chicken with sloe gin and juniper berries

sloe berries before the first frosts
Yesterday we went sloe berry hunting. Our favourite location seems to have remained a secret from both other north Londoners and the local wildlife as the bushes looked remarkably unravaged. A good haul now nestles in the freezer until next weekend when I'll be in a home-brew frenzy, making sloe gin, damson gin and some more mead (more of this another time). 

bloody marvellous bloody mary!

Oh how I like a well-made Bloody Mary and this version is my favourite. It is quite simple (why gild the lily?) and I am convinced of it's life-affirming properties; it is known to cure most ills.

a bloody marvellous bloody mary!
This popular cocktail typically contains vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon or lime juice, celery salt and black pepper. Some versions also contain beef consommé, horseradish, cayenne pepper, port or sherry. (Although probably not all together). One of my favourites had a secret ingredient that the bartender later confessed to being Absolut Mandarin, a vodka infused with natural orange oils, which blend beautifully with the the spicy tomato base.

pea and tuna fishcakes with lemon mayonnaise

I am a pea fiend, if such a thing exists. I cannot remember a time when I didn't like peas. As a June baby, I was born loving peas eaten straight from the pod. But I am reliably informed, by people who understand these things, that this fishcake recipe is a good way to get faddy eaters to eat their peas.

a tale in which I learn to make a gloriously haphazard chicken curry

chicken curry with rice - steve woods
I have always been interested in authenticity in cooking. It's not that I have some kind of puritanical aversion to adapting a recipe, (heaven forbid), but if I am going to modify one then I do rather like to know what rules I am breaking.

When Maher, the rather elegant mother of a friend of mine,  kindly invited a bunch of us girls to lunch, for an afternoon of learning about and cooking several curries together with the promise of some red wine quaffing thrown in, I jumped at the chance to take part. If only to absorb all of the above in copious quantities, in the interests of authenticity of course.

apple and blackberry crumble

beautiful blackberries
Fruit crumble is one of the ultimate comfort foods, definitely designed for chilly or damp British days. It brings back memories of childish anticipation. To be honest, while I love my savoury food, I could quite easily forgo everything for a bowl of crumble topping and lashings of cream. Unfortunately sanity prevails . . . most of the time!

sweet cherry-stewed meatballs - full of wonderful middle eastern flavours

This delicious recipe has a lovely sweet and sour hint of Persia. I have a confession to make, I have absolutely no idea where I had originally sourced this recipe (Bad Kelly!). I found a notebook with this recipe scribbled down in it and I suspect that this may have been based on a review in the New York Times of a cookbook by the American-Syrian writer, Poopa Dweck,  . . . yes, I too was entranced by her name too!