Deptford Creek Honey

We ran out of honey, just when he spotted an article on Deptford Creek Honey.
You have to understand that I am not a great fan of the golden stuff, but I would do anything for an adventure. This promised to be a most interesting quest.

If one had to describe Deptford, I am not sure were one would start. It is located in the South East of London. It is vibrant with arts, multicultural and colourful to the core. It has/had its celebs from Dire straits whose musician lived and started there to Christopher Marlowe, elizabethan writer, who died (murdered) and ended there.
This is where I should mention the incomparable Deptford Babes.

But back to food shopping and honey quest. Deptford has an incredible market and an even more incredible high street. This high street is the only high street in & around London which hasn't got one, not one, chain. Every shop is an independent trader. This is where, I was heading: the Deptford Deli on Tanners Hill.

Nicely greeted, I was explained that their 40 pots of Deptford Creek honey, flew out of the shop within a couple of days. Seeing how devastated I was, they offered me to try it out. Now remember, I don't like honey but this is nectar, this honey is fantastic. The label tells us about a "honey with an international flavour" made by a colony of Apis Mellifera (European Honey Bee) know for ....wait for it....their good temper.

But where could I find some???? I was directed toward the Creekside Center, by the way, this is THE place to go to or contact if you wanted to buy a pot or two.
Finding my way in was tricky, but quests are never simple and often involve many doors.

I knew it was the end of my search when I spotted a box full of the little pots. lined up like amber pearls on a necklace. There, I got to know a bit more about the apiary: Julian is the bee-keeper, he lives on a boat on the creek where one can find a mix of plants from places from around the world. Julian's day job is to repair boats. The collection of beehives is by the Thames near his boat.

Back home, I read a little more about London honey which is in high demand and is a seasonal product, usually available in late summer and autumn, there seems to be a lot of it but never enough to keep up with the demand.
Deptford Creek Honey cost £5.50 for 340g.

Lighten Up by Jill Dupleix


Lately, I have had to dive in this book a lot, summer holidays are approaching, and I will no doubt spend time among beautifully shaped, slim human beings parading in their swimming costumes so if I don't want to pack a burqa and a nun outfit, for good measure, I needed to do a bit of research, et voila........

“Lighten Up” by Jill Dupleix is part of a genre: “Healthy Approach To Cooking.” You will not need me to tell you that the “HATCH” books emerge in the spring from the depth of winter’s extra layers. They spring up on shelves and in booksellers’ windows with an ostentation attitude which can be dispiriting. What an awful thought that of another load of diet food cookbooks, but this is not the case of Jill Dupleix’s latest book.

Jill Dupleix was named cookery writer in 2005, and she was the Times Cook for six years; in 2008 she won the Guild of Food Writers Award for work on healthy eating, so she knows what she writes about and when she shows us how to LIGHTEN UP our cooking, she makes sure that our taste-buds will be satisfied.

This books offers a gently lifestyle change without the rigours and the bullying tactics of some other “healthy diets.” Recipes do not include deep frying nor cream, of course, but the taste is never compromised.

Attracted by the mouthwatering photography, I tried and tasted “Zucchin crostini.” Jill Dupleix is also a food stylist and chef at Soho’s Quo Vadis and it shows.

Believe it or not, I had never poached an egg before this recipe. Why? I thought it was too complicated. Not with this book. Each recipe has an easy to follow step-by-step layout. The end product was a lovely meal: layers of prosciutto, shavings of buttery courgettes, topped by a perfect poached egg, the “lot” piled on a sliced of grilled sourdough, a delight.

In this book, you will find lots of recipes to try from breakfast to dessert. Have a go at Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes.

Published by Quadrille

LEMON YOGURT CUPCAKES

Makes 10

125g/4oz butter, softened
125g/4oz caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2tbsp lemon juice
180g/6oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
200ml/7fl oz natural yogurt
4tbsp icing sugar
A dash of lemon juice
100g/31/2oz mixed berries
1tbsp lemon zest

HEAT the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
SET 10 paper muffin cases in a large muffin tray.
BEAT the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
ADD the egg yolks one at a time, beating well.
BEAT in the lemon zest and juice.
SIFT the flour and baking powder together.
FOLD into the cake mixture, alternating with the yogurt.
WHISK the egg whites in a clean bowl to firm peaks.
FOLD into the mixture.
FILL the paper cases. BAKE for 30 minutes.
COOL on a wire rack.
MIX the icing sugar with lemon juice thicken.
SPREAD on top of the cakes, add a berry or two or some lemon zest, and leave to set.
Yum

Courgette and Cheese Loaf

Yesterday, I panicked and when I panic I bake. I was suppose to prepare questions for an interview with Emily Wardill, an artist who lives and works in London. I kept looking at her work, all these information and feelings were poured into my brain, sadly nothing intelligent was coming out of it.
Except for the word :
Courgette and since Ms Wardill is a respected (and possibly respectable) contemporary artist with an exhibition opening soon at the Tate Gallery, I could not decently ask her opinion about courgettes.

So instead, I turned to the free ASDA magazine and baked the Courgette and Cheese Loaf which features in page 28.
It is well known that courgettes won't help with the preparation of interviews. But at least the current glut which does not show any sign of diminishing, could take your mind off more important issues such as work, for a little while longer.

When I had finished baking, the loaf was a little soggy at the bottom, but my resolve was cooked, I emailed a promise of a set of questions ready for the next day, panic over.

Courgette and Cheese Loaf

Cuts into 10 slices
Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes

I amended the oven temperature that should get rid of the sogginess

Ingredients
75g butter
200g courgettes coarsely grated
2 tsp fine sea salt
225g self-raising white flour, sifted
3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
4 tbsp milk
1/4tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder or 1/2 tbsp mustard mixed with the mild
125g strong Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Method
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°C, 375°F).
Line a loaf tin with baking paper, leaving 5cm above the rim.
Melt the butter and leave it to cool
In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt, cayenne powder mustard .
Add the grated cheese.
Lightly beat together the eggs and milk , then pour into the flour mix and add the butter and stir with a knife to create a dense sticky batter.
Pad the courgette shreds to squeeze as much water as possible out of them and add them to the mix.
Turn into the lined loaf tin
Bake for 20 minutes, then raise heat to Gas Mark 6 (200°C, 400°F) and bake for 20 minutes more until the top is golden and/or the top spring lightly when pressed.
Leave the loaf in the turned off oven for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before turning out.

This post made it to the wildyeast round up

Milan Cookies : The July Daring Bakers' Challenge

Beat the drum, Turn on the spot lights, it is the end of the month, time for another Daring Bakers' challenge.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
As we know I am not very good at following recipes to the letter and the Mallows seemed too complicated therefore I opted for the Milan Cookies.

All what you need for this recipe is in your already in your cupboard. these cookies are delicious, very quick to make. Some Daring Bakers were concerned because the result was too chewy and I don't know the secret to avoid that. Mine were not perfect but they tasted great, though my tip is : bake them in a muffin tray or use a cookie cutter so that you get a nice shape.

The recipe is for 3 dozen cookies which is quite a lot so divide according to your needs.
There are really worth trying

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min (15 minutes did the trick, longer they would have burnt)
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested (I did not use this, I hear mint flavouring is good too)

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

A Dessert for Complete Beginners: Rhubarb and Banana Yoghurt Fool

This is a lovely recipe which make you feel like a really good cook. May be that is the reason why it is called fool. It is also an excellent way of using the bananas which are languish in the fruit bowl.

40g/1lb rhubarb, cut into chunks
15ml/1tbsp clear honey
5ml/1tsp ground cinnamon
450g/1lb ripe bananas, peeled and halved
300ml/1/2 pint/1 1/4 cups plain yoghurt
50g/2oz/1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Put the rhubarb, honey, cinnamon and 45ml/3tbsp cold water in a pan and stew gently until the rhubarb is tender. Cool slightly and place in a blender of food processor with the bananas. Run the machine until the mixture is smooth (you can also use an hand blender). Leave until cold, then fold the yoghurt. Turn into individual serving dishes and decorate with hazelnuts or a biscuit. Chill before serving.

The is a version for the autumn collection where the rhubarb is replaced by apple and 1/4 tsp of ground cloves is the substitute for cinnamon

I made this recipe with Rhubarb from Anne and Oliver's allotement. It is wonderful to see all what they have managed to grow over 3 seasons so as home grown deserve a bit more publicity, I thought it would be good to link this post to Andrea Myers' Grow Your Own and enter the round up.

Edible Flowers: Caesar Salad with Chive flowers

On Saturday I was asked if I had ever used flowers in salads. Flowers in salads? NOooOOo.

I left it to that and went about my week-end activities, visiting friends on their allotment where I notice that some people grew Marigolds close to their vegetables. Could that be because they eat flowers too?

That was it! my curiosity had been pricked with consequences....

I am a little careful careful picking things "willy, neely" from the garden since I mistakenly cooked next door neighbour's weed, genuinely believing they was chard, almost poisoning him.

So this time, I opted for the upmarket grocery store in Greenwich, where I was explained that if I wanted to add a romantic touch to my Caesar Salad by adding edible flowers, I could not do so on the spur of the moment. Petals had to be ordered, and I was given a list of "Favorite Edible Flowers for Salads"

Cornflowers
Borage
Calendulas (Marigold)
Carnations
Herb flowers (basil, rosemary)
Aliums (leeks, chives, garlic)
Nasturtiums
Violas, (pansies and Johnny-jump-ups
)

I was not going to be discouraged, this time round Chives flowers would do, my research provided me with another couple of tips:

  • Pick flowers just before you are going to use them. Wash them quickly in cool water, shake them out and dry on a paper towel.
  • Make sure that the flowers are organic or in other term have not been treated with pesticide which rules out almost all garden center flowers (not that I am advising anybody to go the garden center to scissor away their edible flowers)

    It would be nice to see more recipes with edible flowers, they make a dish look rather special and surprise for the taste buds.

Caesar Salad with Chive flowers

  • Good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar (balsamic or flavored)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/2 juice of a lemon
  • 1 egg

  • chive flowers freshly cut and rinsed
  • freshly made croutons
  • Romain lettuce
  • croutons
  • grated Parmesan

Wash the lettuce, spin dry, and cut small, wash the flowers and dry

Make the sauce by whisking all the top ingredients, if you are concerned about using a raw egg, cut it out of the recipe

In a bowl or on a serving plate, place all the other ingredients making sure that the chives flowers are at their best advantage and dress sparingly



Why Do Waiters lie? Tomato & Chilli Salsa

You know the fridge magnet effect, well the following question "do you want to bet?" has the same effect on me. As a rule, I never go to the bookies, as a consequence, the house resonates with the question, "do you want to bet?"
I could bet on anything, and lately a recurrent bet has been going on: the number of roses we will get on each rose bush. I WON the white roses, that was the big prize: dinner for 2 at a restaurant of MY choice.
Locally there are 2 Argentinian restaurants. I fancied steak and chips with a bottle of Malbec and gooey Dulce de Leche. everything was nice, setting looking over the heath is very nice on a summer evening, food was good, company lovely but the waiters felt the need to lie.

Looking back, I came to the grim realisation that given the chance to waiters will far too often do.

This time, we were left in front of a glass of water for a little while, they obviously had forgotten to bring the wine, apologies accepted, no harm done. But it did not stop there, main course got forgotten too.

After 20 minutes, I looked pale and faint, when a waitress spotted my distress, she rushed to the table; " you have not been forgotten", could have fooled me. She dashes towards the kitchen, comes back beaming, "it take longer because his, is well done" blimey! half an hour on the parilla (grill) that surely should do the trick.

See, here, there was no need for a little white lie, the restaurant was packed, orders get forgotten, shouldn't happen but it does, so what? Erase the service charge, bring me a complementary whatever, and I will be happy.

Aren't waiters trained for the eventuality of something going wrong? because it seems to me that in restaurants there is no lack of opportunity for things to go wrong and something always does.

Here is a great Tomato & Chilli Salsa which I found in "one hundred Home-made dips" by Dawn Stock, a great little book completely unpretentious, packed full with recipes that work.

Makes about 450ml
  • 2 large tomatoes deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Tsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Wide strips of red, yellow and orange peppers and tortilla crisps
Place the tomatoes, onion, chillies and coriander in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Season well with freshly ground pepper. Cover and chill.
Transfer the salsa to a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve pieces of different coloured peppers, cut wide enough to scoop up the salsa and tortilla as accompaniments.
A great idea for Sunday Big Lunch

What's in Your Cupboard? Split Peas

In the series "What is in your cupboard?" I rediscover a packet of organic dry split peas. A whole packet which was trying to negotiate its way towards the back of the cupboard.

Day in, day out, I noticed that it was slowly but surely wiggling towards obscurity. "right this is it", I thought, grabbing the shifty packet.

On closer examination, the recipe printed on it did not appear too difficult: Split Pea & Lemongrass Croquettes. don't be put off by the word lemongrass paste, I made my own by whizzing a lemongrass in the blender, and that is rather easy to find in grocery shops, I got my lemon grass in the local supermarket.

The consistency is the key of theses croquettes, it has to be rather thick prior adding the egg, on my first attempt, I was tempted to add a little water and that was a mistake. You may be correct to think that this recipe is time consuming, however most of the time goes in soaking and simmering which does not need you to be around.

Split Pea and Croquettes
Serves 4 (2 each) or vise-versa
Soak time 1 hour
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 250 g dried yellow split peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 75 g breadcrumbs
  • 1beaten egg
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • Chili oil for frying ( I did not have that so I used vegetable oil)
Method
In a saucepan place yellow split peas and bring to the boil in the stock.
Reduce and simmer for 20 minutes, stir occasionally until peas are soft and sticky.
Take the pan off the heat, add the lemongrass paste and chili powder and mash them and leave to cool
Once coll stir in the breadcrumbs, beaten egg, lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Then leave to cool again
Scoop out enough mixture to shape a small sausage shape. Gently fry these in frying pan until golden brown and serve while warm.
The croquettes themselves are rather nice, perfect picnic material, shame that it was raining on and off, last Saturday when the Beer & Jazz festival was in full swing. Croquettes had to be devored some place dryer, on that occasion.

Courgettes Ricotta, Pine nuts Tart

During the week, I was commissioned to write a piece about the end of the year Master Fine Art Degree show at Goldsmiths' university. As a result, last night, I attended the preview. I, he, BBC4, and hundred of others it was rather crowded.

I had forgotten what the London's art scene was really like, it is so vibrant, really quiet exciting so if you fancy an exhibition with a difference this week-end get to New-cross, under Goldsmiths' big squiggle, there is rather a lot happening.

If July means end of the year shows it also means courgettes harvest and we know what that entails: tonnes of the green cucurbitas and never enough recipes. Good little Pebble that I am, I am here to the rescue with this delicious Courgettes, Ricotta and Pine nuts tart which takes no time to make

Broad Beans Pâté

I have been naughty, well not really bad, just a little forgetful: I missed a dead line, I missed my monthly rendez-vous with the Daring Bakers. So no Pebble-Bakewell tart to look at however here is the recipe and a rather impressive collection of tarts.
What next, well, I challenged myself to find a challenge, I settled upon "My Legume Love Affaire" may be because this is the 13th edition, not that I am superstitious, oh no, no, no, no, only because I wanted to share this super recipe found on the Vegetarian Society website, no, no, no, I have not become vegetarian either.

This is my entry to MLLA 13 conceived by Susan of the "Well-Seasoned Cook" and currently hosted by Sunshinemom of "Tongue Ticklers..."

BROAD BEAN PÂTÉ
A word of warning, try to enrol an unsuspecting passer by to shell the beans as this takes a considerable time.

2lb/900g broad beans, shelled
2tsp/10ml ground coriander
2tsp/10ml ground cumin
2tsp/10ml turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
4tbsp/60ml olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cook the beans in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

2. Place the beans and spices in a liquidiser and blend for 30 seconds.

3. Add the lemon juice and garlic, thin the mixture with a little of the reserved liquid, to form a thick purée.

4. Gradually stir in the oil a little at a time, until the desired thickness of pâté is reached.

5. Season to taste and serve with crudités or bread and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Feta

I would like to start this post, by thanking you for reading Pebble Soup.

Pebble Soup is now read in 27 countries, not bad. If you have a local recipe which you would like to share, I will be more than happy to cook it and write the results up. We tried this before and it was great fun

I was trying out Abel & Cole's Feta Cheese (more about this in a minute) when I suddenly had a "doubt attack". What exactly is feta cheese? Naturally, I would ask a greek reader but sadly, Google tells me that nobody, yes not a soul, UNbelivable, reads Pebble Soup in Greece.

But I found this great website, "fetamania"
Websites don't come like this anymore, down to the "plooouooop, plooouooop" when one hovers over internal links. See, I was after the fat and salt content. With summer every magazine I pick, goes on and on about plumpness, and as a result I fixate on fats and salt.

Now let concentrate on reviewing Abel & Cole Feta. On the 2 occasions I went to Greece, Feta cheese was a great joy, soft, crumbly and fresh in the mouth texture. I have never found a commercial feta which comes close.

Same for Abel and Cole's but at least, theirs is very good, unlike s, me you find in supermarkets. It is not too salty and just crumbly enough to seat nicely on tomato in a salad.
si

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