From Asparagus to Watercress

Recipes come from anywhere and everywhere, don’t they? Nobody, I suspect, except maybe a handful of genius chefs, ever really truly invents one completely from scratch. They always grow out of tastes and flavours already experienced; put these together in a slightly different way and “voila” a new recipe has been created. Mine, I am sure, are mostly variations on someone else’s. Some I have been making for years and have long since forgotten their source. Others have been changed so many times that they bear little resemblance to the original. And one or two are so good that they remain exactly the same as the first time I ever made them. If I know their source when I write about them, I will certainly give the inventor credit.

I am not a master chef, trained cook, professional food tester or recipe writer, I’m not sure I even count as a “proper” cook: I don’t do cakes, have never made a Christmas pudding and still manage to ruin at least half the mayonnaise I ever make and my meringues are rubbish. I regret now having such a limited knowledge when it comes to the science of cooking because I think understanding the properties of food, especially how it reacts to the cooking process, would improve my skills no end. Instead, over the years I have developed all sorts of cookery short cuts and arrived at “approximations” of more complicated techniques. Although when necessary, I am happy to follow a long and complicated process and make everything from scratch, nowadays when time is often at a premium, I simply try to get the maximum taste return for the minimum of effort.

I have also developed a whole list of “secret ingredients” which I will share with you. When there is one in a recipe, it will have an asterisk beside it. Click on the My Secret Ingredients page and there you will find an explanation of what it is, what it does, how I use it and where to find it. Two asterisks means that I have also left you a note at the end of the recipe.

Many of the recipes you will find here are related to something we are doing or some place we are going or indeed, some place that we have been. The dish or ingredients will probably have been featured in one of my articles or mentioned in my blog or it may be that I want to write about some particular food at the time it is at its seasonal best. Please be judicious when you follow the recipes. Use them as a guide rather than some hard and fast precision tool bearing in mind what I have said in the paragraphs above. The real secret to success here, is in adding small amounts of flavouring incrementally and tasting, tasting, tasting as you go.


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