On the job
What a week it’s been, that exciting time when all the hard work we’ve done preparing recipes for the magazine comes to fruition during the photography sessions with our photographers and stylists, Mike Emmett and Bec Smith. These sessions serve three practical purposes: they provide that final test under pressure, and confirm the dishes are right for the table; in other words they are not too cheffy or too difficult for normal cooks to prepare and present; and, of course, the all-important photos—the final proof of the pudding!
Our recipe creators, Lesley Russell and Yolaine Corbin (who is also a Thermomix consultant) worked in tandem to create some wonderful dishes for the Spring/Summer edition, focusing on the food of France. Our favourite, and likely cover shot, was that traditional French Bistro classic, steak au poivre, which, for inexplicable reasons, seems to have drifted out of favour. First came the brilliant, intoxicating aroma emerging from the Thermomix as the peppers are pulverised, then the sizzle of the steak in the burning pan, and finally, the bubbling of the creamy sauce as the mix of cream and beef stock and port all come together to enrobe the steak.
The next edition also includes an essay by the brilliant American food writer, Ed Behr, who has been writing wonderful observations of food and wine for thirty-plus years in his regular newsletter The Art Of Eating. Behr has just released his latest book The Food & Wine of France (Penguin), and he writes in his introduction: “The old dishes are mostly gone, except the stereotypical selection in a retro-ish bistro, and even those dishes may not be intact. To be clear, I mean coq au vin, gratinéed onion soup, sole meunière, salade Niçoise, frisée aux lardons, moules frites, Steak frites, steak au poivre…” As well as the steak au poivre, our next edition includes great French favourites pommes dauphine, quenelles Lyonnaise, salmon soufflé, brioche, pain perdu, French onion soup, tapenade Provençale, fruit pastilles and many more. I have been reading Behr’s work for most of those 30 years and his newsletter is now available digitally. For those interested in the essence of food, and the great characters who produce it, a subscription is a must.
One of the favourites of our Instagram feed during the week was the photos we published of young Charlie Jones, the eight-month old son of Bec Smith. Charlie was at every session, helping, helping—when he wasn’t sleeping or eating. If only we could all be eight months old again, contemplating on a life ahead.
Some years ago, travelling through Tasmania, I came across a café offering “peanut butter pesto”, which despite a nagging curiosity I couldn’t make myself try it, even for research. That led to something positive. I commissioned one of our regular authors, Victoria Heywood, to write a book which I had pencilled in the title of “Good Food, Shit Food”. Our distributor blanched at the thought (despite the fact that main streets across the world feature the FCUK fashion shops), so it ended up as “Good Food, Bad Food”. Victoria did a wonderful job providing 80+ recipes of dishes that every young man and woman leaving home should know and love, counter-balanced by versions that really shouldn’t be considered (eg peanut butter pesto).
I was reminded of this chain of events from a report in Melbourne’s Age newspaper (July 15), in which Matt Preston describes coming across a “blue smurf latte”, a “concoction” of, wait for it, “coconut milk, lemon, ginger and ‘live’ E3 algae powder”. This follows the growing craze for coffees laced with nut milks, soy milks, any milks but milk milks. Preston, who has been a regular contributor to The Age, was less than praising in his assessment of the latest offering: “Humans do not normally eat blue coloured foods—there aren’t many in nature—and we prefer to brunch further up the food chain than fish (the only type of creature that willingly eats algae).” It’s a brilliant article, deserving of many readers, and much self-assessment.
As a benefit for readers of the newsletter, we’re offering Good Cook, Bad Cook for $19.95, including postage and handling (within Australia) [normally $29.95]. Just go to https://books.slatterymedia.com/store/viewItem/good-cook-bad-cook and insert the code GCBC2016 and the book will be in the next mail.