Guardian Girl

Just enough time for saffron gratin

Posted in Food by guardiangirl on February 18, 2010

Despite still being in the midst of unpacking boxes, and certainly far too distracted to curate the necessary fashion shoots this week, I managed to find time to cook Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter saffron gratin for the housemates plus Phoebe last night. The verdict was very positive, what with breadcrumbs, grilled cheese and double cream being involved. I thanked the stars with every mouthful that I now have at least two other people to share these dishes with.

So enthusiastic were we to break open the oven and eat the bubbling delight, I forgot to photograph the finished product until it was almost eaten up. So here is a diminished gratin snap for you.

I bet it’s not every day someone offers you a diminished gratin snap.

Winter saffron gratin

Winter saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Conclusions:

  • I don’t have a mandolin so I used a veg peeler to slice the swede and parsnips thinly (it goes without saying I couldn’t find any kohlrabi to add). The peelings admittedly give the effect of a compost bin when the dish is raw, but when cooked it becomes a regular-lookin gratin – trust.
  • Probably don’t take food prep tips from me, though.
  • Going to make another attempt at directing a photoshoot tonight. I’m determined to get at least one fashion shot in for the week. I have, after all, been attempting a rough approximation of the outfits during the day as usual. It’s just that extra logistical effort of the double-model shots this week that’s beating me. Tricksy.
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Banana caramel cream pie and a week off consuming

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Recipes by guardiangirl on October 20, 2009

On Friday night I cooked the remaining recipe for last week: Dan Lepard’s banana caramel cream pie.

Sainsbury’s was out of bananas but for a load of very green ones or a massive multipack of fairtrade ones, which I bought. When I got them home I realised there was no weight on the packet so I had no idea how many to use. I plumped for one in the sauce and another sliced up under the meringue. I added a very, very liberal amount of rum and brandy, and used a mixture of thick chantilly cream and mascarpone. I made the meringue properly (good girl, no slacking) with my hand blender, which worked a treat.

Liv arrived a bit later, we finished off the labneh with celery sticks (and she pronounced it delicious), then we tucked into the pie in front of a DVD. After one slice each we were pretty tipsy – not sure if this could really have been the pie’s doing alone, as we were drinking the remaining brandy with 7up as an accompaniment. It was delicious anyway, however intoxicating, and a spoonful of mascarpone on top cut through the sweetness a bit. As much as I complained when I had to eat pie every day, you can’t really beat a good one, and this was that.

Banana caramel cream pie

Banana caramel cream pie

 

Rum and brandy pie

Rum and brandy pie

I woke up the next morning to discover that I was 30 years old, so the rest of the pie made a good celebratory breakfast before I popped out to buy the paper. To my delight I discovered the whole mag is given over to a retrospective of the noughties this week, which means no cooking and no shopping all week – just outfits. It was a much-appreciated birthday present. Off I trotted to the pub in my party dress, and there I stayed, with all my pals, for a very long time. What a brilliant night – I have yet to recover. Here follow this week’s outfits so far:

Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw

Barry Bradshaw

Barry Bradshaw

 

Skinny denim

Skinny denim

Chubber denim

Chubber denim

The It bag

The It bag

 

The nosebag

The nosebag

 

Bling is the thing

Bling is the thing

 

Grim is the bling

Grim is the bling

Conclusions:
  • Alco-pie: a grand foodstuff.
  • Labneh: gets nicer with time.
  • A week off cooking, reorganising furniture and searching for elusive garments: sublime.
  • Being 30: yes.

Clotted cream shortcake

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on July 9, 2009

Last night was my first attempt at the recipe side of all this and I had high hopes, what with two tubs of cream being involved. The ingredients cost me about seven quid. Unfortunately neither patience nor precision are my strongest points, which already causes me problems because I’m a sub-editor. Turns out I’m not only ill suited to my chosen profession, I’m also ill suited to the life of a baker. I forgot to buy baking powder. I forgot to buy baking parchment. I forgot that I don’t have a baking tray. I didn’t measure the ingredients, which I already know to be the cardinal sin of baking. Basically anything with ‘baking’ in it went wrong. Nevertheless I mixed up a bowl of crumbly yet gluey dough, greased a muffin tray with a rancid butter wrapper I’d put in my fridge when pretending to be domestic, squashed the dough on to the tray and smacked it absentmindedly until the edges started to squidge off. Then I put it in my oven, which burns one half of any given circular object and leaves the other half raw (i’m thinking particularly of pizzas) and left it in there for 15 minutes while I ate most of the strawberries I was supposed to fill the shortcake with.  I couldn’t be bothered to get the hand-blender out just to whip some cream, which does make me wonder what I think it’s meant to be for, so I just shook the tub until I got bored. Don’t try this – it doesn’t work. Then it was time for the shortcake to emerge, looking gloriously golden on one side and pallidly similar to this week’s make-up look on the other. I broke it in half, shoved it on a plate, put the strawberries on, poured over the double cream and hurriedly took a photo before squirrelling the plate away to my room like a Freaky Eater. It was mostly raw inside, I admit, but if you made sure each mouthful had enough cooked bit and plenty of cream, it was pretty nice.

Here’s what it was supposed to look like:

Clotted cream shortcake

Clotted cream shortcake

 

And here’s my attempt at culinary mimicry:

Clots who love cream can't bake

Clots who love cream can't bake

I like the way the photo has an element of the paranormal.

Conclusions:

  • I need scales
  • I need patience
  • Raw dough tastes fine as long as it’s sweet
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