Best of the Web – The Gooseberry Fool: Foodie links for 24 August

I can’t believe August is nearly over already! Ever since I arrived in San Francisco, I’ve been devouring summer fruits, especially white nectarines and peaches. I’ll be sad when peach season is over, but I have a cunning plan to extend it a little further. I bought an entire box of organic white peaches for $17 (less than $1 a pound) at the farmers’ market today and I’m planning to bake some pies and freeze them, in preparation for my in-laws visiting in October.

I usually go to the farmers’ market at the San Francisco Ferry Building, which is wonderful, especially if you fancy having lunch while you shop. Today I went to the Alemany Farmers’ Market instead, which was also good. It’s a bit closer to my house, though it still involves a bus ride for me, and the atmosphere is more down-to-earth than the Ferry Building. There were plenty of bargains and a good selection of organics as well as conventional produce. As well as peaches, we bought figs, chard, mushrooms, eggplant and tomatoes. The small baby eggplants were a special bargain – it was the end of the day and the price had dropped from $1.50 per pound to 50c per pound. So we bought 2lb (about 1kg) of eggplant for $1!

Roaming Tales is a travel and food blog but lately it’s been all travel and no food. One problem has been that my digital camera broke, making it hard to take good food shots. (My SLR camera is film and aside from waiting to develop the roll, two further drawbacks are that I typically use 200-ISO film (not great for indoors) and I don’t have a macro lens). I do plan to fix this – both the camera and the lack of food posts. Don’t forget that you can go directly to my food blog The Gooseberry Fool or subscribe to the separate RSS feed, if you are not interested in travel. If you go for this option, you’ll miss out on any travel post with a foodie theme and also my professional articles, which may include food writing.

Without further ado, here are the food posts and articles that have caught my eye over the past two weeks.

Ingredients

Heirloom appeal. What’s so great about heirloom tomatoes? A guest post by Melissa Lum on EcoSalon tells you. If you do pick some up, try this heirloom tomato panzanella from Love and Olive Oil.

Okra. Susan at Food Blogga defends the much-maligned okra and offers a recipe for okra and chicken stew. I have to admit, I didn’t realise people hated it so much – I first encountered okra in Indian cookery in my twenties and loved it instantly.

Eggplant. Susan at Food Blogga gives a lesson in Eggplant 101 - how to select, store and cook them. You could give this baked eggplant parmesan from Ezra Pound Cake a try or my favourite from my own archives- Lebanese eggplant stew.

Cucumber. The San Francisco Chronicle on the rise of Asian and Armenian cucumbers.

Recipes – Savoury

Caesar salad. Rebecca Crump from Ezra Pound Cake on how to make a proper Caesar salad (as opposed to one of those fake Caesar salads beloved of chain restaurants that consist only of lettuce, croutons, bacon bits and sauce).

Zucchini and bowties. Kristen from Dine and Dish offers a simple and healthy weekday dinner idea that kids might like (hers did): Zucchini and bowtie pasta.

Mackerel. Alex Renton from Word of Mouth on the delights of raw mackerel – and how to cook it if you must.

Baba ganoush. Nanette Johnson aka Ms Gourmet of Gourmet Worrier reveals her secret ingredient for perfect baba ganoush – almond meal.

BBQ fish. Helen Graves from Food Stories uses banana leaves to barbecue her bass. Paper might work just as well (or it might not?) but you can’t beat the aesthetic of banana leaves.

Squid and samphire. Can you get samphire in the US? I had never come across it in Australia. It’s a salty, al dente sea grass that grows native in Britain and is quite lovely with seafood. A Forkful of Spaghetti samples it with squid, in between tweets.

Chorizo. This chorizo, tomato, cannellini bean and coriander (cilantro) recipe from Niamh at Eat Like a Girl looks fab.

Recipes – Sweet

Compote. Fiona Beckett at The Frugal Cook rescues some grapes, making a simple yet delectable grape, honey and cardamom compote, served with yogurt and granola. This would work with most fruit and is a good way to use up produce that’s past its best.

White-chocolate bread. Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil has an intriguing recipe idea – she recently made white chocolate bread from a Club Med recipe. It sounds fabulous! I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe since I’m currently shopping for a breadmaker. [I have my eye on this sweet mini model - a Zojirushi, and since Amazon currently has it on special for 23% off, I may just buy it this week].

Chocolate chip cookies. I’m guessing we’ve all made chocolate chip cookies before but Rebecca Crump from Ezra Pound Cake swears these ones are the best.

Rainbow cake. Susan Thye from Chocolatesuze offers a fairly mad-looking rainbow cake concoction for the kid in your life or the kid inside.

Caramel. If Julia Parsons’ tips in my previous Gooseberry Fool ‘best of the web’ post weren’t enough, try Dan Lepard’s masterclass in caramel making, on Word of Mouth.

Cake. This apple, berry and marsala short cake from Nanette Johnson of Gourmet Worrier sounds deliciously grown-up.

More cake. Coffee and Vanilla by Margot Gocha is new on my radar but I like the look of what I see – such as this strawberry crumb cheesecake. Yum! The blog covers European and Caribbean cuisine, since Margot is Polish and her husband is from Dominica.

Gooseberry fool. Another new-to-me blog – Gastronomy Domine by Liz Upton. Here she brings us the classic English dessert of gooseberry fool – the very dish that this food blog is named after! (See my recipe).

Cooking with a theme

Mad Men. Rebecca Crump from Ezra Pound Cake brings you the Mad Men Premiere Party Menu! I’m a fan of the show so this one definitely caught my eye. It features everything from Betty’s ‘Grin and Barrett’ Gazpacho to the obligatory cocktails. Sheer culinary genius! (This is the fourth link I’ve given to Ezra Pound Cake in one post – I guess you could say I’m a fan!).

French Laundry. The gang from eatshow&tell in Sydney can’t afford to go to the famed French Laundry in California, so they have attempted to create the experience in their own kitchen.

Food issues

People power. Cadbury backs down in the face of stiff opposition on its decision to put palm oil in its chocolate in Australia and New Zealand. I written it up for EcoSalon.

Chickens. It’s day 15 of Chicken Out, which follows the “short, unnatural life of a broiler chicken” for 39 days. Link via Sophie at Mostly Eating.

Ethical dining. Eating certain foods such as endangered bluefin tuna is a matter of conscience. Word of Mouth debates who should decide – the chef or the diner? In my view, changing consumers’ attitudes is great but it takes time. With dishes like bluefin tuna, we need to act now, so chefs should lead the way.

GM food. Nutritionist Marion Nestle calls on the US to follow the UK’s lead and enforce labelling of GM food.

School meals. Marion Nestle welcomes the school meals revolution in the US – again following the UK’s lead.

Calorie counting. Anna Helm on the BBC Good Food Blog looks at New York’s calorie labelling law and asks whether it is going too far.

Diet psychology. Could looking at pictures of cake actually help you lose weight? One study says so, but Andrea McGinnis, writing for BBC Good Food Blog, is not convinced.

Caffeinated dieter. David McCandless from Information is Beautiful offers the Buzz v Bulge chart showing how much caffeine you’re getting for your calorie buck. (Why not just have your favourite drink or alternatively go for black coffee or skim milk?). Link via Lifehacker.

Bottled water. Mother Jones recently had an excellent article on the darker side of FIJI Water. Debate is continuing at EcoSalon.

Good cause coffee. Tara Duggan at the San Francisco Chronicle on a specialty coffee where 100% of proceeds go to help orphan girls in Zimbabwe.

Modern manners

Ordering off piste. Is it okay to order off menu? Join the debate on Word of Mouth. Personally I think it’s fine to ask for minor tweaks or to hold the sauce to accommodate diets and allergies, but asking a chef to recalibrate an entire dish is going a bit far.

Sharing. There’s a great discussion on Serious Eats about sharing your food at restaurants. Who are all these people who think it’s okay to steal food from their fellow diners’ plates without even asking? That’s just rude! I’m usually happy to swap tastes – but it needs to be asked for or offered first. Sometimes I might arrange to share with someone in advance, but then we’d probably get separate plates and divide the food beforehand. On the other hand, some cuisine is made for sharing – Asian curries, pizza and Spanish tapas for example. I’m fine with this as long as no one feels rail-roaded into it (I know a lot of vegetarians dislike it if they order the only vegetarian dish and then everyone helps themselves). I’m astonished to learn that some people do this regardless of the cuisine or presentation style. Personally, I think it’s going too far to put a steak, plated up with side vegetables, in the centre of the table as if it’s a sharing dish.

Table manners. Felicity Cloake from Word of Mouth on the culturally relative correct use of utensils. (Something that differs in between the US and Australia/Europe, by the way).

Restaurants and Retail

London – Italian. A review of high-class Italian restaurant L’Anima in London, from Helen Yuet Ling Pang of World Foodie Guide.

London – shopping. Antonia from Food, Glorious Food on Recipease, a new shop in Clapham Junction filled with Jamie Oliver-inspired goodies.

Cornwall, UK – Seafood. Jonathan Browners from Around Britain with a Paunch reviews the Porthminster Beach CafĂ© in St Ives, Cornwall. I think I may have eaten there too.

Sydney – Japanese. Howard from eatshow&tell reviews Japaz, a Japanese tapas restaurant in Neutral Bay.

New York – Southern US. Frank Bruni of the New York Times reviews The Redhead, serving southern-inspired, seasonal comfort food, in the East Village.

Cheltenham, UK – Brasserie. Helen Graves from Food Stories reviews Brasserie Blanc in Cheltenham, England.

Chicago – Fine dining. Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen on an unforgettable meal with five food bloggers at Grant Achatz’s Chicago restuarant Alinea. The dessert looks amazing!

Travel and food

Self-catering. Lulu Grimes, on the BBC Good Food Blog, bemoans the inadequacy of cookware in self-catered holiday accommodation.

Hotel cooking. Adam Pash at Lifehacker links to this amusing video about cooking in your hotel room.

Books

Shark’s Fin. Helen Yuet Ling Pang of World Foodie Guide reviews Fuschia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sizchuan Pepper, a book about her experiences of food in China. It looks like a fascinating book. [Amazon has the paperback for 32% off].

Born Round. At the New York Times, Dominique Browning reviews Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by the NY Times‘ former food reviewer Frank Bruni. [By the way, Amazon currently has the hardback for 40% off]. I haven’t read it yet but if it’s even half as good as Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl, Bruni’s predecessor at the NY Times, then it will be a great read.

Classic cookbooks. Tom Parker Bowles on Word of Mouth shares his favourite classic cookbooks and wants to know which older books still bear pride of place in your kitchen.

Food blogging

Ethics. Dianne Jacob on Will Write for Food discusses the ethics of food blogging.

Recipe copyright. The thorny issues of recipe copyright, plagiarism and attribution among food blogs has cropped up, both on Tart Reform and the Food Blog Alliance (link to the latter by @steamykitchen on Twitter). Ingredients and plain instructions are not protected by copyright but literary expression is – such as reminiscences about eating the dish with friends or suggestions on wine to accompany the food. However, attribution is always polite and in most cases your readers are better served if you also reword the instructions into your own words.

Fake tweets. Chris Pople from Cheese and Biscuits on the curious case of the fake Heston Blumenthal (he of The Fat Duck fame) Twitter account, and the people who simply refused to believe he wasn’t real.

And finally…

Home bar. Kelly Sutton on Lifehacker explains how you can stock your home liquor cabinet for $100.

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Comments

  1. Hey, thanks for the link. I reckon foil is your best bet if you don’t have banana leaves. Agreed though, they do look nice. I’ve always wanted to do that fish in newspaper thing too where you soak it in water first.

    Aluminium foil is definitely a practical solution – I don’t know why I mentioned paper ahead of foil! I use foil to poach my salmon in the oven too – very “clean” tasting compared with frying it. – Caitlin.

  2. White peaches are one of my favourite fruits. Consider just freezing the stewed fruit as it will take less room in your freezer and frozen pastry is never as nice as freshly baked. Baked peaches, stuffed with almonds, are good, baking (rather than stewing) really concentrates the flavour. If you haven’t tried slices of fresh peach in champagne for breakfast, now is your chance.

    Canna leaves could be used instead of banana leaves and are more widely accessible.

    Thank you for the great tips! Is it worth taking the time to can peaches or should I just freeze them? – Caitlin.