Terrine anyone?

That sound so chic? don't you think. Another sentence that I love to hear is: "pass me the terrine, please". Last Saturday, we were 10 around the table and suddendly the words were spoken, it was like above the hurly-burly had suddenly paused and I could only hear these words, I wish I could have shouted: "I made this", but of course I did not. Can you imagine how stupid that would have looked like?

In fact there is nothing difficult in making a terrine and it does look terrific, it only requires a bit of organisation, once you understand that you have to treat each vegetable separately you are in with a chance.

For the bottom layer, I used celeriac, I like celeriac, it is ugly, knobely, but tastes terrific has a nutty flavour, in France it is used for remoulade-salad. When you get the hang of it, you might want to add spice in which case, spinach goes withnutmeg and carrot with spring onion and ginger

Celeriac, Spinach & Carrot Terrine

serve 8 to 10


15g butter
3 eggs
75g of full fat cheese
salt and pepper
175g cooked carrots
175g of frozen whole leaf spinach
175g of chopped and peeled celeriac

Preheat the oven to 160/ mark 3
melt the butter and cook the celeriac for 3 minutes, put in a bowl
repeat the operation for the spinach and the carrots
each veg. needs to go in separate bowl
Puree each veg with 75g (30z) of full fat cheese and 1 egg, salt and pepper until smooth, you can use the food processor for this, but then again each veg needs to be food processed separately.

in a greased oblong bread or cake tin (the nec plus ultra is a terrine dish) pour the celeriac mixture, then the spinach on the top, finally the carrots, cove with a sheet of aluminium foil, bake for 1 hour, or until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted. Allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes before turning out. Serve as a starter or a light lunch.

Crunching Apples

You would think that , there is nothing simpler than THE original fruit, not quiet. Now pay attention because for the first time on this blog, you'll get "the scientific bit":
Apples are of the Rose family, they store well and still retain taste and nutritional values, contain vitamin C, no cholesterol & fibre, you get about 2 in a pound, average 110 calories. Supermarkets have been keen on storing local food lately to the benefit of a wider variety of apples.

Bramley: cook to a fluffy, melt in the mouth texture with a tart flavour, great in crumbles and pies, they go well with pork and sausages too.

English Royal Gala: Dessert apple, delicate flavour, keeps well

Egremont Russet: Quiet ugly, with a rich nutty flavour, excellent with cheese or in salad.

Spartan: The fairy tale apple, that scared the life out of me when I was a nipper, so that my dad had to drag me out & away from a screening of snow-white while screaming my head off, I bet he was as shiny-bright red as a spartan. But back to the science. the flesh is very white, juicy some say it smells of melon and strawberry.

Cox's: orange/yellowy red striky skin, without any doubt Britain's fav, its flavour is...cox's indeed

To know more about apples without having to trawl through millions of websites refering to Apple-Mac click on http://www.orangepippin.com/default.aspx : a mine of information.
Apple and raisin crunches
Makes 10 to 12
100g (4oz) margarine, softened
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) honey (treacle can replace honey)
1 medium egg
1tsp vanilla extract (optional)
100g (4oz) stone ground whole wheat flour
pinch of baking soda
Pinch of ground cinnamon
25 g (1Oz) raisins
100g (4oz) porridge oats
1 medium apple, cored and chopped into small bits.

  • preheat the oven to 190 C/mark 5
  • In a large bowl and it has to be large, cream the margarine, honey, egg, vanilla (if you use).
  • Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, stir well
  • Then goes the oats, raisins and apple, stir equally thoroughly
  • on a baking tray (greased) drop by spoonful and flatten a little
  • bake for 8 to 10 minutes
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before you remove to the wire rack to cool completely.

There is beer in my cake.

The other day, I got a request: -”A beer cake, would be nice”. Were my ears deceiving me, beer and cake, my brain was not making the connection, beer and cake who would have thought it but why not? Don’t you find it strange that wine is top of the list, followed by spirits when evoking food but beer is seldom talked about? Fruit cakes are not exactly my type of cooking, therefore, I needed a reliable recipe and moreover, I would have to pay attention if the result was going to be an ale cake and not a hell cake.

However, the next part of the sentence, which came “a little lot” later was: “there is one on “Woman’s hour” website”.
Aah aah, this had been thought through, planned and premeditated, as unless I am very mistaken, I don’t think that "he" is a listener or reader of this particular BBC radio programme. Julie Duff of Church Farmhouse Cakes’ recipe happens to have all the qualities required and the result I am told was delicious. So I will reproduce it (the recipe) faithfully for you here:

Julie Duff's beer Fruit Cake
Ingredients:225g raisins/225g sultanas/350g currants/75g citrus peel/250ml strong English ale/225g butter/225g dark brown muscovado sugar/1 tablespoon black treacle/4 large eggs, lightly beaten/225g plain flour/1 teaspoon mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
In a large bowl, steep the fruits and the citrus peel in the ale, leaving it for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, beat in the treacle and then slowly add the eggs, flour and spice, a little at a time until thoroughly mixed together.
Stir in the steeped fruits and pile the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for one hour, reducing the temperature to 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 for a further 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. Because of the quantity of liquid used in making this cake, it may take a little longer to cook, but don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
Cover with a cloth and leave the cake in the tin to become cold, then turn it out and peel the greaseproof paper away.
It freezes well.

I am in love with with "Country kitchen" magazine

I was not looking for a new magazine, I was only browsing, honest!. Then I spotted it. Unassuming cover, neat, the kind that send you a subliminal message: " I am, what it says on the cover". OK, then, juuust a little peek. That was it....
Love at the first sight, everything a food magazine should be: crammed with recipes lots and lots of them, unpretentious, relying on flavours rather than good-looking chefs, though in my issue Gary Rhodes talks about "the beauty of the apples", sorry Gary, I did not mean to say that you were ugly, far from that, I was only trying to convey my point across, this magazine is real. Everything in season, moreover everything in the month, snippets of history are dotted here and there, events calendars too, with regular features such as "from my kitchen garden", for which I am afraid I will need a garden magazine since I have not had much "growing luck", but it is nice to think that you could mix baby salad leaves with herbs and Autumn raspberries.

So we have established that it is full of qualities, one might be a tat detrimental though, when reviewed on the WWW, it constantly encourage people to buy local produce, so it is quiet British orientated but as the editor, Elaine Larkins, points out : "it is not always possible...take lemons for example" and so the October issue does with 5 pages of lemon recipes.
Therefore and without further ado let me leave you with the recipe for Lemon yoghurt cupcakes as read in the October issue of "country kitchen" before my fickle nature takes me browsing again.

Lemon yoghurt cup cakesMakes 12 cup cakes

100g (4oz) self-raising flour / 100g (4oz) caster sugar/ 2 tbsp cornflour/ 2egg yolks/ 1x150g(5oz) pot natural un-set yoghurt/ finely grated zest of 2 lemons/ 25g(1oz) butter
icing: 2 tbsp good lemon curd, little lemon rind cut into thin strips to garnish
Measure the flour, sugar and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg yolk, yoghurt, lemon rind and melted butter. Mix until smooth.
Spoon into paper cases in a bun tin to within about 1/2 cm (1/4 in) of the top of the case
Bake in pre-heated oven at 180C (160C for fan, 350F, gas 4) for about 18 minutes until golden brown, and well risen. Set aside to cool.
Spoon the lemon curd on the top of the cold cakes and level the top. Decorate with a cross of lemon rind if liked.
To cook in the Aga: bake on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven with the cold sheet on the second set of runners. for about 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden brow.
Lucy's tip: it is best to use un-set yoghurt for this recipe, as the set yoghurt can be a little grainy when mixed.

Herb soup

soup, herbs
I get really excited when soup time comes round again. There is nothing like a good soup recipe, flavours you would never try to mix in any other dish, can shamelessly be blended in a pot and then there is the feeling of cosiness, steamy windows, and the smell all telling you it is time to relax, shoo the stress away: contentment.
He and I went walking in a gorgeous small valley, my dad tells me that I had been skiing there when I was 6, needless to say that I have no recollection of that time, and I better hurry up telling you about this time before I forget. Hunched against the Italian border is "la Clarée". It is said to be the most beautiful valley in France, and you know what I think it is.

Once a year the inhabitants organise a party in memory of Emilie Carles: school-teacher, political activist, writer she attracted the attention of the rest of France to the plight of her beautiful valley and the disappearance of the rural world. The power of passionate words worked and the valley seems alive today and moreover preserved. The name of the party : Fête de la Soupe aux herbes sauvages, people pick herbs, make a delicious soup.
In September the herbs would have been different of that of the party in June, I did not dare pocking too much as I was told in no uncertain term: this soup is made out of "seasonal herbs", so instead I made up my own picking ideas from here and there.

Herb Soup
chives 1 tbs
parsley 50 gm
coriander 50 gm
dill 50 gm
spinach leaves 100 gm
5 spring onions
1 small lettuce
½ tub of cream cheese
1 potato peeled
1 pint of water
bouillon such as Marigold


Melt the butter in a saucepan,
add the spring onions, and the potato cook for 10 minutes
add the herbs and sweat them for a minute, too long and they might “disintegrate”
Add the stock, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes
Liquidise adding the stock as you do so, to get the right level of thickness,
pour in the saucepan again and add creamed cheese or cream

And to finish can somebody tell me; "What is the difference between an herb and a spice?"

photo from http://www.collectifclaree.com/actu.html

A revolution

Every now and then, designers come up with an idea which is worth celebrating. When my friend Pat gave me her own "this", after conscientiously having run it under the tap and wrapped it in green paper I new it had some value.
Let it known and behold this is a little gem, it is slick, effective and cleans like a dream and when one talks garlic this is what you want. Away with trying to stick knifes and other sharp objects into the little holes, here what you do is get the detachable cup out, run it under the water and "Bob is your uncle".
Marvellous and at that price next time you are going round and round in that shop which just think at the end of your long trek is the reward: a new revolutionary garlic crusher

Blowing my own

I am basking in sunshine, beside this very enjoyable to write blog, I have been ask to contribute to the http://wellfed.net/, I get to bake more and review all sorts food related, so if you have spotted an interesting article anywhere, let me know. In the meantime I wanted to share with you a delicious soup recipe which I found last week as I was in the Alps but it will have to wait
for my next post. I don't want to tempt faith today is lovely, bright and sunny

Fancy a cuppa? : Green tea ice cream

I don't know about you but a recce in the food of the world and I am on cloud 9. I loved it when Yumiko used to put on my desk various Japanese snacks, like little offering to my taste buds which got teased with unknown flavours, a real pleasure. So when I got to go to the new Japanese restaurant which opened around the corner I did not delay. A fun evening, we got compared to the actresses of "Sex and the city" by a waitress in traditional kimono that on its own was weird but it is only at the end of the meal that the tinkle of excitement happened. Green tea ice cream, never seen it or I would have remembered, the unexpected shade of green and the subtle taste.
Green ice cream tea
makes a tub preparation 30 minutes
200ml double cream
200ml milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbs of sugar
2 tbs of powdered green tea
  • Method:
  • start by making a kind of custard, whisking egg yolks, milk and sugar in a pan
  • heat on very low heat whisking constantly until it thicken
  • remove and leave to cool
  • mix the powdered green tea to water according to instructions.
  • Add tea to mixture , freeze in ice-cream maker or alternatively freeze for an hour, remove whisk and freeze again

Away, away, away

I will be away for a WHOLE week, promise lots of photos will be taken and local recipes will come back with me.
bye for now

what a rude "World"

One of the pleasure to leave in Greenwich is to take a walk by the Thames and gaze at the boats. None are bigger than "the World". It is a yacht made of appartments owned by rich people, of course it also contains "the facilities they are used to". Anyway, last year as we were having a quiet drink on the 1st floor of a pub which adorns the river when this mega-giant structure blocked the entire bay window for several minutes as it cruised by. I will not relate here the reaction of a party of students seating at the next table, they were a little worse for wear, bless their little cotton socks, and they thought the aliens had landed.
So when he told me that the very same cruiser-ship was coming back, I contacted them, I thought you would love to have a report on their restaurants and cuisine.

I should have known as I read the press-release, I put it to you: "We enjoy our life-style. We enjoy each other’s company and we also enjoy our own private apartments - our luxury residences at sea". Yes, and they will not share any of it, even for a quick-interview and a whistle-tour of the kitchens. Well, that is not fine but it does not stop there, several e-mails later I am still to receive a reply, and in my books, this is rude.

but I did not given up, and looked up at their menu, take this for example : "Cannelloni with ratatouille vegetables, ricotta cheese and cherry tomato sauce", I bet my ratatouille beats theirs any-day.
Thanks for his picture


No, Wikipedia, No. Sorry, mate, you have got it wrong, gratin is not a casserole with cheese or bechamel sauce topped with buttered breadcrumbs or at least not when considering a potato gratin. Who, in the first place, would top potatoes with breadcrumbs yurk.

Gratin Dauphinois


4 large potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
250g of cream
1 small glass of milk
salt and a little more pepper than your usual

method: serves 4

  • peel and slice the potatoes, the trick is to slice them with the food-processor so that the slices are very very thin and you can see through
  • put a layer of slices in an oven-proof dish, top with cream and a little milk salt, pepper
  • renew the operation until you run out of slices, every couple of layers add the garlic

AAAAH that's better, oh and by the way the answer to Wednesday's picture is winkle, I am sure that there is a way to cook them in a gratin too, just today I saw in the newspaper a recipe for mussels gratin, may be that one has breadcrumbs on the top, I'll go and check.

The answer was : Quenelles

Repeat after me: "Kuh-nehl", you've got it. One of the speciality from Lyon is "la quenelle" it refers to a delicate dumpling flavoured with either ground poultry mainly chicken or fish usually pike sometimes vegetables and it that case it will be mushrooms. When I go back home, I always bring back a couple of ready-made packets which are baked with a rich white sauce to which is added a little passata or concentrated tomato paste. That is the healthy version.

Lyon is renowned for its "cuisine" after all it is the capital of French gastronomy, though recipes are getting healthy and lighter, cream and butter are still very present among the ingredients.
to make your own quenelles you will need
250g chicken, 150g breadcrumbs, milk, a tea=towel, 25g butter, salt, pepper, 2 eggs.
  • food process the chicken until you get small crumbs (you can use fish or veg) add the 2 egg yolks and the butter process a little more
  • soak the breadcrumbs in milk
  • beat the egg white until stiff
  • drain the crumbs in a kitchen towel
  • add to the food processor and give it a whirl
  • salt, pepper
  • transfer to a bowl and slowly add the egg white

this semi-soft, semi-firm past is called a godiveau, to shape your quenelles, take 2 tablespoons of the same size, scoop some paste, close the second scoop on the top. You now have a quenelle shaped object. throw the quenelles in boiling water, simmer for 15 minutes. next bake for 30 minutes with the sauce of your choice.

For your next puzzle : what is this?

find the answer on the Saturday post


Back from vacation and a long birthday week-end. What a thrill to read that Blogger allows to post videos, without delay I made my debut as a film director : the story led to a small gathering of neighbours all willing to participate, the main character : a potato plant.
Sadly, I managed to erase the end product. Despondent, I sulked for several days, you will get the potato story as soon as I have overcome my disappointment.

I love lists; lists are good for all sorts of reasons, I even have a list of lists in which figures "the list of magical names": mostly places to visit because the ring to their name is so evocative ie: Katmandu, Tumbuktu.
So as I was contemplating a lonely butter-squash and what to do with it, I came across "wattaka", that is a good word to put on the list of recipes. I had to cook that dish. I had to find a recipe. "A taste of Sri Lanka" by Indra Jayasekera came to my rescue, so here is a slightly doctored Wattaka, or curried pumpkin in our case curried butter-squash. It is just gorgeous.


450 g Butter-squash
25 g Onion
2 Fresh chillies (these were fresh from the chillies festival plant)
4 Cloves garlic
50 ml Oil (ghee is an alternative
2 ts of curry powder
Salt Black pepper
1/4 ts Turmeric
450 ml Coconut milk
1 ts Ground mustard (to be honest, I misread and added mustard from the pot)
1/2 ts Lime juice (that I forgot)
  • Peel and de-seed the buttersquash cut the flesh is smallish dices (2cms)
  • Slice the onion and chilli and crush the garlic.
  • Heat the oil (ghee) and fry the curry powder, the onion, the garlic and chilli together. When the onion is soft add the butter-squash, salt, pepper, turmeric and coconut milk, cook until the buttersquash is done.
  • Add mustard to the pumpkin mixture, stirring as it thickens. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat springle lime juice.
The original recipe presents the wattaka in the shell, if you want to do so, don't peel the vegetable, wash it and scoop the flesh out, when the mixture is ready pour it back in the shell to serve.

For a little game before I go and sulk some more what are thiese?

answer on Wednesday

Endive and panic in the air

Before and after pictures

Recently, I threw a million balls in the air, and guess what: they have all dropped back down THIS WEEK or so it seems. Bouncing on the top of my head, I even caught, an arrogant wheezing little one bouncing on the tip of my nose, not nice at all.
You know the feeling: panic sets in, you are running around, mixing every thing up, achieving nothing or very little. I don't know what you do it that case, as for me, I wash my hair. Usually it does the trick.
Out of all of the balls, I managed to catch one, it had the following writing engraved on it: 5 a day, out of all of them, it had to be that one! Let me explain, every now and then, I challenge myself with: "be good". This time, I was going to eat more vegetable and to that effect had bought French chicory as the ultimate challenge.
French Chicory is very popular in Holland, Belgium and France, not so much in Britain. I understand that in the state, chicory is different all together. Back to French chicory, it is available all year round, the pearly white leafs come from the fact that it is forced. When cooked blanched (or steamed), it will need to rest for a while so that most of the water drips out.

Endives and ham

one and half time as many endives as there are people
one thin slice of cooked ham per endive
cheddar or gruyere
for the white sauce you will need
a dollop of butter
white flour
and milk

  • cut the hard end of the endive off, with a sharp knife, take the little "heart" out, this is where the bitterness leaves, so I was told.
  • steam the endives until tender when cook, put them aside for at least an hour to drip all the water out
  • prepare the white sauce (bechamel)
  • roll the slice of ham around the endive, place in an oven dish
  • pour the bechamel over
  • top with cheese
  • cook for 25 minutes, grill the top if necessary

Chilli week-end

Guess where he and I went this week-end. here are a couple of clues


what next?

You've got it

chilli jellies & jams
All this and much more at the "Chilli Fiesta" which took place at West-Dean gardens near Chichester a thoroughly enjoyable event, highly recommended.
Early September the gardens will organise a similar week-end around the tomato.
Carluccio will be, every festival needs its celebraty chef. Check it the program out if you were to be in that part of the world then.In the meantime is somebody was willing to try out this recipe for chutney, I would be curious to know the results. got it from Rosemary Moon's booklet
Sweet aubergine and mango chutney
2 large green mangoes
2 large aubergines
1 large piece fresh root ginger 8-10 cm
2 red chilies
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp sea salt
500 ml distilled malt vinegar
1 kg unrefined demerara sugar
prepare the fruits and vegetables, peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the stone. chop the mango and aubergines into 2.5 cm chunks. Peel the ginger, de-seed the chilies then finely chop them together with the garlic.
place all the ingredients together in a preserving or very large pan and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 45-60 minutes until well reduced but still moist.
Pour into warm jars, seal.

Dulce de Leche & cheese cake

I was minding my own, surfing happily when I came across Dulce de leche on Sophie's site. Then a cascade of unforeseen events happened: before I new it, I
a) had entered a muffin competition
b) was searching frantically for the origins of Dulche de Leche in my grand-mother's battered cookery book. Mémé had no connection with Argentina or anywhere else further than 1km away from her flat.
c) cooking a cheese-cake for poor Bob and June who need cheering up.
All this, in a happy jumble with no particular order.

Let's, at least try to put back some chronology , as I was reading Sophie's blog, something was really nagging me, I had seen a similar recipe before a long time ago. Then in a flash it came to me, Confiture de lait mais c'est bien sure: Mémé 's book.
Mémé 's book has neither cover nor back, so no way to know what it is called or when it was published. Further research dated the first recipe to the 14th century, place it in Normandy, so dulce de leche might have originated in France, but it has dropped in popularity when in Argentina it is staple foods.
If there is an easy way, take it. So the next day I set to cook

Dulce de Leche the easy way
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (while you are at it you could do two cans).

  • Place unopened can(s) of sweetened condensed milk in a sauce pan, covered with water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 3 hours IF it is not submerge the whole time, IT WILL EXPLODE, you have been warned.
  • Leave it to cool before you open the can. IF you don't IT WILL POP OUT AND BURN YOU, this is a bit over-dramatic however though a really simple recipe it has to be handled with care.

The longer you cook it, the thicker it becomes, after 2 hours you can drizzle it, 3 hours is excellent consistency for cheese cake.

Now for the cheese cake, I found this recipe in "the hairy bikers ride again". I can confidently tell you that it taste delicious though I will not have the opportunity to taste it as it is all gone.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake


serves 8

  • 400g Hobnobs (oat biscuits)
  • 150 g melted unsalted butter
  • 750g cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 600g dulce de leche
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs cornflour


  • Preheat oven to 300°F (140°C).
  • Put the Hobnobs cookies in a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs with a rolling pin
  • Pour over the melted butter and mix well
  • Press evenly into the bottom of a lightly buttered 23cm springform tin.
  • With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, the dulce the leche, your vanilla
  • add the eggs when at the time
  • Finally beat in the cornflour
  • Pour the mixture on the top of the biscuit base
  • Bake for 1h30 min. When cool, remove from the tin, grab a piece for you and serve.

Ratatouille & summer

Summer is here, Yipeee, fleeting sensation of crystal clear light, burning heat and smells. Lovely cooking smells, grilled peppers, herbs, ratatouille, just kidding not that one.

Ratatouille, is the essence of a pebble soup recipe: simple, full of flavour made out of a little of this, some of that, could be made 3 ways and don't forget to add a dash of unusual.

The Ratatouille recipe I use, is a combination of hours of watching others cook and hours of cooking. One thing is for certain, a good ratatouille need to be re-heated and preferably re-re-heated. It does not take very long to prepare.



2 large aubergines
2 onions
2 green peppers
2 tin tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs of herbs (herbes de Provence)
a "big" pinch of sugar
salt and pepper


  • peel and chop the onions, the peppers, the aubergine (cut the slices in 2) and the garlic

  • heat the oil and add in this order, stirring as you go along

  • onions, fry until transparent

  • garlic and peppers, fry for 5 minutes

  • tinned tomatoes

  • seasoning: herbs, salt, pepper, sugar

  • aubergines

  • if you use the pressure cooker, cooking time is 30 minutes without it will take 45 minutes in a large saucepan with a lead .
  • open add the courgettes and continue to cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

I do not salt the aubergines before cooking them, they don't seem are not bitter any longer. Monique is Nice used to add bacon, but if you do so reduce the salt.

The number of serving tips is countless here are some: lovely with fried eggs, roasted chicken,

you may remember the pain bagnat, well I have realised that "pressed down" sarnies are in fashion, so why not do the same: fill a ciabatta with ratatouille, roll in a cling-film and press it down with a board until the bread absorbs the juices,

if you have a little left, line a tart-tin with puff pastry cover with the left overs and slices goat cheese, cook in the oven for 20 minutes,

and finally if fish is on the menu, place the fish in an aluminium foil cover with ratatouille, fold tightly, place on a tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Baba Ganoush & 12 countries

You know that it is a "passion-obsession" when you wake up wondering : "How is "blabla " doing?"
For the past 2 days, the first thing coming to my head has been : How may countries have dipped in "pebble soup"?
1 week 12 countries

How exciting, this is just brilliant.

I shall smother the devilish little voice saying :
-Might be only one person per country, with a loud
- And what about the other 182 countries or there about?
No, no no you will not get me down that slippery slope, devilish little voice. This is not like me, I am not a mathematician. But I have spotted large expanse of white empty spaces on google-stats' map. So cunningly, I cooked for them.

Well let's get this right, I did not exactly cooked for the billions of people out there who are not reading my blog (yet), that would be tilting "passion-obsession" into "madness-obsession". I selected a recipe that I love which these countries have in "common with variations".
Russia, Ethiopia, countries in the Middle East and at the edge of the Mediterranean, Egypt, India, Bangladesh and Greece all prepare it "same-same but different" ways.
Janice first mentioned it to me, and I use an adaptation of Sophie Grigson's recipe to make this delicious Aubergine dip.

Serves 6; Prep. 20 minutes; cooking: 20 minutes

2 aubergines
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon

6 tbs of olive oil
4 tbsp tahini paste (I use the light kind)
2 tbsp fresh mint or parsley, chopped
1- 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

salt and cayenne pepper

  • Pre-heat oven to 190C/380F/Gas mark 5
  • Prick the skins of the aubergines so that they don't explode in the oven.
  • Place the Aubergine in a tin, in the oven for 20 minutes, it does not matter if it is longer, as long as they are soft inside and slightly shrivelled outside, leave them to cool slightly
  • Remove the skin
  • Tip into a food processor small bowl, add the garlic, the lemon juice and tahini
  • Add the olive oil as you whisk
  • Finish by adding the salt, cumin, cayenne pepper to taste,
  • Give it a last whirl, it should be smooth add water if necessary.

Cool it 1/2 hour further in the fridge, Serve with warm pitta, it will blacken slightly but that does not affect the taste.

Pain bagnat at the beach

I went to the "O2" formerly known as the dome. Well, call me party-Popper but I think that "the beach" is the reflection of a very sad state of affairs.
I do not object to the concept: indoor-beach: bizarre but why not; man-made complete with lights imitation, sun for the day, moon in the evening : good; free entertainment for kids and grown ups : excellent.
What I do not like AT ALL is the distortion of simple pleasures, beach but no water, beach but no weather, beach but only certain prescribed activities (please, let's make sure that we all do the same at the same time, here is a timetable) at that point, I have got to say NO that is NO beach. Have the organisers given a thought about the wonders of the fresh salted air that make your skin crispy and itchy, the sand in your food, the endless hours spent doing nothing or nothing much, that for me is a beach so on that "moany"-note, I leave you with the sound of the crickets, find a bit a open space (balcony will do) & try the following recipe.

Pain bagnat
It is said that this sandwich was originally invented for the "boules" players in Nice, the flavours combine and seep in the bread while it is being weight down, it can also be made a day in advance.
make 4
1 French bread (baguette), white bread rolls can be used too
olive oil
can of tuna
3 tomatoes sliced
1 hard boiled egg
red or green pepper finely sliced
few spring onions or small white ones
pitted black olives (optional) could use olive paste
  • Slice the bread length-wise
  • brush the olive oil on the inside
  • sprinkle basil
  • spread the rest of the ingredients
  • wrap in cling film
  • weight it down with a chopping board for as long as possible
  • unwrap and cut large slices.
Sue gave me a recipe of a picnic loaf which works on the same weighting down principle using: ciabatta, olive oil, pesto, sliced mozzarella, feta cheese, rocket, fresh or sun dried tomatoes.

Lemon pie & Waitress

At the week-end, he and I went to see a preview of "Waitress".
I L I K E D it, made me cry and laugh simultaneously. I defy any woman out there not to recognise a little bit of her own life in Jenna's. And before you think that it is a "girly film", I need to tell you that he liked it too. The director, Adrienne Shelly, adds her original voice to a time-immemorial subject.
In short, it is a slice of Jenna's life, she invents pie-recipes which are named after the events in her life. The filming of the food is luscious, only problem which has troubled me since Sunday, the tag line: "if life were as simple as pie".
Now I ask you : "is pie simple?", if it was, would not the name be universal, we would have no need words such as cheesecake, tarte, quiche, tourte.
Is a "tarte tatin" a pie? can't even establish with certainty that cake is not a pie, since some cakes seems to be pie and some are not.
So what is a pie? I've dived in the "American pie council" official site to find out. Pies have been around since about 2000 BC, Pharaohs ate pies, it took its time to arrive to our shores, as it landed in the 12th century. That is quiet a trip and when it did it was in a "coffyn", after 14 centuries that makes sense.
Pie had crust on top, when it took its top off was it still pie? It is all very confusing. And if you have got an answer, I would love to hear it.
In the meantime here is :

Tarte au citron/Lemon Pie :
Make one tart/ prep 25 minutes/ cooking time 30 minutes
It is better to use a metal tin, there is a "scientific" reason why which has got to do with water but more to the point a metal tin gets the pastry crispy, lovely.

for the pastry:
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
55g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
Mix by hand all the ingredients in a bowl until you get a ball of dough, leave it to rest until you are ready to pour the filling in.

for the filling:
150g sugar
150g unsalted melted butter
3 eggs
2 lemons


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  • To make the filling, whisk the caster sugar to the eggs until it is smooth and white.

  • Add the juice of 1 lemon, the zest and mix.

  • Melt the butter slowly and add it to the mixture (if you feel virtuous halve the amount of butter)

  • Taste and add the rest of the lemon if necessary

  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface, the thinner the nicer.

  • Line a normal (26 cm)size tart tin with the pastry

  • Carefully pour the filling mix into the case and bake for around 30 minutes until the filling is set

  • Keep an eye on it during the last 10 minutes allowing it to brown just a little
    Let the tart cool at room temperature

If you like Meringue, cover the cooked tarte with meringue mixture made with 2 white eggs whisked until hard, 100g of sugar, bake again on low oven till the meringue colours slightly

Waitress is out on the 10th August, more info about the film : "Waitress"

Blueberry Muffins & Royal Naval Mess so that is the film set fuel

They are filming around the corner. I am being told Nicolas Cage is there. It is a sequel of "Treasure hunt", well, I think it is more like "National hunt 2" but does it really matter? When all what you want to know is "what are all these people eating?".

Yesterday as I was passing by, the ginger bread men waved at me. So today I could not resist; But, I was not going to go alone, I asked Sue. Our mission was to discover what fuels the silver screen workers.

It was not very difficult to find out, the caterer was charming and more than happy to show us around, the caravan over there in reality is a giant fridge and goodness me, they run on bottled water, not the caravans, the crew and lots of water. And come this way, here are: the ovens, the sandwich toaster, massive, the juicer, the coffee machine which never stops purring, they run on coffee too, lots and lots of coffee. Hang on, somebody just asked for "an apple, celery and "something else very green" juice" to boost his energy level.

In fact, the reality is that they are fed non-stop lovely yummy food, healthy as well by the look of it, no more hesitation, Sue and I are going to tuck into that Royal Naval Mess which is, in fact, an Eton mess renamed to refer to the filming location. Thanks to the great friendliness of the canteen crew you get the blueberry muffins recipe, delicious they were, mission accomplished.

Blueberry Muffins


250g Plain flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

1 Egg

175 ml Milk

150g Sugar

60g Melted butter

170g Blueberries


Personally I use a mixer, put all the ingredients (except the fruits) in and give it a whirl but here is the more traditional way.

preheat oven at 180 C/350 F/ mark 4

  • In a small bowl, mix the egg and the milk

  • In a large bowl, mix the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and mix

  • Add the egg and milk to the dry mixture

  • Melt the butter, when slightly cool, mix in the sugar

  • Add the butter mixture to the rest and mix again

  • Finally add the blueberries.

  • butter a rectangular tin

  • bake for 15 minutes

  • rest in the tin for 10 minutes.

fantastic for kid's snacks, if they know that Nicolas Cage ate from the same recipe you may have to bake more than one batch.

Tarte à la moutarde & Tour de France

This was one of my first posts Tarte a la Moutarde and for long it was also my my signature dish. For theses reasons, I want to share it with #InheritanceRecipes and pass it down to the food-bloggers family. This month the challenge is hosted by Margot at Coffee 'n Vanilla

Original post:
I'd never been a VIP before.
Serge said: "pick your badges up and do NOT forget to return them". OK, so off we trotted and, ended up in the people's village in Hyde park, NO VIP here, free beer, though. So off we trotted back and by the time we located the "non-people's village", which was full of people, the prologue was in its epilogue. Story of my life. It all goes too fast include the "tour de France" 

even he whose pictures are usually very good, did not quite managed, to catch the cyclist in the frame. Got better luck on the next day.

Friends + France = Tarte à la moutarde

It is really simple to make and so delicious that in time, you will have to make 2 at once, as one is never ever enough

should make 6 people

300g shortcut pastry (ready to roll)
3 to 4 tbsp Dijon mustard
200g grated cheddard (or gruyère)
3 medium tomatoes, sliced

  • pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • roll out the pastry, butter a 25 cm round tin
  • spread the mustard on the base, there should be enough to cover generously the base however too much will be overpowering, pepper that's right no salt
  • cover with cheddar (and a little more cheddar if you wish)
  • place the tomatoes slices on the cheddar
  • cook for 40 minutes in the middle of the oven

Strawberry Jam

Today, David turned up with a pot of delicious strawberry jam. I had never met David before.

Before you jump to conclusions let me tell you about freecycle. It is an online forum where people give away and receive unwanted "things". In this fashion, a bookcase, an old computer and others found their way from my cupboard under the stairs to a better home instead of adding yet more to the landfill. It is recycle at its best and you get to meet people like David.

At the moment, their household is jam crazy. That happens to me at times, I love the idea of all theses pots, in reality limited to 4 or 5, lined up nicely in the kitchen waited to be sealed, bliss.

Right, so David, was pot-less after experimenting with "cherry, Port and chocolate jam", "strawberry and sloe gin", "marmalade and cognac". Yes, me too, I spotted the theme .....in their choice of fruits.

So, David posted a message on freecycle, cunningly I offered the pots which are waiting for my "milk jam" (more of this later). A sound recycling act, because not only was I kindly offered a sample pot, but he will at a later stage share the recipe with us.
in the meantime here is the recipe I use, it will make 4 large jars (400g each)

Making Jams can be problematic, too runny, bubbles over, but it is easier than it seems at first


1kg ripe strawberries

1kg jam sugar

juice of 1 lemon


  • rinse & tail the fruits, if they are large cut in 2,
  • layer them gently in a large salad bowl, sprinkle sugar in between layer.
  • leave them to marinate over night, or for a least 5 hours, give them a stir once or twice
  • pour the salad bowl content in a large non-stick saucepan, cook on low heat, stirring the content but not too much so that the fruits do not get damaged.
  • when the mixture is at boiling point, add the lemon juice, turn the heat up and leave to boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat
  • pot slowly so that the strawberries do not raise to the surface, leave as little air as possible in the pot
select jar which have a large opening as it is much easier to fill them up

the strawberries need to be full of flavour

using labels gives the jar a little extra

Soda bread

When I have a "down day" I bake a bread, it reverses the trend. This is one of my favorite, the recipe was handed down to me by Phil, she now lives in Ireland but used to bake proper Irish bread long before moving across the waters.

It is yeast free and incredibly easy to make but
As for everything, there are a few tricks:

The mixture should be slack but not too thin, add a little more water if the mixture is too thick.

When baking a bread, always put a bowl of water in the oven, it will give you that lovely crust.

When the bread is baked, get it out of its tin straight away, set it on a grid to cool and if you are so inclined, listen to it sing.


375g wholemeal flour
125g porridge oats or medium oatmeal
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp full baking powder
1 tsp full salt
300 ml natural live yogurt or even better buttermilk if you can source it
150 ml warm water
1 small handfull of sunflower seeds


Mix all the dry ingredients, I use a mixer with a dough attachment but by hand is fine.

Add the buttermilk or yogurt and the warm water

and mix the lot again

That's is it for the preparation

Butter a tin square, oblong, round which ever take your fancy, bake for 35 minutes up to 45 minutes in a pre-heated oven temperature: 190.



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