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Marie's interview

Interview by Laura Interview by Laura

We interviewed Marie!

Visit the blog: The English Kitchen.

See profile page and recipes

Discover Marie's favourite recipe: Apple Pie Roll Ups

"I don't think a good cook ever stops exploring the great adventure that is food."

Hello Marie, so tell us...

What inspired you to start your blog?

I started 'The English Kitchen' back in 2009. Although I had been blogging previous to that, I wanted to have a page that was solely dedicated to food and cooking.
Prior to moving to the UK I had been told that the food over here was horrible. I didn't know what to expect, but was happy to discover that all the bad rumors were unfounded. The food over here is lovely. We have some of the nicest fresh meats and cheeses, beautiful fresh vegetables etc, and contrary to popular belief we know how to cook them! I began the blog to help to debunk these myths on British cookery.
My blog has a mix of traditional and new and everything in between. I also like to put my own spin on the old favourites from time to time.

You have a wealth of culinary ideas and advice on your blog. How did you become so knowledgable about food?

I have been cooking since I was a girl, having learned some pretty good skills at the knees of the women in my family, and then I raised five children of my own, which helped me to hone my skills even further. When I moved over here I wanted to learn all about the food of the UK, and cooking methods and so I went to culinary school, after which I was employed as a personal chef for a family, living and working on a Manor Estate in the Garden of England. It was challenging at times and very exciting. I retired four years ago and now basically just cook at home. I am always eager to learn about, and to taste, new things though. I don't think a good cook ever stops exploring the great adventure that is food.

How active are you in the blogging community? Have you met any interesting people through your blog or has it brought you to new places?

I have made some really good friends via blogging. That is one thing I love most about the blogging community. It is filled with wonderful people, a virtual melting pot of personalities and ideas. I have met a few "Celebs" through the years, including Paul Rankin, Jimmy Doherty, Jean Christophe Novelli, amongst a few others. I was thrilled several years ago to have been given an award by the 'British Turkey Association'. My award was presented by Olympic Gold Medalist Matthew Pinsent and retired rugby player Peter Schrivener. It was a pretty exciting evening. I have been able to visit Jimmy's Farm, the beautiful Mendip Valley, and interestingly enough, Salt Lake City. Blogging and the opportunities it provides is pretty amazing.

What is your secret weapon in the kitchen?

Mise en place, a good set of kitchen knives and several timers.
Having all of your ingredients measured out and in place is invaluable.
Good knives, properly cared for last a lifetime.
Timers help me to keep on track, especially when I am cooking more than one thing at once. Also when I am cooking a dinner party or at some other special occasion, I always have a plan of action to follow.
I guess it all boils down to organization. It's your best friend in the kitchen. Nobody can cook well in chaos. My work surface is only about 12 inches square, but I use it well because of my organizational and timing skills.

What dish or menu could you not live without?

Out of all the dishes I have cooked through the years I have to say my absolute favourite is a good old fashioned stew. It never disappoints and it's something I can throw together at the drop of a hat and using whatever ingredients I have to hand. I also have a weakness for a good steak, fried in butter until medium rare, simply dressed with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Heavenly bliss.

What is your earliest memory involving food?

My maternal Grandfather was of German ancestry and used to make his own pickled pork and sauerkraut from scratch. He kept the Kraut in a big barrel in the cellar. I can remember his old shed being filled with home-cured hams and smoked sausages hanging from the rafters, along with strings of hone grown onions. There was an earthy smoky smell in the air, which I loved.

What chefs do you admire most and why? Do you have any other influences?

I love, LOVE Nigel Slater. He cooks like I cook and like I love to eat. I love that he is able to just go to the refrigerator and pull things out and put them together in delicious and innovative ways. Simple ingredients put together in a simple and easy manner which ALWAYS, always tastes good. I love also that he uses up everything. That is how I like to do things. He pushes the boundaries of taste and use in pure and simple ways. I also quite like Jamie Oliver and of course, Delia.

If you could be a contestant or guest on any cooking show, what show would you choose?

At one time I would have loved to go onto 'Master Chef'. 'Saturday Kitchen' would also be nice. In truth though, it would be an absolute dream come true to be able to cook with Nigel Slater. I know he pretty much never has guests in his kitchen, but if he did, I would love to be one of them!

Which Gourmandize recipe would you recommend? (if none take your fancy, add your own and share it with us)

Why my September 2013 Prize Winning Apple Pie Roll Ups, of course!!

- Gourmandize Apple Recipe Competition

Any last words or message for our readers?

Cooking doesn't have to be hard work. Anyone can cook if they just follow a few rules. Know your ingredients. Taste them. Study them. Learn what goes with what. Don't ever give up. The only failure in life is in not trying. The simplest things, prepared simply using quality fresh ingredients, in a timely manner without bells and whistles, are often the tastiest things of all.

Thank you Marie for answering our questions and see you soon!
Published by Laura Packham - 14/02/2014

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