In the kitchen with: Claire Aldous

September 19, 2019
In the kitchen with: Claire Aldous

This week we're in the kitchen with Food Editor Claire Aldous. Claire is the mastermind behind recipes enjoyed by thousands of readers for more than 15 years, having been with dish since the very first issue. With a vast knowledge of ingredients and techniques, her constant innovation and imagination are an invaluable source of inspiration.

Your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
Spaghetti with heaps of chilli, garlic, Ortiz anchovies and lots of lemon, sautéed in good olive oil plus a handful of prawns if there’s some in the freezer.

spaghetti with chilli and garlic

The one thing you always have in your fridge?
Food – home-made preserved lemons. Drink – Prosecco

If you could impart one piece of cooking knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Cook simple, seasonal, well-seasoned dishes that you love to eat. And relax, life’s not a competition!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

homemade pasta

Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in food?
No – I grew up with a mother who was a fantastic cook and I was always in the kitchen with her. I’ve been in the right place at the right time when jobs came along and I always said yes.

Your go-to dinner party meal?
Crispy skinned roast duck, a big salad usually with greens, fennel and whatever else looked good that day, and a fab potato gratin. All served family style on the table, and of course a delicious dessert. I never do three courses.

Who is your food hero? 
Nigel Slater and Judy Rodgers  – now deceased chef at Zuni Café in San Francisco.

What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
Bit eclectic and depends on my mood – Van Morrison, Sarah McLachlan, George Michael and Amy Winehouse are top picks.

Biggest kitchen disaster?
Someone swapped the lids on my icing sugar/cornflour containers – my decadent, layered chocolate cake got heavily dusted in cornflour just as it was going out to the birthday boy!

Your guilty pleasure?
I keep good quality bars of dark chocolate in the freezer and break off little bits when I get a craving for something sweet late at night.

In all your travels, where have you experienced the best food?
San Francisco at both Chez Panisse and Zuni Café, where I had Judy Rodgers' Roast Chicken with Bread Salad – so damn delicious.

chicken salad

Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
All of Nigel Slater's books.

The kitchen utensil you can't live without?
Knives and a microplane zester.

You're currently craving...?
Anything delicious someone else has cooked.

Any advice to new cooks?
Read the entire recipe BEFORE you start cooking.