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For Japan

Japan. 11th March 2010. An earthquake. The subsequent tsunami. As the news unfolds day after day, we have witnessed the horrific impact of this disaster on the Land of the Rising Sun. More than 4,300 people have died, thousands are missing and many many more are now homeless. If you do one thing this week, please donate to the Red Cross Tsunami Appeal

Thank you.

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Lost: Food Mojo

orange-day

Help me find my food mojo. It has all but died.

Having had a fantastic run into 2009, I find myself at a loss. Inspiration has taken a very long holiday far far away from the rainy shores of Great Britain. Is it the weather? Has the cold finally taken hold and paralyzed my stomach and thoughts?

A new cookbook might be my saviour in this instance. Bill Granger, Jo Pratt and Rick Stein have been favourites of mine for a few years so maybe it’s time to venture into something new.

Leon by Allegra McEvedy is top of the ‘I WANT’ pile. Will it inspire me? Answer when I am back in the swing of things.

Any other recommendations gratefully received.

The Ivy… out of its league…

A very nice friend of mine took me to the Ivy in London last night. The Ivy is an old stalwart on the restaurant scene so I was looking forward to sampling its delights as well as trying to spot some celebrities…

I ordered the Steak Tartare to start followed by Prawn Spaghettini with chilli, garlic and herbs. Steak Tartare is a dish I love  so I had high expectations. Imagine my discomfiture when I took my first morsel and found it to be too spicy. Talk about killing all the other subtle flavours usually found in this dish!

Then came the main, a straight-forward pasta dish which had as much allure as a Primark handbag. How could something so simple, in what is supposedly meant to be a very good restaurant, be quite so dull. The 5 measly prawns were tasteless and if there was chilli and garlic in that dish, well I am going to heaven (and we all know I am not). To add insult to injury, the price of such a mediocre offering was pretty outrageous… I’d honestly be ashamed to serve this in my own home, let alone charge what they did for it.

My friend Oliver ordered the Shepherd’s Pie, which I am told, is THE dish to have at the Ivy. It was fairly tasty but had clearly been microwaved. It looked ‘old’ and sorry for itself sitting there festering in jus.

All in all, the only good thing about the Ivy was the company and the Sancerre wine we consumed. I didn’t even get to see any celebrities quaffing champagne and picking at their food… and no wonder they only pick at it.

Planning weekend food…

It’s Wednesday and by this time of the week I am plotting the weekend’s culinary challenges…

I come from a family who has always loved cooking. We mainly made meals from scratch with fresh produce and to this day, this is still how I like to cook. My mother and father are at polar opposites of the cooking spectrum. This, amusingly, lead to quite a few ‘disagreements’ when they were still together. My mother likes complicated dishes peppered with obscure ingredients which take several hours to prepare. My father is at the other extreme, with quick but tasty and healthy meals – some might say slapdash at times! Both were equally delicious and appreciated.

I firmly sit in the middle – I like fresh, healthy and simple food because working full time does not allow me much time to make complicated dishes midweek. I also like to ‘feed’ people ‘real’ food – I am loathe to use the word ‘honest’ here or I would be in danger of sounding like an ‘on-trend’ food snob. It’s the mothering instinct – to me good food makes people happy and if I can make people happy, even for a brief while, then great!

Back to this weekend’s offerings, I have been toying with the idea of making pizza. I have a dough recipe (thank you Jamie Oliver) and need to acquire a pizza stone. Toppings will most definitely be of the seafood variety – my favourite.

I might also attempt to make Sticky Toffee pudding. When I arrived in the UK 14 years ago, it was the first dessert I tried. Switzerland didn’t have anything remotely similar so I was in calorie heaven!! I think it might be quite involved but I do like a challenge…