Pot. So 90s.
I love the 1990s revival so much more than I loved the actual 1990s. Back then I sat in my room listening to Tori Amos albums over and over, marking passages in Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson about the beauty of true love, and getting frustrated about the episode of My So Called Life where Angela had a meltdown because she had one spot on her otherwise perfect visage. One spot. One tiny, almost beautiful spot. I should have been so lucky to have had only the one spot.
So with all these big 90s names making a comeback – Damien Hirst, Clare Danes, Faye Tozer – it’s nice to be able to actually enjoy them from my now relatively outward-looking maturity, rather than to be letting them pass me by as I sat at home making necklaces out of self-consciously kooky plastic beads I’d bought in Brighton, wailing along to The Cranberries.
And my favourite 90s star to have suddenly popped up is Lorraine Pascale. True, no one had actually heard of her back then – the internet had hardly been invented so how did anyone really know about anything – but she walked in a couple of Versace shows, shot a couple of fashion campaigns, and was probably once ignoring the canapés at the same party as Cindy Crawford, so all her press cuttings happily refer to her as a former supermodel and it’s convenient to pretend that that is what she is.
For on TV she’s natural, charming, unpretentious, un-smug about her perfect kitchen, perfect cooking, perfect life. You want to eat her food, be her friend, have her lovely smooth skin (some personal aspects of the 90s really will haunt me forever). She cooks easy food that looks almost as scrummy as her, serving it up at the end of each episode to a couple of pals, a less raucous and more current version of Jamie O.
But I interviewed her once on the phone. It was the day after the airing of the first episode of her second series, the viewing figures were in and she’d had something like 5m of us glued to her brand of easy domesticity. “I just can’t believe that many people are watching me,” she said timidly, overwhelmed by the sudden attention, as if she’d not covered billboards just a few years ago (which, actually, she might not have done. Who knows?) “I don’t really have friends over for dinner,” she then went on to add, shattering the carefully curated image of her show. But I loved her all the same. Anyone who adds gorgonzola and breadcrumbs to pasta and calls it “Glam Mac and Cheese” is alright in my book.
And as I knew I’d be cooking for four on the morning after two consecutive nights of larging it (as they said in the 90s), I needed recipes to be as simple as possible. With her second book entitled Home Cooking Made Easy, I trusted she’d be my saviour.
And she was, disappointingly. I know this blog is much more interesting when the recipes all fuck up like here and here, but Lorraine was as good as her word – this book was, well, home cooking made easy.
The most painful part of the process was when my alarm went off at 7.45am. We had been at Attitude Magazine’s 18th birthday the night before – it had been free booze from 7pm and one of the last things I remember is an unapologetic Harry Derbridge from TOWIE spilling a drink all down my boyfriend’s arm. Totally non-sober myself, Will had to forcibly prevent me from marching up to him to, in my words at the time, “fucking sort him out.” Will really is the yin to my yang.
Anyway, the pork had to go in the oven where it sat for six hours, leaving me time to make the starter, pudding, complain about feeling queasy and generally blame my hangover on my boyfriend, whose only crime was to ask innocently from the sofa if I needed any help.
Lorraine’s Herby Scotch Eggs
The Herby Scotch Eggs were vaguely fiddly, yet not remotely difficult. Hard boiled eggs covered in sausage meat, rolled in breadcrumbs and baked for my American readers (howdy) Luscious Lorraine (as no one is calling her)’s idea was to splat the sausage meat on some cling film (that’s Saran Wrap, y’all), stick the egg in the middle and bunch up the cling film to encase the egg in meat. Much tastier than they sound.
My version. On a hangover, you can’t really expect more
And it almost worked, too – only two of the four split open in the oven, and by the time we ate them, having smelt the pork wafting gently out of the oven for six long hours, it wouldn’t have mattered what they’d looked like.
LP’s Really Slow-Roast Pork With Crispy, Crispy Crackling and Garlic Roast Vegetables
As for the Really Slow-Roast Pork With Crispy, Crispy Crackling and Garlic Roast Vegetables, it was incredible, a piggy triumph, a silk purse out of a sow’s shoulder. “Pip, come and look at this,” Will said seriously from where I’d made him carve. “The meat is literally just falling apart.”
And mine. Phwoar
It tasted as succulent as it looked, and the addition of pears to the roast vegetables were a genius twist on apple sauce. Serving it up with Lorraine’s Red Cabbage with Pears and Garlic (a pair of pears, if you will), the lesbians we’d had over for lunch were suitably impressed. “It tastes like it has been sent from heaven,” said one, as if she knew anything about porking (boom boom). The crackling was as crispy as the double-use of the word in the title implied - so crunchy LP named it twice - and its fennel seed topping was deliciously bittersweet.
Lorraine’s Frozen Raspberry Ripple Parfait ‘Ice Cream’
Finally, after we’d lain in a meat stupor for an hour or so, rubbing our satisfied tummies for long enough to have massaged some room into them, I brought the Frozen Raspberry Ripple Parfait ‘Ice Cream’ from the freezer where it had nestled all day. My last memory of it has been cursing the tediosity (fuck you, you annoying squiggly red line,that should sooooo be a word) of pushing the raspberries through a sieve to make a puree, and the noise of the electric beaters hitting the exact same frequency as the wine-related roar in my brain as they whipped the cream and egg whites, but the drama was all forgotten as we gorged on this vaguely adult take on a childhood classic, as smooth and sweet as Lorraine herself.
My chopping board may not be as aspirational, but not bad, right?
So go on, follow another 90s trend and actually buy this book, as opposed to just googling for the free recipes online because you’ve gone all modern and stuff. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
Cost of ingredients: £32.34 (not counting items already in store cupboard)
Starter * * * (but it tasted a lot better than it looked)
Main * * * * * (I can eat this every day, yes?)
Pudding * * * * * (Ditto)
Overall: 10/10 Please marry me, Lorraine
Home Cooking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale is published by HarperCollins (£20). Original photography by Myles New