Author Archives: Jenny Ridgwell

Mark Ridgwell died December 10th 2018

My posts on Mark went silent on public media after May 11th 2018 and we struggled on until his death in St Peter’s and St James Hospice outside Lewes. During the year of his dying I’ve moved house 5 times. Twice in Seaford, then a ghastly, dark rental in Lewes, on to Wimbledon and back to our tiny Lewes house. Without him I am a nomad. My companion of 52 years has gone and I am left with energetic photos of his highly active life.

Mark decided to pursue privately funded cancer treatment in London after his Sussex oncologist said she could do no more and we struggled on for an incredible six months. He suffered many blood transfusions, plenty of chemotherapy, one bout of toxic shock and took oodles of morphine. Although not enough to destroy the pain. His courage in enduring this disease was as outstanding as his enthusiasm for life.

Even when his body was like a skeleton, he achieved amazing things –

  • celebrating his 72nd birthday at the Snowdrop pub in Lewes
  • running training sessions for bar tenders to say goodbye
  • travelling to Amsterdam to deliver his library of drink’s books to a training room named after him
  • giving a whisky tasting for Lewes October Feast
  • celebrating my 70th birthday at the Coach and Horses
  • watching his favourite Southover Bonfire parade at Lewes Bonfire on November 5th

We agreed a family cremation with just myself, Annabel, Simon and Tamsin in attendance. It was Christmas time and the rest of the world was in joyous spirits.

On January 6th, we had a small  funeral for family and friends in St Michael’s Church in Lewes. Mark would have been proud of us all and the glory of a service on The Feast of Epiphany. Here is a piece I wrote for a competition.

At my husband’s funeral I wore a red and gold ikat coat that shimmered in the church candlelight, reflecting the ceremony date, the Feast of the Epiphany. Maybe one of the three kings would have worn such royal colours at the crib of baby Jesus? More importantly, long ago, A A Gill remarked ‘Nice coat’ when I sat next to him at Dean Street Townhouse. I was ready to order his favourite dish, shepherd’s pie, and quipped ‘It’s from Kazakstan.’

‘No, Uzbeckistan’ he replied.’

Weeks after Adrian’s death, when I wore the coat at the Royal Academy, a woman in the coffee queue admired its colours.

‘A A Gill told me it was from Uzbeckistan’ I boasted.

‘And he was always right’’ said the lady in front of us. ‘I should know – I’m his mother.’

How I longed to smuggle her away and force out stories of their fabulous meals together, but in the politeness of the dark, Academy’s Member’s room we parted, so much from his Pour Me book bursting for answers.

On December 10th 2018, exactly two years after AA Gill, my husband Mark, died from the same ‘full English’ and I miss them both for their fierce passion for eating and their courage in challenging life to the limit.

Mark’s ashes are stored in a gold leafed casket and I scoop out small servings to take on my mission to sprinkle him in the waters of the world. So far he’s scattered in the Thames, the Channel and Derwentwater and now he’s on a journey to Famagusta, to float into no-man’s land to an out-of-bounds landscape forbidden to the living.’


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Whisked sponge with raspberries

This recipe makes a flat sponge which is sandwiched together with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. I’ve used the recipe for my book Food Preparation Task

whisked spongeServes 6


3 eggs

100 g caster sugar

100 g self raising flour

40 g raspberry jam

250 ml double cream whipped

200 g raspberries + 1 fresh fig

Sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 °C/ Gas 6.
  2. Line a cake tin 20 x 30 cm with baking parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy and you can leave a trail in the mixture. This forms a foam.
  4. Sieve in the flour and fold in gently with a metal spoon.
  5. Spoon into the tin and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and the cake springs back to touch.
  6. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack. When cool, cut in half.
  7. Make the filling – whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and stir in 20g icing sugar.
  8. Mix the cream with a few raspberries.
  9. Fill the middle of the cake with some of the cream and raspberries.
  10. Warm the jam and brush over the top of the cake.
  11. Decorate the top of the cake with the rest of the cream, sliced fig and the raspberries. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

The science bit – see my Food Science You Can Eat book

Eggs and sugar whisk to a foam. Albumen is the protein in the egg and this extends and traps the air bubbles.
On heating the air expands and pushes up the egg, sugar and flour mixture.
Flour contains gluten which is a protein which sets when heated.
The egg protein denatures, coagulates and sets with the gluten and forms the sponge structure.
The cake changes colour as the starch changes to dextrin and the Maillard reaction takes place.

Nutrition analysis – using Nutrition Program


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Pizza is another invention that came after my 1970 classroom recipes so we never made it with a yeast dough.

Nowadays ready made pizza bases make life easy but here’s a home made recipe.

Serves 2-4



200g strong, white bread flour

1/2 tsp salt 3g

1 x 7 g sachet dried yeast

2 tsp sugar

150ml warm water.



Passata or tomato paste – about 100g

100g grated cheese or mozzarella

2 tbs olive oil

Ideas for topping – Slices of aubergine, onion, yellow and red pepper, black olives, mixed herbs, mushrooms



  1. Preheat the oven to 250C/ Gas 9. Prepare large baking trays for the 2 pizzas by lining them with non stick paper.
  2. Put the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl or food processor and work in the water until the dough forms. Use the blades in the machine to work the dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes by stretching, pulling and pushing the dough to make it smooth and springy. This kneading helps stretch the gluten which forms the structure when baked.
  4. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth or clingfilm and leave in a warm place until double in size 20-30 minutes.
  5. Prepare the ingredients for the topping – you can roast or fry the peppers, sliced onion and aubergine.
  6. Grate the cheese and slice the mushrooms.
  7. Divide the dough in half and rub with a little oil and pat and roll out to form a large pizza shape. Repeat for the second dough and place on the 2 baking trays.
  8. Spoon on a layer of passata or tomato paste to the edges of each pizza then drop on the vegetables, mixed herbs and top with grated cheese. Place some olives on top.
  9. Bake 7-10 minutes until the pizzas are golden and crispy.



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High energy oat bar

High energy oat bar – Makes 16 squares

Adapt the recipe by adding seeds and fruit to add crunchiness and colour to the recipe.

Ingredients for basic recipe
2 tablespoons golden syrup (60g)
80g brown sugar
100g margarine or butter
200g rolled oats


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and line a 22 cm square tin with baking parchment or non stick paper.
  2. Heat the tablespoon in a cup of hot water to help measure the tablespoons of golden syrup.
  3. In a saucepan melt the sugar, margarine or butter and golden syrup.
  4. Stir in the oats and pack down into a 22 cm square tin and smooth down.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes – a bit longer if you want it crunchy.
  6. Take out of the oven and mark into 16 squares. Leave to cool and take out of the tin.


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Cheesy scone round with seeds

200g white SR flour
3g baking powder
3g salt
50g butter
100g grated cheese
20g sesame seeds
30g pumpkin seeds
30g sunflower seeds
milk – approximately 130ml

Glaze – beaten egg mixed with small amounts of each seed


  1. Preheat the oven at 230°C/ Gas mark 9.
  2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter.
  3. Stir in some of the cheese, sesame seeds, pine nuts and sunflower seeds and mix to a stiff dough with the milk. Knead until smooth.
  4. Pat out onto a floured surface until roughly 16 cm in diameter.  Place on a baking tray and mark into 6 equal segments.  Brush over the glaze and sprinkle over some seeds.
  5. Bake for 16-20 minutes on the centre of the  top shelf until the scone ring is firm underneath and thoroughly cooked. Test to see if a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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Muffins – basic recipe

Makes 10 – 12 standard muffins.

Ingredients Basic recipe
250g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
80g caster sugar
1 egg
240ml milk
90ml corn oil – 3 tablespoons


  1. Prepare the tins with paper cake cases. Preheat oven 200°C/ Gas mark 5-6.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, sugar.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients – egg, milk and oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir for 20 seconds. Do not beat. The muffin mixture should drop in globs off the spoon. If overstirred the gluten in the flour will develop and the muffins will be tough with holes. Fill the muffin cups.
  5. Bake 20-25 mins. Mini muffins take 15-20 minutes. Muffins are cooked when the tops are lightly browned and spring back when touched.
  6. Muffins are best when they are freshly baked and still warm. If not,they should be frozen.Flavours you can add
    Raisins, currants, chopped dried fruit, chocolate chips, apricots, bananas, bran, cherries, cheese.Flours to use
    Plain flour is best.
    Strong flour has too much gluten and will make the muffins tough.
    Self raising flour is OK but you need to know how much baking powder to add.
    Wholemeal flour adds colour and fibre.
    Sugar – granulated, finer caster sugar or brown sugar can be used.
    Oils – you need to choose one that has a good flavour, but not too strong. Olive oil is too strong.
    Milk – you can use semi-skimmed, skimmed to lower the fat as well as whole milk.
    Eggs improve the texture, lightness and nutritional value of the muffin.
    Extra nutrition and fibre – add some wheatgerm or bran

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Lemon meringue pie 1970s

I think Lemon meringue pie is very hard to get right – the pastry, the filling and the meringue can all go wrong! High level skill to try.

175 g plain flour
20 g caster sugar
100 g butter or margarine
egg yolk and enough water to mix
2 lemons – zest and juice
25g cornflour
25 g butter
75g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
100 g caster sugar


  1. Rub the butter into the flour caster sugar until it looks like breadcrumbs. Or use a food processor. Stir in the egg you and add enough water to make a firm dough. Chill for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
  3. Line a 20 cm diameter flan tin with pastry, fill with paper and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove beans and paper and bake a further 5 minutes until pastry is crisp. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry for the filling to leach out.
  5. Turn the oven down to 160°C/Gas 3.
  6. Mix lemon juice with enough water to make 300ml.
  7. Blend the cornflour with 2 tbs of the liquid, pour in a saucepan with zest, butter and sugar and cook and stir until thick – about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  8. Whisk egg whites until stiff and add the sugar slowly and carefully.
  9.  Stir the egg yolks into the lemon sauce and spoon into the pastry case.
  10. Spoon over the meringue – you can lift into peaks with a fork.
  11. Bake in the oven until the meringue is crisp and slightly golden – about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Serve hot or cold.

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