Archive for the 'Vegetarian' Category

How to make rum balls: two ways, humble and posh

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Go to the recipe for Humble rum balls
Go to the recipe for Lenny’s faff-tastic wonder balls

It’s a good idea to have a few snack-like goodies prepared for the Christmas period and rum balls always do the trick. Our friend Angie mentioned she’d made a batch to her Nana’s recipe so Waz thought he’d follow suit.

They are based on Weetbix or Weetabix, a cereal bar made out of wheat flakes, and include condensed milk for sweetening. Instead of Weetbix, if there’s no such thing where you live, you can use a plain graham cracker, digestive biscuit or similar cookie. Continue reading ‘How to make rum balls: two ways, humble and posh’

How to cook with truffles

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Go to the recipe for Pasta with white truffle
Go to the recipe for Eggs in cocotte with white truffle

On “schoolnights”, when everything happens at helter-skelter pace, it’s always a rush to get home from work, throw a meal together and do the day’s housekeeping before crashing into bed. If I’m lucky Waz has been on an early shift and we can share the evening duties.

So on the weekends we really like to give a lot more time and attention to creating lovely meals that we can enjoy eating at a slower pace.

I thoroughly respect the ideology of the Slow Food Movement – begun in 1986 to celebrate and enjoy local and regional cuisines. So when time permits I love to create meals that embody the Slow Food philosophy of creating the simplest of dishes, with the highest quality ingredients.

Chef Michelle and I recently treated ourselves with a whirlwind weekend trip to the centre of the white truffle universe – the Alba truffle festival in Piemonte near Turin, Italy. We ate a fantastic truffle meal at a Slow Food restaurant with some luscious local Barolo wine. We couldn’t believe our luck the following day when, while roaming the Alba hills, we ran into a local truffle hunter who sold us some white truffles that his little dog had just dug out of the ground. Continue reading ‘How to cook with truffles’

Crème caramel: from one flan to another

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Go to the recipe for crème caramel

If you want a dessert that combines simplicity and wow factor, this has got to be it – crème caramel or flan, either vanilla or au café (the latter, “with coffee”, tends to be preferred in France).

Sure you’ve got to make caramel and custard. But neither could be easier. While a careful eye is needed to get the caramel just right, if you cut and run a bit early it will probably just mean that it’s a lighter colour.

And the custard is not your fraught stove-hovering kind, where you’ve got to heat and whisk over the burner for ages while engaging in some minor bacteriological warfare until the consistency and temperature hit their alchemy point. Nope, as far as custard goes this is really a straightforward heat-and-mix job. Continue reading ‘Crème caramel: from one flan to another’

Blackberry crumble with short ramble

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mp4 video

Although we haven’t had a brilliant summer here in the UK, and it looks like what we did have is pretty much over for the year, we did manage to bid a sad farewell to the summer by taking a lovely walk in the Kent countryside.

I love the public footpaths here in the UK: there is a network crossing public and private property that anyone can walk along and enjoy what the countryside has to offer. We often take a day-trip down to Kent to wander across the rolling green dales, through the fields, woodlands and orchards, taking in the fresh air.

On this particular sunny Saturday our route took us through numerous apple orchards where crisp, pink apples shone on the trees and the hedges were thick with fat, juicy blackberries.

Continue reading ‘Blackberry crumble with short ramble’

Portuguese custard tarts recipe (pasteis de nata)

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Go to the recipe

I’m not much of a sweet tooth, and unlike Waz I’m not much of a coffee drinker. But when I do indulge in a proper espresso it’s always lovely to complement it with a sweet little morsel. Just like nata – or proper Portuguese custard tarts. These delicacies are made with a puff pastry base and a vanilla egg custard filling with a hint of orange zest.

They are by no means the only custard tart around. Waz and I are also huge fans of Chinese dan ta – those lovely little glossy-topped, flaky-based tarts you get when you have good yum cha (also known as dim sum). Continue reading ‘Portuguese custard tarts recipe (pasteis de nata)’

Loaf to admit failure

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You can’t beat waking up to the smell of fresh-baked bread. But how to get it without the rising, the knocking down, the second rise, and then the EARLY rise on your own part to stick the dough in the oven?

Yes yes, I’ve heard of bread machines. They seem a great idea, but aren’t they a little soulless? Load everything in the evening and it’s done in the morning – the washing machine school of cookery. Surely the tactile experience – getting your hands messy – is part of the satisfying process of baking your own bread.

From what I’ve seen, people tend to buy bread machines as a fad item, then shelve them to gather dust or ship them off to the charity store within a few months. So I’m not sure they are worth the investment. Continue reading ‘Loaf to admit failure’

Automatic for the porridge

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I’m pretty anal (can I say that in the international blogosphere?) about my breakfast routine. Rarely do I break it. I have two staples that I alternate daily. The first: two slices of toast, one with grilled cheddar, the other with quality marmalade (or, occasionally, Vegemite, and, it almost goes without saying, butter). The second: porridge cooked with chopped apple, topped with banana, milk and honey (and, occasionally, summer fruits). No sugar. No salt. Always with a pot of weak black tea (Loose. Leaf. Only.), in a proper teacup, with a saucer and a tea strainer.

So when Waz decided to experiment with a slow cooker (crock pot to many of us, though that is really a brand name) that our mates Shaun and Jeanette gave us when they left London for Australia, I was very sceptical when he told me he wanted one of the experiments to feature my tried-and-tested porridge. Continue reading ‘Automatic for the porridge’

Pudding it simply

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Go to the recipe for baked treacle pudding

We’ve been cooking up a few videos for the Word of Mouth food blog, as we’ve mentioned before. Here’s another one, where we make a gorgeous and failsafe baked treacle pudding by Fergus Henderson of St John restaurant, London.

OK, straight away you North Americans are asking “What’s treacle?” Basically it’s a sugar syrup, lighter than molasses but heavier than golden syrup. These days you’re likely to find golden syrup used in its place, as with this recipe. I guess pancake syrup (not maple) as found in the US/Canada is fairly similar. Continue reading ‘Pudding it simply’

Brocolli soup with left-handedness

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mp4 video

A few weeks ago, on a (typically) miserable London winter’s day, I was at home by myself and at a loss for what to have for lunch. The pantry (or store cupboard as the English call it) was pretty much bare and all I had in the fridge was a limp bit of broccoli, the dag end of some parmesan and a few dregs of cream which weren’t quite off.

I boiled up the broc in a bit of water to which I’d added some liquid stock, blitzed it in the blender and added salt, pepper, parmesan and cream for what was a surprisingly delicious repast. I couldn’t believe my luck – I’d stumbled upon the recipe for a yummy, warming lunch from a few ingredients that you might just have in your fridge. Continue reading ‘Brocolli soup with left-handedness’

Pasta fire extinguisher

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QuickTime video

I’m always on the lookout for really quick, nutritious dishes that can be knocked up in about 20 minutes after I get home from work. This “herby pasta” fits the bill.

If you have a few herbs in your garden, then you can probably make this without even having to make a trip to the shop. Your store cupboard, or “pantry” to Anglo-Australasians, will have just about everything else you need.

For this dish it’s important to use what I call “soft” or “wet” herbs. I don’t know if these are accepted cookery terms, but I include such herbs as basil, parsley, mint, coriander (cilantro), marjoram, tarragon and dill in this group. Continue reading ‘Pasta fire extinguisher’