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 “Julia, oblivious to it all, ordered oeufs mayonnaise and a beer… She ate hers euphorically, spreading the mayonnaise on the eggs, the baguette, anything that could hold it and lifting her head now and then to look around, smiling to the kids, who smiled sarcastically back. She was in France. She was at home.”
- Amanda Hesser on Julia Child

I am a big fan of euphoric eating. And I feel Julia to the max here. Oeufs durs mayonnaise is no big thing to the chefs of Parisian cafes, but if you’re just a person, it’s everything. Two perfect eggs, halved, with loads of tangy, rich mayo. I love to slather that mayo all over the place, and dip chips in it too.

You can’t eat jubilantly all the time, but one fried egg can bring a jubilant dimension to a lot of otherwise restrained lunches. The thing I love most about visiting American diners (or maybe second, after beautiful, hot, weak filter coffee) is ordering my eggs sunny side up – dramatic, ridiculous, delightful.

The subtly crisp edges of the white, the rich pop of that sunny yolk – it’s exciting, right? Thankfully, our cooking lives in 2016 are very much about putting a fried egg on it. Here are a few things you should put an egg on: Nigel Slater’s invincible ratatouille, Deb’s zucchini ribbons with almond pesto (she has the good grace to call it a salad, does not pretend it’s pasta), David Lebovitz’s lentil salad with goats cheese and walnuts – worth having in the fridge as an all-week work-in-progress.

My best everyday eggs are the dippy kind. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it ’til I die: season the soldiers, not the eggs. A film of pepper atop an egg is no good to you. If you want a soldier with salty chutzpah, whip up some anchovy onion butter, I dare ya.


Oeufs mayo, though, take it to the next level. Mayonnaise is one of those things we overthink – if we didn’t, we’d have a batch of it on the go all the time. It gets the best out of roast chicken, elevates sandwiches, and changes your life. It’s just egg, oil, mustard, acid – you have to believe it isn’t going to split, trickle that oil as slowly as you can, and whisk like you mean it. I love Jamie Oliver’s recipe because it doesn’t make a fuss; it has the difficulty rating “not too tricky”. The ‘mixed oils’ debate is real, though – a bit of extra virgin olive and a lot of groundnut or sunflower will do the job.

If it curdles, don’t panic.

Admittedly, I don’t regularly pipe mayonnaise onto halved eggs for myself; I save it for Paris. But once the chimney in this new house has been reinforced and we are finally housewarming-ready, I’ve got a lot to consider: devilled eggs, asparagus-stuffed eggs, miso-sriracha eggs.

I’m gunna leave you now with something nuts: soufflé suissesse. The cheesy, creamy, billowy puddle of a soufflé that swamps its gratin dish and was designed to be eaten in the sassiest, priciest surrounds. Egg magic.


Why do we all want a barista who knows our order? Is it because of Friends? Is this the other Friends legacy, after the feathered hair one? It is tragic, honestly. But then so are we.

I moved out of Clapton at the end of last year, and despite now being eight months deep into living with my parents in Watford, when I go to or through Clapton, I don’t yearn for it. That chapter became untenable as rapidly as the corner shop’s organic aisle expanded. As the ravishing new nut butter blends displaced Sun Pat, so the shonky Victorian houses sold for one point five million pounds, a good few k over asking.

The one thing I yearn for is the place where the baristas knew my order. And when I say baristas, I mean the guys in the Turkish restaurant Numara Bos Cirrik II. I don’t even mind that they reserved their big jolly handshakes for my husband because of “masculinity”. The biggest, jolliest handshake you can give me is a plate of your crispest courgette fritters, hot and smothered with yoghurt, quickly, before anything else happens – don’t even try to converse with me. And of course I’ll have a glass of red wine while he has a beer (masc-u-lin-it-y).

Nothing is free these days – sometimes not even bread. But at Numara Bos Cirrik II the best bits of the dinner are free. The blackened onion slivers, sour and sweet with pomegranate, showered with parsley – free. The green salad, vivid and bounteous with pickled red cabbage and grated carrot – free. The squares of Turkish bread, salty and rich from close contact with lamb fat, straight off the grill top – knock yourself out.

And that’s before you’ve started dinner, which is – you know – whatever’s your thing. Chicken wings, lamb chops, yogurtlu sis. On big, inexplicably oblong plates that fill the table and my heart. Numara Bos Cirrik gave me what I expected and what I hoped for every time I showed my face.

It’s where we went after a bad day or a good day or a medium day. It’s where we went for lunch or dinner, lunch and dinner. It’s where we picked up lahmacuns stuffed with salad and hot sauce on the way home in the rain – the greatest meal in London – for £2.

If Clapton was “home”, then it was mostly Numara Bos Cirrik II’s fault.

P.S. If your first basket of bread isn’t glisteny with lamb fat, you can completely ignore it and they’ll bring a proper one as soon as the thing fires up. You just have to believe.


Sqirl is so famous to me I can barely believe I’m here. I always have a swell in my heart when I see the Hollywood sign and I haven’t seen her yet, but I feel the swell. The LAness of what I’m doing is too much. The day is on fire before it’s started.

We have London > LA jetlag, the best kind of jetlag. We are lively and enthusiastic morning people. We’re at Sqirl at 7.30 am and I’ve already been for a run down a silent Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Faced with this blackboard, I am giddy. It’s the actual Sqirl blackboard and I am actually about to eat sorrel for breakfast.

I list off the items I’m going to eat, enough for three people – to my boyfriend and to no one and to myself and to whoever. And then, feeling a little more relaxed, I check back to see how long the queue is, and the queue is still not long but it’s getting longer, and – wait, what? – there is Mark, a person I know. Mark works for an American restaurant group and lives in New York and I have only ever seen him in London, where I live. He looks at me, shakes his head, closes his eyes to clear the debris, opens them again. I shout: “WHAT THE HELL”. And the man in between us doesn’t want to be in between this display of radical joy at this hour of the morning, so he kindly drops back a place. We thank him animatedly but he doesn’t want to be thanked. His friend isn’t here yet anyway.

Mark is doing work stuff in LA. Is he? He doesn’t know really. Because he just came from Istanbul and the last person he expected to see in the early morning Sqirl queue was me.

Everything is wonderful. We have seats outside. Mark needs to try everything for work reasons and we need to try everything for life reasons, so between us we try everything,

California avocado fanned out like this is all a dream. A sorrel pesto rice bowl with an egg on it– tart, fresh, crisp, supreme. A slab of brioche heavy with creamy-fresh ricotta and jam, like I’ve seen Kiernan Shipka order on Instagram. Another slab of brioche laden with chocolate and nut butter, like nothing I have ever seen. Some cookies.

Our coffees are gone. Mark has to work but says we should head up the road to Intelligentsia… You could walk, he says, but you’re in LA. We drive up to Silverlake’s Intelligentsia, a café that is the blue of the sky we will see in full later, when we’re at the Griffith Observatory. This is a two-coffee day. This is a two-coffee day and my heart can barely take it.




Du-pars is where you want to eat a pie, with its brown leather, black and white tiles, and light that’s gold like pastry. But I’m in a hurry so, regrettably, it’s coconut pie to go or no coconut pie at all. Du-Pars asks me, impatiently: “Coconut cream or coconut custard?”.

“What’s the difference?” (I want the good one.)
“One has cream; one has custard.” (Lol.)
“Custard please.”

A big man nearby says “you got the good one” and I shout “really?!” even though I know he’s right by the number of pies he’s eaten.

I spend the hot, hot day protecting my slice from becoming as oozy as I am. It makes it. By the time I eat it, the filling is lukewarm but good and smooth – a true dairy custard loaded with desiccated coconut. I concur.



We’re on one of those drives that LA haters love to go on about. It is painful, and we’ve heard Hotline Bling six times in the last hour, so we swerve off at Apple Pan. The horseshoe-shaped bar contains a man in a white hat, striding from customer to burger to pie slice.

The steakburger comes with a cinnamony relish in a greaseproof parcel that is made for your hand and mine. I turn to my neighbour (a stranger) and talk pie. “I share with my wife”, he says. “She always gets the pecan. She likes the pecan.” He then tells me, s l o w l y and d e l i b e r a t e l y, what other flavours there are (banana cream, chocolate cream, boysenberry cream, apple), and that he’s been coming here for 64 years. He likes banana cream but has been getting pecan for 64 years.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings but I am 100% sure it has to be boysenberry cream. It’s laden with slightly sour dark fruit, and topped with a thick layer of sweet cream. It’s a really balanced meal.


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We are driving around looking for more pie and I hear myself say: “you’re turning right on Sunset”. Is there a more delicious thing you could ask your driver (husband) to do? I turn it over in my mouth (you’re turning right on sunset) while watching the flash of palms in my window.

Four ’n’ Twenty is an old resto with Tiffany lamps, vintage pie posters and creamer in little containers. Our waiter tells us the special is banana fudge with added peanut butter. Get real, sir. I’ll take it.

There are slices of banana lost in the thickest, richest, heaviest custard, and there is frilly whipped cream just about everywhere. It’s ludicrous, and we wipe it out.



In NoHo, the Republic of Pie is quite Central Perk – raggedy sofas and wooden tables with laptops on them, plus a spotlit area comprising two stools, two mics and one
guitar – poised for some sort of horrible entertainment.

Peach and blueberry pie is a thick, almost-savoury pastry shell around a super-sweet party of a filling – two of the posterboys of the fruit world. It can’t fail.

I take key lime home for later. It’s pale yellow-green zesty custard and nothing else.

Show me the world and the citrus pie will always win.



This is a cream-coloured one-layer cream cheese sponge with cream-coloured cream cheese icing (sprayed with pink lustre).

It is the cakiest cake I’ve ever known, and it’s the most delicious. I love it like it’s my friend. I love that in this raucous world, where 8,000 useless recipes are published every day, we found each other. I feel known by this cake.

It’s one of the first things I baked when I moved into my flat and felt overcome with freedom. It’s got six eggs in it! A whole box! Butter and cream cheese! Mum would say: “that’s a lot of eggs”.

I don’t like sponges that fall apart – that have big, wide crumbs. Loaf cakes in 99% of cafes – I don’t dig them. I love a sponge that is both dense and creamy-soft with sour cream, or buttermilk, or cream cheese.

But this isn’t even about me. The main thing about this cake is that it will not let you down. It’s a mensch – as steadfast as it is rich and creamy. I have made it for countless people now, and whereas usually I experience a few hours of panic-stricken foreboding before I hand over my baked goods, I am at the point with this where I can just sit back and prepare to be adored.

“You MADE this?!”
“It tastes like cheesecake!”
“I’m not even supposed to eat dairy!”

One year, I made it for my friend’s birthday and he said: “I don’t think you’ll ever make a cake that’s nicer than this. It is the best cake ever”. I didn’t take this as a challenge because life presents enough challenges for my tastes. I just made it again for his next birthday.

Because he’s right! There is no better cake than this! It’s perfect! I will be making it forever. It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realised I am loath to give it to you. This cake is mine.

Round spring bottom cake tin, buttered

Pre-heated at 160°C

340g unsalted butter, softened
225g cream cheese
6 eggs
500g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 tsp almond extract
375g flour
1tsp salt

150g white chocolate
360g cream cheese

1. Put the soft butter and cream cheese in a big bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth.
2. Add the sugar and ramp up the speed of your mixer. You can get this really pale, light and airy, so keep going for at least five minutes.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula whenever you need to. The batter might go a bit curdly here. This is more than fine. Keep going.
4. Add the vanilla and almond.
5. Fold in the flour and salt with a spatula, until just incorporated.
6. Tip the batter into your tin and tap gently to even it out. Bake until the cake is golden on top and a skewer comes out clean – about an hour, but possibly longer.
7. As it cools, it’ll crackle a bit on top. This is excellent.

8. Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie.
9. Meanwhile, put the cream cheese in a bowl and give it a whisk.
10. Pop two tablespoons of whisked cream cheese into the tepid chocolate and mix with a wooden spoon.
11. Pour the white chocolate into the rest of the cream cheese and mix well.
12. Leave to cool, then frost your cake and decorate it however you like. It’s ever so versatile.



Here I am several moons ago at Harbour House Café, looking delirious, stupid, alive.

We’d driven along Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach and we were on our way to Huntington Beach to sip Jamba Juices with surfers.

It was probably about the time that London was going hell for leather on Americana. Everyone announcing things like ‘brioche buns!’ and ‘American cheese!’ and ‘nine pounds a pop!’ all over the internet, in the pubs, and at the pop-ups.

So we must’ve felt quite special to be sitting there next to the Pacific Ocean in a real place, with leather booths and Coors Light posters and burgers that cost approximately a ninth of nine pounds. We didn’t eat a meal; we had chilli fries and malt shakes. Sometimes – even when meals are your favourite things in the world – the best days are the ones where you don’t eat meals at all.

When I got home from that trip I remember tirelessly searching for authentic Carnation malt powder (Horlicks is fine) and eyeing up authentic Hamilton Beach milkshake makers (beautiful and about £500). But you can’t chase that shit. You can’t turn your flat into California by having the right machine on your counter. Rattan bistro chairs won’t turn your living room into Paris. Things belong in their places.

It’s OK to invite California indoors every now and then, though. Especially in the middle of a London heatwave – or, summer – whatever you want to call it. Go absolutely LA-LA for a second. This shake is the one.


50ml milk
100g vanilla ice cream
1 tbsp Horlicks
1 tbsp peanut butter
10g salted pretzels
Whipped cream (for the top – if that’s your thing)

1. Put everything in a blender and blend well (I used a NutriBullet because I live in Hackney).
2. Pour into glasses and top with cream and pretzel crumbs.

Ten things I’ve enjoyed in the vast chasm of time that has passed since I last wrote a blog

  1. Almond granita with fingers of brioche, on repeat, in Siracusa.
  2. This coffee granita (so into smushed ice right now).
  3. Yogurtlu cop sis (practically weekly forever and ever at Numara Bos Cirrik on Stoke Newington High Street).
  4. Mum’s sticky toffee pudding.
  5. Crêpe suzette and Grand Marnier soufflé at Bistrot Paul Bert, my favourite restaurant in Paris/ the world.
  6. Chips and scraps in Scarborough. Scraps are free?!
  7. Great bosoms of warm ricotta brought out from the oven on a tray at Caseificio Borderi, a wild sandwich shop in the middle of Siracusa’s market.
  8. Vermut Negre. Bit like Coca-Cola, bit like red wine, but better than both.
  9. Crab tater tots from Bob.
  10. A halloumi cone – it came through when I needed it the most at Glastonbury (post-Pharrell, pre-Kanye).



Custard_art 2
I love it when a food trend happens and I’ve got its number. Like how blancmange is panna cotta and pound cake is just cake, and avocado chocolate mousse is a stain on humanity.

I was looking for an American pie. Oh, pie. Great and round and proud and delicious, and less intimidating to live with than a layer cake if there’s noone around to help eat it.

On my pie quest, I went through the menu at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, and the menu at A La Mode Pies, and the menu at Little Pie Company. I realised that every pie I was interested in had a pastry case and a custard base.

Hold up! I thought. Rewind! These pies are custard tarts! And what would be the point in messing with a fake custard tart when I haven’t had a “real” one in a while? Especially given how deeply I love nutmeg.

Nutmeg for prime minister.

I went straight to Jane Grigson’s English Food and – tbqh – I was shocked.

I had (unfairly) expected a plainer thing. But Grigson’s tart had chutzpah. All this cinnamon and mace! Plus, rosewater or orange blossom “if you want to give the tart an eighteenth-century flavour”. Oh but that’s exactly what I want to give it! Challenge accepted, Jane Grigson! However, I also liked the look of Edd Kimber’s: here. I do love the shameless eggy, creaminess of a proper custard.

So, I went for something ’twixt the two – using Jane’s rosewater but not her mace or cinnamon.

This is an English garden of a pie!

Blimey, henceforth, splendid, tally ho.

Butters_Custard (3 of 3)

23cm tart tin (preferably with a pop-out bottom), buttered up

200g plain flour
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Zest of half a lemon
40g golden caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly whisked
A splash of milk (on the subs bench)
1 egg yolk

350ml single cream
50ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod
8 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 whole nutmeg

1. Rub the cubed butter into the flour, lemon zest and salt until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
2. Add the sugar and use use a whisk to mix it through.
3. Add the whisked egg gradually, until the mixture comes together into a smooth ball. If it doesn’t, add as much milk as you need to make it happen.
4. Flatten the ball slightly (to make it easier to roll later), then wrap it in cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

5. Roll out the pastry and line your tin with it.
6. To blind bake, cover the base with greaseproof paper and fill it with baking beans.
7. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes, removing the beans and paper for the last five minutes.
8. Tip from Edd for preventing soggy pastry: Take your extra egg yolk and paint it over the inside of the tart case using a pastry brush. Put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
9. Take it out, and turn the oven down to 130°C.

10. Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan over a medium heat.
11. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod, and put the pod in, too.
12. Bring the creamy mix to a simmer.
13. Meanwhile, in a big jug or bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
14. Take out the vanilla pod and pour the hot cream over the yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
15. Add the rosewater – half a teaspoon at a time if you’re (understandably) scared, until it’s delicious.

16. Put the tart case in the middle of the oven and then pour in the custard once it’s in place.
17. Grate half the nutmeg over the top.
18. Bake until it’s set around the outside, but still a little loose in the middle – about 30-35 minutes.
19. Grate the last of the nutmeg over the top.



It is March 2008 and we have just got back from a trip to southeast Asia, Australia and all of that. The cupcake is only just a thing. Or actually I have no proper idea whether it’s a thing or not because I’m not on Twitter, so where would I find out what we like and what we pour sweet, buttery scorn on?

I live at home with my parents whether they like it or not, because I just took off and came back like a brat. I wake up early because I have jetlag; the family PC whines loudly enough to wake everyone up. I wonder what possessed me to be home in time for my birthday.

I have a teaparty. (It’s tough not to have regrets when you spent your 23rd birthday at your parents’ house having a teaparty, but we do what we think is right at the time.)

Rich brings these. But only half a batch. Six perfect cupcakes, literally with cherries on top. And they’re a sign of our cooking twenties to come. He, taking his sweet time, making the correct quantity, seasoning accurately, ensuring optimum flavour. Me, winging it, slopping it on, leaving trails of ganache wherever I go.

It won’t be a surprise to you that while we were all cooing over buttercream, Nigella had already invented these (in How To Be a Domestic Goddess). They are rich and dark and full of it. They are the Nancy off Eastenders of cupcakes. I am crazy about them.


A cupcake tin and papers


Pre-heated at 180ºC

125g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken
300g Morello cherry jam
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten

100g dark chocolate, broken
100ml double cream
12 glacé cherries

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Let the chocolate start to soften then take the pan off the heat.
2. Stir until smooth.
3. Add the jam, sugar, salt and eggs – stir with a wooden spoon until even.
4. Stir in the flour.
5. Spoon, scrape and tip the mix into the papers.
6. Bake for 25 minutes.
7. For the ganache, heat the cream and then pour it over the squares of chocolate in a bowl. Leave them to melt for a minute, and then stir until thick and glossy.
8. When the cakes are cool, ice them as neatly or as messily as is your disposition, and give them a cherry each.



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I became aware of the caramel as a thing in 2013. Is that surprising to you? Have you been eating individually wrapped caramels all your life? Good for you! I was only aware of caramel as a sauce, or a filling, or a Cadbury’s. Until that same trip to Paris on which I ate that éclair.

We left the Pompidou just as it started to rain idiotically hard, and we paced and squelched for 15 minutes to Jacques Genin. This is a chocolaterie, but don’t be fooled by that cosy word; it is nothing like Juliette Binoche’s place. It’s a gallery-like space with a few cabinets displaying little square chocolates with very fine hand-drawn designs on them.

We dribbled ourselves into the seats in the corner (square, cream, leather) and made a wet mess of the nice floor with our umbrella, bags and feet. Once we’d ordered two hot chocolates and six pieces of caramel, we shook our heads like dogs.

The hot chocolate came in teapots – thick and obscene, it flowed epically into our teacups. The traditionnel kind is unsweetened and I didn’t add any sugar because this is just one of the ways in which I am superior.

And plus, the degustation was coming! Six caramels, all different flavours. By this point we had no hope of passing ourselves off as sophisticated, so one of us took a tiny bite of the first caramel and passed the remaining tiny bite to the other.

We continued like this along our oblong plate. They were soft and buttery and smooth – not chewy like toffee or powdery like fudge. They are from the bit of the sugar thermometer that might as well just be labelled: PERFECT, STOP!

At that moment, I did not imagine I would ever be genius enough to make them! And I was right, because my sugar crystallised three times! Thrice! (Turn to this.) I used Dan Lepard’s recipe from Short and Sweet (the basics are here). Less of a recipe, actually, more a formula – once you’ve mastered white sugar, he says, you can progress to brown. You can also play with the cream – double, single, crème fraîche, clotted.

Of course, I meddled with the butter too: demi-sel forever.

Butters_caramel 2 (3 of 3)

A square cake tin, buttered and lined to the best of your ability (the greaseproof creases will show up)

1 sugar thermometer
1 big, heavy-bottomed saucepan

40ish, depending how you cut them

300g caster sugar, divided in half
75g butter
200ml clotted cream
75ml golden syrup

1. Weigh everything out and put it all in separate bowls (including the two lots of sugar) like you’re on TV.
2. Put the first portion of sugar in the pan with 25ml of water. Mix it a bit. Turn the heat on very gently, and do not touch it again. As the sugar starts to melt, you can gently jiggle the pan, but strictly no spoons or spatulas.
3. Once the melted sugar has turned a reddish brown, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter.
4. You may stir it with a wooden spoon.
5. Add the remaining sugar, golden syrup and the cream.
6. Put it back on the heat, and bring it to the boil, being careful not to let it boil over.
7. Reduce the heat and let it simmer. Put your sugar thermometer in and turn the heat off when it reaches 127°C.
8. Let the pan stand for a minute so the caramel can stop bubbling.
9. Swirl the pan a little to smoothen it out, then pour the caramel (while it’s still hot) into your lined tin, and leave it to cool.
10. Take your slab out of the tin, cut it into pieces and wrap individual caramels in squares of greaseproof paper.