Thursday, April 26, 2007

Staking your life on fifty recipes... or maybe forty four

When I started to read Julie and Julia, a book where Julie Powell takes on the not inconsiderable task of working through the whole of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cookery in a year - a mere 536 recipes in 365 days, I was seriously impressed by the challenge and her commitment. I haven't finished it yet but she does seem to be entirely unravelling in the middle, let’s hope it doesn’t end in a pool of beef marrow and her nemesis - rice. I wondered as I read, could I take on such a feat? I would say not as it is a supremely tough challenge and the journeys through aspic would put anyone off - possibly cooking for ever.

But I thought I might be able to take on a smaller devoted absorption of one particular cookbook.

Maybe I could work my way through Charles Campion’s Fifty Recipes To Stake Your Life On, which according to Gordon Ramsay is “a good culinary read” and Anthony Bourdain says, “exactly the kind of food I like to eat…” And they’re right, it is a great little book, and when I picked it up again after re-examining the Fiercely Barbecued Lamb which D and I cooked from Charles’ newer book, Food from the Fire, the idea formed. The first recipe is for Lardy Cake which sounds a fabulous reinterpretation of an old recipe. And the second recipe is for the lamb, so I thought I might be able to undertake my own Julie/Julia project, but then I was slightly thwarted by the third of the fifty recipes, Singapore Noodles, as I really am not a noodle fan. If I were Julie Powell I would shrug that off and tackle it anyway, as it would be a small consequence in favour of “the project”. If I got through the noodles it’s then Kidneys in Mustard Sauce, Dill Parsnips, Smoked Trout and Coriander Mousse (ah, the dreaded coriander), Strawberry Dessert Wine, Cup-of-Tea Cake and very excitingly the ninth recipe is Mash to Die For. Obviously with my predilection for mash, the prospect seems all the more exciting but after the noodles blip I’d also struggle through quantity of tomatoes in the Chicken Liver Bolognaise and the Sesame and Tomato Bread, the beans in the Three-and-a-half Bean Soup, the Stilton in the Stilton Sauce and the bananas in the Banana Tea Bread. Maybe I could do an abridged version with apologies to Charles Campion I could do “Forty Four Recipes To Stake Your Life On”. And obviously if I did try and emulate her quest I wouldn’t be going for a daily attempt, but maybe weekly is doable. So one down, forty three to go. Hmmm, how soon before I can try the Mash to Die For?

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