Baked Wild Salmon with a Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

 

I had to blog this “recipe” as it is one of the tastiest dinners I have served up in a long time!

Best of all, the dish can be put together as a main meal in half an hour with a very few ingredients. So, hooray all round! Well, ticks my boxes.

In our family, we made a conscious choice a while ago to eat wild salmon, even if it meant we ate salmon less often due to the higher cost. I’m Scottish by origin, so I know the debates around wild salmon stocks, farmed salmon and pollution, creating and sustaining jobs in rural areas and the release of farmed fish into the ocean. But, for us it comes down to taste. Farmed salmon can be flabby, fatty and lacking in flavour. Wild salmon is firmer, arguably “healthier” and simply tastes better.

I serve the salmon fillet on a bed of crushed new potatoes with a little sauce drizzled over the tatties and then over the top of the fish. Side dishes–perhaps flash pan-fried samphire, or a steamed veg medley. This dish goes particularly well with baby sweetcorn in the medley.

Ingredients

  • One Boneless Salmon Fillet per person, Skin On (Wild salmon fillets may look thinner/smaller than farmed salmon, circa 100g-120g each in weight per fillet is the usual portion I serve as a main course.)
  • Two thin slices of Lemon per fillet
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Sauce:

  • Juice of 1-2 Lemons depending on number of portions. (The grated rind of half a Lemon is optional–I am not a fan of citrus rind as I find the flavour can be too harsh.)
  • 25g of Butter per person (I use unsalted butter as a matter of course in our house; leave out the salt if you are using salted butter.)
  • 1 fat Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of rinsed Capers per person
  • A couple of grinds of Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Equipment:

  • A baking tray sufficient to lay out the fillets; tinfoil; a thin covering of a light oil for foil (vegetable or light olive oil will do), a small saucepan

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius. This fish cooks quickly, so prepare any side dishes first so that they will time with serving up.

Line a baking tray with enough foil to create a “tent” over the fish. Lightly oil the foil base, and place the fillets skin side down, season and place on the lemon slices. Fold back the excess foil for now so the fish is fully exposed, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the fish from the oven, unfold the foil and “tent” the fish–the foil may be hot at the edges. Leave aside for another 10 mins, the fish keeps cooking and will be done perfectly.

Prepare the sauce–melt the butter gently in the saucepan, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and heat again on low for a few minutes until the garlic is just cooked through but not browning, a couple of stirs and this is done.

Unwrap the fish, remove the lemon slices.  The skin can be removed with a fish slice as you plate up.  Serve with the sauce spooned over.

IMG_0057.JPG

Baked Wild Salmon with Samphire and Crushed New Potatoes

 

Sometimes, it’s the Soul We Need to Feed

After the Rain

Back from a (rainy) break in Portugal and it has finally stopped raining in southern England.  The reservoirs have filled up and the drought that threatened a hosepipe ban and water rationing over the summer is over.  Hooray.

In our absence, our garden has gone dippy, doolally crazy.  Utterly insane numbers of plants have flowered, some of which in all honesty we did not even know we had.

We are renting a house with an old cottage-style garden while the new build house we want to live in remains a muddy hole in the ground.  The current rental was owned by an elderly lady, and I know from the landlord she loved her flowers but had not been able to tend the garden for a while. The house had lain empty for a long time but we took on the place realising that there was a work out there to clear, prune, trim, dig out and discard (that deadly nightshade just had to go) and plain cut down.  But, this is a rental and we are only here temporarily, and there is only so much you can do…

I did spend a few weekends last autumn/winter out there with long loppers, secateurs, hand forks and a hacksaw. Mostly I was being savage and brutal.  It was so overgrown and crowded that I had to take a very pragmatic view—the plant life (some bare shrubbery unidentifiable) just had to take their chances, even if they really would have preferred a spring spruce up or a light autumn prune, they were all wrestled and manhandled by me almost to the ground.  It really wasn’t pretty and left us with a bit of grey wasteland over winter.

And yet…the riches Spring has brought to our garden take my breath away.

First, the Apple Blossom.  We have 3 apple trees, old varieties and utterly sweet and delicious–they were fruiting when we moved in last autumn–the best apple you never remember eating:

Apple Blossom@Hampshirecook

The gigantic oversized snowdrops that appeared in early March drooped to the ground after a few days, and the daffodils and narcissi in April mostly came up “blind”, so I was not too hopeful for much of anything else really.  And then the rain stopped, the sun came out and our garden is filled with clouds of naturalised Columbine (Aquilegia)—the state flower of Colorado.  With great big clover like leaves and long delicate stems swaying their fairy-light bells in the breeze, there are whites, creams, pale and deep pinks, strong royal purples and pale blues, creating a haze of pastel magic. Over time I think the plants have all reverted and intermingled—they were maybe all the white or cream to begin with. These are sometimes called Granny’s Bonnet.

Columbine

More Columbine!

A lone golden poppy (the California state flower) unwrapped itself this morning:

Golden Poppy

Perennial cornflower:

Perennial Cornflower

Polygonatum multiflorum, or Soloman’s Seal is another cottage garden favourite that has turned up in ours, nestling under the pergola:

Solomons Seal

With a white Clematis rambling over the top:

While the bees buzz about at ground level, darting into the the pretty pink and blue flowers of the horribly named Lungwort (pulmonaria officinalis):

The Camellia is nearly done flowering, but just to capture its magic for this season:

Green Alkanet  (pentaglottis sempervirens) is muscling in to the borders too, the deep bank that runs along the fence is a fantastic splash of vivid blue. I am really not fond of this weed.  Its big ugly leaves shed irritating hairs when you pull it up—wear gloves and cover your mouth as it can irritate your throat too.  It also stinks when cut or pulled, and can regenerate from a tiny bit of root left.  In its favour apparently you can use the roots as a red dye but frankly, I would have to be desperate in some way to cultivate this.

And to Bluebells, there are all sorts of hybrids and natives in this garden, and I know enough not to touch them as the natives are highly protected in the UK.  There are even ones that are lilac coloured, which a brief internet search says is not so odd, but odd enough for people to be taking pix and talking about:

Bundles of Herb Robert abound in this garden with their pretty five-petal pink flowers and red stems:

And last but not forgotten, Forget-Me-Nots push up everywhere:

So, a spring garden.  Revives the soul, does it not?

Recipe: Tortilla (or is it a Frittata?) with Potatoes, Cheese, Leek & Sage

Potato, Leek, Cheese and Sage Frittata

Potato, Leek, Cheese and Sage Frittata

Recipe: Frittata with Potatoes, Cheese, Leek & Sage

Please, please send me on a holiday to Barcelona! 

http://holidays.easyjet.com/spain/barcelona/barcelona-inner-city-breaks.htm

(Oh my, am I shamelessly advertising!  Yes! I really would love to go back to Barcelona…)

And now to cooking. I often find that tortilla Espagnola—the Spanish deep omelette with sliced potatoes and onion—can be rather dry and bland, but the Spanish version is often acting as a counterpoint to far spicier tapas dishes, so fair enough really.  Italian-inspired frittata tend to have more ingredients—incorporating leftovers and whatever is in season and available, any old thing can go in there, from artichoke to zucchini.  Another difference between the two is in the cooking method: a tortilla is usually flipped over using a plate or lid half way through, whereas a frittata is generally finished under the grill.  But, no hard and fast rules in Spain or Italy–almost every human culture breaks eggs to make omelettes.

This version of a sliced potato omelette (I’m calling it my tortatta) is not bland at all, and it majorly ticks my boxes in that it has few, simple ingredients in quantities that I would usually have to hand and it is an easy dish to make.  The recipe is an adaptation from a BBC Good Food Magazine original, where I was surprised to see several comments on it being not very tasty, but if you use good quality ingredients (leeks in summer= tasteless rubbish) and your dried sage has not been hanging around in a cupboard for two years, I really can’t see where those comments came from.  Dried sage is, of course, the worst herb for losing its pungency over time and turning into acrid green-brown dust so perhaps that is the reason for those remarks.

This amount would serve four as a lunch with a big salad and nice bread, or two to four as a warm winter supper with some extra bits of tapas e.g. Tomato & Mozzarella Salad, Calamaris, etc.  It takes around half an hour all in to make and could be a good lunch box/picnic dish.  You could of course add other ingredients as you fancy, but why bother when this dish is so nice?

Up Close, Mmmm

Ingredients:

  • 250g-275g Potatoes (this is a surprisingly small amount of potatoes, about four smallish or two medium sized ones and they need to be pre-cooked.)
  • 1 medium-sized Leek—I would substitute spring onions or fresh white onions in the summer months.
  • 6 medium Eggs, or 4 large Eggs
  • Large knob of Butter
  • 80g good, mature hard Cheese such as a strong, vintage Cheddar
  • Large Pinch of Dried Sage, rubbed in your palm before adding to release the oils, or use 3-4 leaves of fresh sage, very finely chopped.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste—you may not need much salt depending on the cheese used.

Method:

Peel and boil the potatoes and be careful not to overcook them, they need to be in decent shape to slice down without crumbling or going to mush.  As they are cooking, slice the leek as thinly as you can, I used a mandolin.  Over a low heat on the hob and in a reasonably deep non-stick skillet/frying pan gently soften the leek in butter until it melts down but is not browning, this can take up to 10 minutes depending on how thickly sliced. My skillet is 10” or 26cm diameter and it is probably on the outside size of making this whole dish work with these quantities. Cool the potatoes once cooked, then slice down—certainly not more than half a centimetre thickness.  The original recipe states to place potatoes over leeks, but I prefer to do it the other way around, as the potato layer at the bottom gives it more of a base for cutting and serving.  Beat the eggs, add the cheese, sage and seasoning and make sure the egg is settling evenly round the pan and moving around and under the leek and potatoes to encase everything.  Gently cook the mixture on the hob over a low heat until the eggs set—should take just a few minutes.  I tend to annoy it a little by moving a flexible spatula around the edges and under the frittata just to loosen things off and check the base is not browning too much (aka burning), but I think my skillet is not so non-stick as it once was. To finish, place the entire skillet under a medium hot grill to set the frittata top for a couple of minutes or so but too long under the grill equals rubber omelette.  The frittata/tortatta can be served hot or at room temp, it slices better when cooled, but I prefer eating it warm.

Zen and the Art of Making Meatballs

Zen Shrooms

Zen Shrooms

You see, I had this whole breathy post written full of New Year re-evaluations and re-assessing and it was all about no waste and saving money, and wittering about coming back to my original proposition and blah, blah.  That piece didn’t get posted up due to general technical incompetence on my part, which is just as well because then I started making meatballs.  And I found something a lot more inspiring right there, in a humble white mushroom (no, not that type of mushroom, it was from Tesco, purleeze!)  I found what I think might be called “zen”. Or something not far off.

Weird huh?  I started watching myself slicing the mushroom, slowed down my chopping and focussed on what I was doing.  The way the knife moved in a subtle arc, the bounce of light from the window on the blade, the slight resistance of the ‘shroom, the texture of the blade against the scrunchy whiteness.  And then I started being mindful about every movement that was required in the dish that I was making.  And I subtly changed things, I minced the onion more finely, I made much smaller, daintier meatballs.  I looked more closely at the quantities and balance of seasoning and herbs and flavours.  I reached up to cupboards with thoughtfulness and deliberation and, dare I suggest, some grace in my movements? In the end, I used only half of the beef mince I had intended or would normally use and my sauce had a few more vegetables than normal.  None of this took longer than usual, nor was it more fiddly.  Somehow, though, it was more satisfying for me.  Oh, it did taste better too.

Maybe what I found was that if you are going to cook something, even if it is a boring weekly regular like bog-standard Bolognese, you might as well get into it rather than trying to do it on auto-pilot or throw it together in the big mad rush of “I know what I’m doing now get out of my way you pesky items in the fridge that are concealing the cheese I know is in there and thwarting me, you deliberate fridge conspiracy, in getting on with dinner“.  I’m exaggerating but I guess you all know what I am talking about–the sheer “grrr” of it all sometimes.

I don’t meant to suggest that my life or my blog now embraces banal domesticity, or that I willingly cede to a yoke I have spent much of my adult years avoiding, but for 2012, I want much less of that grrr and much more zen in my meatballs.  Happy New Year!

My AltPunk Christmas: The Vodka Mincemeat Recipe

Mincemeat Ingredients

Mincemeat Ingredients

Factoid: Mrs Beaton’s original mincemeat recipe did not contain cinnamon—it was all nutmeg.  However, the recipe below is less about being historically accurate than about avoiding anaphylactic shock.  I hope I don’t go on about it, but I do have serious food allergies—to cinnamon largely—and it is particularly hard on me at this time of year. Christmas can make me so resentful, which let’s face it, is not exactly the yuletide spirit. I adored tucking into Christmas Cake, the flaming Pud, Mince Pies and all the rest but each and every one of these dishes contains the deadly cinnamon.  I even had to run out of John Lewis one time as the aircon was pumping around some cinnamon-inspired chemical Chrimbo.

I decided this year to stop with the envy and make a spice mix that would make me some mince pies.  When trawling about looking for ideas and proportions I found this great link to the history of Mincedmeat from Mediaeval times to the modern day: http://historicalfoods.com/mincemeat-recipes-for-mince-pies

There is so much variation in ingredients and spices that it gave me a lot of confidence about doing my own thing.  After faffing about a bit, I have now come up with a mix that really works well for seasonal sweet dishes, and could be used as a general substitute for ground mixed spice that normally contains cinnamon.

Hampshirecook’s Spice Mix:

  • Equal quantities of ground dried Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Coriander and Caraway–I grind these myself in a spice grinder as required.
  • Half a Vanilla Pod or a few drops of Vanilla Extract.

I may be talking absolute rubbish here, but the vanilla seems to smooth out the heat of the spice flavours, particularly taking out that top-note acid ginger bite—it makes the flavours altogether more mellow.  Cinnamon can have that quality too, so maybe the Vanilla is acting in a similar way.

So to the recipe. When I do substitutions, I try to avoid making a pastiche of something else.  Who really wants to “taste the difference”?  I would far rather a dish presents itself proudly in its own right.  Accordingly, I decided to do a different style of mincemeat with slightly different ingredients and that would marry up more with the nutmeg: so it was Pears instead of Apples, Crystallized Stem Ginger instead of Mixed Candied Peel, and Cranberries, Dates and Apricots in the Currant/Sultana mix.  I have to say this was an utter success. Hub was trying to eat it out of the preserving jar that I was trying to put it into.  It is a lovely, lovely combination, which I would never have stumbled on or bothered about if it wasn’t for that darned cinnamon thing. And my house smells very nice too, bonus!

And the finished mincemeat.

Ingredients:

(Makes just over a litre by volume, fills one medium Tesco storage clip jar)

  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 200g Dark Brown Soft Sugar
  • 200ml Cranberry Juice
  • 3 Tsp Ground Mix Spice
  • ½ a Vanilla Pod
  • 250g Pears, peeled and diced small
  • 200g Sultanas
  • 200g Currants
  • 100g Dried Cranberries
  • 50g Crystalised Stem Ginger
  • 100 g Chopped Dates
  • 100g Chopped Dried Apricots
  • 150 ml Vodka (or alcohol of your choice; Brandy is traditional but there is a cinnamon chemical in Brandy…yadah, yadah it just goes on, allergies are sooo BORING.)

Method:

(Takes about 30 minutes or so all in)

Combine the butter, sugar and all the spices in a large saucepan, heating gently while stirring until the butter is all melted and there are no big sugary lumps left. Add in the cranberry juice and stir, then add in the pears and the rest of the dry ingredients along with the vanilla pod.  Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the pear is softened (15 minutes or so).  Fish out the vanilla pod (it will be hot!), scrape out any remaining seeds and put the seeds back in the pan and stir round. Allow the mixture to cool a little before adding in the vodka as you do not want the alcohol to boil off.  Spoon into sterilised jars and seal when it is cooled enough to handle.  Do this out of sight of your family or there will be none left.  This should at least keep for at least one month in the fridge, and it is possible to extend the shelf life to about six months if you double-up the alcohol.

Am off to do the mince pies now.  I’m too late to do a cake, but Christmas pud could well be home-made this year!

[PS If you are interested in following the historic link above, I would be quick as all the amazing historic recipes on that site are transferring over to RecipeWISE in January and most will then be behind a paywall. Such a shame, but I dont blame them, historic recipes are not a natural draw for advertising-based business models!]

The Macaroon Charity Diet

Macaroons

Macaroons

I don’t bake, but my sister does–those genes unevenly distributed in our family.   Sis loves baking–mostly cakes but also biscuits, fudge, brownies & macaroons–anything sweet, delicious and wonderful.  In fact, if the Great British Bake Off was the Great British Cake Off, she would enter in a heartbeat…she is just not so keen on making bread or pies, hence her hesitation.

Unfortunately, sis does not have the big family to go along with eating her fabulous cakes, and she is trying to shed a LOT of weight  (3 stone gone already this year–42lbs, wow).  Thus, her diet tip for those that would “have their cakes and eat them” while on a diet is charity baking.  She bakes at weekends and sells her wares round the office, and the money raised goes to the “flavour of the month” charity.  She usually does keep back a slice for her own tea break, but one slice is a whole lot better that one entire cake, which kind of was what had been happening…and of course, its nice to share and good for her to get positive feedback from colleagues.

The macaroon flavours here for those interested are raspberry, lemon, strawberries & cream and orange.  The ones below are chocolate ganache, coconut and coffee.  Lovely they were.

More Macaroons

I Shouldn’t Even Share This: Prawn / Shrimp Curry Recipe

This is a signature dish, right up there among the best dishes I know how to make.  Why am I publishing it?  No idea.

Being completely honest & upfront here, this recipe is NOT VINDALOO HOT unless you want it to be.  It contains no chili, as I am ‘llergic.  BUT, it is very, very tasty and seems to be none the worse for the lack of actual chili chemical.  The ginger, turmeric, black pepper and cumin gives it such a strong *heaty* kick that chili eaters don’t believe their own taste buds.  The recipe is adapted from a golden curry I used to make in Malaysia, a kind of hybrid Thai/Chinese/Indian affair.  I have indicated below where you would add chili in if you absolutely must…Pah!

Also, on the quick part, it really is quick once you get the hang of what it’s about.  The veg prep and the rice take longer than the cooking.  On rice, Uncle Ben’s 10 minute boil in the bag…I hate myself for loving that old guy.

Ingredients (for 4):

  • 100g / 4 oz small, peeled pre-cooked shrimp per person or 6-8 large king size prawns per person. Raw King Prawns take just a minute or so longer to cook.
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 small Shallots, peeled
  • 5 cm / 2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk, the pinky-white/lightest part is the most flavoursome
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 2 Cloves
  • …There is a reason for carefully counting out the hard spices, you have to fish them out later…
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of a good Curry Mix Powder. I use a Sainsbury mild curry powder that does not contain chili but does have turmeric, fennel, coriander seed, cumin, black pepper and mustard powder.
  • Small handful per person of assorted Veg as available: I have used  Sugar Snap Peas & Baby Sweetcorns here, but Green Beans or Carrots cut into half moons are fine too, just lightly parboil carrots first.
  • Half a pint / 1/4 litre of coconut milk made up from whatever source: powdered, cream with added water, block coconut, etc…it is a matter of taste, I prefer a milkier sauce and we eat my curry with a spoon and fork, but you can make up a thicker paste of coconut if preferred.
  • Scant pinch of coarse Sea Salt to provide grist to the pestle 
  • Fresh Coriander (cilantro) to garnish, a small handful de-stalked
  • Tablespoon of cooking oil that can take a higher temperature e.g. Vegetable Oil or Groundnut Oil
  • 2 dried Chilis, if you absolutely insist…but seriously!

Method (this is quick cooking so be pre-prepped!):

Set the rice to cook. Prepare the veg if par-boiling or steaming anything for a few minutes.  I sometimes set a steamer over the rice.

Prepare garlic, shallots, lemongrass & ginger by chopping & mincing first and either pounding to a paste with a pinch of coarse sea salt in a pestle and mortar or whizzing in a blender (much easier but a faff to get the thing out the cupboard).  Make up coconut milk to taste and look out the spices and line up.  Heat a wok on a low heat with no oil, and then place the oil inside, swirling round as this stops food welding to the inside of the wok.   Chili-lovers?  Ramp up the heat and fry two large dried chilis in the oil and then remove before they burn and go bitter.  Turn down the heat to medium low and add in shallots, lemongrass, garlic and ginger paste and stir.  Once the paste aromas begin to waft around (two to three minutes), turn the heat down again and let the shallots soften for another couple of minutes.

Once cooked, raise the heat again and place in the cloves, star anise, cardamoms and curry powder and stir all the ingredients until the spice aromas are again released and wafting around your kitchen–two to three minutes or so is usually long enough.  Do not let the spices burn, and to cool things down if required, sprinkle in a little cold water–you might experience an alarming puff of turmeric-yellow steam like an old London fog, but it saves the day. Remove the hard spices–cloves, cardamoms and star anise–they have done their work now in flavouring the dish.  Add in the prawns and veg and stir around to cover in the brown-golden spicey mix and heat through, and then add in coconut milk.  Forgot to take out the cloves etc? They float to the top usually.  Bring the dish to a low simmer while stirring, adding in half of the coriander garnish just before serving.  It is pretty much ready.

Serve with white boiled rice, garnish with fresh coriander on top.  This dish does not really suit the usual curry add-ons like lime pickles and so on, but fresh sliced fruit as a dessert seems to bring together the taste experience.

Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes Recipe with Lemon

Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes with Lemon

Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes with Lemon

I massively over-ordered French green beans via Tesco online, not realising there was a buy one get one free thingy.  As there is only so much steaming a girl can do, something was required other than just blanching and freezing the excess. I (vaguely) remembered a recipe for green beans and cherry tomatoes in the Terence Stamp Collection cookbook.  That book is Lord knows where at my mum’s, I may have to actually order my own copy though I am a bit loathe as it is all wheat and dairy free *.  All I can recall is the recipe had the two ingredients above and that Terence used a lot of lemon juice as a salt substitute.

So, like the good researcher I am, I went looking for something like it online, and wouldn’t you know there are hundreds of recipes, but not that one.  So here is my half remembered homage, takes about 10 minutes start to finish:

Ingredients (to Serve 4 as a Side Dish)

  • 400g fresh Green Beans, cleaned, topped and tailed.  Cut in half if very long, but try to have them all roughly the same length
  • 200g of fresh Cherry Tomatoes, whole, with a tiny notch cut into the top.  Good quality tomatoes are required for this dish. The notch stops them bursting in uncontrollable ways, helping to keep them (almost) whole.
  • Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 large Lemon
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper to season (let the lemon be your salt substitute, it works weirdly well…)

Method:

Drop the trimmed green beans into plain boiling water, bring back to the boil, simmer vigorously for 4 minutes or so. Drain the beans very thoroughly, and pat dry’ish with kitchen towel or a napkin to remove any excess surface water.  Keep warm in the oven in a pyrex serving dish or similar, but not for so long they go flaccid. Flash fry the cherry tomatoes for about 30 seconds to a minute in olive oil in a hot skillet–beware, they spatter like crazy.  You want the tomatoes to singe, soften but stay in shape and open a little at the tops without de-skinning completely, but not remain raw and cold in the middle. Add in the lemon juice (again, it spatters) and black pepper and simmer to heat through again.  Spoon out the tomatoes onto your hot serving dish of green beans and drizzle the lemony juicy sauce over.  NB Green beans have a nasty habit of going cold and watery on your plate too quickly, hence all these keep warm instructions.  And cooked, pre-frozen green beans are the worst offenders for this.

I served this with breaded chicken escalopes and slow fried roast potatoes.  It is a nice dish when it is too cold for a salad but you want something very fresh-tasting as a side.  Variations could include adding in some basil and/or garlic though I find I want a rest from the old garlic/herb combo now and again.

*The Stamp Collection Cookbook (hardback 1997, paperback 2002) was a collaboration between actor Terence Stamp and cook Elizabeth Buxton on wheat and dairy free cooking.  Second-hand copies on Amazon are available for a penny + postage.

(BTW recent lack of activity–I have been moving house…we’re in now, and properly broadbanded, interneted, and phoned.  Thanks to goodness.)

Food Blogger Voices

I follow the Cooking Frog’s Blog, authored by a French woman in Vancouver, and was laughing out loud recently at her amusing piece on having to fly all the way back to Aix-en-Provence to find a rabbit to cook her favourite roast rabbit with Dijon mustard.  Canadians surely must have been grateful for rabbit meat at some point in the development of their nation, though  apparently now they are appalled at the very idea of eating Bugs Bunny.  And her stuck-up Canadian butcher kind of scoffed at her when she asked if they stocked such a thing.

What I like about her blog–other than the particular slant of her humour–is that she talks/writes her way through making a dish, often with no lists of ingredients, no precise measurements and scant methodology–such a simple and confident way to present what you are cooking in your life.  She blogs about normal family French cooking, the food of her.  And the pix are what please her, a skinned rabbit on a plate for example.

It pleases me too. We need no more than she offers to be engaged and feel that we could easily replicate her food.  I admire too her quiet authority and the sense of a deep history of good cooking.

Ah, there could be a Canadian theme developing.  Chocolate & Ginger’s owner in Alberta, for example, has quite a different take.  She is a highly energetic marathon runner/all round sporty person and designer (e.g. not in the least like me).  Her recipes are well illustrated, typically with a quartet of foodie nouns strung together to describe them: –Honey Rosemary Cornbread Muffins–Mango Almond Coconut Quinoa–Apple Cheddar Rosemary Scones…

I defy you to wonder about those and not click on….and then to wonder at finding Chocolate and Ginger’s cheddar is (deliberately) 6 years old, her freezer contains ground elk meat, she picks up Jamie Oliver spices in London and invites her pals to Paris.  Her meals are healthy too for Gawd’s sake.  Is it the lifestyle wrapper I like?  Am I so shallow?  I do like too that she takes other people’s recipes, acknowledges, fiddles, healthies them up, names them better and bends her life around it all in a blog where she is just off skiing shortly (fyi) but rustled up this fab sounding dish even though there was no food in the cupboard ‘cos she is just off skiing and had cancelled the grocery delivery. I kind of only half believe it, and then slap myself for being cynical.  And then I chill and enjoy.

So, here is (perhaps) what I am ruminating. Today, we could be admiring *ownership* and *identity*.  The confidence or smarts to own the food that is in your life and to give it an identity, such that it ends up in someone’s/anyone else’s purview, in a blogosphere whose collective stomach must be groaning…well, that’s something of note.