Cooking for the family

Tomorrow is my birthday (we’ll skip over the significance of today’s date) and I celebrated with the family by having everyone – parents, grandparents, little bro – over to my cosy East End flat for lunch. It was the first time I’d had my mother here for any length of time, in daylight, which meant I had to remove dirt I usually can’t even see. So this week I have done the following things: dusted the living room skirting boards, WASHED THE KITCHEN WALLS, cleaned behind the u-bend. But enough. This is a food blog. To the menu.

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Warm Jerusalem Artichoke Salad

(bastardised Nigel Slater, see below)

Seven Hour Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Onions, Thyme, Balsamic Vinegar + chickpea mash and watercress salad

(Tom Aikens, here; Nigel again, here)

Cranberry and Pear Upside-Down Cake

(Yotam Ottolenghi, take two)

Chocolate Pots

(hastily assembled Nigella back-up dessert after late-onset cake-collapse fear)
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What can I say? It was a triumph! Honestly it was. And damn right – not including the three shopping expeditions (to Borough Market, Broadway Market, and Sainsbury’s), or the fact I was up making the cake until 12 last night, prep began at 6:55am with me stumbling my way to the oven to commence the to-the-minute schedule I’d planned on iCal. But it turned out great: the meat fell off the bone! the chickpea mash was glossily smooth! and – woop! – the cake was cooked all the way through (see previous mishap)! My cautious grandpa even had a second slice, declaring it the best dessert he’d ever eaten. Bless. And everyone was merry. Twas lovely. And tomorrow I’m 24. Eesh. Off to the pub. (But look – the cake…!)

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