Hello World


Hello. This is me. I thought you might like to see what I look like after almost 4 years writing this blog. So here I am making some pastry. I like making pastry.


The BBC Good Food Show 2008

The nice people at Miele invited me to this year’s BBC Good Food Show. I was going to go anyway, and they got me in for free! I even got to go backstage at the supertheatre and meet James Martin and have a posh lunch and everything. Yes, you do wish you were me.

I haven’t had the photos developed yet I’m afraid, so you’ll just have to imagine and enormous hall full of food stalls. There was pretty much everything someone who loves food could ever want. And I found the world’s best knives – Kai Shun Knives. Honestly, they’re amazing. The sharpest knives I’ve ever used, and I’ve got Global knives at home. I wanted to buy a small santoku knife, but made the mistake of telling my husband first, who pointed out that I already plenty of knives and £100 is a lot to pay for one knife. But I will have it. I will save up and I will have it.

I did buy a whetstone for my Global knife though. And some sloe gin for my mother-in-law. And I ate loads of free cheese, which is the best kind of cheese. It was a good day.

Festival of Food at Southbank Centre

cheese stall

The Slow Food movement is running a food festival on London’s South Bank from today until Sunday 21st. They’re running free food demos, sampling, a “busy bee” craft tent for kids and a good range of food and drink stalls.

slow food stall

The Slow Food movement is incredibly important for anyone who believes in quality, honest, fair global produce. I’m a member and so should you be, there’s bound to be a branch near you.

cyrus todiwalla

I went along to the festival today and found it small but perfectly formed. Arranged around the Royal Festival Hall, there’s oysters, bread, cheese, meats, game, a very tasty Portuguese pork roast, and much more. The cookery demonstration given by Cyrus Todiwalla of Cafe Spice Namaste was very good – it’s not often nowadays you can get an entertaining and informative lesson for free.

peter gott

The talk by Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm was a good lesson in what slow food really means and the importance of supporting pig farmers in this country. And he showed us how to butcher half a pig, which is always a useful lesson. I bought a large bit of the belly for a tenner, which is a bargain when you know how much attention and care goes into producing it.

The festival runs for another three days and includes talks/demos inlude how to smoke your own food at home, how to make honecomb, great dishes for under a fiver and “Be a bee” for kids. Go along!

Allrecipes Competition

Here’s a chance to win £100 worth of John Lewis vouchers:

Calling all Cookery Masterminds!

To celebrate the launch of Allrecipes in the UK, we (101 Things Every Cook Should Cook) and our friends at Waitrose are offering you the chance to win £100 worth of grocery vouchers by proving you know your basil from your bay leafs!

To prove yourself as the UK’s Cookery Mastermind you will need to do the following:

1. Find the answers to the five questions listed below

2. Take the first letter of each answer to make a secret code

3. If your guess is correct you could stand a chance of winning a bumper weeks grocery shopping

1. What type of cheese is needed to make Nanmurat’s legendary salad? Hint: Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/Recipes/870/Balsamic-Stilton-Salad.aspx?cid=101things

2. What dish is commonly associated with Burns Night? Hint: Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/Recipes/5056/Vegetarian-Haggis.aspx?cid=101things

3. The Cobb Salad was invented in which country? Hint: Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/Recipes/1256/Cobb-Salad.aspx?cid=101things

4. What type of bean does Sarah Howard describe as optional within her Homemade Baked Beans? Hint: Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/Recipes/1648/Homemade-Baked-Beans.aspx?cid=101things

5. Polly Welby’s heavenly chocolate moouse does not include which poultry product? Hint: Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/Recipes/12/Egg-Free-Chocolate-Mousse.aspx?cid=101things

Got your code? Click here – http://www.allrecipes.co.uk/ScavengerHuntEntry.aspx?cid=101things to enter

Good luck and happy cooking!

Delizia by John Dickie

There have been quite a few “understanding a country through its food” books around in the past few years, but by the far the best I have read is the recently-published Delizia! by John Dickie. It stands out because it is genuinely readable, and presented in a clear and interesting way. Dickie explains how much of the history of Italian food is the history of its cities and guides the reader from pasta being imported to Palermo by the Arabs (contradicting many popular myths about Marco Polo and noodles from China), through the “disembowling” of Naples and on to the surprisingly recent explosion in popularity of Italian food after the fall of Fascism.

From descriptions of banquets by the 16th century “Pope’s cook” Scappi, where absolutely everything seems to have been covered in cinnamon and sugar (including all the meat) to recipes from cookbooks written by Italian POWs in WW1, it’s surprising and informative in equal measure. I enjoyed reading it. Strongly recommended.

Quarter of a Million

Yesterday this site passed the 250,000 hits mark, which is quite exciting. And the Facebook fan page is growing. I should really figure out some way to make some money out of this, shouldn’t I? I don’t do adverts, partly because WordPress won’t let me and partly because I think it looks a bit tacky. If 101 Things moved to its own domain it could have adverts but I very much doubt anyone actually wants adverts, and I’d feel bad for making you look at them. So I don’t.

Anyone want to offer me a book deal? Or failing that, just hand me a wad of cash?

Paris, Venice and Florence

My honeymoon was AWESOME. The wedding was brilliant, being on holiday with my very best friend who I love very much was brilliant, and the food was BRILLIANT.

A brief photographic journal:

Courgette (zucchini) flowers with courgettes, tomatoes and lettuce. I love this photo, it makes me want to EAT IT ALL.


Soupe a l’oignon, in Montmatre. This is the best soup I have ever tasted. I made the waitress get the recipe from the chef. It involved a lot of cheese.

onion soup

The fish market in Venice.

fish market

fish market



The mercato centrale in Florence

mercato centrale

mercato centrale

Ribollita, Florence bread and bean soup, from Gozzi.


Tuscan antipasti from Il Gatto e La Volpe, in Florence.


Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Il Latini

bistecca alla fiorentina

Ice cream!

a fool with ice cream

The Hogster, who was thrilled to have us home.

unhappy cat


In four weeks’ time I shall be the freshly married Mrs B, and will be getting the Eurostar to Paris. Four days in Paris, the overnight train to Venice, five days in Venice, train to Florence, 5 days in Florence. I can’t even tell you how exciting this is. We are going to EAT FOR BRITAIN.

Initially I began looking up Michelin restaurants, and then I realised there’s no way on earth we can afford to eat at an Alain Ducasse restaurant or stay at the Cipriani. And so I decided that Michelin restaurants are ridiculous, which is a very convenient conclusion to come to when you can’t afford them. So we’ve asked our French friends, and will probably blunder about a bit, and ask about a bit, and hope for the best. CAN’T WAIT. TOO EXCITED.

Exciting News! (for me)

I got a phone call today from a local magazine for west london asking if I would write a regular cookery column for them. It should hopefully start at the beginning of next year and I’ll be writing about local foods, perhaps some restaurant reviews, that sort of thing.

How exciting!

Cooking Mojo

There’s been no updates this week because injury has ruined my cooking mojo. Last Sunday I was draining some potatoes, splashed some boiling water on my hand, which made me jerk my arm, which made me pour boiling water all down my leg. It hurt a lot, there is scarring. I am teh genius.

Subsequently I have burned onions, made rock-hard bread rolls and made a fish stock that somehow ended up green. It’s not been a good week cooking-wise. On the plus side, I did knock up an excellent roast chicken today.

I’m filming a new Channel 5 show this week called Cooking The Books. Let’s hope the mojo improves before then.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the current contents of my fridge. I like how one of the onions in the vegetable drawer looks like a boob. Heh.