….through the cooking glass …

glass_shadow_wb_5000As with Alice, the reverse can be, and often is, the truth. The real joy lies in the contents of the cooking glass passing through the cook. Sadly there is no clear reference as to how much joy can be enjoyed before the moment when the eyes and mind mist over, with an excess of joy, and the recipe, so keenly followed until this elusive moment, metamorphoses into a periec, or more often, a burnt periec. Removing the joy from cooking would be like removing the joy from something else that I once read about, which is also very good: something about too many spoilt cooks in a brothel, I think.

Back to the glass in hand. The sun has come out, I’ve cast my clout and summer has officially begun. Summer cooking is now on my mind. So many books have been penned on the subject, but only one remains foremost in my mind: Summer Cooking by Elizabeth David. This is an anorexically slim book, which speaks volumes about the possibilities  of good eating and straight forward cooking in this longed for season which, unlike the book, has a habit of disappointing. The volumes that it speaks are not concerned with long and convoluted recipes; rather with familiarising us with the idea of summer and the pleasures of the wealth of produce, synonymous with this season. This description of a summer hors d’oeuvre sets the tone:

A dish of long red radishes, cleaned, but with a little of the green leaves left on, a dish of mixed green and black olives, a plate of raw, round, small whole tomatoes, a dish of hard (not too hard) boiled eggs cut lengthways and garnished with a bunch of parsley. A pepper mill and a salt mill, lemons and olive oil on the table; butter, and fresh bread. Not very original perhaps, but how often does one meet with a really fresh and unmessed hors d’oeuvre?”

A good rule of thumb, in summer months, is to keep cooking as simple as possible, so as to be able to sample the contents of the cooking glass with impunity. With this in mind I’d suggest a starter of radishes with salted  butter: ideally they’d be pink radishes served with toast and butter from the Vendéen coast, studded with crystals of sea salt.


Follow this with a simple puff pastry tart with cherry tomatoes and goat cheese.  First cook the tomatoes in a hot oven, until they are starting to caramelise. Next, cook off a disc of shop made puff pastry until it is puffed and golden brown. Cover the crisp puff pastry with a layer of tomatoes and stud it with discs of goat cheese.  Cook until the cheese is melting and the tomatoes have burnt, sticky edges.


That’s certainly enough cooking for this Alice.  To finish, just cut open some ripe and sweetly scented pêches plates, lay back and pretend that it’s not raining.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, baking, Cheese, Cookery Writers, Cooking, desserts, Drinks, Eggs, Elizabeth David, Excellence, Expectation, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Fruit, goat cheese, Hard boiled eggs, Humour, Olive oil, peaches, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, puff pastry, radishes, Recipes, sea salt, summer, tart, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vendee, Wine, wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to ….through the cooking glass …

  1. ambrosiana says:

    Beautiful pictures!! The first one is breath-taking!!! Aren’t those peaches the juiciest ones you have ever tried???

  2. Sally says:

    I’m a big fan of the cook’s glass.

  3. I am proud to say that you TRIED to teach me. You are a master photographer. Really.

  4. My chef friend Nico first taught us the French tradition of radishes with salted butter. Divine. I am drooling over these photos…….and craving peaches again.

  5. Oh, yum. I am off to pass another glass through the household cook. It is that civilised hour they call wine o’clock.

  6. SidevieW says:

    wondedrful thought, fresh ingredients simle and tasty

  7. Cooking with a glass of wine …….is devine…..

  8. Quelle belle pêche! And what a delicious post!

  9. This is a perfect summer lunch. Thanks for sharing, Alice! I meant Roger… 😉

  10. It is raining in Sydney, but not now in my heart. Thank you for summer thoughts.

  11. Mad Dog says:

    The glass makes it easier for the chef to find umami in the food 😉
    I like radishes very much, but despite the efforts of Parisian friends, I never got the idea (or taste) of cutting a slit in them and poking in a little butter.
    Your pictures definitely show summer – phew!

  12. Eha says:

    Amazing how many of us reach for our Elizabeth Davids . . . and that glass which supplies us with the right touch . . . love your meal but have to hurry to look up ‘periec’: my ‘foreign’ heritage shows even after all these years 🙂 !

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    It will be weeks before I’ll be able to enjoy a ripe peach, though the markets are filling with pretenders. I’m not so sure about the buttery radishes, but that tart is something I’ll try once my tomatoes start coming in. That opening photo has convinced me to have a cocktail before bed. Thanks, Roger! 😉

    • It’s worth try the radish thing, John. The plan is that you bite off a bit of the radish, then put a tiny knob of butter on the exposed flesh, eat butter and radish followed by a mouthful of good, toasted, cereal bread. It surprised me how good it was when I first tried it.

  14. Beautiful, beautiful shots. Am a huge fan of the cook’s glass and agree that to omany cook in a brothel really tend to mess things up 😉

  15. fransiweinstein says:

    Oh my God, i can taste it all. Gorgeous photos. I love radishss with butter and salt. And those peaches are my favourite. I have just devoured two of them. They are called donut peaches here.

  16. cecilia says:

    I absolutely and completely agree about the simplicity of summer dishes, there is no reason to dress up superb fresh produce. I am intrigued by the tomato on pastry, that sounds like something I might like to try, though around your pool would probably be the best Place to try it. You love peaches, you always save the best light for the peaches. We are pulling radishes just like those ones too, gorgeous colour.. c

    • I’m very envious of your fresh radishes. Just wait for your tomatoes and that tart will be great. If you know someone who makes goat cheese, even better. Come to think of it, Celi, isn’t it about time you got a goat or two?

  17. Michelle says:

    You’ve definitely captured summer.

  18. Look at that puff pastry! I may have to make that before I start another cleanse!

  19. Karen says:

    What a great photo of your cooking glass, Roger. We are planting our tomatoes in Maine tomorrow and I’ll be counting the days until I can make your lovely tart.

  20. A beautifully photographed food post. I’ve never eaten radishes with anything else but sliced in a salad. Might try the simplicity of butter and toast as an accompaniment. We just had a delivery of yellow peaches, not donut peaches, from a company we subscribe to: Farm Fresh to You. They were divine – especially when there’s a dribble of juice permanently on your chin as you eat one (as opposed to the too hard peaches I have become so used to seeing in the supermarkets). Sending sun from LA.

  21. What a gorgeous tart! Must try that soon. With a glass of wine in hand.

  22. J’adore la photo des radis! Ils ont l’air si frais!

  23. Sunlight through a glass of rosé, yes, that’s summer, and simple fresh food too. You’ve got all that here and it looks wonderful!

  24. Pingback: The Kitchens are in a Pickle | from the Bartolini kitchens

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