Strawberries and cream

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_NCH4442-2Well it’s a big part of the summer pretty much everywhere I guess, I’ve certainly had fantastic strawberries from Romania to The Netherlands plus a few places in between like Denmark and Sweden and most certainly France. Strawberries and cream are one of the natural partnerships in the food world you know like; lamb and mint, asparagus and hollandaise, bacon and tomato ketchup (?) Pancakes, sugar and lemon etc etc…

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These photos I _NCH4434-2took in a banquet room in a hotel for a summer promotion and I wanted to recreate the look of being outside on the grass (think Wimbledon) on a sunny day. The setup was simple with some artificial grass and a large net-curtain with a couple of flashes to simulate some sunshine.

What are your favourite food partnerships?

hit me in the comments section and I will see what I can create for you in pictures.

Seasonality

Seasonality in cooking has probably never been so much at the forefront of restaurants as it is now and whilst it’s not exactly brain science (yes hit me in the comments) it is surprising just how many places just don’t get it. Strawberries in December etc. etc.
I was fortunate enough to have access to a pastry kitchen the other night (what me in a pastry kitchen what were they thinking!) to set up a shot for an ad for a local hot chocolate specialty which is very seasonal especially as the wintry weather around these parts is starting to work it’s evil magic. Here is the image along with a couple of others I took at the same time, the over head version of the chocolate is a bit like a satellite version don’t you think?

Midsummer murmurs

Here we are on the countdown to Midsummer in Scandinavia (it’s raining quite hard as I write this) and things are shaping up pretty good, days so long that it gets dark for a mere hour or two at the most and bright sunshine from 5 in the morning, the local neighborhood is busying itself tidying up already tidy gardens and folks are organizing get-togethers and the associated food and drink, the majority of the events in Sweden take place on the 20th with the 21st being a “rest day” there is herring to be eaten with new potatoes and then strawberries and cream oh and a little snaps apparently!

Whilst in Denmark the midsummer happens on the 23rd/24th (known as Sankthans) with huge bonfires in public places and I dare say some snaps too! Food wise amongst the traditional Danish hot-dogs, potato salad etc is this fantastic dessert made from buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla and some small biscuits that are like farleys rusks (remember?) all together with some super fresh local strawberries it’s a real delight on hot days.

Madness

Hello all and welcome to 2014 it’s going to be quite a year with one thing and another.
I have just finished reading a christmas present the autobiography of Suggs who was (if anyone didn’t know) the front man of the band Madness if you were a Londoner growing up during the late 70’s and early 80’s their music is very relevant and his book goes in to lots of the kind of stuff you will relate to, some of it very funny and some of it just very London. Details of the book on Amazon here.
One particular story I like is once during an open air concert in Finsbury Park in north London in 1992 there were in excess of 45,000 people who had come to see a reunion of the band and when they played “one step beyond” which is one of their classic hits, the resulting vibration of 45,000 pairs of feet dancing to the nutty ska sound actually registered 4.5 on the richter scale and led to 3 tower blocks being evacuated with the fear that it was a genuine earthquake!

Bakery wise, this week’s efforts saw the end of the Panettone which made a quite excellent bread and butter pudding with loads of plump, juicy raisins and vanillery custard with it and then this great bacon and cheese bread as pictured below which was lovely for breakfast still warm.

So just what have Frank and Maggie been up to this festive season? well here below is a small clue, for the full story and more pictures head over to the crazyhoundstore

Paris

We had a great time in Paris for Cath’s birthday earlier this month, it was all shopping and eating and friends joined us from different corners of the world, fantastic! here are a few pictures, we also visited the Catacombes as we stayed near there, you can read more about that here. It was also great to revisit Fauchon once again where I did a stage many years ago when at that time the legendary Pierre Herme was chef Patissier, we make a point to try to have tea and cakes there whenever we are in Paris.

These two look like toytown, who knows why?

This was from the top of a big wheel at the end of the Champs Elysees.

Lemon curd

I love making lemon curd, I love the smell of freshly grated lemon and just how quickly with a few simple ingredients you have a great spread to keep in the fridge and use for all kinds of delicious treats, spread it on bread, cakes, biscuits, add a spoonful to creme fraiche, yoghurt or just enjoy a spoonful! This is so simple it’s a recipe from the Guardian newspaper a few years ago by Nigel Slater
Try and get the best lemons you can, these I bought today were not.

The panettone

Not bad, a very long double prove, which I believe is good for developing the flavour, I removed the dough from the fridge around 7 this morning and finally baked it this evening at 9. I built an extension on a cake tin with corrugated card and baking paper to allow for the extra height. House smells wonderful! why 2 pictures? couldn’t decide which one I preferred and pixels are free.