Showing posts from 2020

Goat Rogan Josh (The Inauthentic Slow Cooker Version)

The mention of goat meat will cause many people of my acquaintance to run screaming from the room. I'm not really sure why this is. Goat is a very tasty, lean meat that's well suited to long, gentle cooking, especially in a slow cooker. The first goat dish I bumped into many, many years ago was a Jamaican goat curry and I'm still tempted to make a version of that dish whenever I find good goat meat. But this time I decided to do something a little different after I read that “traditional” rogan josh is often made with goat.
This isn't an authentic or traditional rogan josh. My recipe is really a mishmash of the nicest rogan josh dishes that I've eaten in England combined with elements of other slow-cooked curries. The origins of the true, traditional rogan josh seem to be disputed but I favour the idea that the name derives from ratan jot (alkanet root) which was originally used to give the dish a distinct red colour. 
Goat meat tends to be very lean but for this d…

Gram Flour - Oven Socca and Onion Bhajis

It's been easier to buy less common ingredients than basic cupboard essentials during the recent strange days. Flour has been the most difficult item to find in my tiny corner of the world. Fortunately, I could find gram flour and I used it to make onion bhajis and socca and, because I like a simple life, I always make very straightforward versions of those treats in the oven. 
It might be useful at this point if I try to be quite clear for once in my life: when I say gram flour, I'm talking about chickpea flour. In the UK most chickpea flour seems to be sold as gram flour, unless it's ‘farina di ceci’ imported from Italy. There is technically a difference between gram and farina di ceci but for these simple recipes that shouldn't really matter. It's also possible that you might find chickpea flour called ‘besan’. Once again there is technically a difference between besan and gram flour but the same product is often labelled with both names in this country so let…

Breadmaker Grape Bread

This might seem a strange recipe for these difficult times when flour, yeast and fruit can be so hard to find but I recently bought a veg and fruit box from a restaurant supplier without knowing the contents. Oddly it contained quite a lot of grapes and this is the most comforting grape recipe that I know. Personally, I'd say it was worth using some of that precious flour and yeast.

It isn't exactly an authentic, traditional recipe like the breads you might find from Italy or the south of France, especially given my usual desire to let machines do most of the work (in this case, the breadmaker). Still, who cares? It tastes lovely and the breadmaker does its best to reduce the level of faff. Of course, you don't have to use a machine, the dough can be made quite easily in a more conventional way.

This is a particularly excellent breakfast bread for lazy mornings. But it's not only a jentacular morsel of joy, it's also lovely with cheese or paté and ideal for taking …

Pea and Apple Soup

For obvious reasons I'm thinking about simple, comforting food at the moment and this soup fits the bill for me. But I also find myself looking back to better times and, for various happy reasons, I've ventured westward to Devon a number of times in the last decade. While in that fine county I ate an abundance of excellent food. In fact, I enjoyed some of the very best meals I've ever eaten and, believe me, I've eaten a LOT of fine meals in my life.
This recipe, though, dates back to much earlier visits. I first bumped into this soup somewhere in Devon (I can't remember exactly where) back in the 1980s. To be honest, this probably isn't quite as rich as the original. I suspect that there were a copious few dollops of fine Devon butter and cream involved back in those more indulgent times.

The good news is that this recipe might just be possible with what you have in your cupboards, fruit bowl and freezer. It works very well when made with frozen peas and any typ…

Beetroot – An Ocklye Dressing And A Pomegranate Dip

I know that there are plenty of people around who outwardly look quite normal but inexplicably don't like beetroot. I'm definitely not one of them. Recently I made a mistake and bought too much beetroot. Actually, that was a good thing. It gave me the chance to make a couple of special but really simple beetroot treats.
Beetroot In A Sort of Ocklye Dressing This is based a little loosely on a recipe from the Ocklye cookery book published in 1909. The book is described as ‘recipes by a lady and her cook’, which might sound a bit off-putting but it's actually a very usable and varied set of recipes. Well, mostly usable - I wouldn't advise trying to find sun-dried turtle in your local supermarket. Eleanor Jenkinson (the lady) was the author of the book but I think we should be celebrating the skill of Annie Hobden (the cook), who had rather a lot to do with it.

1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp tarragon vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp …

Walnut Cake or Gâteau aux Noix

I first ate this cake many moons ago in Sarlat in the Dordogne (or the Périgord Noir if you prefer). It's a town with an abundant supply of walnuts, as well as a truly excellent market. In my selfless struggle to make as many French cakes as possible I decided to recreate this little treat. I soon realised that there were almost as many variants of this cake as there are geese around Sarlat (and that's alotof geese). At long last this is the version that I think comes closest to that original cake and happily it's also just about the simplest.

This really is a cake, honest, but I think of it mostly as a dessert. Small pieces are really good with an espresso or some classic, strong tea but I think it comes into its own when served warm or cold as a dessert with apple or rhubarb compote or poached pear and crème fraîche. It’s also very pleasing when drizzled with dark chocolate.

It's possible to buy ground walnuts and that's the easiest way to make this cake but I us…

Venison with Supercharged Gin and Dried Limes

Venison is excellent in slow-cooked casseroles but they're often very rich and heavy. There's nothing wrong with that on cold, dark evenings in winter, but sometimes I'd welcome something a little less hefty. This dish uses a classic venison casserole approach but gives a lighter, fruitier result without losing the characteristic flavour of the meat. I admit that this is an odd combination of ingredients but I've never been very good at the authenticity malarkey.

I find gin very useful in cooking, especially with game or as part of a cure for fish. Not long ago I was using some gin as part of a marinade and it occurred to me that I could have a special bottle in the cupboard that would have “marinade” flavours built in. So I made a supercharged, marinade gin as follows.

Take a half bottle of gin (a decent supermarket London dry gin will do) and add a few extra juniper berries, a few pink peppercorns and 2 reasonably large sprigs of rosemary to the bottle. Reseal it, gi…