4th and 5th of September: German
Konigsberger Klops – meatballs with horseradish sauce
Spaetzle with Mushrooms
This menu started with the plumcake. I had the first British plums the other day, and they were gorgeous. What can I cook to showcase these plums I thought, and this German cake popped into my head. And so I built the rest of the menu around it.
There are 2 essential points to this process.
The first is my wish to share the pleasure of these plums. I like to feed people, make them happy, by giving them the opportunity to experience what I did through tasting these fresh sweet juicy plums; a moment of absolute connection to whatever it is what we are part of.
The second is the idea that the plums are using me as an instrument to show their beauty, and not the other way round. I am not using them to accentuate the artist master chef in me. It is the old platonian idea that the art, the ideas, the recipe is already there in the world around us, waiting to be picked up. You just have to open up and tune in.
from New Basics
When people hear that I am serving them something which I have never cooked before, they admire my bravery. But they also find it hard to disregard the scientific approach to cooking. How did I know the dish was right, good enough to serve? Shouldnt I test recipes, refine them till they lead to the ultimate, perfect dish, like scientists in a lab refining their theories to get a better grip of the world? We live in a contradictory world, because they might expect this from a professional like me, but they are not doing it themselves when they are cooking at home.
Prue Leith complained recently that nobody is using cookery books anymore, they have become coffee table products. If you want a recipe, you google it. A cookery book without glossy photographs is not selling and doesnt even get printed.The majority of people commenting on this said they were using cookery books ‘for ideas’.
It shows that the days of cookery books as manuals, centering on the methods instead of the ingredients, are over. We’ll try one recipe from the internet, and if it is good, we’ll make it again. If not, we’ll try another.
from Kitchen Diaries
In a way, I am glad people no longer treat a cookery book as a (dogmatic) bible. The main quality is that it should be inspirational, and glossy photographs might help with that, but are not necessary. Some of my favourites (Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ New Basics, Jane Grigsons Vegetable Book) just have illustrations.
What makes them inspiritional is that they evoke so much more then just the image of the pretty perfect end result. Time and time again I am gripped by how much fun cooking is when I go through New Basics. Reading the Vegetable Book indeed makes you want to serve the vegetables in their own right. In another favourite, Jerusalem (Ottolenghi), glossy photographs give you a glimpse of life in a divided city, and when you are cooking the dishes from the different traditions, you feel the uniting power of cooking.
from Ken Hom, The Taste of China.
So imagine that there are these plums which need you to use them, in which of your cookery books is the recipe waiting for you which shows what to do with them? Chinese sauce with duck? With crisp breadcrumbs? (Nigel Slaters Kitchen Diaries) In a chicken and leek pie? (Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls Fruit Book)
You see, there are bestselling cookbooks which are kept on a shelve in the kitchen, and not on the coffee table. These books are not about cooking methods, but are inspirational, because they centre on the changing seasons, and all the goodness the earth is offering us.