Saturday, 27 September 2008

More than just photos...

It's an early start this morning as should be working but as always, my mind has wandered to subjects a bit more interesting (there's only so much SAP that a person can take!).

Today, I've been thinking about food photography and styling after my attempt to photograph my spinach soup (to pathetic results - I'll show you later).. I'm absolute in awe of the people that can do it, and that do it really well.

For example, Beatrice Peltre (aka La Tartine Gourmand) who takes some really amazing shots like this one to the right - for more great stuff, visit her portfolio at Beatrice

For me, being a food stylist is right up there with being a food critic as some of my top dream jobs (apart from being translator, although I often wonder if I'm mad and whether I should be doing something else instead). Imagine, being able to say, the next time you pick up your copy of Food and Wine, that they are your photos making the world salivate.. I guess the essence is that, being able to express the taste and aroma of fresh muffins, the crisp texture of a carrot stick, the comforting feeling of a hot apple crumble in pictures .

It seems that all the tips that the experts give is to use natural light and to play around with the macro on the camera. I think I'll have to buy a small tripod because my hand shakes too much to be able to get good shots.

Hats off to the people out there making our mouths water!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Winter's a coming..

I don't know was it the fact of being back in Ireland for a few days, or maybe that my lovely brother and sister-in-law gave me Avoca's Soups for a birthday present, but can't seem to get the idea of making soup out of my head..

Even E agreed with me that now was a time to start making soup again!

The weather has taking a turn, aparently it was raining non-stop when we were in Ireland (that was surprisingly sunny!) so there's nothing like a good homemade soup to bring in the Autumn.

Soup's something that E and myself can never agree on. Here in Spain, soup (sopa) is what we would call a broth - boiled vegetable stock with a bit of pasta if you're lucky. E has two favourites one - with cabbage, green pepper and onion (and nothing more!) that has you spending the night peeing (yep, purative qualities!), and the other is with other chopped veg and maybe a bit of pasta. Pasta's the only thing that makes it bearable, so E and I make a good match - I eat the pasta, he gets the stock.. I'm not surprised that Mafalda objected so much to it!!

Irish soups are another cup of tea (or soup) altogether.. thick, creamy (they call them cremas here), even the broth has interesting chunks of vegetables and meat.

Routed out my soup bean mix out of the back of cupboard and left it to soak yesterday.. It's a great mix of pulses, barley and split peas that I can only get in Ireland. Strange that, as I can get ever other pulse under the sun here in Spain, but no one actually sells a mixed pack that contains barley - it would definitely be a money-spinner, especially since they like their broth a lot here (or dishwater shown a bit of vegetable as I call it).

So tonight I'm going to try Spinach and barley soup.. it's a recipe half from Avoca and half from The Silver Spoon

I'll sum it up here:

Spinach, fresh if you can get it - I'll be using frozen, my fridge is bare after Ireland except for a Smoked Salmon, more about that later ;-)

Barley (and lentils)

1 Potato (if I get to the shops in time, otherwise the barley will thicken it)

diced Onion

vegetable stock cube (cheating, i know)

a bit of grated Nutmeg

Parmesan cheese

Dash of cream/milk

Sautée the onion until golden and soft, add cubed potato and sautée a bit. Add stock, barley and spinach (it's frozen). Simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes until barley and potato is cooked, purée, add milk and cheese and pass through a sieve for a smooth velvety soup.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Is the world ready for Lyd's writing?

Just been offered the job to translate a cookery book written by an infamous Catalan chef.. From what the publisher says it's a season-themed book, with recipes for every season..

Fingers crossed that it works out.. Will keep you informed..

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Black pudding - a universal thing

Until meeting E, I thought the Irish were the only ones to make a real good
Black Pudding (made with wheat) but that wasn't I discovered Baldanas from Tortosa...

E's hometown, Tortosa, is nestled in the river bed of the Ebro, only a few miles from the sea, near an area that they call the Delta which as you'll remember from your geography lessons is the alluvial plain of the river just before reaching the sea. What's special about this area is it's one of the main rice-growing regions in Europe. Yes! we actually have rice growing in Europe, it's not just a Chinese thing and there's a lot more varieties that just
Italian Abororio rice. Here, they grow several varieties: long rice, basmati, etc. but also a variety called Arròs bomba which is used to make the paellas in the area (I'll get back to the subject of rice in another post)..

With such abundance of rice, it's normal that they'd use it in more than just paella and rice
dishes. It's one of the main ingredients of the Baldana, among the other typical black pudding ingredients. How do they cook it you may ask? Simple, it's already boiled so it's just a matter of heating it up on the frying pan.. The typical accompanyment is Escalivada (roasted peppers, onions and aubergines soaked in oil) or even just in an Entrepà
with allioli (no, it's not just a French thing - actually more than likely was brought in by the Romans from Egypt).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Traditional dish re-worked - Spinach Carbonara

Got to thinking the other day about one of my favourite dishes, carbonara.. Why not add spinach? I mean spinach goes well with bacon, carbonara essentially is any dish that uses egg to make the sauce.. So why not experiment?

So took some bacon, eggs and spinach.. and of course some nutmeg, an essential spice for spinach. Spinach Canneloni wouldn't been canneloni without lashings of nutmeg..

(The beer isn't one of the ingredients but an essential for the cook while waiting for the water to boil! Nothing like a cool beer to make the wait easier)

Mixed it all together with some grated parmesan cheese.. and voilà! The end result turned out quite good.. definitely would have gone back for more if hadn't felt guilty about leaving E some for lunch the next day.. although have to admit that the eggs did omelette a bit - I think a good idea would to be to cook (and cool) the spinach in advance.. that way it shouldn't curdle the eggs so quickly.. oh and a dash of cream (although that's breaking away from the traditional recipe).. all in all, not a bad attempt on innovation.

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred - my version

Stumbled across this list on other blogger's websites and thought it would be fun to try. It basically consists of list of food (debatable) items which you should have tried sometime in your life..

The rules are these:
1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: post a comment on
Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

Ok.. so here's my hundred.. I've put my no-no's in red.
My score is 72.. not bad, but still have some eating to do.. Like the sound of lobster thermidor, maybe I should try to make it sometime..

1. Venison (my mum makes a great stew)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (in Odessa, Dublin - best brunch special)
4. Steak tartare (several times, E is crazy about it..)
5. Crocodile (nice, gelatinous with a monkfish texture)
6. Black pudding (several types: morcilla with onion, baldana -from Tortosa with rice, Irish Clonakilty BP with wheat)
7. Cheese fondue (various types: manchego cheese with red white, traditional with kirsch, with truffles and cava) 8. Carp
9. Borscht
Baba ghanoush regularly make it at home
11. Calamari
Pho (tried something very very similar in Thailand)
13. PB&J sandwich
Aloo gobi also made it at home
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (Irish, Galician and from Deltebre)
29. Baklava
Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas - tried the other paste but that's not real wasabi
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (clam chowder yes, in a sourdough bowl no)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo made at home
40. Oxtail (speciality here, E loves it although not my favourite have eaten it)
41. Curried goat - have tried breaded kid chops so goat's not a problem
42. Whole insects - if cooked and was feeling adventurous, I guess so.. otherwise, no..
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - my older brother is a fan
Fugu (don't think I'd risk it)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (one of my favourites - smoked on toast with alioli or crushed tomato)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin (just last weekend, octopus and sea urchin rice in the Delta)
51. Prickly pear - not a problem
Abalone (strange, haven't come across any of these before here in Spain)
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (but for some reason like the Mcfillet fish more!)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips local health food shop
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (duck, and then recently beef -although different part, both are sweetbreads)
63. Kaolin - hmm mud, most probably as a kid, but knowingly.. would have to say not as yet
64. Currywurst (from Lidl)
65. Durian - in Thailand, rather a strange taste.. wouldn't want to leave it too long though
66. Frogs’ legs (also in the Delta)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain - hmm, difficult one this.. Do not like banana at all, so I guess I would say no..
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - would try it but don't reckon it would become a permanent feature
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe - hehehe, I'm Irish, of course I'd try it..
Gjetost, or brunost - sounds good, never been there so haven't had the chance
75. Roadkill - depending on the animal.. cat, dog, rat, hedgehog etc - no, deer - not a problem
76. Baijiu - same as 73
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Another American food.. Canned steamed pudding count on the British front?
78. Snail (in rice, a la llauna, in tomato sauce with jamon)
79. Lapsang souchong - I'm from Ireland, nation of tea drinkers
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
Pocky - the French version
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. - still waiting to win the lotto to go to El Bulli..
85. Kobe beef - in Vertigo restaurant at the top of the Bayan Tree Hotel, Bangkok
86. Hare - in E's parents house.. I think his dad had caught it
87. Goulash - traditional style and done with Kangaroo meat
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam - in granny's house.. not a favourite
92. Soft shell crab - in Ubud Hanging Gardens -wow, wish we could get them here.
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano - does Port Aventura count?
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor - nope but sounds really good
98. Polenta - in Venice with "Sea grasshopers!" (Galera)-Squilla mantis
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake - they say it's like eel so ok..

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