Cooking: a confession

I am a kitchen hussy.

There. I’ve said it.


In affairs of the culinary kind, I am wildly, shamelessly unfaithful. I flirt with Nigel Slater; nip out for supper with Nigella (bet she would be a brilliant  dining companion); dabble with the fantastic recipes from Positive Health Wellness.

When I acquire a new cookbook, I devote myself to it – just like a schoolgirl in the first flush of infantuation. There have been many such flings, which I will detail here on later occasions. But to my latest passion: Joanna Weinberg’s quite frankly brilliant Cooking for Real Life (£25 (or £16 at Amazon), Bloomsbury) It’s like having your best girlfriend (who happens to be a fabulous cook) in the kitchen with you, suggesting you add a pinch of this here, a glug of that there, and oo, why don’t you try this? I love her and her recipes are simple, but utterly delicious – plus she offers plenty of child-friendly but adult-worthy options: joy. Who could fail to like a cookbook with chapter headings like ‘The Daily Grind’? Witness my devotion: last week, pretty much every meal which ended up on my table came from Joanna’s book (her nifty tricks with sausages are worth the cover price alone).

But sometimes it’s the simplest recipes which bring the most satisfaction. After a long day a work, the schlep home on the tube, then straight into bath and bedtime for little C, there is nothing I like more than pottering around my little kitchen, Radio 4 in the background, pondering what to cook. The familiar motions of chopping, stirring, tasting, seasoning are soothing after the day’s hurly burly. And there is nothing more relaxing to make than risotto. I admit, it’s not going to feature on any fancy food blog any time soon (too simple), but Joanna’s (note the familiarity I so shamelessly presume: first name terms already) tomato risotto is like a hug in a bowl. AND little people like it, too. (Mind you, mine will eat pretty much anything provided it is slathered in cheese – the stronger the better.) Recipe below (with apologies for the would-be artistic shot).

Mind you, I have just taken delivery of Dinner: A Love Story based on the blog of the same name. So, watch this space. I can feel the flutterings of my fickle heart already….


3 tbsp olive oil
40g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
240g risotto rice
200ml passata
1 litre hot chicken stock
Basil leaves
Parmesan, grated
I had some leftover parma ham so chucked some of it in with the onion, then popped the rest under the grill to crisp up
Heat butter and 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan. Fry the onion til soft.
Add the rice and stir until thoroughly coated. Add the passata and a ladleful of hot stock and bring to a simmer, stirring all the while. Keep adding the stock, ladle by ladle, til the rice absorbs it. Takes 15-20 mins. Season (you probably won’t need much/any salt if you use the parma ham).
Drizzle remaining oil over the top (if you wish), tear on lashings of basil leaves, crumble crispy parma ham over the top, season, serve with parmesan.
Pictures: Cooking for Real Life at Amazon (original photography by Jill Mead); tomato risotto on my kitchen table by me


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Adriane Quettant
    February 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm

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