Reading List (29/11)

Almost December. Gah. The last few months have just flown by. I’ve hardly had time to think, let alone contemplate the on-rushing of a new year. But I have knitted a hat and made a satisfactory start on a scarf. And I put Christmas decorations up on Sunday (being the first Sunday of advent) but I still haven’t eaten a mince pie (waiting for the 1st).

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Spanish food for beginners. And also because I don’t quite want to forget my Barcelona weekend just yet.

On New York diners.

I’ve never really been in to competitive food television shows, mostly because they stress me out no end. I make an exception for Bake-Off because it was lovely, and Masterchef Australia because it is fascinating and the locations/chefs/competitions are inventive. This review of Masterchef: The Professionals sums up the reasons why I cannot watch most though, even if the writer finds some things to encourage you to sit through it.

Gingerbread alfajores with dulce de leche. I die. (There are some other Christmas bakes in there too but really.)

A history of pecan pie.

Foods to eat with a spoon.

Dealing with food waste in London.

Urban farms as new pre-schools.

Learning history through the museum cafe.

Cookbooks as comic books.

Baking childhood book memories.

This weekend I discovered that it is possible to rent audio books from the library and download them onto your phone. For free. I immediately listened to City of Strangers – a fantastic detective-whodunnit-mystery story set in Edinburgh. I listened all of Saturday and Sunday, whilst I knitted and cooked and cleaned. Such a great find! I’ve now downloaded a Rankin, because Rebus.

Best cookbooks of 2016 (from The Washington Post)

I’m all into homemade gifts this year: salted caramel; jam; homemade nutella; dulce de leche; cookies; toffee; brittle; honeycomb… Of course, the best laid plans often come to nought so don’t hold your breath too long! But there are those scarves and hats I’m knitting!

Just for Hannah: Wales rugby players pose naked for a calendar.

Reading List (22/11)

Wise words from Teju Cole.

American Thanksgiving. This is a great piece centered around traditions in different families. The photographs are fabulous and the stories are just wonderful.

Some disturbing reporting from The Guardian around casual contracts and the paltry amounts lecturers at Russell Group universities earn.

And it turns out even fine-dining places with well-known chefs don’t pay their staff well. The Sustainable Restaurant Association has been critical of this revelation but admits it is a culture of the industry.

Young people in the Outer Hebrides.

If you’re preparing for Thanksgiving, I quite like this idea of a chocolate pecan galette. Less fuss than a traditional pie. We’re having a small Cookbook Club meets Friendsgiving on Sunday, cooking from Nigella’s Feast. I strongly feel there must be pie, but maybe this galette will suffice that craving (obviously it’ll be breaking the cookbook club rules so I’ll have to check Nigella’s book for pie recipes). If you’re not into pie, these pumpkin doughnuts look awesome. (Louisa, we can make these over Christmas yes?) Or there is this chocolate gingersnap tart.

Toasting sugar for more depth of flavour.

If the winter weather is getting you down (it was like a squall outside yesterday and is deeply grey and half-lit today), have a look at these photographs and recipes from a May weekend in Tuscany. 

This image.

Preserving South African food heritage and tradition.

If you’re starting to get into the Christmas spirit (yes, really) I love this article on tradition and ritual. ‘Ritual has an anticipatory relevance‘. We are still working out our rituals for our hybrid family, with its different traditions and foods. Fortunately the one thing we agree on is a feast on December 24th. This might be my favourite day of the year. We’re working out the finer kinks of foods, friends, sharing, and the like but for me it is the gathering and sharing of food and drink on the 24th that is important, whether it is with friends or family or a combination of both.

German baking. I love the look of the linzer cookies.

The Princess and I were in Barcelona this weekend! It was amazing and wonderful. We ate all the foods, drank all the wine, looked at much art and architecture. I’ll post more on all our activities soon. In all the travelling (planes, trains, buses) I read The Girl in the Ice which was a thoroughly enjoyable detective novel, with a tortured and dysfunctional detective, power plays, mystery and intrigue. I didn’t guess the outcome until right at the end (always winning) and will read the others in the series in due course.

On fasting for a month or more.

A cookbook club in Martha’s Vineyard.

Immigrants and food in Michigan.

I listened to a really fascinating episode on the Radio 4 Food Programme on cooking clubs in the Basque region of Spain. It discusses the ability of food to build community which I find fascinating.

Have a good week! x

Reading List (15/11)

If you have been rather depressed/worried/concerned/freaking-the-hell-out about the state of the world, well, I’m with you. So have a look at this page. There are calming puppies and kittens and a hedgehog. Plus a few pandas. Nuff said. And if you want to hear people talking about the election and what happens next, I listened to this and this.

On Sunday, after a six-day week, I collapsed on my sofa, caught up on Season Five of Homeland (not quite but almost finished) and knitted my first hat! I feel ridiculously accomplished now. I also made killer beef stew. Here is this week’s reading list!

Could dry-farming be a solution in drought affected areas?

Small Food Bakery in the Nottingham Post!

If the cold weather (or the current state of the world) makes you want to eat all the baked goods, here is a list of good places to go in London.

A beginners guide to meditation.

On fermentation.

The Sioux Chef. A fascinating idea about ancestry, heritage and food.

Should we all be growing our own food? Or at least some of it? What is the real risk of not engaging children in the natural world?

1970s dinner party foods, in pictures.

We want worthwhile lives, not happiness.

Food banks and hunger in the post-election USA.

A history of butter.

A lovely article on Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking.

Cookies from Rachel Roddy.

Liz Prueitt, of Tartine. And Claire Ptak, of Violet Bakery.

Have a good week lovelies. x

Reading List (8/11)

Ina Garten has a new cookbook out.

Sqirl! If anyone is going to LA soon, please can I come with and we can go and eat here?

Rosemary helps you live longer.

We watched the first episode of Chef’s Table France last week. It was on Alain Passard. I was like a small child at Christmas, totally enthralled and in love. His garden is truly spectacular and the food looks simply phenomenal. Please can someone sponsor me a dinner at Arpège? I’ve added his various books to my Christmas wishlist, including the ones in French. If you can’t watch the Netflix episode, you can read about him here.

The fight to save community spaces, and growing spaces, does not always end well. This makes me both sad and angry. And related: the WHO report on urban green spaces and health.

Cooking, cuisine and food culture in different regions of China.

I loved the NYPL podcast last week that featured Margaret Atwood talking about Shakespeare because she has written The Tempest for modern times. Seriously, listen to it if you can.

Do we still need farmers to grow our food?

Portraits of kitchens.

On shyness.

An initiative to help young people move out of temporary accommodation and into long-term housing.

I love this essay on Mary Oliver’s book Upstream, discussing how books and wildness helped her cope with, and survive, a terrible childhood.

Parsnip cupcakes and pumpkin maple bundt cake.

A bookstore in Asheville.

Lastly, in case you missed it on Instagram, I totally found my cat of destiny last week. The Princess and I visited Nottingham’s Kitty Cafe (after watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which was fabulous and totally appropriate to watch on Halloween). There, in all his leonine ginger glory was this cat. I wish to adopt him and name him Foucault. The only problem is we can’t have a cat where we currently live. Le sigh. But if you are in need of feline comfort, do pay them a visit!

And just for today: the history of cake in the USA. (Worth clicking through just for the title!) Go out and vote American readers!

Have a good week. x

 

 

Eating in Cape Town: Pot Luck Club

One of the places we were very keen to visit was The Pot Luck Club, at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill. Luke Dale Roberts is a a bit of a legendary chef and everyone had raved about this restaurant. So we booked for a Sunday brunch.

img_7806-1Everything about the day was super. The service was good. The bottomless Bloody Mary’s and Graham Beck brut rose were divine (I mean really, pink bubbles on holiday, does one need anything else?) and the food was simply spectacular. We ate. We drank. We talked for hours. It was quite the best way to spend a Sunday. I figured a photo series could better express my delight at the meal…

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These smores though. Le sigh.

Reading List (1/11)

Welcome November! Colourful trees; grey days; sunset at 4pm…

Photographs of street vendors in Vietnam that are magical.

We should all work a 30-hour week (or: the fetishization of work is making us ill.)

Where pastry chefs eat dessert in NYC.

Did you watch Great British Menu this year? I love this show, not least because it is less stressful to watch than regular cooking shows. (Because I expect the chefs to know what they’re doing.) Andrés and I have binge-watched whole weeks at a time to get our fix. We only have the banquet episode left now.

More food books to read.

Organic farming in Africa.

A third part and fourth part to The Observer’s 20 best cake recipes.

The science of eggs.

The Atlantic published an article on milk vs dark chocolate and the internet had a meltdown, via the comments section. Epic.

Dorie Greenspan explains about her #cookiesandkindness project.

Because it is the festival of Samhain today (and yesterday), some depictions of death in print form.

We are all obsessed with funfetti cake.

Books as markers of cultural distinction.

Have an excellent week! x

 

The Everyday Table: Roast Pork with Apples

A few weekends ago we celebrated two birthdays by making a celebratory Sunday lunch.

2016-10-09-14-33-12I went to Beeston after work on Friday specifically to visit a local butcher (JA Barnsdale). They had beautiful pork so I bought pork belly to roast on Sunday. I got up early, whilst everyone else slept, to smother the pork in thyme and garlic and begin it’s three-hour roast. To accompany the pork there were roast potatoes (made using my killer method mentioned here), cauliflower two ways (which we made with Jen in South Africa and was just as good a second time), apples and onions cooked in the pork gravy, and a beetroot and carrot salad with ricotta. It was spectacular. We drank an Italian red wine brought by Sarah (our family wine nationalities are expanding) and afterwards there were long naps and the reading of books, and cake.

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Three Hour Roast Pork

Adapted from Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi’s recipe uses rosemary (which I did not have) and white wine. I changed it to use thyme only and apple cider, because I love love love pork and apples.

1 piece pork belly (ask your butcher to score the skin and get enough for the number you’re feeding. You can also get the butcher to remove the bones.) I used approximately 2kg

a bunch of thyme

head of garlic, divided into cloves

125ml olive oil

sea salt

500ml apple cider

2 cooking apples (Granny Smith or Bramley)

1 onion

Preheat the oven to 250C.

Strip the thyme leaves from the woody stems. If you’ve got young thyme, you can use the stems too. Roughly chop this. Peel the garlic cloves and roughly chop.

In a pestle and mortar (or a blender, if you’re in the 21st century unlike me) place the thyme and garlic. Add in a pinch of salt and the bash until it is roughly mashed together. Add in the olive oil, a little at a time, to loosen and create a paste. Place the pork belly skin-side down in a roasting tray and smear the paste onto the meat. Massage in. Carefully turn the pork belly over. Dry the skin and sprinkle with a little salt. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.

After an hour, the crackling should have started to develop. Turn the oven down to 170C and add in the apple cider. Roast for another hour. In the meantime, peel and slice the onion and apples into quarters. Turn the oven down to 110C. Add the apples and onions to the cider surrounding the pork. If you crackling is starting to darken, you can cover it with foil. Continue to cook the pork for another hour.

After three hours, remove the pork from the roasting tray and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing into pieces.

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Remove the onion and apples from the juices and place into a serving dish. Pour the roasting juices into a pan and rapidly boil to reduce. Serve this alongside the pork. Devour.

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