This is part of an ongoing ceramics-collaboration project. I interview the ceramicist about them and their work, before creating a recipe that reflects them and shooting it in a still life.
The Kana London concept
Ana Kerin, founder of Kana London, came to ceramics from a sculptural background. Her work is testament to this, with exquisite attention paid to the textures and forms that the medium allows. She has always channeled her love of nature into her practice, with inspiration coming from beaches, the sea, fields and forests. Ana was raised in a close and nurturing environment, within a household that was food aware and focused on healthy, organic and homegrown produce.
Kana’s latest collection ‘Nude’, which is featured in this shoot, is a celebration of the natural materials that inspire her creativity. The bowls and plates in this series are crafted from a range of distinctly coloured clays, with clear glazes enhancing their unique natural beauty. The collection was created as a means to challenge the cultural boundaries of race and skin colour, taking inspiration both from raw, organic matter and the iconic 90s fashion campaigns, from the likes of Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, which fostered a rise in the inclusion of POC models.
In Ana’s own words, Nude is a “challenge in limitation”. It is a collection of beautiful objects made from limited means, with a utilitarian approach, that toys with the classic ceramics dichotomy of form vs function. The pieces are created as enhancements for the food they carry, rather than as centrepieces in their own right.
The foundation for my recipe came from Ana’s enchantment with the sea, forest and field. This inspired me to create three unique dishes, one for each environment.
My choice of cooking techniques was informed by Ana’s practice of handcrafting each piece. I wanted to mirror this, providing a parity between food and vessel, and make a meal created around the manual smashing, pounding, grinding and snapping which birthed Ana’s ceramics.
Taking inspiration from Ana’s description of Nude as a “challenge in limitation”, I chose to avoid altering the ingredients from their natural state as much as possible. Instead, I used techniques which would suit their natural forms.
I sourced ingredients from local markets and independent shops, choosing seasonal vegetables and making sure they were both fresh and organic.
The set design was inspired by Sarah Bates’ photoshoot for Kana’s ‘Rule of Thirds’ collection, in which the studio environment is included in the frame of each shot. This approach creates an organic and relaxed image, showing Ana’s pieces and the food they carry in a natural environment rather than a sterile one. I wanted to avoid a clean and crisp feel, and rather emphasise the natural forms, textures and hues of the organic materials I was working with - both edible and not. This approach, as with much else in this project, owes its inspiration to Ana, whom it was a pleasure and honour to interview.
Forest, Sea & Field
Takes 60 minutes (60 prep, 40 cook) + 48 hours fermenting
48 hour Lacto-Fermented Turnip
Makes 100g pickled turnip
Takes 48 hours (10 prep)
6g salt (3%salinity)
Thinly slice the turnip into 1-2mm slices.
Add the turnip slices to a kilner jar and cover them with 100ml of water and add the salt. Mix them well and weight the turnips so they sit beneath the water level.
Remove the rubber seal from the jar and close it, so it’s not airtight but mainly sealed. Leave in undisturbed, out of direct sunlight at room temperature for 48 hours.
Forest, Sea & Field (Mushroom & Walnut Tapenade, Caper Berries and Balsamic Reduction with Crisp Bread. Pickled Turnips with Juniper Salt, Samphire and Dulse. Smashed Jerusalem Artichoke with Fried Chicory and Horseradish)
Takes 60 minutes (60 prep, 40 cook)
2 jerusalem artichoke
1 tbsp of milled flaxseed
3 tsp of sea salt flakes
5 tbsp of olive oil
6 tbsp of water
75g chestnut mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tsp of ground pepper
75g of walnut pieces
50ml of balsamic vinegar
2 leaves of dried dulse
1 white chicory, quartered lengthways 5 thin slices of horseradish
1 tsp of mixed peppercorns
1/2 tsp of dried juniper berries
3 caper berries
2 tbsp of samphire
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Rub the jerusalem artichoke in some oil and lay them on a baking tray and salt them lightly. Bake them for 40 minutes, turning them after 20 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, milled flaxseed, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of water until they form a ball of dough. Knead it for a minute and leave the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
As the dough rests, chop the mushrooms, garlic and shallow and sauté them in a frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper for 10 minutes until they are well softened, stirring regularly. If the contents of the pan begins to dry out, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and stir it in.
As the mushrooms sauté, toast the walnut pieces on a high heat until they are well browned - around 5 minutes, being sure not to burn them.
Roll out the dough as thin as possible on a reusable baking sheet and bake it on the lower shelf in the oven for around 15 minutes, turning it every 5 minutes, until it has browned and hardened into a crisp bread.
Remove both the sautéed mushrooms and toasted walnuts from heat and decant them into a mixing bowl. Using a wooden pestle or ice crusher, pound the mix until a lumpy tapenade is formed.
In a small pan on a medium heat, reduce the balsamic vinegar to about half it’s original volume, then remove from heat. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
As the balsamic reduces, heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a high heat. When the pan is hot, flash fry the leaves of dulse until it turns from deep purple to a green-brown colour. Remove them from the pan before they brown too much and leave them to cool on some tissue.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and flash fry the quartered chicory on each of it’s cut sides until they are charred but still green, about 2 minutes. Remove them from heat.
Take the jerusalem artichoke and crisp bread out of the oven. Using a wooden pestle or a tenderiser, smash the jerusalem artichoke and plate them in a small bowl with the slices of horseradish on top.
In a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the mixed peppercorns and juniper. Mix the crushed spices with a teaspoon of sea salt flakes.
Break the crisp bread into long pieces. Plate the tapenade and spear it with the crisp bread pieces. Finish it with the caper berries and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Plate the samphire, creating a small stack of it, and top it with the fried dulse. Add some sliced fermented turnip to the plate and sprinkle it with the juniper salt.
Place the small bowl of jerusalem artichoke on a large plate and add the flash fried chicory to the plate.
Serve the meal when finished plating.