Cork city is home to one of the finest vegetarian restaurants in the world: Cafe Paradiso. We have been going for many years. It only gets better. Yesterday lunch comprised… Blackened aubergines with pomegranate, aioli; Battered celeriac with aioli dip and spinach and apple salad; Chilli tofu in a coconut broth with mushrooms and scallions; Blue cheese cakes on portabello mushroom with flageolet beans; Caramelised spiced pear with apple sorbet and peanut crumble and caramel. All with portuguese red from the renowned Port producer, Niepoort. We long to return.
Is it Happy? Happy Halloween can’t be right.
Quince cheese. Little friend C and her crew dropped round yesterday after the park and gave us quinces. So here we are 24 hours later with a quince cheese about to be brutally halved. Apparently it now needs 4 to 6 weeks to mature. Can’t see our half making it to December. The bits we scraped from the pan were really very good. Why isn’t everyone hacking up quince?
Recipe: Peel and core quince. Weigh the quince flesh and pour out the same weight of sugar for later. Simmer peelings in just enough water to cover for an hour then push the pulp through a sieve. Add this to a heavy pan containing the quince flesh chopped up, a good squeeze of lemon and cover with just enough water. Simmer this for an hour. Then add the sugar and cook really slowly for an hour or even two until you can scrape a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and the two halves separate for seconds before sliding back together again. Line a tupperware with greaseproof smeared with a tiny amount of oil. Slide the quince cheese into the tupperware to a depth of 3-4cm and cool then chill overnight in the fridge. In the morning the cheese should be set and can be turned out onto fresh paper then wrapped up in greaseproof then newspaper to be aged for 4-6 weeks in the fridge before eating with cheese or cooked meat…
My hidden London find for this week… The mosaics in the atrium at the National Gallery. The subject choices are bizzarely eclectic… cricket, dance, profane love (!), christmas pudding, sea horse, mud pie, contemplation, conversation, football, hunting, rest, speed… All lie within a few square metres underfoot. These and more are the work of Boris Anrep, a Russian born artist whom the NG commissioned, wonderfully, in the early 20th century to embellish the grand main entrance stairwell. He completed The Labours of Life in 1928, The Pleasures of Life in ’33, and returned for The Modern Virtues, including a battling Churchill embodying Defiance in 1952. They are remarkable and eccentric and a robust everyday-use treasure.
Having a Tim Burton style week. Mostly nocturnal, finding Dark Shadows appealing – was I the only one? Sarah Faber’s work ( c/o Etsy TV) appeals more though I reckon she underestimates the state of mind of Victorian womanhood. But if anyone wanted an Eva Green doll I think Ms Faber should be first point of call.
Virtually all our pictures, hung floor to ceiling on every available space, are just posters or old photos or pages ripped from magazines or old theatre programmes… If there is a theme it would be a certain dedication to the naked body. I love this Tintoretto lady, maybe Veronica Franco, a memento from our honeymoon in Madrid which was spent largely in the Prado. A while ago we gave her earrings – very suitably, an old Murano glass chandelier drop from a Venice junk shop hung on fishing wire. I wear them too on occasion, as pendants. Holding onto one stands me in Castello on a freezing cold day.
It’s getting colder these mornings. So we’re adding extra layers. When he’s not wearing thermals, Number 2 is donning his new cord pants lined with gingham. I’ve popped them into Pink Sister’s shop too. Choose from dark brown corduroy lined with orange gingham or navy blue cord lined with red gingham check. Find them here. Hope you’re all keeping cosy too.
The Tate & Lyle tin is a classic of packaging design. “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” reads the motto on the tin. I’ve been making these into pincushions as little gifts for friends who sew, or just friends who like retro packaging in their pantry. Now they’re in the Pink Sister shop in time for filling stockings. You can choose from British Racing Green (golden syrup) Tate & Lyle, Shiny Red (Treacle) Tate & Lyle, or oilcloth covered tins. Find them here
And so begins an epic quest to perfect the gingerbread man. I am seeking high and low on the cook book shelves in the kitchen, scouring the foodiest food blogs, tracking down the ideal combination of ingredients to make manifest the gingerbread archetype. The platonic can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man must be super gingery, pliable, chewy, not too sweet and not too ascetically unsugary, dark and rich and melt in the mouth.
Alongside I need to nail the technique to render the gingerbread man’s face and buttons.
Recipe: Hummingbird cookbook
Adjustments made to recipe: Reduced cooking time to 8-9mins with a fan oven and made the biscuits slightly thicker than recommended 4mm. Doubled the quantity of ginger.
Results: 3/10 appearance 6/10 texture 7/10 flavour
Comments: The icing recipe was way too stiff to create any features but was a great glue for smarties. The biccies resembled the much loved Ikea ginger thins with a continental dark sugar quite grown-up taste. Great with coffee. Kids hoovered them.
Just completed a special order for pillowcases. If you would like something for Christmas please order as early as possible.Visit the Pink Sister shop on Etsy
Thought I would share a work in progress. I am assembling a harlequin set of antique porcelain dinner plates. The advantages being… it is cheaper picking up odd, charming plates; I like not having to choose one design when I like so many; if I break one it is less devastating than if I have created a hole in a matching set. The postman thinks I am strange though. Last weekend 10 bulky fragile packages turned up the same morning. I am picking up large dinner plates, dessert plates and, for soup, desserts and pasta etc, the large style of soup plate with a wide ‘brim’.