September 24, 2012
What a miserable, windy rainy day. Kind of day you want to hibernate, watch old films, drink many cups of tea and dunk biscuits until the outlook is not so bleak.
I accidentally made these chewy cookies when I went to boil the kettle. Needs must. They were to be the Oat, ginger & date recipe I wrote about in June and by the looks of it, on a very similar day. Just no ginger and date this time, I went with 100g raisins and 50g chopped hazelnuts.
The end result: a stack of equally comforting golden biscuits to eat and eat until it is less grey.
September 19, 2012
Quick, it’s berry season, get in as many as you can! This season really reminds me of being a littly at the bottom of nanny seaside’s garden, packing as many plump berries as I could fit into my already full, hamster-like, stained pink cheeks. There was then the added pleasure of rubbing the fruit over my lips to make lipstick. Heaven. I’d like to have done that over in the blackberry bushes in Hackney Marshes, there were literally 1000’s of them, ripe for the picking.
I am playing with berries in every way I can this week; freezing*, jamming, sorbet-ing, purée-ing, juicing, staining (my face) : anything to keep them in my life for a little while longer. Best though, when the light is lowering and that brings a chill is a good hearty, berry crumble or a slab of berry juicy pudding. Or both.
One of my favourite people in the world makes a to-die-for Blueberry buckle; this is like the US version of the cobbler but rather than making a floury batter topping over the fruit, the mix is made then the fruit stirred in, with a buttery oat layer scattered to finish. The result is a lovely combination of doughy, juicy sponge with a crunchier, crumble crust.
He uses a recipe by Martha Stewart with a strudel topping plus extra zest, I have tweaked this slightly by adding an extra egg to the main mix, nuts and oats to give more crunch. You can obviously try any fruit you wish but personally, the tart little blackberry is a winner for me.
*Freezing and then making the blackberry ice cream cake by Nigel Slater in September’s Observer Food Monthly is a great way to save berries and use them later, with minimal effort.
September 12, 2012
Fit for a king?
Well, it appears the original Caesar salad was not something served up for an emperor as I first thought, but a chef who was running out of almost everything in his restaurant. I like those kind of desperation-born inventions. The chef in question was Caesar Cardini who laid claim to making the first Caesar, hence the name, on an Independence Day in the 1920’s. Customers to feed and cupboards bare, he threw the lettuce in a bowl, coated and tossed it with a mix of garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Now I wonder if they would have come up with that with those five on ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’?
Caesar’s salad was a hit, his salad empire grew, thank goodness, with many a variation being served up all across the globe with his recipe still be bottled up and sold all over the US.
To make it now, any crunchy lettuce will do – romaine, cos or little gems works too. Over the top, scatter grilled bacon, fish or chicken, with croutons or without. Then there is the dressing – with or without egg yolks, anchovies, capers. There is a Spanish version with chickpeas and Manchego, one with seared rump, even a fried oyster Caesar.
I keep the tangy anchovies in and the egg – coddled; boiled for 45secs to keep the end sauce thicker. I add quite a bit of lemon juice and a large teaspoon of Dijon, basically, for me, the sharper the better. I do like the odd caper thrown in now and again as well.
Really, I just love it because it ‘feels’ healthy (just like flapjacks do because they have wholesome oats in) and that is good enough for me.
Top tip, wash and prep the leaves way before, allow to dry and then chill before serving. It keeps them crisp fresh.
September 3, 2012
“…And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more.”
Well it is warm and although I am fully clothed, this sharp, tart flavoured ice really is perfect on its own as a thirst quenching treat on a late summers afternoon. Sorbets and ices really don’t take up much time in the preparation and the best thing about a home-made tub is the intensity of flavours you can get by packing as much fresh ripe fruit as you can in. You can always add booze too for an after dinner adult version. I like the sound of the blood orange and campari sorbet served at QuoVadis in Soho, praised by Darina Allen in the Irish Examiner. Simple traditional pairings will work as well, like blackberry and rum or peach and prosecco.
My love for raspberries is never-ending so blitzing and churning vats of them into a juicy pink mulch for the freezer is always a pleasure, particularly the intense sweet smells that then waft around the kitchen for hours later. It also means I don’t have to go through the end-of-summer break up from them quite so soon and if you have a batch made up, you are ready for days when the sun does show up for an unexpected but very welcome visit.
The recipe below was adapted from that listed on Saveur.com – I increased the fruit to sugar ratio and doubled the amount of lemon juice.