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 - Proven├žal 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.

what's in season: august

a beautiful display of tomatoes in Borough Market - summer 2014
Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity?
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head