Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Onwards and Upwards

Was reading yesterday (Daily Mail) that the lovely Ruby (...Bake Off' contestant may now be publishing a cookbook of her baking recipes, with the possibility of having her own series.  This sounds very much as though she was the winner.  The winners of BBC's cookery series (...Bake Off, Masterchef usually all go to bigger things.  
Anyone remember Thomasina Miers, winner of Masterchef of some years back?  She now has opened more than 6 Mexican restaurants in London and other places, had her own series (repeated now on the Food Network, written cookbooks etc.  Most of the previous '..Bake Off' contestants have gone on to open their own shops, written books etc.

Sadly, the ones who most benefit from book publishing are the publishers themselves.  Unless things have changed, the author of the book gets only 10% of the published price for each book, the printing of the book itself probably cost not much more than that.  Even so, a hard-back costing around £10 when a million copies sold would mean a million pounds for the author.   Paperbacks bring in only a few pennies per copy. 

Publishers prefer hard-backs as their profits are so much higher.  Even paperbacks they aim to keep the price as high as possible.  When I insisted (and had to fight hard for this) that The Goode Kitchen (and following books in that series) were prices as low as possible (to me people who need to cost-cut can't afford to buy books anyway).   This meant that the publishers used recycled paper, which very rapidly soon turned a coffee colour in the light of day, and badly bound so the pages fell loose in the same short time.  Am sure readers who have a copy will have found the same.

Even then authors have to work for their money what with book signings, cookery demonstrations, TV chat shows, radio, and talks given all over the country (all arranged by the publishers).  Several in the same week. No money paid for these appearances, but at least all expenses covered and all part of the fun (if you can call it that).
Then - of course - once the book is published and especially if sales are good, the agents start sniffing round.  One to arrange TV appearances, more cookery demos, public appearances, after-dinner talks etc, the literary agents want more (and more) books written (within a very few months).  This is an area I did not wish to travel.  My B was very miffed, he thought we were about to become rich, but then I never did it for the money.  Not sure he has ever forgiven me, but quite honestly, although I enjoyed giving demos and radio talks once the TV years had finished (no agents involved, and expenses only), I realised everything else I had found extremely stressful.

There are some people who can take all things in their stride.  I'm not one of them.  To have to travel by train down to London (from Leeds) then across London to East Acton on the tube, just for 10 minutes rehearsal and then all the way back again, is one thing.  Finding that when actually on the tube, and it breaks down halfway (luckily at a station), then having to race up and down streets to find a taxi (having no idea which bus to take) to get me to the rehearsal studios in time, after the reharsal having to taxi back to the station, then finding I've just missed the train where I'd booked a seat, and waiting an hour for the next, this train then being so busy I had to stand most of the return.  Another time having to stand a full four hours because there was a signal failure on the way back....  Well, you see my 'cookery life' wasn't always enjoyable.

But all those new to the scene who are about to jump in at the deep end of mini-fame, do hope they enjoy whatever they are given to do, and move onwards and upwards.  Don't be a silly Shirley, instead make the most of what life has to offer, and insist on travelling first class when someone else is paying!

Yesterday my 'soup kitchen' served mushroom and chicken soup.  I'd made another batch of bread, one large loaf for B, and 15 small rolls.  Three rolls were the 'braided' ones, six were plain round ones with sesame seeds on top (baked in a sandwich tin, five round the sides one in the middle, so they held together when baked - a 'tear 'n share'.   The remainder were bacon and cheese rolls (baked like Chelsea buns. 
The braided buns looked really good when baked.  Instead of using three strips of dough to plait together, this time to strips of dough were rolled in the fingers (and on a floured board) to make long thinnish 'strings' (just under a foot long).  One 'string' was laid north to south up the board, the other crossing (west to east).  The under string was lifted at both ends and cross over the other (the top end taken to the bottom and vice versa), then the side ends crossed over in the same way.  The idea is to continually criss-cross the two 'strings', but unlike plaiting - which lays flat on the board, this 'braid' sort of ends up working its way up higher and higher.  Not too difficult, and once completed(pinch the ends to hold together) can then be laid flat on the baking tin and left to rise.  Makes very attractive looking rolls. 

The 'tear 'n share' rolls I covered lightly with foil when I put them into the oven, and left the foil there until the last five minutes of baking, this sort of helped to 'steam' them in the tin, and they ended up a light golden colour, not crusty on top so were the soft rolls I'd hoped to achieve.   As the braids and bacon rolls were all eaten, and only one of the sesame topped, the rest of the 'tear 'n share' I will serve today.  I put them (still joined together) into a poly bag last night, and this morning they are still as soft as if freshly baked.

Today's soup may be Moroccan Chickpea soup or might be Mulligatawny Soup (again - this was much liked). and probably the last day for our guests as the chimney repair has just about been completed.  I will miss 'cooking for other's although I hardly saw them - they used to go straight into the conservatory and sit down while I was in the kitchen pouring soup into bowls, B taking them to the table (hidden from sight).  I would then do the washing up or - as yesterday - go and sit in the living room (a new cookery series began yesterday with Gordon Ramsay - and family - on at 12.30am Channel 4).

One thing I will miss, the builder always brings his dog with him, a lovely 10 year old Labrador, who is very friendly (aren't they all?) and who always comes into the kitchen to say 'hallo' to me, and it is a genuine 'hallo', I can see it in her eyes. She came and sat by me yesterday for a few minutes looking lovingly into my eyes while her master was eating his meal. I do miss having a dog.

Not sure whether the idea for Gordon's new series (includes his family: wife, children, even his mother), came from Guy Fieri's series (Food Network) where he cooks in his own kitchen, often accompanied by his two sons who help.  Myself found the size of Gordon's family distracting, one daughter seemed to be just walking back and forth behind him for no reason, others doing different things at different counters, and with is mother by his side and wife in the distance, to me it was a case of 'too many cooks'. 
However, it's a great idea to have a cookery series that shows how a family (and especially children) can make a meal together.  Children are much more likely to eat something (even the dreaded Brussels sprouts) when they have prepared/made a dish themselves.

Mary Berry is saying that there should be more actual cooking done in schools and less need for the academic 'nutritional' info.  She (and am sure we all agree) believes that 'hands on' experience and less of the paper work is what is needed. 
Nutritional knowledge is important, but it can be given with each recipe so the knowledge is soaked up by the brain as the flour soaks up the liquid.  

There is a new(ish) series on the Food Network that I find very curious.  It is on Sundays (9.00am repeated at 3.00pm).  Think it is called 'Unique Sweets' (but could be wrong).  Basically, a competition between four chefs to make three different 'sweets'desserts'.  The first with chocolate, the second is 'candy', the third is 'cake'.  Each given a different theme.

So far, so good.  But then half-way through making, the chef/presenter tells them to add another ingredient.  Things like blue cheese, horseradish sauce, or a tropical fruit no-one has ever heard (or used) before.  Am waiting for the 'English vegetable spread' to come into play (shown on the trailer and obviously Marmite from the shape of the jar that has no label). Only in the US would people wish to add such strange things to their baking.  Mind you, chocolate coated bacon seems to go down well over there, so maybe we are a bit slow with our experimenting and missing something good.

Recipe for today is a favourite of mine.  Use the red split lentils, or the whole green  (sometimes  called 'brown') lentils, check if these first need soaking before cooking.  Instead of using brown breadcrumbs, use the two end crusts from a white loaf (crumbed).  You could omit the cheese and add a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, or you could use both.   Use the recipe as a guide then experiment with the flavourings.
If you prefer to serve them 'sausage-shaped' (aka 'rissoles') then roll the balls of mix into finger-lengths, not into flattish cakes.  Shake the pan when frying so that the rissoles can roll round and all the surfaces end up crisp.

Cheese and Lentil Croquettes: make 8
5 oz (150g) dried lentils (see above)
2 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 oz (50g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups brown breadcrumbs (see above)
1 egg
1 tsp dry mustard
salt and pepper
wholewheat (or white) flour
Cover the lentils with water and cook until soft.   Meanwhile, into a bowl put the tomatoes, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, and seasoning to taste.  Set aside, and when the lentils are cooked and well drained, add these to the other ingredients in the bowl and mix well together.  Form the mixture into 8 rounds.  Dip into flour then fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and heated through.

Just one comment to reply to.  Like Janet, my own family (on my mother's side) seems to have originated in this area, possibly slightly more north in Cumbria. I bet if we were all able to trace our ancestors back many centuries, several of us would find ourselves distantly related.  Now there's a thought!
The other day discovered that the 'upstairs' tenants have the same surname as a relative (by marriage)on my father's side, and an unusual name at that.  It's a small world.

The weather is still pleasant, so making the most of it.  The garden nearly ready to settle down for its winter hibernation, a few need transplanting, but waiting a week or two before that gets done (if it ever does).  We have brought down the wisteria that had climbed all over the top of our garage (so the flowers were never seen from ground level, and as our apartment is ground floor we missed the floral display apart from a couple or so that hung down at the side,  now the side of the garage has great strings and branches of the shrub, and with judicious pruning am hoping to have a lovely display next spring (always hoping I'll still be alive by then - at my age this hope goes with everything I now plan in advance). 

Off now to lay the table and prepare the ingredients for today's 'soup kitchen', maybe the rest of the week I'll have more time to spend on other cooking.  I did make a Lemon Meringue Pie yesterday, half of it was eaten after the soup, another big wedge later by B later (just one small slice left). He also demolished a big bowl of cheese straws I'd made using leftover pastry and grated cheese.  Well, they are made to be eaten I suppose, but not everything all at once!!

Have a lovely day, and keep those comments coming.  Hope to blog tomorrow, or might take the day off, see how I feel.  But will be back.  Hope to meet up with you when I do.  TTFN.