Blurry eyed and needing extra morning coffee I switch on my laptop and join a few hundred other writers on a Zoom call organised by the London Writers Salon. We’re welcomed in by LWS founders and hosts Parul and Matt and listen to words of literary wisdom often from (American author and writer of ‘Eat Pay Love’) Elizabeth Gilbert). Then, before mics are muted and we have 50 minutes of quiet to think, research and write, we set our intentions … perhaps editing a poem, composing a tricky work email, or working on a character study for a novel.
Although it’s 8am in London (other hours are sprinkled throughout the day) people join from all over the world. Laptops, pencils, fountain pens, biros and typewriters are as tools used to declutter thoughts and feelings we store in our heads and onto screens and paper.
Many people kick off with Morning Pages, a creative stimulation idea from writer Julia Cameron in which you write anything longhand in a stream of consciousness, words that comes into your head without thinking, editing or worrying. These words can be saved as a diary, or perhaps deleted and torn up and slid into the recycling box.
London Writers Salon first gathered in March 2020 with fewer that 10 people logging on, but now the early day London session regularly attracts over 300 writers. This week’s birthday celebrations, online and on zoom, were great fun and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute a cooking demo to kick off proceedings. So I made these super quick and delicious parmesan cheese crisps with a creamy and fruity topping.
Then for 50 minutes we think, we write, we edit, start work and finish it. There’s no competition, just support and community. Launched a year ago just as the first UK Covid-19 lockdown started LWS offers much needed and appreciated punctuation marks throughout the day or week when many writers are working alone at home and looking for routine, quiet companionship, to share a virtual coffee and find reasons to rattle down some words.
For the cooking demo I made Parmesan crisps topped with cream cheese and pomegranate make stunning canapés for dinner parties, weddings, christenings and other social gatherings (remember them!) It was great to see so many other writers joining in and cooking cooking Prepare them five minutes before serving without risking the cheese loosing crispness and becoming soggy.
For more information about the group, click London Writers Salon . Join as a Patreon!
LEMON-THYME PARMESAN CRISPS
Makes 8 crisps
For the crisps
80 gm grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp thyme, dried or fresh
Zest of one lemon
For the topping
Pomegranate seeds *
Chopped coriander or parsley leaves,
Hard vegan cheeses can be swapped in for the Parmesan. May need to be rolled out and cut to shape with a pastry cutter rather than grating.
Soft vegan cheeses taste great as a topping.
Grate the cheese.
Gently heat a large non-stick frying pan.
Combine 1 tsp thyme (fresh if you have it) and zest of one lemon with the Parmesan cheese.
Divide cheese mix into equal portions.
Mound portions in pan, spaced apart allowing space for the crisps to melt and expand.
Using the back of a spoon, gently flatten each mound. Try different shapes, say round or square.
Cook until cheese turns golden and becomes bubbly in the centre, takes 2-3 minutes. Gently turnover the crisp and cook for a further minute.
Remove pan from heat and let stand for 2 min.
Remove crisps with a plastic spatula and cool completely on a paper towel.
Place on serving dish. Spoon cream cheese onto crisp, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top, followed by a pinch or two of the chopped coriander/ parsley.
An alternate way of cooking involves heating your oven to 180deg C ( 160deg C, fan oven), lining a baking tray with baking paper, and making shapes with your cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, and cool on kitchen paper.
These can be used as either toppings or dips
Spicy tomato salsa
In terms of wine pairing, these Parmesan crisps work well with a chilled dry white, rose or even a heavy red wine. However, if you top the crisps with pomegranate salsa, try a fruity dry white, to sharpen your taste buds for the melted cheese. A chilled IPA or lager would also cut through the cheesiness of the crisps. Perhaps pour yourself a citrus flavoured beer, again it’s refreshing and cuts through the cheese.
Variations on a theme
Spicy Sesame Cheese Crisps
Toss 2 tsp sesame seeds and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper with Parmigiano Reggiano. Continue with recipe.
Spanish Cheese Crisps
Toss 2 tsp chopped almonds and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika with Parmigiano Reggiano. Continue with recipe.