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Hélénettes

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Don't ask me about the history and origins of Hélénettes because I don't have a clue. All I know is that they're a simple, little, almond (or sometimes hazelnut) cake that's similar to a classic, old-style macaron but uses egg yolks rather than egg whites. This recipe is based on received wisdom (with only minor tweaks) from some French bakers that I've come across. They're really easy and quick to make. They're also a good way to use up egg yolks after the egg whites have played their part in other recipes such as meringues. I like the vanilla flavour in this recipe but it could be replaced with almond extract, orange flower water or whatever else you might fancy - within reason. Alternatively, you could leave out the added flavouring altogether. You could also replace the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts if you feel like it or if you have some languishing in your cupboard.

Banana Soup

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This oddly-nostalgic recipe might seem a bit strange these days but I was reminded of this savoury soup when I dredged the recipe for  Chicken Liver Pâté with Rum and Mango  out of my memory a while ago. Around the late eighties or early nineties, there was a brief trend among some British recipe writers to celebrate cooking with bananas. I remember a number of recipes for banana chutney (often very tasty), banana jam (interesting but usually ludicrously sweet) and soups such as this one. I've made this from memory, so it may not be entirely true to the period. I don't think of this as a hearty, lunchtime soup to satisfy your appetite after a hard morning's work. Rather, I think it's a soup to serve in small bowls as a starter. But what do I know? It's certainly a different way of enjoying bananas that's hopefully not too different for your guests. I seem to remember one restaurant serving a soup something like this with one or two freshly cooked prawns. I'

Monkey Gland Sauce - The Fraudulent Version

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Think of this as a tribute to the joyful South African sauce because it's  absolutely not   the authentic recipe. But it's a delicious, lively sauce that's highly adaptable, even if it is a bit eccentric. Easily put together largely from tins and jars that you could well have in the cupboard, it's perfect for grilled, barbequed or simply-roasted meats or vegetables. It can also be used as a marinade, a heated sauce or a cold ketchup style condiment (or a combination of the above). Most recently, I used it as a sauce with chargrilled duck. You could use fresh peaches in this sauce but tinned are available all year and make life really easy. I use a small tin of peach slices in fruit juice and I use the fruit juice from the tin to thin the sauce, if it needs it. If you use fresh peaches, you may need to add a little water and if you use peaches in syrup, then you may want to increase the amount of vinegar in the recipe. But this base recipe is very forgiving and open to a

Apple Cake for Dessert

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Thinking about my current (half-hearted) project to record recipes that I've failed to publish over the years, I realised that I've only included one apple cake recipe . This is odd because back in the 1980s I was strangely obsessed by apple cakes and collected recipes from all over the country. I found that there were broadly two types of English apple cake: one that was best served with tea in the afternoon and one that was best served as a dessert accompanied by custard or cream (clotted for preference, although in these restrained times yoghurt or fromage frais might be more acceptable).  So, to make up for the omission, here's a version of apple cake that's in the pudding category. It has a high proportion of apples to flour and remains very moist as a result. It does still work very nicely with afternoon tea, if sliced carefully. Sadly, due to erratic record keeping (I was like that in the 1980s), I'm not sure where I found the original version of this recipe.

Poulet au Vinaigre - The Lunchtime Version

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As part of this year's project to uncover the recipes and styles of cooking that I've left out of this blog for inexplicable reasons, I wanted to include more of the food from the small bistros in France (and sometimes England) that I've enjoyed over very many years. So here's a version of poulet au vinaigre based on the simple, cheap but delicious lunches that I've enjoyed at small French bistros, bars and cafés. Poulet au vinaigre is a great classic that you'll find all over France and in many cookery books of French cuisine. The books will usually contain a refined, classic version of the dish which starts with a whole chicken and uses different cooking times for the various parts of the bird. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that but that's not what this recipe is all about. I'm recreating the sort of lunch served to large, communal tables in happy, friendly places in the north of France 20 or 30 years ago. Such places are still around if yo

Pain d’chien

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For years I've been intrigued by food from the very north of France, specifically around la Côte d'Opale. In part because, even in France, it's a cuisine that's often unfairly dismissed as consisting largely of variants of cheese on toast (Le Welsh), frites and mind-numbingly smelly cheeses such as Maroilles (it's actually a very fine cheese, honest). But the other reason was that the area is separated from the southern part of England by a very narrow stretch of sea and I was fascinated by the similarities and differences between the two styles of cooking. I've included a number of recipes that I've gathered from the area in the blog before such as Carbonade Flamande , Turkey with Beer and Juniper , Tarte au Maroilles and, my absolute favourite, Gâteau Battu . But the pain d'chien perfectly demonstrates the similarities between British and northern French food. If you're familiar with British bread pudding then pain d'chien is not surprising a

Chicken Moghlai from the 1980s

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As part of this year's nostalgic and somewhat bemused review of the food styles and recipes that so far I've neglected in the blog, I got to thinking about classic curries. I've included a couple of time-honoured (or, some might say, hopelessly out-of-date) curry recipes already -  Goat Rogan Josh  and  Lamb Bhuna  - but I couldn't resist adding this one. If you search for Moghlai cooking then you might well find it described as combining ancient traditions of Persian and Indian cooking. I'm sure that's the case but I've derived this dish from the more recent tradition of British curry houses of the 1980s. This is a delicate, rich and fragrant korma that's very characteristic of some of the dishes you'd find being celebrated back then. I've been reasonably faithful to the recipe of the time, but I've reduced the amount of cream a bit. The other change I've made is to use chicken thighs. Back in the 80s, you weren't thought to be makin