Is it just me or is it every day you check the news something horrible has happened somewhere? If it's not a terrorist atrocity, it’s a madman with a gun; if not a hurricane, it’s floods; Catalonia and Brexit; Kim Jong-un playing with the nuke button and Donald Trump’s gutter-presidency; Isis and Putin – and now Grape, the Japanese celebrity penguin has died.
No wonder we shut down the browser and shuffle to the kitchen – or out of the office to the café down the block – in search of a reassuring biscuit. Comfort food is going to be big this season, I predict. It’s not lack of self-discipline when pounds pile on – it’s the depressing world news and Storm Brian.
What biscuit should we reach for this week? Let’s make a batch of crunchy biscuits to dunk in tea (do I dunk in coffee if I don’t drink tea? I’m a stranger to dunking – and tea) or more refined, a little more time-consuming but rewarding madeleines.
You could also bake the old fashioned apple cake one night – it’s possible to bake on a weeknight because it's what I call a bucket cake; throw everything in a bowl and mix a bit. And it’s got the best toffee flavoured frosting.
What about dinners this week? You could get hold of some venison haunch and cook steaks with red wine sauce; make sure not to overcook them: venison gets tough when not medium-rare. Or roast a load of beetroot with herbs and serve with a jacket potato – meatless and very autumnal. You can also cook a really large pot of French onion soup and serve bowls with cheesy toast floating on top – I can hardly imagine a better comfort dish.
Fish one night this week can be (always underappreciated) mackerel stuffed with samphire, also known as sea beans. And for dessert, or lunch, brunch, supper, side, just-because-you-fancy bake some pears with blue cheese – and keep warm until the storm has passed.