Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Diagram Prize Shortlist 2013

diagram_odd_titles_2The Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year have just issued their 2013 shortlist. The shortlist includes such wacky titles as ‘Was Hitler Ill?’ and ‘How to Sharpen Pencils’. Why not have your say…the prize is awarded by public vote. View the shortlist and vote at The winner will be announced on Friday 22 March.

Book review

martyrHaving been a fan of C J Sansom’s books for quite a while, I’ve been looking around for other authors who also set crime novels in Tudor England. I’ve come across Rory Clements whose books feature a John Shakespeare (and yes there is a connection to William!) who works as part of Walsingham’s extensive network of spies. His first is “Martyr”, which I’ve enjoyed, as it’s well researched and believable.It’s also a very satisfyingly long novel, again like the Shardlake series. There are others in the series and I’d certainly recommend them to anyone who enjoys C J Sansom’s novels.


Jamie at homeJamie GBJamie 15A little something for the weekend- a Rhubarb Bellini from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie at Home’. Jamie Oliver has encouraged so many new cooks, improved school meals, promoted British cooking and now he’s showing us how to cook at speed in his latest book ‘Jamie’s 15-minute meals’ Give it a try!
Jamie’s Rhubarb bellini
300 g rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced, 75 g sugar,1 bottle Prosecco or Champagne.
Put the rhubarb, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water in a small pan with a lid on top. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes then remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the consistency is like a thick compote. Blend with a hand blender or in a liquidizer until smooth. Leave to cool then divide the purée between six glasses. Pour over your fizz, stirring as you pour, until the glass is three-quarters full. Top it up with bubbles and enjoy!

Three good things on a plate

RC everyRC CookHugh picRhubarb goes well in savoury dishes too and here’s a simple idea from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘Three good things on a plate’ for using it with fish. There’s more River Cottage style ideas in ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day’, ‘River Cottage Cookbook’ and ‘River Cottage Every Day’.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Mackerel, oatmeal and rhubarb.
Serves 2
2 medium rhubarb stems or 3-4 smaller ones, 20g caster sugar, pinch of thyme,4 mackerel fillets from 2 medium fish,100g medium oatmeal, rapeseed or sunflower oil for frying, Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Trim the rhubarb and cut into 2-3cm pieces. Place in a pan with the sugar and thyme and 1 tablespoon water. Simmer very gently for 5-7 minutes until tender. Don’t stir or it will lose its shape.
Season the mackerel fillets and spread out the oatmeal on a plate. Coat the fillets on both sides. If the oatmeal doesn’t stick, brush the fish with a little milk.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mackerel fillets, flesh side down and cook for 3 minutes until the oatmeal coating is crispy and golden brown. Then carefully flip them over and cook for 2 minutes on the skin side until cooked through. Transfer to warmed plates and serve with a spoonful of the warm rhubarb compote, some bread and a green salad.

Wakefield Local Studies Library reopens after repairs

Great News! Wakefield Local Studies library at Wakefield One has reopened after the recent closure to allow essential maintenence to take place. Thanks to all our users for their patience whilst the repairs were in progress. We are totally ready and raring to go to help you with your local and family history research again and look forward to welcoming you back soon!

The Fabulous Baker Brothers

Baker 2F Baker brothersThe Fabulous Baker Brothers are in town! You can see just how fabulous they are in the Rhubarb Festival’s Cookery theatre (details here) and pick up some great recipes too. We have their book ‘The Fabulous Baker Brothers’ in library stock of course and we will be buying their new title ‘Glorious British Grub’,published on 28th February. Here’s their recipe for Rhubarb Queen of Puddings. I tried this out and it’s delicious but I’d suggest that if you don’t have a temperature probe make the meringue in the usual way by missing out the water and beating the cold sugar into the egg whites. Pile on top of the base and cook until golden.

The Fabulous Baker Brothers’ Rhubarb Queen of Puddings
Base: 50g butter, 600ml milk, 150g fresh breadcrumbs, 25g sugar, 4 egg yolks, Zest 1-2 lemons
Rhubarb: 200g rhubarb, 50g caster sugar, zest 1 orange, 1 vanilla pod, 1 small sprig rosemary
Meringue: 75ml water, 200g caster sugar, 4 egg whites.
Heat oven to 180 C
To make the base, melt 50g of butter in a pan with 600ml of milk. Stir in 150g fresh white breadcrumbs and 25g sugar. Leave to cool and thicken for a while, then stir in the yolks of 4 eggs and the zest of 1-2 lemons. Put into a greased ovenproof dish and bake until set and golden (10-20 minutes)
Top and tail the rhubarb and cut into 2cm lengths. Place in a baking dish and sprinkle with 50g caster sugar and the zest of an orange. Split a vanilla pod and scrape the seeds of one half into the rhubarb. Put a small sprig of rosemary on top, cover with foil and bake at 180 C until the rhubarb is soft but not mushy, checking regularly. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Spoon the rhubarb over the bread base, reserving some of the liquid if there is too much.
For the meringue, place the water and sugar in a pan and bring to a soft boil, 121 C. Use a temperature probe for an accurate result. Beat the egg whites and the remaining vanilla seeds with an electric beater until firm, then with the beater running slowly, pour in the sugar syrup and whisk until cool, glossy and thick. Pipe on top of the rhubarb and bake the whole dish in the oven at 180 C for 20 minutes until the peaks are brown and the juice is bubbling through.

Yorkshire chef James Martin

James slowJames dessertsJames easyWho better to help you make the most of Yorkshire’s great produce than Yorkshire chef James Martin. His books are full of recipes that are easy to follow but so delicious. Try ‘Easy every day’, ‘Desserts’ or ‘Slow cooking: mouthwatering recipes with minimum effort’- that sounds just what I want. Here’s his recipie for Rhubarb and Ginger syllabub from ‘My Kitchen’

2 sticks of rhubarb, a 2.5 cm piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped, 4 tbsp caster sugar, 50ml white wine, 75g mascarpone, 250ml double cream, 2-4 tbsp icing sugar and a piece of crystallised ginger, finely chopped.
Put the rhubarb, root ginger and sugar in a saucepan with the white wine. Bring to a simmer over a low-medium heat without allowing it to boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the rhubarb is softened, then set aside to cool. When the mixture has cooled, mash 2 tablespoonfuls in a separate bowl. In another bowl, whip the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar and cream together and when the mixture forms soft peaks, fold in the mashed rhubarb and ginger mixture.
Spoon the rest of the poached rhubarb glasses then top with the mascarpone mixture and decorate with a sprinkle of crystallised ginger.

Rhubarb Festival

Rachel 2Rachel Allen picTo celebrate the Rhubarb Festival this weekend, every day this week we’ll be highlighting some of the fantastic cookery books we have in our libraries. Have you borrowed a Rachel Allen book? Rachel’s books are full of easy and delicious recipes. Look out for ‘Rachel’s Food for Living’, ‘Entertaining at Home’ and her latest, the irresistible ‘Cake’
To whet your appetite, try her Rhubarb muffins from ‘Easy Meals’
Rachel Allen’s Rhubarb muffins

150g soft light brown sugar, 1 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 100 ml buttermilk, 100g rhubarb finely diced, 175g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt.
Preheat oven to 200 C, Gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Place 125g of the sugar, the sunflower oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk in a bowl and beat until well mixed then stir in the rhubarb. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir lightly until combined.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases then sprinkle the remaining sugar on top. Bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to stand in the tin for a few minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

Experience Wakefield

exp_wakefield2If you are planning a day out, visit Wakefield’s new website Experience Wakefield. You’ll find lots of ideas for places to go and what’s on listings for festivals and holiday times (Don’t forget to plan a visit to your library too!)

Book Review

The-Sun-Hasnt-Fallen-from-the-Sky-book-cover-copyFrom the Reviews Page
”I’ve just finished reading “The sun hasn’t fallen from the sky” by Alison Gangel. It’s a memoir of a child growing up, firstly in Glasgow and then being transferred to a children’s home. It’s set in the 1970′s, yet at times it feels as though it’s set a lot earlier than that. Despite the poverty, there is hope that the child will progress into a better life as she shows a musical talent. I enjoyed this – it’s very different from what I normally read. There is quite a lot of Glasgow dialect but it’s easy to read and understand.”

I enjoyed this book too.Alison Gangel visited Wakefield Library a few months ago and spoke openly and very movingly about her life. Find out more about her at ‘New Writing North’

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