I posted this photo on instagram and you all liked it a LOT! So I think it deserves an explanation.
After a food styling job the other day I was left with a loaf of sliced white bread. Something that as a child, I was NEVER allowed. My sandwiches were always on whole wheat bread. It’s amazing to me that as this loaf sat in my kitchen, it started to haunt me. I’m a grown woman who owns a cake bakery for God’s sake. But white bread is a no-no. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, yet I felt guilty breaking into it. I tried to ignore it but when I woke up the next morning, it was the first thing I thought about.
I have recently been testing some peanut butter cookie recipes and have a jumbo jar of Skippy in my cupboard. I also had a jar of very special passionfruit jelly from a recent trip to Paris. The three ingredients were made for one another, so before I knew it I was making one of the best snacks of all time. Cutting the crusts off at the end seemed fitting in order to make this soft, creamy, sweet and tart little sandwich into a true slice of Americana.
I don’t really think I will be buying white bread like this often but when you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off, it really does taste better.
A trip to the wonderful Sipsmith distillery in West London has left me wanting to make cocktails every chance I can get. Making a really good cocktail is so much like crafting a perfect cake, so I am naturally drawn to the task. The subtle but true and beautiful flavours of the Sipsmith London Dry Gin is a wonderful backdrop for some very exciting cocktails. Jared Brown, the master distiller, gave us this recipe which we went straight home and tried. It is my new holiday drink (sharing a place next to last year’s egg nog). It is a purply pink and lovely and frothy.
Sloe Gin Fizz (makes 2)
100ml Sipsmith Sloe Gin
25ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 egg white
Champagne to finish
Add the sloe gin, lemon juice and egg white to a cocktail shaker and shake well to get a nice froth. Add the ice cubes and give it a few more shakes. Divide into two white wine glasses and top with Champagne.
A few weeks ago I went to Morocco with my family. We stayed in a beautiful house in a quiet neighbourhood in Marrakesh, north of the Medina and close to the extraordinary Jardin Majorelle. The days were warm, the nights were cool, and the food was delicious. I spent much of my time poking around the local food markets and peering into the shops and stalls near our house, then rushing back to try things out.
It’s great to have the use of a kitchen on holiday; I would have hated to miss the chance to buy delicious bunches of wild asparagus or big bulbs of fennel because I had nowhere to cook them
Each neighbourhood of Marrakesh has a hammam or bath house, and the one closest to our house was particularly charming. What I loved was not the massage or mud scrub; not the steam or the beautifully tiled interior; but the huge wood-burning oven used to heat the water for the baths.
This oven also doubled as a community bakery. All morning a steady stream of people of all ages, from young children to grandmothers, brought wooden trays with flat loaves of bread covered with personalised tea towels. The loaves were baked by the hammam oven operator, left on racks with the tea towels on top and retrieved later by their owners.
French colonialism has left Morocco with a surprising number of bakeries, but one I was most fascinated by made warka pastry. It is an amazing feat of patience, not so much a pastry as a wet-yeasted dough, dubbed and spread onto a hotplate very thinly, and cooked briefly. It is then whipped off, creating a thinner-than-paper pastry, a little like filo, that forms the basis for the classic pastilla: pigeon and almond pie. In this bakery they used warka to make delicious baklava-like pastries, stuffed with mixtures of nuts, honey and orange flower water – they are really sweet but tasty with a bittersweet Moroccan tea.
In fact, Moroccan cooking is often on the sweet side. Meat is frequently cooked with dried fruit or preserved lemons, and the meze, such as Moroccan salads, are often seasoned with sugar and orange flower water. Pigeon pastilla is dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar. Main courses are generally slow-cooked meat and vegetables, usually in the famous conical tagine. It took time to get used to, but I soon started to love this delicate, fragrant, savoury-sweet cuisine.