Archives for posts with tag: favourite cookbooks

IMG_20160522_183615.jpgMy son and husband write a film blog for fun, and sometimes my daughter and I join them watching the classics. Recently we all were swept away by Satyajit Ray’s trilogy, “The World of Apu.”  They are soon to post a joint review on their blog, and I felt called to join in.  This is what I wrote: not quite a proper film review, not quite a proper food blog.  Something in between, with a culinary record of how I wanted to celebrate the beauty of this stunning work.

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“Pather Panchali” is a transfixing film with a plot that unfolds around carefully revealed characters and personalities, and big themes like love, loss, kindness and pettiness , meanness and generosity, being young and growing old. The Ravi Shankar soundtrack gives constant goosebumps; the cinematography is both sweeping -exploring landscapes, monsoons, the rural industry of electricity and railroads – and intimate: an old woman’s skin, domestic architecture, facial expressions of joy, anxiety, and grief.  The acting never feels like acting, the plotlines never scripted, the observations never didactic.  It feels to me the most perfect film ever, not least for how I wept towards the end in a state of total lack of separation from the fact of watching a film: I was there, I was “her” in this scene, feeling a mother’s despair at the loss of a child, in this case Djurga, whom the film viewer has watched grow and come to love.

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Because the film observes life so carefully and directly, food culture of course becomes central, and I enjoyed this aspect very much.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Not the prettiest pictures; actually they are so unappealing to look at, I take a certain contrarian pleasure posting them on a food blog where there’s the expectation that food needs to be beautiful.  (The reality is ferments often lose a lot of their initial vivid colour.)

Even if visually not so lovely, fermented Snippled Beans are an easy and delicious side dish. Read the rest of this entry »

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A fun perk of blogging is requesting books I know I’m going to love, like Kimchi: Essential Recipes of the Korean Kitchen.  Authors Im Kee Sun, Im Boo Mee Ja, Lim Byung-Soon and Lim Byung-Hi are a family of Korean women living in Stockholm where they run a much loved restaurant called Arirang.  Short of dining there -though looking at photos in their book, how you’ll wish to! – you can buy this fantastic guide and create your own tantalising Kimchi, to eat as umami accompaniments or integrated into seasonal dishes including soups, pancakes, dumplings, cocktails (!) and more.

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On the growing popularity of fermenting in Britain, seasonal eating, working with gluts and waste, and a new approach to Piccalilli using a technique learned from making kimchi… Read the rest of this entry »

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Fortunate am I to receive occasional parcels of unsold bread from a friend who runs a really top quality bakery here in mid-Wales, Andy’s Bread. A few months back he gave me several loaves of pumpernickel, a dark, dense and sweet rye bread.  His version includes whole rye grain, rye chops, rye, sourdough, molasses,  and old pumpernickel. The loaf is coated in rye chops (and baked in a hot oven which is then turned off overnight); a “lid” is placed on top of the tins to “steam” the loaves and prevent their drying out.  Andy’s pumpernickel is something special– and not so dissimilar from his Borodinski breads which contain coriander seeds and powder, malt extract and molasses.  These are true artisan breads in that they come from long and varied traditions and are expertly crafted in particular, local conditions.

Andy’s pumpernickel makes great croutons for leek and potato, and split pea soup; I will be using some from another batch tomorrow for chocolate Christmas bark as per Claire Ptak’s wonderful recipe here.

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Being gifted with food that is “surplus” or “waste” anyway is really freeing, and allowed me to feel I could experiment.  I’d long been curious to try Bread Kvass, so in the absence of any planned trips to Russia or Russian communities elsewhere, I knew I’d have to try to make it. I also wanted to reproduce an effort from a while earlier in which I made a sourdough cake from recycled bread.  And I sadly found out that the friend who taught me her resourceful and roughshod approach to bread had died– so I was of a rare mind to bake bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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OK, it’s true, I’m among those cookbook lovers who pour through end-of-year lists proclaiming which ones are best and most warrant giving as gifts to loved ones. They all repeat each other, those lists! And while I sometimes agree (yes, Mamushka is wonderful), there are books that somehow got off the radar and really deserve attention at this point in the marketing cycle (which, let’s be real, is what these lists are about).  So with 9-days-to-go, and despite my bah-humbug, anti-materialist spirit, I’m hopping on the bandwagon.

The Groundnut Cookbook is a book to judge by its cover, based on its lush, colourful front and back, illustrated by one of its authors, Duval Timothy.  (I’ve fantasized actually about curtains, wallpaper and poster prints in this vibrant, sumptuous pattern, that’s how beautiful I find it.)

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Pouring through the marvellous Groundnut Cookbook, I found a scratch to my long-time Horchata itch.   Here they’d offered a Nigerian recipe for a Tiger Nut Milk called Kunnu which is similarly delicious, filling and refreshing..

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Tonight I made pakora with cold strands of spaghetti squash and slivers of spring onion, in a batter made with Hodmedod’s Fava Bean Flour— I added salt and chilli flakes and cardamom powder, and fried the fritters in coconut oil.  Children and I still remembered the tasty Pumpkin Peasemeal Pakora I’d made in a flurry of you-don’t-need-a-real-recipe, and indeed you don’t.  This time I just mixed the pulse flour with baking soda, salt, and slowly whisked in water, and then fragranced it with the warm spice I most easily found in an overcrowded cupboard in which no garam masala was to be found, or concocted.  Then I dredged spoonfuls of the squash in the batter, and sauteed whereas perhaps I should have deep fried.

I say this because I hate frying, and I don’t feel I’m any good at it. So, delicious as some of the pakora were, or parts of each that managed to get properly browned in oil, even perfectly crispy, they looked unappealing and were inconsistent.  (To be fair, wet squash is a more difficult fish-to-fry vegetable than something, anything, dryer.)

So I’m determined to learn to fry pakora because they are so delicious.

PLEASE: all advice about frying is welcome. Anything you think readers and I should know that will help me/us to get good at treats like this. THANK YOU.

Do people know this marvellous collection of recipes, Yamuna Devi‘s 1987 Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking?  It’s a labour of love, and a true gift as a document of the devotion of Yamuna Devi (nee Joan Campanella) to Swami Srila Prabhupada, with whom she travelled much through many regions of India, Read the rest of this entry »

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Gateau Grand Marnier from Mary and Vincent Price’s Treasury of Great Recipes… Joining the #TreasuryCookalong…. Varying a classic cake recipe with whole grain flours and kefir…  Contemplating how a global luxury brand treats its workers in Haiti…  Being relaxed as the cake breaks just before the photo for the blog…

After the fun of #Marguerite100 I thought I’d join in on the Vincent and Mary Price #TreasuryCookalong, a book that’s been a part of my life pretty much always.  My copy, which belonged to my mother, is a first printing of a 1965 classic reflecting a view of international restaurant cuisine that was most sophisticated in its day.  Nearly from the time I could read, I sat at Mom’s kitchen table looking through her cookbooks.

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“Mum, I’m not very excited about this meal,” my 11 year old son confided, when I told him I was making a WWII ration recipe for Lentil Sausages. I mustered a tone of enthusiasm to explain that today is the 100th birthday of the great food educator and cookery writer Marguerite Patten, and that people all over the world are cooking from her great oeuvre.  And because it’s also British Sausage Week (to coincide with Bonfire Night tomorrow) and there’s a climate crisis in which meat plays a not insignificant role, I find myself especially interested in mock-meat kinds of meals.

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So it was that earlier in the day I’d set out to join in on #Marguerite100, an international cook-along networked through social media and documented in this Storify. Read the rest of this entry »

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