Culinary Anthropologist


  1. St Lucia saffron buns

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    Lovely sweet buns with a beautiful yellow colour.  According to tradition in Sweden and Denmark they’re served on St Lucia day, the 13th of December (also my birthday, so doubly auspicious and suited to baking with expensive saffron).  

    They are normally S-shaped and decorated with a few small raisins or currants.  Serve warm with plenty of cold salted butter or, as we do in our Nordic cooking classes, with sweet and salty hazelnut butter!

    Here is a fun explanation of St Lucia!

    Recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food, with whom I collaborate for New Nordic cuisine classes and dinners.


  2. Wild garlic pesto

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    Delicious mixed with pasta, stirred into a plain risotto at the end of cooking, topping a bowl of summer minestrone soup, or layered inside a lasagne with ricotta.  It keeps for a week in the fridge in a jar covered with a layer of olive oil.  Or freeze it in little plastic tubs.  I always have some ready to defrost quickly for an easy pasta ‘n’ pesto dinner – so much nicer than the pasteurised shop-bought jars.



  3. Ethiopian affogato

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    On trips to Ethiopia one of my favourite things by far has been Ethiopian coffee, made in homes and cafes from freshly roasted and ground beans and served quite strong in small cups with sugar, and if you’re lucky, a sprig of rue.  Sometimes spices such as clove, cinnamon and cardamom are thrown in with the roasting beans for a delicately spiced version. 

    smbunalalibela0001.jpgEspresso drinks are also very popular in cities, especially macchiato (with incredible ‘macchiato art’ of which any London barista would be envious).  Italian influence in some areas of Ethiopia is also visible in the food and architecture.  

    smmacchiatolalibela0001.jpgI put all these things together to come up with this recipe for an Ethiopian themed Secret Kitchen dinner.  Remember to freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker in advance if you have that sort!

  4. Minchet abish

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    This is one of my favourite Ethiopian dishes, which I learnt about in Ethiopia during a couple of visits.  It is a very rich dish for a special occasion, typically eaten with injera (Ethiopia’s staple flat ‘bread’) and ayib be gomen (cottage cheese with spinach).

    smdorominchetayib0001.jpgMinchet abish is to the left in the photo.  It looks deceptively simple – minced beef – but is exquisitely flavoured with fenugreek (abish) and a range of other hot and warm spices.

    Injera, berbere, nit’ir qibe (spiced butter) and shiro powder are available in London’s Ethiopian shops and restaurants.

  5. Doro wat

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    This is Ethiopia’s most famous and prestigious dish, translating literally as ‘chicken stew’.  Chickens are very expensive to buy in Ethiopia and therefore a luxury food for a special occasion.  One chicken can go a long way, especially when combined with 4kg of onions!  The key to the success of this dish is the slow cooking of the onions – around four hours.

    smdorowatetal0001.jpgDoro wat should be served with injera, Ethiopia’s staple flat ‘bread’, which can be bought in London from Ethiopian shops and restaurants, either home-made or imported from Ethiopia where it is made with the indigenous tef flour (gluten free and high in iron).  Berbere powder and nit’ir qibe (spiced butter) can also be found.

    smdoroaddis0001.jpgThis recipe is only slightly adapted from the one kindly taught to me by Egigayeu Abebe in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, 2011).  Egigayeu is my friend Nebiat’s mother, a formidable cook and patient teacher.


  6. Rhubarb gimlet

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    This cocktail recipe was inspired by the one they serve at 69 Colebrook Row, a superb little cocktail bar in London.

    Rhubarb gimlet 1.JPGThe trick is to get a good balance of flavours.  It should taste distinctly rhubarby, with a good grown-up gin kick, and just a hint of lime.


  7. Roast almonds

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    These are incredibly more-ish.  Serve with a chilled aperitif, such as sherry.  The ingredients and quantities here are a guide.  Feel free to mix it up…



  8. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder

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    This is my favourite way to cook lamb shoulder.  Your lamb will be meltingly tender, juicy and full of flavour.  You can keep the shoulder whole and present it at the table.  You won’t need a carving knife – just spoons and forks to pull off pieces of soft meat.  Or you can remove the meat from the bones after it has cooked (as described below) and serve it individually plated.  You could pair it with mashed or roast potatoes, a root vegetable gratin, or rice.  I think it’s particularly delicious with barley or spelt ‘risotto’, with a dose of salsa verde on top.

    smlambshoulder0001.jpgThe recipe takes some time, but is far from difficult.  It’s based on the method I used at Chez Panisse, where we cut the shoulders from the lamb carcasses, trimmed and seasoned them the day before.  For best results I recommend starting two days in advance.  On the first day, trim and season the meat.  On the second, cook it, remove the bones and strain the sauce.  On the third, skim off the remaining fat and reheat gently. 


  9. Sephardi orange & almond cake


    This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden.  This cake has north African and Spanish roots.  According to Claudia, citrus cultivation and trade was particularly associated with Sephardi Jews around the Mediterranean, and there are any number of orange cake recipes in Sephardi culture.

    smbloodorange0001.jpgThis cake is remarkable for its total lack of both butter and flour.  You could use five or so clementines or tangerines instead of the oranges.

    Don’t worry if the cake sinks as it cools, or in fact turns out looking rather boring.  Trust me it is delicious, especially if served as a pudding with freshly sliced blood oranges and whipped cream.