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Pellegrino Artusi & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)

Pellegrino Artusi, Casa Artusi, The Art of Cooking Well in Forlimpopoli & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)

Pellegrino Artusi is widely referred to as the father of Italian cuisine. Penning the first pan Italian cookbook, (self) published only 20 years after the unification of Italy in 1891 and in the language of the new unified Italy (which was the dialect of Florence), when he was 71.

Artusi’s cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, featured over 475 recipes gathered from Italian home cooks on his travels as a business man. 15 editions were published before he died 20 years later, with many further recipes added (finishing with 750).

Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well was predicted to be a commercial failure by Italian publishers at the time, and they refused to publish it, but it was a tremendous success. It has been in print since publication, and is in almost every Italian home. It has been translated into several languages also (it was translated to English in 1997). 200,000 copies were sold in his lifetime and many more in the 103 years since then.

(So, you know, the message being if you believe in something strongly enough, take a risk and make it happen. You never know, do you?)
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Easter Sunday Lunch

Easter - Pinated Duck Eggs

I have a new house! You may have heard me mention. Once, maybe twice, maybe more? I’ve moved in now and I love it, with it’s big kitchen, range cooker, bay windows looking out onto a little garden, full of yellow and pink flowers, bathed in swathes of light. I’ve yet to unpack but that didn’t stop us having friends around for a big Easter lunch.

Drying Painted Dugg Eggs for Easter

The ground floor with the kitchen and living areas was perfectly respectable, but upstairs behind every door and one in particular (mine!) lay bags and boxes, the house’s unconscious, repressed memories of former houses and bad wardrobe decisions, pots and pans, condiments and kitchen oddities purchased for celebrating obscure festivals, I do love randomness in my life! So, we kept everyone busy downstairs, collaboratively producing a fine Easter lunch, interrupted occasionally by an Easter Egg hunt or a munch on some chocolate or a painted duck egg.

Roast Leg of Lamb for Easter Lunch

So, what did we do? We kept with tradition and had a succulent roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary with lots of crisp roast potatoes served with roast vegetables and a fresh bright tomato salad prepared by my flatmate and friends. I worked with my cooking partner, 3 year old Lola, making chocolate nests for mini eggs, heart shaped chocolate things with leftovers and dessert, a rhubarb coulis with raspberries and rosewater, intended for a fool, but with more fruit than cream it resulted in a half fool or a foolish. We also had some delicious Russian Easter Cake baked my a Russian friend. It was lovely and not unlike panettone.

Chocolate Egg Nests for Easter

The day before we had made lots of painted duck eggs, fun to make and delicious to eat, although, I can confirm that it’s easier to eat many chocolate eggs, duck eggs in swift multiples can move quickly from delicious to tiresome, even if they are the prettiest ones you’ve ever seen.

Rhubarb, Raspberry and Rose Foolish

I hope you had a lovely Easter! It felt so close to Christmas for me, especially as I site here typing and eating chocolate and mini egg nests for breakfast. I need a purge or a detox. Or someone to take me away for the kitchen and the temptation, save me from myself!

Painted Duck Eggs for Easter

Easter Cake

Easter Lunch Table

butternut squash curry
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Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This has been a great couple of weeks for festivities. Diwali, Halloween, Day of the Dead last week, and Guy Fawkes coming up. It certainly takes the bite out of the impending Winter!

I always like to celebrate anything like this with food if I can, hey, I don’t need an excuse I know, even if it’s just for me, or, better again with friends. Last week was busy but I did sneak in a dish that would in some way cover Diwali and Halloween, well, kind of.

Diwali being a Hindu festival is all about vegetarian food, particularly curry, snacks and sweets. As for Halloween, well, Halloween is about spooks and scary things, but also pumpkins, so I thought, why not make a veggie curry with pumpkin in? Or, in this case, butternut squash.

I had an ulterior motive, I felt I needed a few veggie days, or veggie meals at least. I usually have quite a balanced diet but lately I’ve been buying lunch out alot more than usual, and as I work so near to delicious Brindisa, my diet has been leaning heavily on the meat side. So, beans, veg, tomato and coconut seemed like a good alternative to a chorizo stew!

It’s very easy and very light. I made this on a weekday evening and it was absolutely manageable. The measurements are loose as always, feel free to experiment, it’s more about the spices and the flavours in the sauce. I used a small butternut squash about 6-8 inches high. The spice blend is very basic. I just used what I had in my cupboard. It works, though!

This will serve 4. I served it with steamed basmati rice. It keeps well, indeed like most tomato based dishes, tastes better the next day.[Read more]

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The Kitchen at Parson’s Green

Thierry leads the way

Being busy as I have been of late, my cooking has tended toward the repetitive and unbloggable. Something on toast or some chorizo hash with a fried egg, anyone? Pasta soup? Linguine with a variation on a tomato sauce? It’s all good, but it does mean that I don’t have much cooking posts to share, I have however, been doing lots of other interesting things, which I will share with you here. Readers who are fans of cooking posts, I have a pork belly post and a very autumnal buttternut squash and sage orzo salad on it’s way.

Cupcakes at The Kitchen

Cupcakes at The Kitchen

Recently, I had an opportunity to go to the Kitchen in Parson’s Green with some other bloggers, organised through my lovely new employers, TrustedPlaces. A new cooking concept established in the US but new to London and targetting us busy urban types, you order your food online, they do the basic preparation (onion chopping, sauces), you show up, have a very sociable couple of hours putting it all together with friends, the tables are cleared for you and the washup done, and then you go home with your meals for the week, all of which cook really quickly, I didn’t spend more than 15 minutes on any of them.

Run by Natalie Richmond and Michelin starred chef Thierry Laborde, the menu offers comfort food classics from fish cakes to lasagne and I was intrigued.

Organic angus beefburgers

Organic angus beefburgers

I ordered my 4 meals in advance, four portions for one, although you can order one portion for four too! I went for the organic salmon teriyaki, organic angus beef burgers, puy lentil and split pea dahl samosas and veal saltimbocca with green beans and sicilian lemons. We arrived for our 7pm session and were greeted with a glass of wine. Good start after a day in the office! Within minutes we were in The Kitchen, donning our aprons, and surveying our first lot of ingredients and instructions. Thierry and his sous chef were on hand to help us put them together or to offer tips generally. Once complete, your dish was sealed and you had your very own, restaurant quality ready meal ready for your bad to take home.

Veal saltimbocca

Veal saltimbocca

What did I think? It was great fun, very sociable, and the time just flew. I am very fussy about my food and the Kitchen didn’t disappoint, everything is very well sourced and delicious, and I was very happy to get home and try a new dish each evening. It’s also extremely well priced, somewhere between supermarket and lower end restaurant prices. For the cooks out there, you don’t get the recipes but you do learn some techniques, and for this I found it valuable. For delicious and healthy convenient food with instruction, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to Parson’s Green.

Wine at The Kitchen

Wine at The Kitchen