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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Archive for the tag “Cooking”

One foot slow

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail.

“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.

See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!

They are waiting on the shingle — will you come and join the dance”

The Mock Turtle’s Song, Lewis Carroll
Lobster and oysters of love
Lobster and oysters of love: What more could a girl want for Valentine’s?

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Issue No.161 of Guardian Feast is celebrating the delights of slow food. As Yotam Ottolenghi puts it: ‘things that take a long time to cook, but don’t require much of yours to do so’. This makes perfect sense to those of us who want a delicious meal at the end of the day but don’t have the time or the inclination to spend hours prepping and primping sprout leaves after a hard day doing whatever it is we’ve been doing. This week, however, slow food has a whole different meaning for some of us.

I had a foot op on Wednesday which means I am supposed to sit all day every day for weeks on end with my feet up (excepting five minutes’ crutchy hobbling in each hour to prevent DVT and allow loo breaks). Hence, I cannot cook. I can only look. Look and plan what I will cook when I can. And suggest to The Husband and the eldest daughter which recipes they might like to tackle and blog about for me from this week’s Feast. This, in between asking them to fetch my laptop/glass of water/glasses/book/ from one room to another. It’s very frustrating. Particularly for them.

I’m delighted to see recipes from Rukmini Iyer in this week’s issue. I bought her beautiful and well-conceived The Roasting Tin Around the World for the student daughter for Christmas, hoping to lure her away from the beguiling joys of the cheese toastie for five minutes. We’ve been rewarded with a couple of cracking dishes: buffalo cauliflower wings with blue cheese and celery and smoky sausage casserole with chorizo, pepper and beans – and I’m drooling over Rukmini’s cheddar kimchi cobbler and mushroom and pomegranate pie.

Rukmini Iyer's Cheddar kimchi cobbler in Issue No.161 of Guardian Feast
One-pot wonders from Rukmini Iyer

Who wouldn’t yearn for Yotam’s lime leaf-cured ‘gravadlax’? Although I notice fresh makrut lime leaves pop up yet again – is there an alternative for this lime leaf of the moment? We’re fully paid up members of Slow Food UK – an Italian-founded group (1989) that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. Celebrating food with and in the community has been one of the great pleasures of moving up to the far reaches of rural North East England from North London. And getting down and dirty with farm animals, sides of salmon, fresh game and fresh veg has been integral to that. The cure we often use is a beetroot one from Lindy Wildsmith’s inspiring romp around pickling, smoking, drying and salting: Cured. It’s always great to be lured away from the safety net of an old favourite, knowing that you’ll inevitably return after a bit of a dalliance.

It is, of course, Valentine’s Day and I am not advocating that anyone in a relationship should be lured away for a dalliance: I shall be sticking with the safety net of my old favourite. Particularly since he’s invested in lobsters and oysters for tonight’s feast. If I can persuade him to put down his Valentine’s gift from me and prepare it. Oy, you! Never mind Grace Dent, I’m hungry over here!

Photos courtesy of my lovely eldest daughter. She’ll be joining us for our Valentine’s feast. She’s a keeper too.

Links and stuff:

Oysters: Lindisfarne oysters

Lobsters: Cas Par Cas, Berwick

Lindy Wildsmith: Cured

Rukmini Iyer: The Roasting Tin Around the World

I’m Feast-ing with The Guardian in 2021

I have gorged on Guardian Weekend food columns and supplements for many years. Devouring the words and recipes like a child allowed sweeties for the first time after a tooth extraction. So, what better way to distract myself, feed my family and hopefully entertain others than to attempt to cook one recipe from each edition of Feast in 2021, and share my experiences and results here.

The emphasis of recipes in the paper has shifted over time shimmying from solid British cookery towards an expansive worldview and broader dietary palette. I’ve embraced new names at the top of columns, salivated over different twists on the same ingredients, and wrestled to source ingredients never heard of – let alone seen – up here in the north east. I mourned the loss of Cook and became accustomed – grew to love – Feast.

I’ve cooked every animal fat under the sun with Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall (I still make his 2009-featured lemon posset and lemon shortbread biscuits); baked with Dan Lepard (the beauty of his sticky 2011 mocha fig muffins is unparalleled). I have massaged kale at the behest of my food hero Yotam Ottolenghi for kale and grilled asparagus salad (his Brussels sprouts with caramelised garlic and lemon peel has become a family Christmas tradition). I’ve created the sublime pink and white cowpat that is Jeremy Lee’s Easter bonnie and been amazed by Rachel Roddy’s wonderful gnocchi alla Romana.

Our 2020 Christmas spread featuring Yotam’s sprouts

I watched, delighted, as Stephen Smith cooked his way through Delia Smith’s Complete How to Cook. Dated it may be, but that book is my Bible! My eldest daughter replaced my disintegrated copy back in 2006. Her lovingly inscribed gift is now held together with Sellotape and the sticky spray of every recipe I’ve ever cooked from it. I worried when word perfect, acerbic Marina O’Loughlin moved on as resto critic supremo at Weekend. Groundlessly, of course. I have laughed, gasped and wept at Grace Dent’s brilliant restaurant reviews – her recent columns about lockdown, food and nursing her mum through palliative care are superb writing – evocative, funny, poignant.

My take on Rachel Roddy’s Gnocchi alla Romana from 2020
And my daughter’s version of Biang Biang noodles, created by Ixta Belfrage and shared in Feast by Yotam Ottolenghi also 2020

First up in my kitchen will be Meera Sodha’s apple pudding cake. Do join me to find out how Meera’s vegan cake recipe fared against my family’s fave apple cake (recipe from The Guardian Weekend of course – 2004!).

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