Archive for April, 2008

on weaknesses: sweet things

April 30, 2008

mrB and I have been watching Lark Rise to Candleford, a period drama set in rural England at the end of the 1800’s. One of the main characters, Miss Lane, the postmistress of Candleford, confesses in almost every episode about her one weakness, which usually involves eating something sweet that her housekeeper has baked especially for the occasion.

She’s not the only one to have developed a weakness for sweet things. I love to eat cake in the afternoons, washed down with a good cup of coffee or tea. Last week, my afternoons were fuelled by a delicious fat-free chocolate cake baked by our lovely neighbours. This week, it’s the turn of my very own white chocolate cake. I was proud to return the clean plate with a few slices hiding under some foil. Only this time, the cake was not quite so healthy on the fat front. But sshhh, don’t tell the neighbours!

Read the rest of this entry »


cornish pasties: or are they?

April 28, 2008

There is much debate about how to make a traditional cornish pasty. Should the filling be raw or pre-cooked? Should the crimp be on the top or the side? And there is even debate about the origin of the pasty. A recipe from Devon found in a book dated 1510 pips Cornwall’s oldest pasty recipe by over 200 years, according to an article I came across in the Independent.

One thing is for sure though: if you don’t live anywhere near Devon or Cornwall, a homemade pasty beats a shop-bought pasty every time. The filling of a pasty I sampled recently consisted mainly of mashed potato, tiny traces of meat and the odd stripe of carrot. Not a bit like the real thing, which usually contains small pieces of steak, onion, potato and swede.

Read the rest of this entry »

one pot dinner: sausage casserole

April 24, 2008

Last Saturday, mrB and I went to Bury Lane Farm Shop, near Royston in Hertfordshire. This farm shop has an excellent meat counter stocked with delights such as venison, rabbit and a great selection of sausages. The sausages include local ones such as Musk’s of Newmarket and sausages from further afield such as  Toulouse.

When you cook them, Toulouse sausages retain their deep pink colour and meaty texture, and ooze a rich garlic flavour that mingles with the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Perfect for cassoulets and casseroles.
Read the rest of this entry »

clafoutis: come again?

April 21, 2008

Clafoutis, a batter-based dessert with cherries from the Limousin region in the heart of France. It’s a bit like an egg custard and happens to be the theme of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day #19, hosted by Bron Marshall.

This time round, I’ve stuck with the traditional cherry clafoutis but you can make this dessert with other fruits, fresh or preserved. I’m thinking of trying plums next time.

So, when you want a dessert that’s simple and quick to make, I recommend you try baking a clafoutis. mrB recommends it too!

Read the rest of this entry »

comfort food: bake in the oven crinkle-cut chips

April 18, 2008

I woke up with a stinking cold this morning. And it’s been making me feel miserable I can tell you. There’s only one thing that’s going to make me feel better. Crinkle-cut chips.

Preparing chips using a crinkle cutter increases surface area, which means the chips will absorb more oil when they cook. Not very healthy, but then you do end up with crunchier chips which is good because that’s how I like them. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, served with a dash of cider vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can bake your chips with thin slices of garlic and fresh thyme leaves.

What do you eat when you’re feeling under the weather?

Read the rest of this entry »

Devon cream tea: clotted cream or jam on top?

April 15, 2008

mrB and I were in Devon last week, land of the cream tea. Except we didn’t lay our sticky fingers on a single scone. We had some fine asparagus tart and rhubarb crumble, all cooked by mrB’s mum, but no scone, strawberry jam or clotted cream. And I’d been hankering after a cream tea for weeks. You see, you just can’t get a quality cream tea over here in East Anglia. Either you end up with a pot of whipped cream, or the scones are way too big.

So this morning, I set about making my own clotted cream and baking some scones. All is well with the world again. 

Now the question is, do you spread the jam or the clotted cream first? mrB insists on spreading the cream like butter and then placing a dollop of jam on the top…

Read the rest of this entry »

yoghurt cake with lemon and poppy seeds

April 10, 2008

Now here’s a cake for those of you who don’t have weighing scales or a mixer in your kitchen. All the measuring is done with yoghurt pots and spoons; the mixing is done with a hand whisk.

I’d been thinking about making yoghurt cake for about a week now. Then, earlier this week, Deb of smitten kitchen posted a recipe for lemon yoghurt anything cake, a kind of lemon drizzle cake with blueberries that had my mouth watering. I particularly liked Deb’s suggestion of replacing the blueberries with poppy seeds, and so there you have it: yoghurt cake with lemon and poppy seeds.

Read the rest of this entry »

7 ideas for savoury tarts

April 9, 2008

Back in November, I went on a cookery course at a farmhouse on the other side of Bury St Edmunds, not all that far from where I live.  Part of the course was devoted to pastry making. I remember on that day we made small tarts for lunch followed by a quick demo of making dressings for salads; I think the tarts were almost ready to come out of the oven.

One of the great things about the cookery course was sitting down together, sampling all the things we’d created, and talking about how we’d got on with making the recipes. The conversation naturally steered towards fantasising about all the possible flavour combinations you can use in a tart.

We came up with delights such as:

  • slow-roasted tomato, pesto and parmesan tart
  • goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tart
  • ham, mushroom and gruyère tart
  • ham, cheddar and spring onion tart

Over the last week, I’ve dreamed up some vegetarian combinations and thought about what to serve with the tarts:

  • goat’s cheese, roasted red pepper and thyme tart, served with mesclun (as shown at the top of this post)
  • cheddar, onion, potato and rosemary tart, served with parsnip crisps


  • mushroom, stilton and sage tart, served with purple-sprouting broccoli


Making lots of small tarts is a good way of using up all those leftover bits of cheese or other bits and bobs that are kicking around the fridge because you need only a small amount of any particular component.

What combinations would you use in your tarts?

Read the rest of this entry »

how to make your own tortilla chips

April 7, 2008

mrB returned home from work and wanted a snack, fast. mrsB had some salsa kicking around from lunch. What to make? Homemade tortilla chips and salsa, that’s what.

Read the rest of this entry »

on clippings: chickpea patties

April 3, 2008

I have a large envelope stuffed full of recipes that I’ve cut out of magazines over the years. Every now and again, I sift through my collection looking for inspiration on what to cook. Some dishes regularly make appearances at our kitchen table while others get put away for another time.

This particular dish was inspired by a glossy recipe card, sent to me in the post. As it was developed by a company that makes dairy products, the original list of ingredients contained yoghurt. But as I’d already had yoghurt in yesterday’s roast pork wrap, I gave that a miss. However, if you find your patties don’t hold together so well when you’re shaping them, try adding a tablespoon of thick, plain yoghurt to help bind the ingredients.

Read the rest of this entry »