In my kitchen, cinnamon is usually used in apple crumbles. There are one or two exceptions, such as dusted with sugar on top of something that Nigella Lawson refers to as chocodoodles (a chocolate version of snickerdoodles, as featured in How to Be a Domestic Goddess) and an intriguing use of it in bastichio, a savoury Greek dish from Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best (Si King and Dave Myers). The cinnamon in the bastichio was fantastic, used in a bechamel-style sauce in much the same way as a British person might add a pinch of nutmeg to a white sauce. In any case, it’s fairly rare that cinnamon is actually the major star of something I cook. However, this weekend I made a delicious chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake (by Smitten Kitchen) and now all I can smell is cinnamon. I expected the cake to taste predominantly chocolate-y, and to have a really tender crumb because of the sour cream, all of which is the case, but I didn’t expect it to taste so much of cinnamon. The cake is currently sitting, half-eaten, beside my laptop as I work. Highly comforting, like a cake version of cinnamon toast, something which I have only eaten on trips to Betty’s in Ilkley for afternoon tea.

Other new recipes:

  • Sausage, potato and red pepper bake (from Waitrose magazine). Good weeknight dinner, more of an idea than a recipe, but a good use for the thyme that is languishing on the shelf.

  • Pörkölt (Gundel’s Hungarian Cookbook, Károly Gundel, trans. by Ágnes Kádár). Delicious. Probably largely because I fried the onion (the base of the stew) in dripping rather than the stipulated lard.

  • Shepherd’s pie (The Hairy Bikers Best-Loved Recipes: Mums still know best!, Si King and Dave Myers). I’ve made shepherd’s pie countless times and don’t usually use a recipe, but tried an idea from this book of bulking out the meat and thickening the sauce by adding a couple of tablespoons of oats, something I believe my great grandmother used to do when money was tight. It worked well, but was a little bland, possibly because I didn’t use canned tomatoes.

  • Mushroom soup (The Hairy Bikers Best-Loved Recipes: Mums still know best!). I tried this because a) it’s cold in my flat b) I like mushrooms and very rarely eat them because I live with someone who doesn’t like them c) I wanted to use up some garlic and herb seasoning. It’s a perfectly decent lunch, but it needs more garlic.


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