Born Again Baker

Faith is a funny thing.

There are those who unswervingly follow their chosen religion, despite the numerous ills in our world, secure in their conviction that there is an all powerful creator.

There are the gamblers who firmly believe that one day soon their number will come up despite being tens of thousands of pounds in debt.

Then there are people like me. You could say I’m one of nature’s sceptics. I not only have to see something to believe it, I have to be certain there is no jiggery pokery behind it. I don’t believe in miracles but I do think there have been some very clever illusionists over the course of history. On the rare occasion I have a flutter on the horses I do so in the knowledge that I have kissed goodbye to my stake. If I win it’s a bonus and a very rare one at that.

As a cook I do have faith in my ability. I know what combinations of flavours and which methods work because I have tried them and have tasted or seen the results for myself. But sometimes this faith is tested, none more so in the field of sourdough.

I love the naturalness and artistry of sourdough. I have had several forays into the world of making this bread. I have bought books on the subject and followed recipes to the letter. I have nurtured starters made from all manners of flour to find ‘the one’. I have a cupboard filled with bannetons, scrapers and baking stones. Yet I have never achieved anything close to those wonderful springy boules with their chewy crusts you find at farmers markets. I fear the natural yeasts required to produce these fantastic loaves are lacking in my Sussex home.


Sourdough BV (Before Vanessa)

So I booked myself on a Sourdough Clinic run by Vanessa Kimbell. As her website states:

“There is nothing more frustrating than not quite getting it quite right. If you have had a go at baking sourdough and had some success yet things still aren’t quite as great as they could be then you will want to know where you are going wrong and what you can improve.”

This sounded exactly like the help I needed. I headed to Northampton with a specimen of sourdough and my latest batch of rye starter.

Vanessa approaches sourdough with an evangelical zeal. It is obvious as soon as you meet her that she (1) knows just about everything you need to know about making bread and, (2) she has no doubt that her bread will be light, fragrant and a delight to eat. Put simply she has complete faith in the transformation of flour, salt and water into a daily loaf without any artificial interference.

An example of Vanessa's sourdough baked during the Sourdough Clinic

An example of Vanessa’s sourdough baked during the Sourdough Clinic

First she examined our home baked breads. If there were an award for ‘how not to make sourdough’ then I would have won it hands down. Over proved, not enough salt and erring more towards the leaden than light side. None of my classmates (some of whom had produced very respectable loaves indeed) were rushing to taste my loaf.

After explaining the refreshment of the starter (‘the mother’ of all loaves) and role of different flours, sugar, salt and hydration play in sourdough making she produced a quivering bowl of dough. This looked like no dough that I had ever produced. Hers was light and lively with a discernible spring when pressed. Vanessa is precise in her instruction but relaxed in her delivery. As she gave us guidance on how best to shape our dough (apparently one of the things I had not been doing properly) at no point did we feel we were about to be rapped over the knuckles for committing a major faux pas. Vanessa’s enthusiasm for the subject is quite infectious although I still had my doubts. Within a short while her kitchen was filled with the delicious aroma of freshly made bread. The loaves emerged well risen and browned. We had conquered sourdough. I left Northampton armed with a still warm loaf, some detailed instructions and a jar of Vanessa’s starter eager to recreate the magic at home.

But you know how it goes. Life (or in this case the school holidays) gets in the way. The bread was quickly devoured by my family and declared to be better than my previous efforts. The starter was placed in the fridge and duly forgotten about until last week. Tweets about #SourdoughSeptember suddenly triggered the memory of that day and prompted me to resurrect the it.

I plucked the starter from the back of the fridge. It looked sullen and was rather smelly (as no doubt would you or I be if we too had been abandoned in a dark room for several weeks). Frankly, if the starter had decided to send me to baking Coventry and refuse to work for me I couldn’t blame her. I had no hope whatsoever that I would be able to produce a loaf even vaguely resembling the one I had come home with. I followed Vanessa’s detailed instructions none the less, utterly convinced of my failure.

To my amazement the starter was easily revived. My dough took on a similar form to that I had witnessed in Vanessa’s kitchen. Not only that, it rose during the proving process despite being placed in the fridge overnight (according to Vanessa’s instructions) which I felt for sure would spell disaster. I don’t own a cloche so I improvised by placing a stainless steel bowl over the loaf when I gingerly turned it out onto the baking stone (a tip given to me by the man from the Flint Owl bakery at Lewes Farmers Market). OK I did forget to slash my loaves. Even so after some 50 minutes or so I had a rather enormous but light loaf which didn’t leave you feeling like you had eaten a load of lead afterwards. Eureka!


Sourdough AV (After Vanessa). Still room for improvement but definitely heading in the right direction.

I still approach this baking process with a degree of trepidation but I think it’s fair to say my sourdough faith is growing. Whether you are a beginner or sourdough doubter like me I’d definitely recommend Vanessa’s courses (they’d make a great Christmas present). They’re well worth the trip to Northampton. Plus in attending them you become a member of the sourdough club and get access to some fantastic recipes to use up that grumpy ‘old’ starter.

Vanessa’s next book Food for Thought is due out next month.


Useful links

Visit Sourdough Club for a full list of Vanessa’s Courses

Bakery Bits. A great place to buy baking equipment and ingredients including Vanessa’s starter.

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Food In Art (Book Review)


We live in an society which craves visual stimulus, none more so than in the world of food. When it comes to recipes most people expect an obligatory photograph showing the dish in all its seductive glory. We eat with our eyes first. Social media networks like Instagram and Pinterest provide an onslaught of gluttonous imagery. After a while this deluge can dull the senses. The images blur into one of bland, delicious beauty.

It’s not that I am against food photography. I just believe there can be a greater significance to food than its appearance and taste alone. For centuries food has carried more meaning than mere nourishment from funereal offerings in Egyptian tombs to the hidden symbolism in art. It is the latter that Gilian Riley has explored in her latest book. How refreshing it is to see someone look beyond the pretty picture and delve into it’s true meaning.

What is the essence of the book?

Riley walks the reader through how food has been represented in art from the Paleolithic era through to the late Renaissance. It touches on symbolism, ritual, religion and myth making it a truly enlightening read.

About the author

Gillian is a long standing member of the Guild of Food Writers and an authority of the history of Italian cuisine. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this lady speak and can vouch that she certainly knows her stuff. She also has a sense of humour which I think comes through in her prose.

Who will like it?

An inquisitive reader who likes exploring subjects from new angles will like this book particularly if you have an interest in either art, food or history (or all three).

Who won’t like it?

If you don’t tick any of the boxes above then you’re unlikely to pick this book up. The imagery is naturally stunning but if you don’t bother to read the text it is somewhat meaningless.

What do I like about the book?

I love food and history but I like art in manageable chunks. Each chapter covers a period of history but then the text is sub divided into different headings. This is the sort of book you can dip in and out of which is great for me. You can read a small section which takes your fancy without any fear of losing track of the thread of the chapter or the book. Food In Art would probably be classed as an academic publication. However, the text lacks the dryness you usually find in this type of book and is a pleasure to read and easy to digest. Ultimately it’s Riley’s decoding of the symbolism in the paintings that made this book appealing. So when she discusses the mixed symbolism of Beer and Patriotism in the chapter on Realism and Symbolism in the Renaissance Kitchen she says of Georg Hainz’ picture Still-life with Beer-glass and Nuts (1660)

“…though wholesome has symbols of corruption, the fly, and redemption, the nuts (whose shells symbolise the wood of the Cross, and the sweet nut within Christ’s love for mankind).”

She concludes that beer (in the Low Countries):

“was the lifeblood of a courageous nation battling against adversity from without and within, but also the fluid that could sap the moral fibre of family and state.”

I certainly wouldn’t have guessed this from just looking at a very good depiction of a half full, foaming beer glass surrounded by some hazelnuts.

What do I dislike about the book?

If I had to list my interests art would probably not be in my top 5. Whilst I found elements of this book fascinating I would be lying if I said it were a page turner (for me at any rate). That’s not to say it’s not well written or presented. I firmly believe if you love art and like food then you will adore this book.

Will I refer to it?

It’s a valuable addition to my food literature library so yes I will definitely go back to it from time to time. If nothing else, it has made me want to see the pictures in the flesh.

Where can you buy it?

Food In Art (Reaktion Books) £30

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Poor Knights Pudding with Raspberries

Poor Knights Pudding with Raspberries

Poor Knights Pudding (also known as Poor Knights of Windsor) is simply another name for Pain Perdu (lost bread). The latter dish has been popular since medieval times in some form or other. As Mary Norwak observes in her book English Puddings the knights in question could hardly be considered poor as most recipes call for the finest white bread (such as  the manchet loaves eaten in the medieval period) and often include sherry and cream. This particular version is an adaptation of a Jane Grigson recipe which calls for a fresh raspberry sauce rather than the jam more commonly used. Jane simply fries her slices of bread in clarified butter but I have followed with tradition and have dipped my bread in a eggy mix.

Serves 4


  • 450g raspberries
  • 110g icing sugar plus extra for sweetening
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp medium or sweet sherry (I used Pedro Jimenez)
  • 200ml double cream
  • 8 small slices brioche or white bread
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Put the raspberries, icing sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Lightly mash the fruit into the sugar and leave to macerate while you prepare the bread.
  2. Gently melt the butter in a large frying pan. Line a sieve with some muslin then pour the butter into the sieve placed over a bowl. This will clarify the butter and will prevent it from burning when you fry the bread. Wipe the frying pan clean and return the butter to the pan over a medium heat.
  3. Combine the eggs with the sherry and 2 tbsp double cream (the rest of the cream will be used to accompany the Poor Knights) in a shallow dish large enough to accommodate a slice of bread. If you are using regular bread rather than brioche you may want to add a tablespoon or two of icing sugar to this mix to sweeten it slightly. Dip each slice of bread into the eggy mix ensuring both sides get a thorough coating. Gently fry the bread on each side until golden brown. Keep the pain perdu warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining egg drenched slices.
  4. Beat the remaining cream with 2 tbsp icing sugar and the vanilla extract until floppy.
  5. To serve, place a slice of eggy bread on a plate. Spoon over some raspberries and their juices and top with another slice of fried bread. Serve with the sweetened whipped cream.
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Spelt Flat Bread with Grape Jam & Goats Cheese

Makes 4 breads

Spelt flat bread with grape jam


  • 300g white spelt flour
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp fast action yeast
  • 180-200ml warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 largish onion (about 225g), finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp grape jam (I used an Italian variety made the Carmelites)
  • 50g goats ‘cheddar’, finely grated
  • 100g goats cheese log, roughly chopped or crumbled (e.g chèvre blanc)
  • 100g black grapes, halved
  • Leaves from 8 thyme sprigs


  1. Mix the spelt flour, salt, yeast and water together to form a dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes (depending on whether you are using a food mixer or doing this by hand). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, then cover and leave to prove in a warm place for around 1 hour (spelt bread usually proves more quickly than regular wheat bread) until it has doubled in size.
  2. While the bread is proving you can prepare the topping. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Once the oil has reached a decent temperature turn the heat down a little then gently fry the onion until it is golden. Add the balsamic vinegar at the end to deglaze the pan and stir until the liquid has evapourated. Tip the balsamic onions onto some kitchen towel to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C fan (or slightly hotter if you don’t have a fan oven). Place a couple of baking sheets or pizza stones in the oven at the same time. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a rough oval (it doesn’t matter if its not perfectly symmetrical) around 3-5mm thick. Spread each dough with a tablespoon of the jam. Once the oven is ready remove the pizza stones or baking sheets then place the breads onto them. Working quickly sprinkle each with the goats cheddar, balsamic onions, goats cheese, grapes and some thyme leaves. Bake for 7mins then serve immediately.

Thank you to who sent me the grape jam for this recipe.

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English Puddings by Mary Norwak (Book Review)


“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star,” wrote the renowned gastronome Brillat-Savarin.

He has a point but speaking from personal experience there is nothing quite like discovering a ‘new’ food writer. Following on from my review of the Best of Jane Grigson, Anne Dolamore of Grub Street had an inkling that I would like English Puddings by Mary Norwak, who until I received this book was entirely unknown to me.

What is the essence of the book?

This book explores the heritage of the quintessential English pudding in its sweet and savoury guise. Covering 16 chapters it charts the provenance of different types of pudding from tipsy cakes and trifles to dumplings and everything in between. Each chapter starts with a potted history of a genre of pudding followed by several recipes displaying a variation within each theme.

About the author

“There can be few country kitchens without at least one fruit-stained Mary Norwak on their shelves,” stated The Telegraph in it’s obituary of this food writer, who died in 2010. However, I’m a little ashamed to say that I am not one of them. I was even more aghast when I discovered that she lived very close to where my parents live in Essex. During her life time she published over 100 cookery books, on topics like preserving, and was the cookery editor for Farmer’s Weekly for 13 years. She also had a keen interest in the social history of eating and cooking which is reflected in English Puddings, by all accounts her most successful publication so it’s good to see it back in print again.

Who will like it?

If you’ve ever wondered what a Bedfordshire Clanger is or how the Half Pay Pudding got its name then you’ll love this book. I don’t think you need a sweet tooth to enjoy this book (it also includes savoury recipes) but it’s a handy thing to have if you want to expand your repertoire of desserts.

Who won’t like it?

Weight conscious folks who like to torture themselves with pictures of calorie filled delights. English Puddings only contains delicious descriptions and there are no obligatory food porn shots found in other cookery books.

What do I like about the book?

I’ve taken real pleasure in reading rather than cooking from this book. Mary’s introductions to the recipes are insightful, interesting and fluid making the recipes themselves seem almost superfluous. The sheer variety of puddings in this book is quite astounding.

What do I dislike about the book?

At the risk of showing my age I found the print a little small.

Would I cook from it?


Where can you buy it?

English Puddings: Sweet & Savoury by Mary Norwak is published by Grub Street (£14.99)

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Coconut & Lime Drizzle Cake

Makes 8 – 10 slices

This is an adaption of Nigella’s coconut cake in How To Be a Domestic Goddess. A great cake to end Afternoon Tea Week on!

Coconut & Lime Drizzle Cake


  • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 225g coconut oil (I used Vita Coco)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Finely grated zest of 3 limes
  • 4 large eggs

Lime syrup

  • 100g icing sugar
  • Juice of 3 limes


  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut


  1. Place the desiccated coconut in a heat proof boil and pour over the water. Leave for around an hour or so until the coconut has absorbed most of the water. Grease and line a 20cm spring form cake tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Place the coconut oil, caster sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, zest and eggs into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until combined then add the soaked coconut blitzing briefly to mix. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  3. To make the syrup, put the icing sugar and lime juice in a small pan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. As soon as the cake is cooked prick the surface all over with a skewer then drizzle the syrup over the hot cake. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before icing.
  4. To make the icing, sieve the sugar into a bowl then beat in the lime juice to make a thick but spreadable icing (add some water if it is too thick but make sure it isn’t too runny). Spread over the top of the cooled cake then scatter the coconut over the icing. Leave for a while to allow the icing to firm up then serve with a nice cup of tea!

Many thanks to Vita Coco for sending me the coconut oil to use in this recipe. I’ve also used coconut oil in this granola recipe.

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Lemon, Caraway and White Chocolate Butterfly Buns

Makes 12

You’re never too old for butterfly cakes. Perfect for afternoon tea week whatever your age!

Lemon & Caraway Cakes


  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 3 – 4 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 75g white chocolate chips
  • ½ x 411g jar lemon curd
  • Icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder together. Stir in the ground almonds then gradually beat spoonfuls of the flour and almond mixture into egg and butter mixture. Add enough buttermilk to achieve a dropping consistency then fold in the caraway seeds and white chocolate chips.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly between with the cupcake cases. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until well risen and golden. Remove the cakes from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. When cool, insert a knife in the top of each cake and cut a small round. Remove this circle and cut in half to create the butterfly wings. Fill the hole with a generous tsp of lemon curd. Replace the two semi circles at an angle so that they resemble wings. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Variation 1

To make a large cake, double the ingredients and divide the mixture between two greased and line 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins. When cool, sandwich the two sponges together with the lemon curd.

Variation 2

Use 100g lemon curd mixed with 100g mascarpone cheese.

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Time for Tea?

I recently wrote a review of Tea: A Miscellany on this blog in which I stated that I am not a tea drinker. Barely a drop of the stuff touches my lips these days. However, I had a Proustian moment a Kew Gardens recently. I was visiting their Full of Spice exhibition. Whilst I was meandering through the gardens I came across an East India Company (EIC) stall selling iced tea. I remembered that I had rather enjoyed drinking iced tea when I lived in America during my teens. The day was warm and sticky so I thought why not give it a go?


The blend they were serving was Governor Aungier’s Bombay Chai. Now my previous experiences of Chai tea have not been good. It has always been served to me as a luke warm, milky, overly sweet concoction. But this was cool, fragrant and refreshing. A decidedly more pleasant drink all round. So much so that I was compelled to contact the EIC (which was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) to find out more about their teas.

Iced oolong tea

EIC’s Oolong range of teas is designed to be served hot or cold. Their exotic blends include Pomegranate & Hibiscus, Yuzu and Orange Blossom. I have to say that I didn’t find the iced Orange Blossom blend quite as enjoyable as the Bombay Chai but it still made for a refreshingly different drink.

Iced tea cocktail

What I found more intriguing was EIC’s suggestion that their Lapsang Souchong tea could be transformed into a cocktail. This tea is wonderfully smoky and evokes memories of bonfires and fireworks. Cooled down and mixed with their lightly floral poppy cordial and some whiskey it makes for an interesting drink and would bring a whole new lease of life to the concept of afternoon tea. I haven’t tried cooking with this tea yet but I suspect it could be used to good effect in sweet and savoury recipes too.

So have I become a tea convert? Well, I’ll never give up my morning coffee but I will concede that perhaps I have been a bit hasty in dismissing all teas. Maybe there is a tea out there for me and it could very well be EIC’s Bombay Chai.

Many thanks to The East India Company for sending me samples of their teas for this post.

For more information on Afternoon Tea Week visit

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Pork & Chorizo Albondigas with Fennel

Pork & Chorizo Albondigas with Fennel

I recently discovered Beals Farm Charcuterie. Crafted with meat from Phil Beal’s ‘home grown’ Mangalitza pigs in Sussex, he makes delicious charcuterie ranging from Coppa to cooking chorizo (and much more besides). I’ve used the latter in these albondigas (Spanish for meatballs) which are flavoured with fennel seeds and rosemary. As well as being a fan of chorizo I also love fennel which is in season at this time of the year (as featured in the August issue of Sussex Style magazine). I’ve used this anise flavoured bulb to create a rich and aromatic fennel and tomato sauce to go with the albondigas. This makes a delicious tapas dish or can be served with pasta if you prefer.

Makes about 32 (Serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients for the albondigas

  • 100g cooking chorizo, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 400g pork mince
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • salt, pepper & nutmeg to season
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil

Ingredients for the fennel & tomato sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150ml red wine
  • 140g tin tomato puree
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to season


  1. To make the albondigas, place the chorizo, onion, garlic and rosemary in a food processor fitted with a cutting blade. Briefly blitz until everything is finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the pork mince and lemon zest. Blitz again until everything is combined then add the fennel seeds and season with salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg. Use the pulse setting to mix the seeds in. Alternatively you can mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl by hand but you will need to ensure everything is finely chopped beforehand.
  2. Transfer the albondigas mixture to a large board and shape into a large patty (rather like a massive hamburger). Divide this into quarters and then each quarter into 8 pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands (it helps if your hands a slight wet for this) to form small meatballs. Place on a plate until you are ready to cook them (they could be refrigerated at this stage if you wish).
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over a medium heat in a large, fairly deep frying pan. Fry the albondigas until golden brown all over. You will need to do this in batches. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate lined with absorbent kitchen towel.
  4. You can make the sauce in the same frying pan using more oil if you think you need it. Some chorizo gives off more fat than others so it may not be required. Add the chopped onion and fennel to the pan and fry gently until softened then add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute or so more.
  5. Pour in the red wine and tomato puree. Boil for 1 minute before adding the chopped tomatoes and sugar. Season with a little salt and pepper then bring the sauce back up to boiling point. Add the meatballs and return to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring the albondigas from time to time to bathe them in the rich sauce. You can eat this as soon as it’s cooked although I think it improves in flavour if you leave it in the fridge overnight and reheat it the next day.
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The Best of Jane Grigson (Book Review)


Before I begin this review I should declare that Jane Grigson is probably my favourite food writer of all time. So yes, this review will be a tad biased because there was no way on earth that I was not going to like this book.

Why am I such a fan of Jane Grigson? Unlike many of her food writing peers she never talks down to the reader. At no point when you read her recipes (which are eloquently written) do you feel like you are being barked at by a home economist ready to rap you across the knuckles if you make a mistake. Her familiar tone is more reminiscent of today’s writers like Nigella or Jamie. Many of her books were published in the 1970s & 1980s considered by some a culinary wasteland marred by convenience foods and a general beigeness. Yet Jane’s work demonstrated that food could be colourful and above all delicious. She also had a keen interest in food history and tradition which I also share. To quote Roy Fullick, the compiler of this anthology:

“As Jane herself wrote in the introduction to Good Things: ‘Anyone who likes to eat can soon learn to cook well.’ Her books and articles provide and invaluable guide to achieving that culinary success.’

Enough said.

What is the essence of the book?

Roy Fullick has compiled a book of Jane’s recipes as a tribute to her culinary skills and scholarship. It was originally published in 1992 but has been re-released to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death. The recipes have been sourced from her articles as the cookery writer in the Observer and from her numerous books including her first Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery, which was the result of four years of research.

About the author

Like so many good food writers Jane did not start out life as a home economist or food writer. She read English Literature at Cambridge and became a picture researcher for a London publisher. It was becoming the owner of a small house in France with her husband Geoffrey that sparked her interest in food. She divided her time between France and England although her recipes are influenced by cultures much further afield.

Following her death from cancer in 1990 an educational trust was set up in her memory. For more information about it visit

Who will like it?

Obviously if you are already a fan like me you’ll love it. However, if you have never heard of Jane Grigson and want to find out more then this book is an ideal place to start. Be warned though that you may end up buying lots more of her books as a result!

Who won’t like it?

Part of the joy of Jane’s work is the way she writes so if you don’t like leisurely introductions to recipes then this book probably won’t appeal to you. Equally, if you have every single one of Jane’s books and articles then you probably don’t need this book. But there again there may be one or two in this collection that you don’t have…

What do I like about the book?

I like the way the book has been set out. It would have been easy to devote a chapter to each of her books. However, Fullick has chosen to collect them by the areas that influenced Jane’s writing. So you have chapters like At Home in England and The America’s. Each chapter includes recipes from across the range of her books. What it has made me realise is that she drew her inspiration from a far broader sphere than I had ever considered before. It makes for an eclectic and fascinating collection of recipes.

What do I dislike about the book?

Frankly, the lack of pictures with each recipe doesn’t bother me. However, I know that many people will find this disconcerting and would perhaps regard the book as being dull as a result. All I can say is that this would be a poor excuse not to buy this book. Jane’s recipes are easy to follow and I have never yet tried one that hasn’t worked. Plus if you don’t have a picture who’s to say the recipe didn’t turn out as it should?

Would I cook from it?


Where can you buy it?

The Best of Jane Grigson is available from Grub Street priced £20

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