Showing posts from February, 2011

Lunch at The Bull

I have blogged before about this dining pub in Dorset, a real gem, hidden away in the countryside. A return visit confirmed what I felt about the place before: that it is an excellent pub with food....

The day did not begin well: intent on an early morning walk on the beach to work up an appetite for lunch, I left the house and went to the car, only to be confronted by a huge, freshly-laid dog turd. Making a mental note to instruct father-in-law to clear it up ASAP, I got in the car, turned the key  - and nothing. Nada. Niente. The alarm chirrupped, the lights came on and off, but the engine: dead. This is the peril of having a very sophisticated all-singing all-dancing car with a multitude of electronic gizmos and gadgets. It has happened to me once before, and not that long ago, at the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais on my way back from France at Christmas. It was embarrassing to be stranded, not least because I was queueing in the priority boarding lane. A Basil Fawlty-ish scenario e…


Lamb with rice-shaped pasta

This simple, tasty and comforting slow-cooked lamb dish comes from Tessa Kiros's charming book 'Falling Cloudberries'. The title is enough to encourage you to open the book, while the subtitle - "a world of family recipes" - gives a clue to its contents. Inside is a collection of recipes from Tessa's family, the places where they lived and their travels - in Greece, Cyprus, South Africa, Italy, and Finland. Beautifully illustrated and containing delightful family anecdotes, this is a lovely collection of homely recipes.

I bought the book because a friend cooked Cypriot Baked Lamb with Cumin and Oregano, and it was so delicious, I figured the rest of the book must be worth having. Admittedly, I do not use it that often, but, like any cookbook which has become like a good friend to me, I do enjoy browsing its pages, and there are a couple of recipes which have become favourites which I cook regularly.

Youvetsi is a popular Greek lamb …


I don't often make homemade jams and preserves, partly because I rarely eat bread or toast, but now and then it is nice to make something to offer as a gift. And very occasionally, I do crave a slick of shiny, sharply-flavoured homemade marmalade on a slice of sourdough toast.

If you're quick, you can still catch the Seville oranges which are available at the moment. When I was a child, the arrival of the Sevilles from Spain was an event awaited with much anticipation by my father, who was (and still is) the family jam and marmalade maker, a habit he inherited from his own father. My paternal grandfather made all kinds of jams, preserves and pickles, probably a hangover from wartime, when, thanks to his economy, his garden and allotment, and his hens and rabbits, the entire family were well-provided for during rationing. I remember the shelves of his larder stacked with all kinds of interesting, wine-coloured preserves, or his infamous mustard-yellow Piccalilli. Grandad's …


No. 6 Mae Ploy Red Thai Curry Paste

I make Indian curries fairly frequently and I would never ever dream of using a bought sauce. Contrary to popular belief, a marinade or sauce for a curry is very easy to make, even if it involves a little advance planning.

However, Asian and far Eastern food has always rather eluded me, mainly, I think, because the authentic ingredients are harder to come by (you can buy a basic "Thai Curry Kit" in Tesco: a red chilli, a couple of Kaffir lime leaves, a stick of lemon grass, a lime and a knob of ginger), though it is getting easier to find the right things. I'm less keen on Thai food, though I did eat a very memorable Thai meal in Frankfurt in 1994 on our last night at the Frankfurt Bookfair, in the days when I worked for a publishing house. As anyone in the book trade knows, Frankfurt is the bookfair of the year, and when one is not working, schmoozing clients and trying to secure foreign co-editions, socialising is the thing. Every nig…


I learnt to make pastry in cookery class at school, in the days when cookery was called Domestic Science, though the only vaguely scientific thing we did in class was make a roux sauce (I still use this method). My cookery teacher was a lady called Miss Loveday, who had a big round face like a Dutch cheese and who was love with the shy art teacher, Mr Skinner. I never really enjoyed cookery classes at school: I found the recipes mostly dull or "wrong" (i.e. you do NOT make trifle with Angel Delight!), probably because I was helping my mum cook far more interesting things at home. If my mother did not approve of a recipe (see aforementioned school trifle) she would write a note to the teacher, pointing out the correct version, something I found cringe-makingly embarrassing.

However, there are a couple of methods I did learn in cookery class which have stayed with me and which I still use today. We did all kinds of pastry - basic shortcrust, puff/flaky, hot-water crust (for ma…


I am reblogging this recipe as several people have asked for it, and I thought it would be easier to give it a separate entry, rather than have to trawl through the longer post on New Year's Eve Supper.

I am wary of claims like The Best, Greatest or Finest, but, like Nigella's Chocolate Ice Cream, this really is the best homemade chocolate tart I have ever tasted or made. I ate it at Chalet JoJo at Christmas: my host, Jo, is a fine cook and has a particular affinity for cakes and puddings (unlike me - I have a few favourites which I wheel out: lemon polenta cake, chocolate brownies, and now the chocolate tart). What is so wonderful about this tart is that it tastes - and looks - exactly like a proper French patisserie tarte au chocolat, yet it is dead easy to make. You don't even have to make your own pastry if you don't want to, though I did go the whole hog for a supper party last Friday and made proper sweet pastry (made with egg yolks and butter). I have to say the…