Mary Poppins and The Pasta Bake

I am in admiration of all my children working full time, but frankly horrified at the price they now have to pay for child care. Thirty years ago like so many women who wanted to keep their foot on the career ladder as well as raise children, it was my problem. Continue reading “Mary Poppins and The Pasta Bake”

A Tea Trolley Favourite

Let me be quite clear about this, I am a fan of stodge, the thick, warm, comforting hit of carbohydrate rich puddings and cakes, that come steamed or baked, sticky with jam or fruit purees or chock full with dried fruit. I’ve written about it in Oh, Lardy, Lardy, where I make my love for lardy cake happen. Continue reading “A Tea Trolley Favourite”

Colonial Adventures – East African Curry

I grew up in MMBA – a colonial acronym for ‘miles and miles of bloody Africa’. My first food memories are of mangoes and paw-paws, avocados, fresh crabs and lobsters on holidays down on the Kenyan Coast, and spicy hot Indian curries – thanks to the large Asian community who lived in Nairobi. I loved going with my mother on her shopping trips to the Indian bazaar to buy spices. Continue reading “Colonial Adventures – East African Curry”

Everything Stops For Tea…

If you’re British, a cup of tea is seen as the solution to many of life’s problems. Crash your car, discover you’re bankrupt, fall down a flight of steps – what you need is “a nice cup of tea”.

A friend of mine once had the job of keeping the cellars of Buckingham Palace stocked with wine. About a year after the tragic death of Princess Diana, Mark (not his real name), was having dinner with a senior member of the Palace staff and, when this gentleman mentioned he had been the unfortunate person who had answered the Palace phone at four am to be told that the princess had been in a car crash and was fighting for her life, Mark asked, “What did you do?Continue reading “Everything Stops For Tea…”

Straight from the Tables of Disney

Like many of us born in the 50s, my childhood was difficult. People were too traumatised by the war and their losses. It can’t have been easy on any front to return to whatever ‘normality’ was.  Neither of my parents seemed to be able to settle down. They banged around like an out of control bobsleigh on the Cresta run, although not always together. Fortunes went up and down as they careered from job to job and town to town, dragging my grandmother, my brother, and I with them. Continue reading “Straight from the Tables of Disney”

The Legendary Cassoulet

The cassoulet in its cassole
The cassoulet in its cassole

Cassoulet is a legend here in the South West of France. Quite literally. It was supposed to have originated during the Hundred Years War when the English were besieging the nearby town of Castelnaudary in 1355. The story goes that the inhabitants cooked up what was left of their beans, bones, scraps of meat and dried bits of ham, then went out and beat the English!

Like many of my favourite dishes, I suspect it has its real origins in “peasant food”, namely cooking whatever is to hand, but over the centuries, it has become a complex and truly wonderful dish. It takes its name from the large earthenware pot in which it is cooked and served – “le cassole” – hence “Cassoulet”. When it’s cooked for you by my good friend, Philippe Seguier then it is, quite simply, probably the best cassoulet you’ll ever taste. Continue reading “The Legendary Cassoulet”

Keeping Up with the Joneses

The 70s was the era of the dinner party. Never more so than in foreign lands where expatriates clung together, socialising amongst themselves by circulating around each other’s houses, consuming pineapple cubes on sticks, platters of coronation chicken and boeuf Wellington – all washed down with enough alcohol to drown a liver or two.  At eighteen I started my married life as an expatriate wife, set to travel the world, with postings in Ghana, Zambia, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bahrain, and Haiti. Continue reading “Keeping Up with the Joneses”