Friday, 11 September 2009

Cooking Celebrities

I like food, cooking, and all sorts of foodie programmes. I particularly like having cooking programmes to watch while eating my tea (dinner). Most of the time I don't actually make the recipes, but then I don't think the programme makers really mean people to. I think it's mostly entertainment, and that a lot of people perhaps watch these programmes as an alternative to making real food.

I'm currently watching the Jamie Oliver's American series. It's rather cheesy and he seems to have some sort of viagra obsession... It all looks quite nice but the food isn't really possible in a small Edinburgh flat. He mostly seems to be excited about the different methods of cooking food such as the cowboy "Dutch oven", basically but a cauldron in a fire, put stuff in it, put coals on top and leave it for several hours. Or alternatively get some big hunks of beef and cook them. That's not a recipe.

Delia Smith is a cook I've always quite admired. Her recipes tend to just work. I recently found her vegetarian recipe book in a charity shop recently and baked this cake:

The only problem I have with Delia, is her icing fetish. If I follow her recipes faithfully the cake is always very good (eg coffee and walnut above) but the icing is totally overpowering. This recipe included 250g of creme fraiche and 200g of fromage frais, plus sugar and coffee. It was a struggle balancing all of it on the cake! I also like that most of Delia's recipes are on her website -

Great British Menu is another food programme I've enjoyed in the past. The general idea is to get lots of michelin starred british chefs and have a cook-off until you have one from each region. Then make them compete to do the starter, fish course, main course, and pudding for a banquet. Most of the recipes ( ) are utterly insane and only really possible if you have an industrial size kitchen and about 10 lackeys. The winning puddings tend to be classics but done amazingly and are well worth the effort. I've made a custard tart (which involved 14 eggs or something crazy) and a treacle tart (a whole tin of golden syrup) and both were delicious. I don't even like custard or treacle tarts normally!

Last night I found out I'd missed the first in a new cookery series (thank you iplayer) by Nigel Slater. Nigel Slater is probably my favourite cook. He writes for the Guardian and just comes across as a really lovely guy. His new programme is about doing away with recipes. It is novel and delightful to find out I'm not the only one who makes stuff up while cooking, looking in the fridge and cupboards and deciding what to have. I follow recipes for puddings and cakes, but for savoury food, most of the time it just doesn't matter. I get ideas from recipes but I often can't be bothered spending time and money finding some exotic product when I have something similar in the cupboard.

It is incredibly refreshing to watch a programme that actually wants to give ideas and inspiration, rather than insisting you should measure everything to the gram and time everything to the minute. I'm definitely a fan of "Cook it til it's cooked".

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