reading about food
I love reading about food. I often pick up Jane Grigson or Elizabeth David and open at random for a comfort (re)read. I take cook books to bed with me. Last weekend I read ‘Love & Hunger, Thoughts on the gift of food’, by Charlotte Wood. As the title suggests, this is not simply a book of good recipes, although it contains plenty of those. It is an exploration of the psychological and philosophical layers of meaning that are folded into our relationship with food and cooking. So, it’s also a book about love, friendship, family, sickness, and death.
This book is full of practical hints and tips on everything from pantry staples, to why temperature is important when making pastry, to wrangling a perfectly cooked roast chicken. It’s a book for any skill level – from supercooks to beginners, and it’s a wonderful read, as visitors to Charlotte’s blog How to Shuck an Oyster would expect.
After howling with laughter at the stories of horrible Home Ec food, and plain old howling, remembering cooking for a friend during her chemotherapy treatment, I went back to page 81 – just the recipe I needed for the too-many mandarins sitting on my bench. This Whole Orange Cake is a classic; delicious, and not the slightest bit temperamental.
2 whole oranges (I used 5 mandarins)
250g castor sugar
6 eggs, beaten
250g almond meal
One and a half teaspoons baking powder (I used 1 teaspoon bicarb – for a gluten-intolerant family member)
I won’t reproduce the method word for word, but it’s very easy.
Put the whole oranges (or tangellos, or mandarins) into a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, simmer for 2 hours, large fruit, or 1 hour mandarins)
Drain, cool, cut in quarters, remove pips.
Preheat oven to 180.
Process fruit till smooth.
Add sugar, almond meal, baking powder, process to combine.
Add mixture to beaten eggs, stir well to combine.
Pour batter into a buttered, lined cake tin.
Bake for approx one hour, till skewer inserted comes out clean.
May need to cover loosely with foil after half an hour if browning too quickly.
Cool in tin before turning out.
I used a 27cm tin, the recipe calls for 24cm, which will give you a deeper cake.
(Charlotte uses a cooler oven, 150 degrees (aha! – and so probably doesn’t need to cover her cake w foil))
I made a quick syrup with mandarin juice, brown sugar, mandarin segments, teaspoon rose water, two teaspoons orange blossom water, and scattered some pomegranate seeds on the cake.
Can’t wait to try the pomegranate honey, p30.
And I have never brined a chicken before, but intend to try that soon, too.