Monday, 28 March 2011

Perfect every time?

I am Yorkshire born and bred, but until recently I’d never made Yorkshire puddings myself. I think this is because when I was growing up, Sundays brought with them a special kind of anxiety: would the puddings rise this week? It was even worse if we had company. The shame that would attach if that week’s batch loitered limply in the tin, as opposed to floating puffy and crisp on the plate! More often than not they were perfect, but it seemed as if the magic secret ingredient – whisked in with the egg, flour and milk - was actually the worry itself.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

When life hands you lemons...

... make lemon risotto.

My friend Anne gave me this gorgeous specimen, sent from the garden of her parents' home in the south of France. Beautiful, perfectly uniformly sunshine yellow with a shiny, subtly dimpled skin, you could smell it from a mile away. I felt privileged to have been gifted with one of these beauties, so I really wanted to do it justice. I wanted something that would use both the zest and the juice, and that would make a really special Saturday night dinner for Dear Husband and self, perhaps as an accompaniment to some fish.

In the end, I decided on a lemon risotto. Unctuous, oozing rice with an assertive-without-being-strident citrus tang. 

Friday, 18 March 2011


I made meatloaf this evening. I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not really part of the British culinary vernacular, is it? And yet in the USA (Dear Husband is Ohio-born) it’s a comforting staple. There are a bazillion different permutations (spicy, herby, veggie-laden, Italian-influenced with oregano and tomatoes, Mexican-inflected with chillies and coriander leaf, you get my drift), so why has it never caught on here?

Thorough – nay, exhaustive – research (thanks, Wikipedia!) reveals that it does have northern European ancestry. But of course it does. If you consider the idea that it probably began as a way of making small amounts of inexpensive meat (plus a little starchy filler – oats, breadcrumbs or suchlike) go a long way, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to consider it first cousin to the haggis, or certainly the faggot.  Just don’t tell the Americans! (DH is the only American I’ve ever met who actually likes haggis.)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Quickie post: Awesome feta, pea and mint cous cous salad

It takes longer to say ‘feta, pea and mint cous cous salad’ than it takes to assemble it. Almost. This is more a serving suggestion than a recipe, so I’m not going to give exact quantities. It’s well worth making for one, but, equally, is easy to scale up to feed a crowd. It tastes brilliant with lamb – chops, kebabs, leftover roast, you name it.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Fishcakes and jumping beans

OK so we made fishcakes this evening and I feel pretty smug about it. Of course it would help if I could be a LOT more go-with-the-flow and relaxed about the gobs of mixture melting into the egg and curb my impulse to tut at the children when they don’t come up with perfectly shaped, compacted, neat little discs. But after some deep-breathing exercises I think these turned out pretty well, and – this is actually the terrific part – both kids loved them. Of course, they’re fish cakes. What’s not to like?* But, still, the fact that they participated in the creation of a (I think) pretty healthy meal that they both enjoyed? Like I say, smug.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Quickie post: Rhubarb crumble

OK, it's probably a little odd to start with a picture of an empty dish, but that's just how popular this dish was. Sticky, tart rhubarb crumble, vivid pink juices oozing through a crisp, crumbly crust. Honestly, you would have loved it.

Anyway, this post goes out to my friend Tina. She and I spent a very happy afternoon at her allotment, turning over the soil, making plans and pulling weeds and I came away with an armful of the most beautiful rhubarb.  It became a wonderful pudding that even Gorgeous Boy - who, on hearing that rhubarb was technically a vegetable declared himself against it - DEVOURED with gusto.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Really, really good bread

I’m ba-ack! Did you miss me?

(Was that tumbleweed?)

We’re home after a great week up in Yorkshire first in the lovely city of York with babysitters parents*, then in the wilds of West Yorkshire for a weekend of great friends, lovely walks and outings, the traditional fiercely competitive session of the name game, and of course great food. I made roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for my contribution and some day I’ll blog about that, but for now I’d like to share a recipe I’ve been working on and LOVING for a few weeks.

The best granary bread, ever. At least, I think so. 

Of course I can’t claim this recipe as my own – it’s bread! Staff of life and all that. But this version is considerably adapted from one I have written down from who knows where. Delia, maybe? It yields a satisfyingly chewy, nutty, crusty loaf that tastes perfect simply buttered and sublime topped with pickle and molten, bubbling Cheddar. Or wobbly scrambled egg. Or goat’s cheese and a sprinkling of chives. You get the picture – it’s not a sandwich loaf as such, but makes a brilliant base for whatever you care to top it with.