The idea of this blog is to share ideas for using hand-made pots to serve good food.

Eating with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I hope to show how the warmth and character of hand made ceramics can really enhance the pleasure of cooking, serving and eating food.

This blog will include pots from other potters as well as my own and recipes for the food which I enjoy, hoping that you will like it too.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Dinner

We had our family Christmas dinner early as my daughter, Miya, was going to Germany for Christmas.  Taja made some wonderful marinaded fish and tuna sashimi starters, beautifully presented on a couple of his serving platters.

My contribution was a chocolate roulade.  I found a Mary Berry recipe on the BBC Food website and added some fresh cherries poached in brandy (with stones removed) with the cream inside, and some raspberries to decorate.

In between the fish and the roulade we had a delicious roasted chicken with lots of veg and all the trimmings.

On Christmas Eve, a Scottish lady came into my showroom looking for an 'ashet'.  I didn't know what she meant.  She was looking for an 'ashet' big enough to serve her turkey on.  Unfortunately, the one I had was only chicken sized.  Intrigued by this word, I looked it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Volume 1, and discovered that it is a northern dialect word for a large plate - from the french, 'assiette'.
She did buy a jug for the gravy.

I'm hoping to make some larger serving platters next year, which will make good centre-pieces on the table and add to the sense of occasion,  when serving something a bit special.  Hopefully, I will be able to provide a suitable 'ashet' next time.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas Show at The Studio

My Christmas Show at The Studio opened at the weekend and will be continuing until Christmas.
It seems to need an event to make me re-do the display in the showroom.  Now it is looking festive and stylish for the Christmas season.  I have used photographs from my Pots and Food Calendar to show the pots in use.

No more deadlines before Christmas, so I am looking forward to developing some new work.
I want to make some larger serving platters and will try and get round to showing some work in progress on the blog.  Always difficult to remember to document work in progress, when you're caught up in actually making it.

I made my venison casserole yesterday, using the recipe from the Calendar.  I used some of the spiced mulled wine which was left over from the Christmas Show opening, which made it particularly delicious.  Mulled wine is always great for meaty casseroles as well as warming up the customers!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Art in Clay, Farnham

It seems longer, but it is just over a week ago that I was exhibiting at the Art in Clay show at The Maltings in Farnham.
It was a good show and I really enjoyed catching up with other potters who I haven't seen for a while.  It is always inspirational to get out of the workshop and see what other potters are doing.

I did a pot swap with Margaret Brampton, another slipware potter.  She had made a series of these lovely bowls with a simple pea-vine motif.

By coincidence, I had been looking at recipes for pea and mint soup, so perhaps they will be good bowls to serve it in, though I think the shape is more suited to a risotto.  I have had an asparagus risotto with a pea-shoot garnish, which would look great.

I'm looking forward to using it, and will post a recipe when I've had time to try it out.
Busy making and firing pots for my Christmas Show which opens this weekend.  I'll also be doing some cooking, as I'm planning to serve some nibbles based on recipes in my calendar.
Another busy week!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Stuffed mushrooms

This is another photo from my Pots and Food Calendar 2013.  The platter is the same one which I used for the Pavlova in June.  Those lovely cherry tomatoes love my pots, especially the ones with a dark green or dark blue rim, which show them off beautifully.

This recipe is one which I have used for many years, originally from the Observer, I think.  The tomatoes are stuffed with a mixture of bread-crumbs, an egg, some chopped tomato, crushed garlic, grated parmesan, olive oil, parsley and the chopped stalks of the mushrooms.  The mixture is topped with some extra bread-crumbs and drizzled with olive oil, then baked in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes.  Great for a starter and substantial enough for a main course, too.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Apple Cake

This is another image from my Pots and Food Calendar, which I collected from the printers last week.
I am really pleased with the photographs, taken by photographer, Jose Lasheras.  We also had help from Alison Clarkson, a food stylist, to compose the shots and show off the pots and food to the best advantage.

These are some new slab dishes in my grey and white range, which I have just started making again.  The muted colours are good for many kinds of food and the long slab platters lend themselves to many different uses.  For the decoration I have been using paper cut-outs in layers with white slip brushed over, using a coarse brush. If I want a strong brush texture, I sometimes use a brush made from Japanese rice straw.

The apple cake is my basic cake recipe.  The ingredients, which must be at room temperature, are all weighed, put in a large bowl and simply mixed together.  This mixture can be used to make a cake with fruit and nuts in various combinations, or chocolate cake by substituting an ounce of cocoa powder for an ounce of the flour.

Ingredients:  7 oz/200g brown sugar
                     8 oz/225g butter or soft margarine
                     9 oz/250g plain flour (white or wholemeal)
                     1 tsp baking powder
                     2-3 eggs
                     a few drops of vanilla extract
                     a pinch of salt
                    2-3 cooking apples
                    1 tsp cinnamon

Method:      Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6, 200 C
                   Weigh and mix the ingredients, except the apples and cinnamon, in a large mixing bowl.
                   Add enough milk to make a soft consistency if necessary.
                   Add one peeled and chopped apple to the mix.
                   You can also add chopped walnuts, dried prunes or apricots, if you like.
                   Spread the mixture into a lined baking tray.
                   Decorate the top with apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon mixed with a little sugar.
                   Because of the fruit, the cake can take quite a while to cook through. You just need to keep
                   an eye on it, so that the top doesn't burn.  Check it with the point of a knife until it comes
                   out clean.  Usually about 45 minutes.

It can be served warm or cold, with or without cream.  It is a useful cake as it doubles as a dessert and a tea-time treat.  Bon appetit!              

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mushrooms in Italy

As promised on my previous post, here are some Italian mushrooms.

I went on holiday to visit my son, Ben, who is farming in Italy.  When I arrived at the small town of Borgo val di Taro, near where he lives, there was a mushroom festival going on.  The streets were lined with stalls selling mushrooms and other local produce.  The man in the picture above is selling mushroom driers, an essential piece of kitchen equipment in the area, so you can keep all those lovely porcini to use through the winter.

I took a present of one of my oven dishes and was pleased to see that it felt very much at home in this lovely old farmhouse kitchen.   We took one of those baskets out to the woods near the house and came back with enough porcini for a delicious feast.  Iris also found a huge parasol mushroom which she dusted with flour and fried whole.

As you can see, it took up the whole pan!

No wonder that so many of the recipes in my new Pots and Food Calendar include mushrooms after that kind of inspiration.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Pots and Food Calendar 2013

Firstly, I must apologise for the long gap between posts.  It has been a very busy summer, mainly in the studio, though I did manage a trip to Italy, arriving in the mushroom season, which was great.

Last week was very much focussed on pots and food, as I did a photo shoot for a calendar for next year.  The calendar features a different dish, with recipes, for each month, presented on a selection of my pots.  Some of the recipes have already featured on this blog, but the images are all new.

I was lucky enough to be able to work with the photographer, Jose Lasheras, to create a series of mouth-watering shots. We had help from a food stylist, Alison Clarkson, who assisted us to make the most of each dish.  It was hard work, but a lot of fun, doing the photo-shoot, and my daughter, Hana has done a great job with the artwork, putting it all together.

It has certainly helped with my own Christmas present list, as the calendars come cellophane wrapped with their own envelope, so very easy to send to friends here and abroad.
I am selling the calendars (Size 30 x 30 cms) for £9.95 through the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and my showroom here at The Studio.  I am also making a special offer to people like you, who follow my blog - for £8.00 - including postage and packing, for customers in the UK.

If you would like to order one (or more!) just email me at , giving me details of where to send it and send me a cheque, made payable to Penny Simpson, at The Studio, 44a Court Street, Moretonhampstead, Devon TQ13 8LG.

The images shown here are a summer recipe for a spanish Tortilla - approved of by the photographer, who is Spanish! 
Also a mushroom risotto.

Talking of mushrooms, I will post about the Italian mushrooms I met on holiday next.  Promise not to leave it so long between posts this time.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


I have been feeling a touch of bloggers guilt about the length of time between posts.  Apologies for the delay in getting around to talking about the mug swap I mentioned in my last post.  It has been a busy time in the workshop.

The mug on the left is like the one I gave to Josie Walter in exchange for her spotty one on the right.
I am enjoying using the mug she made.  It is well balanced and the handle feels comfortable to hold.
I remember having a discussion with another potter about why we make mugs.  The thing is that for the amount of work involved, they are less cost effective than many other pots, such as bowls or jugs.  However, this is the pot which people really develop a close relationship with.  You pick it up, hold it, put it in your mouth and warm your hands round it.  Often it is chosen from a selection of mugs, according to personal favourites or the type of drink to be consumed.  I think for many people it becomes a way in to an appreciation of hand-made pots.  Hopefully when someone has been seduced by a mug, they will come back and buy more pots, realising the warmth that comes from something which has not been mass produced.

I have a shelf of mugs and my favourites change with mood, season, whim etc.  I also enjoy asking friends to choose a mug and seeing which one they choose.  Sometimes they get worried that I am making character assessments according to their choice.  Perhaps, subconsciously, I am, though I am not sure that I would be able to articulate what they are.

I do like a large cup for tea in the morning.  My current favourite is the one second from the right at the top - a chunky robust mug by Doug Fitch.  It has some tactile sprigs on it and a general feeling of warmth and generosity which reflects his own character.  I guess that's another thing about hand made pots, especially where you have met the maker, you can feel the presence of the potter in the pot.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Papaya and Avocado Salad

My latest discovery for an easy starter which is healthy and a bit exotic is this salad with avocado and papaya.  It was a chance combination following a trip to the supermarket where I'd bought myself a couple of treats in the form of a perfectly ripe avocado, a papaya and a lime.  Lime and papaya is a marriage made in heaven - a perfect balance of sweet and sour.  This is teamed up with cubes of avocado and a couple of spoonfuls of greek yoghurt, a glug of olive oil and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.
I have tried different versions with fennel or basil and mint, depending on what I have around at the time.

What makes it a starter with 'wow factor' is choosing a lovely ceramic platter or shallow bowl and arranging a circle of salad leaves - little gem lettuce is perfect for this - which are then filled with the mixture.  The whole can be garnished with herbs and a sprinkling of paprika for colour as much as taste.  Some marigold petals or other edible flowers would also be good.

This one is presented on a shallow bowl by Jane Cox.  The decoration on the dish is revealed as people help themselves to the contents, which again brings added interest to the table.  We did a swap of pots this time last year - one of my favourite things about exhibiting at craft fairs is arranging swaps with other exhibitors.  I just did a great mug swap with Josie Walter - which could be my next post!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Posh Pavlova

Last week Carole and Jonty Williams came to dinner.  They are from the Husbandry School near Ashburton in Devon, where they grow vegetables and edible flowers and run various courses on growing fruit and veg sustainably.  I visited them a few weeks ago on one of the rare sunny days this summer and their place felt like a little bit of sustainable paradise.  They have beautiful pigs, goats and chickens as well as the flowers and veg.  The views of the Devon countryside from their place are stunning and they have a house which they built themselves at the heart of their land.

I was delighted to be given a bunch of flowers and a salad pack containing lots of edible flowers - of the kind which they usually supply to top chefs.  I used some of the flowers - marigold petals in yellow and orange, borage flowers and violas to decorate the pavlova I had made for dessert.

The flowers completely transformed the dish into something spectacular - aided by placing it on a large serving dish I had made.  The dish is formed with a slab top and thrown ring for the base, so it stands proudly on its pedestal, giving it that much more importance.

The pavlova recipe was from Nigel Slater's book, Appetite, which I find brilliant as a guide and inspiration for all kinds of dishes.  He gives you some basic recipes and then suggests variations to encourage you to try your own versions.   I used a combination of strawberries and passion fruit on the top, which had the right amount of acidity to complement the sweetness of the meringue and the richness of the cream.

The great thing about a pavlova for a dessert is that it is very simple to make the night before and then all you have to do is whip the cream and chop the fruit.  I assembled it just before serving.

This is a quick photo of the pot without pavlova.  It would also be good for serving lots of other dishes, such as a selection of cold meats with salad garnish or cheese and biscuits.

I'm definitely going to start growing some edible flowers of my own.  Looking forward to colourful salads and beautifully garnished dishes.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sunday Market at La Bastille in Paris

Two weekends ago, I visited my daughter in Paris. On the Sunday we spent a very pleasant morning browsing the ethnic crafts and food market at La Bastille.  It was such a delight to see such a huge range of really fresh vegetables as well as some delicious prepared food.  We bought cannelloni and antipasti from an Italian stall for a picnic lunch.

This woman was handing out free carrier bags made of recycled plastic and printed with a list of all the Paris markets and the days when they take place.  It was a great way to promote the markets and encourage shoppers to buy more, as they were generously sized and made to last.


 There was lots of lovely asparagus around and these delicious looking spears tied up in bundles, which looked similar but more delicate.  Unfortunately, I didn't find out what they were called and didn't have a chance to try them.
There was a great variety of salad leaves - including this superb lamb's lettuce which is my favourite.
The baby turnips looked great.  They are great sliced thinly and salted to make pickle.

I wish I had access to a market like this, here in England.  The stall-holders all seem to know and care about what they are selling and are always ready to give you ideas for how to cook or use the ingredients and produce.  A little glimpse of foodie heaven.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


It has taken me a while to get inspired to post as I have been busy getting going again after my trip to Japan.  Yesterday I unpacked the kiln and was pleased with the new design of serving dish I had made.  The top is a slab of clay, rolled out using my slab roller, with a cloth texture and stamped decoration on the edges.  I like the colour contrast and the way the textures work together.

Today I put it to the test, to make a good looking lunch platter for an Italian journalist who was coming to lunch.

With some soup and home-made bread, a few left over bits and pieces I had in the fridge turned into a respectable kind of lunch.

The key elements were really the serving dish itself and some lovely fresh small-leaf watercress which provided the backdrop to the other ingredients.

The serving dish has a thrown foot ring.
The thrown foot ring is pushed into shape when soft and left to firm up before attaching to the slab, when both are leather-hard.
The thrown foot ring seems to support the slab better than feet which I have used before and the dish was less prone to warping.

I feel inspired now to make more of these type of serving dishes - trying some larger ones and maybe other shapes.  Also to use it for some more adventurous ingredients.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Eating at 'Zero' in Fukuoka, Japan

One of the greatest pleasures about exhibiting at the Gallery Shozando in Fukuoka recently was the chance to eat at the wonderful ‘Zero’ restaurant next door.  Zero is run by an exciting young chef, Ryota Takenouchi and his wife, Rie. They serve Japanese food, based around seasonal ingredients.  He grows some of the vegetables himself and has been busy planting for the coming season.

At lunchtime they serve a ‘Zero Platter’ which changes monthly, according to what is in season. The food is served on a hand-made slab-dish made by a potter in Shigaraki. The dish, although it was not specially commissioned for the ‘Zero Platter’ is the ideal backdrop for this combination of food.  Mr. Takenouchi told me that when he is putting together a plate of food like this, he approaches it rather like a painter trying to work out a satisfying combination of shapes and colours on the background he has chosen. 

The platter is served with a bowl of clear soup and a bowl of salad on the side.  Japanese tea is served before and during the meal, and a cup of coffee afterwards.

The combination of pots and food worked perfectly and, of course, it was delicious.  The slightly rough texture and earthy tones of the pots contrasted with the vibrant colours and soft textures of the food.  The bamboo chopsticks invited you to select dainty morsels of the food and try combinations of the delicate flavours.  It is the kind of food which leaves you feeling completely satisfied without feeling that you have over-indulged.  

Talking with chef, Takenouchi, about how he selects the pots for his restaurant was fascinating.  He says that the food comes first, but without an appropriate pot for a certain dish, he will not serve it.  He sometimes gets inspiration from pots to prepare certain foods in a particular way.  He believes that presentation of the food contributes about 30 per cent of the overall enjoyment of a dish.

He has a very good relationship with the gallery, Shozando, next door.  They share many of their customers and he sources many of his pots through them as well.  Ideally, he would like to make the pots as well, in the tradition of Kitaoji Rosanjin, but with a restaurant to run and vegetables to grow, he seems to have plenty to do at the moment.  The day I interviewed him, he had just finished making 50 lunch boxes for people who were cherry blossom viewing.

These are my pots on show at Shozando gallery, with pots by Ruthanne Tudball on the shelves behind.

These are pots by Masahiro Kumagae, beautifully displayed with glassware at Shozando gallery.  The gallery owner, Rie Arimitsu, has a great talent for displaying pots in a way which invites you to use them - and tempts you to buy more than one item, as they look so good together.   My trip to Japan has left me with a wealth of inspiration for pots, food and ideas about how to run a gallery - food for thought for a long time to come.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Cherry blossoms in Japan

It was wonderful to be in Japan for the cherry blossoms, though we had to wait until the last week of our stay, as this spring has been rather cold and they are flowering late.  People make special trips to stroll under the trees.  In the parks, mats are laid out under the trees for people to have picnics and drink beer and sake whilst viewing the blossoms.  Our favourite restaurant made fifty lunch-boxes last Saturday for people to enjoy whilst flower viewing.  It is in all the newspapers and on TV so people know which region is in full bloom.

The gallery Shozando, where I was exhibiting in Fukuoka, had a special cherry-blossom display and customers would bring in sticky rice cakes like this one, wrapped in an edible cherry leaf, for us to enjoy.  When we ate in the neighbouring restaurant, Zero, there was a dish of white rice noodles garnished with a single cherry flower as part of a delicious evening banquet.

This awareness and celebration of the seasons is reflected in the food and the pots in which it is served. Seasonality really means something in Japan, where the foods of each season are anticipated and enjoyed as they come into season.

Another seasonal speciality which we enjoyed on several occasions was take-no-ko - bamboo shoots - and we even dug some up ourselves, which was a first for me.  They were delicious cooked with rice or simmered in a broth with shiitake and other vegetables. 

The countryside was splashed with the vibrant yellow of oil-seed rape flowers.  They are also eaten served, lightly steamed, whilst still in bud, as a seasonal speciality.

Here they were served with a piece of octopus and a deliciously tangy sauce made with white miso, yuzu (a citrus fruit, similar to lime, but with a distinctive flavour of its own) and mustard.  The combination of colours, textures and tastes in this dish was heavenly!

There were so many wonderful meals and pots.  I will be posting again soon as I want to share more of these inspiring experiences, while they are still fresh in my mind.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Casserole Photo

This is a photo of one of my small casseroles.  I am very fond of this green copper glaze, especially when it gets quite hot in the kiln, as it takes on a lustrous quality.  It is hard to photograph, though, as it is so shiny.

The decoration is done with finger wipes and a comb made from a rubber rib, cut with rounded points.

I am going to Japan this week.  I will be exhibiting at Gallery Roola in Nagoya from March 13th to 25th with Peter Seabridge who lives in Japan and Ruthanne Tudball, an american potter from the UK.  We are also exhibiting in Fukuoka at Gallery Shozando, from April 1st to 7th.

I am sure it will be a very inspiring trip, both from the point of view of pots and food.  I am planning to take plenty of photos for the blog.  So watch this space!  I am not taking my laptop, so probably won't post until after April 9th when I return to Devon.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Venison Casserole

When I was thinking about starting this blog, I was wondering what to call it and nearly went for the name, CASSEROLE, as it is both a pot and a kind of food or cooking method.  In the end, I thought that 'pots and food' was simpler and might catch more interest.
  I have been making some casseroles of the pot variety, which I am quite pleased with and have been trying out some recipes to cook in them.  I like using game, such as venison, as I like the idea that the animals I eat have had the chance to roam free. This is my favourite recipe to date.   

 Venison Casserole 
This is a hearty meat casserole which also includes a fair amount of vegetables.  It needs a long, slow cook, so not a good recipe if you are in a hurry.  I have made this with chestnuts instead of the butternut squash, which was delicious, but chestnuts are not always easy to find.  The quantities given are really just a guide and can be adjusted to what you have or what you like.  The prunes add a fruity sweetness which complements the meat very well.  You could omit them and serve with a redcurrant jelly on the side instead.

500 g / 1 lb diced venison
200 g / 8oz shallots
100 g / 4oz button mushrooms
200 g / 8oz butternut squash
1or 2 sticks of celery
100 g / 4oz prunes
thyme - a couple of sprigs
or 1 tsp dried thyme
bay leaf
1 large glass red wine
beef stock or water
oil - about 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas 6
  • Dice the venison into pieces about 2-3 cms sq and roll in seasoned flour
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the meat in batches
  • Put the browned meat on one side and fry the shallots (peeled and whole, or cut in half if they are large) in the same pan, until they begin to colour.
  • Add the finely chopped celery and the button mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the meat back into the pan with the other ingredients and add the red wine. Let it simmer a little and then add the butternut squash, peeled and diced, the herbs and the prunes.
  • Add enough beef stock or water to cover. 
  • Put in an ovenproof casserole and place in the pre-heated oven.
  • Cook at 200°C for half an hour and then turn the heat down to 180°C /350°F Gas 4 and cook for a further one and a half hours or more.  Check to see if the casserole needs more liquid every half hour or so.  The sauce should thicken up into a delicious gravy. Taste to see if more seasoning is needed and add salt and pepper as required.
  • Serve with mashed potato, polenta or anything which will absorb the gravy. 

I have been having trouble getting a decent photo of the casseroles (as in pots) which I have made, as they are very reflective, but I will have another go and post a photo soon.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

This is the recipe for the soup which I posted about in my search for the perfect soup bowl.

Butternut squash and carrot soup
This soup is the ideal autumn and winter comfort food, with its sweetness and creamy texture.  You could give it extra warmth by the addition of spices, such as roasted and ground cumin and half a fresh chilli added when the onions are frying. 
It can be also made richer by a spoonful of cream stirred in at the end.

Half a medium sized butternut squash
3 – 4 carrots
I medium sized potato
I onion
I stick of celery
2 tablespoons of olive oil
500 ml Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Cream and parsley to garnish

  • Roughly chop the onion. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the chopped onion.  Fry over a gentle heat until lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile chop the celery, peel and chop the carrots, potato and butternut squash into small chunks.  
  • Add the chopped vegetables and stock, plus enough water to cover the vegetables comfortably.
  • Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Liquidize the soup to a smooth consistency and serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do.  

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Meal with Sandy Brown

Yesterday evening I went to have a meal with Sandy Brown at her home in Appledore.  The meal was prepared by Shun, a young Japanese potter who had been working with me last December and is now helping Sandy.  My present apprentice, Curtis, also lent a hand.  Shun had cooked some delicious 'takekomi-gohan' - rice cooked with small pieces of chicken and vegetables flavoured with soy sauce - and then made tempura of vegetables and prawns.

 The food was served on pots made by Sandy.  The overall feeling of the pots and food was one of generosity.  The pots are generous in size, accommodating generous amounts of food and giving the food plenty of room, so that it is easy to appreciate both the food and the pot it is served in.

The tea cups shown here were used for a dipping sauce and the tempura was laid on the large slab platter as it was cooked.


Sandy's pots have vitality and strength, as well as a feeling of playfulness and joy, which make eating a pleasure and give a sense of occasion to the simplest of dishes.  The meal was a great example of how much hand-made pots can contribute to the enjoyment of food.  They also look great on the shelf when not in use.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Search for the Perfect Soup Bowl

  Today as I discovered that the water pipes in both the workshop and the house had frozen, I was happy to take comfort from a bowl of butternut squash and carrot soup which I had made earlier when the water was still running.  Nothing is as restorative in these cold winter days as a lunchtime bowl of soup with some home made bread and cheese.

Over the years I have tried several different shapes for soup bowls.  I think that the inspiration for this shape comes from French soup bowls and has evolved along the way.  This shape seems to hug the soup to keep it warm.  The handles add a tactile something and are satisfying to make.
The handles are made from a ball of clay, flattened into a disc, cut in half and then impressed with a flat, round-ended wooden tool, fanning out from the centre.  The slip pools in the cracks, emphasising the design, and I rub back the slip to show the clay which gives it extra depth.  The rich green copper glaze teams up easily with most soups in terms of colour.

When I trained at Dartington, we made 'GP' bowls - that is 'general purpose', soup/cereal bowls.  My current GP bowl is also good for soup.  This is it with the soup I had today.  I will post the recipe soon, when I have written it down and tested it again.

I also make a soup bowl with little rolled textured handles.  Because of their shape, the portions tend to look smaller, though they hold as much as the GP bowl.  They are also good for serving individual gratins and starters.

At the other end of the scale, I make soup/pasta bowls with wide rims, which although the capacity is not that much bigger, have a much more generous feel. They are the kind of bowl to use if you are serving soup as the main part of a lunch, giving the feeling that you are having a 'proper meal'.

As they say on The Apprentice, the search............. continues.

Friday, 20 January 2012

My cake plate

I just remembered that I have a photo of the Rustic Plum Tart which I made from a recipe given in The Popina Book of Baking, which I mentioned in my previous post.  It also shows off my cake plate.  I am about to make some more plates like this with a high foot ring - thrown separately and joined when plate and foot are 'leather hard'.  It is interesting how different a plate is when given that bit of height - being 'put on a pedestal' somehow makes the food presented on it more special.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A visit to Adrienne Baba

Last weekend I stayed with potter and chef, Adrienne Baba, at her house in Bloxham, near Oxford.  I helped her make some bread, which was fun and her delicious walnut shortbreads looked very elegant on this black dish.

She recently served the same thing to the famous pastry chef from the Japanese restaurant, Zuma, when he came to discuss a commission.  The recipe comes from The Popina book of Baking by Isodora Popovic (Ryland, Peters and Small 2010) which I use a lot for tarts, biscuits and cakes.

It is great to hear about a potter being commissioned to  make pots for a restaurant.  This is a huge part of a potter's income in Japan, but is almost unheard of here in England.  Adrienne has worked with Japanese restaurants in London -  Zuma, Roka and Soho Japan to produce a range of pots for particular dishes.  These include platters, boat-shaped dishes and rectangular slab dishes.  Her pots are simple and elegant and show food to great advantage.  We also visited Whichford Pottery and saw her pots on display in the gallery there.

They have a good choice of pots in the gallery, many of them good for serving food, as well as an extensive display of garden pots outside.