Pic of Stuart Ralston

Acclaimed chef Stuart Ralston is known as one of the most innovative, creative and hard-working cooks in the UK today. Stuart’s inspirations come from all around him, and throughout his career he has kept a notebook to jot down ideas for flavour combinations and recipes. He goes back to those ideas again and again, playing with taste and texture to create stunning and intriguing dishes. 

We are so excited to publish his first cookbook Catalogued Ideas and Random Thoughts – A Cookbook. The book traces his evolution as a chef, and brings together the food that inspires him, the finely crafted dishes that he creates in his restaurants and the food he likes to cook at home.

Cookbook cover

Stuart grew up in Glenrothes in a family of chefs. From learning his trade in kitchens around Scotland, he moved to New York to work in Gordon Ramsay’s flagship 2 Michelin Star restaurant at the London Hotel.

Pic of London Hotel NYC

He spent two years as the Chef de Cuisine at Sandy Lanes, Barbados cooking for the likes of Rihanna and Mark Wahlberg, before returning to Edinburgh to open several highly regarded and top quality restaurants – Aizle in 2016, followed by Noto in 2019 and most recently Tipo in 2023.

Pic of Noto Restaurant in Edinburgh

We caught up with Stuart and asked him a few questions to give us some insight into what he does and what lays behind his love of food and cooking. 

Enjoy!

Was there a cookbook that really inspired you? 

Many many cookbooks have given me something. The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, my first 3 star cookbook, was life changing. A timeless book now you look back at it. It’s a book that made me daydream about what life must have been like in a 3 Michelin star environment.

The French Laundry Cookbook Cover

I love the David Chang Momofuku book. It was a book that was just so refreshing and cool. The food was so varied that you could have his fine dining dishes like his “ KO Egg” or move onto something causal you’d find at Ssam bar like spicy rice cakes and sausage, which felt like a very New York dish similar to a gnocchi with broccoli rabe and sausage meat.

Pic of Momofuku Book Cover

Books are also about what strikes me in the moment. Others I love in my collection are Ikoyi, Coco, the Ikarus collection, Munchies, or Christopher Kostow a new Napa Cuisine.

Pic of Ikarus Cookbook

2. What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

My Cast Iron pans, without a doubt. My pans were made by the Griswold Co in Pennsylvania in the 1850’s. They last a lifetime, and are always non stick and heavy as hell. They retain heat like no other and basically I use them every day.

Pic of Griswold Cast Iron Skillet

3. Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

Sadly a lot of the time I listen to Talksport radio in the house when I’m cooking haha. But at work it’s pretty eclectic – INXS, Wu Tang Clan, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and podcasts like Dave Chang Show and Restless Natives are all pretty good.

Pic of Childish Gambino
Image from Restless Natives Podcast

4. If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

Dream location to actually cook would be somewhere in the deepest woods or mountains, something similar to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

View of Blue Hill Restaurant from Stone Hill Farm

Or perhaps The Willows Inn on Lummi island, overlooking water somewhere, but very calm and quiet on long summer days…

Pic of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

5. If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

Just to try and be organised, that always helps.

Pic of Gnudi from Stuart's cookbook

Massive thanks to Stuart for taking the time to share his fascinating and inspiring thoughts with us.

His absolutely stunning new cookbook is now available in all good book stores and of course direct from us right HERE.

Stuart Ralston cooks great food and now you can try his recipes at home for yourself.

With Brother Marcus

Tas Gaitanos and Alex Large are old school-friends who set up the first Brother Marcus restaurant in 2016. Since then it has been called the ‘Best Brunch in London’ by Time Out and as having ‘Some of the best brunch options in the city’ by Harper’s. They now have outlets of their hip Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in Angel, Spitalfields Market, Borough Yards and South Kensington and are about to release their first cookbook Brunch With Brother Marcus.

Tas is of Cretan and Cypriot heritage and grew up working in his father’s restaurant. He was lured into the family trade by his love of the flavours of the Eastern Med. Alex is a trained actor so finds running front of house and developing the notorious Brother Marcus cocktail list a natural home. Both have travelled extensively in the Eastern Med and look to it constantly as a source of inspiration. Brunch at Brother Marcus is a weekend institution in London, and in their first cookbook you can find out why.

Brother Marcus Cookbook Cover

In the book, Tas and Alex take the flavours of the Eastern Med to make dishes really worth getting out of bed for, from simple favourites such as Menemen – a spicy scrambled eggs made with peppers and tomatoes – to the sublime: think Pulled Lamb Flatbreads or Rosti with Fried Chicken and Eggs. 

Picture of Menemen

Brunch with Brother Marcus also features recipes to make your own yoghurt, pickles, salt beef and breads.

Picture of Pickles

As well as a drinks chapter that delivers both smoothies and fortifying cocktails such as the Brother Mary, or the alcohol-free Pomegranate Ginger Beer (sure to put a skip in your step). 

Picture of Brother Mary cocktail

And there are sweets too, including traditional Baklavadika and a truly divine Portokalopita, an extraordinary orange filo pastry cake. You won’t want to brunch with anyone else.


Picture of Portokalopita dessert

We recently caught up with Tas and Alex and asked them a few questions to give us some insight into what they do and what lays behind their love of food and cooking. 

Enjoy!

1. Was there a cookbook that really inspired you? 

Our office and home shelves are full of cookbooks that we like and admire, but specifically for our book there were three that inspired us, Mazi, Palomar and Brunch The Sunday Way

Picture of Maxi Cookbook Cover

Specific brunch books aren’t as easy to come by as you might think so Brunch by Sunday’s was a real inspiration in terms of creating a book just for that one meal and seeing what they included and how they positioned it. 

Brunch The Sunday Way book cover

In terms of aesthetics, design and writing style, Palomar and Mazi have been books we’ve always liked and gravitated to. 

Picture of Palomar Cookbook Cover

2. What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

This was a hard one to answer as we have too many favourites, it depends what cuisine we’re cooking, the mood we’re in and who we are cooking for but we’ve gone for Aleppo chilli

Picture of Aleppo Chilli

We use it in so many dishes at Brother Marcus it must subconsciously be our favourite, or maybe just very versatile! Aleppo is a variety of capsicum that is used a lot in Eastern Mediterranean and Turkish cooking. We sprinkle it on lots of dishes including in our fennel tzatziki but also make a delicious Aleppo butter that we use with our king prawns, adding a subtle kick to the dish. 

We even use it in cocktails such as the Aleppo Margarita that’s in the book, it’s a very useful spice to have in the kitchen. 

Picture of Aleppo Margarita

3. Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

If I’m on my own in the kitchen I normally put on whatever I’m currently watching on Netflix, at the moment it is a football documentary, but if my wife and baby are in the room it’s a different scenario altogether and football is definitely not on the cards! Normally we put music on as we listen to different podcasts and audiobooks so music is our mutual ground. Our favourite band is Fleetwood Mac

4. If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

I was brought up in Elounda which is a town on the island of Crete. It has a pretty beach right in the town where I spent much of my childhood so I think I’d have to say the beach there. 

Picture of Elounda, Crete

It’s right across the road from my father’s restaurant where me and my siblings were able to play whilst my parents sat in the restaurant half watching us. I used to catch octopus just off the beach so I’d love to cook octopus, or local seafood, on an open fire on the Elounda beach. 

5. If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

Don’t stop exploring, there are so many amazing cuisines, ingredients and produce so never get stuck in your ways and take the easy option with sticking to things you know. New ingredients and produce are always being discovered which is one of the most exciting parts about being a chef, experimenting with these and coming up with new flavour combinations and recipes is always fun. 

Massive thanks to Tas and Alex for taking the time to share their thoughts with us. Their absolutely stunning new cookbook is now available in all good book stores and of course direct from us right HERE.

Fi Buchanan Pic

With Fi Buchanan (Seasonal Soups)

Fi Buchanan is a food writer and chef who owned Glasgow’s legendary Heart Buchanan café and deli. Winner of a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland award, she presented the BBC series TeenCanteen, has worked behind the scenes on many tv food shows and has given a TedX talk on courage. She lives in Glasgow and we think she is wonderful.

We asked Fi if she would write the companion volume Seasonal Salads to the best-selling Seasonal Soups by Fraser Reid, which has sold over 10k copies, and Fi said yes!

Seasonal Salads Cover

‘Salads can be anything you want them to be’ says Fi and with Seasonal Salads she created a book that celebrates salads in all their seasonal glory.

What these recipes all have in common is Fi’s trademark inventive flair, her ability to combine flavours and textures in the cleverest of ways to make the most of what’s plentiful in each season.

Watermelon Salad

If you thought salads were something you served on the side, it’s time to turn over a new leaf.

We recently caught up with the lovely Fi and asked her a few questions to give us some insight into her background and her love of food and cooking.

Enjoy!

Q: Was there a cookbook that really inspired you? 

A: Yes definitely, there were three; Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater, The Silver Palate Cookbook by Sheila Lukens & Julie Rosso, and The Nantucket Open House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase.

Real Fast Food Book Cover

I poured over those books on my work breaks, on the bus, in the laundrette, and I truly loved them. The authors seemed as if they were speaking to me like a friend as I read and the recipes were irresistibly fresh and sparkling with flavour. I wanted in.

Open House Cookbook Cover
Silver Palate Cookbook Cover

It was 80’s Edinburgh, I was vegetarian and sick to death of boiled potatoes and brown food. I remember the first day I ever tried fresh basil, the first day I ever tried a kiwi fruit, the first day I tried the Italian mountain cheese Taleggio … literally … I can remember where I was and what I was wearing. It was like getting the key to a door into a technicolour world from a black and white world.

Fresh Basil

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without? 

A: Well for practicalities sake I’d be an idiot if I didn’t say my knife. A very plain – non designer – wooden handled, easy to sharpen, 20cm cooks knife.

Pic of Fi's kitchen knife

After that I’d have to say the music and podcasts on my phone. They set the tempo for me – giving me energy, soothing my hot brain, educating me, talking me … or dancing me … through the solitary days and nights in the kitchen for the past few years.

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to? 

A: My musical taste is eclectic, I make playlists all the time, and my son has caught the bug, and laughs at me for calling them tape-mixes. A good mix is a magical thing, very similar to a good dish, it has to match your mood and then find you and lift you a little. When you share what you’ve made it’s a deeply personal thing, and if someone you like appreciates it, it can generate deep joy in you.

Pic of Mixtape

I’ve made a tape mix for each of the 12 months of salads in the book. Here is the QR code for January’s playlist:

Fi Mixtape QR Code

When it comes to podcasts; Invisibilia, How To Fail, Shedunnit, Origin Story, and The Desert Island Discs archive are all wonderful.

Shedunnit Podcast logo

How To Fail Podcast Logo

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose? 

A: Hmm. Would I be cooking for my friends & family? If I could bring them with me there are some pretty nice beaches in the Virgin Islands I’d quite like to go back to.

I’ve always thought that a vineyard in Chile would be a great place to hang out and cook up a storm.

Chile vineyard

However, if the forces of magic were at work (oh please let them be), I’d conjure an amphitheatre of growing walls full of veggies and herbs, and wood fired ovens. I’d put it in every single school in the land and we’d make huge platters of salads, big vats of soup, and homemade bread everyday for lunch. I know it sounds a bit far out, but could you imagine?! It would be so good. That would be magic that’d make more magic.

Pic of growing walls

Pic of growing walls

5. If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be? 

My one single piece of advice to you would be to cook the food you like. You can’t get your mojo from food you don’t like. Motivation is the unstoppable force. Be motivated by what you love. Do yourself proud, then share it with people you love.

Massive thanks to Fi for a truly inspiring chat. Her Seasonal Salads cookbook is now available in all good book stores and of course direct from us right HERE

Urvashi Portrait Cropped

With Urvashi Roe (Biting Biting)

Urvashi Roe was brought up in a family who loved to snack.  Any news of impending visitors would prompt a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Within 30 minutes her mother and aunties would have the ‘biting biting’ prepared – a spread of vegetarian and vegan snacks made with store cupboard ingredients and leftovers. 

Her family are originally from Gujarat in India, but Urvashi grew up in Tanzania in East Africa, where she lived until she was a teenager.  Their family tradition of ‘biting biting’ takes its roots from classic Gujarati farsan – salty snacks served with tea or as street food – famous throughout the In- dian subcontinent. The recipes evolved to use East African ingredients like cassava, then again as the family moved to the UK. 

Biting Biting the cookbook is a celebration of this delicious family custom, and of the food of the Gujarati diaspora in Africa and in the UK. Extremely tasty, quick and easy to prepare these snacks will set your tastebuds buzzing.

Biting Biting Cover

We recently caught up with the lovely Urvashi while she was holidaying in Greece and asked her a few questions to give us some insight into her background and her love of food and cooking. Her answers are as delightful as her book and her cooking.

Enjoy!

Q: Was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: Nigella Bites is the first cookbook I ever owned. My husband bought it for me for Christmas in our first home. We used to watch Nigella on TV cuddled up in a fluffy red throw with red wine and popcorn. We had very little furniture at the time and we’d watch with the odd exclamation now and then. “Ooooh let’s get spoons like that” or “I love the way she has those twinkly lights on the bookcase”. We totally did get those spoons and twinkly lights when payday came round.

We started writing the dates of when we made the recipes in the top corner of the page. If I had carried this tradition on til today then there are most certainly pages that would have run out of space.

A few highlights would be:

Breakfast Muffins – I remember one morning when we woke up to find our neighbour’s cash register in the back garden. We called the police and as they did their investigations I put on a batch of these and we had them with hot tea. My girls were little then and they enjoyed toddling out offering Mr Policeman a muffin.

Chocolate Fudge Cake – still the go to cake recipe for our birthdays. Over the years the decorations have changed from My Little Pony to Polly Pocket to Disney Princesses to Harry Potter most recently when my daughter turned 16 but the base is always this same delicious recipe. The memories that page in the book evokes are so special. It’s almost like the book holds them safely for us.

Stovetop Rice Pudding – when I had my flower shops the hardest season was always Christmas. Your hands are shredded with snips from the thorns of thousands of Grand Prix roses or spiky ivy wreaths. The phone is constantly ringing. There is never enough time to get warm. The first Christmas was especially hard as I had no experience of the madness. I’d been on my feet for nearly 15 hours, just shut the shop door and flipped the open sign to closed when one of my regular customers came in not looking his usual cheery self. His mum had passed. We sat in silence with hot tea. I held his shaking hand for about an hour before he was ready to make her funeral arrangements and then I drove him home. Tone had been taking care of the girls all day and I got back just as they were setting out their mince pies for Santa. He saw the tears in my face as I came in for a big hug. He bolted the door, led me to the spot in front of the fire and deposited Amber and Amy Sienna on my lap for cuddles. Over the next 20 minutes I lost myself in their happy chatter and then the intoxicating smell of vanilla and milky rice as he brought me a bowl of this pudding. It’s become a Christmas Eve ritual ever since.

It’s a very special book and I love the storytelling within. It’s her relaxed and open style that inspired me to do the same – capture moments in time within the pages.

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: My Velun. A Velun is a rolling pin. We use it for rotli and other flatbreads. It’s got a slightly thick bit in the middle and this is the part we use to flatten the ball of dough. The outer sides are thin and we apply a little pressure on the right then left and so on. This makes the disc of dough spin to get bigger. It’s very clever.

I’ve had mine since I was in primary school and it travels with me to demos and when I teach at Demuth’s. I have used a wine bottle at friends’ houses but it’s not the same. It’s also handy for smacking naughty husbands who try and steal hot off the pan rotli smothered in ghee before it’s dinner time.

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I like a really quiet, calm kitchen to cook in. No music. I like just getting lost in the recipe I’m following or my own thoughts.

Sometimes if I’m making rotli I listen to a podcast. It’s a monotonous, step by step task that requires very little concentration. Roll the dough ball, flatten it, roll into a disc, flour it, roll out into a circle, toss it on the hot griddle, make another dough ball, flatten it, roll it into a disc, flip the rotli on the griddle, back to the disc of dough, flour it, roll it to a circle, flip the one on the griddle one more time and then off, plop the one you just made onto the griddle, put ghee on the hot one and then back to making another dough ball and so on.

I like listening to How to Fail by Elizabeth Day.

A particular favourite is the one with Andi Oliver. That one made me cry and I got flour all over my face wiping the tears away. The one with Delia Smith is also great. 

I wasn’t allowed to fail as a child. My father set high standards for my schoolwork and it wasn’t a happy conversation when I got less than As. It took me a LONG time to accept failing and understand that failure is what helps us grow. Elizabeth is exceptionally good at highlighting the learnings that come from her guests’ failures and is a constant reminder to me that in the grand scheme of things I am not a failure just because I slipped a few As at school.

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose and what would you cook?

A: Just after I finished filming for Series 2 of Bake Off we went on a holiday to India. Tone and I had been before but this was our first trip with the girls. We were driving from Jaipur to Udaipur when the first episode was aired and I was on Twitter and Facebook all the way to get an inkling of how it was. It was so stressful!

We arrived in Udaipur tired, hot and hungry. After freshening up we went down to the restaurant of the Shiv Nivas Palace Hotel. The one that was in Octopussy where the bad guy stays.

Unfortunately the restaurant was full with an event and their other restaurant was being renovated. Room service was also too busy to take more orders so the waiter sat us down in the courtyard with some drinks while he tried to find a solution. After what seemed like hours he came back and ushered us into the hotel again. We thought they’d sorted out room service but we went a different way. Down a long corridor, through a few sets of locked double doors. Elaborate, wooden doors with intricate carvings and brass handles. The girls were proper grumpy and we had to carry them.

Finally we arrived into a large banquet hall. The Maharaja was not happy that as guests of the hotel we were not able to eat and so had offered us his private kitchen and banqueting suite. Every table was masterfully laid with silver platters, brass goblets, crystal glasses and cutlery. The napkins were made of silk. There was a full kitchen staff to welcome us. They promptly lifted the girls out of our arms and into the kitchen. Ordinarily the girls would have objected but they were so tired they complied. Warm Nankathai biscuits and fresh sugarcane juice perked the girls up and abated my hunger. We were given a tour of the immaculate kitchen before sitting down wherever we wished in the banquet room. We chose middle middle. Dinner was Dhal Makhani, buttered Naan, a myriad of vegetable curries and the poshest pasta with tomato sauce we had ever seen. The waiters served us flamboyantly with flourishes and bows and trays under huge silver domes. It was magical.

I would go back to that kitchen and cook that Dhal. I’d make Naan in that tandoor and learn how to cook the giant prawns on skewers you see on TV. I’d bake those nankathai, simmer some chai to go with them and marvel at the magnificence of the room again.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: If you are making a recipe for the first time always follow it precisely. Then it is much easier to adapt it and get creative. I’m sometimes in such a greedy rush to eat that I skip a step or miss a spice. I never get a good result with this impatient attitude!

Thank you so much Urvashi for sharing these wonderful stories with us.

You can order Biting Biting direct from KP here or in all good book stores.

Onion and tomato curry

Recipe taken from from Biting Biting: Snacking Gujarati-style By Urvashi Roe

Biting Biting book cover

Urvashi Roe was brought up in a family who loved to snack. Any news of impending visitors would prompt a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Within 30 minutes her mother and aunties would have the ‘biting biting’ prepared – a spread of vegetarian and vegan snacks made with store cupboard ingredients and leftovers.  

Cupboard ingredients

Biting Biting is a celebration of this delicious family custom, and of the food of the Gujarati diaspora in Africa and in the UK. 

Extremely tasty, quick and easy to prepare these snacks will set your tastebuds buzzing. Next time you have guests for tea or you need a little something that’s not quite lunch or dinner, you can simply reach for some Biting Biting inspiration. 

Urvashi Roe and aunties

We are extremely happy to be publishing this wonderful Biting Biting cook book in September 2022. So we thought we would give you a taste of what delights you can expect by sharing this tasty Onion and Tomato Curry recipe taken from the book with you to try out and enjoy over the summer.

Enjoy your Biting Biting!

A Brief Introduction To Shaak

In Sanskrit saka means ‘vegetable but in Gujarti it is the word we use for ‘curry’. Depending on which part of Gujarat you are from, you might say shaak or saak. My family all say shaak except for my friend Kavita who says saak. Shaak can be dry or with sauce, and it can feature a stuffed vegetable, single vegetable or combination of vegetables. It is often associated with certain rituals or functions – for example, at weddings you will often see potato shaak, mixed vegetable and dumpling shaak and some form of lilotri or green vegetable shaak.

Shaak section page from Biting Biting

Usually on weekdays we have one shaak with rotli. On a weekend or at family functions we may have a few more. When I first got married my husband always got three of four shaak at dinner as he was the Jamai (son-in-law) in favour. Nowadays he gets one unless my mum needs a job doing around the house or garden.

Onion And Tomato Curry (Shaak) Recipe By Urvashi Roe

When you literally have a bare fridge and are not in the mood for a complex cook, this is your recipe. It is guaranteed to fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma and bring warmth and comfort at the end of a long, tiring day. It’s fast to make and you can eat it unceremoniously with your fingers on cold leftover rice, crusty day-old parotha or even on toast or in a sandwich. We like it with torn baguette too. You can omit the ghee but I find it adds a velvety, buttery sheen, making this dish one you’ll want to lick off your plate. Green tomatoes or tomatillos work exceptionally well. 

Curry spices

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp ghee

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp amchur

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, grated (optional)

4 large tomatoes, halved and cut into 2cm slices

Urvashi Roe

Method

Heat the vegetable oil and ghee in a wok or large saucepan until the ghee has completely melted and started sizzling. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and allow them to fizzle and pop for a few seconds. Quickly add the sliced onions and sauté them briefly so they are well coated. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, ground cumin, amchur and salt and then toss well so everything is thoroughly combined. Add a shot glass of water and the garlic if you are using it, cover and cook for five minutes on a medium heat until the onions are just starting to soften. 

Take a moment here to inhale the aromas and commend yourself for making this epic dish. 

Carefully fold in the tomatoes, then cover and cook for a further two minutes so the tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape. Eat immediately! 

If for some crazy reason you have leftovers you can spoon the cold shaak over buttery toast and top with a fried or poached egg. Or this makes a great topping on hummus scattered over with toasted sunflower seeds and scooped up with pitta bread. 

You can pre-order Biting Biting direct from us here

Urvashi Roe and aunties
Portrait pic of Nasim Mawji

Kitchen Quiz

With Nasim Mawji

Some of you will already have noticed that last year we gained a new editor and member of our team here at KP HQ. For those still not in the know, we decided to introduce this exciting new addition via a new episode of our delightful Kitchen Quiz series.

So KP people, please will you welcome Nasim Mawji!!!

Nas has worked in book publishing in London and New York for over two decades principally for the highly regarded DK Publishing. An experienced project editor for large format, illustrated lifestyle titles, she has all the hard earned skills needed to survive in the world of independent publishing.

Having relocated from NYC’s Big Apple to the Athens of the North that is Edinburgh, we soon connected with Nas and put her considerable skills to good use. In particular, she was responsible for pulling together the excellent Eat Bike Cook project in 2021 working alongside Kitty Pemberton-Platt & Fi Buchanan.

Eat Bike Cook Book Cover

Hailing from an Indian, African and British background Nas has been influenced by many cultural food traditions which sits perfectly with KP’s international approach to food and cooking in general. Food has always been at the heart of her personal and family life.

We caught up with Nas recently on a cold, grey and wintry day and asked her a quiz or two to get to know her just a wee bit better.

Q: Hey Nas, welcome to the Kitchen Quiz. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: I would say the River Café Cookbook. When it came out it was so original. The design seemed daring because it had large type, coloured pages and beautiful food shots interspersed with lots of messy behind-the-scenes kitchen photography. The recipes are, on the whole, uncomplicated. I was eating a lot of pasta and risotto in 1995 when this book came out, so those pages are pretty well thumbed.

But I also really like the Leon cookbooks. I especially like the Ingredients and Recipes, which is the original one, I think. It’s good for family-friendly cooking and I love the scrap-book feel of it. My copy is food splattered and held together with tape!

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I have a garlic chopper I bought from Ikea years ago.

It looks a bit like a space capsule and is a rip-off of a Slap Chop (infamously advertised in an exhausting infomercial). When I need mass quantities of garlic, chopped quickly (which is fairly often, actually), this is the device for the job. 

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I always have the radio on. I listen to BBC Radio 6 for music. My tastes are all over the place and they normally play something I like. Over the past few days I’ve heard Spiritualized, DJ Shadow, Little Simz, John Grant, Pulp, Air and LCD Soundsystem – all great. I also have a soft spot for Steely Dan. Otherwise I’m a Radio 4 addict.

On the podcast front, there have been two favourites recently. First the Lazarus Heist, which is about North Korea and cyber crime (fascinating and full of unbelievable twists and turns).

Then there is Sweet Bobby, which is about a victim of a decade-long catfishing operation and is absolutely addictive listening.


Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: Somewhere tropical, within easy reach of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Maybe Zanzibar.

I could swim there in the sea and then make little meat samosas with coconut and coriander chutney, followed by either coconut crab or coconut prawn curry with fresh mango for dessert. And a very chilled glass of white wine. I think the past couple of years, and now winter and lockdowns, is starting to get to me.


Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Always read the recipe the whole way through before you start! 

Thank you Nas! We are so excited to have you on board at KP and can’t wait to see what other amazing cookbooks you bring into the kitchen and onto the table.

You can buy Eat Bike Cook direct from us right here x

Kitchen Quiz 

With Fraser Reid (Seasonal Soups)

One of our favourite and most popular KP titles is Seasonal Soups by Fraser Reid. This beautiful wee book is now in its second edition and has brought joy to readers around the world with its straightforward, healthy approach to soups.

Author Fraser Reid is an absolutely lovely chap with a strong community ethic. Having experienced a sudden personal nirvana moment with vegetables, Fraser transformed both his career and the local community in the West End of Dundee by opening his wee green fruit and veg corner shop.

The focus has always been on quality, local and international produce all provided with a smiling face and cheery personality. A simple yet powerful and infectious approach. The shop has also become a supplier of other quality deli goods such as Spanish black pudding, fresh baked bread and craft beers.

Fraser’s trademark is his warm and affable style. He really is a business owner who’s personality and passion are at the heart of everything he does. No one just pops into Fraser’s Fruit And Veg without a nice chat or learning something new.

It’s quite interesting that one of our most successful cookbooks is not written by a chef at all, but by someone passionate about produce and who had the courage to try out lots of soup recipes. The purpose being to make the menu at home more interesting, varied and packed full of vegetables. This is a philosophy we are 100% behind here at KP. Cooking is for everyone.

So we caught up with Fraser recently (which is always a pleasure) to ask him a few questions for our Kitchen Quiz series.

We hope you enjoy!

Now over to you Fraser.

Q: Hey Fraser, hope you are good. So was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: The cookbook that really inspired me was Jamie at home. We started growing veg in the garden before opening the shop and using the recipes in this book after harvesting. The broad beans fritters in there are amazing.

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: My favourite item in the kitchen would be the soup pot. We use it every week and its been the pot that’s tested all of the recipes in Seasonal Soups.

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: Music is always on in the kitchen. Depending on who’s in, that dictates the tunes.

If it’s my 4 year old then it’s I Like To Move It by will.i.am.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLEQRIisP_Q

If it’s my 6 year old it’s Katy Perry. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CevxZvSJLk8

If it’s me it’ll be BBC Six Music.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_6music

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: If I could cook anywhere in the world then it would be the simple beachside BBQ. The sound of the waves are mesmerising and feeling on the sun on your skin. I love cooking outdoors.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: My advice on cooking would be not to stick to a recipe but use it as a guide that you can tailor for personal tastes. It also makes you a better cook, just being able to adjust things as you go. Also don’t be afraid of seasoning.

Great advice from a lovely man. Thank you Fraser!

You can order a copy of his wonderful soup book here.

Date, Apple & Walnut cake

We are over the moon about the publication of Bad Girl Bakery by Jeni Iannetta, which will be in all good book stores in November. Jeni who is based in the Scottish Highlands is an inspirational woman and her baking really is out of this world. 

Picture of Jeni Iannetta of Bad Girl Bakery

With apple season upon us, we thought this date, apple and walnut cake would give you a wee sneak peek and a taster of what is to come once the Bad Girl Bakery is let loose in your kitchen.

Bad Girl Bakery Book Cover

So over to Jeni now. And yes, bad girls do make very, very good cake indeed.

Pic of Kmix food mixer

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Bad Girl Bakery direct from us via our website here and guarantee you’re one of the very first to be cooking up her baking delights in the comfort of your own home for family and friends.

Thank you as always for your support.

Date, Apple & Walnut Cake By Jeni Ianetta (Bad Girl Bakery)

Pic of Date, Apple & Walnut cake.

This date, apple and walnut cake started its life as a sticky toffee cake, but we had some apples to spare and set about experimenting and here is the result! It’s a really simple cake to make, but somehow the rows of apple slices on the top make it look much fancier than it really is. The apple jelly glaze intensifies the flavours and gives the apple slices a lovely shine. 

  • Feel free to leave the walnuts out if you’d prefer, or replace them with the same amount of pecans or hazelnuts. 
  • This cake is at its best on the day it’s made, but it will be fine for another day or so if you keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It’s delicious gently warmed in the microwave on day two. 

SERVES 9–12 

32 x 21cm traybake tin, lined 

Ingredients:

150g chopped dried dates 

150ml apple juice

250g unsalted butter, softened 

275g soft light brown sugar 

5 medium eggs

280g self-raising flour

1 tbsp ground cinnamon 

1⁄2 tsp baking powder

1 small red apple, skin on, cored and grated 

To Finish:

3 small red apples, skin on, halved, cored and thinly sliced

4 tbsp apple jelly or apricot jam (optional) 

75g walnuts, roughly chopped 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C) fan. 

Put the chopped dates and apple juice in a small pan on a medium heat and simmer until the liquid is almost all absorbed. Set aside to cool. 

Put the softened butter and sugar in your bowl or stand mixer and beat until it looks lighter in colour and less craggy. Crack your eggs into a jug and weigh the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into another bowl. 

Pour one egg into the butter and sugar and add a spoonful of flour. Mix (on low if you’re using a mixer) until fully combined, then repeat with each of the remaining eggs. Add the rest of the flour and mix till it’s just combined. You’ll need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Stir in the cooled date mixture and the grated apple with a spatula until combined, and spoon into the lined tin, smoothing the batter out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Neatly arrange the sliced apples in rows across the top. 

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 60 to 65 minutes. Test the centre with a skewer after an hour, and if it doesn’t come out clean pop back in the oven for five minutes, then check again. (You may need to do this more than once – every oven is different, so don’t worry if yours takes a bit longer to bake.) 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so while you make the glaze (if you’re using it). Pop the apple jelly and two tablespoons of water in a very small pan and put over a low heat until it begins to boil (you can also do it in a microwave on low). Stir until it’s smooth and then glaze the top of the warm cake with it using a pastry brush. Scatter over the chopped walnuts while the glaze is still warm. 

Leave to cool a little in the tin before lifting out using the paper and slicing. 

YUM! Thank you Jeni for this truly magnificent cake x

Pic of Bad Girl Kitchen

Katerina Nitsou, author of Macedonia

Kitchen Quiz with Katerina Nitsou (author of Macedonia – Recipes & Stories From The Balkans)

Author Katerina Nitsou

Katerina Nitsou spent her childhood in the kitchen helping her grandmother, mother and aunts prepare family feasts using fresh herbs and vegetables from the family’s prized garden. Growing up in a large Macedonian-Canadian community in Toronto, she was immersed in Macedonian culture through language, dance and of course, food. 

Family in Macedonia in the 1960s

She began writing about traditional Macedonian cuisine long before she completed her training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. She honed her recipe writing skills in the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen and developed her cooking style working as a food stylist, caterer, and private chef in California. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two young children, whom she is teaching to cook.

Katerina Nitsou and her family today

Macedonia – The Cookbook; Recipes & Stories from the Balkans is out on Kitchen Press now. It is such a beautiful book and a wonderful culinary journey into this part of the world.

We caught up with Katerina recently and asked her a few questions so we could all get to know this talented, enterprising and creative woman a little better. 

Q: Hey Katerina, was there a cookbook that really inspired you?

A: It wasn’t any cookbook in particular that inspired me, it was actually the lack of Macedonian cookbooks in the market that inspired me. I will say however that when you love food and cooking, being surrounded by cookbooks is just a part of daily life and then it makes it hard to pick a favourite.

Macedonia book cover

Q: What is your favourite item in your kitchen that you simply couldn’t do without?

A: I had this tiny thin spatula with a watermelon print on it that I’ve probably had for 12 years. I had to toss it out recently because it was literally falling apart, and I’ve been trying to find the same one with the same shape and profile and sadly not succeeding.  

Q: Do you have a favourite song, type of music or podcast you like to cook to?

A: I’m a big Spotify fan, I always have music on at home. These days I’m listening to Michael Kiwanuka and Federico Aubele’s radios, but I also am known to jam some old school 90’s and early 2000’s Hip Hop and R&B.

The podcasts I’ve loved most over the last year are “Second Life” with Hilary Kerr  and “More Than One Thing” with Athena Calderone. For those that may not know this is about me, in addition to being a retired chef and cookbook author, after a journey of working in real estate for Sotheby’s and doing our own developments, I now work in interior design and property development as a professional renovator here in Melbourne. These podcasts that focus on featuring women who are not afraid to embark on new experiences and try new business helped me so much in my waves of doubt and transition in my recent move from Los Angeles California to Melbourne Australia this past year and enterprising and creative women are certainly the ones in the world I connect to.

Q: If you could cook anywhere in the world in any location then where would you choose?

A: Macedonia, I would love to spend time traveling around Macedonia, cooking and learning in all the villages and towns.

Q: If you had to give one single piece of advice about cooking to someone then what would that be?

A: Trust yourself and your senses. Cooking is about sight, touch and smell just as much as taste and don’t over think it… Worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to order in.

Katerina’s delicious Braised Quail recipe from Macedonia – Recipes & Stories from the Balkans

Thank you so much for your lovely insights Katerina! 

You can purchase the book direct from us here and begin your own journey into Macedonian food culture.

Picture of Sweet Potato Falafel & Tahini Dressing

Although you may have to make a pitstop to eat them, these falafels taken from a recipe in the up and coming Eat Bike Cook by Kitty Pemberton-Platt and Fi Buchanan are perfect for a cycling lunch, or any other kind of lunch.

This Eat Bike Cook recipe was inspired by the food diary of Sophie Edmondson (a member of the wonderful The 5th Floor Cycling Collective) while taking part in the 200km off-road race the Sussex Mystery Tour and fully illustrated by Kitty for the book.

 

These falafels are so satisfying without being heavy, and the lemon zest and coriander give them an enjoyable freshness. This recipe also makes more than you need for one pitta so make a batch and then freeze them. 

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Eat Bike Cook sweet potato falafels:

About 2 medium sweet potatoes (500g baked flesh)

50g gram flour (chickpea flour)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp sea salt

handful of coriander, finely chopped

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

50ml olive oil

20g sesame seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 C/180 C fan. Place the sweet potatoes on the top shelf of the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until soft. When cool enough to handle, cut the sweet potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

Mash the cooked sweet potato in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the olive oil. Using the two tablespoons, arrange 12 evenly sized balls of the mixture on a baking tray and sprinkle the sesame seeds over them. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the falafels and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the seeds are brown and the exterior of the falafels is crispy.

Ingredients for the tahini dressing:

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

100g tahini

pinch of salt

pinch of cumin 

Method:

To make the tahini dressing, put all the ingredients in a medium bowl along with 6 tablespoons water and whisk well until combined. Serve three falafels in a warmed pitta bread or tortilla wrap, with salad leaves, tomato and cucumber slices and a drizzle of tahini dressing.

To serve:

4 pittas or wraps

4 handfuls of salad leaves

2 vine tomatoes, sliced

1/4 cucumber, sliced

Wrap tightly in greaseproof paper and/or tin foil.

Then enjoy them on the road!

Eat Bike Cook can be pre-ordered here.