Showing posts from September, 2011

Tomato and Plum Soup

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

This dessert is 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.  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 restrained people, in which case this will serve around 8 of them. 2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 175 g pumpkin (weigh chunks of the flesh with no seeds or skin) 80 g caster sugar 2 tbsp milk 60 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped 60 g amaretti biscuits (not the soft ones), crushed into small pieces but not to a powder 60 g semi-dried figs, finely chopped 30 g sultanas ½ tbsp cocoa powder Finely grated zest of 1 lemon ½ tsp vanilla extract or paste 2 tbsp brandy 2 eggs, lightly beaten Grease and line a


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 sometime

Prune and Armagnac Ice Cream

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