Posted in Book/TV/Film Themed Dishes

The Wizard of Oz: Pork and Corn and Fruit ‘oh my’

One word… Mmmmmm…

Anybody who’s actually stumbled across my Twitter account (probably by accident I’d imagine as I don’t believe I’m that interesting to catch your attention purposely) will know that a few months ago I was reading ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I’ve got to be honest, the page I showed on there was just about as far as I got. Okay, okay, I got slightly further but I certainly never made it to the actual Emerald City scenes or their meeting of the Witch. I think, perhaps, I met the Cowardly Lion.

            Why didn’t I keep going, you might ask? Did time get away from me? Did I have so much going on in my life I couldn’t take some time to read a children’s story? Well, I wish I could say yes (which I may have been able to do back then, but certainly not presently), but the truth is I stopped because I just wasn’t enjoying it. It’s a classic. It’s a story that should be respected for what it’s added to the world, the authors it’s inspired, but I just could not get invested in any of these characters lives.

            Why? For a normal person you may say it’s just because it was written for children and I’m an adult. But, you see, I’m not a normal person—I regularly enjoy reading children’s fiction and always have done. I used to leave the library as a teenager with a pile of ‘Magical Ballerina’, Jacqueline Wilson’s, Enid Blyton’s—and, probably a rather disturbing sight for the librarians, a pile of Murder Mystery and Crime novels too. I have always told people, rather than saying I’m ‘a writer’, that I’m a ‘children’s writer’. I enjoy the freedom, the focus on characters and the sheer joy of the area. But I don’t like books that write down to children. I don’t enjoy when it tries to tell me how to think and feel, just because it’s aimed at children—and, whether it’s the case or not, that’s how ‘The Wizard of Oz’ felt to me.

            I love the idea behind the story, the characters that have been shown and parodied thousands of times by other writers—even the themes of family and home are inspired enough. At the very least I can say that I respect this book and I believe it’s earned it’s place in history. And that’s why I decided to create a dish for it, despite the fact that it—or it’s film counterpart—simply aren’t for me. Whatever I may feel about it, other people have connected to it and that’s all an author can hope for. Good for you for loving something like ‘The Wizard of Oz’—every piece of work, every piece that someone has poured their heart into, deserves just a bit of love from others for the mere time and effort and heart that’s been poured into it.

            Okay, rant over. Sorry, I had to get this off my chest and explain myself (again, apologies, opinions are hard things to have). I created this dish based on the love its readers give it, the place it holds in our history and the characters that even I can love without caring for the words behind them (it tasted delicious, by the way—my Mum’s favourite dish so far).

Tip to making puree: Put in a bit of cooked potato for a smooth consistency.

            We have a silky, smooth corn puree representing our Yellow Brick Road; crispy straw potatoes representing our friendly, smartly-dressed scarecrow (pun intended); a piece of the finest cut of pork: fillet (for our meat-eating but timid lion), stuffed with fruity breadcrumbs (for our down-to-earth, sweet Dorothy); raspberry and blackcurrant coulis’ put on the plate for our sleepy, obstacles that block the path to Oz—the proud poppy (and some poppy seeds for good measure); and all covered in a tinny flavoured broccoli and gorgonzola sauce, both for our heart-lost Tin-Man and the colour of their desired location.

            It was certainly one of my easiest to cook, each part simply made but lovely to eat, and I think/hope represents this work well. Because the book is simple, especially from a modern prospective, but can still be creative and tasty. I think, now, that works like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ are considered the greats because of what they can inspire, rather than what they originally were. The ideas are there and at their very basic form—perfect for the freedom of a new writer/artist/song-writers imagination. I created a dish—other people create films, songs and paintings. So although you weren’t for me ‘Wizard of Oz’, thank you for everything you’ve done to inspire your following generations. As said previously, you’ve earned your place in history and I thank your creator L. Frank Baum for putting his heart on the page and sharing it with the public. Your bravery is something I struggle to reach still and can only aspire too. Thank you for all you’ve done and thank you, to every writer or artist out there for spreading your own hearts out to the public to be heard. You all truly amaze me—thank you.

Sappy message over. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed eating that corn puree.

A tasty combination. Sweet, salty and sour are always a perfect match.

Posted in Book/TV/Film Themed Dishes

Anne’s ‘Scope for the Imagination’ Raspberry Tart

Okay, to start this off, I should give a big thank you to my university. During my ‘Introduction to Children’s Fiction’, I was introduced to ‘Anne of Green Gables’… and I loved this book. I still do, in fact, and I knew that eventually I was going to get around to create a dish from it. In truth this isn’t the first time I’ve ever made a dish from the book, as the copy I’d originally bought from my local book store (it was Waterstones, guys, no bias—it was just what was available) had a recipe for the Raspberry Tart Anne ate at the end of it. It was whilst making this recipe I discovered that it was essentially a Bakewell tart with peaches and a surprisingly small amount of raspberries.

A lot of different components for this one.

            As I type this I’m still waiting for the new series/season of ‘Anne with an E’ to come out on Netflix. I’m sure it’s out somewhere, the trailer dropped a couple of months back, but at least as I type—it doesn’t seem to be reaching my Netflix at all. I loved the book and, although I’ve seen no other adaptation, I do love this one (with no comparison other than the original book). Although they’ve made many changes, modernised slightly to create better, more fitting roles for these characters than their time period actually allowed, all of the fun personalities and captivating plot-points have remained.

            And Anne? She’s freaking amazing. I have used the term ‘providing enough scope for the imagination’ every day over my impatient year waiting for the new series. I knew that when creating a dish, I couldn’t just do the plain Raspberry Tart I’d originally made back at University—no, I had to use my imagination. I had to imagine a more extravagant affair, something Anne could have only dreamed of (and I’ve no doubt, would have).

            And so I bring you—my ‘Anne of Green Gables Scope-For-The-Imagination Raspberry Tart’. An apricot mousse, sitting on an almond base, topped with a lusciously smooth raspberry jelly, surrounded by Anne’s preferred ‘puff sleeves’ (choux buns filled with an almond crème diplomat for that fragrant frangipane flavour), and topped with a crown of twigs and leaves befitting of the regality of Princess Cordelia (brandy snaps, made with Breton honey and mint leaves).

It was a lunch all to itself.

            It was my first time making many of the elements—a fruit mousse, a blended-dried-apricot filling, a crystal-clear jelly (not quite, but close). The choux buns, admittedly, are something I can do practically in my sleep but in a new, highly unpredictable oven it was touch and go whether they’d turn out as well as I wanted. Even the red caramel used to stick the choux together was an experiment never attempted before.

            I hope Anne would be proud of my efforts. I would be proud to serve it to her, if only there weren’t a generation and a reality-fiction border separating us I’m sure we would—moderately, tolerate each other. We’re very alike, is all I mean, and I know that tends to make for a bad friendship. But still, I could hope. I’ve never seen a character so beloved, and such a strong representative of her adoptive home that the writer herself gave all rights to her and her words to that home in reality. Go Anne and go Prince Edward Island. Believe me, the only thing stopping me from visiting is my fear of any form of travel (especially heights, sorry Canada).

            So until the day I gain some guts and adopt an Anne-style-bravery I’ll stay content with cooking up my creations and sitting down to watch ‘Anne with An E’. Seriously though, Netflix, it is coming on soon, right?

            Bonus points to the fact that I used the remainder of the pudding to create a dessert spread for my new French neighbours. You know you’ve done something right when the locals ask why you don’t try being a baker for a living. Especially when you happen to live in the land of great bakers. Honestly, though it was sweet of them, my confidence levels are at 0 most of the time—so I think I’ve got a long way to go before I can manage that.

‘Holidays are coming… Holidays are coming.’

            Thank you, Anne. Thank you, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Keep being you—and keep using that imagination. It’s a gift, believe me. A curse too—but also a great gift.