Salty Piggy Goodness: Chilli Whipped Lardo


If there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s disappearing off my blog for inordinate amounts of time. Whoops. This time I do have a good reason, though – I moved house! Yep, I’m finally out and free of the bedbug-ridden hell hole I was stuck in for a year and am in a lovely little place in SE London with two (new) friends. We’ve been slowly setting up the house (my current project is attempting to build us a coffee table as we didn’t like anything that was available on the market) and it’s coming together, slowly but surely (I still have two boxes to unpack as I don’t have a desk/home office yet). Pretty soon I’ll be able to share some photos but for the time being I’m going to leave you with this oldie but goodie – chilli whipped lardo.


I Am A Feeder Meets Anecdotes & Apple Cores


Last year I was lucky to be able to spend the first few months travelling around the world and meeting various bloggers and friends, staying with them when they generously opened up their homes (and kitchens) to me, eating out all over their cities and generally having a blast. It was the most wonderful experience and the sheer generosity and kindness that I was shown was overwhelming – friendships that had before this point been only electronic blossomed, Twitter handles became real people and those real people had a wicked sense of humour, amazing creative ideas and fantastic friends and families whom I was introduced to. It really was a fantastic trip and my inner nomad was deeply satisfied (my wallet, not so much).

When in Austin I was supposed to be staying with and meeting the fabulous Monet and Ryan of Anecdotes & Apple Cores, an amazing and talented woman who was my first ever blog friend (!), but due to circumstances out of their control last minute plans changed (as they do), they were no longer able to accommodate me and I instead spent those few days with the lovely Megan of Stetted. Sadly, just as I was leaving Austin with my friend Andres to visit his part of Texas, San Antonio, I had a text message from Monet asking me if I was free to meet that day but alas, it was not to be, we were already an hour outside of town and I promised her that at some point, somewhere in the world we’d connect.

Clearly I have prophetic qualities because this spring Monet and Ryan travelled to Paris for their 3rd anniversary and whilst they were there decided to hop across to London on the Eurostar and stay with me for a couple of days. Even better, London decided to cease its grey, wet weather (apparently it’s supposed to be May over here – somebody must’ve pissed off Mother Earth recently…) and give us a little sunshine so I got to show them my city at its best! Wonderful few days – come back and see me again soon!


Autumnal Flavours: Pumpkin & Shrimp Bisque


Gizmo dares you to try this soup.

I’ve always preferred the word ‘autumn’ to ‘fall’. It’s such a beautifully romantic word and rolls off the tongue with a sense of majesty which, for me, is exactly what the changing season deserves. ‘Fall,’ whilst apt (what do the leaves do? Duh) is just a little too short-syllabled, a little too basic for my tastes. No matter what you want to call it, with summer long gone and the cold months setting in (especially in London which had an unseasonably late summer and has now snapped to frosty attention), this season calls for root vegetables, warmth and comfort. And so to the humble pumpkin and this soup – warmth, comfort and deliciousness, all in one bowl. Perfection.


On Being A Writer: Nasu Dengaku


A little while ago I was asked, “do you have any writing advice or tips for what makes a good writer?” Wow. What a question. Honestly, it’s a mammoth one and I’m not entirely sure that I’m qualified to answer it. I am, after all, just a girl who likes to tell stories. I find it hard to embrace the title and tell people that, yes, I am a writer and I write about food; I always find myself blushing a little as I do.

There’s an idea of glamour that goes along with the term ‘writer’. The thought is that other people value your words, that you have the power to influence, that the pen is mightier than the sword… but I’ve never really seen it that way and so small successes are always a surprise.

For me writing has always been somewhat cathartic. I find that my brain moves so fast sometimes that I can’t always vocalise what I’m thinking – with writing it’s my only way to silence the voices or the nagging questions, to slow down and normalise. It’s word vomit (if you’ll excuse the phrase on a food blog) and in the past I’ve been known to actually burn or tear up a piece of paper full of my words, jotted down out of necessity – an unloading of ideas, frustrations and cerebral noise.

So I don’t know if I can give you any ‘tips’ or ‘advice’ that’ll be helpful to you, all I can do is tell you what I’ve discovered and the ideas and principles that I stick to, because at the end of the day writing and especially good writing is all about your personal experiences.


Parlez-Vous Tasty?


We always assumed I was going to be taller. After all, you don’t see many ten-year-olds with size six feet roaming around the joint, and my grandmother on my father’s side was tall herself. She used to inspect me and say with a knowing nod, “yes. You are just like Mah-Mah. You will be tall”. When I entered secondary school I was one of the tallest in my class, lined up towards the back of the group during fire drills feeling proud, holding my head high and my spine straight.

The following summer I came back to school and suddenly the rest of the girls had grown a foot whilst I had stayed, disappointingly, at a mere five foot two. One school mate came running up to me to tell me her summer news, only to stop short, giving me a quizzical look as she found herself looking down at the top of my head. “Oh,” she mused, raising an eyebrow, “I thought you were taller” – I never grew again.


Sharing With My Goong-Goong


Two summers ago my Goong-Goong (maternal grandfather) died. It was a difficult summer that year, I had just returned from my year abroad in Portland and was feeling unsettled, a major event occurred that changed us forever, my Goong-Goong had caught pneumonia and was in the hospital, and then, one evening, we got the call: he had died. The rest of that summer was a blur. My mother flew out to Hong Kong first to sort out the funeral arrangements, we were to come a few days later, we hastily started throwing clothes into suitcases: black, black, black. It was the height of summer in Hong Kong – the worst possible time for a funeral. Before we knew it we were back in Hong Kong and I felt lost. I clung to my mother’s arm like a child, feeling once again like that 10-year-old in a foreign city, my tongue numb and useless with a language I couldn’t speak. At the funeral I cried until I felt I could never cry again; the tears poured down my face into my lap, my throat tightened and my head throbbed. My Goong-Goong, whom I loved so much, was never coming back, my life was falling apart, and the sadness that overwhelmed me was indescribable. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t look at anybody, could only weep.

My Goong-Goong introduced me to pâté when I was very young. He loved food and was a real connoisseur of the good stuff. I remember the first time I tried pâté with him: he was visiting us from Hong Kong and it was summer time. We were sitting in the kitchen of our old house, both of us on little black wooden stools by the table, and he was spreading something on some crusty bread. He handed it to me. What is it? I asked, holding it up dubiously. Pâté. Try it. I took a small bite with him watching me and felt my world expand: it was delicious. The creaminess of the duck liver combined with the sharp tanginess of the orange jelly was unlike anything I’d ever eaten before. It quickly became one of my favourite foods and my Goong-Goong and I would often sit together in the garden or the kitchen, eating pâté.


Spotlight On Nat Davies: Not Fish & Chips


Photography by Nat Davies; Food & Styling by Jackie Lee

About three weeks ago I found myself sitting in a beautiful studio apartment, smelling like moussaka (which I’d been cooking since 12am that morning), and sharing a cup of tea with a very nice chap called Nat, who just happens to be a professional food photographer.

This sounds a lot more random than it actually was. Thanks to my catering job the powers-that-be had put Nat and I in touch, and so after one of said jobs we got together for a chat about food, photography and life; during the course of which, and to my absolute delight, Nat offered to do some work with me, teach me a little more about how to style food and how a professional food photographer works. Of course I said yes, then practically skipped all the way home (in fact, I think I did skip down Turnham Green Terrace, which elicited quite a few strange looks).

We arranged to get together the following week to shoot a slightly special dish of mine, one that I’ve been developing for some time and thus needed an extra special touch: Pan-Fried Scallops on a Polenta Disc, Topped with a Crispy Strip of Pancetta and Pea Shoots, Served with Pureed Minted Pea & Tomato Chutney; or it’s slightly shorter name: Not Fish & Chips.


You Bring Me Flowers In The Pouring Rain


Blossoms, originally uploaded by jaxies.

So before David left for Canada he was growing some wonderful vegetables in his garden in London, including some beautiful little zucchini flowers. I had great plans for these flowers, I was going to stuff them, batter them, fry them, bake them – you name it, I was going to do awesome stuff with them. However, David’s flowers got heavily infested with black fly and, sadly, then were unusable by me, so my plans were put on hold.

That is until a family friend, Dee, rocked up with a basket full of zucchini and pumpkin flowers for me. She has an allotment and grows vegetables in abundance, many of which end up being giant monstrosities that she then carts in a wheelbarrow to my mom’s church at Harvest time. I’ve never had much of a green thumb, so I think people who can grow amazing things like that are really rather remarkable. Or maybe it’s not so much that I don’t have much of a green thumb as never having really tried. Maybe that should be my project for next year – growing my own veggies. Anyway. Flowers. I was determined to do them justice. How do I do that? Deep-fry the heck out of them.


Stress Cooking


Tartelette, originally uploaded by jaxies.

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a bit of a stress cook, ie. I cook when I’m stressed and it makes me feel better. However, this is a slightly different method of stress cooking. This is cooking and being stressed out from the cooking. In this particular case I was told about an hour before three and a half guests were due to arrive for a dinner party (the half being the most adorable two-year-old you’ve ever seen who then spent the entire evening alternating between poking, prodding, pawing at, hugging and kissing me and yelling, “JAAAAACKIE!” every time I left the room) that I needed to come up with some kind of appetiser dish and make some potatoes to go with the main course. Oh heck.

To make things worse it was ridiculously hot, muggy and uncomfortable today, I had a very late night last night, and because I’m on antibiotics right now I was feeling very under the weather. Anyway, this is a little recipe I whipped up, prepared and then got Momma Lee to put into the oven so I could go and have a lie-down for a couple of hours. Despite that, these turned out very nicely.


Releasing My Inner Foodie Communist: Food For The People By The People #5


Welcome to entry #5 and oh boy have I got a story for you about this particular recipe. If you don’t know what this is all about then you need to get with the program and go ahead and read this page and then you need to submit a recipe to me! Only one month left!

So my very beautiful and wonderful friend Mish promised me that she had this awesomely amazing beetroot hummus that she was going to submit for the purposes of the competition. She warned me that it sounded a little odd, but promised that it was easy and delicious.

Oh boy. Where to begin with the calamity that shall forever be known as The Great Beetroot Hummus Disaster.


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