Welcome to my new website. I started to cook seriously when I was asked to take over and develop the restaurant section of Time Out where I’d worked for several years editing the consumer section called Sell Out. Over the years I’ve cooked most cuisines and most styles of food, learning as I went along. I wrote a daily after-work recipe for the London Evening Standard for eight years and a similar Dinner Tonight column in The Times for twelve years, along the way I’ve fifteen cook books; two with Simon Hopkinson
I cook every day for myself, family and friends and get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. My recipes are essentially led by the seasons, mainly British seasonal food but my restaurant critic background ensures my cooking is international in the real sense of the word. I keep a notebook next to the hob in my kitchen and whenever I start to cook, I write down what I’m doing. I rarely have an exact plan, more of a blank canvas inspired by what I happen to have in the fridge, freezer and food cupboard.
All my cookery columns have had to reflect my life, bringing up two sons on my own, otherwise it would be impossible to keep up the interest. So, if I fancy something spicy, I look around my kitchen for ideas. I might be tempted by a Thai curry mix I’ve just discovered or tuck into a new bottle of soy sauce and sachet of frilly pink sushi ginger. If I want a creamy meal but don’t have cream in the fridge, I’ll adapt the sauce with yoghurt or fromage frais, adding a touch of flour to stop it splitting. I am rarely without lemons, olive oil, garlic and chillies, and always have various herbs in pots and in my garden, so that combination alone gives me an incredibly versatile palette from which to start.
I’m not a consistent shopper. If I see a bargain at my favourite fruit and veg stall, I’ll be glut cooking all week. I get crazes for particular ingredients and often eat the same dish several nights running. On the other hand, I sometimes have a cooking day, when I can’t stop cooking and end up giving away half of what I’ve made.
I shop at farmers markets, use a local fishmonger and butcher here in London and Cornwall but keep up to date with what is on trend with favourite chefs and supermarkets. I eat out a lot, particularly when I travel this is hugely inspirational. Inspiration, though, could just be a mention of an ingredient or dish on the radio. I learnt, for example, that Erik Satie went through crazes for dishes made with ingredients of a particular colour – all white, all green etc – and I often do dinner parties this way with dishes like Red Fruit Salad or White Risotto. Leftovers too – stale bread and the remains of a roast chicken – feature heavily in my style of cooking. A most important point, though, is that everything is cooked and I write the recipes in a style that means anyone can achieve success. Often, though, I face a few disparate ingredients in the fridge and food cupboards and conjure something out of nowhere. That is possibly a favourite way of cooking; something from nothing.