Sorry about that - I did not mean to disappear for over a week! But there have been guests from India, guests from Italy and a road trip along the east/south coast of England that have kept me busy and away from this site. But I'm back! And I have brought something quintessentially English with me: scones. But before I get to them, let me briefly talk about what I learnt while I was gone.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I love it when I am browsing through a cookbook and come across a recipe that literally makes me drop the book, grab a piece of paper, scribble down ingredients and run to the store so that I can immediately get cooking. And I love it even more when that happens after days of not craving anything (I blame the unhealthy amounts of butter and eggs I consumed at the beginning of last week, which left me feeling rather, um, uneasy). But when I saw these spicy black bean quesadillas in Ottolenghi's second cookbook Plenty, and was chopping tomatoes 20 minutes later, I knew I was cured.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I don't know where to start this, because I'm not exactly sure what it's about. At first, I thought it was about an English muffin. I decided to bake English muffins, because I've been seeing them everywhere yet they never look (or taste) as good as I think they should. So I prepared the batter yesterday evening and placed it into the fridge for a slow, overnight rise. I thought I was going to wake up in the morning, bake up a batch and enjoy a still warm English muffin, sliced and topped with a slathering of fresh farm butter and home-made jam. It was going to be an easy, satisfying, fuss-free breakfast.
Friday, August 12, 2011
I woke up on Monday after just a few hours of uneasy sleep. The riots had continued and spread. There had been more looting, more destruction. I could barely get myself to watch the news, to see innocent people tremble and cry as they spoke of the events, as they tried to explain what had happened. It was painful to hear how they had to flee for their lives, as they watched their flats burn, how frightened they had been and still were. Or to see shop owners in front of the remains of their stores - their livelihood - now nothing more than empty shelves and shattered glass. All of a sudden these people had become homeless, jobless, itemless. What had taken years to build up, had been destroyed in an instant. Stripped bare or burnt to ash. Nothing left.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This might sound odd, but whenever we're at the height of summer (and I believe we've gotten there) I start having trouble baking things involving summer fruit. While May, June and July are filled with strawberry cakes, raspberry semolina tarts and blueberry muffins, starting August the farthest a berry normally gets is from the bag they were carried home in to my mouth.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Can we talk about tomatoes and basil for a moment? As someone who appreciates local and seasonal produce, there's only a brief window where I can get ripe, juicy tomatoes, fresh, fragrant basil, and that window's open now. If I don't get my fix now, it'll close before I know it and I'll have to wait till next year. And that thought is enough to automatically veer my eyes towards the red, yellow, green and black! tomatoes every time I'm at the market and to make my hands grasp for the fragrant and tender ones (and also continue to buy basil plants in the hopes that one day I will not have to leave home for a week only to come back to a sad, sad sight - but I digress).
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Growing up, my mom would often make Palatschinken for dinner. Palatschinken are lightweight Austrian pancakes, made from a runny batter of milk, flour and eggs which is lightly fried in a large, buttered skillet. For each Palatschinken, just enough batter is added to the pan to coat its surface, making them much thinner than American pancakes and more crepe-like. They're cooked until golden, traditionally filled with apricot jam, rolled up and topped off with powdered sugar.