Padrón peppers hail from Spain (pimientos de Padrón), which is where I first tried them about 20 years ago while on holiday in the hills of Andalucia, north of Malaga. They were served simply: fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Most are sweet and mild, about every one in twenty is fiery and spicy. They are often served as a tapa. For many years, I could only buy them at Garcia and Sons, a Spanish supermarket down the grotty end of Portobello Road in W11, but recently Waitrose has started to stock them (presumably because they have become fashionable amongst middle-class foodies thanks, doubtless, to some TV food "sleb"). As they are seasonal produce, Waitrose will not always have them, so when they do, I always buy several packets. We often have them as a tapa with chilled white wine (or very cold fino sherry), or as an accompaniment to a Mediterranean or Indian meal. I have also recently come across a recipe for Padrón peppers in tempura batter on the Cook Eat Live Vegetarian blog, and the cafe next door to Garcia's does a tortilla with peppers and chorizo, which I'm going to make later as a light supper dish.
This recipe for a warming, fragrant lamb stew, comes from Jamie Oliver's very first cookbook The Naked Chef. He looks incredibly young on the cover, but a quick check of the copyright page confirms that this book was published in 1999, when Jamie was but a lad, and had just burst onto the scene with his first tv series. I remember enjoying it very much: he was refreshingly laid back yet entirely enthusiastic about food and cooking and I loved the simplicity of his recipes. I still do, and regularly return them - because they work. And they are easy to make!
I still have a lot of time for Jamie, though I got a bit tired of seeing his gurning face on the Sainsbury's adverts (he seems to have severed his relationship with the supermarket to concentrate on other projects), because I feel he truly believes in what he does, with passionate commitment. And his recipes remaining interesting, tasty and easy to construct.
This lamb stew is redolent of a tagine where ingredients are coo…
This "pudding cake" is one of my dinner party stand-bys - though I haven't made it for a long time, preferring Middle Eastern inspired pistachio or walnut cakes, or my trusty Tarte Tatin. It comes from Nigella Lawson's first and best cookbook 'How To Eat', and, as she herself says in the preamble, it is almost more effort to type out the recipe than to make the cake. A little gentle stirring and pouring is really all that is required
185g self-raising flour (or 185g plain flour and a tsp of baking powder)30g cocoa powder2 tablespoons creme de framboise or similar liqueur95g caster sugar95g muscovado sugar250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)185ml of strong espresso coffee + 185ml water OR 2 teaspoons good instant coffee made up with 370ml hot water 2 eggs, beaten slightly250g raspberries (or more if using well defrosted, frozen raspberries) plus extra for decorationPreheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 22cm spring-form cake tin and line the base.
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 …