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food-for-thought

A sad day for veggies, especially London veggies, when Covent Garden institution Food For Thought closes its doors for good on Sunday 21st June.  A former banana warehouse was turned into a vegetarian restaurant in 1971, it was a favourite spot of mine.  It was brilliantly quirky with it’s basement seating – and nearly always a queue up the stairs waiting to be served.  It was always a mystery how the staff did it – keeping so calm while serving in such a tiny space. It will be missed.

There are some gorgeous (and curious) photos on the Guardian website from the RHS Harvest Festival Show, which took place in the Horticultural Halls in London.  The shots are inspirational, although, as discussed before on these pages, I won’t be entering any ‘biggest vegetable’ competitions any time soon!

The competition for the biggest pumpkin was won by Stuart Paton’s 327kg (721.4lb) monster veg.

A selection of fabulously leggy carrots!

A gorgeous romanesco broccoli.

Photo: bbc.co.uk

If you’re in the UK at the moment, it can’t have escaped your notice that we are witnessing an outbreak of patriotic flag waving!  This weekend sees a four day national party as we celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Elizabeth II has been on the throne for 60 years and it seems that the only way to respond, apart from flag waving, is to start baking.  There are some fabulous looking concoctions out there, so get out your pinnies and start baking – do it for your country!

The BBC have several wonderful recipes for themed cakes as well as ideas for a jolly good street party.  Check out the Union Jack Battenburg (above) and the Jubilee Bunting cake (below).

Jubilee Bunting Cake. bbc.co.uk

Other great bakes:

 

Jubilee Cake from The Boy Who Bakes

Crown Cakes on Baking Mad

 

 

It seems that even in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the world of cookery books was dominated by celebrity chefs, when cooks employed by royalty or those who ran famous eating houses were the main beneficiaries of the boom in the publishing of cookbooks.  There was also a rise in the number of vegetarian cookbooks published during the 19th Century and the writers of those were often already known too.  Mrs Bowdich for example, who published ‘New Vegetarian Recipes’ in 1892, was the owner of a vegetarian restaurant on Gray’s Inn Road in London.

To celebrate all this, the Keats House Museum in London has been showing an exhibition of the period’s celebrity cookbooks, from the collection at the Guildhall Library.  This coming weekend is the last chance to see the exhibition as it closes on 26th February.

This is a recipe from one of the featured books ‘The Complete Confectioner’ by Frederick Nutt, and what I love about this is the instruction to include carraway seeds, ‘as many as you think proper’!

Judges Biscuits by Frederick Nutt, 1819

Take six eggs and break them into copper pan, yolks and whites together, whisk them well for above five minutes, mix half a pound of powdered sugar with the eggs, and whisk them for ten minutes, put as many carraway seeds as you think proper, and half a pound of sifted flour, mix it well with a wooden spoon, and put three papers on your plates; then take a spoon and drop them on papers about the size of a crown-piece, sift some powdered sugar over them, let them be rather thick in the middle, and the oven rather sharp, and when they come out, cut them off the paper while hot.

Keats House Museum

Regency ‘Celebrity’ Cookbooks
Keats House Museum 
until 26th February 2012
Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR UK

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