Popcorn! I used to make it all the time. When? Ages ago. Years ago. When I lived in America and Orville Redenbacher and his cute bow-tie could be found in any grocery store. But here in England, the popcorn sucked, to put it frankly. I’d buy popcorn in the supermarket, put it on the stove. . . and hear not a frolicsome cannonade of poppery, but sad little pips and pops as the occasional kernel deigned to do its thing.
Alone in the house. Work work work. Scribble scribble scribble. Okay, work, and watch Breaking Bad, since no one I lives with really approves, and I can catch up when they’re gone.
But a girl’s gotta eat, right? Catch is: she doesn’t want to cook every time her belly growls.
And so I lit on this noodle salad which I saw in The New York Times before I left Noo Yawk — from the wonderful Martha Rose Shulman; her version adapted Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s from Hot, Salty, Sour, Sweet.
We don’t buy fruit from Gristede’s. We buy it from the fruit guy on 23rd and 9th. Sure, you could go to Gristede’s, but why would you, when what the Fruit Guy has on offer is cheaper and better and comes with the kind of sales pitch you can’t resist?
These last couple of weeks in New York I’ve kept to a regular breakfast. Fruit, yoghurt, and Ezekiel 4:9 cereal (yes, really) to add a little crunch. What fruit? Well, that depends on what the fruit guy is selling — and the other morning, when — post our morning promenade — Sylvia and I climbed down off the High Line in the kind of downpour that only NYC can muster, there were these figs:
And so to Flushing, Queens, home to the world’s biggest Chinatown. A Chinatown so big that it actually seems like China, but for the signs that still say DON’T EVEN THINK OF PARKING HERE. How do I know it’s the world’s biggest Chinatown? Because my pal Sarah told me so, and since she’s running the Queens beat for The New York Times, she should know.
So in August, why not trade Shoreditch for Park Slope, Brooklyn? Especially if you have a pal who can cook up a storm and offers you Sunday brunch. The R trains aren’t running normally at the weekends — thanks, Hurricane Sandy — but that was okay by us, because instead of running under the river, like they usually do, they head on over the Manhattan Bridge, so as you trundle over there are magnificent views of my dear Brooklyn Bridge, and Lady Liberty out there in her harbour.
C’est si facile, une petite tarte! Especially if you’ve got a little help from Marie, over here on the left, and her ready-rolled puff pastry. I dare you: tell ’em you made it yourself. No one will know.
I determined to be tart-tastic the other weekend in Paris — Abbi’s son Lionel knocked one up in moments (yeah, yeah, very funny) and I suddenly felt I might be able to do the same. This is the work of twenty minutes — maybe not that much — not counting the baking time, of course, but that’s putting-your-feet up time. These are my ingredients, but hey, use what you please. I’m really cool about that.
As I was saying: who needs pancake mix? Not me — and not you. Not on a sunny Sunday morning when a little grain-swapping makes for an entertaining start to the day. So here’s some buckwheat, black wheat, the French call it: if you’re over in Brittany and have yourself a tasty galette, this is the flour it will be made from. For this morning’s pancakes, I used my farine de sarrasin, some home made oatmeal flour (that’s oatflakes whizzed in the food processor) and rye flour — but any combination is possible. You can use plain old white or whole wheat flour for some or all; I also like to use fine-ground cornmeal/polenta.
Sometimes if I have half a banana that’s going soft, I’ll mash that up and put it in at the adding-the-egg-and-milk stage. But sometimes Theo will say: Mum, don’t add banana, okay? And then I don’t.
So, Catherine and I had planned to meet in town for a ginger beer, but in the end she came round to my gaff. It seemed only fair to offer her something to rival a Fentimans, but what might that be? Lemonade? Simple, but maybe a bit obvious. In the end, I came up with this, and I bet you’ll like it. It is aptly named, since Catherine is certainly cordial.
Went for a swim at the lido the other morning; on my way home, just at the top of Broadway Market, I found these gorgeous apricots lying in wait for me — how could I resist?
The trouble with an apricot, however, is that — however beautiful — they never really taste very nice, do they? Always a bit dry, and furry, and somehow disappointing.
Unless, of course, you turn them into jam.
=It’s a good word, interstices, don’t you think? “A space, especially a small or narrow one, between things or parts.” And therein lies much of my philosophy of cooking. What? You don’t have time to cook? Yes you do. Just think about the interstices.