Tag: someone

Perfect Polenta – Dedicated to Some Fun Girl

Not only is polenta one of the first foods I remember
watching someone cook, but it’s probably also responsible for the first time I ever
heard someone curse. 

I remember my grandfather standing at the stove, stirring
a big pot of the stuff, and every once in a while some of the thick, bubbling
polenta would burp out of the pot and on to his hand. He would jump back and yell something, which to my very
young ears sounded sort of like, “hey, some fun girl!” 

Of course, years later I
realized he was actually saying, “vaffanculo.” I’ll let you translate yourself.
By the way, one way to avoid the wrath of the molten mush is to adjust your
heat to maintain a nice gentle bubble.

Besides severe burns, there’s not a lot that can go wrong
with this recipe. As long as you stir it in slowly, whisking constantly, and
simmer it until it’s perfectly soft, you will have one of the world’s great
comfort foods, and a beautiful base for any number of stews or braises. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Portions:
4 cups water or broth
1 cup polenta (you can use regular corn meal, but it’s not
as easy to work with, and the texture isn’t as interesting)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/2  cup finely
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Note: if your question is, “can you add [blank] to this
recipe,” the answer is yes.

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Perfect French Baguette at Home – Only Impossible If You Don’t Try It

Whenever someone asked me why I hadn’t done a baguette video
yet, I’d tell them because you just can’t recreate an authentic loaf of French
bread at home. 

I’d explain about the water, the flour, the centuries old
starters, and the steam-injected ovens. I told them what I’d been told; that it
was simply impossible, or as the French say, “impossible!”

That was, until I actually tried to make some. Much to my
amazement, not only was it possible, it was really pretty simple. The key is
water. That goes for the dough, and the baking environment. The dough must be
very sticky, as in hard-to-work-with sticky. This is nothing well-floured
fingers can’t conquer, but I did want to give you a heads-up.

Besides the water content in the dough, the oven must also
be moist. This humidity, in addition to some occasional misting will give the
crusty baguettes their signature look. How does this work? You know how when someone
pours water on the rocks in a dry sauna, and suddenly it feels way hotter? It
probably has something to do with that.

Anyway, who cares why it works, the important thing here is
that real, authentic, freshly-baked baguette is now an everyday reality. One
thing worth noting; I adapted this no-knead version from a recipe I found here
last year. The original is in metric, so I’ve converted it, but also included
the original flour and water units in case you want to get it exact. I hope you
give this easy, and so not impossible baguette recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

For 4 smaller or 2 large baguette:
1/4 tsp dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise

(Note: if you want to use a traditional bread technique, add the whole package of yeast (2 1/4 tsp) and proceed as usual)
1 1/2 cups water (325 grams)
1 3/4 tsp salt
18 oz by weight all-purpose flour (500 grams), about 4 cups
– Mix dough and let rise 12-14 hours or until doubled
– Punch down and shape loaves, let rise covered with floured
plastic 1 to 1/2 hr or until almost doubled
– Bake at 550 F. about 15 minutes or until well-browned
– Spray with water before baking, at 5 minutes, and at 10
minutes during cooking time

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Recipe Rifle: a digital original

Last year, in secret, I spent an awfully long time trying to get someone to publish Recipe Rifle as a book, but in the end failed.

It was a perfectly ghastly experience, looking back. At the time it seemed sort of fun, a respite from the tedious task of administering to a small baby. But in actual fact it was just disappointment after disappointment, I existed in a horrid limbo. Hopes up, hopes dashed. Eventually, total disaster, angry words and a general collapse. I wasn’t really surprised: dancing in front of a weary, malfunctioning publishing industry, chronically unable to sell myself, I often said things in meetings like “You know, the way things are at the moment, I probably wouldn’t take this book on if I were you.”

And, worse, these publishing people would say to me: “Why would someone buy this book? I mean, why would they pick it up in Waterstones?” By the third time I heard this I would want, powerfully, to claw their eyes out, kick them in the stomach and scream “You tell me you fucking idiot! That’s your job not mine! Jesus fucking Christ, no wonder the whole damn thing is collapsing round your ears if you’re asking me why someone would buy a freaking book. I’m going home.

But I did not do that.

Instead I cut all ties to that miserable year, sulked in my tent for a while, then sought out instead The Friday Project, a publishing house that specialises in bringing blogs to a wider audience. And when I say that, I mean that they make it possible for otherwise unpublishable authors (that’s me) to sell their work, without it being considered “vanity” (i.e. “mad”) publishing.

The bloke who runs The Friday Project, Scott, is terrific. He doesn’t ask me who will buy my book. He doesn’t ask me, looking worried, how I think I am going to turn the blog into a “story”. He just said “Put together whatever you think is best and maybe some people will buy it if they like it.”

“Will you make it really cheap?” I asked, anxiously. “I mean, like, 50p so it’s crazy not to buy it, like a vest top from H&M??”

“Not that cheap,” he said. “But not expensive either.”

The catch is that you will only be able to buy it online and read it on your iPad or Kindle or other e-reader, (unless it becomes a freak hit and the cost of printing the book becomes negligable). A “digital original”, they call it, with graceful euphemism. and I don’t get an advance, I am only paid for what I sell. But frankly with my shitty attitude that’s a good thing. Give me money and I won’t do anything. Give me a deadline and the possibility of money and I will work. A bit.

SO – my readers, my lovely, lovely readers who have been with me through thick and thin, through marriage, births, ups and downs (no deaths – yet) do you have a favourite post that you think I ought to definitely include? One that you can recall made you laugh? Are there any that were really bad – have I had a dodgy patch? Am I boring when I bang on about a certain thing?

Tell me! Tell me, tell me. I have to file my first draft in October.


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