Allegra has only recently joined my list of food heroes. I have mentioned before how I discovered her by an internet trawl for something to use cashew nuts in. I then started to read her articles in the Guardian and found that she has a disturbing ability to make me want to go into the kitchen and cook – fortunately though there have been very few cakes/baked goods and a lot of things that the rest of the family won’t eat !
The downside of Allegra is long lists of ingredients some of which do tend to be rather more exotic than my family will eat. Fortunately this has tended to be the “earlier” Allegra (see The Good Cook). The more recent Allegra has concentrated more on eating seasonally (see Allegra’s Colour Cookbook and Colouring the Seasons which I think may be the US version of the Colour Cookbook).
What I have cooked so far:
Cashew and Orange Blossom Cake
An Iranian chicken curry (using pomegranate molasses which I have already)
Sweet Potato Falafel
Lemon and Ginger Sussex Pudding
Her latest book Leon from the restaurant of the same name (of which she is a co founder) again concentrates on good quality, organic ingredients to make good food for take away. I am getting this book for Christmas (only another 48 hours to wait) and have had to pass it over to my Mum for safe keeping to stop me using it…not before I had copied out the ingredients for George’s Breast Milk Bread (not what you might think thank god !) which I have slowly (with the Flapjack Queen) been collecting together.
Anyway, she has done it to me again. In the other weeks Observer she was enthusing about how you can do Christmas dinner on the cheap (well £60)…and well you see, I have been muttering about how I want to try goose for several years now but have been unable to get one for less than £40 and well she mentioned that Lidl do one for £16, and then I was in Aldi on Saturday and discovered that they also do a frozen one for £15…so I now have a goose in my freezer and nothing else planned for boxing day.
I came home the other night to discover that the book fairies had been and left a parcel under the wheelbarrow. I had been muttering about buying the Toddler the collection of “Harry and his Bucket full of Dinosaurs” books from the Book People and had been persuaded by my Mum to order them direct as she wanted to get my nephew the same books and “oh, I saw a cookbook there I thought you might like, could you get that too”.
I had spotted that the Leon cookbook is being sold at a discount by the Book People and I had been planning on getting it and reading it on the quiet. You see I am not supposed to be buying anymore cook books until we are solvent again (which is why I keep having to renew the Ottolenghi book I have on loan from the library).
Anyway, it has arrived. I have handed it over to Mum and now have to wait until Christmas before I can peruse it. I did sneak a peak though and it looks fantastic. The book is divided up into 2 halves. The first half is a sort of introduction or guidance to ingredients, when they are in season, varieties, cuts of meat written in an informative but chatty style. The second half is recipes, primarily for food served in the restaurant but with additions from members of staff who were asked to contribute recipes which had meaning for them.
The book itself is beautifully designed and I’m not sure I would actually want to cook from it in the kitchen and risk it getting into the usual splattered state of all my other well used volumes. The only complaint I do have is just a general one about Allegra Mcevedy’s recipes which do tend to have a long list of ingredients
Anyway only another 57 days until Christmas. In the meantime if I need a dose of Allegra there is always the Guardian’s website once a week. The library unfortunately only has The Good Cook
I have been baking a lot recently. I think it’s because usually I make cakes for celebrations and associate cake with being happy, so when I am depressed or unhappy I bake to cheer myself up. Oddly enough I don’t feel the need to eat what I’ve made – if I’m honest I prefer something savoury, the act of baking is enough to improve my mood.
The first time I cooked myself to a better mood was April, it was the week I stumbled on the most amazing recipe for Sussex Pond Pudding (which I subsequently made, but with disastrous results (a story for another time)).
The problem with needing to bake away depression is you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go shopping for missing ingredients and it’s a matter of taking pot luck with what’s in the cupboards. So possessing as I did almost the entire worlds harvest for cashew nuts 2007 (they weren’t the freshest of nuts admittedly) a cashew heavy recipe was required and Google shortly provided
One of the first things to come up on Google was Allegra McEvedy’s Orange Blossom, cashew and semolina cake