14 May 2010

In which I meet Annabel Karmel...

As you may have guessed from yesterday's post, I had an exciting day in London on Wednesday, when I headed down to the launch of Annabel Karmel's latest book (Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Pasta Dishes).

I'd never been to a book launch before, so had no idea what to expect. Thankfully for a book launch all about food, it involved lots of cooking (and most importantly - eating!).

When M was small, a friend gave me Annabel's Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner - and it was excellent. It's really good for giving you ideas of things you can mix together in purees, and for giving you an idea about quantities - I'd no clue how much a 6-month-old baby could eat, or indeed how many carrots/bananas/apricots that would take.

But since M was a year or so old, we've all eaten together - so I've never really gone back to any of Annabel's baby/toddler recipes, or thought to hunt any more of hers out. So it was interesting to see some of her more family-oriented food at this launch.

She started off the session by cooking pork and beef meatballs with tagine sauce - which looked dead easy. I loved the fact that the sauce is made with chopped tomatoes and butternut squash (one of my favourite vegetables, but one that M hates - cannily hidden here by blending). However, the final dish was too bland for me - the spice content would definitely have to be upped in our house.

Next, we had a go at cooking along with Annabel, making pasta salad with marinated chicken and roasted peppers. Here's the three stooges (hello Nova and Young Mummy!) chopping peppers and trying not to laugh at the absurdity of having your every move followed by a camera crew and photographer:

I have to say, the pasta salad was delicious (and I scoffed the lot on the train home later). It'd be great for lunchboxes (my next delight once M starts school in the autumn), and had one of my favourite veg (pea shoots), and a lovely marinade.

Next, we watched Annabel produce some pasta , and make spinach and ricotta ravioli. I've got a pasta machine that's currently gathering dust in the cupboard, and had forgotten how much fun making the dough is. Mind, I realised on the train home that you could just make ravioli by finding some very thin fresh lasagne sheets - which would make the recipe even easier. Here's Annabel and a very long piece of pasta:

We had a go at making the ravioli too, with some pre-prepared sheets of pasta. Here's my attempt (which sadly died on the train journey home, so I have yet to report on how it tastes):

All in all, it was a great session, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here's me, and a teeny-tiny Annabel (if I'd known there were going to be so many photographers/film crew there, I'd have slung a bit of lippy on, but there you go):

I reckon it's a good book - lots of interesting recipes that you could cook for everyone. I would never have thought of buying it for us (I have several hundred cookbooks, most of which don't go down the 'family' angle), but we'll definitely give some of the recipes a go - especially the more 'lunchbox' variety. It'd also be really good for folk who have fussy kids (start 'em on pasta - who knows where they'll end up?), or who are looking for recipes that can feed a toddler tea before a grown-up one.

Drawbacks? The portion sizing isn't particularly clear (it's easy enough in the baby section to see that it's 4 baby portions or whatever, but in the general recipes there's no clue given as to whether you're feeding 4 adults, 4 toddlers or a mixture of the two). And the other half wasn't particularly enamoured of the look and feel of the book (it's apparently something that dads would definitely not pick up off the shelf) - although the photography is great.

It'll be interesting to see what angle Annabel does next - she's written 19 books, and shows no signs of stopping...

1 comment:

Annabel Karmel said...

Just getting around to reading your fabulous blog about the pasta book launch (lovely photos). I hope you enjoyed yourself - great to meet you. Love Annabel x