Monday, 29 May 2017


My first attempt at making sauerkraut was five years ago. One red cabbage, finely shredded. Add three tablespoons of salt. Scrunch it up in a large bowl, which helps to breakdown the cell walls releasing water. Cram into a large jar. Ensure that all the cabbage is under the brine (add mineral water if necessary). And wait...

This is my latest from a recipe by Laura Wright in her debut cookbook, The First Mess.

1 green cabbage
1 fennel bulb
6 medium carrots
4 small golden beets
2 apples
5cm piece of ginger
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cumin seeds
Sea salt to taste.

Slice everything thinly. Micro plane the ginger. Season liberally with sea salt. Scrunch everything in a large bowl. Wear gloves or you will stain your hands yellow. Water will be released. Pack the veg in a large jar. You want the veg to be submerged in the water. Some people use a cabbage leaf; I sometimes use some baking beads tied up in a plastic bag to weigh down the veg.

Store in a cool dark place for three weeks. Then taste - should be sour and tangy - and transfer to the fridge. This has been my favourite combination so far. Would love to try fresh turmeric. Easy to see how a number of vegetable combinations would work. I have two jars on the go. I have this with everything!

Laura Wright's book and blog The First Mess is becoming one of my favourite vegan cookbooks. Simple, seasonal plant-based recipes, beautifully photographed.

Sunday, 14 May 2017



Sunday is the day I usually bake sourdough bread. I have been baking bread for about six years. In recent times I have had a limited repertoire - white, wholemeal and granary predominating but all tasty. When I first began baking I worked my way through Dan Lepard's  The handmade loaf with some online friends and then found Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's How to make bread which I highly recommend and is beautifully photographed. I love the taste of sourdough bread and it compliments my dals so well. 

I would make a terrible food blogger 🙂. I planned to make a sourdough loaf today but did not refresh my starter on Friday evening and today it was looking a little sluggish. I think I have been disrespecting her. I turned to Andrew Whitely and his excellent primer Do sourdough: Slow bread for busy lives - I think I will give my starter a bit of TLC with some rye flour refreshment. 

So no bread today.... except.... well, I had put a beer in the freezer last night to chill and... er... forgotten about it - a slush puppy IPA  was born. Not drinkable, but I did not want to waste it. I recalled a recipe in James Morton's Brilliant Breads that used IPA beer and cardamom - I did not have any wholemeal flour in so I used what I had, white with a little spelt and rye. Okay, I thought, I can do this. Thinking about 500g flour with 300-350ml beer and 10g salt, plus a spoonful of the starter and some dried yeast. Oh a 6 pods of cardamom, seeds ground up. I go to weigh the flour and the battery for the scales has died....

So this loaf will be created by feel. White flour, a little bit of rye and spelt, a spoonful of start a tsp of dried yeast and some salt. Mixed with beer until the consistency felt right. Kneeded for 10 mins. Felt to rise for an hour or so, knocked back, another hour or so, knocked back, put into a round cane banneton, left to "double in size" - whatever that means - and then baked in a Dutch oven in a domestic oven cranked up for 20 mins then the lid taken off for another 25 mins.

The result? A lovely bread flavoured with hops and cardamom. And I am thinking that toasted with marmalade, my week will start well tomorrow. 

Proper recipes will follow. Promise. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Masterchef audition

So I am standing in the corridor at the Masterchef audition in London, nervously shifting from foot to foot.  *    The other contestants really are as nice to each other as when they appear on the TV and when I meet their eyes there are smiles of encouragement and support. And then I am ushered in. John and Gregg stand before me. I never thought they would be involved at this early stage but, yes, here they are, dressed-down perhaps and a little more sweary but here in front of me.