We can cook! Bloggers take to the kitchen…
I have always been surrounded by food and people who like to eat it, and much of my job – and this blog – means that I am in constant contact with it. However in spite all of that, I am a little bit terrified of cooking.
I have decided that this is partly because in my experience making things for people involves rushing home from work, diving into the supermarket, chucking random things in a pan or an oven and then into people’s mouths. It’s all too fast, I never remember to repeat the recipe again, and so even if the thing tasted OK on the night, it’s all too soon forgotten… and so on… It is also probably partly because I’ve decided that most people can do it better – or at least without the stress.
But recently I’ve been going cooking mad and can’t get enough of it (I wrote this a few days ago, before I was commissioned at work to bake this – so this post seems a little out of date!). I’m bored of everyone else being able to do something and not being able to join in… so I’ve have stopped rushing around and instead of reading recipes, I’ve just got on with actually following a few of them – in my own time.
I have dipped into Margot Henderson’s new book, You’re All Invited, to make pork belly with fennel and courgette fritters; I have failed – but enjoyed – Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meal challenge; I have attempted to re-create some of Niamh Shields’ delicious recipes and I managed to pull together some sweet potato and lime pancakes not-very-à-la Arthur Potts Dawson. Last weekend I was surprised when the breaded sardines with caper mayonnaise idea that I borrowed from Russell Norman in his Polpo cookbook came out OK and that smoked paprika and orange tuna steaks (Laura Santtini in Flash Cooking) tasted great. Lots of people would say that this is just stating the bloody obvious, but I’m beginning to see how cooking can be a lovely, satisfying and restorative activity.
And then a fortnight ago I and five others made something very simple and really rather OK (can you say that about something you made yourself?!) For a full hour a group of food bloggers and I watched Andy Bates (who I accompanied to San Francisco over the summer – post here and Evening Standard thing here) make two things – a vegetarian Scotch egg like one of those he sells from his Broadway Market London stall Eat My Pies, and his version of a Po’ Boy roll – the idea being that we could recreate them immediately afterwards.
So we watched (filming is a verryy slooww proocesss), I panicked, wondering how on earth he made it looked so easy, and then we split up into two teams to begin the great fry up.
On one side of the kitchen, beans and herbs were mashed, lemon juice squeezed, ginger grated and oil set to sizzle. It was a hub of activity. Chaos, if you like.
On the other, prawns were fried, parmesan crisped, bread charred and a mighty sandwich rolled.
I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of the lovely ‘Po Boys that the other team created but here is the result of our morning’s observation:
Afterwards we handed out two trays-worth of food to the greedy general public near Oxford Circus, had a beer and went off on our own adventures.
From my point of view, it was a useful exercise in being issued instructions and following them to create something quite delicious. So here’s to more cooking and less dawdling.
If you want to watch Andy on the telly – and it’s a lovely series – here is how to find him. (I am not being paid to say this, before anyone asks.) If you want to watch us in the kitchen here is the video: