Monday, 12 March 2012

March 12th - the quest for a Rhubarb and yoghurt cake

Dear Nigel,

It's always hard to try and work backwards when looking for a recipe. So much easier just to leaf through a beautifully photographed cookery book (i know, it's a bit looked down upon in some circles to need photographs in a cookery book - but they are hugely inspirational), and choose something that takes your fancy. But try remembering where you took that recipe from to make that wonderful cheesecake everyone loved at that family meal a few months back? No chance.

I've tried to make a little home-referencing system - no doubt you have something way more sophisticated involving spread sheets or something. Mine is a little card filing box with tabs saying really appropriate things like soups, cakes, suppers, lunches (- i know what sort of things i would serve for supper which wouldn't be right for a lunch...and, after all, it is my own system, so naturally it is full of my own quirks).And under these headings are recipe titles with book and page reference numbers. Ingredients, too, like Rhubarb and Sorrel get their own section (but no Rhubarb and yoghurt cake). I eventually track down the elusive recipe in the wonderful River Cottage cake handbook, which is a treasure trove of good traditional homemade cake recipes to accompany a mug of tea. Here you will find wholesome delights like vinegar cake and spelt and pear fruit cake, courgette and chocolate, and somerset cider cake. The cup cake revolution may be upon us but out in the backwoods dissent is growing.

You have been eating out a lot this week i see. Like most of us, you 'admit to occasionally getting a bit "cooked out"'.But then, most tellingly of all, and charmingly frank, you say: ' I have a theory that i love cooking for people after all these years because i rarely attempt too much. Many is the time supper is little more than a bowl of soup and a salad, or perhaps some chicken pieces roasted with butter and served with a handful of green leaves. It is the way i prefer to eat, but it also happens to be a lot less trouble...'

I like to think my cooking is slowly heading in your direction. I still remember the dinner i made for friends (who  would have been happy with a takeaway), when i decided to cook an authentic Indian meal following recipes from the Curry Club books. I decided to do everything from first principles, and to make all my own naans, pickles, accompaniments etc. It took me a full twelve hours of non-stop cooking, and i felt, when eating it, that it was no better than a really good authentic takeaway anyway. I had learnt my lesson. Now my friends think themselves lucky if there's pudding to follow. And, actually, nobody really cares.



  1. 'Now my friends think themselves lucky if there's pudding to follow. And, actually, nobody really cares.'

    How true!

  2. Let's face it, it's the company that counts - can make an impromptu sandwich into the most memorable meal ever.