Friday, 26 October 2012

Interview with yours truly

I was interviewed by Elli Luca for her great food blog. You can read it on her blog here

1. What's your worst food memory – well, I guess apart from school dinners, then eating Harira soup in Marrakech, which I understood from our waiter and with my schoolgirl French was a vegetarian lentil soup…. I must admit, it looked and tasted delicious served with crusty bread, but, as a vegetarian, I was dismayed that after several spoonfuls of this huge bowl of soup I found a really large, what I now believe to be lamb bone in there. Oh dear… I didn’t finish it (though I’ll admit, I had enjoyed it up to that point and obviously repressed any lamb taste in my mouth until the bones confirmed it!!).

Another bad memory was many years ago when I was travelling around Europe. We were camping (admittedly not on a camping site), and one night, we came back to find a strange man sleeping in our tent. Our companions took pity on us and took us home to one of their parents to sleep there. We were immediately integrated into the family, and on the next night served a special dinner of bacalhau (salted dried cod and a Portuguese speciality). I wasn’t vegetarian way back then, but I had already stopped eating fish, so I had the tricky task of secreting vast amounts of bacalhau into serviettes, placing it about my person whilst pretending it was delicious. I just didn’t have the heart to be so difficult and fussy when they had taken us in like that and didn’t know us from Adam. (I noticed while reading this through that hiding unwanted food appears to have been a recurring theme when I was young – see below!)

2. Best food memory – Dinner at Ottolenghi in Islington, London, with foodie friends. The food is amazing and everything looks so fantastic and fresh. I don’t think I have ever salivated so much in my life…and looking and choosing the food from the vast and beautiful array of salads and puddings was one of the most difficult choices I can remember. Thankfully, they are served in tapas sizes portions so you have to order LOTS.

3. My signature dish is. – absolutely anything to do with breakfast!

4. One of my favourite food photographs (I used my own photos here) - I chose two

Breakfast in black & white (with a touch of porridge) © Francesca Bondy

Berry breakfast © Francesca Bondy

5. Ingredient I'm currently obsessed with is: well, not one particular ingredient, but I am crazy about Vietnamese food at the moment. Berlin has a large Vietnamese immigrant community (in the former East where I live – they were communist, after all) so I adore the freshness and the minimalism and beauty in my favourite restaurants. Three fantastic fresh dishes on the menu, not 200 from the deep freeze! The mixture of hot, cold, soft, crunchy, raw and cooked…. wakes up my taste buds a treat.

6. Worst kitchen injury – Thankfully I’ve never had anything worse than the usual burns and cuts, so nothing springs to mind. More annoying is that I’ve become very clumsy recently and broken lots of lovely dishes and bowls.

7. Cake I ask for on my birthday – Tarte au Citron or New York cheesecake

8. Favourite Chef – Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi (they work as a team)

9. Share with us one of your favourite recipes:
Just to make a change from Ottolenghi & Tamimi, I’ve chosen a delicious lemon and poppy seed loaf from the internet (thanks to my friend Ilse who pointed me in its direction)….it’s now a firm favourite (and my signature cake!): tasty, tangy, beautiful and so easy to make…works a treat every time – just remember to let the lemon drizzle icing soak in overnight to ensure that wow effect in the mouth!

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake


3 large eggs
1/4 Cup (60 ml) milk
1 1/2 Cups (210 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 Cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
3 Tbsp (30 g) poppy seeds
13 Tbsp (184 g) unsalted butter, softened

Lemon Syrup

1/4 Cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 Cup (65 g) granulated white sugar


Preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚C) and place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8 x 4 x 2 1/2 inch) (20 x 10 x 7 cm). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside.

In a bowl (or your mixer bowl), mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds until combined. Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture and mix on low speed with a mixer, hand blender or by hand until moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about one minute. This aerates and develops the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating about 30 seconds after each addition. This will strengthen the structure of the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. You may have to cover the bread with buttered foil or baking paper after about 30 minutes if you find the bread over browning. I always do!

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush the top of the loaf with about half the hot lemon syrup. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 10 minutes then invert onto a greased wire rack. Brush the remaining syrup onto the bottom and the sides of the loaf. Turn it again so it is right side up and cool completely before wrapping (I use tin foil). Store at least overnight before serving to allow the lemon syrup to distribute throughout the loaf.

Serve - and wait for the oohs, aahs, yums and compliments…happens every time.

This recipe (or something similar) is all over the internet, but I think it originally came from

10. Favourite kitchen appliance and what I make with it most often – my mini mixer – I most often make parsley and walnut pesto with lots of garlic, olive oil and parmesan…. Best served with 12 minute Di Cecco Spaghetti (as I don’t make my own pasta...not so much evidence of a foodie here!)

11. If you were on death row, what would your final meal request be – the full works at Jai Krishna – a really cheap ‘caff style’ Indian vegetarian restaurant in Stroud Green, London (definitely not a café). Cheap as chips, take your own booze, and don’t be confused by the slightly arcane ordering system. I specially love their Jeera Aloo; almost caramelised potatoes with cumin. Absolutely delicious, and their Tarka Daal is the best I’ve ever had…. (not having actually been to India!).

12. What did you learn from you mother/grandmother that you use often in the kitchen –My dad was the one to cook in our house… I learned that children, if given half a chance, sometimes hide food they don’t like so as not to upset their dad!

13. What the name and address of your blog: Bowhaus -

As the blog still very new here's a link to my flickr breakfast photos here
14. What are five things you can’t live without? (don't have to be food related) – my beautiful dog, Nico; friends; a nice cup of Yorkshire tea; my Mac (well, I could, of course, but I wouldn’t like to….oh no, not one little bit!); going to the cinema

15. What are your favourite cookbooks that you would recommend every home cook own and why?

I don’t have a big list because when I moved to Berlin I only brought a few things with me  (and a recent flood ruined lots of my cookery books) so my main source of inspiration is Plenty by (the oft-aforementioned) Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. The food is all vegetarian and lots of it stems from Jerusalem the where the Jewish/Italian Ottolenghi grew up on one side of the city, while Tamimi grew up in the Arab quarter in another. Wonderful mouth-watering photos, and don’t be put off by the sometimes enormous lists of ingredients….even if I miss a few ingredients out sometimes, it’s always looks and tastes absolutely delicious.


  1. I remember that berry breakfast very fondly!
    I don't think vegan diets will save me, somehow.
    PS-Have a wonderful time with N. - how about a foto of your Zwiebelkuchen? Whatever happened to Cesca and food photography - it was so promising...

  2. Dearest Cesca - life is clearly getting in the way of blogging! Good for you!