Five minutes with Anna Hansen
Anna is the owner of the Modern Pantry restaurants in London, famous for their tasty brunches and modern style of cooking.
In this interview, Anna shares her childhood memories of food, the first recipe she learned to cook and the one recipe she simply can’t live without.
Anna’s first memory of food
I grew up in New Zealand in a lovely residential neighbourhood and there were loads of children around, which meant I had a different birthday party to go to each week. The food at the parties was always the highlight for me, especially the sausage rolls and jellies. They were the ideal food for us kids to stuff ourselves with after running around on a hot summer’s day.
The first recipe Anna learned to cook
I was always intrigued by the wide variety of ingredients that went into cooking and food in general. I would help my maternal Danish grandmother in the kitchen – stirring, adding salt – that kind of thing. We were also keen foragers and would often search the woods for honeysuckle flowers or collect crayfish from a local stream. However, the first time I properly followed a recipe was most likely in a food technology lesson at my primary school. We basically made anything and everything sugar-based. Coconut ices were a favourite of mine and I don’t think they even needed baking!
The one food Anna would take to a desert island?
I think it would have to be a pig as it’s such a versatile animal. It’s certainly not the most sustainable thing I could take, but I would be able to make so much delicious ham, salami and cured meat so at least I would die happy! I would sneak a bit of seasoning in too, to add a bit of spice to my charcuterie.
What is the one recipe Anna couldn’t live without?
At the moment I rely on a particular tomato sauce that I whip up in big batches and freeze. Having a young child means that I need quick-fix meals a lot of the time and this is my version of a passata. I roast a load of tomatoes with shallots then blend with ginger, soy, tamarind, fennel and whatever else I feel like throwing in. It can then be used for pasta sauces, as a soup or a base for a mince.
What does Anna like being cooked for her?
I obviously really enjoy being in the kitchen myself and cooking for my family, but when I have a night off I love it when my partner Peter makes a stir-fry. He’s really perfected it. It’s so fresh and tasty. It’s something we all really look forward to.
What is your favourite recipe on the delicious. website?
The Korean lamb cutlets. I really like spicy food and miso is one of my favourite ingredients so this recipe is right up my street.
Anna Hansen is the owner of the brilliant Modern Pantry restaurants in Clerkenwell and Finsbury Square, London.