International Edible Book Festival

I was so thrilled to hear from artist Béatrice Coron about her wonderful edible book Hard Boiled Thriller: Tales of a Tough Cookie and a Smart Cookie, which she created for The International Edible Book Festival. Béatrice and Judith A. Hoffberg created the festival in 1999 and each and every year, on April 1st, people around the world show-off their own versions of edible books. Anyone can participate and the guidelines for what constitutes a book are very flexible. Click here for more info on the festival and here for more of Beatrice's edible books. Thanks, Béatrice!

Working in the cutout method, Béatrice Coron creates glorious images that have appeared on books covers, in subway stations, and on street corners, as well as having been included in the museum collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty, and the Bibliotheque Nationale of France. It really is amazing work. You can find other, nonedible examples of Béatrice's amazing art by visiting her Web site. You can also find some examples after the jump.


Here is a collection of stuff by artists who I admire.
This is folded fabric by Haruka. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find her website but when we were doing our art foundation she always did the craziest, most beautiful technically difficult things with, well, just about anything. Sometimes she would make little hanging bubbles out of wool and sometimes she would knit hats from her own hair extensions. Really. I think now she is studying shoe making at LCF. She also made incredible toys. A real star in the making.
Haruki Murakami is my favourite artist. Here he is dressed as a flower bomb dancing with Kirstin Dunst.

C boy is a creation by Eiko. I found her blog on and although she doesn't update all to often, the waits are well worth it. C is a bald child who is very bitter that his wife left him for a woman with long blonde hair.

This is another Haruka masterpiece.
Finally, Lou Romano. A bit of a hero of mine. He is one of the most important people at PIXAR and does all the concept sketches for Up, The Incredibles etc. As well as doing voiceovers, he also has a lot of his own projects. He uses guache and has a distinct 50s kinda style. It also bares mentioning that he invented the Power Puff Girls. Wow.

More creative times gone past

Before mountains of essays, translations and grammar exams were happy arty times. Looking through the archives at home I found some pictures going way back to A level days. I wish studying languages involved more crocheting.

Crochet Pikachu.
Exotic bird hat modelled by Sam. He is now a business man, check out his t-shirts.

Shark made of tweed.

A wierd film I saw in Costa Rica which involved chickens being thrown at Cuban women in bikinis

Crochet flower on patterned paper. On my old desk.

Possibly my favourite project ever- sardine sail boats!

A story board showing wires becoming robots becoming planes becoming birds. This project was overseen by Geoff. What a cool guy.

Out on an illustration project in the east end. These two guys insisted I took their photo, telling me they were original east end geezers. Magic.

An A level project of a Mowgli/Eloise style girl looking sadly out of a hotel window.

A paper London Town

Sugar Bliss Cupcakes

I'm pretty taken with the frosting on these cupcakes by Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique in Chicago. Cupcakes have been everywhere for the past decade, so it's nice to see a new design option for this classic sweet.

Sugar Bliss offers more than 20 varities of cupcakes, with flavors ranging from cinnamon carrot to orange creamsicle and everything in between. They also carry breakfast cupcakes like apple cinnamon and berry berry. In addition, if you're jonzing for a sugar rush, you can also order up a frosting shot, for those who are so inclined. Personally, I prefer my frosting on cake, but I know people who can't resisit a shot of frosting in the middle of the day! Click here to visit their Web site and to order online.

Egg Salad

My fixation with egg salad started when I was just a little girl. My family would go on long road trips (say, to the mountains up north, or to the seaside) and my mom would prepare a variety of sandwiches for the ride. The egg salad was my favorite.

I remember savoring each small square (she would slice each sandwich into two), biting a bit at a time, chewing slowly, pausing between bites, attempting to make it last as long as possible. My mom would pack a lot, but I dared not eat too many for fear I would receive one of those stern looks she reserved for when I overstepped my food boundaries (ah, childhood food issues…let’s not traverse that dark road for O, that way madness lies!). My father however, knew no food boundaries (and still continues to be unaware of such) and would dip his hand into the sandwich bag many times on one trip. I would sit and hope that, when the proper amount of time since my last sandwich passed, and I reached for another, there would still be an egg salad left. There usually was, owing to my dad’s penchant for cheese pimiento, but it was always a dodgy moment, that second when I would rummage through those neat squares of white bread.

That little girl has since grown up, and now makes her own egg salad – which she happily consumes whenever, and in whatever quantity, she wishes. AND she does it with bacon :)

My Favorite Egg Salad
  • 6 hard boiled eggs (prepared as your preferred hardboiled egg procedure dictates – I know there is much debate on this)
  • 60 grams bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green/spring onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Chop the bacon and fry in a dry non-stick pan until crisp and golden. Drain cooked bacon on a plate lined with a paper towel (fold it into two for double thickness and extra oil-absorbency).
- While the bacon is cooking, chop the hard boiled eggs into chunks, no need to be exact, and place in a bowl.
- Add green/spring onion and dill to the bowl with the eggs. Add bacon (well drained of residual oil) and mayonnaise.
- Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Toss gently (Gently now…the eggs will break, there’s no avoiding this, but you don’t want to pulverize them) to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

This egg salad is based on the egg salads of my childhood, perked up with some fresh herbs, and tailored to suit my love for bacon. Bacon and eggs go together so well don’t you think? :) I like my eggs in not-too-small chunks and the mayonnaise to coat every piece…not too much but not too little either because, as horrible as this makes me sound, I love mayonnaise (trust me; I have tried to cure myself of this affliction to no avail). Pile onto a greens-lined slice of wheat bread…I love this with either arugula or alfalfa sprouts, but all I had was the romaine you see in the photo.

My mom doesn’t make much egg salad anymore. If we go on a long road trip together we are more likely to stop for coffee somewhere along the way (now that coffee shops abound and her daughter can drink it with her) than take along a bag of sandwiches. I think however, that the time is ripe to bring back this old tradition. We will now have a little non-coffee drinker on our trips after all. And I can make the egg salad :)

Cold times for you boy

Leeds is snow town again. I have mixed feelings about this. Coldness and increased chances of falling in public are bad. Snow accessories however, are fabulous!
Check this statue lady I found in Berlin. She is rocking the snow hat look.
Makes one want to go into hibernation... wait a sec, a sleeping bag that looks like a freaking bear! Must be Japanese.
I am currently trying to find someone to rent my room when I leave for Spain. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration I found this simple but perfect Housmate wanted advert. Genius.

Miyazaki wow

A real life Cat bus/car. Huge respect and small amounts of jealousy

Eating Animals, The Book

Let me preface this discussion by saying that, yes, it is true. I am a vegetarian. But I'm not the kind of vegetarian that forces my beliefs down the throats of friends, family, or any random passer by that happens to cross my path. I don't appreciate it when people tell me that what I believe is wrong, so I try not to treat other people with the same disrespect. That said, today, while I was engaged in a completely tedious and boring work activity, I passed the time by listening to various audio clips of writer Jonathan Safran Foer discussing his book Eating Animals. The more I listened, the more I realized something: I need to do more, personally, to make sure that what I'm eating is coming from a healthy and clean source, not a place that abuses animals or pollutes the earth, not one that makes me, or others, ill.

To some, that may seem like an obvious statement to make and, no, it wasn't a complete epiphany for me, either. It's not as though JSF was telling me anything that I hadn't heard, and thought about, before. As a person that is already conscious about what I eat, a person who already reads ingredient lists, and is concerned with animal welfare, his words didn't shock me, but they did serve as a reminder, a reminder to not be so lazy. As consumers, we come to rely on packaging and labels, which often, don't mean anything at all. Free Range, Cage Free, Organic, these words don't necessarily mean what we think they do. We have to take it upon ourselves to find out where our food is coming from.

I know that this is a dessert blog, so at first I wasn't sure if this would even be relevant, but then I realized that the major components of baking, ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, are also a large part of factory farming. I'm not telling you what to do or how to eat, but I think it's important information, even if you eat meat, to know where that meat is coming from, how the animal was raised and treated and processed. Even small changes, even minor adjustments, in the way we eat food, in the way we think about it, can make a big difference. Just something to consider.

Apple Galette

I love having a stash of all sorts of food items squirreled away in my freezer. Not just any old things, but homemade edibles safely packed and put down for a chilly nap, to have on hand for any emergency, and to be woken up when needed. Different kinds of stock and soup, cookie dough, small batches of béchamel, meatballs and burger patties already formed, apportioned tubs of slow-cooked meat sauce, pie dough, and anything else homemade and freezable.

Oh the smug contentment of knowing you have these nourishing provisions at the ready! Set to be whipped out at a moment’s notice. Perhaps when you are too busy to get a proper dinner on, or you have sudden surprise visitors….or you are just in the mood for some pie.

Apple Galette
(pie dough recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours as adapted by Cenk of Cafe Fernando, filling adapted from Cenk’s recipe)

For the pie dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 sticks of butter, cut into small chunks and chilled in the freezer for about 20 minutes
  • 1/3 cup ice water
    • For the filling:

    • 2 – 2 1/2 apples (approximately 500 grams – I used Fuji apples), peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1 egg, slightly beaten (for assembly)
        • - Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor using a metal blade.
          - Remove butter from freezer, add it in the processor, and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal. Do not over mix! The pieces don’t have to be uniform. Dorie says some can be the size of fat peas and some the size of barley.
          - Add ice water little by little, pulsing once in between each addition, until the dough forms clumps and curds (I lessened the water from 1/2 cup to 1/3 due to the moisture already present in my air). Again, do not over mix! Chunks of butter in the dough are fine (yum!) :)
          - Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead just to incorporate dry ingredients.
          - Divide the dough into two even balls. Flatten balls into disks and wrap individually in plastic.
          - Refrigerate dough for at least an hour (at this point you can stash one disc in the freezer for future use if you are not going to use all the dough).
          - Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between two sheets of baking parchment (you can roll dough directly on a floured work surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap but parchment works best for me) into a rough 11-inch circle. When rolling, turn dough over frequently and lift the parchment so it doesn’t form creases. Trim the edges to form a clean circle (I didn’t, oops!).
          - Place your flattened dough (covered in the parchment) back in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill again.
          - Remove dough from fridge, peel of top layer of parchment, and transfer the dough, on the bottom layer of parchment, to a sheet pan or pizza pan (I used one of those pizza pans with holes on the bottom).
          - Mix 1/2 tablespoon of the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl and spread on the bottom of the dough.
          - Toss apples with the rest of the cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
          - Arrange the fruit on the bottom of the dough, leaving 2 inches of dough left outside.
          - Fold up and pleat the dough (as best you can) over the top of the fruit, leaving the center uncovered.
          - Lightly brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle both the dough and the fruit with sugar (I used Demerara sugar with large crystals).
          - Place the galette in 400F oven and cook for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
          - Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack immediately.

          This isn’t a pie per se but a free-form tart, or galette if you want to sound cute and French (which I must admit I sometimes do). Unlike a pie you don’t need a special tin or even a top crust to make this. Just roll out the dough, nestle the fruits in the middle, pull up the edges (as neat or as messily as you want), and place on any flat baking pan. Pop in the oven and that’s that!

          I have made this before using plums and nectarines and it is just as charming with apples, although of a different charm altogether. While the plums and nectarines were bright and tart and cheery, the cinnamon-perfumed apples are pure cozy comfort. I like both and I’d be hard-pressed to choose one over the other but I think it does say something that both C and my mom liked this one better.

          I didn’t peel the apples when I made this as I thought it would add some color, and, truth be told, I was lazy. I do recommend you peel them though (and have indicated peeled apples in the recipe) as it can be a bit awkward when trying to cut your slice with a fork.

          I used the Good For Almost Anything pie dough from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, as I did in the plum and nectarine version. I have typed out the recipe again here because this pie crust is truly so wonderful that I do believe it deserves repeating. For this galette I used some dough that had been sitting in the freezer for (the shame!) months. Aside from its old age, it was extremely hot in my kitchen making the dough too soft…I was sure it would be a disaster. But Dorie’s crust must be imbued with magical powers because from less than promising conditions it still emerged golden and flaky and absolutely delicious!

          One batch of dough will give you enough for two galettes, so you can store one in the freezer for the future. And as far any homemade-goods-freezer-stash goes, this is definitely an excellent addition!

          Grey Saturday

          Some colourful thoughts for a grey day.
          Possibly my favourite memory. An evening spent in a El Refugio Posadas with Canada, the orphans and Pablo the the Tango dancer.

          Home Sweet Home. I am looking forward to discovering the new characters inhabiting my bedrooom.

          A look to future. Soon I will be in Spain, land of cheese and ham. This is a most comforting thought.

          Creative Carne

          Most mornings I read the New Yorker.

          Today, however, I decided to skip the politics and poetry, as I was majorly distracted by this picture of beef alphabet.

          Inspiration Board: Kiss

          Anyone who reads this site religiously or anyone who knows me personally, knows that I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. It's not because I'm not romantic or sentimental. I just think it's silly, the way some people make such a big deal about it. Don't even get me started on Sweetest Day! Just writing the words "Sweetest Day" makes me angry! :-) That said, even I cannot resist the perfect Valentine card or the perfect Valentine cookie, so when my brother sent me this picture of the Kiss cookies that his friend made for her man on Valentine's Day, I immediately went, awwww. They are just sooo awesome! Make them for your man friend today or tomorrow or some other random day. Not because it's Valentine's Day, but just because you love him. :-) Check out more inspiring Kiss desserts below.

          Kiss Cupcakes by Clever Cupcakes

          Kiss Cake, from Kiss Online

          Luis Vuiton, Wes Anderson and embossed palm trees..My oh my. All my luggage based dreams have come true.

          Oi oi hefty bird!

          On a recent trip home,
          London I think, must be only capital where you can find a geezer having a disgreement with a massive Pelican.

          What a city.

          Four guilty pleasures and a classic

          A little obvious, but critics and directors commonly, and somewhat tragically forget that films should be enjoyed. Films should make you laugh, howl, squeal, jump off your seat and change your facebook status. A good film is one you'll find yourself quoting for the week to come, better still, when its become deeply unfashionable but you still can't resist it!
          True Whasssssssssssuuuuup style.

          With this in mind, I will always defend Snakes on a Plane.

          Once, during a class brain storming session in Camberwell we discussed what this accidental masterpiece would have been like as a british comedy; 'Snakes on a train'. We set it on the northern line, the darkest and unholiest of underground routes, and quickly realised it probably would have been a massive fail, as the cold hearted travellers, in true London style, would simply have ignored the Massive, hormone crazed reptiles and carried on reading the Metro.

          My next guilty pleasure: Mr Deeds

          This was the film which made me realise I laugh like a banshee. Amazing performances by Steve Buschemi and John McEnroe. 5/5

          Another unlikely must see: Planet Terror

          Look at the poster. I have always loved the combination of red, black and white, but yellow makes the whole thing more brassy, disgusting and brilliant. Tacky, fantastic is Planet Terror. I have been tirelessly promoting this film for a while now but to no avail. I simply don't see what's not to love. An opening scene with Bruce Willis, followed by Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas getting ripped apart by flesh crazed Zombies.

          Visually this is a feast of a film. It is also a fountain of beautiful quotes, my personal favourite being, 'YOU FUCKED WITH THE WRONG MEXICAN!'.

          Give it a go, you will be very pleasently suprised.

          Shouldn't work but it does: Harold and Kumar get the munchies
          Ok, I downloaded the wrong poster. But honestly, this is not a stylish, clever or original film. It is however, ridiculously funny. Sometimes, thinking is overated, and for those blissfully mindless times 'Harold and Kumar get the Munchies' is the film for you.

          On a more serious note: Curse of the Golden Flower

          Words and stills do not do this film justice. It is pure action. From the swishing of the heavy, embroidered gowns to the epic battle scenes and thousands of flying ninjas who weave their way through the sky at night.

          As a rule of thumb I like films about dysfunctional families; Tenembaums (tick), Todo Sobre mi Madre (tick), Spirited Away (tick), etc. But Curse of the Golden Flower takes the biscuit.

          It tells the tale of Chinese dynsty. A family of power hungry, corrupt, lusty evil characters who trapped in their palace rituals are driven to madness.
          I think this my most tense film viewing to date. I wanted to run straight into the screen and save everybody. Yimou Zhong somehow makes his onscreen monsters so vulnerable that they remain human despite the insane plot, unbelievable special effects, and extemely stylised mise-en-scene. Just incredible.

          This film will also appeal to anybody who likes the colour gold.

          Darn it!

          Some one beat me to my own biography.

          Pickled Japanese Cucumbers

          A couple of Japanese cucumbers followed me home from the market. They lay in my crisper all slender and green. They seemed to be taunting me, and all other tubby cucumbers out there, with their lean taut bodies. So smug they sat, unblinking, secure in the knowledge of their perfection.

          I made short work of them. Oh yes I did. Now they are pickled for me to enjoy at my leisure…their crisp tart deliciousness.

          I used to strongly dislike pickles. Once upon a time, when I was just a little girl, and all the pickles I knew of were sweet pickle relish (which I can’t eat to this day) and sad dill pickles that had sat too long on a supermarket shelf. When I started cooking however, I discovered a whole other world of pickles. Pickles that were far afield from the sad specimens of my childhood. Pickles you made yourself with ingredients carefully chosen and infused with all kinds of different flavors. Pickles from all over the world – Japan (I love Japanese pickles!), Slovakia, and right here in my beloved islands.

          I don’t have an actual pickle recipe, as I’ve mentioned here. Since my pickles are done in small batches and stored in the refrigerator (as opposed to long-term storage for my non-existent winter) I don’t go through strenuous sterilization procedures. I usually use a base of vinegar, salt, and sugar, then add whatever else, by way of herbs and spices, that suit my present mood. With these Japanese cucumbers I used rice vinegar (delicious for pickles!) and a lot of freshly cracked black pepper (which I love with cucumber pickles). Some salt, some sugar, and a short nap in the fridge to chill, and they are ready! Excellent side for fish or grilled pork, or tucked into a ham sandwich.

          Now I love pickles. I still avoid sweet pickle relish and those ages-old jars of dill pickles on the supermarket shelves, but I have embraced the rest of the pickle world with much affection and fervor. Not only are they, I’ve found, delicious, they are also an excellent way to preserve vegetables…if perhaps you have a bit too much on your hands, or if you are simply tired of looking at a couple of skinny cucumbers! ;)

          ***check out the lovely pickles here! This will be next on my list of pickle recipes to try...

          Edible Art: Ticings

          What am I going completely gaga over at this very moment? These adorable cake decorations from Ticings! Boring old cakes, cookies, and cupcakes are completely transformed into something fun and interesting simply by adding one of these pieces of edible icing. It's such a great way to turn everyday treats into something unique. I'm already thinking about which one I want to try first! Oh, and they're totally gluten free and kosher! Click here to check out all the designs online.