Saucepan : Which to buy?

It's probably the first item of kitchen equipment we buy. Mine was a very solid set of French pans in assorted design.
           Confession: bought them for the design but as it happen, they proved very reliable and 15 years later, I was still using them, though by then the handles were so wobbly than cooking had become a tat dangerous. It's when the saga started:

Having had so much luck with the French saucepans, I invested in a extremely expensive Cast Aluminium Set by Berndes. Mistake. After a few years, the inside had flecked. As they were under warranty for lige, I send a nice letter. Cutting a long story short, eventually I was told that I had abused my saucepans. Yes, to my shame and horror, I was classified as saucepan abuser  nothing which could be done.

The whole story then, turned very sad, I moved from cheap pans which lasted a couple of months to John Lewis' hard anodised aluminium which fared better but still ended up in the bin. Until Tweeter came to the rescue. I was told to try Nisbets a company which provide catering professional equipment. 

I'm now the very proud owner of a thing of beauty, brushed finish interior with an attractive hardwearing mirror polished copper exterior. A tri wall copper saucepan from Vogue. I still will get the range one at the time but they are far less expensive then their competitors.

The triple wall construction of these copper pans allows for even heat distribution without hotspots when cooking, giving consistently great performance.

So my advice is, forget about the cheap and cheerful, forget about the hype and false promises and GO PRO

Inheritance Recipes- February 2016 -

Welcome to the February edition of Inheritance Recipes challenge.

If you have yet to see January's Fresh Start round up, head to Coffee 'n Vanilla

This month will be a bit different from previous IR challenges. There will be no theme. We think that telling the story behind the dish you love is already a theme in itself.

We want to make this challenge as easy and accessible as possible and we hope that this will encourage bloggers from all around the world to  spread the word about all those good, old, tried and tested recipes that have remained in our families for generations…

Please, link-up any family recipes as long as they are inherited, inspired by ancestral culture or that your own that you would like to bestow to friends and all the little cooks around you.


  1. Please, link back to challenge page on both: Pebble Soup and Coffee 'n Vanilla blog.
  2. If possible, display one of the IR badges on your recipe post. (Click through to open one of the badges, right click to save it to your computer and then upload badge to your blog.)

Add your recipe via linky below.
4.Up to 2 recipes accepted per blogger, as long as each one fits this month’s theme.

5.Feel free to link up to past posts but please, update them with links to the challenge pages to qualify.

6.Closing date is the 26th of February 5 pm GMT.

7. All qualifying entries will be featured on the challenge round-up at the end of the month.

8.Entries from bloggers all around the World are accepted

What Makes an Ideal Holidays?

As I'm getting ready to take some time off, I'm more susceptible to open emails which mention the word "holidays". When this infographic from the Croatian Tourism board landed in my box, I was intrigued.

It reminded me very much of an hand-out we were given during my teachers' training which aim was to help determining students' type. It was anthropomorphic and I remember thinking, "Can this be true?". But it raised awareness and when I first spotted a lion chewing and spitting French vocabulary, I took great care with my choice of words. 

Here the question is the same, "Can it be true that 85% of people opt to "Go Native" on holidays? living like the locals. Next time, you are topping up your tan on the beach you might take solace in thinking that you are a rarity as only 1 in 8 Brits describe themselves as a typical "Beach Bunny".

But how would you describe yourself?

Marmalade: Easy and Clean & World's Marmalade Awards

In Yesteryears, in our household, the start of every New-Year was celebrated, not with a party (though we have that too) but with a day of marmalade making. In fact, it all used to begin prior to marmalade-day with the Seville oranges buying expeditions. There was no prouder person in the house than the one who spotted and gathered the first Seville oranges of the season.

But times are changing,
This year, I trotted full of confidence with my red string bag to the local daily fruits and vegetables market. Despite the fact that it's mid-January, there was no Seville oranges to be seen on any of the stalls. To my shock and horror, I was told, "Nah! Luv, there is no demand for th'm. The old biddies are dead and the young 'uns are too lazy."

Well, Mister Market-Stall-Trader, eat your heart out. Marmalade is a British institution, breakfast wouldn't be breakfast without a jar of marmalade. People are passionate about their home-made preserves. Citrus may no grow well in this country but, by all the Kitchen Gods, we certainly like our marmalades.
Marmalade made with tin of preserved Seville Oranges
There was no way I was going to buy commercial marmalade for ever after, therefore I had to rethink, every year, I made marmalade with a various degree of success. The first year, it was just perfect but I might have got a bit cocky because the following year I burnt it. And it went from bad to worse, on one occasion the kitchen was sticky for weeks or we had far too many jars as nobody wanted it because it was so so runny. Only usable for cakes or in recipes such as....

                              Marmalade and Whisky Glazed Ham

This year, I was going to put my spoon where my month was and in view of the difficulties to source Seville oranges, I used a tin of preserved Seville oranges. Tins come in thick or thin cuts, lemon and strawberry (see picture). I felt like a fraud but I am now a convert. The taste is exactly the same, the consistency perfect, no peeling, no slicing and the recipe is on the tin.

Using a tin of preserved is something which is probably not allowed at the   World's Original Marmalade Awards  which has been taking place since 2005. Each year thousand of hopeful marmalade makers enter their preserves in the contest which takes place in Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria, this year taking place on the19th and 20th of March, during Marmalade Week. The whole week is a glorious celebration of marmalade making.

Picture from the marmalade award website
Jars are entered from all around the world. Pots, labelled with love, are dropped off at various points in the country or arrived at Penrith's post-office from as far away as Japan. A friend of mine whose house backs an orange orchard in Napflio, Greece, sends her creation in hope to put Greek oranges back on the map.

Judges like the jars come from various fields, the main awards panel is composed of journalists and well-respected people in the food industry; the home-made creations are judged by WI members, having said that, there are lots of Award categories including children, novices, tri-services, clergy...., you get the gist, some of which are judged by the public.

But make no mistake, if it's all in good spirit and fun, the judges will be looking for taste. The winning product has to taste of the fruits used, too much sugar will kill a marmalade. Texture is important too but above all, it has to set in some way and pass the toast test.

"To date the Dalemain Marmalade Awards & Festival have raised over £150,000 for Hospice at Home.  In 2016 the money raised from your amateur entry fee will go to Hospice at Home, Action Medical Research and Marie Curie Scotland." Something that Jane Hasell-McCosh couldn't possibly have anticipated  when she launched the 1st festival in 2007.

marmalade recipe from scratch here

Savoury Palmiers with Parma Ham 'n Parmesan

First comes the year retrospective in pictures. Then, the predictions for the new year, followed closely by the trends. For people, like me who like lists, the start of any year, is the equivalent of a fortnight in heaven. Time to reflect and to get a frisson of excitement for things to come.

Reading across the board from consumers magazines to trade newspapers, I picked up a few recurring words: Retro-dishes, Home-smoking, Gourmet... 2016 should see us cure our own bacon, fish etc.... which by the way, I did last year with fantastic results; and we should see the word gourmet appearing more and more, gourmet cans will be stacked on supermarket shelves and gourmet doughnuts are on the cards.

A supermarket-magazine went as far as asking, "Will Gourmet Doughnut be the new Cupcake?" probably not a riveting question neither was, "Will savoury doughnut cross the Altlantic."

I am less concerned by the arrival of parsnip doughnuts than by the fact that savoury dessert have long been part of our repertoires therefore why call savoury biscuits, vegetable cakes, muffins and scone, "New Trend?

One recipe which fit in the "savoury dessert" category though technically is a starter or a canapé is  Savoury Palmiers. Found in Jane Lovett "Make it easy", I couldn't resist.

As a kid, I was not a great fan of Palmiers. They always seemed like a lesser choice, something to get out of a packet for a snack but not in a Boulangerie where Meringues-en-chemise and mille-feuilles were so much more enticing. If these elegant sweet and buttery puff pastries aren't still my favourites, It's another matter when it comes to their savoury counterparts.
Savoury Palmiers with Parma Ham 'n Parmesan


  • Dijon mustard
  • 1 packet of ready roll puff pastry             
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra
  • 6 slices of Parma ham
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
I would advise you to have a look at the folding techniques on You Tube before starting but basically
1- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
2- Unroll the puff pastry with the long edge near you. cut into two. Give it a quarter turn so that the long edge still faces you.
3- Cover each half with a thin layer of mustard, then comes the parmesan, then the parma ham.
4- Work with one half at the time. Fold the long sides by 2.5 cms. brush with the beaten egg. Fold again so that the two halves meet. Brush again with egg and fold one last time.
5- Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour
6- Cut the ends and cut 0.5cm slices and spread them on a tray covered with greased paper. Grate a little parmesan on the top.
7- Cook for 10 minutes. Leave them to cool.

Palmiers can be frozen

    Inheritance Recipes December 15 - Round Up -

    December was a busy month for all. Either that or the theme of the month "eat your greens" was may be not as festive as anticipated. Having say that, the entries were high quality and the final choice was down to two. After many considerations the winner was picked.......but first for the entries

    From top right to bottom left

    A Hunter Stew from Poland Bigos via De Tout Coeur Limousin
    And a Chickpeas and Green Beans Stew with a rather hot twist

    Then one ingredient I was keen to see on the list Brussel Sprouts, here steamed and presented with sweet 'n Salty Breadcrumbs an ingenious recipe from Poland via Coffee 'n Vanilla

    Belleau Kitchen reverted to his mum's Leek 'n mushroom quiche recipe after a night on the razz

    I went for a seasonal favourite of mine which recipe was passed down to me by his mum: Creamy Parsnip bake

                                         Is Dominic with his mum's quiche

    Margot and I enjoyed December challenge and hope to see you in January with "Fresh Start" recipes- Challenge hosted by Coffee 'n Vanilla click here to read more and link.

    Pumpkin 'n Garlic Soup with Lemon Olive Oil Swirl

    When I first started teaching a student told me a story which stuck with me for ever after. She and her brother had a French mum and an English Dad and for that reason they were bullied and told repeatedly that they stuck of garlic. Until the day, her brother decided to chew a whole lot of garlic cloves before going to school and breathed on all the bullies. No mention of garlic, was ever made again.

    I never queried the moral of that story as I fixated on the fact that not all French like garlic. I for one don't mind it cooked but I'm not a great fan when it's raw.

    If I had the choice of passing one of the many soups, from this blog, to the next generation, this recipe would certainly be in the top 10.  It's healthy, filling and right for the winter nights.
    For these reasons, I link it to the #InheritanceRecipes themed Fresh Starts and hosted by Margot's Coffee 'n Vanilla

    Pumpkin 'n Garlic Soup with Lemon Olive Oil Swirl

    For 2
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds (500 to 700gr) Pumpkin peeled and diced
  • 6 to 7 garlic cloves (leave them whole or peel them your choice)
  • lemon virgin olive oil to serve
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough bouillon (I use Marigold) to cover 3/4 of the pumpkin

  • Method
    Using a medium pan put all the ingredients bar the oil in the pan
    Bring to boil, reduce the heat and cook for 25 minutes or until pumpkin is tender
    Leave it to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the vegetables to a blender with the bouillon. How much will depend on how thick you like your soup
    Serve with a drizzle of good Lemon Virgin Olive Oil. I've used Pomora

    Meet a Truffle Expert: Interview with Monsieur Truffe, Philippe Barrière

    "It's all about sex." That was Philippe Barrière's gambit and it worked. He and I were prepared to listen to every single word that Monsieur Truffe had to say.

    Philippe is the man who has been looking after the quality control of the truffle production, la trufficulture, in the South of France for the past 20 years, first with the chamber of commerce in Carcassonne and now as a consultant. He is one of the very few truffle-expert in the world. His expertise is so rare that he had to invent his own job. 

    "What you need to know" he added "is that for truffles to develop and grow, an open environment is required. The black truffle cycle is a long one, nine months. It's an association between the tree and the truffle. It's the tree-root which is going to allow  truffle-spores to germinate  and  later, it's the same roots which will feed this under-ground network of mushrooms".

    "For this cycle to be successful, an opened environment is required", by this Philippe means, a plot of land often an hectare with 200 to 300 trees which is "well looked after". In the old days, sheep were doing the weeding, scraping the ground, to "open it" of course, with a little help from the farmers who can make a good living out of truffles.
    But very little is known about the reasons behind the development of truffles. In some plots it works, in others even with the best conditions, it does not. "It all remains a mystery" he said "and in my opinion, it will be never be completely clear why truffles grow here and not there; it's too complex, as there are hundred of truffle species"
    The craze for this strong smelling fungus dates back to François 1ier, mid 16th century. The French king had the misfortune to be kidnapped at the battle of Pavia and spend some time in prison in Madrid, where he was fed a rough skin potato reserved for peasants, during the winter months when nothing much grew over-ground.
    Quality control, this one has a problem but how do you tell from the outside?
    On return to France, he introduced this mushroom to the royal court and the rest is history, around 1850-1900 Cahors' truffles factories treated.........wait for it...........2 000 tonnes of truffles a year. Caning them, which is an aberration according to Philippe as "truffles should be eaten raw, as soon as you cook them, they partly loose their flavour".

    This crate has just been harvested by several farmers, the content is worth around 2 500 euro
    And by the way, he adds nodding very seriously, "Your readers need to know that products, such as truffle-oil which contain a slice of truffle, are a gimmick. Truffles have a short shelve-life,  they need to be eaten fresh, they can turn rancid very quickly".

    When Philippe Barriere is not lecturing or advising farmers, he can be found at "l'atelier de la truffe"  an unique bistro/restaurant. A place where conviviality reigns and where all dishes are truffle based with wine pairing.

    L'atelier de la truffe
    51, rue Trivalle
    11000 Carcassonne


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