GETTING TO KNOW LYDIA

What do you enjoy most about cooking? 
I like to experiment and create something I’ve never tried before. I also find some things quite therapeutic like baking and stirring a risotto. The best thing is getting a compliment when you’ve served something to someone which they love.
 
What is your favourite type of cuisine to cook or want to learn more about? 
I’m recently really into middle eastern cooking, thanks to James’ mum. There is so much to explore there and so many different ingredients I haven’t even heard of, I would love to cook and know more about it. 
 
Where do you get your inspiration from? 
Everywhere! My family, cookery  programs, cookery books, online, travelling. I’m always on the lookout for something exciting or how I can put my own spin on something. My cookbooks are full of scribbled notes on what worked, what didn’t and how I would improve it next time
 
Do you have a signature dish? 
No not really, but my brother always requests that I make ‘my’ scrambled eggs for Christmas day breakfast.
 
What’s the worst/best thing you have ever made? 
Starting with the positives, I was really proud of a meal I made for James parents and I was so nervous when doing it as it was the first time I had cooked for them! So it was a bonus it went well. I made monkfish with a saffron sauce and quinoa, followed by rhubarb and rosewater Eton mess. The worst thing I’ve ever made was supposed to be a simple orange and maple cake with a few ad-lib ingredients. The result turned out to be a type of orange burnt flan swimming in sugar goo- it wasn’t edible! I tend to make quite a lot of ‘bad’ things as I hate food waste so tend to chuck a lot of random ingredients together and see what the end result is. Luckily I am the only person that eats them, I wouldn’t force those creations on anyone else!
 
Who is your food hero? 
There are many I like, but my favourite is Rachel Khoo. It’s so nice to have a strong, independent woman to relate to in food. Her success is so well deserved and I love everything she does. I also like to take cues from her fashion style. I was lucky enough to meet her once at a cookery course and Leith’s school of Food and Wine. I didn’t speak to her as much as I would like as nerves got the better of me and I think I was a little star struck! She did help me with my rolling out and forming of pastry for my tartlets though! I also have a lot to thank Sophie Dahl for as she really reignited my passion for food. Her cookery program got me so excited about food and how it relates to our lives and emotions in a way I had never thought about before. She is a stunning writer, I hope one day I can be as good. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both her cookery books which offer the reader a good story amongst her delicious recipes, which I think were very ahead of trend for their time. 
 
What’s the most interesting cuisine you have tried?
 I had some very weird and wonderful things when I travelled to China, but it was also great to sample authentic Chinese cuisine, which is miles away from our takeaways!
 
What is your favourite type of cake? 
Carrot cake with tonnes of cream cheese frosting- Hayley makes the best recipe I have ever tried! You also cant go wrong with a good old Victoria sponge
 
What is your favourite sandwich filler? 
I love coronation chicken but also am a sucker for a corned beef and mustard sandwich
 
Where would you go on a cooking holiday? 
Probably Tuscany to learn with all the Italian mammas and nonnas
 
What’s your favourite foodie film or book? 
On rue tatin by Susan Loomis and for film, its a toss up between the 100 foot journey and Julie and Julia
 
What’s your favourite thing to have for breakfast? 
In the summer I like fruit, granola and yoghurt and things. One thing I do love is grilled peaches with cinnamon and yoghurt. In winter I like my porridge and jazz it up with fruit, compotes and nuts. It’s also good with mincemeat in at Christmas time, I tried it on Francis Quinn from the bake offs recommendation. A good call! On my birthday I always request almond croissants!
 
What’s the best restaurant ever been to?  
James took me to La Gavroche in our early dating months which was just superb, the best meal I have ever had in my life. He may have peaked too early with the restaurant choice…
 
It’s the last day on earth…what would your last meal be? 
Pici pasta with a rich, meaty authentic Italian ragu followed by a mountain of gelato
 
Tea or coffee?
Tea
 
Starter or pud?
Starter
 
Pizza or pasta? 
Pasta
 
Indian or Chinese takeaway?
Indian
 
What’s one food you couldn’t live without? 
Cheese!

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