PARENTS

Jo Pratt: The TV Cook And Food Writer Talks To Parentdish

13/02/2014 09:25 | Updated 20 May 2015

Family cook Jo Pratt author of Madhouse Cookbook

Our new food series on Parentdish profiles celebrity chefs, cookery writers and movers and shakers in the food industry.

Jo Pratt is a cook, food stylist, journalist and bestselling author of four books - most recently Madhouse Cookbook. She is a regular contributor to many magazines and appears on various food TV shows. Jo lives in London with her husband Phil and their two young children (Jo's harshest food critics!) Olly and Rosa.

Describe your cooking style in three words...

Tasty and stress-free.

The weirdest thing I've ever eaten is...

Chitterlings. It was more a mind over matter experience. They were delicious once I got out of my head they were the small intestine of a pig.

In my cupboard you will always find...

Ingredients to prepare a couple of simple dishes in emergencies. Pasta Puttanesca is currently top of my list so tinned chopped tomatoes, a jar of capers, a tin of anchovies, olive oil, an onion, dried oregano, dried flaked chilli, black olives and pasta.

What would you cook for the Queen?

I believe she is a fan of afternoon tea so I'd prepare some tasty crustless sandwiches such as smoked salmon, shaved radish and dill butter, or poached lemon chicken with tarragon mayonnaise. I'd also do a selection of homemade sweet treats including her favourite jam pennies (tiny raspberry jam sandwiches cut into circles the size of an old English penny). On the side I'd serve a bowl of nuts and would make sure her bodyguards didn't take any.

I would tell parents of fussy eaters...

Getting stressed out and worked up only makes them worse. My kids are pretty fussy and I find that if they assist with shopping and cooking they will at least be willing to occasionally try something new. They also quite like looking at recipe books to find something they like the look of, so we now try to plan a weekly menu. Obviously there have to be some practical amendments on my part (chocolate cake for every meal isn't really nutritionally balanced!) but at least they know what to expect that evening for dinner, rather than just being surprised with a dish they 'apparently' don't like.

My guilty food pleasure is...

Kettle crisps.

My most memorable food experience...

One that is right up there would have to be my wedding day lunch. John Torode and his team (very lucky us) put together an amazing meal for a hundred of our nearest and dearest in a marquee at my in-laws' place. It had to be a very foodie day and my goodness it was.

For my last meal I would eat...

A retro prawn cocktail to start, followed by fresh pasta ravioli stuffed with ricotta and pumpkin, tossed in sage butter and toasted pinenuts, with loads of parmesan cheese grated on top. A super ripe tomato and red onion salad with fruity olive oil and lemon juice. To finish off I'd have a fruity, creamy, sticky pavlova or warm double chocolate brownies with homemade vanilla ice-cream. And then a bag of kettle crisps.

I would never, ever eat...

There are lots of things that are killed inhumanely - like sharks. I would never go near shark fin soup and other such dishes.

When I'm home alone I cook...

Quite often the same sort of things I would cook if the family were home. That way I am likely to have leftovers that I'll put in the fridge or freezer, making meal time on a super busy day much easier. Or if I am feeling lazy – good old beans on toast. But I add bits and bobs to make it feel like I've cooked something from scratch.

If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be...

Freshly baked bread straight from the oven, with melting salted butter - or maybe Kettle crisps.

My kitchen is always...

Full of food and equipment for testing out recipes, food magazines, cookbooks, homework and, however hard I try for it not to be the case, there is always a coating of glitter on every surface due to my kids and their art masterpiece creations.

Number one on my foodies bucket list is...

Everyone I know who has been to Japan has said that it was an incredible foodie heaven, so I'd love to go there for a week of eating.

My must-have kitchen gadget is...

A corkscrew and a set of electronic scales. The scales are particularly useful when baking and great for helping the kids to understand measurements when we're cooking together.

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