This is for and about home cooks - the women all over the the world (and through the centuries) who put dinner on the table every night. They know how to cook quickly, easily, economically, healthily and satisfyingly whether for one or a dozen.

Part memoir, part diary of shopping, cooking, reading and thinking about putting supper on the table, by a former fashion/design writer/consultant whose secret love has always been food.  


Simple Beef Goulash With Sour Cream


Goulash is another favourite from the days when garlic bread and hearty French onion soup seemed the height of sophistication.

The New York Times Cookbook, edited by Craig Claibourne and published in 1961, listed three recipes: Prague Three-Meat Goulash using beef, pork and veal, and Budapest Beef Goulashes I and II, with and without peppers and/or sour cream, but all including tomatoes in some form.

Included in Simon Hopkinson and Lindsay Bareham’s delightfully nostalgic  2006 cookbook “The Prawn Cocktail Years” – dreamed up over several generous glasses of wine, they claimed – a traditionally simple, satisfying peasant stew moves into the 21st century with a bit of extra spice.  

I was charmed by Felicity Cloake’s very thorough review of goulash in her “How to Cook Perfect Goulash” in The Guardian last spring, as always, well worth reading for her extensive analysis of various methods, but it has taken me until now to find time to undertake a little research of my own.  

In December, 1975, I had a tiny baby and was just beginning to return to work. Easy cooking was high on my agenda, and the ideas in Habitat’s Cooks Diary suited perfectly.

Caraway Goulash, Habitat Cooks Diary, December, 1975

ALL YOU NEED IS: adapted to feed 4

1 lb/half kilo braising beef cut in cubes (I prefer chuck steak)

1 lb/one very large onion, sliced thin

1 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 large cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoons paprika (recipe calls for one, but I prefer more)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh (or dried) marjoram

1 tablespoon vegetable oil for browning meat

plain flour for tossing cubes of meat

stock or water to cover

salt & pepper

Cream or yoghurt to taste

Roll cubes of meat in seasoned flour. In an oven proof casserole, brown the meat all over in oil and put aside.

Cook onions and garlic in remaining oil until soft and golden. Add paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram and a pinch of salt.

Return brown meat to pan, stir and add stock or water to just cover. Put lid on casserole and cook in a slow oven (150c) for 2-3 hours, until meat is very tender and can be pulled apart with a fork.  Add cream or yoghurt and stir.

NOTE: if preferred, cream or yoghurt can be served separately at the table.



Simple Spanish Fried Fish with Capers

Pork With Apricot & Sage