A Cook and Her Kitchen
In order to excel at anything, it is said that you need to have practiced said thing for at least 10,000 hours. I have calculated, very roughly speaking, that at some time within the last few years, I exceeded 10,000 hours of cooking. Cooking is a massive source of joy to me. Not just the act itself, but everything peripheral- beautiful cookware (I am obsessed with Mauviel and of course Le Creuset), sourcing ingredients, and also over the last few years, having the competence to create many completely new recipes of my own.
My dream kitchen is the size of a very large master bedroom. It has a large island, a window box stuffed with growing herbs, an ice cream maker, teppanyaki grill, a massive larder, a gas hob (I miss cooking on gas), a double oven, commercial standard appliances (like Gordon Ramsays kitchen if you’ve ever seen it), oh and of course a fleet of staff to clear up after I’m finished (the cleaning up is the only bit I like to delegate!). Outside – a pizza oven, two outdoor BBQs – both an American style gas BBQ, and a traditional coal fired grill. The kitchen counters should be a strategic height – perfect for being bent over whilst a chicken or whatever else is roasting in the oven (this bit is very important; I like to multitask).
I am becoming, if you hadn’t realised, an absolutely obsessive cook. Sex drive and food drive are almost the same thing. Just now I took some preserved roasted peppers from the fridge (I made these myself a few days ago, there is also anchovy and roasted garlic in the jar). Then some ciabatta, toasted in the oven, a smear of ricotta, and because I could tell this could benefit from acidity, just a few drops of lemon juice. Something just rustled up from what I have in the fridge. WOW! You know it was good because I’m a millennial and I forgot to take a photo haha! Absolutely delicious and an almost orgasmic experience. The crunchy ciabatta (roughly sliced on purpose), creamy mild ricotta, then these sweet, smoky, silky peppers, good olive oil, a savoury hint of salty anchovy, and then the zing of lemon to cut through the fat. Almost perfect. Almost! But next time some herbs, perhaps some thyme in the jar to infuse the peppers, for that final, floral note.
Next year I start a short course at Le Cordon Bleu (more geared towards professional chefs but they’ve let me on because… well, because I asked). I am so excited! In the age of Uber Eats and Deliveroo-amazon-google-whatever-you-call-it cooking has become hopelessly uncool. I love eating out. In fact, there are few things better than being taken to dinner. So romantic! Picking out an outfit and heels, and entering a beautiful quality restaurant. I never check menus beforehand (I’m aware most people do, but it’s completely against my personality type as I love surprises). I love to take an aperitif – almost always a rose champagne, a peach bellini, or some other champagne cocktail – and then the excitement of opening the menu. A moment of ecstasy! A girlfriend and I recently went to the Waterside inn, in Bray; We had the tasting menu with wine pairing and it was absolutely magical (we were supposed to also go to Hestons Fat Duck, but embarrassingly I messed up the reservation somehow and we ended up eating at the pub instead (oops!). In the same month (October) I also visited Lympstone Manor – Michael Caines place in Exmouth. Both seriously good! Anyway, that feeling of being looked after by a good restaurant is definitely something special, but on a Tuesday afternoon in December, freezing cold outside, and with an extra hour on my hands, I can think of no better way to use that time than to spend it creating something new in the kitchen. I suppose my main outlets in life are fitness, cooking, writing, and sex (not a bad combination!).
I’ve spent this year expanding my skills as a cook, and thought it would be nice to share with you some of my creations. I cook every cuisine, but you see this year I have focused on Mediterranean and north African cooking (last year I was cooking a lot more Asian cuisine). I have hundreds of dishes, so am just sharing a small selection.