This is a quick comparison series using the SLR Magic 35mm f1.7 lens I bought recently. The first two are shot with the Magic, the first at f1.7, and the second stopped down - unfortunately I can’t quite remember how much, and as the lens is manual there is limited EXIF info. The third was shot on the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6.
I love the effect of the Magic - although if I were shooting for a client I would definitely cover myself by shooting on a conventional lens in case they didn’t understand that the softness was deliberate!
The lens is small and neat with an excellent lens hood and feels solid and well made - it’s a real bargain for about £60. You can buy it on Ebay.
The beautiful loaf was made by my brother-in-law. He makes these enticing sourdough loaves from a starter yeast that he made about a year ago, and bakes them in a huge wood fired oven he built at Moon’s Green, in Kent
This was a favourite dish before I discovered I was gluten intolerant - it just doesn’t taste the same with gluten free pasta, and most significantly the texture is all wrong. Frustrating having to photograph it and not to be able to taste it!
Chocolate Mocha Mousse
This rich, velvety mousse was one of the first things I learned to cook and was my party piece when my parents were entertaining. it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge until serving. (As it contains raw egg it should not be served to the young, pregnant women, elderly people or those whose immune systems are weak.)
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours to chill
● 175 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
● knob of unsalted butter
● 3 large eggs, separated
● 2 tbsp espresso or strong coffee
● 1 pinch salt
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes - do not allow the bowl to touch the water. When it has all melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate with the coffee.In a clean bowl using clean whisks, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the whites into the chocolate mixture until completely incorporated. Divide the chocolate mousse between 4 serving dishes or small cups and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. Remove the mousse from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, to soften slightly.
My first trip abroad without parents, was when I was 18 and went to Spain. We stayed in a youth hostel and when we made day trips from there were given wonderful packed lunches of hefty slices of potato tortillas in coarse local bread, wrapped up in a paper parcel. Olive oil would seep through the paper as we carried them about and generally they wouldn’t make it as far as lunch! Despite the plainness of this rather solid seeming meal it was delicious and sustaining and I was delighted to find a similar looking tortilla in Whitecros Street market, just by the studio on a Portuguese stall. I think it tastes perhaps even better than the tortilla of my memory and is rather lighter served without the bread!
Portuguese Potato Tortilla
250gm cooked potatoes (still firm)
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled & chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Heat a 10” frying pan and saute potatoes, onions and garlic in the olive oil. Beat eggs with salt and pepper and pour over hot vegetables. Loosen the edge of the omelette an allow the still uncooked egg to run underneath. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. urn the omelette onto a plate and slide it back into the hot pan to cook the other side.
Cook for about 2 more minutes.
This is delicious hot or cold and can even be made into a sandwich with good light mediterranean bread.
One of the joys of autumn is finding wild mushrooms, and this year the weather has been just right for them to continue right through into November. In particular we have had masses of Parasol mushrooms and I have made risottos, turned them into fragrant sauces for chicken or steak or simply eaten them on toast for breakfast.
They do, however, seem a very mysterious foodstuff. Their texture is like nothing else and I am always surprised how the huge pile of pale firm mushroom pieces one puts into the pan, becomes in moments something dark and soft and fragrant, of an entirely different nature. Coming across Parasols in the fields is sometimes almost shocking - there was nothing there yesterday - but here are suddenly these stately tall structures. Is it wicked to take them when they have lived above ground for such a short time?