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Showing posts from January, 2012

Roasted Squash and ‘Nduja Soup

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I'm ashamed to say that if asked a year or two ago I would have guessed that ‘nduja was an obscure form of martial art undertaken only by itinerant goatherds in Tibet. These days I know that it’s a soft, fiery Calabrian pork sausage, which is delicious eaten as it is with a little bread but also makes an excellent addition to risottos, pasta sauces, stews and, as in this case, soups. If you haven’t tried it, you may be put off by the price or by the fact that it’s become a tad trendy. Please ignore the trendiness and, although it can be quite expensive, a little does go a long way. The sweetness of squash combines well with the ‘nduja and I used the variety 'crown prince' to make this soup. Crown prince is difficult to peel but has a lovely nutty flavour with a rather dry texture that I like a lot. Other types of squash will also work perfectly well. This same combination of roasted squash and ‘nduja can also be used to make an excellent risotto, especially if some chop

Laal Maans

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I’ve made a few versions of this dish in the past but I can’t remember where I first came across the recipe. Until recently I’ve used a more complicated set of spices and only dried chillies. Back in 2010, though, a local restaurant Massala sent out a newsletter containing a recipe for laal maans that used fresh chillies and black and green cardamom. I've not used the Massala recipe here but I’ve taken those two ideas and shoehorned them into the recipe I’d already scribbled down from somewhere else. I don’t make a habit of recommending specific restaurants in this blog but since Massala is not only a short walk away from my house but also happens to serve extremely fine food, then I feel justified in making an exception. In particular, their dal makhani, which is black lentils cooked over charcoal for 30 hours, is really good. (And, just to be clear, I don't have any connection with the restaurant). Anyway, this is my version of laal maans and I like it even though it’s a

Pear and Chocolate Winter Mess

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For this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge Chele of Chocolate Teapot has asked us to be health conscious – although health conscious with some chocolate attached, of course. This simple recipe is a low-fat, winter alternative to the famous Eton mess (although it does contain a fair amount of sugar, so not that healthy). It’s made up of chocolate meringue, pears and something a little healthier than double cream. Happily, all the components can be prepared well in advance. The amounts given here should serve 4, probably with some meringue left over, but it all depends how much of each element you fancy using. Chocolate Meringues There’s nothing particularly special about this method of making meringues, so use any method you prefer. In my oven this method gives me the combination of crumbly and chewy that I like for this dish but no two ovens seem to produce truly identical meringues in my experience. You could cut the quantity but I find using less than 3 egg whites a bit fiddly

Pecan Puffs

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For this month’s Random Recipe challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has asked us to select a recipe from our newest book – maybe one we got for Christmas. Now I ‘m not trying to be difficult but it’s a few years since I bought a genuinely new cookery book and I don’t really do the Christmas present thing. So I’ve interpreted this challenge a little freely. The book that’s newest to me is one I bought from a charity bookstall – Sophie Grigson’s “Sophie’s Table” published back in 1990. Opening the book at random I was faced with a recipe (originally an American recipe, in fact) for Pecan Puffs, which bizarrely enough I saw Ms Grigson cook on a TV show just a few weeks ago. So that means that she’s been making these same biscuits for more than 20 years and you can’t get a better recommendation than that. She describes them as “devastatingly good” and, having tried them I absolutely agree. You can find the recipe here . You can replace the pecans with almonds, toasted hazelnuts or waln

Canelés

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And so here we are in 2012. Let me start by apologising in advance for any gaps in postings during the coming year – sadly, I may not have the opportunity to do as much cooking as I’d like. For the moment, though, there are a few recipes from last year that I want to tell you about. First of all, I must finally get around to posting my canelé recipe. Canelés can be problematical. There’s even disagreement about how to spell the word. Should there be a double ‘n’? (I stand by the spelling used by la Confrérie du Canelé de Bordeaux who officially shunned the extra ‘n’ in the 1980s.) Then there are the purists who insist that to make canelés you should only ever use purpose-made copper moulds and line them with beeswax.  So, if they’re problematical, why do I bother to make them? Simply because if you get them anywhere near right, then they’re fantastic . If you’ve never tried one, then imagine something like a really good crème brûlée in cake form. They’re great for breakfast, aftern