I blog on the eve of a monumental day. No, not a birthday, not a wedding, not an anniversary. It is bigger than that. Yes, it’s the start of a new season of Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. Which means there is a new book due very soon. Eek. Too exciting. Although to be honest I was not that enamoured with the last book. I know the TV show contrives these situations where Ina cooks for various gays and gals on a regular basis in some ever unusual situations, but the book kind of follows suit but takes it to a level of helping us recreate said events with recommendations of florists, flatware providers, linens and table coverings and separates dishes into entrees and appetisers. My trouble is that life is not this formal, and no cookbook should be designed just for the casual entertainer. I’d love to live in a big house with a barn next door converted for parties. But instead I live mid-terraced in a city with almost no yard space, and limited scope for hosting soirees. How about down time dishes? How about some more staple dishes? The best books don’t guide the reader into a certain territory, like formal Parisienne entertaining, but allow the reader to imagine that subject matter in their environment.
I have also booked Boston, which is totally exciting. So this December, Pete and I will spend 7 days in the city pre Christmas. I’m going to revel in the Christmassyness. The overblown festivities, the santa-on-steroidsness of it all. I love the whole idea of a seasonal break. The dream is coming true, and in the loveliness of Boston. Now I’m going to have to keep so many kilos spare for the gifts for me, gifts for loved ones and seasonal bakeware I covet. Nordicware here I come! Totes thrilled.
You also meet me. 3 weeks into the Bake Off. I’m nothing if not predictable. I spend two weeks a bit childish, missing my old friends. Then by week three I am totally into my new friends. Now my love for Mary-Anne last year is documented, and I will always have Janet in my heart. And Jo is now on my cookbook shelf with her Passion for Baking. But this year I have some new faves. Cat, like a terrified kitten in the middle of a road at night, eyes wide open, but doing so well each time. Manisha, a slightly ditzy but loveable doting daughter and sister. John and James, bringing the image of baking away from loveable mumsiness and making it young, dynamic and almost like an artistic expression. It’s all so nice and again such a different show, a competition where the only thing at stake is pride, not a crushed dream or dashed future due to public torment.
Plus it inspires. So far, I’m back on with my attempt to master pastry once and for all. I’m getting there. See my Bakewell!!!
It’s apt post Olympics. If I can be classed as part of a younger generation, call me inspired!! The Olympics taught us dedication, effort, sacrifice and belief can help you achieve. It taught us that sometimes you don’t win, but such is life. It taught us nothing is achieved without hard graft and some compromises. Whilst the bake off isn’t so hardcore, the only reason they are good and on there is through hard work and practice. It’s Olympic-esque. Although probably as at removed diet wise as that of an elite athlete as one can get. How many Treacle Tarts has Sheffield’s own Jessica Ennis eaten in the last few years I wonder? My guess would be 0. My number? 1. Baked today.
Although on the Ennis point, how much food does she coat in Hendersons Relish?!?!
Yesterday’s bake was a cherry tart. Adapted from a Valentine Warner recipe. Omg. Amazing. Sweetened shortcrust pastry filled with jam, arrowroot, stones cherries and a few local blackberries I picked that afternoon. The jam was warmed, the arrowroot added to thicken, the fruit coated in the warm thick liquid and poured into a blind baked pastry shell, lattice added. The result? Summery divinity on a plate. Thick, rich, not too sweet surprisingly, and held its shape as a tart after the first slice was extracted. I’ll blog the recipe tomorrow. It was an overdue source of soothing for a jarred head after a night on the sauce. An awesome night I must add.
I love the end of summer. I long for the cosiness of autumn, the first days where lambs wool is craved to keep the chill off. Crisp walks under blue skies. Darkening nights drawing in, richer more unctuous foods coming into season promising stews, pies, comforting dinners at night in front of returning telly favourites. It just feels so predictable and achievable. Rather than the empty summer promises of salads and quiches outside with Sauvignon Blanc and Motown on the stereo like I live in a Boden catalogue or on a Marks and Spencer advert. Because let me tell you, that didn’t happen this year. At all.
Right, it’s Sunday night, I have to walk Daphne in 7 hours, so should be off to bed. Or she will give me the “just walk me, asshole” look.
See you all tomorrow for some tart talk. Insert pun here.
Blog later folks! X
– If ever in doubt, just ask yourself- What Would Ina Do? You can bet your bottom dollar it would involve Hydrangeas and Homosexuals