I’ve been asked several times in the last couple of weeks what my blogs are about, what my angle is, which niche I am filling, what the selling point is. So here it is: there is no niche. Niches are overcrowded and limited places in which to write. To me, food is a form of communication, even, to some extent, representative of character. So why should I pin myself down to some of the so-called niches in which other bloggers have incarcerated themselves?
Healthy cooking blogs, for example, seem to be proliferating at the moment, or so they call themselves, but what they are promoting is not cooking, nor is it necessarily healthy (or particularly interesting) – I’ve seen enough versions of green smoothies to make me want to down a packet of muscovado sugar (it tastes really good on its own, by the way).
I’m also sick of reading and hearing about avocado-based baking. You can try to convince yourself that it tastes good. It does not. It tastes rubbery, and bland, and makes me want to retch. Another example is cauliflower pizza. If you want pizza HAVE IT. If you’re worried about its calories/fats/sugars/carbs/GI/salt, then don’t eat it. If you’re desperate, have it in moderation. And if by mistake on purpose you eat the whole thing and it was really delicious, and you feel guilty, then just don’t do it again for a while. Do not try to replace that experience with cauliflower as it simply does not work. I’ll tell you the truth now: cauliflower does not equal bread. It doesn’t matter how small you grind the cauliflower, how tightly and agonisingly you squeeze out the liquid, and how densely you pack it into a tin, it does not turn into bread. Plus the amount of mozzarella you have to add to make it hold together undermines the whole attempt at making it “healthy”.
Baobab dust, acai capsules, psyllium husk powder - these are not what cooking and baking are about. They will not be included in my recipes unless they add flavour. And even then, at £10-£15 for a thimbleful, it’s not worth it.
Turn away now if you’re looking for a fad. As I have said before, gluten-free baking is for coeliacs only. Just because it says “free” doesn’t mean that it liberates you or your spare tyre. In fact, you’re probably adding another one by eating it as it shoots blood glucose levels sky high, above even those of wheat.
So to conclude, I’m not going to slot into any niche like the Priapus statue in Newby Hall. The blog is to be viewed in the round and the recipes are for bold, modern and flavoursome cuisine.
This recipe destroys the common misconception that pastry is hard to make, and combines with the nectarine topping just a hint of Triple Sec to add subtle tang. Very little effort is involved, but the result is impressive.
280g plain flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
170g cold unsalted butter, diced
125ml cold water
4 nectarines, halved, destoned & sliced horizontally to 3-4mm thickness
100g caster sugar
60g cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ tsp salt
½ cup of smooth apricot jam
2 tbsp Triple Sec
Sheet tray lined with baking parchment
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
- Blitz flour, sugar and salt in a blender to combine, then add the butter and pulse briefly about 10 times until the mixture turns to pea-sized pieces.
- Pour in water and blitz until the dough begins to come together.
- Make it into a chunky disk and wrap in clingfilm/baking parchment. Place in freezer for half an hour
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
- Roll out the pastry to a roughly 25x35cm rectangle, slicing off the edges to make it a clean rectangle.
- Arrange the nectarine slices, slightly overlapping, in a diagonal down the middle of the tart then continue with rows on either side.
- Sprinkle the cubed butter and sugar and salt over the nectarine slices and bake in centre of an oven for 40 minutes or until crisp and golden. Check about half way during the baking time whether the pastry has become puffy. If so, simply cut slits in it to let the air escape.
- Once the tart is ready, heat the apricot jam together with the Triple Sec and brush it all over the tart, including all the nude sections of pastry.