Friday food links

August 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m finally starting to figure out how to get some time for writing in between naps, nappy changes and feeds, so I’m trying to resume some sort of posting schedule here. What I have the most time for, though, is reading, phone in one hand and (usually sleeping) baby in the other. So here are a few highlights from my food reading this week:

  • New Bon Appetit – September’s Bon Appetit is dedicated to their top 10 restaurants list. Usually the restaurant issues of magazines aren’t that interesting – the last thing I want to make at home is restaurant food. But perhaps because home cooking is now very much in vogue in the sort of hipster places that Bon Appetit profiles, there are quite a few things here I want to make. The Forager sandwich particularly caught my eye: a soft potato roll filled with marinated mushrooms, Swiss cheese, scrambled egg and sauteed kale.
  • Dinner: the Playbook – I’m a big fan of Jenny Rosenstrach’s book and blog, Dinner: A Love Story. Many of her recipes have made it into regular evening meals. So although we’re not quite ready for family dinner, her new book ‘Dinner: The Playbook‘ sounds like it will come in handy in due course. But I particularly love this unique spin on the book launch post, where Jenny’s other half Andy, the co-author of the blog, tells us everything that Jenny won’t about why the book is so great. The pride of a spouse shines through.
  • The FT featured a Food writing special in the FT Weekend magazine last weekend (£). I haven’t finished it yet, but I particularly loved the first piece in the magazine on the language of food, examining the words used in restaurant reviews and menus.
  • I’m a dreadful banana-neglecter, so I’m always looking for recipes to use up ripe bananas. So I can’t believe it took me until this week to read about one ingredient ice cream. On the to-do list.
  • Brown butter pistachio doughnuts – I am staunchly against deep frying at home. The waste oil, the splatter, the smell of grease, the need for careful temperature control – it all means too much hassle for small quantities. But doughnuts are the thing that tempts me to fire up a pan of oil the most. Thank goodness for cake doughnuts.

Friday food links

August 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Food reading I’ve enjoyed this week*:

New Diana Henry book, and the black bread from it.

* Inspired by the regular excellent link posts from Tangerine & Cinnamon and Sassy Radish

June round-up: strawberries, muffins, pasta

July 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

July already?? What on earth happened? I’m sure it was only last week that I signed up for Food Blogger Connect, and was sure I would have a plan by the time it came around. I suppose that’s what the best-laid plans are for. Here are some things I’ve been doing/watching/reading in the last month:

Plum-strawberry jam

Bumper crop of strawberries this year

My strawberry crop has been a bumper one this year, partly due to the frequent rain we’ve had for the last six months, and partly because the runners all got out of hand last year, so even after weeding out about half of my strawberry plants over the winter, I still have a pretty substantial strawberry patch. Along with an out-of-season organic box delivery of red plums, I put the two together to make not quite a full jar of jam. But it is beautiful, the plums adding a purpley depth to the colour that the strawberries wouldn’t achieve alone. I like to add an acid fruit to my strawberry jam – I’ve previously used rhubarb, lemon and lime – which as well as contributing a higher-pectin fruit, also adds the acid that helps it to set. Plums seem to do this very well too.

Hedone

We made our first visit to Hedone a couple of weeks ago, after being reminded when it appeared on the World’s Top 100 list. It’s not far from our house, so it seemed particularly foolish to have neglected it for so long. We went for lunch and had the tasting menu, and had a great time (although it seemed relatively quiet for a Saturday lunch). Particular highlights for me were the five preparations of beetroot that came with the duck main course, and a fabulous warm chocolate mousse with dried raspberry powder and passionfruit puree – raspberry and passionfruit must be two of my favourite flavours to combine with chocolate (this blog post has a photo of that dish).

Black bean chili dinner party

I made dinner for some work colleagues a few weeks ago. As the party included a vegetarian and a no-wheat no-dairy person, I went for an easy make-ahead dish – black bean chili, with lots of toppings for people to add, salsa, guacamole and cornbread. Having a main course you can make on Sunday and keep in the fridge for a Wednesday dinner is an excellent idea for mid-week entertaining. (I use Deborah Madison’s Black Bean Chili recipe from The Greens Cookbook).

Scandilicious Queen Maud muffins

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With all of these strawberries, I needed more things to use them up, so I adapted the Scandilicious baking recipe for Queen Maud muffins, and used blueberries with strawberries cut into pieces instead of raspberries. They turned out really well – I’ve kept them in the freezer and brought them out for snacking at work – and produce the most beautiful muffin papers after you’ve eaten one!

Smitten Kitchen fava bean, tomato and sausage pasta

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I’ve started using Pinterest to collect together inspiration for that ‘but what can I make for dinner’ moment: board here. When my broad beans (fava beans) all flourished at once, and I had a huge crop to use, I turned to Eat Your Books and discovered this Smitten Kitchen gem. With so many fresh broad beans, we didn’t even miss the sausage.

Washington

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I took a work trip to Washington D.C. at the start of the month, where it was beautiful for a couple of days, and then a tropical storm moved in and it poured. Still, I got to do a handful of essential things in between meetings: Smithsonian Apollo and Wright brothers exhibits – check. Shake Shack burger – check. Sephora shopping opportunity – check. I also came across people queuing around the block for cupcakes in Georgetown, which apparently is because there’s a TV series based there – strange phenomenon (I didn’t queue up to try them myself). I’m very happy that Shake Shack has just opened a branch in London too, but I don’t think it will sway me from Byron.

Reading list

In things I have been reading, I love this piece by super-geek Sue Black. I saw her speak at a Girl Geek Dinner a couple of years ago about Bletchley Park, and I’ve always been impressed, but I had no idea how hard she had worked to get where she is today – worth a read if you’re in need of a dose of inspiration.

I’ve been slowly working more and more David Sedaris into my life. First the episodes of This American Life. Then the audiobook of Me Talk Pretty One Day. This month I added ‘Meet David Sedaris’, the Radio 4 series, and also bought my Dad ‘Let’s explore Diabetes with Owls’. He wrote a lovely piece on domesticity and guest rooms in the New Yorker this month.

May round-up

June 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hazelnut jam scones

Walnut jam scones

I made these slightly insane ‘scones’ from a recipe by Zoe Nathan at Lottie + Doof, a Los Angeles bakery. When we were in California last year, we visited another of her bakeries, Milo + Olive, and had a rather wonderful lunch. These scones are a long way from cream tea scones, having a ratio of about 1:1 of flour to butter, and including cornmeal and ground nuts. Delicious as they are, they are a bit too crumbly and fragile for me, so I’m going to try and adapt the recipe and reduce the butter somewhat. Watch this space for a recipe.

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A plain chocolate cake

I was pointed to this lovely, straightforward chocolate cake by The Wednesday Chef (the same post that also links to the scones above). It behaves exactly as described – is subtlely chocolatey (I would consider increasing the cocoa next time) and needs to be a little underbaked (some ground almonds might help keep it moist).

Different sides of the Michael Pollan story

I picked up Michael Pollan’s ’’Cooked” last weekend, after reading a whole host of interviews and reviews. So far I’m enjoying it a lot. I like Pollan’s writing style, and he blends in the personal with interviews and authoritative references. This article, although the headline is clearly linkbait, is worth reading. I think there’s a useful debate to be had about whether everyone should cook, whether they enjoy it or not.

Amazing MRobin cake design

Via I-don’t-know-who, these cake designs are just beautiful. There’s a lovely video showing how she makes the cakes, which are entremets, a French style of layered mousses with thin layers of sponge. The fantastic exteriors are made by patterning and colouring a thin sponge cake which is wrapped around the outside of the cake. Stunning.

Heale House Gardens

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Another beautiful thing – Heale House near Salisbury has an small but enchanting garden that is open to the public. We went at the perfect time, with cherry blossom, bluebells and tulips all out simultaneously. The website doesn’t even slightly do justice to this garden, which is tucked away in an isolated valley below the A303. If you’re off to the West Country this summer, this could be worth a diversion.

As you like it

We spend a weekend in May in Stratford, and although the skies were pretty much slate-grey throughout, there was considerable sunshine in the RSC’s production of ‘As You Like It’. Pippa Nixon as Rosalind was by turns heart-wrenchingly lovestruck, androgynously masculine and then full of sunshine and smiles at the end. There’s a little video that gives you a taste – sincerely hoping this transfers to London.

Cherry Bombe

Cherry bombe magazine
While on hospital-visiting duties, I picked up yet another new food magazine in Selfridges this week – ‘Cherry Bombe’. What’s unusual about this one (apart from it’s price and thick paper) is that the contributors and interviewees are all women. While I could probably do without the cover interview with model-turned-cookie maker Karlie Kloss, the Oma & Bella behind-the-book feature is very good.

Links and thoughts from April

April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Cherry blossom in the park

April has been a waking-up month. This winter has seemed so long and cold that when the sun finally came out, and the ground started to warm and flowers started to appear, it was like emerging from hibernation. Suddenly outdoors was something to linger in, instead of something to be battled through as fast as possible.

I was nudged by someone to buy bulbs from Bloms Bulbs in the autumn, and now I am really glad I did. The tulips in particular have been spectacular. I’m always surprised by how many come up from previous years as well. I have a habit of planting them in tubs and forgetting about them as soon as they have gone over. So the ugly pot of weeds I’ve been hosting on my front step for the last six months or so is suddenly filled with creamy tulips.

Purple prince a week on

I said this on twitter but Gluten Free Girl has absolutely floored me with some of her writing this month. She writes honestly and from the heart anyway, but when her car was stolen, and when she marked an anniversary with her husband, it generated some truly absorbing prose.

60 year old Magnolia

I found this article about J Crew really interesting, especially the interaction between Jenna Lyons, the creative director, and the Chief Exec. If you’re in the UK, you may have come across J Crew in references to to Michelle Obama – she and her daughters often wear the brand. They are essentially a preppy, clean-cut clothing company, a little like Gap, but have moved towards a more cutting-edge look in recent years, as the article describes. I still have a couple of items from there that I really like that I bought when I was living in Palo Alto in 2004/5.

Although it’s just the two of us that sit down to dinner in our house (and sometimes not even that), I really enjoy Jenny Rosenstrach’s ’Dinner: A love story’ blog and [her book of the same name](“Dinner A Love Story – Amazon.co.uk”). I really loved her 100 Rules of Dinner post – not just rules for dinner, but rules for cooking, good food and life. My favourite is probably #71:

Performance enhancing drugs are to sports as butter is to cooking. Which is not
to say that butter is evil. But it is cheating.

although I am a completely on board with #29 and #54, and a total evangelist for #15:

Resist the urge to apologize when you’re cooking for people. Most of the time your
dinner guests won’t notice anything is wrong until you bring it up.

River

Favourites – April 2012

April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

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A few interesting articles, projects and products I’ve come across recently – you might have already seen some of these if you follow me on twitter or pinterest:

Back soon with a proper post.

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