The Friday Five – On pies, baking and Britishness


It could be because we’ve gone beyond the Last Night of the Proms, which is always a signal of autumn for me, or that publishers are preparing for Christmas, but there is a raft of new books out that are calling out for attention. And there is a bit of a theme, all around real comfort food. Here’s five that I’m thinking of making room for:


Jamie's Great Britain - the one Jamie Oliver cookbook that's on my shelves, I think this is a great gift for a food lover


Jamie’s Great Britain – well, he’s been around a lot of the globe, so I think it was inevitable that Jamie Oliver ended up back in the UK at some point. The cynic in me would say this is capturing a trend for Britishness that we’ll see grow as we head into the Olympics, but it looks like this will encompass all the great flavours that Britain is famous for. I’m sure this will be a huge success, and keep the focus on the ever improving British food scene.

The Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies – love the Hairy Bikers, love pies, which has to make this a perfect book for me. As you’d might expect this covers sweet and savoury, small and large, traditional and new. Something for everyone.

Pieminister: A Pie for All Seasons – told you I love pies, and I love Pieminister, been buying their pies pretty much from when they started. All the favourites are there, and try something different like a St Valentine’s pie. I guess you don’t need both of the pie books, but would be hard pressed to choose between them!

Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury – more stuff I love. Proper tea time, plenty of baking, cake. This book certainly covers all of those, and then some. I wouldn’t know where to start but quite sure I would find plenty of willing volunteers to try whatever I was testing out. Teatime could become very popular!

Ginger Pig Meat Book – I love the description of this as a meat manual for the inquisitive domestic cook, which I guess means you can get beyond your usual meat cooking routine from this. Covering different meats, and by month, as well as all the accompaniments, this gives you endless variations and possibilities. I don’t know what aromatic melting pork is, other than delicious, but it makes me want to really make it!

So five choices that really reflect great food, the sort of stuff I love to cook, that are perfect as we head into winter. I would say these are not the sort of books to read in bed though, you’ll be starving by page 6!


The return of the Hairy Bikers


Around Britain in 100 recipes


Worth staying in on the next few Monday nights, as the Hairy Bikers are back. They’re touring around the UK again, and getting to see, and cook, the best on offer around the UK.

I feel we have a slight vested interest, as they visited the village and spent the day cooking at the Red Lion. We forgive them for making service late that night, they were charming and signed one of their books for the village raffle. They even signed an autograph for Mini Gourmet Girl, although I am not sure how they’ll feel about being on the wall next to Hannah Montana and High School Musical!

So, if you had a Hairy Biker of your own, what would you get them if you needed to buy a gift? Here’s a few suggestions:

1. A Royal Enfield. Vintage preferably.

2. American Camp Ovens – perfect for outdoor cooking that’s a bit more advanced than a few sausages over a disposable BBQ.

3. A decent picnic rug with waterproof backing – put an end to damp derrieres, wherever you end up eating.

4. A corkscrew with a hint of humour – I don’t like gimmicks, and things must work well first and foremost. But I do rather like the Parrot Sommelier Corkscrew from Alessi.

5. A homebrew kit- so there’ll be beer ready for the time they get back from their travels

6. A motorcycle cake tin/jelly mould – indulge foodie recipes for cake and jelly in many variations but only one shape!

7. Dave’s Burning Hot Nuts – I’ve no idea if this is what you get from too long on the bike, but might be a good choice for those who like it hot!

8. A few nights in Bury – with a market like that on hand, where else would you go for a romantic few nights away? Choose somewhere with a mini bar, so you can stash your purchases, or get a mobile coolbox

So, here’s looking forward to few weeks of good cooking, no doubt a few bad jokes, and some good scenery.