Archive for the 'food' Category

Cameron’s super-delicious improvised chocolate panettone pudding

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Some years ago, Cameron had a corporate thing in the kitchen of a famous restaurant (in Hamburg so not famous to me, but apparently it is. Here.) He was i/c pudding and made a lovely and very complicated bread-and-butter-esque thing with panettone and spiced clementines and wow it is fab and he makes it every year when I buy him panettone for Christmas.

Fast-forward to this weekend: friends for dinner, being very January and uninspired about the whole thing, then saw this whacking great panettone tin in the kitchen and decided Cameron was on pudding duty.  Only trouble being we had no white chocolate, no clementines or orange juice, and not very much butter. So (and bear in mind that Cameron really doesn’t cook) he improvised, as follows, and it was a huge success and you should all make it too. Next time you have panettone lying about.

260g panettone
150g dark chocolate
200g mix of butter and stork
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
6 egg yolks (blimey no wonder I have no eggs left this week)
100g flour

Cut the panettone into small squares and melt the chocolate. Mix the butter (stork) in your mixer “to a foamy mass” adding the sugar a little at a time, then beat in the eggs, yolks, and melted chocolate. Add the flour then the panettone. The original folded this last in gently but C went for beating all kinds of hell out of it, so I think you can mix it as much as you like: large cubes or pulverized crumbs.

Put in dish; bake at 180 for, well, I gave it half an hour and it was a bit too runny still in the middle, but you don’t want it to set firm and dry.  Scoff.

My new and amazing sauce for icecream

Friday, November 18th, 2011

You need the lovely Montezuma‘s dark chocolate with orange and geranium; about 1/4 – 1/3 of a bar per person. Break it up a bit and put it in a nice little bowl. Add a dollop of butter (bigger than a knob; not quite a slice), some double cream and some agave syrup and whack it in the microwave for 45 seconds or so. Mix it around with a fork and pour onto vanilla icecream.

(If you really must, you can keep it in the fridge and re-microwave it the next day.)



Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Like Clair, I am not being put off by a lack of a theme. Today: random food witterings. Since my gorgeous weekend at Mamaheaven, I have been thinking about improving our diet – since having Jenny we have slipped rather into the fishfingers and oven chips mode; she’s 17 months now and the excuse doesn’t really cut it any more. After scoffing all the chocolate, to get it out of the way, I have been sprouting seeds on the windowsill in a special seed-sprouty jar, and adding spirulina to random fruit smoothies. I made spelt pastry! (All of which is aided by my campaign to use up things from the cupboard, pre-move.) I took some books from the library, most useful of which has been the Accidental Vegetarian, from which I have tried 4 or 5 recipes so far. Just this morning I discovered, serendipitously, that it is national vegetarian week: coincidentally, I haven’t cooked meat since last Thursday.

So far this week: gnocchi with rosemary ragu (7/10 – would have been better with a bit of bacon); fried halloumi with vinaigrette, brown rice and steamed greens (8/10); Italian bean stew (8/10); blueberry pancakes, which oddly contained cottage cheese (8/10). Scores mine as I suspect my carnivorous family might score slightly lower – though the kids really loved the halloumi and they always like a beany stew. I am going to make aubergine chilli tonight then head to yoga…


Monday, March 22nd, 2010

This is a post for Karen’s pimp my menu project

Yes yes, roast chicken. Not a pimped menu, but a staple; I love a meal that makes three (at least: roast on the Sunday cold-with-veg* on Monday, sandwiches for lunch and I always but always make stock; just call me Martha). However, I decided to tart it up a bit this weekend. Not a total success in that the children were highly suspicious of the spicey bit, even though I omitted chilli of any description, and Tamsin doesn’t like couscous this week, but there was plenty of unmucked-about-with chicken meat to satisfy their carnivorous tendancies – I have odd children – and broccoli on the side is always safe. And followed with a rice pud so there weren’t too many complaints overall.

Anyway. I took one chicken, defrosted rapidly in the sink because I forgot until I was already in bed on Saturday and couldn’t persuade myself to do the sensible thing and go back down to get it. I put a halved lemon inside and poured olive oil all over then coated the skin in a crushed-up mixture of sesame, coriander and cumin seeds, salt, pepper, and orange zest. It’s a bit of a Jamie recipe done from memory (so possibly little resembles his). In the oven at 200C to roast in a normal fashion. An hour before it was due to come out, added a cut-up red pepper and a couple of quartered red onions to the tin.

When it was ready I hoiked out the chicken, poured off most of the fat and squeezed the lemon bits into the tin. I added about 300 ml water and brought it all to the boil then poured it into a saucepan to which I added 250 g couscous, some chopped dried apricots and cranberries, the chopped-up onion and pepper, some salt and a bit of crushed coriander seed. 5 mins with the lid on over a very low flame, and bob’s your uncle.

*Sadly never nice bubble-and-squeak-type veg because, regardless of how many roast potatoes I make, we never fail to eat all but one.


Friday, March 19th, 2010

This is a post for Karen’s pimp my menu project
yum yumCameron has been away this week, so I am excused cooking beyond that of the basic fishfingers and chips variety necessary to sustain life. Thus, this week I give you biscuits with a slight smirk in Karen’s direction as she rolls her eyes at those missing the point.

The recipe was on the back of the green and black’s bar I scoffed in a fit of low blood sugar one afternoon at 4 (secretly in the kitchen, having made the children have fruit). They are a bit fall-aparty and the chocolate chips are unnecessary and frankly not that nice (I used plain, of which I am not fond;  milk might be a different matter). The biscuit part is very nice though. As follows :-

Prepare shortbreads 1 and 2 as below; rest them in the fridge for half an hour. Roll them into rectangles approx 1 cm thick and put s/bread 2 on top of s/bread 1. Scatter 100g chopped chocolate over the top (I really wouldn’t bother) then, using greaseproof paper to support it, roll them together like a swiss roll. Squish and squeeze with your hands into a sausage about 22cm long* then slice with a sharp knife into 1-cm-thick rounds. Bake at 150C for 25 minutes; cool on a rack**.

Shortbread 1: 150 g plain flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 50 g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter. Mix in mixer until a dough.
Shortbread 2: 125 g plain flour, 25g cocoa, 1/2 tsp salt, 50 g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter. Mix in mixer until a dough.

*This is where the sums go a bit wonky as 22 cm divided into 1 cm slices will clearly make 22 biscuits; the recipe says “makes 14”. I got 18.

**If you do this immediately, not only will they completely fall apart, the melted chocolate swirl drips out and welds the bisctuis to the rack. I suggest cooling on the greaseproof paper.

Pimp my menu: curry

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

This is a post for Karen’s pimp my menu project

Ok, so I wasn’t going to include this because the spices came out of a packet, which felt like cheating, but then Karen said it could be anything you don’t usually cook, thus granting me permission to include all sorts of readymade jars and microwave meals. Maybe not entirely within the spirit of the thing, but hey. I might tell you all about an asda pizza or something next week.

Last summer, I hosted a “Jamie at home” party, at home*. It left me with several packets of spices in the cupboard, each nicely wrapped in cardboard with a shopping list and instructions. The chicken one was lovely but they are very spicy, and my children do not eat anything spicy (which is the main reason they – the mixes, not the children – have been in the cupboard for so long; I am not somebody who chooses to cook two separate meals very often.) That said, Saturday night is curry night so I decided to try the lamb rogan josh. This cooking from a packet malarky is easy and fun! Marinate lamb in a mixture of brown spices and yogurt; use food processor to blitz onions and peppers, cook with rest of brown spices; add lamb, simmer. Put yellow spices and rice in rice cooker.

Unfortunately it looked like nothing so much as cat sick with yellow rice. Eaten with closed eyes, it was surprisingly tasty. Could have done with some veg.

*without Jamie.

Spicy squash soup

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Fry a chopped onion and some garlic (I used 3 cloves, peeled but not chopped) in some olive oil until they are starting to look quite brown and caramelisedy (it is too a word).  Add about 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/3 tsp flaked dried chilli; stir about a bit then pour in about 500 ml nice chicken stick (home made for even more smugness). Add 1 1/2 minute but home-grown butternut squashes, diced (or, I don’t know, about half of a normal shop-sized one), and simmer with the lid on until that goes soft and, ahem, squashy. Let it cool a bit then blitz to a gorgeous smooth thick soup.  Scoff the lot then lie groaning on the sofa until it is time to get the children (who wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway).


Friday, February 20th, 2009

(For Karen, with apologies for the delay.)

For normal meringues or pavlova, ignore any nonsense you see about cornflour or vinegar. Delia says they are not necessary, and she knows best. All you need is eggs and caster sugar: 2 oz of the latter for every large one of the former. A scrupulously clean bowl (grease stops the eggs whipping properly)  and separate the eggs individulally into a cup or bowl because if you get even a dot of yolk in, ditto.

Whisk the egg whites – I did this by hand once and once only, you really need a mixer or at the very least an electric hand whisk – until they stand in soft peaks and you can turn the bowl upside down without them falling out (test this cautiously!) – but no more as you can over-beat.  Whisk the sugar in a dessertspoon at a time; the eggs will look all lovely and shiny. Use white sugar for white meringues; I usually use golden with no ill effects. Best of all, substitute a couple of dessertspoons of the caster sugar with light muscovado or rapadura for lovely fudgey meringue.

For meringues, blob tablespoonfuls onto baking parchment on a baking sheet. (I believe you can use a piping bag for neatness if you are so inclined: I’ve never tried it.) Treat it reasonably gently as you don’t want to squash the air out, but don’t fret, it is more robust that you’d think. For a pav, trace a circle on the paper – I use a side-plate – and spread meringue into a circle to make the base, then blob tablespoons round the circumference to make the edge. You can use a skewer to make nice pointy turrets.

Put into the oven, which you have preheated to 150C. Immediately turn the oven down to 140, then after an hour turn it off altogether. Leave the meringue in the oven until it is cold, though (usually overnight).

For chocolate meringue, after you’ve added all the sugar, sift in some cocoa – about 1/2 tbsp (certainly no more than this) per egg white – and grate in some plain chocolate (about 50 g for 4 egg whites, or thereabouts).


Thursday, December 4th, 2008

star and tree(Sorry Karen, I know you are fed up of Christmas already – but people have Asked, so there.)

The recipe for these lovely Jewel Biscuits is taken almost un-fiddled-with from the lovely Scheherezade Goldsmith’s lovely Christmas book (subtitle: how to have a really lovely jolly eco Christmas; chapter 1: first acquire an enormous amount of money and several hundred acres of Herefordshire. Add staff to do the menial stuff while you footer about with felt and oranges, and find friends of the sort to appreciate a galvanised bucket of salt as a present.)


Cream 100g butter and 275g caster sugar. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 large eggs, then sift in 525g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up with a slosh of milk until it is nice and doughy, then wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so (NB Sheherezade does not specify clingfilm as it is not very eco. Use whatever you like.)

Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the dough on a nice floury surface, to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut shapes – I did a Christmas tree, a star and a bell – and use a smaller cutter (or the lid of a  screw-cap wine bottle) to make holes. Fill the holes with crushed hardboiled sweets* (S says they should be organic; I used Foxes). You could sprinkle some caster sugar over now, for a glittery effect, but I found I preferred a snowy dusting of icing sugar once they were cooled. Don’t forget to make a hole if you want to hang them – and you really do, else you can’t appreciate the stained-glass centres. Put in the oven on baking sheets covered in baking parchment, about 10 minutes: move the entire bit of parchment onto the cooling rack and leave until completely cold. Icing sugar; ribbon (cellophane bag for school fete).

Oh, and the book says this makes 12 cookies…mine were reasonably large (palm-sized trees and stars; slightly smaller bells), certainly as big as you would want, and I got about 30, plus another 15 toddler-sized plain stars when I ran out of sweets.

*My entire kitchen is covered in minute shards of hardboiled sweet. Ignore at your peril Sheherezade’s top tip of putting them in a (clean, recycled) plastic bag before bashing with a rolling pin: the individual plastic wrappers Do Not Do. Or, as I found rather late in the process, if you get your hole the right sort of size – say the size of the wine-bottle top – you don’t have to crush at all, just bung an intact sweety in. They melt just the same.


Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

You may remember me previously bemoaning my inability to make a good flapjack. They taste good (great, even) but never fail to fall to bits – or they are so hard as to extract teeth. When Mia came to visit she and Maggie made flapjacks that were very tasty and nearly stayed together, kick-starting my quest again. They were good, but definitely towards the thin and chewy end of the flapjack scale (for reference: 3 oz butter, 3 oz brown sugar, 4 oz oats and 10 min at 180 C* I think, perhaps Mia will correct me if I am wrong. She blamed their slight crumbliness on me having the wrong sort of sugar.) What I really want is thicker and chewier, and last night I made it! (Hoorah, I hear you cry.) As follows:

Melt 8 oz butter and stir in 8 oz brown sugar (soft rather than demerara). Beat in an egg then add some nutmeg, 10 0z porridge oats and 4 oz sultanas. Push into greased (and lined) tin and bake for an hour at 150 C.

I know you are dying to know the secret and I believe it is this, as explained by Mia: no golden syrup (and the egg probably helps). I am going to revisit my delicious yet intractable apple flapjack recipe later,  and see if I can persuade it to stick together.

*One hundred and eighty what? Elephants?