Hey friends! Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Curious Cook by Bridget Morton, and I am bringing you a guest post. Enjoy!
A Curious Cook by Bridget Morton
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Release date: 28/01/2021
Where to find: Goodreads | Amazon
Summary: A comprehensive and supportive guide to vegetarian cooking for people with coeliac disease.
Bridget Morton puts her own personal experiences of living with coeliac to good use in the kitchen, whipping up nutritious, delicious and comforting dishes designed to help manage her symptoms.
My five favourite recipes in this book
Asking me to name my five favourite recipes is bit like asking a mother which is her favourite child. It’s a matter of horses for courses. But I will try to answer the question. Two very simple ones spring to mind, and these are ones I use all the time: flatbread dough and short crust pastry.
One of the joys of making flatbread dough is that it is quick and simple. I make double quantities, divide it into twelve balls, ready to roll out, and freeze them, always keeping a couple in the ‘fridge, ready to use. They are so quick to roll out and cook and they have taken the place of conventional bread in my diet. They are great with soup, as a base for scrambled eggs or a wrap for salad. And, of course, they are so handy for knocking up a quick pizzetta. I took my lead from Russell Norman’s recipes for pizzetta in his wonderful book of Venetian cooking Polpo. He uses what he describes as ‘cheap mozzarella’ on his, I use halloumi on mine, which I always have in the ‘fridge. From thinking about it to making one takes all of half an hour. Not only that but they provide the basis for making samosas and other savoury pastries. So ubiquitous are flatbreads in my cooking that I cannot imagine life without them.
The dough also provides the opportunity to experiment with incorporating different herbs and spices into a flatbread. I have included a recipe for an Indian flatbread, flavoured with fennel and cumin seeds, but the possibilities are endless. You could add garlic and ginger and maybe a touch of chilli, or head for the herb garden with thyme or rosemary.
The short crust pastry has enabled me to experiment endlessly with savoury tart fillings, and I do love a savoury tart. They are perfect for lunches, suppers or picnics, hot or cold. My absolute favourite is spinach and feta cheese. I do not remember its genesis, but I have been making it forever. It is one I can make pretty much any time of year because there is always something green in season: spinach, chard, cavallo nero or Good King Henry, an old English vegetable that my partner grows on the allotment. Feta cheese is one of my store cupboard ingredients: I always have a pack or three in the ‘fridge, so I don’t have to plan ahead. The feta gives the tart a delicious sharpness. All you need to complement the dish is boiled potatoes – I like mine dressed with olive oil and some finely chopped garlic, but butter is also good – and some green beans or a crisp salad.
Sugar-wise I would single out two recipes which are a bit luxurious but very easy to make: almond biscuits and Alessia’s mandorle al’Aggrigento. The first is made from ground almonds flavoured with lemon. These two ingredients abound in the cooking of the Mediterranean, from North Africa to Spain and through Italy to Greece. A bite from these biscuits transports me to warmer climes. The second is a sweet of roasted almonds covered in white chocolate. It takes its name from Alessia, a charming young woman who ran the B&B we stayed in some years ago in Aggrigento, Sicily. The trip itself was not entirely successful: the day we went out to look at the Greek temples it rained stair rods. But the B&B was lovely and Alessia could not do enough for me once she discovered I was a coeliac. Her cousin ran a shop specializing in gluten free products. On the second day, as we were finishing breakfast, she proferred a little sweetmeat which I packed away for lunch later, as we were returning to Palermo. When I came to eat it, I discovered a white chocolate cube with roasted almonds inside. I don’t have the original recipe but mine tastes like that one I had in Sicily, and every time I make them I think of Aggrigento.
I don not make either of these recipes very often, but they are nice to eat at festivals and special occasions. They are also great as presents, and they always get a good reception. Home made presents are so much more satisfying for both the giver and the receiver – something that I think we have all learned in lockdown – and they do not have to be complicated. I buy presentation bags from Lakeland to pack them in, tie it with a bow (I save ribbon from everything) and add a printed label. It looks as inviting as a bag of cakes or pastries from any patisserie.
I was born in 1958 in Madras, as it then was, Chennai as it is now, in India. Before the age of two years, I had lived in four countries on three continents. I am sure that this has contributed to my love of food from all over the world. My family came to live permanently in England in 1963 and I grew up first in Hertfordshire and then in London. After taking a degree in Politics and Modern History at Manchester University I worked for a few years in the charity sector before moving into Education administration in various organisations.
I took early retirement in 2015 due to ill health. As well as having coeliac disease I had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, from which I still suffer. I have huge sympathy for people living with so called long Covid. Like so many people, after I retired, I could not work out how I ever had the time to go to work. The pandemic has prevented some of the activities I usually love to do, visiting museums and galleries, meeting friends for coffee or lunch and perhaps a visit to the Oxford Botanic Garden. But I still have the pleasure of gardening, cooking, reading, sewing and knitting, many of these activities undertaken whilst listening to Radio 4.