The last few weeks have been fantastic. One of the things I sometimes find tricky about being self employed is that you’re on that constant roller coaster, (hopefully of the junior variety rather than the peaks and troughs of a fully blown theme park model). Work comes in great gluts and then there are those ridiculously nerve wracking moments when you start filling in a new calendar and look at all the empty slots in the months ahead. Why do I still panic? Why do I say yes to those not-so-enthralling jobs only to have to jam all the more exciting stuff in too, and end up on a workathon? I sometimes have the classic confidence crisis, I know that I’m not the only one – What am I doing this for? Am I getting anywhere? And then suddenly a fabulous patch like the last couple of weeks seems to appear out of nowhere.
So, I do hope that you won’t mind a bit of trumpet blowing….. First bit of great news- Pulse is being reprinted which means that you’ve all been doing a great job of spreading the word, so thank you. Secondly, The Real Taste of Spain, which feels like I wrote it a lifetime ago (about 8 years – Imi’s lifetime in fact) received some fabulous recognition last weekend. It was listed on the Telegraph Stella Magazine’s Ten Best “Hidden Gems – 10 lesser- known cookbooks you just can’t live without” The best bit about it was the company; to be listed alongside greats such David Tanis, Paula Wolfert and Pierre Koffman, writers I’ve admired for years, was absolutely thrilling. It was though, of course, as my mother pointed out “a shame that it said lesser known cook books”. That’s family for you!
Another high point has been the work I’ve been doing for Borough Market, helping connect school children with their food. I’ve written about it on the market blog, but will share a few pictures of my trip to Highgrove, cooking with a group of children from Poplar Primary School in South London. The children, along with their incredibly dedicated teachers had won the Mygrove prize for the best school gardening and cooking blog – you can go to the Prince of Wales’ website to find out more. I had such fun with them making simple salads, experimenting with edible flowers and seeds and just witnessing how much more adventurous and excited about food children are when they’ve had a hand in the growing and preparation.
I have the seeds of another book sprouting madly in my head and need to get down to writing a proper proposal, but right now we’re off to WOMAD. So, here I am sitting at my desk at 5.30 am, trying to get this post written, running up and down the stairs to check on my pitta crisps in the oven whilst making sure that we have all the necessary tents, wellies, long-life milk and sun cream packed. We’ll take the pitta crisps with us too. I should really have Imi making them but she’s tucked up in bed and I’m not sure that she’ll be getting too much sleep over the next few days, so she’s staying there.
These crisps are great to make with kids and make a good healthy alternative to crisps or corn chips . I’ve sprinkled mine with black sesame seeds, smoked paprika and a bit of salt but you could use rosemary, cumin or a spice mix like ras al hanout (the fab’ Moroccan one – Bart Spices do a great blend)
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325 F/ Gas mark 3
Cut the pittas into 2 1/2 cm/1 inch ribbons using a pair of scissors or knife. Now open the “loops” of bread to give you thin fingers.
Place these on roasting trays. There always seems to be a thinner and thicker side to the bread so I have a tray of quicker cooking, more delicate crisps and a tray for the thicker pieces.
Drizzle over a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt. You can add your choice of dried herbs or spices at this point too.
Toss the bread around to cover in the seasoning and arrange in a single layer. and now bake them in the oven until dried out and crisp. The thinner pieces will only take about 5 minutes and the thicker around 10; just bake until they are quite brittle.
Cool on a wire rack and then keep in an airtight container until ready to use.