All posts tagged: Favourites

Newark Pudding circa 1890, by “Good Housewives and Competent Cooks”

Bread Puddings exist in many culinary traditions. Most people would recognise, and love, a good Bread and Butter Pudding, essentially layers of sliced bread scattered with raisins and then covered in a custard of milk, eggs and sugar, possibly with nutmeg, and baked in the oven. The earliest bread and butter puddings were called “whitepots” and often contained suet rather than butter, and sometimes rice instead of bread (rice puddings – another great British staple) and any combination of fruits – currants, raisins, lemon zest, apples. One of the earliest recipes appeared in 1723 but variations of this have probably been around forever. Food historians have traced examples of bread puddings dating back to the 11th and 12th century (probably as a way to use up stale bread) and, stale bread soaked in water and flavoured with a little sugar was often known as “poor man’s pudding”. Most regions of England have their own version of such puddings, this one is “Newark Pudding”. The settlement of Newark, a large market town about 20 miles from …

Adam Handling at the Caxton, London, SW1…….lunch and a bit of a hot flush.

Way back in 2013 I sent one of the Masterchef (the Professionals) a tweet. I don’t normally tweet people on the television, I am a grown woman for heaven’s sake. But I did, and (based on the trailers alone) wished this rather attractive young Scottish guy good luck. As the series rolled out it was clear he was not only exceptionally talented, he was also funny and charming and responsible for a number of swooning moments in our household (might have been my hormones of course) but either way, it caused much mortified eye-rolling from my daughter. Still, Adam replied to my tweet and we have been “twitter followers” since then. He was a “runner up” in Masterchef (a travesty) and I can’t recall who won. But I have watched with great pleasure his ensuing success. So it was with much (“God, mum you are such an embarrassment”) enthusiasm that we arrived for lunch at the Caxton last week, on a sunny July day when Adam was cooking. I had stayed for work at the …

“Bake me like one of your French Girls” – unctuous, sexy, Baked Camembert

Sexy, unctuous, indulgent, calorific loveliness… that is baked camembert. What’s not to love? Today, a simple supper of Baked Camembert and charred Ciabatta, with raw carrot and radish on the side, to cut through the richness and, of course, a large glass of Pinot. Heaven. One cheese was baked in my ceramic baker and the other in the small wooden box that it came in (minus the wrapping of course). There’s no real difference except that the hot ceramic pot keeps the cheese softer for longer, however, as we ate them so fast it wasn’t really an issue…. For the first cheese I sliced a cross in the top rind and pulled it back a little, pushed a couple of crushed cloves of garlic into the cheese and then poured in a large splash of white wine, I seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden, On the other, crushed chilli peppers and black pepper, with rosemary (yes they are rosemary sprigs, not spiders, in the pictures). …

Proper Mushy Peas with Mint Sauce – a Nottinghamshire delicacy. Yes, really!

Mushy Peas are eaten across most of the UK –  the only proper accompaniment to Fish and Chips. But let’s be honest, Nottingham owns the mushy pea. Mushy Peas with mint sauce are as Nottingham as the 700 year old Goose Fair that returns every October (and peas are eaten there still, and in some quantities) and they are eaten as a perfectly acceptable stand-alone snack, Fish and Chips are one thing, but a pot of steaming mushy peas with mint sauce on a cold winter’s day is a small joy unparalleled. The Victoria Market still has a stall (or it least it did until recently) that sold just that – a delicious tub of peas and mint with a plastic (used to be wooden) spoon to eat them with. To love this is to know Nottingham, once of you’ve got this, “aye up mi duck” as a friendly greeting, will not be long behind. Now, I know it is the height of summer (and what a fabulous summer it is so far) but I …

6 Hour Roasted Pork with best-ever crackling

Slow Roasted Pork, with the best ever crackling! Oh so simple and so luxurious, melt in the mouth meat, with a kick. I served this with bead rolls, homemade coleslaw and a drizzle made from the meat juices left in the roasting dish, fresh chopped red chillies, crushed garlic and a slug of red wine. Mixed together and gently heated to infuse. This beautiful piece of pork was boned shoulder (many recipes suggest bone in is more juicy, but to be honest this couldn’t have been sweeter or juicier and the crackling was to die for). I rubbed the skin (already scored and sliced through by the Butcher) with olive oil, salt and pepper, generous amounts of smoked paprika and probably a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, after massaging this well into the skin and all around the meat, I sprinkled a generous couple of tablespoons of Demerara sugar onto the crackling. Pop in the oven (set at its highest heat  – 230C for me – and then immediately turn it down to 150C) leave to …

Nottingham-Shire Pikelets (well, Midlands Pikelets really)

Pikelets are like slightly wild crumpets, unrestrained by their metal rings, they are the more edgy cousin of the crumpet and all the more sexy for it. Pikelets appear in various forms in probably most cultures, as drop-scones, griddle cakes, flat breads, pancakes, and so on. But pikelets are the English Midlands’ version. The “crumpet” itself is supposed to date back to Anglo-Saxon times with the first known reference to them being John Wycliffe who talks about the “crompid cake’. I suspect though that some version of this kind of food has been around since man discovered fire and flour. The secret to the light and spongy texture comes from the addition of yeast (I used instant dried yeast) to the batter, this creates the characteristic holes that appear on the surface as they cook and it is these that are perfect little receptacles for catching the melting butter that they are usually served with. Crumpets are traditionally cooked used a metal ring, Pikelets are made by just dropping the batter straight onto the griddle …

A delightful Chinese “find” on a sunny Thursday lunchtime, 19Gale, Leicester

What a find! on a sunny Thursday in Leicester we stumbled upon 19Gale, next door to the wonderful Curve Theatre. I say “stumble” only as we are not very familiar with Leicester City Centre dining, clearly this is not a “hidden” gem, it is actually a cavernous place hidden behind a stylish but fairly unassuming frontage. But it is indeed a “gem”. Despite the size of the interior (and it is vast) and the fact that on this sunny weekday lunchtime there was only 6 of us in a restaurant that must have 200 covers, it didn’t feel empty, in fact in felt calming, relaxing and welcoming. We could have sat there all afternoon. As a cafe/restaurant owner myself, I tend to be quite circumspect about reviewing others, and very generous when I can see that some behind the scenes kitchen disaster has occured and the staff are desperatly trying to make things right in the face of unforgiving customers. I hadn’t intended to write an account of our lunch at 19Gale, but as it …

A Grand Feast with Ivan Day – or Sunday Lunch circa 1760

What an idea this was! To recreate a Grand Feast as might have been experienced by the 18th Century aristocratic traveller on the Grand Tour around Europe that was an essential part of any self-respecting 1700s Nobleman’s cultural education. Not only to recreate it, but to invite us to sample a range of dishes. hosted, entertained, educated and enlightened by Ivan Day, Food Historian and, I suspect, a bit of a bon viveur. The School of Artisan Food, where the Feast was held, is without doubt one of the jewels in Nottinghamshire’s Crown. A fantastic resource in the most beautiful of settings. I have attended several courses there and, so, it was no great surprise to find myself schlepping over there last Sunday for a unique afternoon of eating and drinking. The journey to Welbeck on a slightly overcast, but warm, Sunday in July reminded me of just how magnificent the countryside around Sherwood Forest and the ancient Dukeries really is. Lush, green and verdant. And so it was that  30 of us gathered for …

Crayfish – Rapu

  The Crayfish is a thing of beauty, a small freshwater “lobster”. When, in the depths of the Finnish archipelago, I first came across  vast piles of  bright orange and ruby crayfish piled high on plates on wooden tables, glinting in the midsummer sun – the air mellow with the smell of the all-pervasive Dill that smothered the crayfish and fragranced their cooking broth, I was smitten. Washed down with ice-cold vodka and adorned with a bib to catch the juices we, a little inelegantly, sucked the tender meat our of the shells, the evenings were, quite literally, endless. Sadly, the lovely Finnish crayfish is becoming rarer and rarer and so are increasingly replaced by the larger Signal crayfish from north American and that, indeed, is the only one I  source here in England. For all its voracious takeover, however, the Signal is still a fabulous treat. And that brings me home. Our native White-Clawed Crayfish which inhabits many of our streams and small rivers in under severe threat from these rapacious North American Signals …

“Karjalanpiirakka” Finnish Karelian Pasties – a little indulgence from memories

I spent much of mid-Twenties in Finland. These tasty little pies were available in every supermarket and from street vendors, and there was little better than a hot Karjalanpiirakka clutched in your hands when it was -20 degrees C, well possibly beaten only by the deeply satisfying “lihapirrakka” (meat pasties) served by the vendor in Helsinki Harbour  – where the steam condensing in the freezing air from the little “kioski” was all but irresistible (I wonder if that stand is still there?). More of that another time. Anyway, Karelian Pasties were generally stuffed with a rice or potato mix, simple but so delicious. I recently acquired the fantastic “Mamushka” by Olias Hercules, and this inspired me to dig out my ancient Finnish Cookbook and have a go at recreating the pasties of my memories. There are regional variations in this traditional recipe, my version is posted in the recipe section. I don’t want to wish away this delightful Nottinghamshire spring, but the only thing missing from the recipe was the addition of a foot of …