When did you first get in to cooking and do you remember the first recipe you tried?
I loved cooking as a small child and when I was still at primary school was the proud owner of a fondant mat, candy thermometer and a book on how to make sweets (I guess I always had a sweet tooth!).
My mother (who had Italian roots) was always in the kitchen baking and cooking, so it seemed natural to make food and experiment. I used to run to get home from school and whilst alone in the house, would knock-up a batch of fairy cakes and buttercream without a recipe and using anything I thought might work. Actually, I was surprisingly successful!
My other favourite trick was to get two slices of white bread which I sandwiched with lemon curd, before getting a rolling pin and flattening into a lemony, doughy 'pancake'. Yum!
What's your kitchen like and how do you keep organized when cooking?
I'm really lucky to have a good-sized kitchen and plenty of cupboard space (including a larder which contains most of our dried food). Good job really...... Gluten free baking often involves lots of different flours that you need to combine carefully for each dish. At the last count I had 25 different flours and substitutes in my larder, all carefully labelled in individual airtight plastic containers.
Although I can be a bit messy when cooking, I am really OCD about making sure I weigh things out in a really ordered way and I always mix my flours and dry ingredients in a separate container before I start on any bake.
On a good day, my (equally OCD) husband will appear and wash up to keep the mess down! Handy huh?!
What tips would you give to someone wanting to become a better cook?
Don't be scared of experimenting and getting things wrong. It's amazing what you discover when you throw ingredients together and the more you do it, the more entertaining it becomes. The worst that can happen is that you have to throw something away and start again....
This is especially the case if you are new to gluten free cooking. Doughs, batters and mixes react very differently from wheat-based bakes and to start with it is trial and error. In no time, it will feel the most natural thing in the world.
Oh..... and if you are following a recipe, read it really carefully. Instructions can feel very much against your instinct when you first start to bake gluten free!
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and what would you cook for them?
Mmmmm that's a difficult one. I'm not great with dinner parties..... I love the cooking, but sitting round a table making small-talk feels quite uncomfortable with people I don't know well....
So I guess, my dream dinner party would probably have to be with old friends. It would be fun to get together with my old school or college mates and catch up on all that they have done in life.
What would I cook? An unpretentious gluten free feast which would include lots of home-made bakes..... maybe a yummy pie with plenty of veg or salad on the side, definitely a trifle or trifle-cake and possibly a chocolate mousse with GF home-baked biscuits as an alternative pud..... just to show how great GF food can taste!
Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?
My second loves are travel and photography...... but since having my daughter, travel has dropped down the priority list. My travel photos are way better than my food shots! I use my photos to make unique cards for birthdays and celebrations when I have time.
I love the garden and enjoy growing as much veg as I can possibly squeeze into our little garden vegetable plot and small greenhouse.
Living by the sea, I also love to cycle in the summer along the sea wall and I try to keep fit in the gym when it's wet.
Which cooking blogs do you love to read?
My favourite blogs for inspiration, great recipes and fresh ideas are Belleau Kitchen, Tin & Thyme, Green Gourmet Giraffe and The Free From Fairy. They are all fab and should all be explored over a long cup of tea.
From a free-from perspective, Vicki at The Free From Fairy does amazing things in the kitchen to avoid all sorts of dietary issues and always amazes me with what she can produce in ways I would never have thought possible. Go see for yourself!