It’s been a book-themed week this week in our house. Plus Bake Off was back on the box, cutting through the January gloom.
I had a great start to the week, catching up with Iain and Chetna on Tuesday night. We went to a fantastic Indian restaurant called Dishoom in King’s Cross. Eating out in London used to be our favourite past time before my wife Sarah and I had the kids. It’s where a fair chunk of our disposable income would go, working our way through the Harden’s guide each year. Obviously I’m biased but I reckon London’s got the best restaurants in the world – you just don’t get such a variety of different cuisines elsewhere. Getting to go to so many new restaurants again over the past 18 months has been a real treat for me. Chetna received the first copy of her recipe book this week, The Cardamom Trail. It’s out in April and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Chetna is such a good cook – we’re always angling for an invite to hers for the weekend! She really is the ‘Flavour Queen’. My friends from the Bake Off and I still message each other every day on Whatsapp. They’re the funniest, warmest people and I’m so glad to know them but it’s even better when we get the chance to meet up in person.
Speaking of the Bake Off, it was back this week with another series of Sport Relief Bake Off starting last Wednesday night. It was an impressive effort all round but a special mention has to go to Maddy Hill for making Monster Munch canapés. If I’d have seen those eight years ago, guaranteed my wife and I would have had them at our wedding (roast beef for her, pickled onion for me). They always remind me of the woman who lives on nothing but Monster Munch – what a hero! In terms of heroes, my Spice Girl-loving wife is very excited to see Geri Halliwell on Sport Relief Bake Off in a few weeks and personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing Victoria Coren-Mitchell. Samantha Cameron (pictured above – for the benefit of my blog readers from outside the UK – she’s the wife of our Prime Minister) did a very impressive performance on this week’s episode and was a worthy winner. To hold your own bake sale for Sport Relief, get your Bake Off kit here.
I came home from work on Wednesday afternoon to find my two elder daughters making me the chocolate cake from my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself. My eldest daughter really enjoys following recipes by herself and learning the maths behind weighing out ingredients and oven temperatures. It’s really touching to see them use my recipe book too, especially as they both feature in it. The girls make a lot of cupcakes and biscuits (with our help) but this was the first time they had tackled a big cake themselves and I think they did a pretty good job (see below).
They’re both big fans of Junior Bake Off so you never know, there might be some second generation Burr Bakers on your screens in a few years’ time! If you’ve got a copy of B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, make sure you give the chocolate cake recipe a go – it’s delicious. Send me a picture of it if you do!
I’ve had books and food on my mind all week. As part of the Barnet Libraries Festival, I’m judging an Edible Books competition on Saturday 20 February. The competition is open to anyone – you don’t have to live in the London Borough of Barnet to enter – and there are adult and children’s prizes up for grabs. More information on the competition is here. I’ve been daydreaming all week about what I would make for it. I’m not entering it myself, as I’m making my middle daughter’s birthday cake for the following day so that takes priority! You don’t have to make a cake, it could be anything edible. I can’t wait to see what people come up with. If you’re free on Saturday 20 February then join me at Osidge Library. I’ll also be signing copies of my own book there too. I use my own local library in Mill Hill regularly and have done since childhood. On Saturday mornings, we like to pop there after the girls’ swimming lessons. Having my recipe book available in libraries is something I never dreamed would happen to me – I still have to pinch myself.
We spent today at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, the village where Roald Dahl used to live. We’re all huge Roald Dahl fans in our house. I remember trying to make George’s Marvellous Medicine at home as a child myself, mainly by pouring a little bit of everything in the house into the toilet bowl (sorry Mum!) When we drove through France last year, we listened to all of the Roald Dahl audio books on the way there and back. Our eldest daughter is reading Danny the Champion of the World at school so it was the perfect opportunity to visit as it’s only a 45 minute drive away. I would really recommend it for children once they can read. Our middle daughter is just learning to read so was a little young for the museum, but they have loads of art and craft activities and dressing-up boxes to keep younger children interested.
So many of Roald Dahl’s books talk about food, from the famous chocolate factory, to the sweet shop in The Giraffe and The Pelly and Me, the giant full-English breakfast in the BFG, the poisoned soup in The Witches and the chocolate cake that Bruce Bogtrotter eats in Matilda. Sarah’s uncle bought our daughters the two recipe books pictured above and we can’t wait to give the recipes a go and come up with some of our own.
Next week I’ll be sharing a Valentine’s Day recipe for the week after so see you then!