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Showing posts from 2011

Glacier Tuiles

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It all started with French sweeties. Bêtises de Cambrai are one of the best-known French sweets and, let’s face it, they’re essentially boiled sweets. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but when I was wandering around in the vicinity of Cambrai I was slightly surprised (and not in a particularly good way) to see them being used in various forms of patisserie and dessert. A while later, I read Jean-Christophe Novelli suggesting that British glacier mints were simply the equivalent of the famous bêtises and could be used in the same way. Well, for some unimaginable reason, I couldn’t resist. So with sincere thanks to M Novelli, here’s how to add an ice queen and possibly slightly silly effect to your desserts and ice creams at this festive time. Buy some glacier mints (the ones with the polar bear on them are ideal, but pretty much any boiled sweet will do). Unwrap some of them (it’s probably not worth trying to use less than 15 or so) and drop them into a sturdy blender. Pulverise

Nonnettes with White Chocolate Chips

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You might think that this recipe is just another stop on my interminable journey around the cakes of France. Well, I suppose it is but, in this case, Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog is largely to blame. For the December We Should Cocoa challenge Choclette has specified the combination of chocolate and orange. That made me think immediately of nonnettes. Nonnettes are deliciously moist, sticky cakes originally made by nuns and are often associated with this time of year, although you can buy them anytime. The ingredients and method are very similar to pain d'épices but they’re normally flavoured more strongly with orange. Marmalade is placed on top of the mixture before baking and sinks into the cakes as they cook. Nonnettes don’t normally contain chocolate, but I saw some with chocolate on sale the last time I was in France and I’ve been intending to make a batch ever since. This version is pretty close to the traditional recipes that I’ve come across but I’ve simplified the

Microwave Chocolate Fudge – A Random Recipe

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Recently, I cleared out some of my old cookery books and took them down to the charity shop. Then Dom of Belleau Kitchen set the Random Recipe challenge for December as follows: choose a book that you never use, cook something from it and then take it down to the charity shop. Since I’d just given away all my ignored and rarely used books, I had to make a desperate search. Eventually I found half a dozen books that aren’t exactly in the rarely used category, they’re actually in the category of “I really can’t believe that I still have these”. They’re the kinds of books that supermarkets used to sell in the 1980s for 99p and some other very odd books that I think must have arrived from a parallel universe. It wasn’t a pleasant prospect but in the spirit of the challenge I chose one of these books at random - the “Microwave Cookbook”. This is a collection of Good Housekeeping recipes published in 1985 and I have a feeling that it came free with my first ever microwave. As I picked it

Black Pepper, Cumin and Fennel Jelly with a Chilli Jelly Option

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Savoury jellies are great things to have in the store cupboard. They’re perfect with cheeses and cold or roast meats, but they’re also excellent as cooking ingredients in casseroles, marinades and stir-fries. The basic method for making jellies based on apples  is venerable and traditional but it does allow plenty of scope for variations in flavour. This is my approach to the traditional method and I’ve given options for my two favourite jellies: black pepper, cumin and fennel jelly and chilli jelly. There are plenty of other options that are worth trying, though; for instance, ginger is really useful and herb jellies such as rosemary and thyme can be used in many different ways. Bramleys are probably the most common apple to use when making jellies, although any cooker will be fine. (For these jellies, I used Endsleigh Beauty, which is a lovely old variety from Devon). You can also use crab apples rather than cooking apples, but, obviously, you don’t need to chop them up as much.

Feta Almond and Fennel Soup – A Random Recipe

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This month Dom of Belleau Kitchen and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes have joined forces or rather challenges and come up with the Random Recipe No Croutons Required challenge . What that adds up to is that I wanted to choose a vegetarian soup recipe at random from my book collection. The first cookbook I randomly selected had no soups at all but the second was ‘Classic Bull’ by Stephen Bull, which has a small section on soups, and the randomly chosen number nine gave me this little gem. There are some excellent recipes in this book, so I was confident that this soup would be good and I promise it is. I have to confess that I made a variation to the original in that Mr Bull uses chicken stock and I just had to be vegetarian. The amount given here would serve 4 as a light and refined starter but, in this case, fed 2 as a very pleasing lunch dish. I served it hot, but it will also work perfectly well when served cold. 25 g butter 100 g onion, chopped 50 g feta cheese 50 g flaked

Millefeuille of Chocolate Tuiles and Apple Snow

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Chele of Chocolate Teapot has chosen apples as the ingredient to combine with chocolate for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge . I made a torte containing chocolate and apples for the challenge in September so I wanted to do something a little different this time. After a bit of personal food excess in October, I also wanted to make something fairly light. The idea of this dessert is to create something that looks quite substantial but is actually so light that looking at it in the wrong way will make it float away. It’s  not really a millefeuille, you need puff pastry for that, but I can invent fancy names with the best of them.  Nor is it a particularly difficult dish to make but it does require a delicate touch and, to be honest,  I’m not sure that’s really my strong point. The amount given should serve 4 although I made big millefeuilles for sharing between two people. I freely admit that I stole borrowed the idea of the wavy chocolate tuiles from the chef Geoffrey Haxai

Gâteau de Riz and Grape Syrup Verrine

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We were  meandering along the beautiful coast of the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy last month in search of Port Racine, the smallest and just possibly the most charming port in France.  Port Racine, we discovered, is very close to the village of Omonville-La-Petite, the home and last resting place of Jacques Prévert . Since I love his poetry (even if I struggle with French), I felt it was only right that I go and pay my respects. Visiting any last resting place is obviously something of a solemn occasion, but, possibly because it was near to lunchtime, I couldn’t shake off a vague memory of the following line from the poem ‘Lanterne Magique de Picasso’ (from the book ‘Paroles’): ‘L’étourdissante apparition d’un raisin de Malaga sur un gâteau de riz’ Or in my own shaky but free translation: ‘The dazzling appearance of a Malaga grape on a rice pudding’ A gâteau de riz isn’t exactly a rice pudding in the British sense – it’s more solid and usually has a layer of caramel around it. (

Lamb Shrewsbury

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This is a simple and traditional recipe that I hadn’t made or even thought about for many years until the other day when I saw it mentioned in a restaurant menu dating from the early eighties. I think Lamb Shrewsbury is most often found as a sauce accompanying roast lamb and that’s probably the most authentic version. The recipe here, though, is for pieces of lamb cooked in the sauce and is a recreation of the way I first came across the dish sometime in the early or mid seventies. It’s a little retro but then so am I, probably. I seem to remember that this dish was often served with buttery mashed potato to soak up the sauce, but for this remake I served it with some roasted new potatoes and steamed green beans. This will feed 2 but probably with some sauce left over. You might need to play a seventies album while eating in order to get the full impact – maybe ‘Fleetwood Mac’ or ‘The Year Of The Cat’. 4 tbsp redcurrant jelly 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce Juice of 1 lemon and the

Indonesian Satay Bread – A Random Recipe

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For this month’s Random Recipe challenge Dom of  Belleau Kitchen paired off last month’s entrants so that we could pick each other’s recipes. I was paired with Lucy of the excellent Vanilla Frost . Sadly for poor Lucy I spend a fair amount of time off line and away from technology but we eventually managed make a suitable selection following some exotic numerology. I got Sonia Allison’s ‘Complete Bread Machine Cookbook’, first published in 2001. More years ago than I care to remember we bought a bread machine. They were very new at the time and, compared to today’s models, pretty basic. We used it off and on but it didn’t produce great bread. Years later I was given Ms Allison’s book and quickly came to the conclusion that the worst thing about our bread machine was the book of recipes that came with it. Thanks to Ms Allison I learnt a new respect for bread machines. OK I know that as a food blogger I should be making my own sourdough loaves in an oven fired by driftwood gathered o

Turkey In A Chilli, Nut and Chocolate Sauce

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For this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog has issued the challenge of using chilli with chocolate. I have a slightly childish fascination for the way that chocolate can enhance and balance the flavours of savoury dishes and so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. I’d like to tell you that this is an authentic Mexican dish but I don’t really do authentic. In fact, this started out as a Pat Chapman version of a Mexican recipe some time ago, but it’s wandered a fair way from the original now and seems to have picked up some hints of korma on the way. It might seem like a long list of ingredients, but it’s actually a pretty simple dish to put together. You can use more chillies if you like, but personally I think this dish should be fragrant rather than seriously hot. The amount given here should serve 2 – 3. 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 – 2 tbsp fresh chillies, finely chopped 2 tsp sesame seeds ½ tsp cumin see

Le Pommé

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My apologies for the lack of posts and responses to email and comments for the last week or two. I was wandering around Normandy and out of touch with technology. I was very much in touch with apples, cider, pommeau and calvados, of course, and so I think an apple recipe is in order. In fact, this recipe is from the Sarthe region rather than Normandy but let's not worry about geography. Pommé is a kind of apple jam without added sugar – well, actually it’s more of a cross between a jam and an intense compote. The only ingredients are dessert apples, cider and a lot of time. The result is an amber-coloured, soft jam with an extraordinary depth of apple flavour. The flavour of  pommé will vary a lot with the type of apple chosen and I think the best option is to use a mix of sharp and sweet apples, if you have them. I used a mix of British dessert apples with Worcester Pearmain the main variety. The recipe doesn’t take a lot of effort once the preparation’s done but you do need a d

Tomato and Plum Soup

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This recipe is a handy and tasty variation on tomato soup that uses plums to give a sweet and sour flavour. It’s based on a Michael Smith recipe from the 1980s. I don’t mean Michael Smith the very successful Scottish chef or Michael Smith the well-known Canadian TV chef; I’m talking about Michael Smith the cookery writer, TV chef of his day and great champion of British food, who sadly died back in 1989. This may not be exactly Mr Smith’s original recipe, but the spirit is there. It’s possible to make this with tinned tomatoes if you’re stuck for fresh, but you’re likely to need less passata in that case. It’s crucial to get the balance of sweet and sour right for this soup and you may need to adjust the amount of sugar you add depending on the sweetness of the plums and tomatoes you’re using. This will make 4 or 5 decent-sized portions. 1 onion, chopped 500 g plums (preferably red ones), stoned 325 g tomatoes, deseeded (you don’t have to be fanatical about the deseeding) 30

Torta di Zucca e Mele

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For the September We Should Cocoa challenge Chele of Chocolate Teapot has decided that we should celebrate the first birthday of We Should Cocoa. I was thinking of making a cake but that didn’t seem like a celebration somehow – after all, I’ve made cakes for other entries in the challenge. I was struggling to think of something different when my wife suggested this torta. This feels like a celebratory dessert to me because it’s not only delicious and seasonal, it’s also just that bit out of the ordinary (well, actually, it seems downright odd when you look at the list of ingredients) . The finished torta is thin, very moist, fairly delicate, not too sweet and tastes properly grown up. Not obviously suitable for a first birthday party, perhaps, but I’ve very little experience with 1 year olds, I'm afraid. There are a number of different variations on this torta but this version is essentially a Sophie Grigson recipe from the late 1980’s. I’m assuming that you know relatively r

Navettes–A Random Recipe

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For this month’s Random Recipe challenge   Dom of Belleau Kitchen has challenged us to pick a recipe at random from among those we’ve torn out of magazines, newspapers and the like. Fair enough, I thought, and went to my box of disorderly clippings and pulled out a recipe for Navettes cut from a well-known French magazine (I’m naming no names). I was a happy bunny because I’ve always fancied making these. Navettes are mostly associated with Marseille and are somewhere between a cake and a biscuit. They’re supposed to look a little like boats and, according to one story, may date back as far as ancient Egypt where they were made in the likeness of the boat that carried Isis. Not sure I really buy that, but I love a good story and this does seem to be a genuinely very old recipe. So I cheerfully began to make the navettes. But, Dear Reader, let this be a salutary lesson to us all. As I’ve discovered more than once in the past, the recipes in magazines are sometimes not subject to th

Tomato Tarte Tatin

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It’s not been a great year for tomatoes in our garden but then it’s not been that bad either. I wish I could pass on gems of wisdom about how to grow the best tomatoes in a variable climate but I’m still wondering myself.  The only useful thing that I think I can say is that, after a number of years, Sungold is still my favourite variety of tomato to grow. It’s small, relatively common and doesn’t look too inspiring but it’s reliable and has the sweetest and most addictive flavour when freshly picked of any tomato that I’ve ever tried to grow. On the other hand, if you have some larger tomatoes to use up, then this recipe is excellent. To call it a Tarte Tatin is likely to have the Tatin sisters turning in their graves, but let’s not worry too much about that for the moment. This is an Australian recipe by Marieke Brugman and I first came across it some years ago when she was still at the apparently now defunct Howqua Dale Gourmet Retreat in Victoria. You can find the full recipe he

Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream

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In my last blog entry I was extolling the virtues of prunes in armagnac and the sheer joy of using them in ice cream. Assuming that you have some armagnac-soaked prunes, then the easiest way to create an ice cream is to stir some chopped prunes with their armagnac juices into softened, shop-bought vanilla ice cream. But, although the following recipe is more complicated, it’s much nicer in my opinion. The taste is truly intense and the combination of the residual alcohol and mascarpone makes for a velvety smooth feel. Definitely a grown-up sort of ice cream and definitely one of my favourites. You don’t have to soak the prunes for 4 weeks to make this ice-cream – overnight will do at a pinch – but if you have got the patience then I promise it’s well worth the wait. 200 g armagnac-soaked prunes, drained 125 ml of the armagnac-laden prune-soaking liquid 125 g caster sugar 125 g fromage frais (preferably not the very low-fat version) 200 g mascarpone 1 egg yolk 50 g icing

Prunes in Armagnac

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A month or so ago I found some prunes just lying around doing nothing. Since it was a wet afternoon and I was thinking about sunnier days, I decided to soak them in some armagnac in a Gascogne manner. Actually, this is not really a Gascogne manner - it’s just what I do. There are many variations on prunes in armagnac and maybe my method is not entirely traditional, but it works for me. You could, of course, use brandy if armagnac is in short supply or a bit too expensive but if you’re approached by anyone looking even slightly like they come from the south of France and asking awkward questions, then please tell them that you’ve never heard of me and that I never said the bit about brandy. Once the prunes have matured they not only smell fantastic, they’re also extremely useful. They can be used in tarts, clafoutis and many other desserts but they’re also great in sauces and stuffings with pork and poultry or in terrines and casseroles. Probably the favourite way of eating them

Rosewater Rice and Chocolate Coconut Tarts

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For this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog has challenged us to use both rose and chocolate. I thought of a number of ways to put the two flavours together, but came to the conclusion that this isn’t an easy combination to carry off. So in the end I thought it would be safest to borrow a few ideas. I’ve pinched the idea of the tart case from a Donna Hay recipe. Essentially she uses a simple coconut macaroon recipe to make tart cases by shaping them in muffin tins. It might not be as adaptable as a conventional pastry tart case but with the right filling it makes a great alternative. For the filling, I’ve added rosewater to rice, which is a combination that seems to turn up everywhere from Greece to India and most places between. Finally, all that sweetness needs some dark chocolate on the top to balance it – or maybe I was just thinking about Bounty bars. This should make 8 – 10 tarts, depending on exactly how big your muffin tin might be. For t

Smoked Garlic Soup

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Not that far from here, just across the Channel in the north of France, lies the little town of Arleux , where they’ve been producing smoked garlic for over 400 years. Originally, it seems, the garlic was smoked to ensure that it could be kept for a long period but these days it’s more for its flavour. I first heard of Arleux when I came across a version of this simple soup, although I have to admit that this recipe is not authentically Arleusienne. It’s also not as overwhelmingly garlicky as you might think, especially since I’ve near enough halved the amount of garlic in the original. Quite rightly the people of Arleux celebrate their local produce by holding a festival - ‘La foire à l'ail fumé’ - in September every year  and have a Confrérie to support and promote the garlic - La Confrérie de l'Ail Fumé d'Arleux . I’m particularly pleased to note that they wear fantastic hats. (Although possibly not as fantastic as the hats of La Noble Confrérie du Gâteau Battu – bu

Coconut Sorbet – A Random Recipe

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For this month’s  Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe challenge I arbitrarily selected the book “Simple Good Food” by the formidable Jean-Georges Vongerichten, co-authored by the redoubtable Mark Bittman. This is an excellent book which I’ve used on many occasions – in fact, it tends to fall open at the Pork Baeckoffe page. This time, though, I opened it in the dessert section and came up with Coconut Sorbet. I’ve looked at this recipe in the past and somehow it just seemed too simple to work. Oh me of little faith – I now know that it’s excellent. Really simple to make but delicious to eat. It’s called a sorbet and technically I suppose it is but the result is a lot creamier than any normal sorbet and pure in both colour and taste. The sorbet worked really well alongside mango and berries dressed with a little lime juice but it was also lovely on its own. I’ve halved the quantity given in the book because that’s all my little ice cream maker can handle but it still produced a fair amo

Iced Carrot Cake and Almost Mr Grace

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I promise that this post will be about food very shortly, but first I need to make my brief annual cricketing digression. So here goes - I met W.G. Grace at a bus stop in the early 1970s. (In case you’re unaware of the Great Man, W.G. Grace was the finest cricketer that ever lived – he certainly seemed to think so. ) It wasn’t really W.G. Grace that I met - after all he died in 1915 - but this man definitely looked a lot like him. It would have been the cricket season at the time because I’m sure it was summer. In fact nobody really bothered with winter back then – it just didn't seem necessary. We got talking. I probably said something witty like “Do you know that you look like W.G. Grace?” In return, he told me two things about food that I’ve sort of remembered ever since (I told you I’d get to the food bit eventually). First, he told me that there was a fish that nobody wanted to eat and so it cost next to nothing but was really tasty. One of these days it was going to b

Tomato and Chilli Jam - A Random Recipe

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For this month’s Random Recipe Challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has asked us to select  a recipe (randomly, of course) from our favourite cookbook. Well, I’ve got a fair number of favourites, mostly made up of books that remind me of good times. It’s difficult to choose just one among those, so instead I’ve gone for my favourite practical cookbook. This is the one I reach for whenever I need to remind myself how to do something or when I need a reliable recipe in a hurry. That used to be Delia, but recently it’s been Darina Allen’s ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’.  (Not that I’ve got anything against Delia, I hasten to add). On opening this weighty tome I was faced with a page of chutney and relish recipes and, since I’m currently blessed with a generous harvest of chillies from the plants on my windowsills, I seized on a Tomato and Chilli Jam recipe. Once I started to make the jam, though, I felt a bit of a fraud since it’s very similar to the recipe that I usually use for chilli jam.

Lime and Basil Frozen Yogurt

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I recently promised that I’d post a low-fat frozen yogurt recipe, so here goes. On a warm summer’s day when the need for cooling refreshment comes upon me like a thing that comes upon you, then that’s the time that I want something made with limes. I’ve recently seen a number of ices that combine lime with basil and I’m happy to confirm that it’s a combination that works. If you have an ice-cream maker, then this recipe is really simple but very refreshing. But first, a short digression on basil. There’s a temptation when writing down recipes to say something like “add two or three leaves of basil”. Well this year I've been growing Neapolitan basil and the leaves are huge as the following picture of an average-sized leaf reveals. I’ll never specify the number of basil leaves in a recipe again (probably). And now, finally, the recipe.... Zest of 1 lime Zest of ½ lemon 500 ml low-fat Greek yogurt (around 2%-3% fat, ideally) 110 ml agave nectar 2 tbsp lime juice 2 tsp ver