About the Book

About the Author

Title Page


Foreword by René Redzepi


The Downtime Pantry

Tools and Equipment


Homemade Potato Crisps with Anchovy Hummus

Crisps with Salmon Tartare

Sweet Potato Crisps with Black Bean Dip

Potato Skins with Salmon Roe

Brussels Sprouts and Potato Cups with Beurre Blanc Sauce and Roe

Mashed Potatoes and Greens with Salt-Cured Egg Yolk

Sweet Potato Cakes with Cumin Beetroot and Salted Yoghurt

Green Asparagus with Poached Egg

Globe Artichokes with Herb Dip

Quail’s Eggs with Porcini Mayonnaise

White Asparagus with Truffle Sauce

Butter-Fried Bread with Tomatoes

Turmeric-Fried Bread with Herbed Aubergine

Chicken Livers and Avocado on Rye Bread

Deep-Fried Aubergine with Ricotta and Sage

Breaded Tomatoes with Mascarpone and Sardines

Leeks with Vinaigrette, Bacon and Pine Nuts

Clams with Garlic and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Cold Prawns in Horseradish Cream

Jerusalem Artichokes and Almond Milk Soup


Baked Salmon with Thyme and Thin Potatoes

Salt-Crusted Sea Bass with Green Beans

Baked Cod with Crushed Tomatoes and Green Olives

Roasted Ratatouille with Orzo

Aubergine Gratin

‘Seal the Deal’ Pasta

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

Pasta with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Mussel Sauce

Fusilli with Spicy Chicken Liver Sauce

Lasagne with Sausage Meatballs

Duck Breast Rice Bowl with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Quinoa Salad with Spiced Onions

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

Yucatán Stew with Roasted Chilli Salsa

Warm Potatoes with Greens and Herbs

Porridge with Wild Mushrooms and Eggs

Gingered Chicken Broth with Fennel and Soy Egg

Savoury Sweet Potato Tart

Kale and Mushroom ‘Carbonara’

Cheese Ravioli with Brown Butter Egg Yolks, Parmesan and Sage

Japanese Omelette with Fried Sticky Rice

Monkfish with Lemon Sauce and Peas

Skirt Steak with Oven-Fried Garlic Potatoes and Herbed Pan Sauce

Portuguese Pork Chops and Rice

Middle Eastern Beef with Lentils

Marinated Lamb with Pitta and Hummus


Breaded Fish Fillets with Broccoli

Tonkatsu Chicken with Caramelised Carrots

Danny’s Fried Chicken with Spiced Rice

Roasted Baby Back Ribs and Sweet Potatoes

Roast Chicken and Potatoes with Garlic and Thyme

Porchetta Pork Belly with Truffles

Beef-Glazed Celeriac with Buttermilk Sauce

Pot-Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame Crème Fraîche

Mussels with Chorizo

Braised Pork Cheek Ragù

My Mother’s Chicken Curry

Lamb Curry with Rice and Raita


Three-Fruit Crumble

Danish Apple Dessert

Old-Fashioned Apple Tart

Apricot Tart with Frangipane

Do-It-All Cake

Brandied Plum Cake

Danish Dream Cake

Double-Hazelnut Praline Cake

Almond Cake

Giant Macaron Cake

‘NYC’ Cheesecake

Panna Cotta Caramel

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sugar-Cured Egg Yolk in a Meringue Cloud

Frozen Avocado Cake

My Tiramisù

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Brownies with Flaky Salt and White Chocolate Chunks

Walnut Crescents

Walnut Squares

Coconut Tops


A Life in the Home Kitchen



Bring love and deliciousness into your kitchen.

Inspired by her own childhood and life-long love of food, Nadine Levy Redzepi has created a personal and inviting notebook of recipes that bring her family together around the kitchen table. Nadine talks you step-by-step through each recipe with warmth, encouragement and detailed instructions.

Nadine ensures that home cooking always feels relaxed and enjoyable and your kitchen becomes the heart of your home, no matter your skill or confidence level.

Downtime is the wonderful, simple food that Nadine and the Redzepi family share.


Nadine Levy Redzepi is an enthusiastic home cook, a mother of three daughters, and has spent most of her adult life working with her husband René Redzepi, chef-patron of the multi-award-winning restaurant Noma.


To my wonderful family, friends, recipe testers and everyone who has been a part of making this book.



René Redzepi

‘Chef, we won’t be needing you this evening, so you can head home.’

This disorienting comment was directed at me many years ago, when Noma was just a handful of cooks who filled three-quarters of the dining room on a good night. If we did twenty covers at lunch, we’d be high-fiving one another.

‘What? Is this a joke?’ I said, not doing a very good job of hiding my irritation. ‘Dining room’s actually full tonight.’ Besides that, this was a Saturday – I’m never off on Saturday – and the order came from a sous-chef, which puzzled me even more.

‘No, seriously, you’re going home, we’re good,’ he affirmed, seconded by a chorus of encouraging glances from the rest of the team. I had no choice but to hop on my bike and see what was going on.

When I opened the door to our tiny one-bedroom apartment there were no children around, just Nadine with a light sheen of sweat on her forehead, cooking. Pots and pans were sizzling away on the little gas burner, and steam was coming from every corner of the kitchen. In a Keyser Söze flash, my brain was flooded with images of her recent activities at the restaurant, whispers and meetings with my cooks that had struck me as somewhat sneaky at the time, though it had never occurred to me what she could possibly have in mind.

The joke was definitely on me, in the form of a five-course menu Nadine had been planning for months. She poured me a glass of wine. ‘Sit down, relax,’ she said. It began, I’ll never forget, with a meticulously arranged platter of the season’s vegetables, both raw and cooked, marinated in a luxurious and perfect truffle sauce. I still can’t figure out how she made it, but I remember thinking to myself, ‘Man, that should be on the menu at Noma.’ As clever and observant as anyone I’ve ever met, Nadine had remembered a rare holiday we took to France and just how much we enjoyed eating crudités there. Now, for our first free night together in months, she had put her own spin on it. She followed this with a dish of potato skins more wonderful than any I’ve ever encountered. Usually, you’re only able to get a handful to that paper-thin crispness while maintaining just the right amount of creamy potato layer, but she had managed to make every single one the ideal. She had also fashioned Brussels sprout leaves into little cups and filled each with a buttery fish roe sauce. I can’t quite recall what came after – aside from lots of champagne and fits of laughter that almost hurt – but to this day, it’s the greatest meal I’ve ever eaten.

It certainly wasn’t the first time she had cooked for me. I met Nadine when she was nineteen, and in those early days, when we were just getting to know each other, it always amazed me to hear that she spent her nights at home cooking for herself. I always figured teenagers went for the typical cop-out of ordering in or meeting friends at a fast-food joint. At best, they’d make themselves some buttered toast.

On one of our first dates, with no inside information about my likes or dislikes, she made us a dish of sautéed chicken livers with a sauce of tomatoes and chillies. Nadine wasn’t totally happy with the end result, but I was thrilled: by some cosmic force she had chosen to make the one dish I had loved more than any other as a child. I wouldn’t say that my family was poor, but when I was growing up there definitely wasn’t a lot of money around. Most nights we ate a hearty stew of beans, and when we did eat meat, it was usually an off-cut. My mother, a Dane, would find a frozen, somewhat neglected bag of chicken livers in the supermarket and cook it with flavours that my father, from the former Yugoslavia, enjoyed: mushrooms, the versatile seasoning Vegeta, and – you guessed it – tomatoes and chillies. Nadine served it to me with pasta noodles, just as my mother had when I was a child.

I don’t for one second mind sounding silly, like a story from a cheap teenager’s magazine, when I say that was the evening I realised that for each of us, there is someone out there who couldn’t be with anyone else, and I had been lucky enough to find mine. From that day forward, she and I were it. Thank god for chicken livers.

All of this is to say that Nadine, without ever intending it, reminded me of the values a cook can sometimes forget when they’ve spent most of their young career as a mercenary in adrenaline-fuelled kitchens. If I hadn’t seen her channelling all of her best intentions into making someone happy, I don’t think Noma would have ended up where it has. Nadine’s lack of ego and generosity of spirit showed me, and the chefs whom she would ask for tips or would cook for on their nights off, why people gather around a table.

Lately, all of this has become more obvious as we raise our three daughters. In our home, there is always cooking going on. It’s not only a comfort we can count on, it’s a kind of electrical current that runs through the family and keeps it going and together. Noma is a home for everyone, of course – so many children have grown up there – but the kitchen in our house is this family’s heart. At the time of writing, our middle one, Genta, has learned to bake bread.

It may feel hard, or even impossible, to cook one meal a day when you have to make a living in the modern world. I see your point (in a way, even I can’t do that for my children!). Yet in this book I see someone who, by creating habits just like people do with exercise, has made the act of cooking effortless and endlessly generative. There is so much you can do if you simply begin to try.

As I write about what Nadine has created for our family, which she is now sharing in this book, I think about how dumb I must have sounded all of those times when I was young and would talk about restaurant chefs like they were famous athletes, saying things like, ‘Man, that guy can cook!’ or ‘They only had two cooks on the line and were still able to bang out all those covers.’ These days, I’m much more in awe of the parents and grandparents and caretakers who stroll up and down the supermarket aisles several times a week, trying to come up with something that the children won’t reject after they put it in their mouths.

Of these, Nadine is the best I know.



You could say my whole life revolves around cooking and eating. It’s not only the family business – both my husband, René, and I work at Noma, the restaurant he co-founded – it’s what helps me relax and feel connected to home and family. It is the thing I look forward to doing every day. As far as I’m concerned, there is no downtime without something to eat or drink, and when I get into that cooking mode, that’s when my real downtime begins.

It’s always been this way for me. I grew up watching my mother cook and when I discovered food programmes on television, duplicating the dishes I saw or trying to recreate things I’d tasted on holidays, became a passion.

Now that our family and business have grown to include three young daughters, three restaurants, and a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to creating new ways for chefs to explore important food issues, I treasure our downtime more than ever. I try to make space for this daily ritual no matter what else is going on in our lives – and whoever might be joining us at the kitchen table.

At Noma, the office, test kitchen and staff dining area all share one big open room on the floor above the restaurant and as I work, the aromas that flow from the test kitchen cause my mind to drift here and there, triggering thoughts of different flavour combinations and what we might have for dinner that night.

I go food shopping pretty much every day and I make a point of using that period to get my head out of work and into family time. I love going to the market and getting a takeaway cappuccino, saying hello to people I know as I walk from stand to stand, noticing how the fruit and vegetables change with the seasons.

I usually arrive without a concrete plan of what to buy because I know that when I am hungry I want to eat everything and ideas for meals will come very quickly. I start imagining how delicious it would be to serve this with that and add a little of another thing – all the while thinking how my kids will like it and what stories they will tell me while I am cooking.

I am never alone in the kitchen. Our dining space, kitchen and living room are all one big room, which makes the kitchen the natural gathering place. Whether we have friends over for dinner or it is just us cooking with music playing in the background, it is always the same: my older daughters, Arwen and Genta, help peel vegetables, rinse greens for a salad and fight over who made the vinaigrette yesterday and who gets to make it today. My mother changes the music continuously while our youngest daughter, Ro, plays on the floor or joins in by sticking her hands and fingers into everything. (If there happens to be butter on the table, she will eat as much of it as she can if I don’t keep an eye on her.) This warm togetherness adds an extra dimension of hygge, as we Danes call it, to the ritual of preparing a family meal that makes it all the more pleasurable.


I’ve learned to be flexible about dinner because I never really know how many we will be. When people drop by unexpectedly, one of the children has a friend over, or the spouse of someone from the restaurant stops in for a visit, they are always welcome to join us at the table. Sometimes I just need to slice the meat a bit thinner, add more vegetables to the sauce or make a bigger salad, but we can always accommodate one or two more. And though I do think about what the children will like to eat, I don’t cook a separate meal for them; as much as I love cooking I don’t want to cook two dinners every day. I would rather spend that extra time and effort on making a bigger dinner for everyone, adding a special dessert or a more elaborate starter.

Cook for guests as you would for family. Treat your family like company.

On weekends we usually entertain at least once or twice, but because we keep it comfortable and relaxed, having guests doesn’t feel like ‘work’. Everyone gathers at the island, eating something tasty, helping with the prep if they want, having some wine, listening to music and before you know it there’s a great buzz in the room. It makes you more relaxed as a host having all these people being part of preparing dinner because it takes some pressure off your shoulders, instead of it being your responsibility to get dinner on the table for everyone.

One of the many things that I have learned from working at Noma and being with René is understanding what makes me immediately feel welcome and at ease. By learning this about yourself, you become better at creating the atmosphere you want in your own home when you have guests. If you are at ease, everyone else will be, too.


When we entertain, I rarely get fancy and elaborate; rather our guests come and join us for a family meal. I’ve served roast chicken to Daniel Patterson, broth with rice and eggs to Matty Mathieson and roasted ribs and sweet potatoes to David Chang. I’m often asked if it’s intimidating to cook for professional chefs, and I’ll admit I was nervous the first time I cooked for René, but I soon realised that chefs spend so much time cooking for other people that they are just happy and appreciative when someone cooks for them! (And they are handy in the kitchen as sous-chefs.) They don’t expect an elabourate meal with foams and fancy garnishes, they just want well-flavoured food made with good-quality ingredients – exactly what you’d make for your own family. On the other hand, it’s fun to surprise your family with something a bit sophisticated and extravagant for no special reason. On those days I’ll slip a bit of truffle purée into the stuffing for a pork roast, or make a giant macaron filled with whipped cream and a thin layer of cake for dessert.

I take great pleasure in cooking a proper evening meal every day, not just something quick and lazy even if it is ‘just’ us. Downtime is a collection of the recipes I make most often for family, friends and everyone else in between. It’s an eclectic mix of comfort food dishes – some of which I have been eating and preparing since childhood – upgraded with what I’ve learned about ingredients, flavour and kitchen technique. Most importantly, it’s a book of the family traditions I mean to pass along to my kids, and that I hope can become part of your daily ritual as well.


The book is divided into three simple sections: Starters, Mains and Desserts, but with the exception of the desserts (or most of them) those distinctions are largely semantic. I often serve traditional breakfast foods like omelettes and porridges for dinner, and I would happily make a breakfast of the chicken broth with soy egg or serve the braised leeks starter for a light summer main course. Many of my favourite starters can double as party food on a buffet or be plated up individually as the first course of a more formal meal. Most of the desserts are equally fantastic for big celebrations and afterschool treats. Again, it’s all about blurring the distinction between family food and special occasions. It is kind of like my mother’s advice on buying a gift: get them something that you would want yourself. If you cook something you want to eat, you can’t really go wrong.

This is not a restaurant cookbook, and with a few exceptions, most of the food I serve at home is simple, flavourful comfort food. That said, working at Noma and being married to its chef has given me the incredible opportunity to do lots of travelling, to dine at wonderful restaurants and become good friends with some of the world’s best chefs. Along the way I have picked up a few techniques and tricks that I have incorporated into my cooking at home even while keeping things simple and practical.

I’ve heard many people say they would never serve something they hadn’t made before for company, but that’s not really my philosophy. When people come to the house, it’s loose and comfortable; they don’t think they’re going to a restaurant. I think it’s fun to try something new and have everyone give you their feedback. Mistakes are a learning process, and from working at Noma I’ve learned that many of the best things on the menu started out as an experiment gone wrong in the test kitchen!

You don’t need to have chef-level skills to make any of the dishes in this book, though some of these recipes will make you look like a culinary superstar, turning out plates that wouldn’t be out of place in a fine restaurant. To ensure success, I’ve added tips and notes throughout that I hope will make you feel like you are being walked through the recipes as you cook. Once you have made them a few times you probably won’t need these pointers, but until then, I have your back.

A few more rules that I live by:

Build On What You Know

You’ll see some recurring themes throughout this book, basic templates that I build on to create layers of flavour and sophistication from components I love and make often. Although some of these dishes share a basic procedure, the outcomes look and taste very different. The beauty is that you aren’t reinventing the wheel every time you step into the kitchen; you’ll soon develop a level of comfort with these dishes and find that they come together very quickly as you mix and match components you have mastered previously. Once they are second nature, you can create complexity by bringing in more exotic elements like fish roe, a cured egg yolk or prunes macerated in brandy. It’s a smart, easy way to make something simple seem really polished and professional. And rest assured, no one will accuse you of repeating yourself.

Don’t Fear Fat

Another thing that working so close to a restaurant kitchen has taught me is that fat can really bring out the flavour in a vegetable or piece of protein. Butter basting is one of the first things I picked up when I started working at Noma. I noticed that the chef in charge of the hot section was cooking a piece of musk ox in more butter than I had ever seen in a pan, spooning the hot fat over the meat again and again. He explained it makes things juicier and can enhance the flavour of almost anything. Now I almost always give pan-fried foods a bath of butter right at the end, and even drop a few tablespoons of butter into the cooking water for vegetables. And for creating incomparable crispness and sealing in flavour, nothing beats deep-frying; what would life be without chips or fried aubergine?

Lastly, Observe Your Food

Just like eating, cooking should engage all of your senses. Learning to notice and interpret the signs and signals food gives you as it goes through the cooking process is far more important than sticking to the timing stated in a recipe. You’ll know your meat is ready to be turned in the pan because it looks delicious and appetising; when your clams pop open or your roasted sweet potatoes start to ooze caramelised sugars, you’ll know they are done to perfection, no matter what the clock says.



At home there are no rules about what ingredients you can use or which cuisines you should cook. Be as eclectic and experimental as you want, mixing dishes from different countries. Having spent my early childhood in Portugal and England and my summers in France before moving to Denmark when I was six, I don’t even think about crossing borders in the kitchen.

As a family we’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively, and whenever we do we absorb a bit of the local food culture. I always take something back home from these travels that becomes a permanent part of the way I cook, from the sticky rice I serve with just about everything to a cooling frozen avocado pie that evokes holidays in Mexico.

The only real rule I follow is that I want all of my ingredients to be of the very highest quality. I strongly believe the better the produce, the better the food. Much of the food produced in Denmark is organic, and it means a lot to me that I am cooking food for my children and friends that is produced responsibly. I bike all over town to pick up just one thing here and another from a supermarket three miles away. I have one favourite butcher for pork and beef and another butcher for chicken, duck breast and pâté. Luckily for me, all of these places are within walking distance of one another.

When you have good produce full of flavour, you need less seasoning. I try not to use too much salt in my cooking and I don’t automatically salt the water when I boil vegetables or meat or fish before I pan-sear them. I do use coarse sea salt for pasta water and a finer sea salt for some baking recipes, but for almost all other purposes I prefer the clean taste of a flaky sea salt such as Maldon. I like the variation in the size of the flakes and, to me, it both looks and tastes better when you season your food right before serving.

When I was learning to cook, I always used salt and pepper together, but now I think of pepper more as a spice, as it does have a very strong flavour. In something like a pasta carbonara, it makes the whole dish, but it can be too assertive in other dishes, so I add it thoughtfully and with care.

That said, I do encourage people to season their food to their own liking and always set freshly ground pepper, flaky salt, olive oil and a small bowl of extra chopped herbs on the table. This lets friends and the children try something in a different way and I like to watch how people add such different amounts of seasoning on their food. I’m interested to see that my children don’t want pepper on their fish, but they do on their steak. I love that they think about the flavour and know how they like their food.

The dairy in Denmark is amazing and for the richest desserts I love to use double cream, which has a fat content of more than 45 per cent. Be sure to use the freshest organic cream you can find, preferably not ultra-pasteurised. Crème fraîche is one of the best things in the world; thick, creamy and acidic. Two essential staples in our household are eggs and butter. At any given time I have a kilo of butter on hand (that’s more than two pounds) and we use as many as six dozen fresh organic eggs per week between breakfasts, baking and all the other amazing ways these versatile protein sources can be cooked. For almost every purpose, including baking, I prefer salted butter, and the recipes in this book indicate that. If you strongly prefer to use unsalted butter, you may need to season your food more assertively along the way.

We consume fish and meat consciously and in moderate portions, though we are by no means vegetarian. I like using cuts such as lamb shoulder, pork cheeks and pork belly that you won’t necessarily find packaged in the meat section of your supermarket. These cuts are often cheaper than ‘prime’ cuts like steak and chops because they take longer to cook. They may require more time in the pan, but they do not require much actual cooking from you. Better still, they are rich and full of flavour and can serve a lot of people. Get friendly with the butchers; they can often special order less-common cuts for you if you call ahead. And learn to love sustainable shellfish like mussels and clams.

I have a pretty well-stocked pantry, and it’s comforting to know that when I get up and can tell it’s going to be a day I spend in my pyjamas, I can always make a meal without leaving the house. I always have three types of oil on hand for different uses: a neutral-flavoured oil like rapeseed or grapeseed is best for frying or sautéing and making mayonnaise. For dressings, marinades and to add body to sauces I use a good- but not best-quality olive oil. And I reserve a really good, tasty olive oil to drizzle over salads, meat or fish at the table. Other pantry ingredients we’re never without are good-quality dried pastas; organic tinned tomatoes and beans; tinned fish, like anchovies and sardines; and preserved truffles. I serve sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice, four or five times a week and when I make it I always deliberately cook enough for leftovers because the girls love it in their lunch boxes and it’s so easy to turn into a fast meal by adding bits of leftover cooked vegetables, meat or eggs.


Nuts and nut flours – almond, hazelnut and walnuts in particular – show up in so many of my desserts, as does good-quality marzipan. Fresh vanilla pods are an ingredient I insist on; I would never use vanilla extract, especially when it’s the primary flavour, as it simply doesn’t taste the same as the beans. For most recipes raw sugar is my standby. I share the Scandinavian obsession with liquorice and a few of the dessert recipes in this book call for liquorice powder as an optional addition. You may not be able to get it in your local supermarket, but you can order it online and it can be stored like any dried spice. Another favourite dessert flavouring is freeze-dried fruit powders. Freeze-dried fruits are becoming more widely available in the snack aisle; crush them to a powder with a pestle and mortar or in the food processor.


You might expect the home kitchen of a chef and his family to be tricked out with space-age appliances and all the latest high-end gadgets, but I’ve always believed you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to make great food. I recently ate at a friend’s house and he proudly served a steak that he had cooked in a sous vide machine then seared with a kitchen torch. I appreciated the effort, but to me the steak would have had so much more flavour if he had just cooked it in a pan.

Until quite recently we have always lived in rental apartments, with average appliances and not a lot of storage space for kitchen gear; I only bought my first food processor last year! In our current home we had the opportunity to design the kitchen with a carpenter, so the setup is great, but it is still just a home kitchen. I have a very good oven, a few small appliances and a handful of simple tools. The list below comprises the items I rely on most often – just about everything you will need to make any of the recipes in this book.

Sharp knives and a sharpening steel: I probably don’t have my knives professionally sharpened as often as I should, but I do make sure to give them a few swipes with the steel before each use to straighten out any minor nicks in the edge, which also prolongs the time between real sharpenings.

Food processor and blender: For most jobs you can use one or the other, so it’s not absolutely necessary to own both. That said, I tend to use the food processor for things like pulverising nut brittle or grinding nuts to make flour. For puréeing liquids and soups, I use the blender.

Electric mixer: If you are a baker, there is nothing more indispensable for beating air into meringues and creating smooth batters and frostings. If you have a stand mixer with changeable beaters, so much the better, but if you have only a hand mixer, you can still make any of these recipes; you just may need to beat a little longer. Whisks won’t take the place of a mixer but you’ll want one for making mayos, butter sauces and vinaigrettes.

Frying pans: Ideally you’ll have a heavy, straight-sided frying pan for searing meats, making pasta sauces and shallow-frying, plus another nonstick sauté pan for cooking delicate fish and making omelettes.

Other pots and pans: I use my heavy casserole dish more than just about any other pot in the kitchen. It is great for braising, simmering soups and making curries, and because it retains heat well it helps control the temperature for deep-frying. In a pinch you can use it for making pasta and stocks if you don’t have room for a larger stockpot.


Rimmed baking sheets are useful for so many things, from roasting spare ribs to toasting breadcrumbs and baking cookies. You should have at least two; four is better.

Skimmers and strainers: I deep-fry a lot and a shallow basket, long-handled skimmer, also called a spider, is the best for lifting fried food from the hot oil as well as scooping pasta and vegetables out of boiling water. Wire mesh sieves are handy for sifting flours and straining stocks, and making silky-smooth mashed potatoes. Buy a large one and a smaller one if you have room for both as well as a colander for draining pasta, rinsing greens and much more.

Tongs, both metal and rubber-tipped, rubber spatulas and a long-handled spoon for basting.

A box grater or zester for zesting citrus and grating cheese.

Japanese mandolin/V-slicer: These don’t need to be expensive. Mine is plastic and works just as well as the high-endmetal versions. Essential if you are serious about making potato crisps, and I am!

Baking paper simplifies baking (and the cleanup).

A kitchen scale for measuring chocolate and weighing cheese.

A kitchen timer to ensure perfectly hard-boiled eggs.

Instant-read thermometers are indispensable for roasted foods. A sugar thermometer is necessary for cooking certain confections.

Lastly, if you find yourself making rice and ice cream as often as I do, you might want to invest in an electric rice cooker and an inexpensive ice cream maker. If you have a stand mixer, you can buy an attachment that lets the mixer do the churning, but even a simple crank version with a liner that you chill in the freezer does the job.


Preparing a meal doesn’t end in the kitchen. I believe food tastes better on beautiful plates, and I collect ceramics and unique serving pieces obsessively. I have very few matching sets of china, it’s all very mix-and-match and much of it picked up on our travels. I choose things based on size, shape and what inspires me. When I see a beautiful plate, I immediately start to imagine what I could make to serve on it. In general, I think very large plates are a bad idea. You shouldn’t have to load the plate up to make it look full.


The large island at the heart of our kitchen is also at the centre of most meals I share with friends and family. When we have people over for dinner, instead of preparing very much before they show up, I do most of the cooking once they are here. I usually delegate small tasks to people as they arrive, which allows them to join in on the fun rather than waiting awkwardly at the table. Within a few minutes, everyone is peeling, chopping and enjoying a glass of wine while my mum controls the music from her favourite chair and our girls climb on stools to watch and chat with the visitors. There’s a wonderful buzz at the island, and it already feels like a party.