Onion and tomato curry

Recipe taken from from Biting Biting: Snacking Gujarati-style By Urvashi Roe

Biting Biting book cover

Urvashi Roe was brought up in a family who loved to snack. Any news of impending visitors would prompt a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Within 30 minutes her mother and aunties would have the ‘biting biting’ prepared – a spread of vegetarian and vegan snacks made with store cupboard ingredients and leftovers.  

Cupboard ingredients

Biting Biting is a celebration of this delicious family custom, and of the food of the Gujarati diaspora in Africa and in the UK. 

Extremely tasty, quick and easy to prepare these snacks will set your tastebuds buzzing. Next time you have guests for tea or you need a little something that’s not quite lunch or dinner, you can simply reach for some Biting Biting inspiration. 

Urvashi Roe and aunties

We are extremely happy to be publishing this wonderful Biting Biting cook book in September 2022. So we thought we would give you a taste of what delights you can expect by sharing this tasty Onion and Tomato Curry recipe taken from the book with you to try out and enjoy over the summer.

Enjoy your Biting Biting!

A Brief Introduction To Shaak

In Sanskrit saka means ‘vegetable but in Gujarti it is the word we use for ‘curry’. Depending on which part of Gujarat you are from, you might say shaak or saak. My family all say shaak except for my friend Kavita who says saak. Shaak can be dry or with sauce, and it can feature a stuffed vegetable, single vegetable or combination of vegetables. It is often associated with certain rituals or functions – for example, at weddings you will often see potato shaak, mixed vegetable and dumpling shaak and some form of lilotri or green vegetable shaak.

Shaak section page from Biting Biting

Usually on weekdays we have one shaak with rotli. On a weekend or at family functions we may have a few more. When I first got married my husband always got three of four shaak at dinner as he was the Jamai (son-in-law) in favour. Nowadays he gets one unless my mum needs a job doing around the house or garden.

Onion And Tomato Curry (Shaak) Recipe By Urvashi Roe

When you literally have a bare fridge and are not in the mood for a complex cook, this is your recipe. It is guaranteed to fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma and bring warmth and comfort at the end of a long, tiring day. It’s fast to make and you can eat it unceremoniously with your fingers on cold leftover rice, crusty day-old parotha or even on toast or in a sandwich. We like it with torn baguette too. You can omit the ghee but I find it adds a velvety, buttery sheen, making this dish one you’ll want to lick off your plate. Green tomatoes or tomatillos work exceptionally well. 

Curry spices

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp ghee

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp amchur

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, grated (optional)

4 large tomatoes, halved and cut into 2cm slices

Urvashi Roe

Method

Heat the vegetable oil and ghee in a wok or large saucepan until the ghee has completely melted and started sizzling. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and allow them to fizzle and pop for a few seconds. Quickly add the sliced onions and sauté them briefly so they are well coated. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, ground cumin, amchur and salt and then toss well so everything is thoroughly combined. Add a shot glass of water and the garlic if you are using it, cover and cook for five minutes on a medium heat until the onions are just starting to soften. 

Take a moment here to inhale the aromas and commend yourself for making this epic dish. 

Carefully fold in the tomatoes, then cover and cook for a further two minutes so the tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape. Eat immediately! 

If for some crazy reason you have leftovers you can spoon the cold shaak over buttery toast and top with a fried or poached egg. Or this makes a great topping on hummus scattered over with toasted sunflower seeds and scooped up with pitta bread. 

You can pre-order Biting Biting direct from us here

Urvashi Roe and aunties
Portrait pic of Nasim Mawji

Kitchen Quiz

With Nasim Mawji

Some of you will already have noticed that last year we gained a new editor and member of our team here at KP HQ. For those still not in the know, we decided to introduce this exciting new addition via a new episode of our delightful Kitchen Quiz series.

So KP people, please will you welcome Nasim Mawji!!!

Nas has worked in book publishing in London and New York for over two decades principally for the highly regarded DK Publishing. An experienced project editor for large format, illustrated lifestyle titles, she has all the hard earned skills needed to survive in the world of independent publishing.

Having relocated from NYC’s Big Apple to the Athens of the North that is Edinburgh, we soon connected with Nas and put her considerable skills to good use. In particular, she was responsible for pulling together the excellent Eat Bike Cook project in 2021 working alongside Kitty Pemberton-Platt & Fi Buchanan.

Eat Bike Cook Book Cover

Hailing from an Indian, African and British background Nas has been influenced by many cultural food traditions which sits perfectly with KP’s international approach to food and cooking in general. Food has always been at the heart of her personal and family life.

We caught up with Nas recently on a cold, grey and wintry day and asked her a quiz or two to get to know her just a wee bit better.

Q: Hey Nas, welcome to the Kitchen Quiz. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: I would say the River Café Cookbook. When it came out it was so original. The design seemed daring because it had large type, coloured pages and beautiful food shots interspersed with lots of messy behind-the-scenes kitchen photography. The recipes are, on the whole, uncomplicated. I was eating a lot of pasta and risotto in 1995 when this book came out, so those pages are pretty well thumbed.

But I also really like the Leon cookbooks. I especially like the Ingredients and Recipes, which is the original one, I think. It’s good for family-friendly cooking and I love the scrap-book feel of it. My copy is food splattered and held together with tape!

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I have a garlic chopper I bought from Ikea years ago.

It looks a bit like a space capsule and is a rip-off of a Slap Chop (infamously advertised in an exhausting infomercial). When I need mass quantities of garlic, chopped quickly (which is fairly often, actually), this is the device for the job. 

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I always have the radio on. I listen to BBC Radio 6 for music. My tastes are all over the place and they normally play something I like. Over the past few days I’ve heard Spiritualized, DJ Shadow, Little Simz, John Grant, Pulp, Air and LCD Soundsystem – all great. I also have a soft spot for Steely Dan. Otherwise I’m a Radio 4 addict.

On the podcast front, there have been two favourites recently. First the Lazarus Heist, which is about North Korea and cyber crime (fascinating and full of unbelievable twists and turns).

Then there is Sweet Bobby, which is about a victim of a decade-long catfishing operation and is absolutely addictive listening.


Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: Somewhere tropical, within easy reach of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Maybe Zanzibar.

I could swim there in the sea and then make little meat samosas with coconut and coriander chutney, followed by either coconut crab or coconut prawn curry with fresh mango for dessert. And a very chilled glass of white wine. I think the past couple of years, and now winter and lockdowns, is starting to get to me.


Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Always read the recipe the whole way through before you start! 

Thank you Nas! We are so excited to have you on board at KP and can’t wait to see what other amazing cookbooks you bring into the kitchen and onto the table.

You can buy Eat Bike Cook direct from us right here x

Kitchen Quiz 

With Fraser Reid (Seasonal Soups)

One of our favourite and most popular KP titles is Seasonal Soups by Fraser Reid. This beautiful wee book is now in its second edition and has brought joy to readers around the world with its straightforward, healthy approach to soups.

Author Fraser Reid is an absolutely lovely chap with a strong community ethic. Having experienced a sudden personal nirvana moment with vegetables, Fraser transformed both his career and the local community in the West End of Dundee by opening his wee green fruit and veg corner shop.

The focus has always been on quality, local and international produce all provided with a smiling face and cheery personality. A simple yet powerful and infectious approach. The shop has also become a supplier of other quality deli goods such as Spanish black pudding, fresh baked bread and craft beers.

Fraser’s trademark is his warm and affable style. He really is a business owner who’s personality and passion are at the heart of everything he does. No one just pops into Fraser’s Fruit And Veg without a nice chat or learning something new.

It’s quite interesting that one of our most successful cookbooks is not written by a chef at all, but by someone passionate about produce and who had the courage to try out lots of soup recipes. The purpose being to make the menu at home more interesting, varied and packed full of vegetables. This is a philosophy we are 100% behind here at KP. Cooking is for everyone.

So we caught up with Fraser recently (which is always a pleasure) to ask him a few questions for our Kitchen Quiz series.

We hope you enjoy!

Now over to you Fraser.

Q: Hey Fraser, hope you are good. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: The cookbook that really inspired me was Jamie at home. We started growing veg in the garden before opening the shop and using the recipes in this book after harvesting. The broad beans fritters in there are amazing.

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: My favourite item in the kitchen would be the soup pot. We use it every week and its been the pot that’s tested all of the recipes in Seasonal Soups.

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: Music is always on in the kitchen. Depending on who’s in, that dictates the tunes.

If it’s my 4 year old then it’s I Like To Move It by will.i.am.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLEQRIisP_Q

If it’s my 6 year old it’s Katy Perry. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CevxZvSJLk8

If it’s me it’ll be BBC Six Music.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_6music

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: If I could cook anywhere in the world then it would be the simple beachside BBQ. The sound of the waves are mesmerising and feeling on the sun on your skin. I love cooking outdoors.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: My advice on cooking would be not to stick to a recipe but use it as a guide that you can tailor for personal tastes. It also makes you a better cook, just being able to adjust things as you go. Also don’t be afraid of seasoning.

Great advice from a lovely man. Thank you Fraser!

You can order a copy of his wonderful soup book here.

Date, Apple & Walnut cake

We are over the moon about the publication of Bad Girl Bakery by Jeni Iannetta, which will be in all good book stores in November. Jeni who is based in the Scottish Highlands is an inspirational woman and her baking really is out of this world. 

Picture of Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery

With apple season upon us, we thought this date, apple and walnut cake would give you a wee sneak peek and a taster of what is to come once the Bad Girl Bakery is let loose in your kitchen.

Bad Girl Bakery Book Cover

So over to Jeni now. And yes, bad girls do make very, very good cake indeed.

Pic of Kmix food mixer

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Bad Girl Bakery direct from us via our website here and guarantee you’re one of the very first to be cooking up her baking delights in the comfort of your own home for family and friends.

Thank you as always for your support.

Date, Apple & Walnut Cake By Jeni Ianetta (Bad Girl Bakery)

Pic of Date, Apple & Walnut cake.

This date, apple and walnut cake started its life as a sticky toffee cake, but we had some apples to spare and set about experimenting and here is the result! It’s a really simple cake to make, but somehow the rows of apple slices on the top make it look much fancier than it really is. The apple jelly glaze intensifies the flavours and gives the apple slices a lovely shine. 

  • Feel free to leave the walnuts out if you’d prefer, or replace them with the same amount of pecans or hazelnuts. 
  • This cake is at its best on the day it’s made, but it will be fine for another day or so if you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s delicious gently warmed in the microwave on day two. 

SERVES 9–12 

32 x 21cm traybake tin, lined 

Ingredients:

150g chopped dried dates 

150ml apple juice

250g unsalted butter, softened 

275g soft light brown sugar 

5 medium eggs

280g self-raising flour

1 tbsp ground cinnamon 

1⁄2 tsp baking powder

1 small red apple, skin on, cored and grated 

To Finish:

3 small red apples, skin on, halved, cored and thinly sliced

4 tbsp apple jelly or apricot jam (optional) 

75g walnuts, roughly chopped 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C) fan. 

Put the chopped dates and apple juice in a small pan on a medium heat and simmer until the liquid is almost all absorbed. Set aside to cool. 

Put the softened butter and sugar in your bowl or stand mixer and beat until it looks lighter in colour and less craggy. Crack your eggs into a jug and weigh the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into another bowl. 

Pour one egg into the butter and sugar and add a spoonful of flour. Mix (on low if you’re using a mixer) until fully combined, then repeat with each of the remaining eggs. Add the rest of the flour and mix till it’s just combined. You’ll need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Stir in the cooled date mixture and the grated apple with a spatula until combined, and spoon into the lined tin, smoothing the batter out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Neatly arrange the sliced apples in rows across the top. 

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 60 to 65 minutes. Test the centre with a skewer after an hour, and if it doesn’t come out clean pop back in the oven for five minutes, then check again. (You may need to do this more than once – every oven is different, so don’t worry if yours takes a bit longer to bake.) 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so while you make the glaze (if you’re using it). Pop the apple jelly and two tablespoons of water in a very small pan and put over a low heat until it begins to boil (you can also do it in a microwave on low). Stir until it’s smooth and then glaze the top of the warm cake with it using a pastry brush. Scatter over the chopped walnuts while the glaze is still warm. 

Leave to cool a little in the tin before lifting out using the paper and slicing. 

YUM! Thank you Jeni for this truly magnificent cake x

Pic of Bad Girl Kitchen

Katerina Nitsou, author of Macedonia

Kitchen Quiz with Katerina Nitsou (author of Macedonia – Recipes & Stories From The Balkans)

Author Katerina Nitsou

Katerina Nitsou spent her childhood in the kitchen helping her grandmother, mother and aunts prepare family feasts using fresh herbs and vegetables from the family’s prized garden. Growing up in a large Macedonian-Canadian community in Toronto, she was immersed in Macedonian culture through language, dance and of course, food. 

Family in Macedonia in the 1960s

She began writing about traditional Macedonian cuisine long before she completed her training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. She honed her recipe writing skills in the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen and developed her cooking style working as a food stylist, caterer, and private chef in California. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two young children, whom she is teaching to cook.

Katerina Nitsou and her family today

Macedonia – The Cookbook; Recipes & Stories from the Balkans is out on Kitchen Press now. It is such a beautiful book and a wonderful culinary journey into this part of the world.

We caught up with Katerina recently and asked her a few questions so we could all get to know this talented, enterprising and creative woman a little better. 

Q: Hey Katerina, was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: It wasn’t any cookbook in particular that inspired me, it was actually the lack of Macedonian cookbooks in the market that inspired me. I will say however that when you love food and cooking, being surrounded by cookbooks is just a part of daily life and then it makes it hard to pick a favourite.

Macedonia book cover

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I had this tiny thin spatula with a watermelon print on it that I’ve probably had for 12 years. I had to toss it out recently because it was literally falling apart, and I’ve been trying to find the same one with the same shape and profile and sadly not succeeding.  

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I’m a big Spotify fan, I always have music on at home. These days I’m listening to Michael Kiwanuka and Federico Aubele’s radios, but I also am known to jam some old school 90’s and early 2000’s Hip Hop and R&B.

The podcasts I’ve loved most over the last year are “Second Life” with Hilary Kerr  and “More Than One Thing” with Athena Calderone. For those that may not know this is about me, in addition to being a retired chef and cookbook author, after a journey of working in real estate for Sotheby’s and doing our own developments, I now work in interior design and property development as a professional renovator here in Melbourne. These podcasts that focus on featuring women who are not afraid to embark on new experiences and try new business helped me so much in my waves of doubt and transition in my recent move from Los Angeles California to Melbourne Australia this past year and enterprising and creative women are certainly the ones in the world I connect to.

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: Macedonia, I would love to spend time traveling around Macedonia, cooking and learning in all the villages and towns.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Trust yourself and your senses. Cooking is about sight, touch and smell just as much as taste and don’t over think it… Worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to order in.

Katerina’s delicious Braised Quail recipe from Macedonia – Recipes & Stories from the Balkans

Thank you so much for your lovely insights Katerina! 

You can purchase the book direct from us here and begin your own journey into Macedonian food culture.

Picture of Sweet Potato Falafel & Tahini Dressing

Although you may have to make a pitstop to eat them, these falafels taken from a recipe in the up and coming Eat Bike Cook by Kitty Pemberton-Platt and Fi Buchanan are perfect for a cycling lunch, or any other kind of lunch.

This Eat Bike Cook recipe was inspired by the food diary of Sophie Edmondson (a member of the wonderful The 5th Floor Cycling Collective) while taking part in the 200km off-road race the Sussex Mystery Tour and fully illustrated by Kitty for the book.

 

These falafels are so satisfying without being heavy, and the lemon zest and coriander give them an enjoyable freshness. This recipe also makes more than you need for one pitta so make a batch and then freeze them. 

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Eat Bike Cook sweet potato falafels:

About 2 medium sweet potatoes (500g baked flesh)

50g gram flour (chickpea flour)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp sea salt

handful of coriander, finely chopped

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

50ml olive oil

20g sesame seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 C/180 C fan. Place the sweet potatoes on the top shelf of the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until soft. When cool enough to handle, cut the sweet potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

Mash the cooked sweet potato in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the olive oil. Using the two tablespoons, arrange 12 evenly sized balls of the mixture on a baking tray and sprinkle the sesame seeds over them. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the falafels and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the seeds are brown and the exterior of the falafels is crispy.

Ingredients for the tahini dressing:

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

100g tahini

pinch of salt

pinch of cumin 

Method:

To make the tahini dressing, put all the ingredients in a medium bowl along with 6 tablespoons water and whisk well until combined. Serve three falafels in a warmed pitta bread or tortilla wrap, with salad leaves, tomato and cucumber slices and a drizzle of tahini dressing.

To serve:

4 pittas or wraps

4 handfuls of salad leaves

2 vine tomatoes, sliced

1/4 cucumber, sliced

Wrap tightly in greaseproof paper and/or tin foil.

Then enjoy them on the road!

Eat Bike Cook can be pre-ordered here.

Pic of Salad from Campo Gardens

The time for summer salads is here.

We at KP are looking forward to a long and glorious summer ahead with plenty more opportunities to spend time with friends and family, and of course to cook and eat together again.

For us summer means salads. Fresh, exciting and healthy options often direct from the garden or from local producers. It’s the actual taste of sunshine.

When we think of salads of course we think of Gillian Veal of The Parlour Cafe. Gillian helped define and map our journey into cookbooks way back with our first publication – The Parlour Cafe Cookbook.

Portrait of Gillian Veal Kitchen Quiz

Throughout the lockdowns of the last year Gillian continued to express her love of good food and fresh produce through her home delivery Mezze menus which were highly popular and universally well received.

Gillian continues to dedicate a lot of her time to the cafe she runs at Cambo Gardens in Fife, where the focus is on taking fresh, seasonal ingredients direct from the estate’s wonderful gardens and delivering it onto the plate.

We are so excited to be working with Gillian and the team at Gambo Gardens on an amazing new cookbook project about this food journey and this highly creative and organic approach to cooking.

Meanwhile, we thought we would throwback to an inspirational seasonal salad recipe from Gillian’s first book The Parlour Panzanella (Bread Salad) just to whet your appetite for the new book to come and to inspire you on your own personal journey into summer salads.

Enjoy this wonderful salad from The Parlour Cafe Cookbook and over to Gillian now to explain just how you make it.

Parlour Panzanella (Bread Salad)

There are loads of recipes out there for this Italian classic, but this is how we like it. It’s a brilliant dish for using up old bread and other leftovers – try adding some torn up buffalo mozzarella, or some sliced and cooked spicy Tuscan sausage. We roast our own peppers and use our own tomato sauce, but if you are pushed for time you can use shop bought.

Ingredients

1 ciabatta loaf (approx 270g) or any other rustic style bread

1 small red onion, finely sliced

50ml olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

500g tomatoes, diced

1 bunch spring onions, sliced diagonally

2 tablespoons capers

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into strips

1 stick celery, chopped

handful of pitted olives

handful of basil, roughly chopped

handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

40ml vinegar (white or red or balsamic or sherry – whatever you fancy or have to hand)

200ml tomato sauce (see page 101)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190ºC.

Tear up the loaf into bite-sized pieces and put on a baking tray with the sliced onion. Toss with the olive oil and oregano and bake for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, put the diced tomatoes, spring onion, capers, pepper, celery, olives, basil and flat leaf parsley in a large serving bowl. Get in there with your hands and mush it all together to get the flavours going and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Take the toasted bread out of the oven and immediately sprinkle on the vinegar – you should hear it sizzle. Tip the contents of the baking tray into the tomato sauce, and then mix through all the other ingredients.

This is good served with either some simply dressed rocket alongside or with rocket mixed through it.

And for those keen to make their own tomato sauce Parlour style. Here’s how to do just that.

Tomato Sauce

This is very useful: you can use it as a simple sauce for pasta, in a vegetarian lasagne, to stuff vegetables, to add to soup or as a pizza sauce. I like to dip good bread in it. It keeps so well in the fridge (about a week) or the freezer (indefinitely) that you may as well make a big batch – it doubles or even triples up really easily. This amount makes about twice what you need for our Aubergine Parmigiana, so you could have that one night and keep the rest for an easy pasta dinner for two some other time. If you have some string, tie the thyme and bay leaves neatly together before putting into the pan, and it will be easier to remove them at the end. And if you like your tomato sauces really garlicky, separate and peel all the garlic cloves before adding them and blend along with everything else at the end.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

1 large carrot, diced

handful of fresh thyme

a few bay leaves

1 whole head of garlic

800g chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g tins)

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ – 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once it’s hot, put in the onions, carrot, thyme, bay leaves and the whole head of garlic and give a good stir, then fry until everything starts to take on a nice golden brown hue. Add the tomatoes, Worcester sauce and half of the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring regularly. 

Turn down the heat to low, half cover and simmer for 1 to 2 hours – the longer the better. Stir every so often to ensure the sauce does not catch and burn. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, the vegetables are absolutely soft and the sauce has deepened in colour and amalgamated nicely, stir in 1½ tablespoons of the red wine vinegar and season with salt. Simmer for a few more minutes and taste, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar or salt if necessary. Leave to cool, then pick out the whole garlic head, thyme and bay leaves before blending the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender.

And enjoy your summer of salads!

Dina cooking

Kitchen Quiz: With Dina Begum (Brick Lane Cookbook)

Food writer and chef Dina Begum, author of Brick Lane Cookbook, is a woman who lives and breathes what she cooks and writes about. 

Portrait Of Dina Begum

As a child she would visit the Brick Lane market with her Dad and purchase lamb kofta rolls at the Sweet & Spicy Cafe

Pic of Brick Lane

She was absolutely the perfect person to author Brick Lane Cookbook, her debut book which paid tribute to the multicultural essence of the East of London.

Brick Lane Cookbook Cover

Brick Lane has served a role for many, many years now as a hub for newly established immigrant communities – Huguenot, Bangladeshi, Jewish – arriving in the capital city making their home there, establishing communities and businesses, while expressing themselves and their cultural traditions via food. 

Brick Lane Beigel shop

An area packed full of city boys, art students, curry house touts, models and tourists, the story of Brick Lane is truly a snapshot of London at its authentic, multi-cultural best.

Restaurant sign in Brick Lane.

We caught up with Dina recently in London for our latest episode of Kitchen Quiz.

Pic of Dina Begum

Q: Hi Dina, we hope you are doing fine. So tell us was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: Cookbooks that have inspired me are classic ones, such as books by Siddika Kabir – Bangladeshi author, television personality and nutritionist. My favourite cookbook of hers is the Bangladeshi Curry Cookbook, which focuses on traditional recipes and home cooking. I also love Delia Smith’s writing and recipes – especially her baking books. 

Delia Smith
Bangladeshi Curry Cook Book cover.

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I can’t live without my kitchen scales. I’m an avid baker and this is essential for baking cakes, pastries etc. 

Dina's scales

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

I usually listen to Nina Simone, The Eagles, Paolo Nutini or Classical music – both Eastern and Western.

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: I would love the adventure element of cooking in the Sundarbans – the mangrove forest which lies in the Bay of Bengal – across Bangladesh and West Bengal. Perhaps on a boat with freshly caught fish!

Pic of the Sundarbans, Bay of Bengal.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: I would say cook what you love to eat and try and cook by instinct instead of focusing on recipes by the letter. This is great when you’re baking – as precision is required but general cooking should be joyful. It’s the best (and tastiest) life skill. 

Pic of Dina cooking

Massive thanks to Dina for sharing her thoughts with us. 

And if you haven’t done so already, then don’t forget to check out her cookbook for an amazing snapshot of multi-cultural East London at its finest and tastiest.

You can order the book direct from us right here.

Eat Bike Cook Kitty cycling pic

Kitchen Quiz: With Kitty Pemberton-Platt (Eat Bike Cook)

Illustrator Kitty Pemberton-Platt is a cyclist and the founder of her own sports wear and culture brand Aprés Sport. Her witty, illustrated sports food diaries have lit up Instagram with their honest visualisations of what female cyclists really eat.

Eat Bike Cook is the first in our Food For Sport series on KP. The book brings together her illustrations of diaries from women who bike from around the world with tips and hacks for what works for them.

Eat Bike Cook Book Cover Image

The diaries are accompanied by 40 corresponding recipes by Fi Buchanan created to meet the energy demands of cyclists. 

Japanese Omelette Recipe Image

As well as providing inspiration on easy and tasty ways to fuel for days on the bike, Eat Bike Cook is a celebration of the female cycling community: of the great chat in a cafe mid-ride, of the handful of Haribos that gets you through the last 25km and the shared beer and burger at the end off the day.

Kitty’s wonderful illustrations are at the beating heart of this terrific book and we were very excited to catch up with her recently for the next episode of Kitchen Quiz. 

So take the ride and find out something about what makes her tick.

Kitty Pemberton-Platt Portrait

Q: Hi Kitty, so was there an illustrator or illustrated book that really inspired you?

A: One of my first creative obsessions was Penny Crayon – a fictitious animated character from the 80s/90s. She had the enviable superpower of transforming anything she drew into reality. Over the following years, I soaked in inspiration from everywhere – my mum’s fine art, photography, typography, graffiti or my young niece’s fantastically fearless creations. I discovered the witty world of Waldo Pancake. Through to the emotionally sharp Charlie Mackesy. There’s reference points everywhere but it’s often been a simple and truly innate love for putting pen (a good thick one) to paper supported with playful social commentary, that was my motivator.  

Penny Crayon Image

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: The kitchen is a superb room in the house. Whether it’s cooking to music or chatting to my boyfriend Joe whilst we are cleaning the dishes, it’s a space bursting with possibility and taste. I’m not the most sophisticated cook – even though I enthusiastically try to be – so my cooking utensils are relatively simple. In fact, in our current London flat, I’ve selfishly taken up 30% of it with a coffee corner. Filter machine, espresso machine, grinder, V60 and a collection of French presses. Those items mean so much more than coffee, they’re symbolic of a daily moment of pause and simple focus that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. 

Kitty in the kitchen

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to bike to?

A: My favourite audio during a ride is good conversation – when else do you share hours of thoughts and a listening ear without distraction. If I’m by myself, what I enjoy varies incredibly. I’m quite a patchwork quilt of interests – from EDM (electronic dance music) to americast (the BBC podcast). A short commute is often fuelled with fast beat music whereas long adventures lend themselves to a podcast. I’ll choose one that discusses a perspective or subject I’m deeply interested in (eg How I Built This) or have zero idea about (eg a 3 hour Joe Rogan with Elon Musk). 

Kitty cycling pic

Q: If you could bike and refuel anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: This is one of my favourite questions because it instantly evokes a spectrum of visceral memories. There’s one specific location that holds an incredibly fond spot in my heart – a humble restaurant in Palma de Mallorca that my boyfriend (Joe) and I stumbled across after a long mountainous day in the sun. We savoured crisp cold shandies and the saltiest home made chips we’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty sure they were cooked in magic sauce, or maybe the special ingredient was the conditions and the company. It was perfection, wrapped up in après surroundings – tired legs, salty food and sharing a sense of reward with a loved one. 

Cold cerveza pic

Q: Do you have any interesting pre-ride rituals you could share with us as advice for the budding riders out there?

A: Pre-ride rituals are an escape before you begin moving. Over ten years ago, I self printed my first book of life advice entitled ‘Oats taste better when soaked overnight’. That’s still the best guidance I can give – soak those oats, slowly brew that coffee and read up about where you’re about to ride (and make sure there’s sufficient ingredients waiting in that fridge you’ll dive into when you get back).

Eat Bike Cook Bowl Pic

Thank you so much Kitty for your thoughtful ands interesting replies. We can’t wait for you all to get your hands on the marvellous Eat Bike Cook.

You can pre-order the book and guarantee to get it first right here.

Picture of Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery

Kitchen Quiz Episode 3: Jeni Iannetta (Bad Girl Bakery)

For our latest insight into the lives of our incredible and inspiring authors we journey back up to the stunning Scottish Highlands to pay a visit to the original bad girl baker, Jeni Iannetta. 

Picture of Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery

Jeni’s wonderful, award winning Bad Girl Bakery is situated at Muir Of Ord where she dishes out the most unapologetically generous and indulgent cakes, bakes, biscuits and savouries.

Interior of Bad Girl Bakery

Lucky for us all she has been using some of the downtime during the lockdowns of the last year to write her first cookbook cunningly entitled Bad Girl Bakery. You can now pre-order the book direct from us on our website.

OK stick the kettle on and perhaps cut yourself a slice of cake. It’s time to hear from The Bad Girl Baker herself.

Q. Hi there Jeni. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: So, this is going to sound cheesy and like I’m trying to suck up, but it’s absolutely true! It’s the Parlour Cafe Cookbook. It’s not just the recipes; it’s that  someone I knew opened a food business and published a book. Gill has been a total inspiration and one of the reasons I now work in food. I love her book mostly because the recipes are fantastic and while her food is nothing like mine, the colours, textures and variety are something I’d like to think we had in common. 

I own over 200 cookbooks (at the last count) At home, I’ve been a massive fan of Nigella. I guess it’s that notion of indulgence and comfort in simple, easy to follow recipes.  

Most recently, I bought a couple of fantastic American baking books: Brave Tart and Weekend Baking. American baking is fascinating and these two are great examples. 

cover of the Parlour Cafe Cookbook
Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: It would have to be my Kmix. I’m a huge fan. It’s the most used piece of kit in the bakery (even more so that our beautiful industrial mixers, which I also love). The Kmix is lovely and gentle, easy to control and a real work horse. I’m slightly embarrassed to say we only buy them in our corporate colours.  You definitely don’t need one to bake, but they make life a lot easier.

I have a favourite pallet knife too.  I’ve have it for years  and it came from my mum, and it has a lovely old wooden handle.  All of us want to use that one! 

Pic of Kmix food mixer
Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: Ooft. Too difficult!

My brother in law, Niall who has an incredible music collection, makes us playlists for the cafe that has all the families favourites in there. My favourite still remains the one he made for our opening. It’s got over 12 hours worth of tracks (over 200) from things to break you in gently in the morning, to things to get you through the clean down and we play it still, 4 years on. Marlena Shaw, Marvin Gaye or Groove Armada for a slow start Sunday.

For clean down it’s got everything from Toots and the Maytals, Primal Scream, James Brown and there’s even a bit of Beyoncé in there.

Here is a link to the playlist.

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: That gives me the fear! There’s nowhere I love baking more than in our bakery. It’s light, bright and beautifully laid out and that’s where my favourite spatulas and palette knives live! It sounds so cheesy, but we’re surrounded by a team we love. It’s my favourite place to bake.

Pic of Bad Girl Kitchen
Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Ohhh, that’s tough. I guess I’d say ‘Hold your nerve’ a lot! In baking, sometimes things look bad before they look better! Like when you’re making a brownie: the mixture goes through a slightly split, grainy stage before it transforms into a smooth, glossy batter. It’s still my very favourite moment in baking.

Oh, and read the recipe and weigh out everything before you start! 

Thank you so much Jeni! Such inspiring stuff. Can’t you just feel her energy, enthusiasm and love for cooking? We can’t wait to show you her cookbook very soon!

Book Cover of Bad Girl Bakery

The book is out in November but you can pre-order here right now and guarantee that you are one of the first people to grab a copy.