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Pain d’chien

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For years I've been intrigued by food from the very north of France, specifically around la Côte d'Opale. In part because, even in France, it's a cuisine that's often unfairly dismissed as consisting largely of variants of cheese on toast (Le Welsh), frites and mind-numbingly smelly cheeses such as Maroilles (it's actually a very fine cheese, honest). But the other reason was that the area is separated from the southern part of England by a very narrow stretch of sea and I was fascinated by the similarities and differences between the two styles of cooking. I've included a number of recipes that I've gathered from the area in the blog before such as Carbonade Flamande , Turkey with Beer and Juniper , Tarte au Maroilles and, my absolute favourite, Gâteau Battu . But the pain d'chien perfectly demonstrates the similarities between British and northern French food. If you're familiar with British bread pudding then pain d'chien is not surprising a

Chicken Moghlai from the 1980s

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As part of this year's nostalgic and somewhat bemused review of the food styles and recipes that so far I've neglected in the blog, I got to thinking about classic curries. I've included a couple of time-honoured (or, some might say, hopelessly out-of-date) curry recipes already -  Goat Rogan Josh  and  Lamb Bhuna  - but I couldn't resist adding this one. If you search for Moghlai cooking then you might well find it described as combining ancient traditions of Persian and Indian cooking. I'm sure that's the case but I've derived this dish from the more recent tradition of British curry houses of the 1980s. This is a delicate, rich and fragrant korma that's very characteristic of some of the dishes you'd find being celebrated back then. I've been reasonably faithful to the recipe of the time, but I've reduced the amount of cream a bit. The other change I've made is to use chicken thighs. Back in the 80s, you weren't thought to be makin

Apple Bread in a Breadmaker

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I mostly use my breadmaker to save time making dough which I then finish by baking in the oven. But this apple bread recipe is intended for days when you really don't have any time at all to faff about and is made entirely in the machine. It's a useful standby bread for busy celebration times like Easter or Christmas. I wouldn't call this a brioche because to me brioche means a LOT of butter but it's an enriched, sweetened bread that does have the feel of brioche. It's less rich than a classic brioche but it's also a bit less of a threat to the waistline and it proves that the old baking trick of replacing some of the butter with apple purée really does work. This makes a fine breakfast bread but is not too sweet to be used alongside savoury foods. It toasts well (but it tends to toast quickly, so be careful).  If you happen to have any left over, it will make a very useful base for a dessert or two such as a classic bread and butter pudding.  I've used som

Calf's Liver with Gin, Lime and Apricot Jam

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This is another step on my nostalgic journey through the past looking for the recipes and types of cooking that I've neglected or forgotten so far in this blog. This time we're back in the 1980s again for a style of British cooking that was based on classic cuisine but was a bit eccentric and purposefully never trendy. It also tended to be upmarket and expensive and so copying it at home was pretty much my only option. This dish is based, rather loosely, on a recipe by the indomitable John Tovey. The combination of liver, gin, lime and jam may sound like an outlandish notion now but back in the 1980s it didn't seem strange at all. There were certainly buckets of gin around back then but, with some noteworthy exceptions, I think they tasted pretty similar to each other. You can't go about your daily business these days without falling over a craft gin or three (and I'm all for that) but I wouldn't choose a modern gin that's too exotic in its flavour here. I

Chicken Liver Pâté with Rum, Mango and Pickled Chillies

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In my nostalgic journey through the past looking for the recipes that I've neglected or forgotten so far in this blog, I've arrived today at the mid to late 1980s. Not surprisingly, I'd come across Caribbean food by then, but only really the best known dishes like jerk chicken and goat curry. Around that time I became aware of a much wider range of flavours and styles in the Caribbean and Fusion restaurants in South London. This included very different recreations of dishes, like chicken liver pâté, that I thought I knew well.  This dish includes pickled chillies in the topping and I used pickled Havana Gold chillies that I grew last summer. This is a superb chilli to grow in the English climate with a mild, fruity, habanero-like flavour and a good colour. It's at its best grown in a greenhouse but it will also fruit well when grown in pots in a sunny spot. If you use commercial pickled chillies in this recipe, make sure that they're not so hot that they mask the f

Chicken and Sweet Potato with Olive, Basil and Lemon Sauce

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Recently I heard someone happily reminiscing about the recipes and styles of cooking that represented the different stages of their life. This blog has been going since 2009 and has close to 300 recipes and I imagined that it would fulfil that function for me. But when I looked back through the blog I realised that there are quite a few gaps. So, before I admit that enough is enough with this blogging malarkey, I've decided that my project for this year should be to try to fill at least some of those gaps. Yes, I know this is self-regarding nonsense, but I'm too old to care.  This isn't a history lesson, though, and I wouldn't necessarily want to recreate dishes from the past in their original form. I'd rather offer versions that I really want to eat today. I suppose that I should present these recipes in chronological order but I'm afraid that my mind doesn't work that way. So I'm starting in the 1990s for no very good reason at all. This recipe is a ri