My friend Juliet and I met – as you might predict – at university, where she rapidly gained a reputation as a pretty extraordinary baker. Back then the mighty cupcake loomed large in her repertoire, but she had conquered the macaron well before we donned the graduation cap. She is still an admirable baker – she kindly shared her recipe for matcha choux puffs – but her skills go well beyond the kitchen. Juliet has upholstered chairs, knitted cup warmers, handmade a skirt, built a picnic bench and passed the GDL. She’s a solicitor in London and while her days might be spent in the office her nights are definitely spent in pursuit of fabulous food and travel – as can be seen on her Instagram. Despite leading a very busy life, she has an admirably impeccable kitchen.
Who do you cook for?
Mostly myself, but I love having friends over and cooking for them too.
Do you have a cooking philosophy or approach of any kind?
If I’m cooking for someone else, even if it’s just one other person, I like to really think about what I’m making. I want it to be special and something they’ll enjoy eating. If I’m on my own, I’ll happily cobble things together from what I have.
Where do you buy your groceries?
I’m a Sainsbury’s girl through and through! I grew up shopping at Sainsbury’s and even now that it’s not my nearest supermarket, I go out of my way just to shop there.
Tell us a little bit about your kitchen. Is it minimal or cluttered?
My entire life is minimalist. I find clutter too stressful, so I try and keep things organised. That’s not to say that my cupboards aren’t packed with crockery, utensils, Tupperware and dry goods, but everything has its place. Generally, I try to keep the worktops clear, save for a few appliances.
What’s in your fridge?
I had a dinner party at the weekend, so I’m working my way through all the leftovers. In addition to my staples, I’ve still got some tomato sauce left. I managed to get through the chorizo, escabeche and chocolate cake the other day though…
What are the three most useful ingredients in your kitchen (and why)?
This is a really tough one! Flour, butter and eggs. I always have these on hand. They’re so versatile! If I have a craving to do some baking I can usually cobble something together with other ingredients I keep stashed away. Eggs are probably the hero ingredient though. Even if I’m not baking I can always do something with eggs, whether it’s frying, scrambling or poaching them, just to add a little extra protein to a meal.
What three foods are always in your fridge?
Soy milk, jam and apples. It sounds like an eclectic mix.
Soy milk – I honestly prefer the taste of soy milk to regular milk. I buy the pasteurised stuff so that I can just keep two or three cartons in the fridge at a time.
Jam – I have lots of half empty jars of jam. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t seem to get through them.
Apples – I probably eat an apple a day, because y’know, it keeps the doctor away.
Is anything currently missing from your fridge?
Not really. Apart from a few staples, I try to buy food as I need it. My biggest fear is having to throw food away because it’s spoiled.
What treats do you keep in your fridge (or cupboards)?
I really try not to have treats in the fridge/cupboard at home. I like to eat healthily, so I try to remove the temptation to eat sugar laden treats.
What foods were always in the house when you were growing up?
My house growing up was the complete opposite. We had (and still do) an entire drawer full of cakes, biscuits and pastries. My mum is continuously panicking that supplies are running low.
What three gadgets or tools are most important/helpful for you when cooking?
I love my K-mix equipment! I have a kit that has a stick blender, soup blender, electric whisk and a blender. That’s really handy and will pretty much sort me out for anything I want to make. I also recently acquired a K-mix stand mixer, which has been brilliant. It’s the only way to safely make Italian meringue. The last tool I couldn’t live without is a sharp knife. Everyone should have at least one.
If you had to make yourself a meal with the food in your fridge (and pantry) right now, without going to the shops, what would you make?
If you had to make yourself a meal with the food in your fridge (and pantry) right now, without going to the shops, what would you make? So many options! I’ve got some gorgeous slow roasted tomato sauce leftover from the weekend. I could toss that together with some pasta. Alternatively, I have some salmon fillets and sweet potato fries in the freezer. I’m sure I could turn that into a delicious dinner.
When there really is nothing in your fridge, where do you go out to eat?
Living in London, I’m spoilt for choice. Near me I have a choice of chain restaurants in Canary Wharf (Wahaca is a favourite of mine). If I’m craving something that feels home cooked though, I would go to The Eagle in Clerkenwell. It’s not really near me any more, but I still spend a lot of time in that neighbourhood. It’s a great place to grab a casual, inexpensive, freshly prepared dinner.