Truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own homes - Eliza Acton

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Sunday 1st April


I bought some wonderful ricotta on a sunny morning at Borough Market last week and then the weather got a lot colder. So I filled this salad with hot things as well, and enjoyed the contrast between the cold, fresh cheese and hot and comforting boiled potatoes and mushrooms fried in garlic and parsley. The base is chicory, one head of white and one of red, with some mustard in the dressing.


Tuesday 13th March


Sunday afternoon + biscuits + book = happy pertelote. I love these biscuits - once they were in the oven I started worrying that I should have done more with them, added cardamom perhaps or orange-flower water, but actually they're lovely just as they are. And for a book to match, one that will grip your attention so that you don't notice that you're eating a whole batch of biscuits, one that slips neatly past familiar formulae and into something rich and strange, I suggest Bareback by Kit Whitfield - Kit is a friend-of-a-friend so we bump into her once in a while, and I was stupidly excited to get hold of her book and discover that it was utterly delicious.

Date and pine nut biscuits

125g butter, softened
80g caster sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
50g pine nuts
125g dates, chopped

Cream butter and sugar; add egg; sift in flour, salt and baking powder. Add pine nuts and dates. Spoon onto greased baking sheets (makes about 20). Bake at 190 degrees for about 15 minutes.


Wednesday 7th March


I promise we're not really star-spotters. Even in a dentist's waiting room I'd rather read Good Housekeeping than Heat. But even so I think I can be forgiven for double taking when I'm in a new, well-reviewed restaurant, glance over at the party who've just been seated at the next table and notice that not only is one of them Jamie Oliver, but he's just ordered the same starter as me. Now, one of the chefs at Acorn House was at Fifteen, and the restaurant is taking on trainees in a similar way to the more-hyped Oliver project, so it's no surprise that he's interested. In fact everyone seems to be interested: Giles Coren called Acorn House 'the most important restaurant to open in London in 200 years'. Hyperbole, perhaps, but I see his point. They don't make a big fuss about it, but if you can think of a way in which a restaurant could be more 'green', they're there ahead of you (air-freighted ingredients? No way. Filtered tap water as default? Tick. Reducing, recycling and composting waste? But of course.) And if you're thinking gimmicky, remember this is two minutes up the road from Konstam - the place that sources all its ingredients from within the M25. I've eaten there and I liked it, really liked it, but talk about artificial limits.

So, the food. Local, seasonal, organic or fairtraded in places. Salad of yellow beetroot, amalfi olives, lindska pototoes and chilli was good but perhaps not quite good enough to make me glad I'd ordered salad in February. Parsnip and pancetta soup was good - but not good enough to make me wish I'd ordered that instead. Luckily the mains were significantly better, especially tagliatelle with venison, in which the meat must have been cooking most of the day. Mutton was similarly flavoursome and tender, and the quince it came with struck a delicious olde england note - though I could have done without the additional mint sauce. Overall, not bad at all - I shall keep an eye on the menu and hope to go back when it looks more spring-like. I shall also be planting the seeds they gave us - when the bill arrives, it's weighed down by what looks like a match book, but actually contains little sticks of herb seeds. The service was bouncy and freshly trained on this as on every other aspect: very keen to share the wealth of information they've been given and their enthusiasm for the whole establishment is catchy.