Thursday, January 12, 2006


Welcome to my first recipe review. The point of this new section is to attempt and to taste recipes from the latest food monthlies. Are they as easy as the editors say? Does it really only take 20 minutes? Will it really come out looking like the shiny, super edited photo? Or will it only succeed in making me feel useless because I can't drizzle oil on the plate as carefully as them?

Every month I receive or buy a new batch of mags, flip through them, think to myself 'That sounds good', put the mag on my bookcase and then never, ever make it. Usually the magazines sit for a few years until I 'notice' them while dusting and accidentally forget to dust because I am so easily distracted.

This happened recently and low and behold, a whole new stash of recipes was at my disposal. My new habit is to mark the recipes I like with a Post-it and then leave a 20 high stack of magazines on the floor. Yeah, if I was the Boy I would get pretty pissed off too. For my next magic trick I will try photocopying a few recipes at a time and keep them in the kitchen. There isn't a need to keep a whole issue of Martha Stewart out for one recipe. I really don't want her staring up at me from the floor each time I use her glossy face as a beer mat.

Anyways, I have a subscription to Gourmet but you need to have patience because I get mine a couple of weeks late since it has to be sent via snail mail. Hopefully my mother will feel generous enough to get me a subscription to another magazine...
When available I also buy some of the others like
Bon Appetit, Martha, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated and the list goes on. In the UK, I get Olive, BBC Good Food, Delicious, Waitrose Food Illustrated and once a month I get the delightful Observer Food Monthly (edited by my food writing hero and author of some of my favourite cookbooks, Nigel Slater). I know that you can occasionally get the British mags in the US (for a small investment); sometimes it's worth it to what's cooking in other parts of the world.

Back to the review. (I must preface this with an admission that this will not be my finest review since I am working from memory and am more intent on getting this out while this issue is still in stores.) One freezing winter's day a week and a half ago, I busted open this month's issue of Martha Stewart Living- which I recommend this issue for anyone into baking or who has a cake fetish. There are some fine cakes in there this month along with the usual artsy-craftsy shit. Feeling cold and in the mood for an artery clogging treat (and noticing that I had cardamom in the cupboard- as you do), I attempted to make
Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake.

This was good. Very good. However, and here's where today's title comes from, when the recipe says that it is made in a bundt tin- use one. There is a lot of batter and where the recipe says it bakes for an hour or so, my version (put into a regular ol' square baking dish) took two hours. The middle just did not want to set. Eventually it did but because the pan wasn't deep, the result wasn't fluffy. It was stodgy. It kinda compacted and solidified but it was still moist. It reminded of a heavy bread pudding or something. A small piece is plenty. The crumb topping was delicious and well worth the time of pulverising the spices; using cardamom adds a nice twist to this classic cake.

VERDICT: Would I make this again? Yes, definitely but I will be sure to use the correct baking dish. I would not however, make this unless a crowd of people were coming round. There were a lot of leftovers that were brought to the office. The GI (Gobble It) factor of this? Mmmmm, more please.

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