2016 was a funny year, with the first half pretty much entirely spent writing and photographing recipes like crazy (more on that soon), and with the rest bouncing around between London, Canterbury and parts of France. Work (as it was for practically everyone who works in politics or current affairs) was utterly mental, so at home cooking for myself and my family was my place of sanity. 2017 is going to be an absolutely massive year for me both personally and professionally with so many big changes, so I wanted to take a moment to look back on the year that has past before we ring in the New Year at some of my favourite blog bits of 2016.
1. I started the year by sharing some of my favourite (alternative) storecupboard staples. | 2. My after-work go to, Strapatsada. | 3. Making up work day packed lunches of my Bulgar Wheat with Kale and Slow Roasted Tomato salad. | 4. Falling in love with Wholemeal spaghetti in this avocado, lemon and basil heavy bowlful. | 5. Trying to brighten up the cool winter days with Vietnamese Steak Salad Summer Rolls. | 6. Easy Black Bean and Sunflower Seed Dip.
1. Discovering Zeus, my new favourite Greek spot in Canterbury. | 2. Sharing my go-to for takeaway work lunches when I have not made something ahead, the Pop-up Cafe in Deal. | 3. Making my go-to buttermilk waffles for Valentines Day.
1. After work, early dining at Ceviche in Soho. | 2. I got to enjoy my only London brunch of the year (it gets so much harder when you don't live in the city) at The Orangery in Kensington. | 3. Finding a new favourite avocado toast topping: sushi ginger, radishes and black sesame seeds.
1. We've had the house in Brittany for around a decade now, but this spring was the first time I actually got around to photographing and sharing some photos from Combourg market - I'm a sucker for a good French food market! | 2. Enjoying my first ever Fruits de Mer platter in Cancale. | 3. Another first for me - Princes Trust Countryside Fund Race Day at Royal Ascot!
1. With the Dordogne tourism board, I spent a fantastic elongated weekend exploring the best of the food, drink and architecture of this part of France which was totally new to me, but I completely fell in love with. | 2. I found a fantastic new (to me, it is actually very old!) country pub near Canterbury I really need to go back to: The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom. | 3. Spending a fantastic night at Manoir de Malagorse, probably one of the best places I've stayed overnight at, ever. | 4. Lunching at another wonderful new local foodie find of mine, Wyatt & Jones in Broadstairs. | 5. We had our first meal at The Duke William in Ickham, which is now our go-to pub now our local has changed hands and is now awful. | 6. As per reader request, sharing my Chinese New Year method of making Homemade Sesame Prawn Toasts.
1. Fulfilling my love for photographing French markets at the famous Saturday morning market in Sarlat. | 2. I had a simply wonderful afternoon with some of my closest friends in the blistering heat at Polo in the Park. | 3. Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rocamadour. | 4. Creating food from across the world from Rick Stein's From Venice to Istanbul. | 5. One of the best meals I had in the Dordogne Valley at Chateau de la Treyne. | 6. Enjoying a sunny supper at Le Bab off Carnaby Street.
1. I can't believe I lived in East Kent for so long without going, but I finally reviewed lunch at The Sportsman. | 2. Getting into my (now favourite) gin, Gin Mare at Rocksalt in Folkestone. | 3. Enjoying hydrangea season in Brittany. | 4. Making Elderflower Mules with homemade elderflower cordial. | 5. Creating another of my favourite pasta recipes of the year: Penne with Walnut and Aubergine Pesto. | 6. Enjoying a platter of very English deserts at The Cornerhouse in Canterbury.
1. I finally got around to sharing the best tomato salad recipe ever, which my family have been addicted to for as long as I can remember. | 2. First time eating at literally my favourite new restaurant opening of 2016 which I have already eaten at more times than I can count: The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury. | 3. Making ice cream sandwiches to celebrate the start of (though we did not know it at the time) the final season of the Great British Bake Off on the BBC. | 4. Setting the world to rights with my wonderful agent over simply superb Vietnamese food at Little Viet Kitchen in Islington. | 5. Cooking up a Southern American style storm for my summer dinner party. | 6. Making an Easy Coconut Kedgeree from Chef on a Diet, one of my favourite new cookbooks for 2016.
1. I rescued the humble roast chicken from the English Sunday roast with a black bean and strawberry salsa to celebrate Organic September. | 2. One of my favourite recipe creations of the year was this Tagliatelle with Creamy Almond and Tomato Sauce. | 3. Literally one of the best meals out I had in 2016: Bao in Fitzrovia. | 4. I took another look at how I earn money off of my blog, for 2016. | 5. Making a Caramelized Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby Pancake to celebrate the start of the English apple season. | 6. Getting into the Indian street food vibe with some Indian Spiced Potato Wraps with Easy Raita.
1. Learning how to make a North Indian Thali at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School in Shepherd's Bush. | 2. Continuing to improve on Sunday lunches with this Slow Cooked Gin & Tomato Brisket. | 3. I had a really great time speaking on a panel with Amazon and Boden at Pinterest about how influencers can work with brands and affiliate networks to monetize their profiles. Here is a roundup of everything we talked about, and everything we did not get a chance to touch on. | 4. Reviewing The Palomar in Soho with terrible flu - I need to go back because I don't think I was able to appreciate their fantastic food enough! | 5. Kicking off my meal box review series with the Riverford x delicious. Magazine box. | 6. Creating a healthy version of Huevos Rancheros for Great British Chefs.
1. Finally managing to catch up with That's Amore! Pizza Co. at the Canterbury Festival so I could share literally the best local pizza with you all. | 2. Getting into the art of the breakfast grain bowl with this barley, avocado, egg and spinach number, drizzled with miso dressing. | 3. Enjoying a stand out dinner at Samarkand in Fitzrovia. | 4. Did you know that Graze now sell pantry items? I took some of their new pouches to make these Orange Glazed Mini Cacao Baked Doughnuts. | 5. I created a new brunch favourite: hummus on toast with (cheats) slow roasted tomatoes and crispy kale. | 6. I managed to make my first successful, spontaneously fermented sough dough starter.
1. Making all of the Classic Champagne Cocktails this Christmas. | 2. Finally perfecting my go-to chocolate yule log. | 3. Adding the perfect Christmas breakfast cocktail to our traditional family Christmas breakfast with these Clementine 75's. | 4. I was honoured to be asked to judge the Canterbury Christmas windows again this year, and these were some of my favourites. | 5. I found a shortcut to our traditional Christmas ham. All hail smoked chilli honey! | 6. And finishing off my roundup with your favourite new Christmas recipe this year: my Honey, Walnut & Amaretti Ice Cream Terrine.
I hope you all have a simply fabulous time ringing in the New Year tomorrow with your nearest and dearest. We usually keep it pretty quiet and low key (choosing to cook something elaborate rather than doing something elaborate!), but this year we're going all out with a party, so this is a scheduled post, going live while I'm no doubt already in the kitchen helping get everything ready for tomorrow. I'll try and post some snaps/ stories up in Instagram, and be sure to sign up to my monthly newsletter which will be going out (sometime!) on Sunday to hear how it all went, and for some lighter, January recipe inspiration!