nothing says "I love you" like a heart-shaped potato . . .

On a dark and stormy Valentine's night, my secret admirer left me a heart-shaped potato . . . and they say romance is dead!

pearled spelt salad with kale and lemon-tahini dressing

pearled spelt salad with kale and lemon-tahini dressing
Out shopping and I'm caught in a dilemma. Do I choose dark, sleek and elegant, or bright, frilly and frivolous? No I am not shopping for [whisper unmentionables, but one of my favourite winter vegetables. Do I choose calvo nero or frilly kale? These are the kind of important decisions that I like to make.

caldo verde: portuguese pork, potato and kale soup

caldo verde
(Portuguese pork, potato and kale soup)
I feel as if I am working with a northern-accented voiceover at the moment: "Day 35 in the Marmaduke Scarlet house. Rachel is in the kitchen making soup again." You get the picture. I am continuing to make soup for my friend Chris. Things seem to be going quite well; Chris seems healthy and he certainly hasn't lost his appetite; well at least not for soup.

in praise of damien trench: baked camembert

baked camembert with garlic, rosemary and bacon
My favourite radio food writer, Damien Trench, is back. He returns on Radio 4 for another series of his superlative programme, In and Out of the Kitchen. I have so missed his wise, fulsome words and unflappable approach to food.

Damien Trench is the comic creation of Miles Jupp; a gentle parody of the most florid aspects of food writing. The programme is an absolute hoot.

an easy vegetarian curry (pea, egg and potato)

pea, egg and potato curry
I arrived at University several decades ago with a box of books, a suitcase of vintage clothing and a complete inability to cook. The days of me pouring over my copy of My Learn to Cook Book ended the moment I discovered boys, booze and thick black mascara.

celebrate chinese new year with dragon cookies (loong peng)

dragon cookies (loong peng)
When Malaysian Chinese people found out that I was born in the Year of the Dragon, they cooed and petted me. "Pantai" (clever) they said. You will be very lucky, they said. Very auspicious. Noble, they said. (Annoying, bossy, old big head, said my little brother).

what's in season: february

an orange for Chinese New Year
It's raining. It's been raining constantly for months. It has been the wettest four weeks in over 100 years *. My personal ark, (the good ship Get Stuffed) is about to be dragged out of the shed for her annual spring clean. Still, there is always good food to look forward to, even while splashing around in your galoshes (although not I suspect if your kitchen has been flooded).