All posts filed under: Great Books

The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure Book

We are constantly bombarded with programs of glossy celebrity chefs or hyper-sensual cooks who perform unspeakable acts of soft food porn (nothing wrong with that) but there is a pair of big hairy northern blokes who just simply love food, cooking and hanging out on their motorbikes, this unexpectedly brilliant cooks are The Hairy Bikers.  Si (Simon) King and Dave Mayers have worked in tv and film production and professional makeup and prosthetics respectively. They met during the filming of a tv show and their mutual passion for food brought them together and put them on the other side of the cameras. They have released nearly a dozen tv shows and published the same amount of companion books with their recipes. What’s great about these boys is that they’re both highly likable, authentic and funny and never ashamed of their adorable geordiness (that’s a slang for referring to people from the north east of England). They’re not Michelin chefs but they don’t try to be one either!, many of their recipes come from their trips, …

Macella Hazan: The soul of Italian Food

Having a certain nationality may define and explain our dietary preferences but it’s hardly enough to make us experts on our country’s gastronomy. It always helps to have a healthy appetite, be interested in learning about traditional cooking techniques and use as many authentic ingredients as possible. But there’s also another factor that could potentially turn an appreciation for your own food into a passion that moves you to share it with the rest of the world, and that is travelling or living abroad. Our cultural identity is as defined by our ways of interaction, accents, physical features, the way we dress and of course what and how we eat. And when we are abroad, food becomes highly significant as a way of reaffirming our identity, sharing a “taste” of our culture with others and a tangible expression of how we identify and relate to these foods. Every generation or so there’s an unassuming cook that out of nostalgia, affiliation or an irrepressible need to share their culinary heritage, they “unveil” the secrets and mysteries …

Delizia! The epic story of the Italians and their food

By John Dickie 2007 John has built an intriguing, complex and unexpected narrative around Italian food. Food as a cultural product manifests so much more than evocative traditions or idyllic family scenes. Food as life itself adapts to survive. It says so much more about raw hunger and bold desire than any other social manifestation. Because unlike anything else, we need food to live, whatever it takes, however it comes.   The first myth that Dickie debunks is the fact that there’s no such thing as Italian Food, like all national cuisines it is but a blend of many regional and local culinary traditions and a good deal of imaginary and propaganda. Second, we often think of Italian food as being part of a millenary tradition of bucolic abundance from the green Italian countryside, however the truth is that even when the ingredients came from the country, the people with the power to appropriate and transform them into a delicacy by a simple but artful combination were the inhabitants of the cities. Italian food is …

Peyton and Byrne. British Baking

These days there’s hardly any famous restaurant, bistro or bakery that doesn’t have their own book. Im not sure if it comes from a genuine desire to share the recipes and their take on whatever food they make or if these days is just another entry on the marketing to do-list for every food business. Some books only come through as nice coffee table props, glossy pictures and expensive paper. Others apart from being pretty, actually feel genuine and tell a story. The latter is the case of this book. Posh and sophisticated, the Peyton and Byrne group doesn’t really strike as the story of a cozy cottage industry but just because a business takes off and becomes an emporium that doesn’t mean it’s less authentic. I have enjoyed reading and baking recipes from this book because they have a real feeling about them, it almost feels like baking from hand written manuscripts that had been passed down by an old aunt or grandma herself. Yes, they’re traditional British tea-time favourites with no attempt to …

Let’s Got to a Bakery

By Naomi Buchheimer 1956 The evolution of bread production has had roughly four major stages: First the invention itself of roughly coarse grains soaked in water and cooked on open fires over hot rocks. The eventual discovery of fermentation and improvement of grinding techniques allowed bakers to produce softer and palatable breads. Then came the widespread consumption of bread and consequent economic and social organization of the process. Specialized equipment and installations required the work of skilled personnel. And this remained pretty much the same from ancient times until right before the industrial revolution. The addition to all sorts of machinery allowed to increase the production of baked goods both sweet and savoury. But the biggest change yet to occur came during the 1950s when the need to feed large populations saw the perfect answer in the industrial mass production of food including bread. Convenience of price, size, quantity and flavour not always came hand in hand with quality in terms of nutritional value. One can also say that a post-industrialization contra revolution in baking …

Favourite recipes from the kitchen garden. Traditional fruit and vegetable fare

Salmon recipe books Kitchen gardens in country homes, castles, convents and monasteries in Britain have served practical purposes providing the cooks with a permanent source of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs but also giving the chance to grow ornamental flowers. This title celebrates many of those ubiquitous vegetables with hearty and simple recipes. Salmon’s recipe books are a well-established reference on British heritage recipes. This series not only celebrates everyday food but also regional culinary favourites from some of the counties in England. The printing format emulates old postcard-book; each recipe is accompanied by an evocative illustration in an etching style. With easy to follow instructions these books do their part brilliantly at keeping old culinary traditions alive. Here’s one of the many great recipes from this book. It feeds 6 rumbling tummies.  Potato and barley soup 1 oz butter 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped ¼ lb pearl barley, soaked overnight 2 carrots, scrapped and diced 2 ½ pints beef stock 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced ½ pint full cream milk Salt …

Do sourdough. Slow bread for busy lives

By Andrew Whitley 2013   I found myself inadvertently thinking about improvement and how to be more proficient with my skills and disciplined to pursue new culinary challenges. Then I read something about Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of effectiveness.   And you might wonder, what does Toyota, Sony or Ford have to do with bread making? Well you’ll see: the principle behind it is to improve processes and dynamics s by getting rid of the things that are limiting efficiency.   So I thought, in order to improve my baking abilities, I need to: Avoid the temptation of only baking variations of my recurrent recipes. Stop being lazy about making a sourdough starter that only feeds one loaf. Diversify my flours. Be disciplined about keeping a record of what I bake. document- reglect-improve. Simples! Looking for some inspiration/To help me I going back to this little book I read last year by  Andrew Whitley (@BreadMatters) who is quite a celebrity in the bakingverse in Britain and also co-founder of the Real Bread campaign and sourdough evangelist. …