Saturday 28 July 2012

Random Recipes

plus Chocolate and Cherry Cake

I don't really have time for researching or cooking new recipes at the moment, and I've even resorted to buying cakes during the past week, when I've been both short of time and too hot to want to bake. However, I did produce yet another variation of this lovely recipe - this time leaving out the all the lemon elements and adding 75g chopped dark chocolate and 75g  dried cherries - I chopped these too, as they were huge. I also added a few drops of almond extract to increase the almond flavour, which goes so well with cherries.
I also found time to photograph my cookbook shelves, so that I could enter this month's Random Recipes, set by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, which doesn't involve any cooking at all! To give us all an easy assignment, Dom asked us to photograph our cookbooks, to give each other an insight into our home lives and influences. The rules of the Random Recipe Challenge are set out here.

I have two cookbook sites, both in the living room.
One is the bottom two shelves in a larger bookcase, and is mostly filled with the books I had when we moved in almost 10 years ago. These were once arranged into categories, but  a lot of migration has occurred, and the shelf spacing is also set so that any really large books must go on the bottom shelf. Quite a few of the books here date back to the 70s and early 80s - the early days of marriage, when I had an interest in food but not enough time for experimental or adventurous cooking, especially once I had two fussy children to feed. These are the books I learned to cook with.

The other site is in the corner of the room, between a filing cabinet and the desk where I have my laptop set up. Most of the books here have been bought out of an interest in cooking and cookery books; very few of them were bought new, most are from the shelves of the various charity shops in town. Many have never been cooked from, but were bought because they were classics of their type, or would be valuable reference works - all of the recipe books have at least had every page looked at, although I can't say the same of the reference books!  A few of my old classics have migrated here, as they are closer to hand as reference works. My daughter's cookery books are on these shelves too - most of the early Nigel Slater books, Economy Gastronomy and a few others, including one on baking. They will go when she goes again!

The most recent books have been fiiling up the top shelf of this bookcase - while they don't exactly give a representative picture of the aspects of cooking that I find most interesting, they were bought because I thought they were a bit different from the usual run of the mill stuff found in the cookery section of most bookshops; Egon Ronay's autobiography is one of them, as well as a book on Middle Eastern Food written in the 80s, and one which explores the legacy of France in Indian regional cuisine through recipes from La Porte Des Indes restaurants in London and Brussels. The Slow Cooking book was an attempt to get me to use my slow cooker more often!

The baking book which influences me most is Short and Sweet, by Dan Lepard - I've been following his column in the Guardian for years, and I can't think of any baker whose craftsmanship and inventiveness I admire more. Even though nearly all the recipes in this book can be found online, they may not always be there, and looking at a computer screen is not the same as holding a book! This is one of the few books I have bought brand new and hot off the press! The two volumes of Nigel Slater's Tender, at the other end of the shelf were two more, and couldn't be more different!

I have photographed Dan's book alongside my newest book - bought this morning from a charity shop and as yet unexplored. But what three words could be more enticing to a chocoholic, cake-oholic baker than Chocolate, Coffee and Caramel?


Alicia Foodycat said...

I love this sort of thing - it's so interesting to look at another cook's shelves and to see what you have in common and what you differ on.

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Fascinating collection of books. I've just realised that I've got that book on Middle Eastern Food written back in the 1980s somewhere - I really must dig it out. I wish I still had some of my books from the 70s and early 80s - but then I have replaced a fair number by hanging round charity shops.

Unknown said...

what I love about this challenge is seeing how far back so many collections go, yours is very much like my mums (god, that's not supposed to make you feel old) but it goes back into my childhood era and beyond and that is really special to me... thanks so much for taking part this month x

Jean said...

A lovely and enviable collection of books !!
I also always nip into any charity shop I am passing to look for cookbooks - paying just a few pence for a book makes me feel a lot less guilty about buying yet another one !!
It's interesting to see that most of the collections posted so far for Dom's challenge seem to have Short and Sweet in there somewhere.

Suelle said...

Don't worry, Dom! I know how old I am. LOL!

celia said...

I love seeing everyone's cookbooks! :)

Chele said...

Your new purchase is also in my collection. It is drool worthy for sure ... not 100% sure I've actually made anything from it though lol

Unknown said...

I agree, no matter how many recipes you can find on the net it's just not the same as looking them up in a proper book! I have really loved seeing everyone's books (and where they keep them!)

Hello said...

Love, love, love your cook book collection. You can never ever have too many cook books x

Unknown said...

Very jealous of your cookbook collection - You can never have too many is what I say ;)