Saturday, 18 June 2011

Accidental Ratatouille

Reading an excess of magazine and newspaper articles about the benefits for the ageing, human body of brightly coloured vegetables resulted today in a big pan of ratatouille. The recipe called for freshly crushed coriander seeds, I didn't have any so used some fennel seeds instead. It worked wonderfully.
It does seem to be something of a pattern in cooking (and cliché though it is, in life too) that when you are without an ingredient you want and are forced to try a substitute you can sometimes end up with something better than you could have imagined.
On the other hand it can be dire.
Actually, I didn't have any courgettes either, just lots of tomatoes, peppers and a solitary aubergine that needed using so you might argue that it wasn't ratatouille at all.
All very existential.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Poetry Kitchen is

The Poetry Kitchen is a blog about cooking and writing.

I actually do write in the kitchen
I write in the kitchen not as a compromise but because it means that I can alternate cooking with writing in a way that is satisfying and productive on both counts.

I write poetry that is often about food and The Poetry Kitchen is a title under which I will be promoting joint culinary and literary events.
Having been pondering on this idea for a while, I'm glad to say that the first, ever Poetry Kitchen event is now going to be happening in July 2011 in Newcastle on Tyne (details and booking information to follow).

The Poetry Tea will be a themed poetry reading with home made cakes and tea.

Having a deadline is brilliant and I have been trying out some new baking recipes in preparation for the event.
Yesterday saw my first ever attempt at macaroons, they were delicious but looked nothing like the brightly coloured Laduree ones that have been so fashionable in recent years.
I love the way that following even a good recipe, in this case from one of my favourite cookery books Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course, you really only learn by doing. Having never made them before I had no idea whether the almond and sugar paste would stay the shape and size it started out at on the baking sheet and discovered that indeed  it didn't. It spread and merged in a way which taught me that next time I shall form the paste into balls (using granulated sugar on my hands to stop them sticking) and space them out more without patting down to a flat shape. I'll let you know how the next batch fare. I did try to emulate the sophisticated, French versions by making half the batch mint. I used quite a lot of 'natural' green food colouring and peppermint essence to produce macaroons that tasted good but only just managed a tinge of eau de nil  rather than a strong colour; I must look up what on earth they put in the French ones to make the colour so fierce.