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Vanessa Kimbell’s lovely caraway and parmesan muffins pass the test

26 Jan
Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Caraway and parmesan muffins baking.

Vanessa Kimbell put out a call to the food blogger community recently, asking for willing testers for the recipes in her next book, Prepped!. The concept is unique: every recipe leads to another one, linked by a flavour. Linked recipes are sensible and educational but also inspirational. When every recipe you cook leads onto another one, even the timid cook will begin to see how dishes link and how ingredients or entire recipes can be re-purposed or redressed. And since the focus is on cooking when you haven’t got much time, these recipes offer near immediate satisfaction. I look forward to seeing the final book when it comes out in June. In the meantime, I’ll be eating caraway and parmesan muffins.

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Culinary travel – not exactly new

4 Jan

Imagine learning to cook, hot, spicy Indonesian food at 40 degrees centigrade. It happened to me in Manila, capital of the Philippines.

Alas, I’ve not been on an exotic vacation, just a trip down memory lane. I’ve just discovered a cutting from the “Daily Telegraph and Morning Post”, dated 25 July 1962. The author, Jacqueline Rose met up with television cook Pete Alfonso to learn how to make a genuine Indonesian dish. A television cook in 1962?

A little more delving leads me to more information about Mr Alfonso. He was a charismatic Dutch-Indonesian who ran Cafe Indonesia well known for jazz and good food.

Cooking Indonesian Style in 1962

Cooking Indonesian Style in 1962

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App solutely gluten free recipes?

29 Dec

You might be thinking of trying gluten-free foods or you may have been diagnosed as intolerant to gluten. I am sure you’ve found already how many staples have wheat in them. Trying to create  tasty alternatives to some of the items found in the free-from aisles will quickly seem a must.

Recently, one of my weekend guests needed to avoid all wheat. How best to tackle his requirements? Rather than purchase a special recipe book, I decided to dip into Phil Vickery‘s Gluten Free cooking app.

I love browsing through cookery books, I also use recipes from online sources but this was my first attempt at using a recipe App. I am not sure whether all Apps are so counter-intuitive (please do let me know)? Also, I am not particularly tidy when cooking, you can tell the recipes I cook from regularly – they are often rather splattered. So, using my iPhone was going to be tricky (and sticky)!

Gluten free bread

Gluten free bread

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Spice up with saffron – Lussekatter

19 Dec

As regular readers know, we have a strong Swedish thread through the blog (not least due to co-author Caroline being Swedish). Back in October, I spent a few hours in the Peters’ Yard bakery – a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to meet the man behind their fabulous recipes Jan Hedh was in Edinburgh to talk about his new book Swedish Breads and Pastries which I recommend for the serious baker.

Now, I know you are all frantically busy, but you might just want to try this recipe when you have some time. Easier still, pop into the bakery and try them.

You’ll need to set the raisins to soak a few hours in advance. Saffron is best used in moderation, you might just want to use a few strands the first time you make the recipe.

Jan Hedh’s Saffron Buns/Lussekatter

(makes 20 buns)

Saffron Buns (s-shaped buns on the right of the picture). Courtesy of Peters' Yard
Saffron Buns (on the right)

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Cooking and eating – Anthony Bourdain style

9 Dec
Read all about it! Snapshot from http://www.anthonybourdain.net/

Read all about it! Snapshot from http://www.anthonybourdain.net/

When I’m not eating or writing, I’m likely to be reading. Recently, I decided to read not just about food but about cooking and eating. I started with Anthony Bourdain‘s Kitchen Confidential and so enjoyed it that I soon after read the sequel, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. Essentially, they form the first and second part of an autobiography but they are very different books. Much has happened to Bourdain in the time between the first was published and he started writing the second.

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Father Christmas here’s our cookbook wishlist

29 Nov
Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver

Cookbooks by Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver

I love that delicious anticipation of discovering a new cookbook. The pictures look wonderful, the recipes sound delicious, you can’t wait to get started.

But I get ahead of myself, there’s the all important step of acquiring the cookbook. Yesterday, I was in a bookshop and got chatting to a few people all of whom were looking very unsure exactly what they were doing there. They needed help.

There’s also the cook who’d like to discover something different – maybe try cooking they enjoyed so much in a restaurant. I needed suggestions from people who know cookbooks, have gazed and drooled over them and of course enjoy cooking!  So, with the help of many Twitter followers (thank you everyone!) and a couple of local chefs, here is what WE want for Christmas.  And to make it easy for you, I’ve created an Amazon list with all of those (bar one) listed.  I am currently stumped with the Martin Wishart cookbook, it seems to be out of print!

We’re a pretty adventurous lot with eclectic tastes which makes this list so enjoyable. Please feel free to add some more – there are bound to be some must-have books that should be there.

Chef Recommends

Neil Forbes at the Atrium restaurant: Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer
Craig Wood at the Wee Restaurant, Queensferry – Martin Wishart’s cookbook

For beginners/basics

Ainsley Harriott – Just Five Ingredients
Jamie Oliver – Meals in 30 minutes
Jame Oliver –  Naked Chef

Simply Inspirational

Rene Redzepi Noma

Two from Thomas Keller The French Laundry Cookbook and Adhoc at Home

The Ottolenghi Cookbook and Plenty

For the baker

The Handmade Loaf from @dan_lepard

The Great British Book of Baking featuring @bakersbunny @pinkwhisk @theboywhobakes

Peter Reinhart Artisan Breads Everyday

Scottish

Sue Lawrence – Scottish Kitchen
F.Marian McNeill  Scot’s Kitchen
Nick Paul – The Scottish Farmer’s Market Cookbook

Exotic

Thai Street Food This has to be the largest cookbook I’ve every seen – challenging to find somewhere to put it whilst you’re cooking from it!

India Cookbook –  Imagine a 1000 recipes to dip into.

Anissa Helou – Modern Mezze

Silvena Rowe – Purple citrus and sweet perfume

Madhur JaffreyCurry Easy

Thomasina Myers – Mexican Food

Comfort Food

Nigel Slater –  Tender  – books I and II
Nigella Lawson – Recipes from the Heart of the Home

The Silver Spoon

A flavour thesaurus – definitely a good idea

22 Nov
The sides and back of Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus

Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus is a pleasure to handle and to read.

It was my birthday recently. And for my birthday I got many wonderful presents, some of which you will hear about later. Today, I want to spread the word about a wonderful book. Not only is it pretty, it is also funny, inspiring and ingenious. There are no recipes, as such, but there are ideas aplenty. I’m talking about Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus.

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