So that massive project I’ve been alluding to since last August? That’ll be my cookbook.
I’m still processing the fact that on September 25th 2014, my first book will be released in the UK. And a cookbook, to boot. It is published by Quadrille, a fact about which I am over the moon: they are a wonderful, wonderful publishing house, staffed by seemingly endlessly patient, and brilliant people.
(If you should so wish, it can be pre-ordered here at a special pre-launch 21% discount.)
We’ve kept it under wraps because it was the ‘Untitled LLG Project’ for ages, and we didn’t have a cover signed off until last week. There are HUGE thanks to my sister for the title. Clever girl: it encapsulates everything that I think important in life – and in the blog.
I’ve written it all myself, and photographed it too, bar three lovely shoot days with the photographer Lisa Linder, who I first worked with all those years ago on Conde Nast Traveller, so I was understandably thrilled when she came on board with the project.
I’m also very proud that we didn’t use a food stylist: I cooked each dish that has been photographed, and they went straight from the kitchen to the table to be shot. There has been no jiggery pokery, no chickens stained with gravy browning. Each dish was cooked from the written recipe, so I hope that when they are cooked by readers they will look the same .
Ninety per cent of the shots were taken in my dining room in Camden, (the second photo on the back cover, below), and everything was shot in natural daylight.
Regular readers will recognise some recipes from LLG: front and centre on the cover are two of the all time favourite LLG recipes, the halloumi, avocado and chickpea salad, and the fried gnocchi with mozzarella and tomatoes, both tweaked and improved for the book.
As you’ll know the recipes I post on LLG are not tested: they are written as I cook, and are shamefully imprecise, calling for handfuls of this, and splashes of that. I have recooked (at least three times) every one of the recipes in the book that has previously appeared on LLG, to make sure that they now have all the precise amounts, accurate temperatures and cooking times they were previously lacking, and that they do actually work (as opposed to the cook once, write it up with no proper quantities approach I have on here.)
But of course it is not just a re-run of LLG content: there are heaps of new recipes, organised thematically, from Breakfast, Brunches & Burgers, to Food to Eat When you Come in From the Cold
There are also essays, and ideas too, along with lots of lists of things and places that I love, from my favourite British beaches for a picnic, to five great places to go hiking in Los Angeles. (There is an entire chapter on food for eating in the great outdoors.) There are lists of great sherries, and places to eat in Singapore, along with favourite museums, and brilliant bookshops.
There is a chapter on parties, with everything from chicken pie for fifteen people, to fabulous party cocktails – Maria my cleaning lady and I had great fun one Friday afternoon drinking those after I had photographed them *hic*.
There are quite a few recipes for things I have posted on Instagram, or mentioned on here, that readers have asked for continuously: so I’m glad to say, in particular, that I have finally written up the recipe for my Triple Layer Lemon Cake with Swiss Meringue Blackberry Buttercream Frosting and Homemade Blackberry Jam. Yay!
There are also lots of notes and tips – the ‘secrets’ of the title, about cooking methods and alternative ingredients.
So apologies for all the cryptic ‘massive project’ mentions, and the somewhat intermittent blogging since last October. I had absolutely no idea about the size of the project that I was undertaking alongside my everyday commitments, and it has nearly floored me with exhaustion at times. In particular, trying to shoot in November and in December, when it’s still dark at 0830hrs, and the light goes by 330pm, was a huge challenge. Suffice to say I am never shooting a book in the winter again.
I’ve also cut the side off one finger, badly burnt my knee on a broken oven door, battled a mouse invasion, seriously put my back out, and cooked most of the recipes using a fridge the size of a small cardboard box, and on just one burner, as the cooker hob gave up the ghost. On the plus side, I now know that if I can cook an entire three course Sunday lunch or kitchen supper for eight girlfriends, using a broken oven and one burner, then the food in this book really is foolproof.
I even ran a pop up test kitchen back in September, where I cooked for over seventy people, to see if my initial ideas worked, so a huge thank you to all my friends, and family, and all the people I know for work who traipsed over to Camden to be fed breakfasts, lunches and dinners. (I was particularly impressed with the amount of food my fashion editor friends ate. Yes, Fury, I’m looking at you.)
Most of all I owe huge thanks to you, my lovely readers, for encouraging me over the years to write a book, vociferously in some cases…I hope you enjoy it as much I have enjoyed eating my way though it!
We have so much fun stuff planned around the launch and in the run up to Christmas, all over the country, so I am really hoping that I will get to meet lots of you as I travel around. I’ll keep you posted on here, on the LLG Facebook, and on my shiny new Amazon Author page with my activities.