Book Review: Cooking in Provence by Alex Mackay with Peter Knab

Gavin WrenCookbook Reviews, The World of Food

Cooking in provence by Alex Mackay book cover
Today I’m looking at the not-so-recent book “Cooking in Provence” by Alex Mackay and Peter Knab, seven years since it’s release, yet it’s a book that could have been published yesterday for all it matters, it’s content being of such timeless quality that a date is largely irrelevant. I originally bought it for a self catering holiday to, well, you’ve probably guessed it, Provence. We did a road trip through France with short stays in Beaune and Lyon to savour the food and sights on offer in those lovely towns before ultimately reaching the sun in Provence. Travelling by car allowed us to take endless frivolities that you’d never even consider trying to take on Ryanair (double inflatable lilo with drinks holders anyone?) as well as the more carefully considered essential items, such as hardback cookery books. “I think he was probably a Provençal gourmet in a former life” Raymond

How to make preserved lemons

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food, Vegan, Vegetarian

Jar of preserved lemons
When life throws you lemons There’s a saying “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade”. I find it a peculiar saying, because lemons are pretty desirable objects to me. Although I understand the concept behind this idiom, that we’re supposed to see lemons as sour, sharp and unpleasant representations of life, I just can’t do that. They’re such bright, joyful fruit that it just doesn’t wash. I’m someone who has a bowl in the kitchen which is just for lemons and limes to nestle in, so if someone started throwing me lemons, I’d be out there filling up my bowl and shouting ‘thanks’. The lemon preservation society I keep on discovering these little techniques and basic preparations that when I try them out, discover they’re incredibly simple. For example, making yoghurt, who knew it’s so easy? Sun dried tomatoes made in the oven? Simple. There are lots of straightforward…

Home Cooked Truths: Check your herbs and spices!

Gavin WrenFood Education, The World of Food

Home cooked truths check your spices
I’ve got some bad news for you, and I’m going to give it to you straight. You know those old jars of dried herbs and spices in your cupboard? They DO NOT keep for ever. Using old jars that have sat at the back of your cupboard for years might be ruining your enjoyment of any dishes that you use them in. What’s hiding in the cupboard? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a cupboard full of little jars of spices bought over the last 10 years or more. You buy a small jar or bag for a specific recipe, then don’t use it again for years. The big problem is that whilst these jars sit in your cupboard, or in your spice rack, they are slowly degrading, which means they ultimately become flavourless and hold about as much culinary value as sawdust. Actually, that’s unfair on sawdust, as…

Book Review – Edouard de Pomiane; Cooking in Ten Minutes

Gavin WrenCookbook Reviews, The World of Food

Edouard de Pomiane cooking in ten minutes
Ahead of the game Edouard de Pomiane was a man ahead of his time. Born in 1875 in Paris, making him almost precisely 100 years the senior to modern chefs like Jamie Oliver, he was a scientist, lecturuer, broadcaster and writer who recognised the underlying simplicity and joy that can be found in cooking and eating. In his day, there was a commonly held belief that life had developed a rushed and frenetic pace, that people no longer had time to sit back and appreciate life. Combined with the perception that French food preparation was some kind of mystical art, one that had to be undertaken by a trained professional, de Pomiane realised that someone needed to break cooking down into easily manageable periods and simplify the processes to suit their modern lifestyles. And so we have this book, which was first published in 1930 under the name ‘La Cuisine

Free oven temperature conversion guide PDF

Gavin WrenFood Education, The World of Food

Free oven temperature conversion guide
Today I’m writing about an extremely serious subject, oven temperature conversion. I hope you’re sitting comfortably because this is a seriously hot topic. Badum-tish.
Converting oven temperatures accurately
OK, I promise, no more awful jokes. Sometimes, we need all the help we can get when it comes to cooking a new recipe. Like when you’ve worked and fretted for hours before cutting into a cake, only to find the base is STILL soggy despite an extra 30 minutes in the oven. Or those roasted vegetables that simply WON’T BROWN LIKE IN THE PHOTO. And we’ve all had something, errr, how do I put it, ‘caramelise’ a bit more than intended. Some of these situations are completely avoidable. And I want to help you with these problems through the simple process of accurate oven temperature conversions, because the internet is full of incorrect information, and you might have been using that…

Guardian readers’ recipe swap winner!

Gavin WrenFood Blogging, The World of Food

Guardian Cook readers' recipe swap asparagus
I feel utterly charmed and enthused at one of my recipes being named reader’s recipe of the week in The Guardian’s cook supplement, which comes with the paper on a Saturday. After seeing the brief of ‘asparagus’ I decided to come up with something simple, which wouldn’t detract from that seasonal superstar of an ingredient. And it proved worthwhile as my recipe, Asparagus with preserved lemon was named as winner in the 9th May edition, also available online at The Guardian website And it’s with great honour that I accept this award, so I’ve got a few people I’d like to thank who I couldn’t have done it without. Firstly, Yildiz Supermarket in Archway for the asparagus, thanks for sticking with me through all of this. Phoenicia in Kentish Town for the preserved lemons and for always being there for me, especially when I’ve needed an unusual ingredient (usually for…