I’ve always loved cooking – not only is it a great stress reliever, but it’s also a highly sneaky way to make friends and influence people – so I was thrilled when I got the chance to work on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen thirteen years ago. Getting up at silly o’clock on a Saturday didn’t seem so hard when you knew you’d get to interview celeb chefs as they came off air, and could ask them all the questions you’d always wanted to know about cooking. I got to meet all my heroes – from Gino D’Acampo in his early years to Ken Hom, Madhur Jaffrey and Keith Floyd. Keith has always been my hero – anyone who says “Glass of wine for a pot and one for the chef” gets my vote every time.
I went on to be a journalist for BBC Food, writing and editing recipes for a wide variety of programmes from Ready Steady Cook to MasterChef and the Great British Menu. Working with Heston Blumenthal to create an online cooking laboratory with recipes you could try out at home was a highlight, and my Heston-inspired mashed potato is to die for. It takes ages, but it’s like eating a cloud.
Celeb chefs always try to find an exciting unique selling point for their recipes, but I write mine because they’re super delicious and not because they’re cheap or quick or rebelliously calorific. They are generally calorific though.
I grew up with Marguerite Patten and Delia Smith, so I am a big believer in finding a good solid recipe then, once you’ve mastered it, doing your own thing with it. Most of my recipes have been played with until I hit the jackpot, but it never hurts to know a little bit of the science behind why things cook the way they do.
Very soon, I’ll be posting some of my delicious recipes (until then, whet your appetite below with some photos), and I’ll be starting with my world famous super fudgy chocolate fudge brownies. Someone once ate five of them in a row and immediately fell into a coma – they tasted that good and were that bad for you. They’re also a fab recipe to start with, as you can adjust the ingredients depending on what you’ve got left in the larder – you can pretty much put any chocolates or sweets in them – and if you’re not into eating wheat right now they can be made with rice flour. I try where possible to have alternative ingredients, so whether you’re a coeliac or want to avoid dairy or gluten there will be plenty of recipes for you.