Cook, stylist, food writer and vegetarian Anna Jones spills the beans about some of the best (and worst!) foods she’s eaten…
Perhaps it stems from having lived in the US as a child and eating out in diners where I could choose whatever I wanted, but breakfast is often still the highlight of my day. Sitting around my kitchen table with my husband and little boy sets the right tone for the day ahead.
I use lemons as a sort of third seasoning. They feature in almost all of my dishes because I think they add an extra freshness. You can use the zest, which has that bit more lemon oil in it and gives off a sherbety sweet flavour, or you can use the juice, which gives off a sharpness and adds another dimension to your cooking. I don’t think I could really cook without them!
There’s something so joyful about eating ingredients that are at their very best, which is why my latest book, The Modern Cook’s Year (£26, Fourth Estate), has seasonal food at its heart. Damsons as the nights draw in, apricots when the nights are at their longest, watermelon on a searing hot day, squash at Halloween. It’s about eating ingredients at their peak. But, more than that, it’s about time and place – the memories of summers, Christmases and days past are wrapped up in every single bite of food we eat.
A raw juice diet when it’s two degrees outside? Not for me, thanks! A cold climate for me means hot food – I crave curries, soups and cassoulets.
Textures are often forgotten about in cooking, but to me they are just as key to a good plate of food as flavour, particularly in vegetarian cooking. Some of my favourite foods – porridge or soups for example – are often served without attention to this. Adding toasted seeds, charred bread, or a handful of nuts can make all the difference. It’s texture, just as much as flavour, that hits the taste buds and tells your brain that what you’re eating is delicious. It also helps you to feel satisfied, too.
GOAT’S CHEESE & RED ONION TARTS
In the five years since I started writing my first book, the food landscape has improved dramatically. That said, I’m sure some of my fellow vegetarians have had more than their fair share of dry and underloved goat’s cheese and red onion tarts! When made well they can be delicious, but I think vegetable-centred dishes can be so much more exciting than this.
The Modern Cook’s Year (£26, Fourth Estate) by Anna Jones is out now.