It’s been a long haul and one hell of a lot of work but at last we can have a little bit of down time, because the book is finally published. Yay! It’s been quite a cook-y year for us, what with Sleb MasterChef, producing our Family Cookbook and Ewan starting at chefs’ college.
When I was first commissioned to do it, to include 100 recipes, I said to the boys, Rory, 20, and Ewan, 16, what the heck are we going to put in it? We sat down and after about 20 minutes had a list of 85 recipes…so it wasn’t difficult to come up with the rest.
The past few days have been a flurry of events, signings and media interviews. Kicked off at the Henley Book Festival, where on a beautifully sunny day the Delicious magazine editor interviewed me at the lovely Stirring Stuff cookery school in front of a very welcoming audience. After the Q+A session there was a glass of wine and tasting of a few recipes from the book: brownies, mini scones and shortbread fingers all perfectly baked by Jenny at the school. The brownies recipe is my all-time favourite and was given to me 20 years ago by my pal Fiona. Here it is:
Spot-on gooey brownies
125g dark chocolate
3 large eggs
300g soft light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
125g toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 180C/160Cfan/350F/gas mark 4
Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt on low in a microwave. (Or put it over a pan of simmering water, checking the base doesn’t touch the water, and allow to melt.) Stir and set aside to cool.
Grease and line a 16x26cm baking tin with baking parchment.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl till thick and moussey. Sift flour and cocoa over the mousse mix, then pour the chocolate mixture carefully around it. Add the nuts. Using a large metal spoon, fold everything together. Pour into the prepared tin and bake 20-25 minutes. It’s crucial not to overbake these – the gooeyness is the whole point. Be brave and take them from the oven almost before you think they are ready. Cool in tin; lift out and cut into squares.
You can find this and three other recipes, plus the chance to win a copy of the book and a deliciously nutty hamper over at allaboutyou, in aid of National Nut Day on October 22nd!
It’s all hotting up on Sleb MasterChef as well! Into the semis, I am. Phew! Back in the kitchen/onscreen w/b Mon 10 October for another grueling set of sessions.
What with all this eating and drinking, it’s just as well I’m in training for the Women V Cancer 400km cycle ride in Kenya at the end of the month. Not done nearly enough, though. I’m loving the organisation http://www.parkrun.com, whereby at a park near you each Saturday morning at 9am there is a 5km run, free for all to enter (great hangover cure). It’s all over by 9.30 (unless you’re a real slacker). Trouble with going more than once is that you start getting competitive against yourself (and others of course). Last Saturday was my second run, and I shaved 103 – don’t forget the three! – seconds off from the previous week, down to 27.41. I was knackered and it was only sheer embarrassment that stopped me from vomiting at the finish.
Then on Sunday I cycled 20 miles north to Hatfield House to catch the last day of the Henry Moore exhibition. Met up with my pal Anita, who had curated it (she took the train, softie that she is). Mind you, so pooped was I after cycling there, I had to train it back home again with her. I blame all those Saturday-night mojitos (no, I didn’t mind being the oldest swinger in Shoreditch). Was there to see Rory’s band George and the Georgia Boys play in Cargo – get me!
Ewan, meanwhile, is also pooped. This week at college he’s being a waiter in the brasserie open to the public and coming home each evening absolutely whacked and with achy feet! He says he’s making lots of mistakes but absolutely loving every minute. Bless his sweaty cotton socks.