Blanche Vaughan is a food writer and chef. She trained at the River Cafe and then worked at Moro and St John. She writes for the Guardian online and is the author of In One Pot .
What are your three favourite kitchen cupboard staples?
Tuscan olive oil, anchovies in salt and Volpaia red wine vinegar
What are your three favourite gadgets or utensils in the kitchen?
A small plastic peeler which is the best I’ve ever used, given to me by a friend from California, a granite pestle and mortar, an incredibly sharp and long Twinstar knife.
What are your favourite places to enjoy a meal?
The River Cafe in Winter, eating thali with my hands in Kerala, at home when most of the ingredients have been picked from the garden.
Have you ever had any kitchen disasters?
Not long ago I made the perfect tortilla. I cooked the onions for ages until they reached the perfect state of sweetness. The potatoes were salted, gently fried and of the best variety, the eggs were fresh that day. I had turned it once and tucked in the edges so it formed a beautiful full cake, with perfectly rounded sides. The egg was still nicely runny inside and I went for the final flip…and it fell and splatted all over the floor.
What’s your favourite thing to make when you get home after a long day?
Middle Eastern aubergine and chickpeas, mopped up with lots of good bread. (from In One Pot)
Do you remember one of the first dishes you ever cooked?
Lavender biscuits from a Beatrix Potter cookbook when I was just learning to read. Then later, a squash risotto from the River Cafe book. That’s when I realised I wanted to be a chef.
What are the best lessons you’ve learnt in the kitchen?
Give things time – softening onions, cooking a soffrito – this is where the flavour comes from.
Add salt to things at the beginning of cooking, to start the seasoning right away, then you also need to use less.
How to cut an onion properly into dice – invaluable.
What was the last book you read?
Dorothy Hartley’s Book of English Food – part history, part recipe book. Beautifully written, properly researched and I almost finished the whole thing in one day.
Do you have a favourite tipple?
An Aviation, as made by the barmen at Quo Vadis in Soho.
Quick fire questions:
Eat at home or eat out? Out
Starter or dessert? Starter
Meat or Fish? Fish
Follow a recipe or wing it? Wing it
Alcohol or Chocolate? Alcohol
Intimate dinner for two or big meal for 10? Meal for 10
Blanche Vaughan is the author of In One Pot
Follow Blanche on twitter @blanchevaughan