Drumroll please………my most loved, most appreciated, most used of 2017.
Most Used Cookbook - Gjelina by Travis Lett
Gjelina, the book from the famous Venice Beach restaurant, found its way into my kitchen a little over a year ago, and immediately became my go-to cookbook. Travis Lett revolutionised my vegetable roasting technique, massively upped my fridge basics game, has inspiring salads and mains and everything works beautifully. While I do have other firm favourites in the cookbook library, this year I found myself turning these pages first as I started to conjure up a meal.
Most Frequented Restaurant - Clipstone
Referred to by those who know me well as my canteen, Clipstone was unarguably my most frequented eating establishment of 2017. Serving consistently imaginative, delicately flavoured, beautifully executed sharing dishes in a welcoming, unfussy and well designed space with excellent cocktails, it just ticks all the boxes every single time. Maybe I am a creature of habit, but safe in the knowledge that I have yet to be disappointed, most other restaurants pale in comparison.
Kitchen Hand Saviour - Farmers' Hand Cream
My admiration for people who remember to wear rubber gloves when washing up runs deep. Only when 3/4 of the way thought a pile of pot washing do I sometimes think it might be a good idea to protect my hands. Cue Farmer’s Welsh Lavender hand cream. The ultimate kitchen hand saviour for those compulsive hand washers and lazy washer uppers. If it soothes the hands of the Welsh farmers working in the harsh cold winters, it will save any hard working kitchen hands. Beautifully packaged and deliciously smelling to boot, I have a tub on hand in the kitchen and stashed in just about every other room.
Best New Baking Trick - Pan Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sarah Keifer’s pan banging chocolate chip cookies might take the prize for cult recipe of the year. Featured in The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, her revolutionary technique for banging the baking sheet during cooking, produces the ultimate ripple edged cookies with a soft centre and crisp outside. Thus appealing to all camps of cookie afficionados. Not a week has passed without a version of these cookies whipped up in my kitchen, and many hours spent adapting Sarah's pan banging technique for different flavour combinations. Undoubtedly the best new trick I learned this year.
Favourite ingredient - Pump Street Chocolate
I would love to attribute the improved chocolate desserts appearing from my kitchen to new improved skills or patisserie prowess, but honestly I can take no credit. Its all thanks go to my best discovered ingredient and wonderful Supper Club collaborator, Suffolk made Pump Street Chocolate. Baking with (and eating embarrassing amounts of) these calettes make any chocolate treat at least ten times better. I challenge anyone who dares to question the importance of the quality of an ingredient and its effect on the finished dish to bake two chocolate cakes, one with Pump Street Chocolate and one with a standard but well regarded shop bought brand. There is no turning back.
Favourite Cast Iron Roasting Pan
An extra empty bag tucked into my my suitcase between the packing cubes is an absolute holiday essential. Not because I have a habit of updating my wardrobe while abroad, but I always seem to find irresistible kitchen items while perusing the shops on holiday. Cape Town was no exception - the extra bag was filled with oversized platters and linens. But the prized item was this cast iron roasting tray spotted as we walked through the brilliantly curated Chefs Warehouse cook shop on our way to our much anticipated table. Yes, I do carry locally produced sheet metal back from across the world. Barely a meal is made when this beautifully patina’d dish is not in use. Nothing else quite roasts a chicken or vegetables like it. And while its true, I do have more than one favourite kitchen item in the collection, this wins the 2017 award.