green: fish in sorrel sauce with sautéed potatoes

fish in sorrel sauce with sautéed potatoes
Sorrel is a member of the knotweed family, which is about as unappealing as it is misleading. Don't be fooled, it is a delicious sour-tasting herb, which goes very well with chicken and fish and makes a lovely salad herb. It is also perfect in soups or steamed or puréed and makes a great omelette filling.

spiced pickled beetroot

a piece of pickled beetroot surrounded by pickling spices
I have mentioned before that my early horror of beetroot was caused by my late father, Henry’s love of pickled beetroot. For a man who didn’t really like to argue, Henry had the perfect way to forestall an argument with me. He would just go to the kitchen, rummage around in the cupboards and triumphantly produce a jar of pickled beetroot. It was if I was some kind of argumentative vampire. But instead of garlic or silver bullets, he had a jar of pickled beetroot with which to ward me off. He wouldn't even have to open the damned thing, before I had fled in horror!

a farewell to summer: gin-infused creamy lemon sauce with basil

gin-infused creamy lemon and basil sauce with spaghetti
I had a couple of lemons leftover from a recent Dinner Doctor blog post that I had written for The Guardian newspaper, on what to do with a leftover lemon. So I thought I'd post this recipe, just to prove that I really do practice what I preach!

what's in season: september

vegetables at Borough Market
With half-hearted levies of frost that make foray, retire, and refrain
Ambiguous bugles that blow and that falter to silence again.

With banners of mist that still waver above them, advance and retreat,
The hosts of the Autumn still hide in the hills, for a doubt stays their feet;

apple butter (an english marmalade!)

apple butter
This apple paste, also known as apple butter, was often made in the autumn with a glut of windfall apples. Packed full of sugar, it has a long shelf-life, particularly if kept in the fridge. I realised having made it that it is actually very similar to the Spanish membrillo or Italian cotognata, which are made with quinces. With addition of lemon peel it is very like Portuguese marmelada.

the gentle heart of a recipe: hilda leyel's salad of mint leaves and beans

hilda leyel's salad of mint leaves and beans
Whenever I can, I like to wallow in old cookbooks. It both comforts and relaxes me; I enjoy immersing myself in the food of older times; ferreting out bits of lost knowledge and useful thoughts.

a virtuous necessity: lemony pea and mint pesto

lemony pea and mint pesto crostini
Stumbling bleary-eyed into the kitchen in need of my early morning fix of strong tea and Radio 4's Today programme, I was just settling in to gently waken up when, as the fog cleared, I spotted something out of place on top of the fridge-freezer. "Oh b***er," I thought.

socca "pizza" topped with lamb, aubergine and feta

socca "pizza" with lamb, aubergine and feta
Pizza is one of the dishes that I know from my friends on a gluten-free diet that they miss the most. So I just use socca, a chickpea flour pancake, as my dough base. I am not entirely sure whether I actually prefer the pancake base. I have to confess that I've been eating these a lot recently because firstly I am lazy, secondly I have been quite busy cooking for other people (yay! more of this another time.) and they are both easy to make and utterly delicious.

socca (chickpea flour pancakes)

socca (chickpea flour pancakes)
I've been "socca'ing" a lot recently. But before you roll your eyes and wince at the idea of me shimmying around the kitchen in sequins and a few gently swaying ostrich feathers in best Brazilian stylee, I should add that all I am actually doing is making a load of socca - Provençal chickpea flour pancakes, a popular Nicoise streetfood, where they are cooked in huge flat pans, the size of small cartwheels. You'll also find them just across the French border, in the Italian region of Liguria, where they are known as farinata.

chilli-lime butter

chilli-lime compound butter
Compound butters are a brilliant and easy way to inject a bit of flavour into your food with minimal effort, which frankly is my favourite type of cooking. Smother chargrilled corn-on-the-cob or roasted pumpkin with a generous slice of flavoured butter.