I’m back this month with a post that’s been almost 10 months in the making! That’s not to say it’ll be particularly ground-breaking or lengthy, it’s just taken a while to get the series up and running. The response I received to my first ‘In the Kitchen With’ post was astounding and I felt incredibly lucky to play host to so many of you engaged readers. You can find the recipe Sophie used in Diana Henry’s Simple cookbook.
This time, I’m sharing a delicious feast and cosy interior of my friend Hannah’s family home over in Northern Ireland. You might recall our girls’ trip there during the August Bank Holiday weekend, as I shared it on the blog in a travel guide to County Antrim as well as over on Instagram Stories! So. Much. Content.
Hannah and I have been firm friends since meeting at London Fashion Week back in 2011. Let’s peek inside her (holiday) kitchen…
Hannah’s pad is a beautiful house on the Causeway Coast, overlooking a private beach and just a stone’s throw from the awe-inspiring Giant’s Causeway. It’s a topsy-turvy house with its living room and kitchen upstairs; a grand, open-plan area where we all sipped gin, curled up with tea and shared billions of jokes, stories and laughs each evening.
First of all, I’m absolutely obsessed with this house. I mean, that view from the front window is something else! Can you talk us through your favourite spot in this house?
“Thank you! I’m very lucky that my parents have this retreat in Northern Ireland. The Causeway Coast is such a beautiful part of the world, I try to visit as often as possible.
The quietness and rural surroundings makes a welcome contrast to London life. My favourite part of the house is definitely the open fireplace. It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer – collecting driftwood on the nearby beach and lighting a fire come the evening is such a treat.”
Shall we recount the story of that rug that lives in front of the fireplace? Because I had the best time listening to your Mum tell it!
“Ha, I don’t think I can retell the story as well as my Mum did – perched on the cosy chair, glass of wine in hand – but I’ll give it a go.
During our visit I noticed there was a new rug in the living room, so I asked my Mum about it. She said that a few years ago she’d spotted a fantastic Persian-style rug rolled up in the communal bin shed. She knew she wouldn’t be able to carry it back to the house on her own, so she waited until someone could give her a helping hand.
A few days later she returned to the bin shed with my Dad to discover that the rug was gone. She cursed the bin disposal people for a while and that was that.
Flash forward several years, a neighbour and close friend of the family was moving. She told Mum that she needed to get rid of some furniture, including a rug, and would my Mum like anything. Well you’ll never guess (you probably will) which rug said neighbour was getting rid of? And now the legend bin shed rug sits happily on our living room floor.”
We all know you’re quite the cookbook fiend Hannah. What are your favourite recipe books at the moment?
My cookbook obsession is slowly taking over my life, but in my defence I do get a lot of use out of them.
There are a lot of books I have a lot of love for so it would impossible for me to just choose one favourite. For easy after-work dinners, my go-to books are Flavour by Ruby Tandoh, Simple by Diana Henry, Dining In by Alison Roman, and everything Nigel Slater has ever written.
For something that requires a little more effort, I love the breddos Tacos cookbook, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, and Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke. Other food writers I’ll often buy from include Meera Sodha, Claire Thompson and queen of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson.
Lastly, it’s time to get cooking! What is the signature Hannah dish that you’ll be sharing with my readers today?
“The closest thing I have to a signature recipe is my chicken, leek and bacon pie but as it’s a pretty simple dish, [NB: I was in the process of moving from a vegetarian to a vegan diet at the time of cooking] I decided to flex my veggie muscles and cook up an Ottolenghi feast using his veggie-only cookbook – Plenty.
I must have cooked a dozen baked egg recipes in my time and this version was certainly a tasty one, but I think the Persian version is still my favourite.
I also made hummus, baba ganoush, asparagus with feta, and spiced sweet potato chips. I do love to challenge myself by cooking lots of things and once, and even though the kitchen usually ends up in a mess, and dinner starts later than I originally intended, the end result is usually worth it. I love sharing food, and being able to try a few different plates in one meal really elevates my experience of eating, so it’s only natural that I’ve replicated this style of cooking at home.”
I mean… I think you’ll agree that this was a feast and a HALF. Hannah’s delicious hummus is one of my all-time favourites (honestly, I could eat it by the bowlful!). And how gorgeous is her pad in Northern Ireland? What a stunning, serene sanctuary.