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Showing posts from 2019

A Flurry of Flapjacks

Since my last post I have made another soup and done a fair amount of baking. The soup recipe was from The Guardian Feast (2 November 2019) and was a hit in this house. Pasta soup with potato and sausage, cheese, leek - what's not to like? 

On the baking front I've made a marmalade ring and date and walnut biscuits (both recipes from Doreen's Country Fare), an apple pie (guided by my M&S cookery book published in 1980), and two types of flapjack (both recipes in my Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Baking). 

I do like flapjacks and am always very interested in other people's produce. My earliest memories of flapjacks date from my mid-teens when I was still living in England. Butter, brown sugar, oats and golden syrup. How can you go wrong? 

The ones I made last Thursday were for different purposes: ginger flapjacks for the younger offspring's associates and orange flapjacks for the office; and some spares for my nextdoor neighbour. (Spouse and offspring, I don't …

Two Soups in One Week!

Well, what a surprise! I have made two soups in the last week, one from The Soup Book and the other from Riverford Farm Cook Book (Watson and Baxter, 2008). The first soup was a spicy lentil soup I have made twice before and I used up the spice mix I had made for the curried parsnip soup. Today's soup was leek and potato with chicken, bacon and sage. I even made my own chicken stock, something I haven't done for a long time. Into the stock went thyme and a bay leaf from the garden, and the sage in the leek and potato soup was also from the garden. It still pleases me to use herbs I have grown myself. 

Not only did I make soup today, I also made carrot and parsnip compost cookies (Liam Charles, The Guardian), so called because you're supposed to use the entire vegetables, skin and all. I have to admit I wasn't brave enough to do so. 

Any one who knows me knows that I am not a fan of parsnips and yet I have used them twice recently. It must be the spice in the curried pars…

If you're still reading this blog ...

If you're still reading this blog then you'll know that my posts have become quite infrequent compared to when I was still enthusiastically engaged in my soup-making project. That started about ten years ago. I was gung-ho to work my way through the 200 recipes. Still, 170 wasn't bad going. Yesterday I made curried parsnip soup, which I first made in May 2012. It was very tasty and well received by the spouse and younger offspring. 

So much has happened in the last ten years and even in the seven years since I first made the parsnip soup. The older offspring is now married. The younger offspring is at university. The spouse has become prodigiously creative in the last eighteen months and blogs prolifically about his accomplishments. I have dabbled in various things - poetry, calligraphy, comedy improv, knitting - but baking and cooking remain my favourite pastimes and creative outlets. So far this year I've tried about eighty different recipes, some new to me but from o…

July is dressed up and singing a tune

As I write I'm listening to Summer Breeze sung by the Isley Brothers. Makes me feel fine. 

Lots of baking since my last blog entry. At the end of June I revisited a couple of lemon and lavender combination recipes - Bronte Aurell's blondies and Paul Hollywood's loaf cake. But an absolute triumph was Ottolenghi's salted coffee, pecan and lime rocky road. Oh yes. Make it. Make it soon. Make it often. 

Now I'm listening to July by Mundy. Oh my my, July.

July is baking competition time. The baking competition is just one section of a local horticultural society's annual show. It took place last Saturday. In preparation, I made sticky gingerbread using Doreen Fulleylove's recipe (Country Fare published in 1972) on the previous Wednesday and set dried fruit soaking in chai for my tea brack which I baked on the Thursday evening. 

I took a half day on the Friday and set to with my three remaining entries. A friend's sister ("Polly") was calling round to m…

June: Time to take a deep breath

Usually I love June. After all, my birthday falls in June. Roses are the flowers of June and pearls are its birthstone. I used to assume that the weather would be good on my birthday and that I was entitled to good weather on my birthday. How innocent I was! Last year we had lovely weather but all was not right with the world. This year there is more to be positive about. 

I have baked some very good cakes and other items since the end of April. Exactly a month ago I baked a cranachan cheesecake, using a recipe from Paul Hollywood's book Pies and Puds. My mother-in-law had asked me to provide a dessert for a family lunch and I was happy to oblige. 

A second recipe from the same book was a marmalade and almond cake. A couple of people said that
orange and almond shouldn't work and then they tasted the cake. Orange has been a surprisingly luxurious flavour or ingredient in anything I've ever baked. 

Just two days after the cheesecake I made a lemon, olive oil and bay leaf cake

April Update

These days I am spending my spare time trying out new recipes. Well, new to me even though the recipe books have been on my shelves for some years.

Three of the books lingering on the shelves are Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem. Plenty More has definitely found favour with me. I made Ottolenghi's walnut and halva cake. Not just full of flavour but also full of texture: the chalkiness of the halva contrasted with the moist baked batter and chopped nuts. The savoury recipes were for cauliflower cake, ricotta and rosemary bread pudding (the recipe is more interesting than the taste), and aubergine cheesecake (essentially, roasted slices of aubergines baked in a cheesy custard). 

While Felicity Cloake's recipe for tagine worked well, it's her cake recipes that have scored me lots of likes on FB: her rhubarb frangipane cake was heavenly. More importantly, her simnel cake has raised the bar in terms of what to expect at Easter. The spouse worships the suga…

February: The Smile of Early Spring

February 2019 was surprisingly mild. The camellia in my back garden has dressed herself prematurely, fooled by the smile of early spring (a line from Anne Bronte's "In Memory of a Happy Day in Spring". 

I baked a couple of things, one of which was a very old favourite: chocolate brazil nut cake. The recipe was published in Good Housekeeping in April 1989, just in time for the older offspring's christening party. It became a firm favourite of the spouse's. I would make it for his birthday each February.  As we battled against middle-aged spread the recipe languished in a  folder. This year I decided that the spouse deserved a special treat and so dusted off the recipe. We are more restrained than in previous years and my office colleagues enjoyed their share of this special cake. 

My second bake of last month was from the Kaul sisters' "Three Sisters Indian Cookbook": semolina saffran biscuits. I had a job tracking down semolina: it was easier to find …

January: The supper and knives of a mood

January. Does it go by quickly or does it drag its heels? Whichever way you think the first month of the year passes, once it's gone the rest of the year gathers speed. It's going by quickly for me but at least I can look back with satisfaction about the various things I've been doing. 

This is a blog about my cooking so I'll stick with that for now. 

I have followed two recipes from Nigel Slater's Appetite (2000) this month, both in the same weekend. On Saturday 19 January 2019 I made sausages with mash. Delicious gravy with onions and marsala. The following day I made Nigel's hearty and warming chicken stew. Very simple: carrots, parsnips and leeks cut in chunks, onions cut in wedges. Having browned the jointed chicken, I removed it from the pot and added the vegetables. The chicken was returned to the pot, covered with water and some pearl barley (cooked separately) was mixed in. So were lots of herbs from the garden.  Finally the ingredients were topped with …

Catching Up

Okay. So I haven't been a conscientious correspondent. I admit it but I am not making a new year's resolution about being a more consistent and regular blogger.

In the interests of catching up, here's an entry I started writing last October (three months ago!) and forgot about:

A few weeks ago a recipe for chicken with fennel and clementines in Yotam Ottolenghis' Jerusalem (2012) caught my eye. All I needed was Pernod or a similar aniseed-flavoured drink. Then, as if they'd guessed, the older offspring and his wife returned from Greece bearing ouzo for the younger offspring. I'm not sure how delighted he was with it. Let's just say he wasn't unwilling to let me have some for the chicken recipe. The spouse and I are trying out a new shopping regime: we're no longer driving the mile or so to the supermarket we've patronised for years. Instead we're popping over the road to the nearby German discount stores. While we're saving money, we'r…