Apologies, I am two months behind in posts. I have been been crashing around the kitchen with mixed results. What have I learned? You should soak dried beans in salted water, but not boil them in salted water (I knew the last bit before). That was in aid of a cassoulet.
I discovered Maison Riviera’s fromage blanc. I have used it in a number of pasta dishes where previously I have used a cheese such as mascarpone or mozzarella. The results are lighter and it blends easily, though I suggest you do it off heat.
Meanwhile Nigella Lawson’s cloud cake let me down for the first time this Easter. My egg whites and my whipping cream just didn’t want to froth to the occasion. It’s unsettling when a recipe you think you could make blindfolded blindsides you.
Speaking of which, I recently read something that hit me with the force of a right hook. More on this later, suffice it to say it was a truth I knew but didn’t acknowledge.
In the kitchen, as in life, lately I have been reminded that left overs often outshine the first iteration. I made a mustard pork loin with apple lentils and herb aioli for my Oscar fete. It was good, but the sandwich I made with the last of the meat and aioli was great. For Easter I made a leg of lamb with preserved lemons. It’s another one of my go to celebration dishes, but as with the cloud cake I felt I didn’t quite pull it off. However, the Moroccan style stew with apricots that I made with the leftovers, that was outstanding.
A Bevy of Books
Because I can’t help hoping I will encourage someone to start reading poetry, I have to tell you about Wendy Cope’s Anecdotal Evidence. Funny and moving by turns, like every talented artist she brings into focus a moment you might otherwise have missed.
I think it is fair to say that one of the most complicated and enduring relationships every woman has is with food. If you agree you’ll enjoy Laura Shapiro’s What She Ate. She looks at six intriguing women, what food meant to them and how they used it.
Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Want to Know is her response to George Orwell’s Why I Write. For me, the first essay, Political Purpose, packed an incredible punch. We all cherish, often without knowing it, definitions of what it means to be good, what constitutes right, how we define our responsibilities, and so on. A great writer can make us aware of those assumptions, force us to examine them, and in the process, I know I risk hyperbole, but I will say it anyway, set us free.