Vanilla Raspberry Jam

I’ll be honest, jam has never excited me.  It was never the spread of choice on my toast or in my croissants. In the true Italian fashion, I preferred Nutella as a child. Then with age and the exposure of American culture my Nutella was replaced by peanut butter, and it makes me feel better about eating it by the spoonful. So, not a big fan of jam, but I do however love making jam. I love hovering over the pot of simmering stew, having the steam rise up to your face, the room sweetened with the scent of fruit and sugar –  it’s the equivalent of going to the spa for me.
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Chocolate, Tahini & Rosemary Cookies

I was that child that had chocolate permanently stained on her face. That child that wasn’t allowed to wear white, and whose tantrum could always be tamed by a bar of chocolate.  It was only ever going to be chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake and nutella on toast for me. Vanilla and fruit could move along, they had no room in my sweet childhood. Maybe hazelnut and caramel could sometimes act as supporting roles, but chocolate always took to be the main star.

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Tomato & Almond Pesto (Pesto Trapanese)

What makes a pesto a pesto? I asked myself that question one dinner in Bologna as I stared uncomfortably into the dish of white lard known as Bolognese pesto. It was spiced fat. Spiced mushed fat. You can imagine my disappointment. Pesto in my mind meant something with herbs, with nuts, with an abundance of cheese, that is fresh and at the same time with a heavy punch. I really wasn’t planning on eating lard for dinner.
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Matcha Biscotti

I am grateful for many of the material things that I have in my kitchen. I love my knives, I don’t know what I’d do without my soft spatula, and whilst I slice myself every time I use my mandolin, it is still a life saver. The newest addition to the family s is my standing mixer, which I’ve named Heston. I’ve had Heston for about half a year now and he’s made life so much easier. This recipe involves whisking the eggs and sugar until incredibly pale and fluffy, about 20 minutes with electric mixers in my hand. But with Heston,  I can just watch TV whilst he does his job. Heston’s great, Heston’s a good boy.
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Mediterranean Roasted Baby Carrots

I don’t like people that take up space. In kindergarten we had classes where the girls had to practice sitting with our legs glued together. The boys got to play outside. I was taught to be small. To walk with small steps, to eat with my arms stuck to my torso, to sit with my legs crossed, to take up as little space as humanly possible. In China I was big. My hips, my shoulders, and my frame didn’t fit the petite Asian mold. That’s why I never want to take up space, it’s not nice to take up space. It’s not nice for anyone to sit with their legs wide open, but unfortunately it’s much worse for a girl to do so, no?
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Rosemary, Tahini & Honey Cake

Rosemary belongs in sweet settings just as it does with roasted veg and bold meats. I tell you where rosemary doesn’t belong — it’s water. I once went to this “plant-based”, “healthy” (and overpriced) cafe that tried to be clever and instead of serving water out of jugs with lemons, mint or even cucumber — it’s sitting there with rosemary. Rosemary-infused water is not nice, there’s a reason why it’s not a thing. I don’t like these cafes. I don’t like that they try to be clever with their waters. I don’t like that they use their vegan “milks” to justify £4 cappuccinos. I don’t like that they serve me “bowl food” filled with grains and vegetables that’s essentially my go-to 15-minute cheap lazy weeknight meal  and they serve it to me like some revolutionary diet-friendly food with a hefty price tag.

And I don’t like their stodgy gluten-free and vegan cakes. No. I like my butter-and-egg-rich fluffy and moist wheat flour cakes like this one.
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Grapefruit & Fennel Tart

Allow me to recount the story of the salted lemon tart. It was in the first few weeks of culinary school, when confidence was at a low and there was constant anxiety over little things like turning on the stove.  We were making a tarte au citron in pastry class — a short crust pastry encasing lemon curd topped with Italian meringue — a fresh and delicate classic. I had been stirring the curd for almost 20 minutes and it just didn’t look right. Time was running out so I just went with what I had and poured it in my tart shell.  As I prepared the Italian meringue on top I caught some curd on my finger and licked it – I gagged. I had mistaken salt for sugar in the curd. I had about a cup of salt in that pie. I had completely butchered that French classic.
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Whipped Black Garlic Butter with Smoked Sea Salt

Is your bread spread with plain butter? Is that what you serve at a dinner party? You barbarian. Your poor bread deserves better. Whip the butter and flavor it, make an effort. I implore you to go to a specialist shop to purchase black garlic and make this recipe as it’s mind-blowing.

For the record, I don’t say this about all my recipes.
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White Wine Cookies

Baseball caps worn backwards is a fashion statement I just do not understand. It should’ve died out like the shoulder pads and the crocs, trends that we look back at in shame. But it’s still here, and whilst the shoulder pads and the crocs didn’t make it to the sports space, oh the backwards baseball cap did. Yes, I have witnessed on several occasions people wearing their baseball caps backwards as part of their gym outfit.
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Preserved Lemon Dressing

My Italian family seemed to only know of one dressing: olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fair enough, when you’ve got a mixture of incredible produce — fresh crisp lettuce, sweet juicy tomatoes and soft luscious mozzarella — all it should be accompanied by is some high-quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to emphasize their flavors. And some Maldon salt. That’s it. And you know what? Really good extra-virgin olive oil alone sometimes is all that is necessary to perk up pretty much anything from a steak to an ice cream. That said, if you’re serving a feast of dishes all dressed with olive oil, you’re a lazy bast*rd.
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