I get asked to review such a variety of products and tend to say no but to be honest I really wanted this book so jumped at the chance and it didn't disappoint. I am a fan of MasterChef and in 2014 when Sophie Thompson was crowned champion, she became one of my favourite celebrity winners, she came across as lovely as her cooking. I was so pleased to find that she has produced a book of her family's recipes, and they really are from all of her family.
Sophie was a joy to watch with her relaxed and imaginative style of cooking and the book reflects the same sense of cosy homeliness giving you lots of family photos, stories and anecdotes along with the recipes. With titles like 'Uncle Bridget's Pickled Onions', yes, Uncle Bridget and 'Megsies Whim Wham' you get introduced to her family and friends through food.
Much to my husbands irritation I can't sit and do nothing so in the evening when I'm slumped in front of the telly I tend to be making lists (a girl thing I think) flicking through the latest foodie magazine or crafting some sort of what not. Reading cookery books is another favourite, looking for inspiration for next weeks dinner. Sophie's book was packed with possibilities and the issue was what to cook first.
In the end that honour went to Very Lemony Almond & Polenta Cake. It instructs you to cool in the tin but I don't think it ever actually got cold before it was polished off. In the end I had to make another just to check it was as good cold as warm - it was. There are some cakes that I call untidy cakes, by which I mean that every time you pass it you find you just have to cut a slice off to neaten it up a bit. I found myself having to neaten it rather a lot and often.
Sophie's recipes are all easy to follow and without complicated or hard to get ingredients. I also tried the Orange & Ginger Chicken with Coriander Rice, not just because it sounded tasty but I also had all the ingredients in. It was a resounding 'keep that recipe' from the whole family.
With so much success I tried Sophie's own Meat Loaf. It makes enough for 8 so we had it hot with roast potatoes and savoy cabbage then on another day, cold with pickles as Sophie recommends. Another triumph.
Reading Sophie's recipes and about her family makes you warm to her even more, it's always such a shame when you meet someone you admire or look up to and they let you down but after looking through this family album you really do feel like you've just met her and want to be invited round to supper.
Sophie is a gifted and resourceful cook with an infectious enthusiasm for food and 'My Family Kitchen' is just what it says on the tin (or cover), packed with recipes that are sure to become everyone's own family favourites.
VERY LEMONY ALMOND & POLENTA CAKE
150g Ground Almonds
150g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
200g Soft Butter, plus extra for greasing
3 Large Eggs
Zest & Juice of 3 Large Lemons
100g Icing Sugar, sifted
20g Flaked Almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan Gas 4. Lightly grease and base line a 20cm springform cake tin.
Place the polenta, ground almonds, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz together for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, whizzing after each one to incorporate well. Add the lemon zest and whizz again for about 20 seconds. (If you don't have a food processor you can of course do all of this by hand using a large mixing bowl and spoon).
Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and coming away slightly from the edges of the tin.
Meanwhile mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice (about 100ml) in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. When the cake comes out of the oven, use skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake and, whilst still warm, pour your lemony syrup over the top.
Scatter over the toasted flaked almonds, while the cake is still sticky, and leave to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin when cold and serve.