food

the art of leftovers cooking

Anytime of year (but especially at times of seasonal feasts and celebrations) – there may be leftovers in your fridge/kitchen – or a surplus of one ingredient you’ve grown or been given – can they be put to fresh use?

I’ve just discovered a useful website that says “yes” – “Love Food Hate Waste“.  There’s a great recipe page where you just type in whatever ingredient you have in surplus – press return and ping! Some suggested recipes come up.

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To test the system, I just typed in one food group often a leftover in the West at this time of year, after Thanksgiving and Christmas: Turkey.  Result: Potato bites, Celery Broccoli and Stilton Soup, Turkey Tagine, Cranberry Turkey Pasties, Turkey Tomato Gratin (hmm, grasping at straws here), Turkey and Sweetcorn Burgers, Turkey and Chickpea Coconut Curry….  a Smorgasbord of winter fowls.

Worth a try.

And I only visited the site to see if I could freeze cooked rice.

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Julia Child: Photo portrait of a cook

This is a review of a book review (?!) jampacked with 1950s Paris culture and glamour, culinary groundbreaking history, Julia Child, romance and gorgeous photography.

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The book is “France is a Feast”, and tells the story of Julia Child, with photos by her deeply enamoured husband, Paul Child, who was also an excellent photographer.  The book text is written by Julia’s biographer and nephew, Alex Prud’homme, the photos collected by photography curator Katie Pratt, whose parents were close friends of Paul and Julia Child, so there’s a clear and close link between the writers and their subjects.

A well-written book review makes you want to rush to your local bookshop or library (depending on your budget)

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An Amuse Bouche of food jokes

Over our evening meal at home tonight, I laughed as I remembered a joke told – I think – by Woody Allen, many years ago:

There were two women at a holiday resort and one said “Ah – this food is terrible!”  And the other said: “Yes!  And the portions are so small!”

(In case you’re wondering what an amuse bouche is – it’s French for something to tickle your tastebuds – you get it on menus at expensive restaurants.  It’s something unusual and dramatic and in a very small portion.)

I reckon that joke is about 40 years old plus – but my family has one older than that – a relative was told it in school 60 years ago.  Nobody laughed.  And the teacher who told it said to go home and tell it to their parents, because they would be amused.  (Rightly judging that the grownups would be more likely to ‘get’ absurdist humour).  And so the relative told it to her parents and it went down big; her father guffawed and almost keeled over.  Here is the old joke:

Two people were at a restaurant, for a meal.  When a bowl of mayonnaise arrived, one woman began to rub it into her hair.  “What are you doing, rubbing mayonnaise into your hair?” asked her startled companion?  “Oh, I’m sorry” she replied.  “I thought it was blancmange.”

If the joke doesn’t make sense; don’t worry.  It’s the lack of sense which makes it funny.  It is just absurd.

Today somehow being a day for aged jokes about food, I quoted one about 150 years old, today to a friend who mentioned pâté – quoting the wit Sydney Smith (1771-1845) – who said that his friend, Henry Luttrell’s “idea of heaven was eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets”.  

IMG_3919Sydney Smith was accustomed at one point in his life to London dinnerparties of great elegance – he did enjoy his food – but then his career as a minister took him to live in the depths of the countryside where tastes and food were simpler.  He took this change well, but noted that he now lived “Twelve miles from a lemon.”  

This became the title of a small book about him which I rejoice to say I have upon my bookshelves.

I wonder what old jokes about food other people can remember.

 

 

 

Guest blog: Food Photography Tips

Have you ever cooked something rather wonderful – want to share the recipe with others – but found that when you took a photo, your glorious dish looked, well, underwhelming?

Professional photographer and food blogger “Cooking without Limits” has got it sorted out – I picked up some excellent tips from her blog – and she’s kindly agreed that I can share them.  Here’s how to deal with the nightmare of taking photos in poor light…..

Shooting in low-light is a challenge for all photographers. Late afternoons, rainy days, evenings or winter days are just a few situations when natural light is low. You could invest in artificial lights or flashes to deal with all this problems, but not all of us have money to spend on lighting studios. I have […]

via Tips for shooting low light food photography — Cooking Without Limits

Cooking with Georgia O’Keeffe

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe took a keen interest in health foods – believing that what you ate was important to creativity.  Delightfully, she lived to be 99, producing brilliant paintings to the end, her mind sharp as a tack.  So here are recipes for her wholemeal bread, a health shake, and Green Chillies with garlic, oil and a fried egg.

 

The recipes come from two books: “A Painter’s kitchen” edited by Margaret Wood, who worked as Georgia O’Keeffe’s companion and cook for 5 years – and “Dinner with Georgia O’Keeffe: Recipes, art and landscape” by Robyn Lea, a well-researched book on the artist’s foods.  The latter book features 50 recipes drawn from Georgia’s own handwritten notes on recipes books, and her instructions to caterers.

Georgia O’Keeffe chose to live very much in her own style, settling in New Mexico, and organising the kitchen and garden so that there were organic vegetables to eat.  Her paintings show an awareness of the land, nature, living close to the earth and the beauty of simplicity.

The cooking is re-enacted for the video in a light, easty-to-follow humorous style.  In between the cooking, there is a time for a short but well-done overview of O’Keeffe’s life and works – with pictures!  A rather brilliant introduction to her work, if you’re not already in the know.

Spoiler alert: there are a few minutes of advertising for financial support at the end.

There’s no actual thematic link – but I don’t suppose it would hurt to listen to the song “Georgia on my mind” by Ray Charles while you’re cooking.  As a little amuse-le-chef.

Poetry, noodles and animation

As you know, this blog likes to mix its ingredients of art and life, so putting together poetry, noodles and animation this morning was the work of a moment.

Exhibit A – the poem is “Making Mines Frires” by Dominique Ahkong and if you pop over to http://bit.ly/2vm5ZEk you can read the poetic description of the family-making of noodles for the dish.  (from Cha: An Asian Literary Journal)  It includes phrases such as:

“My mother and grandmother trickle water

and crack runny suns into a powdered white well.

They whisk and mix until the walls collapse.”

(very recognisably a description for making pasta – but what genius to describe eggs as cracking ‘runny suns‘.  This simple and beautiful descriptive poem gently hints at family dynamics and cultural expectations and norms, too).

When the pasta machine slices the noodles into running ribbons, the writer describes it as “”like limbs in a Ghibli cartoon.”  Dominique was born to Mauritian parents in London, and now works as an animation writer in Singapore.

 

Exhibit B: the food – Mines Frires is a classic noodle dish of Mauritius and you can see it being made here in this video.  The noodles have already been made, sadly.  Now you’ll have to excuse me, as I feel an irresistible urge to go and eat noodles, suddenly……

 

 

Exhibit C: an animation about noodles….

Cheesecake is a luxury

… but sometimes we need a little luxury.

I just had a fabulous cheesecake experience.  If you are ever visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, swerve off your eaten path and try Artisan Cheesecakes, 104 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh.

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I had been viewing this shopfront from the top of a passing bus on journeys into town (the shop is well served by a large number of bus routes, as befits a place of importance).  Today, the weather was so glorious that you can see a neighbour sunbathing – but that just happened to be today.

I am at the start of a demanding project, so having made some progress this morning, I stopped off at this emporium of unctiousness, as a treat.

A really good cheesecake is a happy memory.  A middle of the road cheesecake is an incredible disappointment and every mouthful has the same no-taste-but-cream pointlessness.  Not today.  Not on my watch.

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