A few of my favourite things | The Proof of the Pudding

I have something a bit new for you today. Since I’m taking myself on holiday for a few weeks to France, it felt like an appropriate time to give this blog a little summer chill-out too. So until I have eaten all the cheese and bread and drunk all the wine that France has to offer, there won’t be any new posts from me.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some of the blogs and ingredients and TV shows that have been inspiring my cooking and recipe planning recently…

1. Everyone Has To Eat

Gluten-free Kung Pao chicken from Everyone Has To Eat

This new blog is in its infancy, having emerged into the ether of the internet only last week, but it is very close to my heart. It belongs to one of my very dearest friends (my brother-from-another-mother some (we) might say) and I have huge expectations for the recipes to come. The idea for the blog came to him as he got to grips adapting some of his most-loved Chinese recipes for his girlfriend, who was recently diagnosed to be coeliac. The recipes are gluten-free, which will be music to many peoples’ ears, but even if you’re not fussed about the gluten-free part surely everyone can get on board with authentic Chinese home cooking right?! And if the first recipe for Kung Pao chicken is anything to go by (I need to cook this ASAP, just looking at the picture makes me drool), this is going to be a cracker of a food blog. One to watch…

2. Nigel Slater’s Eating Together

I am a huge fan of Nigel Slater: his cookbooks are simple, but interesting, his presenting style is gentle and warm and he has such an emotional, nostalgic connection with the food he cooks and eats which really chimes with my own way of thinking about food. I always love his TV shows, and his new series Eating Together, currently showing on BBC TWO, is no exception. The concept is lovely: each week he finds three people in the UK, each with their own way of cooking what is essentially the same dish, but from a variety of different cultures (think dumplings, soup, custards…). It’s a celebration of multiculturalism, family and modern British home-cooking, all rolled into one.

3. The Londoner’s Seabass & Samphire Parcels

I’ve talked about The Londoner on my blogroll page, and one of her recent recipes was just the inspiration I needed for a weeknight dinner. I ad-libbed a bit with this recipe, swapping seabass for cheaper cod loin and adding seasonal sprouting broccoli along with the samphire (my favourite new ingredient discovery – if you haven’t already you must try it!), but it’s really the kind of recipe that is made for improvising with what’s in the shop or your fridge. Add this one to your weekly repertoire pronto!

4. Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus risotto with chorizo and slow roasted tomatoes

Asparagus season is in full swing, and it’s one of those seasonal produce that you should take advantage of when it’s available. I haven’t yet done a risotto recipe on the blog, but believe me it is much easier than many people think. The base of this particular risotto came from a pack which contained risotto rice (most commonly Arborio rice) and dried asparagus for flavouring, but it was a gift which was bought for us in France so I’m afraid I don’t have a link to it! However, if you’d like to try recreating something similar you could follow a simple risotto recipe like this one from Jamie Oliver, adding some chopped asparagus stalks with the onion. Take your time with the risotto, cooking it over a low heat (though it should only take about 15 minutes for the rice to cook after adding the first ladle of stock), and add a generous hand full of parmesan and knob of butter when the rice is cooked through and off the heat. What really made this dish was all the added extras on top: griddle a bunch of asparagus spears, slow roast tomatoes on the vine seasoned with plenty of salt and olive oil, fry some chopped chorizo and finish the dish with a drizzle of the chorizo oil and some shavings of parmesan. Et voilà!

And finally, in case while I’m away the weather here takes a dramatic turn for the better and you’re all basking in summer sunshine, here are some of my favourite hot-weather recipes from the last year…

Homemade pesto


Happy summer everyone!