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Sunday 12:30-13:00
Rpt: Monday 16:00-16:30
From amaranth to zabaglione, Sheila Dillon and Derek Cooper investigate every aspect of the food we eat.
Listen to the Food Programme for12 December 2004            

Sheila Dillon
Simon Parkes
Andrew Jefford
Derek Cooper
Sheila Dillon, Andrew Jefford and Simon Parkes, Derek Cooper
12 December 2004       
Gerard Baker and students from Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies

Is there an art to writing about food and which are the best books about food and cookery published during 2004? In this week's Food Programme, Sheila Dillon and her guests discuss the titles and the themes that have emerged from the food world in the last twelve months.

Sheila is joined by Tom Jaine, owner of Prospect Books, former chef, former editor of the Good Food Guide and author of the classic Making Bread at Home ...Alistair Little, chef, co-author of various books, including Keep it Simple and since he got out of restaurants, owner of the Tavola delicatessen in west London; and Bee Wilson who has a weekly food column in the Sunday Telegraph, is a historian at St John's College Cambridge and recently wrote her first book, The Hive, The Story Of The Honey Bee And Us.

The panel identify some interesting trends, such as the reissuing of classic food books, the rise of writing about food politics and books on single issues, for example meat and offal.

The subject that really absorbs the panel is what makes a good food writer? We hear from adult students at City University , who have been attending a food writing class and their tutor Rosemary Stark. This is the first course on food writing ever held in Britain and the ten week course was instantly over subscribed. Sheila and her guests discuss what makes a good food writer and the key to a good recipe.

We then hear from Nigel Slater, Observer columnist and author of many cookery books. The students held him as a model of recipe writing and he's won many awards for his work. He tells Sheila what he thinks the secret is to writing recipes that make people want to run to the kitchen.

The panel then choose their books of the year.

Bee Wilson
McGee on Food and Cooking - Harold McGee
The Constance Spry Cookery Book - Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume
Not On the Label - Felicity Lawrence

Alistair Little
Gastronomy of Italy - Anna Del Conte (two versions, concise and illustrated)
The River Cottage Meat Book - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
McGee on Food and Cooking - Harold McGee
The Handmade Loaf - Dan Lepard

Tom Jaine
Casa Moro - Sam and Sam Clark
Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring a Gallimaufry - Alice Thomas Ellis
Harumi's Japanese Cooking - Harumi Kurihara

Books mentioned in the programme

Nose to Tail Eating - Fergus Henderson published by Bloomsbury Publishing - ISBN 0747572577
The Fifth Quarter, an Offal Cookbook - Anissa Helou published by Abolute Press - ISBN 1904573215
The River Cottage Meat Book - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall published by Hodder & Stoughton - ISBN 0340826355
The End of the Line - Charles Clover published by Ebury Press - ISBN 0091897807
Shopped - Joanna Blythman published by Fourth Estate - ISBN 0007158033
The Constance Spry Cookery Book - Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume published by Grub Street - ISBN 1904010970
The Pedant in the Kitchen - Julian Barnes published by Guardian Books - ISBN 1843542390
Zuni Cafe Cookbook - Judy Rodgers (published in the USA, not yet published in the UK)
Appetite - Nigel Slater (from which we take the recipe, Lamb on the Grill) published by Fourth Estate - ISBN 1841154709
Real Fast Food - Nigel Slater published by ePenguin - ISBN B000065VUO
McGee on Food and Cooking - Harold McGee published by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd - ISBN 035779108642
Not On the Label - Felicity Lawrence published by Penguin Books - ISBN 0141015667
Gastronomy of Italy - Anna Del Conte (two versions, concise and illustrated) published by Pavilion - ISBN 1862056625
The Handmade Loaf - Dan Lepard published by Mitchell Beazley - ISBN 1840009667
Casa Moro - Sam and Sam Clark published by Ebury Press - ISBN 0091894492
Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring a Gallimaufry - Alice Thomas Ellis published by Virago Press - ISBN 1844080854
Harumi's Japanese Cooking - Harumi Kurihara published by Conran Octopus - ISBN 1840914084
Making Bread at Home - Tom Jaine published by Weidenfeld Nicolson - ISBN 1841881600
Keep it Simple - Alistair Little and Richard Whittington published by Conran Octopus - ISBN 1850299080


Lamb on the Grill

The branding-iron scars that you get from cooking meat on the bars or ridges of a grill are guaranteed to add to it savour. The ideal is surely a discreet charring on the surface with a thick layer of juicy, very pink meat within.

There is no point in pussyfooting around with this. If that is what you have an appetite for, plus the bonus of a bone to chew, then I suggest you go for lamb chops cooked with scorching heat and robust seasonings.

Think garlic, lemon, thyme, rosemary, mint, anchovy (strange but true) and oregano. I would also vote for mustard but I know many who would disagree.

The French mixture of dried herbs known as herbes de Provence, made from rubbed thyme, savory, fennel seed and often lavender, is good here too.

Whatever, you want a cooking method that produces smoke rather than steam, and woody herbs that can stand the heat of the grill. In other words, only cook and season lamb with something that will make your kitchen smell like a Mediterranean village on a summer's evening.


garlic - a small clove per chop
olive oil - fruity and green
oregano, rosemary or thyme
lamb chops - one heavy chump chop per person
lemon - half per chop, big and juicy


Mash the peeled garlic cloves to a paste with a little sea salt. You can do this with a pestle and mortar if you have several to feed, but squashing the garlic and salt on to a chopping board with the flat of a kitchen knife will work for one or two. Add enough oil to make the garlic paste loose enough
to massage into the chops.

Mix in a few good pinches of chopped oregano, finely chopped young rosemary leaves (they should be dark green and tender) or chopped young thyme leaves per chop. Grind in some black pepper. Now massage the paste into the meat with your hands.

Warm a ridged grill pan over a moderate heat. It is hot enough when you can feel the heat rising if you hold your hand a few inches above it. Put the chops on the grill pan, pressing them down on to the bars with a palette knife.

You want the meat to have formed a thin, deeply savoury crust on the outside with charred black lines where it has been on the ridges of the grill pan. This will take about three minutes. Now turn the chop over, crumble over some sea salt and cook the other side. It is ready when the centre of the chop is as you like it. For me, that is deep rose pink and juicy.

© Nigel Slater. Food website

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