Showing posts from August, 2012

The Curious Pineberry

I don't often talk about the goings-on in my garden, largely because I think that there are many bloggers who are much better informed than I am on matters horticultural. However, I can't resist a short digression on the very curious soft fruit known as the pineberry. Just a few short years ago articles started appearing on gardening sites about strange berries that looked like white strawberries with red seeds and that tasted a bit like pineapple. They were frequently believed to be April Fool jokes. The wildly different opinions on how good they tasted didn’t help. Some said they tasted of nothing at all, while others said that they were the best berries that they’d ever eaten. Last year I got hold of a few plants and grew some for myself and, for what it’s worth, here are my very unscientific and highly personal conclusions. They can be treated like any strawberry plant but they seem to be more sensitive to the cold and wet. So keep them sheltered in the winter, unless

Tarta de Santiago

This is a really well known traditional cake that you’ve probably seen many times before in books and blogs but I can’t resist bringing you my own version. It’s such a useful and versatile little treat. There are many variations around, including some which are more like a classic almond tart and some which are closer to the sort of substantial cake served with afternoon tea. For my first attempts at baking this cake many, many years ago I used a recipe that included butter and very pleasant it was too. Then someone from Spain told me that I should try it without the butter and that’s the way I prefer to make it now. This version is light, moist, simple, flourless and, admittedly, a little fragile. Although you can serve it very successfully with tea or coffee, this cake comes into its own as an excellent and easy dessert at any time of the year and after pretty much any sort of main course. You can serve it with cream, custard, yogurt or ice cream. You can also serve it with eithe

Honey and Brandy Ice Cream

For this month’s Random Recipe challenge hosted as usual by Dom at Belleau Kitchen I’m going back to the 1980s for a dessert that’s strictly for grown-ups. It’s a remarkably simple and quick ice cream that doesn’t need an ice cream machine and that stays soft enough to be eaten straight from the freezer. From one of my less-used shelves I randomly picked a slim volume called ‘The London Restaurant Recipe Book’ published in 1983, which features a number of the best-known restaurants of that time. It’s like a window onto a lost age. Alistair Little was still at 192, Stephen Bull was at Lichfield’s, Pierre Koffman was at La Tante Claire and David Bowie had just released ‘Let’s Dance’. French fine cuisine was still the predominant style, although I rather doubt the Frenchness of some of the recipes in this book. The random page took me to recipes by Patrick Gwynn-Jones of Pomegranates. Mr Gwynn-Jones opened this basement restaurant in Pimlico back in 1974 and it finally closed its do

Devon Flats and the Olympic Time Trials

You may have noticed that London is hosting the 2012 Olympics. I have the greatest respect for Olympians and sports people everywhere but sport tends to baffle and bemuse me in a similar way to calculus. I accept that it’s my loss. The only real exception for me  is cricket and even then I only enjoy the game when nothing much is happening. On the other hand, since the Olympic Cycling Time Trials took place in Surrey and actually passed by about a 1 minute walk from my front door, I would have to be a serious curmudgeon not to take a look. Well, I may be a curmudgeon but I’m rarely serious. I reckoned that I’d need sustenance to keep me going throughout the event. As I understood it (which is not very well), the cyclists in the time trial would set off at 90 second intervals, so I’d have to make something that I could eat in less than 90 seconds. That seemed to call for biscuits. Of course, it had to be British biscuits for patriotic reasons and so I baked some very traditional Dev

Gooseberry Pudding

The food and drink of Yorkshire might bring to mind rhubarb, Yorkshire pudding, Old Peculier, curd tart or a slice of fruit cake with a piece of Wensleydale cheese amongst many other fine things. On the other hand, you might not immediately associate gooseberries with Yorkshire. In fact, there’s a long and very proud tradition of growing gooseberries in that county. The finest symbol of that tradition is the  Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show , which is now over 200 years old and, I believe, can boast that one of its competitors holds the world record for the heaviest gooseberry. This recipe doesn’t require world record sized berries. It’s a very old-fashioned pudding that’s based, albeit loosely, on an Eliza Acton recipe from 1845. Actually, in some form or other, the dish is probably a fair bit older than that. It’s not the most attractive looking pudding but it is seriously full of flavour. This should serve four unless you have the appetite of a particularly aggressive fast bowler fr