Friday, 12 October 2012

Compelling reading...

No picture of food today folks, instead I wish to share with you some books that have inspired me, have been bought for me and have a little place in my heart.

Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey by Alice Vollenweider. This little gem is my tasting guide to Italy. I have always wanted to go to Italy and myself and my fiancé will be honeymooning there.
The book goes through different parts of Italy and what produce reigns supreme in each region (ricotta from Umbria, artichokes from Sardinia, white beans from Florence, bread from Tuscany etc). The only thing wrong with this book is that I'm not there tasting the wonders.

Favourite Welsh Recipes by Sheila Howells. My family are Welsh, I grew up with my Nanna June making welsh cakes(Pice Ar Y Maen) a kind of drop scone cooked on a hot griddle and my dad makes the best Welsh Rarebit in the land. So being a girl brought up on the good old welsh recipes my gorgeous mother in law saw this adorable recipe book and knew it was for me. I can't wait to make the Caerphilly Cheese and Chive Scones!

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland. Ok definitely off topic but this graphic novella is stunning. I'm a massive Alan Moore fan (dressed up as original Silk Spectre from Watchmen for my 21st) and his creative writing ability never ceases to amaze he is able to capture the darkness at the heart of a character and twist and present it in a unique way that shows some humility and vulnerability. This is ferociously backed up by Brian Bolland's meticulous attention to detail and elegant drawings making each page a work of art.

The Pooh Cook Book by Katie Stewart. This appeals to my childish side and gives me a great sense of nostalgia. Anyone who knows me knows that my dad is my hero- he taught me how to bake, how to ride a bike, how to pitch a tent, self-defense, how to make the perfect cheese sauce, he indulged in my weird imagination, steals my recipes, has a wicked sense of humour, still tries to hold my hand when I cross the road and is THE BEST at reading stories. Here is where Winnie the Pooh comes in. I had a HUGE book of all the Winnie the Pooh stories and poems and every night my dad would come home and read from this book- expertly putting on voices for different characters and inventing his own tunes for songs (and sometimes ad libbing lyrics) and it was perfection. I went to sleep happy and smiling from giggling at my dad's silliness. So when my partner spied this cookbook in a charity shop he knew I would adore it. I did, so much so a few tears of joy escaped from me. Recipes are split into different chapters; "Smackerels, Elevenses and Teas", "Provisions for Picnics and Expotitions", "Lunches and Suppers", "Dessert and Party", "Christmas Specialities" and "Hot and Cold Drinks" (how twee!!??!)

It's chock full of beautiful, heart-warming recipes that bring guarantee smiles. The recipes aren't exactly challenging your technical ability or pushing your culinary boundaries but for me its perfect- its nostalgia hitting me in the face, reminding me of my dad reading stories and teaching me how to bake. This book is my treasure.

Excuse me I'm off to make Hot Chocolate for a Blusterous Day.

No Drama xx

Hello my little dumplings

One of several things can puzzle a kitchen hoarder. How the hell did that set? Why won't you come out the pan? HOW MANY EGGS? But a delightful question is how does suet, flour and water taste soooo good? I am referring to of course the dumpling.

A forgotten food staple that every grandad and grandma is a culinary expert in (cue in a story about how said grandparents when they were children would have stew and dumplings. They would save the dumplings until right at the end when they would smear jam on the gravy soaked little blighters and have that for their pudding- shudder)

As the weather is considerably crappy stew and dumplings are on the menu. Now there are many many many different recipes for dumplings but I prefer a simple one (no grated frozen butter for me!);
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 50g shredded suet
  • 2 tsp of thyme

1. In a bowl mix flour, suet and thyme together with a pinch of salt.
2. Add 3 tbsp of cold water and stir. If the dough is too dry add more water until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
3. With floured hands divide the dough and roll into balls (8-12 depending on size)
4. Add dumplings to your stew in your casserole dish and cook on 180c for 20 minutes.

I apologise there is no picture of the finished product. We were starving.

What do you add to your dumplings? Do you have a different method? Comment and let me know, I'm all ears.

No drama xx