Smell and the fragrant kitchen

I think smell is one of the essential kitchen ingredients. It is so personal, so specific, so definite, it makes or breaks our taste buds.

It is defined by seasons, mood and whether you’re in the moment.

It can be the herbs you delicately shred into a meal, the sweet baked cake calling you from the oven, to the overnight marinade bursting with flavour set to come alive in your mouth.

What defines a perfect smell in your humble kitchen?

A rather romantic stroll in the market

I have an idealistic view of the culinary world that thankfully I can spend all I want (and all day in my head) where I visit romantic European outdoor markets and country stalls in my dreams.

The idea of fresh fruit, veggies, bread and pastries, wandering the many stalls crammed with cheeses and colourful fresh flowers.

I have luckily been to an actual few over the years – Rome being among my favourite; dried herbs patted around the outdoor tents, strands of egg pasta, plastic crates packed to the high with glossy vegetables.

The fresh look of produce, the passion and drive of stall holders in their many and the array of choice is a novelty I don’t feel I have locally to me.

If only Rome could come to Luton!

Share with us what your market dream would be and I will gladly keep the dream alive…

Bringing the outside inside

The Kitchen Garden concept is an essential part of my cooking and I urge it to be yours if possible too.

By growing herbs (and vegetables when and where I can) in the small space we retain outside our flat, I adore the development in watching seeds burst and grow to become a fully-fledged ingredient.

I encourage whatever space you have to use as your outdoor kitchen.

The fresh smell of wafting herbs around the home can conjure up an utter sense of relaxation (and a rumbling tummy).

Do you have a Kitchen Garden and a photo you would like to share?

What a day for pie

I do just adore comfort food and sometimes this can only be found in the simple pleasure of a freshly baked savoury pie.

I have created a new board on my Pinterest called ‘Vintage Savoury Pie’ which I hope will provide you all with some inspiration for your own creature comfort pie-making and remind you of some favourites to get you in the mood.

Pie is whatever you want it to be, whatever taste you desire and whatever way you want to eat it – fork, spoon, hand (daring and messy, and not quite work corporate-do etiquette). The choice is entirely yours.

And when it comes to pastry, I’m in 2 minds. I love puff pastry for many pies and there is an argument the bought stuff is just as good as the homemade. It’s flaky, noisy and makes the best sound when you push through the pastry lid with your fork. On the other hand, a homemade shortcrust is something else altogether. That solid crunch of pastry, speckled with flavours of butter and rock salt. It is really all dependent on the pie filling at hand.

But it is the actual pie as a whole that offers something different to any other comfort-giving culinary delight. It has that hidden inner space of filling that when the pastry lid is on, it’s almost like a mystery.

It’s all about the PIE and it’s my favourite winter delight.

So enjoy the board and let me know if you have a favourite pie to share (but i understand if it is a secret, sometimes it’s better that way)

Happy pie eating…

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Sage of my heart

Sometimes the perfect sauce is a mere accident.

One such discovery was conjured up as a result of a rather plain chicken breast in need of some warmth, excitement and a luxurious taste. Sage, I promise, was the key.

The aroma of olive oil in a pan, with drips of crushed garlic, tossed together with a handful of finely chopped button mushrooms and I’m halfway to a culinary success. It is only when the mushrooms have wilted slightly, that the single cream tub can then be generously poured over and sprinkled with some finely torn sage leaves.

This is the essence of sauce perfection, the essential mix of comforting, home cooking, a concoction of necessary to make ones chicken delectable and a happy mistake; a winter sauce was made.