Salted Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rye Cookies

Rye cookies

I loathe rye bread. Really, truly do not understand it.

It’s either so dense it’s a brick, miserable and damp, or it’s sliced so delicately, it crumbles on contact, disappearing into a mass of crumbs, so quickly and comprehensively that it’s hard to believe it ever formed a loaf. I spent one miserable afternoon cutting countless slices of the thinnest rye bread into tiny triangles to top with smoked salmon for a garden party, more rye crumbling from the sandwiches than staying on them.

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Cantuccini

cantuccini recipe engagement siena

Two years ago, Sam and I visited Siena on holiday. And since then, Siena has been my favourite place in the world.

It’s quieter than Tuscany’s biggest city, Florence. It has a breathtaking palazzo, an incredible Gothic cathedral, sleepy streets lined with even sleepier wine bars. I thought it was unbelievably romantic the moment I saw it. And I discovered, soon after arriving, that it’s home to some of Italy’s best food. So when we found out we would be returning to Florence for a wedding this September, it needed no discussion: we were going back to Siena.

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Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Cake

raspberry almond lemon curd cake

Last week was the wedding of two of my closest friends.

We’ve been friend ten years almost to the day; we’ve been friends through engagements and bereavements, we’ve shared drunk tears and sober laughter. We’ve read the same books, we’ve held the same babies, and we’ve watched the same people get married. They are so inextricably a part of my life and who I am.

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Can’t Get You Out Of My Head Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake

A cake has taken over my life. I’m not actually a very cakey person. As much as I love making them, I’m more likely to reach for a biscuit or a pastry or, if I’m brutally honest, a large bag of crisps. And when it comes to cakes, I’m particularly reluctant to go for a chocolate cake. Give me a lemon drizzle, or an almond cake, or something filled with curd or jam. Chocolate is never my choice. Until now. Until this cake.

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Friand Easy

Banana friands

Oh how I long to be competent. A quick search of my blog throws up the word ‘competent’ no fewer than five times to date. Sam discovered early on that calling me ‘feckless’ (no matter how richly deserved, or warmly expressed) was the surest way to unjustified but unstoppable tears. I am sure that my desire to learn how to cook is at its base, simply a yearning to be competent, or at least appear competent. And for that reason I hold an abiding fondness for any dishes which are deeply practical: delightful in its simplicity, or ease, or using up leftovers that hang around the house: this no-knead bread, these vibrant braised spring onions, and, well, these friands.

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In Praise of Recipes: Pick ‘n’ Mix Cookies 

Pick n mix cookies

I love recipes. As someone who learnt to cook not at her mother’s knee, but through a combination of google searches and cook books that had previously served only as door stops, I owe a lot to recipes. I am not yet the sort of cook who can confidently throw ingredients into a pan without clinging onto a book for stability and reassurance. If it weren’t for good recipes succeeding and swaddling me during my first forays into cooking, I would likely have abandoned the whole endeavour.

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Top Stotty

Stotty

Sometimes, especially when I’m sad, or just find myself in a bit of a cooking rut, I realise that what I need is a taste of home. And growing up in the North East, in Newcastle and South Shields, that taste of home is the stotty bread.  So I have  spent the last week making stotties, and it has been glorious.

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