Showing posts from October, 2010

Europom and an Apple, Ginger and Lemon Cake

I recently wandered along to the exhibition held as part of this year's Europom event – well, it was just down the road at RHS Wisley . Europom might sound vaguely Australian but actually it's a group of very laudable European organisations promoting the conservation of the widest possible range of fruit. Or as the posh lady who elbowed me out of the way to get to the front of the exhibit shouted to her even-posher friend “It's just a load of apples and pears!” (I left out the swear word). I think it's safe to say that the elbow lady was right - there were a load of apples and pears and after being suitably impressed and thankful that such collections exist I then started to feel guilty that I tend to use such a small variety of fruit in the kitchen. So for this recipe I got hold of some Byford Wonder apples from the fruit gardens at Wisley. I'm led to believe that Byford Wonder is a 19 th century Herefordshire variety of cooking apple and compared to the mor

Mulligatawny Soup and the Bodhrán Teacher

I couldn't bring myself to eat mulligatawny for a long time. In the distant past, long before I became a happily married man, I was eating a bowl of mulligatawny in a London pub garden with my then girlfriend. Suddenly she  jumped up, shouted “I've got to see my bodhrán teacher while I've still got the chance” and, without finishing her drink, ran off – very fast. I've never felt quite the same about mulligatawny since. No two people seem to agree what should be in this soup. This recipe makes a mild soup of contrasting textures which is how I like to think that mulligatawny tasted all those years ago, although, to be honest, it probably didn't. The easiest way to make this soup, I think, is by pre-cooking the lamb in a slow cooker, but you can cook it in a more conventional way if you prefer. This recipe should make 8 portions. For reasons I've already discussed, I wouldn't personally recommend listening to traditional Irish music while eating mull

Chocolate and Hazelnut Buns

I was thinking about making some Chelsea buns when I succumbed to the lure of chocolate  - I'm so easily led astray. These aren't really Chelsea buns anymore - the dough I ended up making is actually a variation on one I use for a simple brioche-style loaf, so this recipe is probably closer to a French chinois.  But, whatever they are, they're suitably sticky and taste just fine to me. This recipe uses a breadmaker to make life really easy. You could make life even easier still by replacing the filling with nutella or other such spread, but where's the fun in that? This amount will make 8 buns. For the dough: ¾ tsp easy bake dried yeast 240 g white bread flour 30 g ground almonds 30 g light soft brown sugar ½ tsp salt 60 g unsalted butter, softened ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or extract 2 eggs, lightly beaten 50 ml milk For the filling: 50 g hazelnut butter (see below) 40 g unsalted butter, softened 50 g icing sugar 40 g dark chocolate, in chips or small

Duck Herder's Pie

With a chill in the air and a sky full of grey clouds, I was thinking about autumnal dishes. Then the sun came out, the temperature shot up and I forgot about the English autumn and found myself thinking about south-west France instead (I tend to do that every so often, I have to admit). As a result, I came up with this French-inspired dish. Perhaps I should be calling it Hachis Parmentier au Canard or something like that, but given my endless struggles with the French language, maybe it's best that I don't. This should serve 3 people unless any of them are as greedy as me, in which case it will comfortably serve 2. 1 small handful of dried porcini mushrooms (I suppose I should say cèpes) 2 duck legs 1 onion, chopped leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme leaves from 2 small sprigs of savory, chopped (this isn't crucial if you don't have any) 1 garlic clove, crushed 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp armagnac 200 ml red wine (southern French ideally, of course) 2

Sloe Gin

Sloe gin is a peculiarly British drink. The French normally gather anything suitable for human consumption from the wild but when I was in the Mayenne earlier this year and suggested that sloes were worth picking I got some very strange looks. So I suppose I’m peculiarly British since I've been making it for quite a few years now. Here's what I do. First collect your sloes. You want the sloes to be ripe – a nice deep colour with a distinctive bloom on them. You don't have to wait until the first frost, as some people say. (Some years the sloes don't seem to ripen well at all if the summer's not good. You can still make sloe gin with a decent taste in those years, but the colour will be less appealing). Once you've gathered a goodly number of sloes, take them home and wash them. Drain them thoroughly, pick them over and throw away any that look nasty in the cold light of the kitchen. Get a large, clean jar with a lid that will seal tightly – I use large French