Sophie Dahl: 'I've made a rock-like cake or two in the past, but not any more'

My earliest food memory... Going to lunch at my paternal grandparents' house in Sussex. We'd drive down from London, and the journey there used to feel interminable. I remember the relief of getting out of the car and opening the front door and the smell of Sunday lunch wafting out.

My store-cupboard essentials... Eggs, because if all else fails, you can make a frittata. Also, vanilla pods are useful little fellows: I put them in cream if I'm serving it with pudding, and use them to make custard, and the other day I put one in a chicken stew. And I've been making lavender shortbread recently, so my kitchen now has a place for dried lavender, like an old granny's.

My favourite cookbook... A Year at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen. It's a master cookbook, and so straightforward and practical: there's no fussing. A formative cookbook for me was Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. Its warm, conversational tone is wonderful. When I began cooking a lot, in my early twenties, I'd never read anything like it and I think I cooked everything in it, from cover to cover.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... Probably my blender. I'm the queen of blending, particularly at the moment, because of all the baby purées I'm making [Dahl had her first baby, Lyra, in March]. I also love my KitchenAid mixer: I've made a rock-like cake or two in the past, but not any more.

My culinary tip... Have a sense of humour about cooking, be fearless and don't listen to other people. I remember being home alone when I was about 13 and making a soufflé from a recipe in one of my mother's old cookbooks. I approached it in a very unafraid way, and produced a rather beautiful one. Then the grown-ups came home and made such a fuss about it and how hard it was to make them, and whenever I tried to make them after that, they would always fall flat. My cooking is incredibly haphazard, but I've never pretended it was anything else. That's the joy of the process: discovering when something really works and when it really doesn't.

My favourite food shop... In London, it's [the cheese shop] La Fromagerie – it's a deeply shallow thing, but it's so beautiful, like walking into a painting. And in New York, Murray's cheese shop in the West Village. I used to live round the corner from it, and it's got epic cheeses, yet they're very good-humoured there: it's very accessible and it doesn't feel like you can't touch things.

My tipple of choice... If it's with dinner, a good white burgundy, and if it's a cocktail, a mojito. The most amazing one I ever had was at Ernest Hemingway's favourite bar in Havana.

My top table... Larsen's Fish Market in Menemsha in Martha's Vineyard [Massachusetts], where my granny lived until she died last year. There aren't any tables: you just get a steamed lobster or crab or mussels, some melted butter and a little tub of coleslaw and eat it on the pier with your legs swinging off the end of the dock.

My guilty pleasure... Aeroplane food. I dig it in a comforting, cotton-woolly sort of way. I really like flying, so getting that little tray is part of the ritual. And a thick, malty American-diner milkshake: my favourite flavour is chocolate and peanut butter.

My pet hates... I love anchovies in sauces, but on their own, they're repellent: their lurid pink bodies spook me out. Also I really loathe it when people over-boil hard-boiled eggs so they get a horrible green outer layer; it reminds me of school Scotch eggs. And I'm not mad about foams: I don't really understand them. I'm not a foam type and I don't think foam types would approve of me.

Sophie Dahl is a food writer. Her new book, 'From Season to Season: A Year in Recipes', is published by HarperCollins, priced £20

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific