Monday, 27 April 2009

STARTING SIMPLY

On Sunday I was finally ready to plan cooking, photographing, and blogging a meal. What a breakthrough. Maybe it's something to do with putting all of the books on the shelves and getting rid of the majority of our cardboard boxes in the process. While three (large) sets of bookshelves filled to bursting is quite a sight, it is a much more pleasant one than a room filled with heavy boxes. I now have one entirely food related set of bookshelves (uh oh). That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise (yet somehow still did).

Maybe my first blogged meal in the flat should have been something elaborate that tested the abilities of my new kitchen equipment to the limit. Maybe it should have shown off the finest ingredients of the English Spring. Maybe it should have been something that we set the table for and ate with friends.

It wasn't any of these things.

It was a one pot dish and as such will probably come to represent a new style of cooking in this more confined space. It was a dish with a taste of Spring but using ingredients that can be bought at any time of the year without resorting to out of season vegetables. It was designed to use up some hot smoked trout without needing to buy much to go with it.

It was simply a pan of cooked pasta, a few teaspoons of chopped capers, a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley, the zest of half a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a dash of garlic oil and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix everything together and add some flaked hot smoked trout (that's hot smoked rather than smoked and hot, does that make sense?). Eat and enjoy the end of a sunny weekend while keeping fingers firmly crossed that there are more to come.

Friday, 17 April 2009

ALMOST

We're nearly there.

The record shelves are up, the kitchen is unpacked, I need to sort out my books and we need to buy a bed but then our minds can turn to nicer things. Things like buying folding outdoor chairs and plants.

Apart from Easter in Edinburgh food for the last couple of weeks has been quick and easy. Soup with good bread, bowls of pasta, lamb burgers in pita. I'm looking forward to discovering the kitchen.

Last night we had a break from unpacking and went to a Bill Granger evening at Divertimenti. A talk, some questions, a few glasses of wine, and canap├ęs cooked using recipes from the book. I only have a couple of his books but now I want them all. He was a warm speaker with opinions that had me nodding in agreement all the way through. He answered questions honestly (I hope), cooks for his family, and quipped about his wife needing to buy another pair of Louboutins, how could you not be charmed? And, best of all, he has decided to move to London with his family and open an outpost of Bills. He was asked about locations and just said central London but that he had seen spaces in Notting Hill, Chelsea, and Clerkenwell so far. I'm pushing for Clerkenwell or Islington and keeping my fingers crossed that the famous hotcakes with honeycomb butter are on the breakfast menu.

One more highlight of the week was finding a free copy of The School of Essential Ingredients. I first read a rave review of this on Tea & Cookies and promptly popped it into my Amazon basket. I read another, equally glowing, review on Gluten-Free Girl Recommends and wondered why I hadn't bought it yet before remembering that I already had quite enough books to box up before moving and that American price tag had me hesitating each and every time I went to press checkout. So when I spotted the freebie I pounced. The book is a quiet exploration of a small group of people taking a cookery class. It inspires small smiles of both joy and sadness and had me holding back tears on the train. It drew me into the lives of these people and reminded me of a few of the reasons that I love to cook. It made me wish that the restaurant in the book were real so that I could add it to my list of Seattle places to visit one day in the future and it made me keen to find my new essential ingredients this summer. I think eating with friends, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face while I drink a cold beer on the balcony, and using freshly picked herbs that leave lasting scents on my fingers will all form some part of that.