This blog has been long in the making, as it’s been a while since my last one. The reason is that I lost my mum, the most defining woman in my life. The grief has been somewhat unbearable. She made me who I am, and I owe everything to her, my love of cooking, celebrating, and putting family above all else. Despite having a crazy work-life balance, she managed to not only put out delicious food for us but she was intensely house proud, and kept a beautiful, albeit simple home.
In my early days of London, when I sometimes succumbed to ready frozen meals, being too tired to cook, it was she who reminded me how easy it was to throw a simple meal together. Usually in under 10 minutes, maybe a few more than it would take to reheat something frozen. Having a well-stocked larder and fresh supplies on hand was key.
The original perfectionist, she would go to great lengths to learn the tricks of the trade. Venturing into kitchens, grilling chefs and trying to “reverse-engineer” flavours. I loved her ability to taste something and figure out the key flavours and ingredients, a true food connoisseur.
Recipes this week:
The fiercely talented and amazing woman that she was, she wouldn’t have wanted me to wallow in self-pity, so here I am back to cooking and baking and getting back to grips with life.
These past weeks, with the basil having gone wild (in my absence) I harvested lots of it to make a batch of basil pesto. Out of pine nuts, I used cashews instead, and the pesto was still great. A reminder that you don’t need to be pedantic in following a pesto recipe.
Armed with pesto, a simple dinner we had to celebrate (the near end) of summer was simple pan-fried sea bass with cherry tomatoes, some bocconcini (baby mozzarella) dressed with the fresh pesto. The pesto will keep well in the fridge, covered with olive oil for a few weeks.
With some excellent aubergines in the farmers market, I made stuffed aubergines with lamb, a quintessential Ottolenghi recipe.
Restocking the larder, I also made a fresh batch of berry jam which is a good way to use up end-of-season berries.
To round off, I came across some incredibly cheap sardines at our local Waitrose and bought them on a whim. Cleaning and deboning seemed a challenge, so this was farmed off to the husband. Several youtube videos later we had some beautifully butterflied sardines. A great way to spend Friday evening!
My biggest regret (apart from the fact that I didn’t get to see mum before she passed away) was that I can’t make some traditional Indian festive foods like she could. I tried but wasn’t a patch on her. Those delicacies will now be the stuff of memories.
It’s never too late… love your family and so cook something special for them.