malaysian crispy prawn fritters (cucur udang) with a sweet chilli dipping sauce

malaysian crispy prawn fritters (cucur udang) with a sweet chilli dipping sauce
There are many food bloggers who have a specific focus. While I suspect I am equally obsessive about food, I have always found it difficult to concentrate on one type of ingredient or cuisine. I always wanted to be a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

summer garden rice salad with preserved lemon dressing

summer garden rice salad with preserved lemon dressing
I have to confess that I approach rice salads with caution. I think it is because they remind me of school or office canteen salads where the cooks have a load of leftover rice and vegtables and a lack of imagination. They bung a load of gloopy vinaigrette over the sticky over-cooked mess and serve it up. Yuk!

celebrate national hotdog day with a chicago dog with the works

a chicago dog with the works
Much as I love and am curious about history, it seems that as far as family history goes that for the first twenty years of my life I wasn't asking the right questions. I only found out a few months before my Irish grandmother's death that she had actually been brought up in New York, only returning to Ireland at 15 just before the outbreak of World War 1, before running away to England to seek her fortune. "Why didn't you tell me?" I wailed. "I didn't think you'd be interested," she said somewhat bemused. Argh! I am so disappointed that I lost the opportunity to perhaps get a little closer to my grandmother and to learn what living in one of the most exciting cities at the beginning of the 20th century was like.

mul naengmyun: korean cold buckwheat noodle soup with beef

korean cold buckwheat noodle soup with beef (mul naengmyun)
Years ago, working in New York I loved the fact that my office in Manhattan was within toddling distance of Koreatown and lots of interesting places to have lunch or dinner. I was intrigued by the fact that many of the restaurants would have displays of fake plastic food in the windows so you could tell what kind of food they sold. As somone who has always adored kitsch, it was often difficult me to leave these restaurants without a piece of plastic food as a souvenir.

korean-style radish and chilli pickle

korean-style radish and chilli pickle
I love Asian pickles and I don't think there's much that can't be improved by a little jolt of chilli, including this utterly simple Korean-style radish pickle. Of course, you can leave the chilli out. But why would you want to?

buffalo wings with blue cheese dip

buffalo wings
About 20 years ago I was seconded to the New York office of the UK company I worked for. I wish I could tell you that I spent my free time enjoying the art galleries and museums, and going to poetry readings. Sadly, I educated myself in low culture, exploring New York's nightlife with considerable enthusiasm. Some of my favourite watering holes sold bar snacks (all the better to make you drink more, not that I needed much encouragement), and one of my favourites was buffalo wings, named for the northern city they are supposed to have originated from.

what's in season: july

pink gooseberries from my garden - July 2015
We are having a heatwave and at the moment my garden feels a little tropical. It is not just because of the riot of colour from masses of towering hollyhocks that have self-seeded, but but a small pandemonium of ring-necked parakeets roosting in both mine and my neighbours' gardens. While very pretty, in shades of green and a hint of pink, they are, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody noisy.

onions braised in cider

onions braised in cider
Last Sunday, we had pork collar and I served these slow-roasted onions, braised in cider and topped with cheesy breadcrumbs as an accompaniment. I've just had a request for this Sunday too. I do love it when a recipe goes down well; everyone is happy!

roasted carrots with crème fraîche and harissa dressing

roasted carrots with crème fraîche and harissa dressing
It's June in England, where we are caught in that strange limbo over what to eat and what to wear. That might sound a bit odd, but you never know whether it is a time for fresh summer salads or warming winter casseroles. T-shirts or woollens? Flip-flops or galoshes? June's weather is so very often quite capricious. Two days ago, it was sweltering heat in London. Today it is grey and overcast; it feels like autumn. But this side dish of roasted carrots with harissa and crème fraîche seems to me to be the perfect compromise, since the fresh tart flavour of crème fraîche combines beautifully with sweet roasted carrots and toasty cumin and warming cinnamon. It is perfect, whatever the weather.

what's in season: june

a june rose from my garden
My garden is lush at the moment, overgrown with rampant roses, honeysuckle and elderflowers. I know I should probably have cut them back, but they do look so wild and pretty. (Although in my defence I have developed carpaI tunnel syndrome over the past few years, and sometimes it is just too painful to do any proactive gardening. This is also one of the reasons why I haven't been cooking or blogging much over the past few months, as I have had problems handling cooking utensils. It has just been far too dangerous!)

chargrilled asparagus with tomato, mint, chilli and lemon dressing

chargrilled asparagus with tomato, mint, chilli and lemon dressing
Yikes! Time is running out; the British asparagus season is so damned short, although perhaps that's what makes it all the more sweeter for asparagus lovers such as me. Frankly, I just can't get enough, which is why I am posting yet another asparagus recipe. Officially the season runs until late June, so I need to cram in as much of the good stuff as I can.

a little home-grown silliness; chargrilled courgettes, leeks and asparagus with lemon and walnuts

chargrilled courgettes, leeks and asparagus with lemon and walnuts
You know you've had a good night out when you wake up the next morning having lost your voice with a few hazy memories of floating home fuelled by far too much ale . . . or perhaps that's just me. (I don't get out much these days!)