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My philosophy

This blog is dedicated to my love of eating, cooking, writing and reading about food. In it you'll find recipes, book reviews, restaurant reviews and various other food related bits and pieces.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Has it really been that long?

It's been over a month since my last post and boy do I feel sheepish... but I do have an excuse....

After two years of working in my current job, recent events have led me to drag myself of a rather comfortable rut.... It's all well and good paying the bills, but there's a certain sense of loss when you feel that you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Back in October, I lost one of my best friends. He was 23. It's one of those horrendous wake up calls that makes you realise, you could be gone tomorrow and you do need to take that chance. I've compromised for long enough and now it's time to think about what's best for me!

Wow! I should be a life coach or something (my secret weapon of inspiration- The Jurassic Park theme which I'm listening to right now....don't tell anyone!)

My first steps in the right direction have seen me apply for positions all over the country- I'm not going to limit myself any more. If someone will let me write for money, I'd pretty much move anywhere... So after painstakingly filling in all the relevant application forms, I'm just waiting to hear back to see whether I've scored an interview. Is that too much to ask?

In the meantime, I'll continue cooking up creations for (note to self: never used dried apples to make a pear crumble more interesting- it just tastes weird and has the texture of soggy polystyrene.....) and of course, you'll see me behind the deli counter at work too- but hopefully, not for much longer.

Monday, 1 November 2010

What to do with a pumpkin....

The time to write is nigh. It's been far too long and too much stuff has gotten in the way of me picking up my pen (or keyboard) and scribbling down any food related thoughts.

The month of October was a dark one, I fell out of love with food, for a while. It was merely fuel to keep my engine running and I didn't want to cook (or eat) it...

But November seems brighter. I've begun cooking again for pleasure and have started to create more seasonal recipes, so all's not lost.

And with that in mind, here's my first post of the month....

How to turn this:

Into this:

And this:

First of all, start by purchasing a pumpkin that's considerably larger than your head... Carefully flip it over and cut off the bottom.

Using a spoon (and lots of elbow grease) remove all the seeds and pith and discard.

Now comes the fun part.... gouge all the flesh from inside the pumpkin, until you're just left with the orange shell.

Once you've recovered from the overexerted use of the spoon, put the flesh in a large roasting dish with a little oil and bake for roughly 30 minutes (until soft).

Carve the pumpkin shell into whatever hideous form you choose to take for the night and let the cooked pumpkin cool....

Once the pumpkin's cooled, blitz it in a blender or food processor and then sieve to get rid of any stringy bits. You'll then be left with a smooth orange pulp. Now it's time to make some pie!

William Peter, Pumpkin Eater Pie

For the pastry:

80g Chopped mixed nuts
350g Plain Flour (plus extra for rolling out)
20g Icing sugar
A pinch of salt
A little cold water
150g Softened butter
2 Large egg yolks

For the filling:
450g Prepared pumpkin pulp
2 Large eggs (plus 1 extra yolk, reserve the white)
1 Tablespoon black treacle
75g Dark soft brown sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground ginger
275ml Double cream

Makes 2x 9" Pies

  1. For the pastry, start by sieving the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl.
  2. Gently rub in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Then add the nuts, egg and water.
  3. Stir these in with a knife, keeping hand contact to a minimum. Add more water if necessary.
  4. The dough should have formed into a nice ball by now. Place this into a sandwich bag and pop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line the two greased tins, making sure to leave about 5mm of extra pastry around the rim to allow for shrinkage.
  6. Once the tins are lined, prick the bases with a fork and brush with the reserved egg white.
  7. Place the two tins on a flat baking tray in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the shells are crisp.
  8. For the filling, lightly whisk the eggs (and extra yolk) in a large bowl.
  9. Put the treacle, sugar, spices and cream into a saucepan and bring up to simmering point, whisking occasionally.
  10. Then pour in the eggs, whisking lightly before adding the pumpkin puree. Pour this straight into a jug to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  11. Once the pastry is baked, distribute the filling between the two cases and return them to the oven for about 20 minutes. You'll know when the pies are cooked, as they'll be puffed up around the edges and slightly wobbly in the middle.
  12. Enjoy your pumpkin pie with a nice dollop of clotted cream!
A belated Happy Halloween to all!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Providores Winemakers Dinner

Tonight's menu- a half melted Mars Bar served on a train.... a stark contrast to last night's 5 course cuisine.

The Providores nestled comfortably on Marylebone high street, seems unassuming from the outside, but is truly stunning on the inside. Expect a warm welcome from the members of Peter Gordon's team as they take your coat, pour your wi
ne, serve your dinner and see to it that that warm feeling you get inside from all that wonderful food stays with you for days....

I wanted to thank my fellow Arvon comrades for a wonderful night, evoking the wonderful memories and inspiration from Devon. And finally, I just wanted to pay my respects to Peter and Yotam- two outstanding, down to earth men, who devote all the
ir time and energy to food and ignite passion in everyone they meet!

I'm truly looking forward to our next encounter.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Back to normality

After travelling thousands of miles to the Indian Ocean, it's hard not to feel some sense of sorrow when the mundane reality of life kicks in....

I can only dream of eating my way through a buffet table of crisp French pastries still warm from the oven, of tucking in to slices of succulent pineapple as we plan the days events- sipping spiced rum from a coconut...

Banquet after banquet, followed by days of adventure on the island. Red, dusty trails, azure oceans, warm tropical rain. Stray dogs strolling down the beaches-like they own them...

My first time on a speedboat, island hopping. Fretting for my life, my tranquility restored by a rum and coke at 10.30am.

We make a pit-stop on an island where the blue sea laps the white coral sands. Where yellow birds make themselves known in the trees and we congregate for lunch.

The starter....a whole local fish barbecued on the beach. Served simply with a lemon wedge and coleslaw.

The main course... half a barbecued lobster and chicken drumsticks with fresh garlic bread...

The dessert... banana flambe, followed by more rum, wine and beer. Then back to the boat, Bob Marley blasting through the speakers as we made our way to
Ile aux Cerfs.

These beautiful memories seem so distant, like a half-remembered dream that I'll never forget.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Back with a tan and a plan...

After a noticable absence on 'the scene' that is the internet, I can say (with some confidence) that I'm back and raring to go!

A blissful two weeks in Mauritius has opened my eyes to a whole new range of cuisine mixing different cultures and influences to create a truly unique taste experience. I can honestly say, the only thing I missed was fresh milk!

Anyway, just a short post to let you know I'm still here. I've got many a tale to tell of my island hopping, dolphins, whales, crocodile steaks and much, much more!

Plus.... today sees the launch of the first cookbook I'm featured in (as a credited writer) at Liverpool Food and Drink Festival- it's all looking very promising.... More to come when I arrive back in Liverpool and unpack!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean

Excuse my recent lack of presence on the Internet- I've been busy!
That's not to say I've given up on Book it or Cook it (unthin
kable!), I'm just preparing for the holiday of a lifetime... and it's happening in just 6 days!

To keep myself well adjusted to reality, I've been filling my hours with work (organising corporate canape events for 100 guests plus. Updating every single listing Delifonseca's mentioned on, baking cakes, cleaning basements... all in a day's work I guess!) I've also been trying to shave off a few pounds for the desired 'bikini body' by cycling in between the torrential downpours of rain... so wish me luck with that!

In between all that, I've been trawling the streets of Liverpool to find the
elusive straw hat of my dreams, which I don't think exists, as well as stretching my bank account to it's limit, splashing out on forthcoming birthday presents... but these are special gals I'm buying for!

I did spot something interesting whilst attempting to find something pretty to give to my sister for her 23rd and I can't quite decide whether it's a stroke of genius or a comple
te load of rubbish....some kind of Breville sandwich toaster that makes cupcakes in 10 minutes.

Image sourced from

Is there just cause for the enthused saleswoman on their website to rant and rave? I'm pretty sure a conventional oven does the same thing in about the same time? Maybe it's just me, but I can see this gadget gathering dust with the juicer and the fondue set hidden in the darkest corner of my kitchen....or maybe I'm just a cynic...

I shouldn't let things like this keep my awake at night. I should be proud to be a tradionalist who likes her golden cupcakes fresh from an oven, not an adapted sandwich press... perhaps I should just let these issues wash over me like the Indian Ocean, tranquil and serene... we'll see!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Speech! Speech!

Well guys and gals, it's been a whole year since this whole thing began. From being bed-ridden with swine-flu and going out of my head with boredom, sprang forth Book it or Cook it.

In the following months, Book it or Cook has progressed and grown, as have I and I finally feel like I know what I want to get out of blogging. Sure, it's about opinion and objects of fascination, but I feel it's also an intrinsic writing tool.

You can look back at posts that you've written in a hurry, or ones you took time over and scrutinise and frown all you want, but to me, these are the little glimmers of ideas that can be developed later on, when viewed with a little clearer vision.

The whole ethos of Book it or Cook it began from a frustration of lack of freelance work and some bad restaurant experiences.... the idea was to review each establishment and produce my own recipes which would shame the chefs and hopefully inspire people to give them a whirl themselves...

The feasibility of this idea however, suffered due to that fact that I work full-time, plus I don't really have much of a 'disposable income'...

The branches of Book it or Cook it stretched out and enveloped other ideas as I looked into things I could source from home i.e recipes, book reviews and blog reviews. This wasn't just for filler though, I hoped this would expand the scope for this blog and turn it into something bigger and better....
here's hoping!

So as for the next year, I'm tightening the reigns on my blog. I'm reading more, I'm dedicating more time to my writing and I'm happily gorging away whilst doing it all. So thanks for reading and I'll try and keep up the good work!