Thursday, August 30, 2007

a fishy request...


Pictured above, Chris and Prince(ss) Jude and Evie

Lovely Chrissie, you asked for something fishy,

You want something to spread,

On toast or pitta or a wheat-free fritta

For a boat trip on the med (ergghhh- broads)

Dearest Chrissie, as requested, the mackerel pate you like so much.

Mackerel Pate

  • 1 large packet of smoked mackerel fillets

  • 500g tub of reduced fat cream cheese (like Philadelphia)

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped or 1 bunch of spring onions

  • bunch of chives chopped - optional

  • handful chopped parsley

  • 1 heaped dessert-spoon mayonnaise

  • 1 heaped teaspoon horseradish sauce

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • freshly ground black pepper

  1. De-skin and de-bone fish fillets and break into a large bowl

  2. Add all the other ingredients and mix with fork

  3. Delicious with freshly grated raw beetroot, lemon juice and salt and pepper .

Friday, August 24, 2007

very greengaging


Greengages, the sweet, thin skinned, short seasoned plum-like fruit that often passes me by each year. My sister Amy is a big fan of greengages and hearing her talk about them, earlier this week, made me go and find some.

Once I bought them I wasn't too sure what to do with them. When I buy apricots, I usually bake them gently with amaretto or make a compote or crumble. I do the same with plums but with the greengages, I thought I'd make a cake and for some reason I thought I'd make a pecan cake with greengages - quick, simple and very tasty and seemed a big hit with my parents (or was that the custard and ice-cream?)

Greengage and Pecan Slab

  • 4 oz unsalted butter, soft

  • 4 oz soft brown sugar

  • 2 oz spelt flour

  • 2 oz self raising flour

  • half tsp baking powder

  • half tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 4 oz pecans, roasted

  • approx 10 greengages

  • dark muscavado or Demerara sugar

  1. Place all the ingredients except the nuts into a food processor and combine

  2. Add half the nuts and pulse until they are broken down - but not ground

  3. Half and de-stoned the greengages and lay on the bottom of a lined tin

  4. Pour batter into lined small, rectangular baking tray

  5. Top with remaining broken pecan nuts and a good sprinkle of muscavado sugar and bake for 20 mins at 160ยบ  c

  6. Cool on wire rack for 10 mimutes then remove from tin


Thursday, August 23, 2007

fruit sherbets


Jamie Olivers, Jamie's Italy cook book has appealing, simple earthy recipes. There are two pudding I've been meaning to cook for the past year, bolognese polenta and apple cake one Florentine rice tart. The tart appeals so much as I want it to taste just like a rice tart I use to love in a patisserie near Mum and Dads apartment in Antwerp and I'll never know unless I try it...
One recipe I have tried from Jamie's Italy is the extremely simple and zingy lemon sherbet. What makes it a sherbet and not a sorbet is the addition of mascapone which enriches it slightly. So far I've used the base recipe to make raspberry, mango and lime and as picture above, blackberry and apple. I've noticed that the blackberry's in the countryside aren't ripe until the end of the month but for some reason, the city bramble bushes over the road, along the river are ripe at the beginning of August. I experimented a bit with the apple sherbet, adding half a cucumber and a few mint leaves - I think  it works well but I'm not sure if others will.

Blackberry Sorbet

  • 7fl oz water

  • 7 oz sugar

  • 250g blackberries, gently simmered, pureed and sieved

  • half tub mascapone

  1. Heat the sugar and water and boil for 5 minutes or until it is clear then leave to cool in a bowl.

  2. Add the fruit puree and mascapone, beating until it's all blended.

  3. Pour into a tub or pre frozen metal dish and freeze.

*If making pure lemon sherbet, use 7 fl oz of lemon juice and rind of  2 lemons. Taste and make sure it's sharp enough, then freeze.

Apple Sherbet

  • 4 granny smith apples

  • half cucumber

  • 4 mint leaves

  • glug of apple or pear liqueur

  • 7fl oz water

  • 7 oz sugar

  • half tub mascapone

  1. Make sugar syrup as above

  2. Wash and core apples then chop and add to blender

  3. Wash cucumber, chop and also add the blender

  4. Add liqueur and a dash of water and sprig of mint

  5. Whizz until completely pureed adding the mint leaves at the last second

  6. Pass puree through large mesh sieve and add to sugar syrup

  7. Add mascapone and whisk well, pour into tub and freeze

Cheeky cockney geezer recommends breaking sorbet up with fork every few hours but I forgot and it seemes fine.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

adore dora's knickers


Evie seems to have sadly forgotten about Grandma Dora's dresses. Perhaps they were getting too tight or perhaps they are just too far at the back of the wardrobe to reach, so, for the time being are forgotten treasures. But, the great (and bad) thing about having two girls is the endless re-cycling and identical outfits I can dress Matilda in. These beautiful handmade knickers were made by Grandma Dora. The photo doesn't do the lace trim and neat stitching justice and as ever, I would love to have a go making a pair. I have fabric, I have the workroom, I have a fabulous old and borrowed sewing machine, but I just can't seem to find the uninterrupted time. But I will, I have to before Matilda starts getting as fashion fussy as her big sister.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a portrait


Evie draws, paints, glues and creates something every day. Over the past few months her drawings have really started to look representative. They are usually faces consisting of lop sided eyes and a smile but todays portrait in my note book (ergghh) has, for the first time, legs, big eyes and all over body hair. I say nothing.

Saturday, August 11, 2007



I'm spending today cursing the BBC's often inaccurate weather forecasting. Last weekend was spent camping in what can only be described as perfect camping conditions; slight warm breeze, Cote d'Azur blue sky, cool nights and day temperatures that makes everyone just smile. Having had such a relaxing and tear free weekend (me), we thought about trying to repeat the idyll this weekend only this time, we weren't going to camp at popular Wells-Next-Sea but instead, a tiny, dreamily unspoilt hiding, not too far away. And no, I wouldn't dream of disclosing where...

Earlier in the week, BBC's meteorological expects where forecasting northerly winds of up to 24 mph and being a fair weathered camper, it didn't appeal much so I cancelled the romantic idyll.

So, I'm sitting in the garden with my two restless girls trying to catch up on a little typing - it's going slowly and I'm getting distracted not just by them but nasturtium berries growing over our superb new decking,which I have just discovered taste deliciously peppery. And as for the decking...


it's bloody lovely.