Claire Ptak: I love sauerkraut; I think it's the elixir of life'

 

My earliest food memory...My first memory of consuming food is of eating wild blackberries where I grew up in northern California. But my first food-related memory is when a friend and I took all my mum's herbs and spices, put them into our sandbox and made mud pies. My mum was not that happy.

My store-cupboard essentials... For baking, fresh unsalted butter, some nice flours and some brown sugar – I'm really into using brown sugar and spelt flour at home, because I use more white sugar and white flour at work. Also, really good Parmesan, some cans of tomatoes and some garlic: a restaurateur friend of mine taught me how to make the best tomato pasta sauce, which is now my go-to store-cupboard recipe. The key with the tomatoes is to use whole peeled ones, then drain all the juice away and chop them up yourself.

My favourite cookbook... The River Café's first cookbook made me want to be a professional cook. It had an aesthetic that was totally different to cookbooks I had seen before: whereas I had taught myself to bake with Martha Stewart et al, in which everything was embellished in a frou-frou way, the cakes in that book are so simple and beautiful. I also recently got a reissue of a 1920s book called The Gentle Art of Cookery by Mrs CF Leyel. It's so cool, because its recipes feel really modern: she was very international [for her time], doing pasta and all kinds of Moroccan things and the like.

The kitchen gadget I couldn't live without... A knife called a bird's beak, which is a little paring knife that's really small and is perfect for peeling and coring apples.

My top culinary tip... When baking, don't over-mix things. I always say that to young cooks who come to work for me. If you do, the cake or scones or whatever you are making will be dense and dry.

My favourite food shop... Leila's Shop in Shoreditch [15-17 Calvert Avenue, London E2]. It's a really lovely old-fashioned greengrocer attached to a café; I get a lot of fruit there for my shop. Also, the Melrose and Morgan [shops] are really cool: they do all the typical deli stuff, but you can also order things like a whole Christmas dinner.

My top table... Mangal, which is a Turkish place [off Stoke Newington Road in east London] that serves amazing Turkish pizza. Also, the Dock Kitchen [in Ladbroke Grove, west London] – it's a beautiful space and it's great the way the cuisine ranges from Indian to Italian – and Ducksoup [in Dean Street, Soho], which I went to the other night and loved.

My desert-island dish... A fresh green salad with borlotti beans baked with olive oil, garlic and a bit of thyme. Borlotti beans are a favourite of mine: I planted some in my tiny garden this year; I wasn't sure if they'd grow, so when they did, it was the most exciting thing.

My comfort food... Oatcakes with sauerkraut. I did a fasting detox a couple of years ago, and that was one of the few things I could have. I really love sauerkraut; I think it's the elixir of life.

The strangest thing I've eaten... Fried moss, at Noma [Copenhagen]. I like the foraging thing, but sometimes, I think: really?

My pet hates... Savoury desserts, with things like olives in them. A little black pepper I can deal with, but that's it!

My tipple of choice... A cocktail called an Aviation, which is made up of gin, lemon juice and maraschino cherry liqueur. Traditionally, it also has a drop of crème de violette, which gives it a blue hue. It has a lovely earthiness about it. I have them at Quo Vadis, which has some of the best cocktails in London.

Claire Ptak is a pastry chef and owner of Violet Cakes, London E8. 'Leon: Baking & Puddings: Book 3', which Ptak co-authored with Henry Dimbleby, is out now (£20, Conran Octopus)

Suggested Topics
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before