Traditional recipes

Poached quince with pomegranate molasses, pistachio and jasmine recipe

Poached quince with pomegranate molasses, pistachio and jasmine recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Dessert

Inspired by a trip to Istanbul, these delights make use of seasonal quinces and flavours from the edge of the Orient.

London, England, UK

4 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 3 quinces
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 720ml water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 1 handful crushed pistachio nuts
  • some jasmine flowers

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:4hr cooling › Ready in:4hr40min

  1. Top and tail quinces and peel using a potato peeler. Cut in half horizontally and using a sharp knife, core and discard seeds keeping just two.
  2. Arrange quince halves cut side up in a pan and add 2 cups of water and the sugar. Dissolve pomegranate molasses in the third cup and add to the pan along with the cloves and quince pips.
  3. Cover pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in between the fruit to ensure sugar is dissolved. Continue to simmer until fruit has turned a plummy colour and a knife penetrates the flesh with ease - about 30 minutes.
  4. Take out fruit and lay on a serving dish to cool, adding a spoonful of syrup from the pan over each portion. Reserve the remaining syrup. Let fruit sit of a few hours before serving.
  5. Serve with a spoonful of marscapone or kaymak on each portion with a sprinkling of pistachio nuts and an extra drizzle of syrup. Jasmine flowers add an extra fragrance to the dish.


Pomegranate molasses adds a sour and sweet element to many Middle Eastern and Turkish dishes. Easily found in Mediterranean supermarkets, try a squidge in Bulgar Wheat Salad 'Kisir.'

See it on my blog

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I just don’t know what to say. Sometimes you come across a blog by accident. In this case, it was complete serendipity from Pinterest. This blog is amazing! You are an incredibly inventive person when it comes to food and every single one of your recipes makes me want to forget that we are roasting in one of the hottest years on record here in Tasmania and fire up Brunhilda (our 4 oven wood burning stove) MUCH earlier than she would normally be awakened from her 6 month slumber and get cracking on the entire recipe index… I feel like I just won the lottery finding this blog :).

I have read your comment a few times now and I don’t even know how to thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. It made my day hearing how much you like the blog and that you are even considering waking up your Brunhilda from hibernation to get cracking on some of my recipes (the fact your oven has a name immediately made me like you – it reminds me of my parents’ imaginary matron called Berta who they used to call upon to make breakfast on Sunday mornings when us kids would wake them up that little bit too early). Having just survived my first summer in Rome I know what a big decision it is to decide to bake in plus 40 degree temperatures! I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I do and do let me know if you have any questions (and hopefully the heatwave won’t last much longer).

Sort-of-Waldorf (page 17)

From Plenty More Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

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  • Categories: Salads Sauces, general Side dish American Vegetarian
  • Ingredients: cobnuts red cabbage celery apples red onions soured cream dill shallots egg yolks maple syrup apple cider vinegar sunflower oil

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Although I love visiting London and my beautiful friends (sadly most of whom are now based there), I’m always relieved to get out of the crush and clamour and back to the clean air and open space of home. Despite this, every trip to the capital reminds me with a pang of pure green envy that in the North East and North Yorkshire we simply do not have access to the calibre of super healthy, vegan, raw and even vegetarian restaurants and cold pressed juiceries of the type springing up all over the capital.

I visited Juicebaby, the Kings Road based organic, vegan juice and wholefood cafe, on the first Sunday of the new year, and couldn’t help feeling bereft not to have a northern equivalent on my doorstep to help me ring in 2015 glowing with health and raw-salted-caramel-based happiness.

Juicebaby’s almond chia pudding with cinnamon cashew cream, chia berry compote and flaked coconut and almonds is groan inducingly, creamy sweet delicious, and hands down the best chia pudding I have ever tasted (having previously decided that the stuff tastes like frogspawn based on my own recreations of my favourite blogger’s recipes) – my life’s mission is now to find a way to recreate it at home!

I was also taken with the Glow Bowl – marinated quinoa, steamed sweet potato, almonds, marinated courgettes, curly kale and a delicious creamy lemony cashew turmeric mustard dressing (now a further subject of the life mission of recreation), as well as the Sweet Greens cold pressed juice. Juicebaby sell three green juices, one to suit each level of juice afficionado, from the entry level Sweet Greens (with pineapple on the ingredients list) to the hardcore Bold Green, which is 100% green veg and citurs fruit. Despite being described as “sweet”, the Sweet Green juice has a pleasantly wholesome, earthy, slightly peppery green taste, and is expertly balanced – clearly the actual greenery goodness hadn’t been skimped upon in favour of sugary fruit juice, which makes a welcome change (it is, after all, the desire to consume more greens that we head to juice bars for).

Juicebaby also excels at cakes and sweet. Free from refined sugar and grain, fruit and nut based cakes and sweets, oozing with raw caramel, yummy super healthy stuff. I gleefully sampled a number of tasting portions of these and recommend the raw brazil nut brownie and caramel macademia slice – both super sexy sensational (but alas unlikely to survive a lengthy tube and 3 hour train ride home, for shame).

If you’re lucky enough to live near the wonderful Juicebaby I envy you. Juicebaby produce food that delights and nourishes your tastebuds and body beyond compare, and I will absolutely be returning for my fix every time I’m in the city.


I met two of my most beloved and beautiful girlfriends for a slightly more decadent Saturday brunch at The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell. I’ve eaten at TMP a number of times over the past few years, and been consistently impressed by the restaurant’s masterly fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern flavours with modern European food. When planning a brunch for two veggies (one being me! But more on that later…) and one omnivore, TMP with it’s focus on great seasonal produce was a good solution. The brunch menu has a wealth of mouthwatering options for meat eaters (in fact fellow veggie Chloe and I picked out our meat “would eat” long before we managed to settle on our own choices!) as well as a number of exciting options for veggie pescetarians.

We settled on scrambled eggs (noted to be organic and free range) with pan fried halloumi, wilted spinach and slow roasted tomatoes which were rich and buttery and very very tasty, with lots of the good stuff (veggies). I had a side of curly kale, and Chloe the meatiest, juiciest, fat Portobello mushrooms.

I’m assured that Maddy’s sweetcorn, feta, green chilli and curry leaf waffle with smoked streaky bacon and maple syrup was also delicious.

I was impressed with the selection of teas – the jasmine blossom green was blissful. Smoothies were very fruit heavy, but the cocktails looked fabulous, and if I wasn’t still feeling jaded from New Years Eve I would definitely have partaken. If you’re looking for a mid-priced take on brunch (most dishes are around the £9.00 mark) with plenty of interesting, original options, The Modern Pantry is a great choice.

23 October 2007

To Chinatown and Back

Is it possible to be homesick for a place that isn’t home? When I was in college I went off to the Middle East for the first time, to study in Beirut for the summer. I came back to New York, to my usual routine, terribly nostalgic for the world I had discovered. Where were the sidewalks pockmarked by rubble and bomb holes, where were the collapsing Ottoman mansions, the crusader castles, the artichoke fields, the night clubs built into converted bunkers? I missed the markets teeming with gorgeous produce, fish flapping in the market in Tripoli, the array of sweet biscuits in Saida, the call to prayer. Back in the U.S. I wanted desperately to feel like I was somewhere else, in a city that prides itself on anonymity, I wanted to feel like an outsider.

I found what I was looking for on the streets of New York’s Chinatown: sure the culture was different, but there were the bustling street vendors, the piles of unusual vegetables. Everything was written in a different alphabet, people bargained fiercely in a foreign language, and I was the only American around- I felt right at home. A stroll through Chinatown became part of my regular Sunday routine, I even started noticing similarities between the two cuisines, the mooncakes that resembled Middle Eastern date cakes (mamoul). Often, I stopped for a puffy roast pork bun, char siu bao, or did my grocery shopping, stocking up on Chinese buns for the freezer or uber-cheap fresh bok choy and seafood.

Fast forward several years, I was living and working in Damascus, and as much as I love Middle Eastern food, I was craving something different. I missed all the different ethnic eateries New York has to offer. I missed those puffy Chinese-style buns, and with no Dynasty supermarket nearby, I decided to try and make my own. With little access to pork in a Muslim country, I made a simple spinach filling, and I was happy to find that since the buns are steamed I didn’t have to fiddle with my troublesome (fear-of-death inducing) oven.

Since that first time I’ve made many batches of Chinese-style buns, and though my bun-shaping skills have improved, they never look like the gorgeous ones of Chinatown (maybe if I got a proper bamboo steamer). It doesn’t matter, because we love the supremely light texture of the bread that comes from their long rise, they’re the perfect partner to soup or something saucy to dip them in. I actually prefer the spinach filling, but you can use any mixed vegtables or shredded meat, I once saw a version that used whole-wheat flour and mushroom-cashew filling. Though these are a bit of a time investment to make, they freeze beautifully, I often keep a bunch in the freezer for those nights when you get home late and want something quick. I had to go half-way around the world more than once to discover these homemade buns, hopefully you’ll discover their joys right at home.

Chinese-Style Spinach Buns

for the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
3 tbl sugar
3 cups cake flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
for the filling:
12 oz fresh spinach (can substitute frozen)
2 tbl vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
red pepper, to taste
3 tbl soy sauce

1. Make filling: Wash the spinach and leave some of the water clinging to it. Roughly chop the spinach. Heat the oil in a saute pan and saute the garlic until beginning to soften, about a minute. Add the spinach and toss over moderate heat (you may have to add the spinach in batches to get it all to fit in the pan). Toss the spinach until wilted and dark green, but not completely collapsed, several minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soy sauce and season with red pepper. Set aside.
2.Make dough: Place the warm water in a large bowl, add the sugar and yeast and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the 3 cups of flour and knead in the bowl until the flour is incorporated (if it is very sticky you can add 1/4 cup more flour). Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until elastic and smooth but still soft. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Punch down the dough and flatten it into a disk. Sprinkle the baking powder over the dough, then fold the dough over and knead to incorporate the baking powder. Let rest covered 30 minutes (meanwhile, cut 12 squares of parchment paper).
4. Form buns: Form the dough into a log and pinch off 12 equal pieces. Roll the dough pieces into a circle, using the rolling pin to make the edges of the circle thinner than the middle. Fill the dough with a spoonful of spinach. Gather up the edges of the dough, pleating them as you gather, then form a circle with your thumb and forefinger and squeeze the pleats closed. Place on a parchment square. Repeat to form remaining buns. Let the buns rest, covered, for 20 minutes, until puffed. Meanwhile, prepare a vegetable steamer.
5. Place the buns (on their parchment squares) in a steamer. Cover and steam 10-15 minutes, until puffed and heated through. Serve immediately.

Saffron Strands

There’s a book that will make you think about what is right under your nose one that is a celebration of ten years of collaboration and friendship through food and a Classic in a similar vein that was published almost 25 years ago. There’s a myth-busting book to make you question what you are fed and a guide to bread-making that will help you perfect that sourdough habit you acquired over the past 10 months when the kitchen took on more importance.

Nose Dive by Harold McGee

NOSE DIVE A Field Guide to the World’s Smells by Harold McGee

The ancient Greek word for smell or odour is Osme. From this Harold McGee derives his word Osmocosm to describe the thousands of molecules that combine to make up our world of smells. Smells from the routine - wet pavement or cut grass - through the remarkable - vanilla and truffles - to the challenging whiff of swamplands and durians. The nice and the not so nice. In this, his 4th doorstep of a book, McGee’s stated aim is to provide encouragement to become a “smell explorer” and enrich the food life of his readers.

Most things in the world are made up of a mixture of molecules. The distinctive smells of different foods come from their different combination of airborne molecules, known as volatiles from the Latin ‘to fly’. A gooseberry smell is not just one smell but many. McGee lays down these smells as grassy, mushroom, pineapple, apple, and floral, and tells you what those molecule are if you want to know – hexenal, octenol, ethyl etc.

But first, there’s a meal to be had. In the Preface McGee recounts the experience of “My First Grouse” as a way of explaining the intense feelings and memories a smell can provoke. In 600 pages he explains puzzles like why fermented anchovies smell of ham how orange peel comes to have a waxy, paraffin odour and why green tea evokes the seashore. How our response to androstinone - the smell of sweat or pork - depends on our particular gene family and why some people dislike the sulphurous smell of coffee or onions and some don’t (depends on the amount of copper in your nose!) You may never smell in quite the same way again. This is a book to dive into if you are curious about “the world aswirl right under our noses”.

Towpath by Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson

Towpath by Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson

A book of recipes and stories based on more than 10 years of cooking and friendships played out in and around the four tiny canal-side kiosks in north east London that make up Towpath, the cafe. Co-owners Lori de Mori and Laura Jackson and their team serve up good unpretentious seasonal food in a unique setting with generosity and warmth. The café is open only from late March to early November as its location is no place to linger after the golden autumn days are done. The opening and closing of Towpath are seasonal markers for locals, though in this craziest of stop-start years our touchstones are somewhat skewed.

This is a book a lot of people, in London and beyond, have been waiting for and it was well worth the wait, I think. But this isn’t just a book for those who miss the cafe for those three months of the year. There is writing and recipes to relish whether you know Towpath or not.

Lori de Mori provides the ‘Stories’ in the book, and undoubtedly they will resonate with regulars in particular, but there is a love and appreciation of people on these pages that everyone can relate to. And then there’s Laura Jackson’s food both comforting and full of interest. Recipes for Peposo, a three-hour traditional Italian stew a dish of braised lentils, beetroot and ricotta that is endlessly adaptable and ones like Mozzarella, pickled radicchio and pangrattato that can be put together in a few minutes if you take Laura’s advice and get organised. I was so happy to find Rosie Syke’s Egg & Bacon Pie in here, and the Armenian Spice Cake recipe Laura was given by chef Davo Cook (Moro, Bocca di Lupo and 40 Maltby Street) who I’ve missed so much since he returned to Australia. Then there’s the Towpath breakfast dish of Fried eggs with caramelised sage and chilli butter which I intend to cook more than once over this strangest of Christmases. Oh, and Asparagus with Ajo Blanco to dream about making come spring. There’s a lot to love in this book.

Lulu’s Provençal Table by Richard Olney


First published in 1994, Richard Olney’s ‘Lulu’s Provençal Table’ probably needs little introduction. It’s a book most people interested in food and food books know about and speak of with fondness, some with reverence. Well, it’s a Richard Olney, after all. An American who moved to France in the 1950s, Olney studied and documented all he learned of the French cuisine and wines he loved so much in several books regarded as culinary classics. The book is Olney’s love letter to Lulu and the whole Peyraud family, owners of the Domaine Tempier Vineyard in Bandol, close to where Olney lived in Provence from 1961 until his death in 1999.

Starting with an introduction to the Peyraud family, the vineyard and the wines, Olney soon moves on to the food cooked, at their home by Lulu Peyraud, from an appetising list of seasonal Provencal menus to Lulu’s Recipes – surely an influence on Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse menus. Waters was a friend of both Richard Olney and Lulu Peyraud and she wrote the Forward to this edition. As the flyleaf states, “This is classic French country cooking, featuring everyday ingredients cooked with respect for their nature and flavour.” The method and ritual of a dish of Bouillabaisse takes up 6 pages but all the simple classic dishes are here from Endives Braissées (Braised Endives) to Lapin à la Moutarde (Rabbit Stew with mustard). At the heart of Lulu Peyraud’s kitchen were local ingredients – some grown, some found in the surrounding countryside, and those bought straight from the fishermen’s landings or butchers’ slabs.

It’s a book for romantics but could also be a book for our times, I think. It was a huge omission from my bookshelf, and one I was determined to correct this year. Lulu Peyraud died in October this year at the age of 102.

Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector

SPOON-FED by Tim Spector

The sub-title of this book, “Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong”, makes clear this is a myth-busting work. Here, Tim Spector, Professor of Epidemiology and expert in personalised medicine and the gut microbiome, examines the lack of good science behind many medical and government food recommendations. He also looks at the enormous influence the food industry has over our food policies.

Starting with the myths around food we grew up with – fish is brain-food, meat gives you big muscles, never skip breakfast, etc – which are not backed-up by science. He goes on to explain why calorie-counting doesn’t add up, examines our obsession with vitamin supplements, the rise in sugar-free (artificially sweetened) foods, and the demonisation of coffee, meat and alcohol. There’s a chapter on the importance of food for mood as well as physical health one on why veganism isn’t the healthiest choice and another on why local food isn’t always the best choice (a tough one for me to face up to).

The conclusion is a chapter on How to Eat – a mere 10 pages plus a 12-point plan that takes up a whole page and ends with the encouragement to ‘educate yourself and the next generation in the importance of real food’. The book covers a lot of ground in about 240 pages and recognises not everything is black and white. However, by informing ourselves and questioning what we are told, we are better equipped to make our own choices rather than swallow those food fads and myths we are spoon-fed.

The Sourdough School by Vanessa Kimbell


When I started making my own naturally leavened bread I relied completely on the Tartine Bread book – yes I did make the starter, which took 9 days. I put my faith completely in Chad Robertson’s uncompromising method of bread making. And the results were mostly pretty good. But, as with most subjects, one book and one point of view is not enough. I needed another to help me understand better what was going on - why a loaf didn’t always turn out the way I expected it to and what I could do to achieve consistency. This led me to Vanessa Kimbell’s The Sourdough School book – published in 2017 and the book my fellow-bakers invariably recommended. Not only does the author go into plenty of detail about Starters, Leaven, Mixing, Proving and Baking in step-by-step sections but also she tackles digestibility and nutrition issues that have a bearing on our gut microbes and health. The recipes take you from the basic Classic white sourdough boule through to much more interesting bakes like Smoked kibbled rye & wild cherry. There are also plenty of ideas for using ‘discard’ starter, which no bread baker likes to waste. Helpful and inspiring.

Five books for food lovers 2019

There are so many ‘best of’ cookbook lists around at this time of year. If you can bring yourself to read another, here’s my top 5 pick for 2019. I’ve read and cooked from them all. Only two are new publications. For me, they really stand out in this year’s barrage of books. The other three books are vintage, much-loved ones that have done more than teach me to cook. They are still continually taken down from my bookshelf and that's why they make this list.

My top two of the new are simply books that are full of recipes I really do want to cook.

Jane Grigson is my first ‘Guru’. I could have highlighted any of her books here but as I love fruit-growing particularly, I’ve chosen her Fruit Book. The depth of Jane Grigson’s food knowledge, the breadth of her interests and the lyricism of her writing combine to make her the most readable of writers. A glance at her Acknowledgements page in this book, first published in 1982, tells you how well she informed herself in preparation for writing. It is an A-Z of fruit and, therefore, ideal for dipping into when you want to know how best to make use of, say, that punnet of sour gooseberries you’ve just acquired or that glut of ripe strawberries. The cracked spine and splattered pages of my own copy testifies to how useful I find this book. But it is more than a source of quick inspiration. Open the page at ‘Fig’ and you will be treated to two fascinating pages covering cultivation, religion, art, folklore, sexuality, poetry, medicine and opinion. Beautifully simple recipes follow, from Duck in Port Wine and Figs to Spanish Fig Ice Cream, and Mme Verdier’s Black Fig Jam.

Strudel, Noodles & Dumplings
by Anja Dunk

Caraway Dumplings with spiced carrot
from Strudel, Noodles & Dumplings

I’ve followed Anja Dunk’s Instagram site for quite a while and, like many others, have been charmed by the posts of her cosy, sometimes chaotic kitchen and dining table. This is no temple to marble and stainless steel, but a true home kitchen. Jam pans bubble on the stove sturdy shelves are a backdrop, packed to capacity with hand-made bowls and jars of essential nuts, dried fruits, pulses and grains tiny hands reach across the table for another helping of Schmarren (baked pancake). Anja is warm and engaging on social media and this comes across in this, her book, Strudel, Noodles & Dumplings and it’s good to see that her own photographs illustrate the book.

She tells of a nomadic childhood, where the food that came out of family kitchens was the constant in daily life, in particular the “pared-back” and “do-able food” of her German Mother. And now, with her own children to care for, it’s this food with a warm sense of family that she brings to her kitchen to instil the association between food and home in them too. But don’t think this is a book about ‘food for children’ - whatever that means. The recipes are laced with flavours of caraway and cumin, tarragon and dill, peppercorns and juniper, allspice and anise. Ferments and pickles have their place too. This is food served up to an appreciative audience of children, family and friends. Each section comes with a short story or anecdote to set the scene to chapters including Simple Comforts , Food for the Soul, Anything Goes , and Something for the Weekend.

Merguez sausage with butter beans & roasted red peppers
from Strudel, Noodles & Dumplings

The book is subtitled The new taste of German cooking, making the point that, as with many other European cuisines, German food has been influenced over time by migration and trade. In parallel with Britain, German food has also had to shake off an unfair 20 th century reputation for poor food caused by wartime food rationing and the introduction of new, usually American, processed foods that followed. Both countries have, thankfully, regained their culinary equilibrium. Germany has also remained true to its strong sense of food seasonality, its love of baking and myriad ways of preserving from smoking to bottling. Anja sums up home-cooked German food as “gently spiced, smoky, buttery, yet sweet and sour”, as “warm and hearty and vinegar-laced”. All of this is in the book, along with a sprinkling of inspiration from three enthusiastic little eaters.

Anja very kindly sent me a copy of this book.

La Grotta Ices book

Before I say a word about this book - La Grotta Ices which was published in June - I have to declare I know the author. Given the trajectory of her career, I'm sure I ate Kitty Travers's food at a couple of favourite London restaurants before we met. I love a good pudding, and ice creams in particular, so a good pastry chef is to be treasured. Then I spotted a little Piaggio Ape van whizzing across south east London. It was driven by a willowy tall, rosy-cheeked woman who seemed to have found the secret to happiness. And she had. She had followed her dream.

I'm not sure of many things but I firmly believe we all have ice cream memories. Often it's that first lick of Mr Whippy soft-scoop vanilla (with a chocolate flake if you were flush) in a dry, brittle, tasteless cone. It's a memory of taste, time and place that stays with us. For me it's the jingling sound of Greensleeves announcing the arrival of the ice cream van. A strawberry Mivvi, please. For Kitty Travers, her memory is a slice of supermarket economy vanilla brick that, after suffering several re-freezes emerged from its damp cardboard box as a "curious foamy gum". I remember it well. I suspect few of our first ice cream memories would stand up to much scrutiny on taste, but they are no less fondly held.

La Grotta Ices - Scooping

As with most things, once you've tasted the good stuff, you want more. In Kitty's case it was the flavours of abricot, cassis, groseille, and callison in a little glaciere off the Croissette in Cannes that began the seduction. A scoop of ice cream became part of her morning ritual before a 16-hour waitressing shift. A dip into Jeffrey Steingarten's book The Man Who Ate Everything, specifically the chapter "The Mother of All Ice Cream", fed a passion to discover how such flavours could be delivered in the form of ice cream. An inheritance allowed her to fly to New York to study and to 'stage' for Mario Batali and Meredith Kurtzman at Otto Enoteca and for Gabrielle Hamilton at Prune. She thrived and then the visa ran out. The boost to her confidence returned her to London where Fergus Henderson was only too pleased to employ her at St John Bread & Wine where she scooped up her first ice cream - Fresh Mint - as pastry chef. Holidays in Italy were spent working, sampling and learning about gelato in the best places for it - Rome, Naples and Sicily. Not all was 'la dolce vita' and decision time came when she was assured by a gelato maker that she could never learn to make ice cream like an Italian (being in her twenties, she was far too old!). She decided there and then that she would try to do something "relevant to the place" she came from and "make it perfect". She would make ice cream. La Grotta Ices was established in London in 2008, named in recognition of that little glaciere in Cannes which fed her early ice cream dreams.

If the La Grotta Ices book doesn't make you value the importance of seasonality, nothing will. The order reflects the author's ice cream making year which changes constantly as ingredients come into their, often short, season and then bow out. She reminds that if you buy with seasonality in mind you will find fruits that are not only ripe and tasting at their best but good value too.

Strawberry Salad Ice Cream
Recipe from La Grotta Ices

Achieving the perfect balance of water, sugar, fat, solids (proteins) and emulsifier is key. The ethos is fresh, seasonal and minimally processed. Expect recipes to include milk, cream, eggs, sugar, fruits and natural flavourings. You'll find no 'fat-free' here, unless it's a sorbet - thank goodness. There's imaginativeness in flavours and textures in these 75 recipes but no 'let's see how off-the-wall we can get'. Some combinations are creative and surprising but always thoughtful. The recipes start logically in January with the arrival of sharp citrus fruits from Italy, their peels rich with oils, put to use in Kumquat Custard Blood orange & Bergamot Sherbert and Mimosa (blossom), Seville & Orange Rice. We move through spring and summer's rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, blackcurrants and resiny early Pigeon Figs with ice creams like Leafy Blackcurrant Custard Apricot Noyau a sorbet of Tomato & White Peach and Pigeon Figs & Pineau de Charentes. Early autumn brings sticky figs, grapes, melons, plums, pear and quince, so we have Damson Grappa Melon & Jasmine Sorbet Pear, Myrtle & Ginger. Late in the year there's a turn to richer flavours in the form of nuts, dried fruits, candied peels, butterscotch and malt so you'll find Pistachio Medici Almond and Butterscotch & Agen Prune. Herbs, geranium leaves and fruit leaves are valued too, particularly useful if you are waiting impatiently for your fruits to ripen as the leaves (some are poisonous, so check) deliver interesting flavours on their own as well as adding another dimension to fruit ice creams. There are recipes for Mint Chip Blackberry and Rose Geranium Blackcurrant Leaf Water Peach Leaf Milk Ice and several uses for the sublime fig leaf.

The writing around the recipes is pitch-perfect. Little vignettes of the author's adventures in pursuit of a true passion: Memories of breakfasting on poached quince after feeding the livestock on an Urbino pig farm. How to avoid, or enjoy, a Prickly Pear. How eating too many Kiwis in the name of love led to a visit to a cowboy-hatted doctor, the part played by Mussolini in the drama, and how Italy can be too much if you're not careful.

Leafy Blackcurrant Custard
Recipe from La Grotta Ices

There's good advice too, like: Keep your Loganberry source to yourself - they are as rare as hen's teeth and short in season why good quality cocoa powder works better than chocolate in ice cream keep your eyes open and nose alert to walnut trees and lemon verbena bushes on common land after sieving berries, use the pips for making a pip juice and eat chocolate pudding flavoured ice cream with a good friend so they can wrestle it from you before you polish it off in one go!

I am certain I will make every recipe in this book because I have the advantage of knowing just how good La Grotta Ices is. I already have summer favourites like Strawberry Salad, Tomato and Peach Sorbet and Leafy Blackcurrant Custard. I badly want to make Tamarillo ice cream because of its thrillingly tropical flavour and the sumptuous colour it takes on Carrot Seed because I'm a grower and I'm intrigued Lime and Botanicals because I like a nice G&T and Pistachio because it's pistachio.

The artwork in the book is eye-catching and fun and photographs, by Grant Cornett, capture perfectly the nostalgia around our ice cream memories. I should tell you too that I attended one of Kitty Travers's early teaching classes at The School of Artisan Food. She still runs regular Introduction courses there so I have included a link just in case you want to catch, as I did, some of her infectious enthusiasm for her passion. And here's a link to the La Grotta Ices site for up-to-date info on where you can buy the ice creams in London.

I don't know about you, but I still wouldn't turn my nose up at my ice cream memory - though I'm told my Strawberry Mivvi has slipped from its stick for the last time. Probably for the best.

Published by: Square Peg/Penguin Random House

I bought this book

Five books for food lovers 2017

Five books for Food Lovers 2017

I bought so few food-related books in 2016 that I talked more about those trusted indispensables than the new in that round-up. This year, I faired rather better on the new books front. Here are the five I particularly want to recommend this year. As usual, there's an older book in there. And another was, strictly speaking, published in 2016. The list could have been longer but I've got to draw the line somewhere. There's a book to move my bread-making skills on from what has become my safe place one to bring an antidote to that Sunday night gloom there is a book that is spicing up my cooking one to feed my mind with some serious talk about food production, culinary history and much more and a book stuffed with recipes you really want to make again and again from a writer who moved Simon Hopkinson to say of her prose "Describing how to boil potatoes would inspire me. ". Here they are, in no particular order:

Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

Rachel Roddy's second book, Two Kitchens - Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome is a closely linked follow-up to her award winning Five Quarters - Recipes and notes from a kitchen in Rome and, again, you get so much more than just recipes. This time we join her in both Rome and Gela, the little town which guide books advise you to drive straight past. To Rachel it is ". full of disrepair and despair but quietly beautiful and intriguing if you give it time . ". It is Gela that blew away any romantic ideas about Sicily for the author - the utopian Mediterranean holiday island is a far cry from real life in the south east corner of the island. Poverty, dilapidation and bad agricultural practices are a fact of life that are not glossed over in the book. Yet the way of life in Gela has captivated her. . Read more .

The Sunday Night Book: 52 Short Recipes to Make the Weekend Feel Longer
by Rosie Sykes

The Sunday Night Book: 52 Short Recipes to Make the Weekend Feel Longer
by Rosie Sykes

I used to dread those last few sepulchral hours of the weekend, particularly in winter when it can feel like all traces of colour have leeched into the sodden earth. That Sunday night feeling when the prospect of a whole week of school hit like a freight train. How much more bearable those last few hours would have been if we had embraced the opportunity to cook together in the way chef Rosie Sykes 's family did. Based on the kind of food they liked to cook and eat, The Sunday Night Book is the antidote to that Sunday night curtains-drawn glumness. But whatever the day of the week, it's uplifting cooking to banish the blues. There are failsafe recipes for comforting dishes on toast one-pot dishes that you deliberately make too much of just so you have leftovers for later in the week a bowl of pasta, of course something eggy light salads for when the weekend has been too good ideas for leftovers and, at the end of the book, "if all else fails" there's a chapter on Cocktails and a little bite to eat. . Read more .

Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese
by Bronwen & Francis Percival

Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese
by Bronwen & Francis Percival

I confess as a cheese appreciator I had been looking forward to this book, but Reinventing the Wheel is not just for cheese lovers. It's a book for anyone who cares about the food they eat and the welfare of those who produce it. It tackles the wisdom of mega-dairies and industrialisation and the tension between modernity and tradition. Across 12 chapters, Bronwen and Francis Percival examine the culinary history, terroir, microbiology, sociology and politics of cheesemaking. . Read more .

Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day
by Meera Sodha

Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day
by Meera Sodha
My bookshelves are light on Indian food books. I love Indian food and relish it when someone who really knows what they are doing cooks it for me. However, I've always been unconvinced that I can get the spicing right. I think I do a reasonable Lamb Rogan Josh. This, I feel sure, would qualify as one of those dishes "swimming in brown sauce" which is far removed from the "fresh, vibrant and seasonal" Gujarati ones in this book. I have a more than acceptable Chicken Biryani in my repertoire, thanks to the cook and food writer Sri Owen (yes, I know Sri Owen is Indonesian but she knows her way around a number of cuisines). It comes with a long list of spices and yogurt for saucing and made me appreciate how subtle Indian spicing can be. But it's the incredible range of vegetarian dishes which have come out of India that I most enjoy, and most want to be able to cook. My copy of Madhur Jaffrey's, admittedly weighty, World Vegetarian can only give me a glimpse of India.

Finally, I've found a book that is giving me the confidence to cook Indian vegetarian food myself. Fresh India by Meera Sodha is a follow-up to her well received first book Made in India. . Read more .

Tartine Book No. 3
by Chad Robertson

Tartine Book No 3
by Chad Robertson

My food books list back in 2014 included a recommendation for Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. He probably needs no introduction but the book is all about the use of natural leaven (levain or sourdough), which French bakers used for bread, croissants and brioche until the 1930's when commercial yeast became available. After years of believing I could never produce a decent loaf in a domestic kitchen, I put my faith in Chad, and a 'Dutch Oven', and have never looked back. Tartine Book No. 3, published in 2013, was a welcome present this year to move my bread-making skills on from what has become my comfort zone. Because t here is much to be discovered beyond Country Whites, Wholewheats and Ryes. A whole world of ancient, sprouted and double-fermented grains, porridge breads, crispbreads and pastries awaits. I'm just getting started with Tartine Book No. 3 so you can take this book recommendation with a pinch of salt, but it's a recommendation built on the strength of my 'oven spring'.

If you are into bread making, or thinking about it, you might like this piece I wrote when I was getting started - The Sweet and the Sour

Fresh India

Fresh India
by Meera Sodha

My bookshelves are light on Indian food books. I love Indian food and relish it when someone who really knows what they are doing cooks it for me. However, I've always been unconvinced that I can get the spicing right. I think I do a reasonable Lamb Rogan Josh. This, I feel sure, would qualify as one of those dishes "swimming in brown sauce" which is far removed from the "fresh, vibrant and seasonal" Gujarati ones in this book. I have a more than acceptable Chicken Biryani in my repertoire, thanks to the cook and food writer Sri Owen (yes, I know Sri Owen is Indonesian but she knows her way around a number of cuisines). It comes with a long list of spices and yogurt for saucing and made me appreciate how subtle Indian spicing can be. But it's the incredible range of vegetarian dishes which have come out of India that I most enjoy, and most want to be able to cook. My copy of Madhur Jaffrey's, admittedly weighty, World Vegetarian can only give me a glimpse of India.

Finally, I've found a book that is giving me the confidence to cook Indian vegetarian food myself. Fresh India by Meera Sodha is a follow-up to her well received first book Made in India. It is informed by her family's Gujarati background, which is still a strong influence even though she grew up in a farming village in Lincolnshire. Ready access to fresh, locally-grown seasonal vegetables and the Gujarati way of "creative, fresh and always vegetables first" when cooking chimes with my own way of thinking and cooking - goodness knows I have access to enough vegetables. In line with the Gujarati cuisine ethos, born out of necessity, of using what is fresh and grows nearby meant a life in rural England offered up potatoes, leeks, corn, chard, cauliflower and more greens. These ingredients are what Meera Sodha's mother turned to for her "vegetable-first" way of cooking and many take a starring role in Fresh India.

I'm not a vegetarian, but like so many others now, meat plays a small roll in my, and my family's, diet. There's an emphasis on seasonality, a desire to "honour the seasons" which I am personally committed to - irritatingly so to some, I suspect. I am lucky enough to be able to grow vegetables on my allotment and, when you grow, you can never have enough recipes for vegetables. There's even a roundup of recipes here "for allotment gluts". The recipes are also presented as "quick" and "easy". So, on flipping through the pages in the bookshop, Fresh India appealed to me on so many levels.

There are 'Starters + Snacks' based around irresistible Indian street food dishes expertly prepared by the 'one-man' stallholder - like New Potato and Chickpea Chaat, and Beetroot Pachadi. There are really simple dishes: Smashed Jerusalem Artichokes with butter, pepper and garlic, perfumed with cumin, ginger and coriander stems and Gujarati Corn on the Cob Curry with peanuts for taste and texture. I subscribe entirely to the writer's view that when you want to eat simply, "not much beats a tangle of soft buttery cabbage with sweet caramelised onions and crisp potatoes ..". Savoy Cabbage, Black Kale + Potato Subji with a suggestion to serve with a fiery pickle and hot chapattis, dal or rice in the chapter 'Gloriously Green' is right up my street. There's a chapter on Salads, despite the fact 'Kachumbar' (generally chopped cucumber, tomatoes, green chilli and lime) until recently was almost the only Indian idea of salad. Here the writer uses her imagination for what Indian salads could be with appetising ideas like Fennel + Apple Chaat with caramelised almonds or a Hot Green Bean, Cashew + Coconut Salad.

Maharajah's Rice
cooked from Fresh India by Meerha Sodha

Eggs + Cheese (mostly in the form of paneer) are major sources of protein and here we are offered Akoori - the Parsi take on scrambled eggs a Mumbai classic, Eggs Kejriwal - which brings to my mind a kind of Welsh Rarebit topped with a fried egg and Sticky Mango Paneer Skewers. Of course there are chapters on Pulses and Rice with recipes like Pumpkin, Black-Eyed Bean + Coconut Curry sweet and creamy Bengali Coconut Dal a Daybreak Kedgeree (kitchari) which I very much want to make and a Maharajah's Rice which I have made - beautifully, subtly spiced, pretty as a picture and delicious.

There are recipes for all those moreish Indian breads - Roti, Paratha, Naan, and Dosa - and guidance for what each is best with and a lovely sounding recipe for breakfast Banana and Cardamom Buns. In a section on Pickles, Chutneys + Raitas, Mysore Lemon Pickle sits happily with Rhubarb + Ginger Chutney. Puddings that particularly appeal are Pan-fried Pineapple with Cardamom Ice Cream and Salted Jaggery Kulfi with Bananas.

At the moment, I'm working through the book one dish at a time, excited at the prospect that one day soon I will manage to produce the bread, pickles, chutneys and raitas that I'd like to accompany them.

I love that Fresh India carries none of the usual blurb from others. For me, this is a confidently written book that stands on its own merit.

Fresh India by Meerha Sodha
Publisher: Fig Tree London

Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese

Reinventing the Wheel
by Bronwen and Francis Percival

I confess as a cheese appreciator I had been looking forward to this book, but Reinventing the Wheel is not just for cheese lovers. It's a book for anyone who cares about the food they eat and the welfare of those who produce it. It tackles the wisdom of mega-dairies and industrialisation and the tension between modernity and tradition. Across 12 chapters, Bronwen and Francis Percival examine the culinary history, terroir, microbiology, sociology and politics of cheesemaking.

We journey through 2,000 years of cheesemaking starting with the "feral", "primal" Salers cheese production on a farm in France's Auvergne region and the effect of the arrival of American factory cheese on British cheese production at the end of the 19th century. There are stories from dairy farmers forced towards consolidation, volume and efficiency for survival Cheesemakers weighed down by legislation and bureaucracy, and other who have already fought the system and won with the help of microbiologists. We take in Microbes and Risks along the way.

Reinventing the Wheel examines what has been lost as cheese production has 'progressed' in tandem with intensive farming and industrialisation. It's a tale of much loss but with reason for optimism for the future if we are prepared to learn from, rather than reject, the methods of the past. Bronwen and Francis Percival's book is a paean to artisanal cheeses. Cheeses that once all had a sense of place thanks to the healthy microbial communities specific to their geographic location, animal husbandry and production practices that contribute to their flavour and to their safety. This book reveals the truth about our current dairy industry and how science is revealing the positives of microbial activity. It's a beacon of light for those farmers and cheesemakers who want to seize on scientific facts to fight back against industrial homogeneity and rescue traditional cheesemaking.

Reinventing the Wheel is a learned, fact-filled call to arms to scientists, health officials and legislators to work alongside dairy farmers and cheesemakers to enable them to produce cheese which is not only full of character but full of healthy bacteria. To work with good microbes that have a positive effect on our immune system rather than wiping out the good along with the bad.

The book is aimed at the consumer too as, the Percivals believe, a lack of understanding of the cheesemaking process threatens the integrity of cheese. Labelling for instance is often misleading as "The label on the cheese is not there to help". In a world where "the word 'Artisan' can be, and is, used to describe just about anything short of a Dairylea cheese slice" the consumer needs to inform herself. We need a book like this which makes us think more deeply about our food, makes us demand real food.

The Sunday Night Book

The Sunday Night Book by Rosie Sykes

I used to dread those last few sepulchral hours of the weekend, particularly in winter when it can feel like all traces of colour have leeched into the sodden earth. That Sunday night feeling when the prospect of a whole week of school hit like a freight train. How much more bearable those last few hours would have been if we had embraced the opportunity to cook together in the way chef Rosie Sykes's family did. Based on the kind of food they liked to cook and eat, The Sunday Night Book is the antidote to that Sunday night curtains-drawn glumness. But whatever the day of the week, it's uplifting cooking to banish the blues. There are failsafe recipes for comforting dishes on toast one-pot dishes that you deliberately make too much of just so you have leftovers for later in the week a bowl of pasta, of course something eggy light salads for when the weekend has been too good ideas for leftovers and, at the end of the book, "if all else fails" there's a chapter on Cocktails and a little bite to eat.

Rosie Sykes has worked in the kitchens of some of the greats in British food, including Joyce Molyneux, Shaun Hill, Alistair Little and Margot Henderson. I've eaten her food in a number of restaurants over the years and I know it pays to 'follow the chef'. Her menus make your heart sing and the food she prepares is invariably delicious, soothing and heartwarming. The recipes in this book are quick to prepare. Many make use of fresh ingredients but a good number reach for store cupboard staples. The chances are high of finding a recipe that is easy and satisfying despite the fact you haven't been able to shop, and we all need a book like that.

Caerphilly with leeks and mustard
from The Sunday Night Book by Rosie Sykes

I've cooked Caerphilly with leeks and mustard, a less cheesy take on Welsh rarebit. The 'can we have this again soon please' request came on first bite. Bacon and egg pie was a real flashback to childhood. Easy to make and so easy to eat. Next time I want to wrap it in newspaper and take it on a picnic. A Spanish recipe for Eggs in a pestle and mortar came next for the promise that I will be "amazed that something so seemingly unconventional can taste so utterly delicious" It did and I was. There is nothing in the ingredients lists of these recipes that doesn't need to be there. In my experience, this is a rare thing in the current crop of cookery books.

Bacon and egg pie
from The Sunday Night Book by Rosie Sykes

Among the recipes I've place-marked are Fregola with bacon and peas, and if it tastes half as good as Patricia Niven's photograph suggests I'll be a very happy diner Bouillabaisse of peas and beans, inspired by the French classic fish soup Coddled eggs Ivanhoe for the delight of egg married with smoked haddock and the Quick cheese straws to remind me of the start of a sublime meal at Joyce Molyneux's Carved Angel restaurant - yes I still remember it, and that River Dart Salmon in a butter sauce in particular.

Beginnings of Eggs in a pestle and mortar
from The Sunday Night Book by Rosie Sykes

The final chapter, on 'Pick-me-ups and pop-it-in-in-ones' makes a high-spirited ending. Original and imaginative Cocktail recipes are from the inimitable Gimlet Bar. Born out of of a performance work at the Slade School of Fine Art, this movable cocktail bar-for-hire makes in my view, the best cocktails in London so it's no small thing to have some of their recipes here. Rosie's knowledge ensures each glass is paired perfectly with an edible treat. A Light-emitting diode - a variant on a whiskey sour? Try a plate of Squash and truffle brandade feeling like a citrusy, bitter Reichenbach Falls? You'll be wanting a few Shallot, parmesan and olive toasts.

It may seem odd to mention the size of the book but I love the fact it is hand size - A5. It feels good and it's the perfect size for popping in your bag for those weekends away when you are going to have access to a kitchen. And the beautiful block-print cover by Alexis Snell with restrained little stamps - a tin of anchovies here, a dog-in-a-basket (Rosie's beloved Florence) there - punctuating each chapter makes it look good too. I'm a bit of a fan of Patricia Niven and here her photography is crisp and bright, true and unfussy, just the way I like it.

This is unpretentious cooking at its best and it's one of those rare books I bought two copies of - I've only ever done that with Simon Hopkinson and Rachel Roddy's books before now. And I know exactly where the second one is going. Yes, those "How to . " books are invaluable but this is the perfect book for anyone leaving home who needs a heartwarming book that makes them actually want to spend some time in the kitchen.

The Sunday Night Book: 52 short recipes to make the weekend feel longer by Rosie Sykes
Published by: Quadrille

Two Kitchens - Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome

Peaches poached with ros é and honey
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

First things first I know the author of Two Kitchens - Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome. I also tested some of the recipes in the book before publication. This review is, naturally, informed by both. I hesitated to write it but how could I not when Simon Hopkinson, no less, says "Rachel Roddy describing how to boil potatoes would inspire me. I want to live under Rachel's kitchen table. There are very few who possess such a supremely uncluttered culinary voice as hers, just now". I agree completely, so, here is my review.

Born and raised in England, Rachel Roddy took flight to Sicily 12 years ago with a vague idea of finding a Caravaggio, a volcano and a degree of equilibrium. Needing to learn the language, she went to Rome. Here she found her balance in an area of the city called Testaccio - in the day to day life of its people in learning more than just the language but the habits and traditions in finding love with Vincenzo, a Sicilian no less and in becoming a mother to Luca.

Panelle di Fabrizia made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

Rachel Roddy's second book, Two Kitchens - Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome is a closely linked follow-up to her award winning Five Quarters - Recipes and notes from a kitchen in Rome and, again, you get so much more than just recipes. This time we join her in both Rome and Gela, the little town which guide books advise you to drive straight past. To Rachel it is ". full of disrepair and despair but quietly beautiful and intriguing if you give it time . ". It is Gela that blew away any romantic ideas about Sicily for the author - the utopian Mediterranean holiday island is a far cry from real life in the south east corner of the island. Poverty, dilapidation and bad agricultural practices are a fact of life that are not glossed over in the book. Yet the way of life in Gela has captivated her.

Pesce alla Ghiotta made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

"Ask someone to show you how to cook something and there's a good chance you will get more than just a recipe. Recipes live in stories . ". It's this approach to everyday life that enables Rachel Roddy to bring her Italian and English food worlds together. In Five Quarters it was the lives of her friends and neighbours in Rome that inspired her writing as she got to grips with cooking Roman food. In Two Kitchens she immerses the reader once again in her Roman life interweaved with the kitchen in Gela which for so many years was the domain of Sara, Vincenzo's Nonna. Each year now the family returns for sojourns in Sicily to unlock the house, pull up the blinds, and stand at the faded, slightly sunken marks in the kitchen, testimony to Sara's long hours at the stove preserving the harvests of Sicily. In this tiny space she made bread, preserved the tomatoes, reduced wine dregs to must, and salted ricotta into a hard grating cheese that would keep.

Much of the book is devoted to life on Gela, even though the town's central market is long gone. These days the produce borne out of hard work on the land is sold on street corners and pavements, at front doors and from garages. It is available for what seems like a pittance to a non-Sicilian. Here, the food they eat is the food they grow - intensely flavoured tomatoes, dense and creamy aubergines, cucuzze squash greens, onions "the size of frisbees", honeyed figs, peaches that go from perfectly ripe to mush in hours, and grapes "that burst in your mouth and taste almost drunken".

La torta salata di Carla made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

So, what of the recipes? This is straightforward, family cooking that follows the seasons and the author is generous in crediting sources and influences. They are rich in vegetables, pulses and fruits, are adaptable and need little in the way of equipment to prepare. This is reflective of the way the author lives and cooks in a small flat in Rome and a little ramshackle house with a tiny kitchen in Gela. Whilst respecting the traditional ways of both, the recipes are her own interpretations of what she has learned - "anarchic, resourceful and personal".

The book is structured as: Vegetables & Herbs Fruit & Nuts Meat, Fish & Dairy and Storecupboard. Within these chapters lies the essence of the food of Rome and Gela. A Sicilian dish of Pasta chi vrocculi arriminati (Pasta with cauliflower, anchovies, saffron, pine nuts and raisins) is high on my list of 'must cook'. Peaches poached with ros é and honey is the dish I prepared just before sitting down to write this review. With skins removed, in the Sicilian way, they were as soft and pink as a baby's bottom, luscious and lightly perfumed with bay leaf. It's a recipe I know I'll reach for every time those first irresistible, though not quite ripe, peaches of the season arrive. I'm already hooked on Pesce alla Ghiotta (Fish in spicy tomato sauce with capers and olives), a dish from Messina which was traditionally made with swordfish but which is adaptable and, in my experience, particularly good made with salt cod. Oh, a and I badly want to make Salsiccia alluvia e cipolla (Sausages with grapes and red onions) straight out of Middle-Eastern influenced Sicilian cuisine.

Pesce al forno con le patate made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

In the Meat, Fish & Dairy chapter you'll find Pesce al forno con le patate (Baked fish with potatoes) with a method straight out of the kitchen of the wonderful Carla Tomasi and a recipe for Brutta ma buoni (Ugly-but-good) biscuits which are great for using up leftover egg whites and feed my love of hazelnuts. From the Storecupboard chapter I would bring to your attention Zuppa di lenticchie e castagne (Lentil and chestnut soup) - sweet, nutty earthiness in a bowl which I will be eating through the coming winter and Pasta, alici e cipolle (Pasta with anchovies and onions) because it's an irresistible combination.

I urge you to start cooking from this book with the first recipe I tried: Panelle di Fabrizia (Fabrizia's chickpea fritters) - "Ideally the first one should be so hot that it sizzles in your mouth". Just the best thing to get you into the rhythm of this book. The very last recipe comes as a surprise as it's the very English Queen of Puddings. It's there not just as a gratuitous link to the author's Englishness but an example of how she sees the connections that are constantly bringing her Italian and English Food worlds together. In this case, a Sicilian ricotta, lemon and breadcrumb cake brought this classic English pudding to mind and provides a sweet ending to the book.

Brutta ma buoni made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

The introductions to each chapter, and to each of the sections within, are evocative and full of warmth, wit and understanding. Every chapter makes you feel you are there chatting with Filippo at his stall on Testaccio market and sampling the peas he has grown on his farm near Scauri reassuring Rosa that whatever her husband Giuseppe is growing and hauling back to her garage shop is exactly what you want to buy glimpsing private lives through the ubiquitous 'curtain doors' in Gela or teaching English to enthusiastic five year old Romans using the language of food. If I use this book half as much as I use Rachel's first, Five Quarters, it will have earned its place in my little kitchen.

Peaches poached with ros é and honey made to the recipe in
Two Kitchens - Family recipes from Sicily and Rome
by Rachel Roddy

Read Two Kitchens and you too will "want to live under Rachel's kitchen table". As I said, I have a little partiality about this book but can such respected food voices as Simon Hopkinson, Anna del Conte and Jill Norman be wrong?

Baked apricots with marzipan filling and almond crumble
baked from Honey & Co The Baking Book

Cakes are a big part of the book, even though the original plan for Honey & Co the restaurant didn't include a single cake. Finding premises with a big picture window changed all that. Cakes were the lure to attract customers in - the swivel of the eyes as they pass by. I've done it myself and can confirm how effective a hook that window display is. Colour to draw the eye, spices, orange blossom and rose waters to make the nose twitch. All heavenly stratagems are employed. But there are no deceptions here. The bakes live up to expectations.

Chocolate & pistachio cookies
baked from Honey & Co The Baking Book

If this was simply a book of recipes, it would be very good - how could it not be, when it covers all of the Honey & Co customer favourites. But it's the look behind the scenes from 'Dead of night' and 'First light', through the long daily flow of staff and customers, to the snuffing out of the candles, that makes it very good indeed. In this book Sarit takes centre stage, the driving force for the baking with Giorgia the pastry chef who "lights up when she talks about cakes". The purple folder of recipes from Sarit's baking life is the starting point. Then the creative and collaborative work begins - helped along by tastings by staff and regulars and the need to fulfil Itamar's pastry dreams. The results find their way to table and counter and, now, into this book which "has our favourite recipes . and the best of all of us".

Raspberry & lime jam
cooked from Honey & Co The Baking Book

Sarit's tips on 'How to be good at baking' are a fine start to the book, with guidance on the use of sugar, eggs, cream, butter/fats, nuts and seeds, as well as excellent advice on ingredients like chocolate, "if I don't want to steal a piece, I shouldn't be baking with it". The 'Store cupboard' yields up the likes of Strawberry & rose and Black fig, cardamom & orange jams, Amalfi lemon & rosemary marmalade, Candied quince, sweet and savour spice mixes and sugars. You can breakfast on sticky Fitzrovia Buns with sour cherries and pistachios (a personal weakness) a dish of Shakshuka (eggs cooked in spicy tomato sauce) Burnt Aubergine burekas (pastry parcels) or buttery Kubaneh, one of the intriguing "three strange Yemeni breads". Mid-morning could have you feasting on Feta and courgette muffins or Fig, orange & walnut cake. But then again there is Tahini & white chocolate plait and Pear, ginger and olive oil cake to consider. Lunch could be a Balkan cheese bread a spicy Pigeon pastilla or Leek & goats' cheese pie with an out of the ordinary cheese pastry. And suddenly it's teatime and we're at page 179 which doesn't even bear a recipe. What it has is one of my favourite pages of writing in the book as it gives a flavour of the restaurant routine at that particular time of day. But turn the page for Blood orange & pistachio cakes Orange blossom & marmalade cakes Blueberry, hazelnut & ricotta cake and Chocolate sandwich cookies filled with tahini cream. 'After Dark' we have sweet, salty, crispy Knafe fragrant with cardamom and orange blossom water Poached peaches with rose jelly & crystallised rose petals and, maybe, some pistachio and rose petal Halva.

Peach, vanilla & fennel seed loaf
baked from Honey & Co The Baking Book

I can never write a review without first trying out some of the recipes. What did I make? A ruby-red Raspberry & lime jam with citrus and spice notes from the use of fresh and dried limes soft, yielding Chocolate & pistachio cookies fragrant Peach, vanilla & fennel seed cake and a luscious dish of floral, lightly-spiced Baked apricots with marzipan filling & almond crumble. I made Honey & Co's recipe for Marzipan with orange blossom water for the filling and I swear I will never buy ready-made again.

Slice of Peach, vanilla & fennel seed loaf
baked from Honey & Co The Baking Book

This is a book for those who like a good read along with their cake. A true taste of Honey & Co the restaurant, a place I know well. The photography, by Patricia Niven, is every bit as beautiful as her photos in the first book. This is a Baking Book well worth the wait.

Honey & Co The Baking Book

Book courtesy of Salt Yard Books, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton

Five Quarters - Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome

Five Quarters - Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome
by Rachel Roddy

I've watched Rachel Roddy's writing develop from her Rachel Eats blog, which she started in 2008, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her first book. As always, I endeavour to be objective in my review and I loved the writing which feels so familiar.

Five Quarters may seem a strange title but it's easily explained. The number five recurs as the book goes along but Quinto Quarto (the Fifth Quarter) is the name of the distinctive style of cooking created by the workers at the Testaccio slaughterhouse towards the end of the 19th century. Wages were partly paid in-kind with offal. This being a quarter of the animals weight, it was known as the 'fifth quarter'. The slaughterhouse is long gone and, no, this is not a book about offal, but it is firmly rooted in the Testaccio quarter of the city of Rome which this Englishwoman calls home.

The "notes" referred to in the sub-title are as delicious as the "recipes". Arriving in Rome, almost by accident, the tourist decided to stay a while in a tiny flat above a bakery, next to the "coarse and chaotic" old food market. As she began to get under the skin of this "straightforward, traditional, ordinary" part of Rome, a sense of guilt that she was part of the gentrification taking place in the area led her to resolve to buy local and truly embrace the life of this quarter and its "fierce sense of community". A daily presence at the next-door market with its families of traders, negotiating the "clusters of chattering signore" in the streets she drinks coffee in the same bar every morning. And then she fell in love with Vincenzo, a Sicilian with beautiful, strong hands. A golden-haired baby boy, Luca, arrived in 2012, anchoring her ever more strongly as she became truly a Testaccio local.

This is not a book about 'my beautiful life in Rome'. The reality is, life is as messy as the food market at the heart of the book. Certainly it's about hauling bags of produce home to cook in a tiny apartment kitchen. It's also about the life of Testaccio, particularly the market, and the people who make it possible to live in the chaos of a city. There's the Sartor family butchery, Mauro the fishmonger, Gianluca and Giancarlo the fruit and veg sellers, Augusto at Trattoria La Torricella and the numerous independent shop-owners of the quarter. Friends, neighbours, acquaintances, and even strangers are ever-willing to offer advice. It's about forgetting what you thought you knew about 'Italian' food and watching, listening, questioning and cooking dishes again and again to re-learn how to cook it, here, in this extraordinary place. For nine years she gradually gathered understanding along with ingredients. She began to notice the differences, and the similarities, with English food particularly with the simply prepared food of her roots in Northern England - slow braising of cheaper cuts of meat, the use of offal and the love of jam tarts and of spiced fruit cakes.

Cooked and photographed in real time, the recipes are based on a year in this "Kitchen in Rome". Pleasingly, there are five chapters, just as there should be five course to an Italian meal. Each chapter is enticingly seasoned with helpful advice, observation and anecdote and spiced with a little Roman history. There's also a generous sprinkling of good sense. Advice and useful information, which can only come from someone who has cooked the same recipes over and over again, comes thick and fast yet it feels like a two-way conversation. It's far from 'preachy' or 'know-it-all' but is generous and sharing.

Linguine con zucchine (Linguine with courgettes, eggs and parmesan)
cooked from Five Quarters - Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome

The Italian names for the dishes in the book are far more poetic, but here I use English titles for brevity. Chapter 1 - Antipasti - starts, as the Romans frequently do, with Broad Beans and Pecorino, simply a pile of young fresh beans to be podded at the table alongside a chunk of, preferably, sharp sheep's milk cheese. There's Deep Fried Artichokes, Ricotta and Spinach Fritters and Panzanella. Octopus and potato salad features with instructions for how to cook your octopus - and how, based on much advice, trial and error, not to cook your octopus!

Chapter 2 covers Soup & Pasta. We learn that the soup, or minestre can be simple or complex and is one of the few foods that Romans do not have a definitive recipe for, rather minestre is a dish you make your own "the embodiment of childhood nourishment and comfort". Here is Fettucine with rich meat sauce , Spaghetti with clams and how to make Potato dumplings (Gnocchi).

A chapter on Meat & Fish reminds that "Good Roman cooking, like any good, popular cooking, is homely and rooted in tradition. makes virtue out of necessity and makes things taste as good as they possibly can". Making a little go a long way, particularly when it comes to meat, is a Northern England virtue as well as a Roman one. There's Meatballs in tomato sauce or Roman-style tripe. Fish is introduced by a story familiar to most of us, the quest for a good fishmonger. There's a Pot of mussels, Salt cod with tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts, and a Roman Jewish dish of Miriam's bream baked with potatoes.

Chapter 4 is the Vegetable course. Mostly treated as a separate course in Rome, though, served in larger portions, they can also take the place of the meat or fish course. Many of the dishes can be prepared ahead, and some benefit from doing so, and with the addition of bread, eggs or cheese, they become a meal in themselves. If I'd had this book a few weeks ago I would not have been confused by the large, hairy green Italian leaves at my London market that turned out to be borage - so different from our English borage which we tend to value more for its electric blue flowers. It's in this chapter that Rachel's favourite English writers continue to influence her cooking in Rome, but when it's the likes of Jane Grigson and Simon Hopkinson, it's no wonder. There are recipes for Greens with garlic and chilli, adaptable to whatever greens you can get Eggs in sauce, Roman-style artichokes and Fennel baked with Parmesan.

To finish with there's Dolci. Often it's seasonal fruit. Wedges of pellucid, ruby-red, watermelon Pale green figs with, "if you're lucky, a teardrop of nectar at the tip of the stalk" fragrant cantaloupe melons apricots, peaches, nespole or cherries and plums. Here you'll find a recipe for Spiced quinces in syrup, wobbly Panna Cotta slushy, coarse-textured Gr anita di melone Kitty's vanilla ice-cream scented with citrus and Cherry jam tart. If you're hungry for more, there are delicious crisp little Ring biscuits with wine and fennel seeds and Angel Wings and much, much more.

Pangiallo (Spiced fruit cake with saffron)
cooked from Five Quarters - Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome

I have already cooked four recipes from this book. There is, mercifully, no striving for novelty in them. If you are looking for innovation, you are missing the point of the book. Instead, expect tried and tested dishes, recipes that really work and dishes that are delicious to eat. You'll learn a lot along the way and enjoy a damn fine read. This is a book which will stay in my kitchen.

Most of the photography in the book is by the author. This reinforces its authenticity as the cooking and photography was done in real time - shop, cook, eat. The photographs are also very, very good. Additional photography by Nicholas Seaton beautifully captures the atmosphere of the Testaccio quarter and its inhabitants.

2015 is already proving to be a very good year for food writing, and this book is right up there with the best. Now, I'm off to make Linguine con zucchine again, just to make sure I really have unlearned what I thought I knew, and because it's a delicious recipe.

Book courtesy of Salt Yard Books

Fern Verrow - A year of recipes from a farm and its kitchen

Fern Verrow - A year of recipes
from a farm and its kitchen

Let me say from the outset that I know the authors of this book, in as much as I've bought produce grown on their farm ever since they started to load up a van and bring it down to London for sale most Saturdays. Last Saturday they slipped some copies of the book on the back of the van so I was able to buy a copy a few days before publication date. I grow some of my own fruit and veg so I know a little bit about where this book is coming from. I'm an enthusiast, but that's not the reason I found this book difficult to put down. The Fern Verrow land is farmed biodynamically, but this is not a book only for those of us who embrace the methods of Rudolf Steiner. If you care about how your food is grown and how it's cooked you'll love how this book draws you in with its rhythmic prose and page after page of recipes for simple seasonal food that honours the ingredients. This is food that you really want to eat.

'Verrow' comes from an old French term for a split in the land around which water flows. It describes perfectly the lie-of-the-land on the Herefordshire border with Wales in which the farm, Fern Verrow, sits. Lindsay Sekulowicz's hand-drawn map at the front of the book gives the reader a wonderful orientation to the land being described. Here is the acreage where Jane Scotter and Harry Astley raised a family while turning the land into the farm of their dreams. Here, in one of the most unspoiled areas of England, they have laboured long and hard, learning "to adapt and to live with the rhythms and cycles of the year" working in "partnership" with the land. This book concentrates on how they work and cook from "the engine room of the farm", the kitchen, where every day starts and ends and where they always find time for cooking. Many books of recipes claim to be 'seasonal'. The writers of this book know the true meaning of the word. In their words, this book "is a place to pass on our recipes, as well as the understanding of food and its cultivation that we have developed over the years. It is a celebration of what nature provides. It encourages imagination and consideration in the kitchen, and the pleasures of cooking well, with an appreciation of the different vegetables, fruit and meat as they arrive at our tables throughout the course of the year."

Fern Verrow, the book, like the farm is tied to the 4 seasons, here represented by the classical elements of Earth - Winter, where everything starts, from the ground up Water - Spring, bringing the sprouting of life Air - Summer, light and flowering and Fire -Autumn, fruiting and transformation. The book gives you insights into 'Working with the soil' "our most valuable resource" 'Working with the sun', which dictates the pattern of the day 'Working with the moon', whose effects on water and tides and on reproductive cycles is well known, and 'Building fertility' of the soil. There's just enough about biodynamics to spark your interest, and there's a Further Reading section at the back if you want to know more.

Fern Verrow
Working with the soil

Winter, for Jane and Harry is a time to think and plan for the coming twelve months. Recipes for this time include Braised chicory and bacon enriched with double cream, Beef stew with parsley dumplings, to make the most of what is around and counter the season's icy blasts. There's Apple and lemon crumble, Carrot and almond cake and Parsnip and hazelnut oat biscuits. Spring brings birdsong, light and colour, along with new life in the greenhouse, the barn, the fields and the woodlands. For those of us who grow it also brings the 'hungry gap' when winter brassicas have gone to seed and 'spring' veg is slow to get going. But there are herbs, foraged leaves and flowers. There's wild garlic, dandelion, Jack-by-the-hedge and buttercup - heat and pungency, needing only a simple dressing to make a bowlful sing. Here are recipes for Lovage and potato soup, Spring fritters with wild garlic mayonnaise, Herb butters and Rhubarb puddings. For later in Spring there's Fried duck egg with asparagus, sage and parmesan and then Elderflower cake.

Early Summer on the farm brings cultivated salad leaves and the first of the soft fruit in the form of gooseberries. These are swiftly followed by currants, strawberries, raspberries, jostaberries and more. The bees are busy and the farm is looking its best. Weather becomes an obsession - too hot, too wet, too something - and can make for testing times. The table is laid with Fresh pea and mint soup, Barbecued chicken with sweetcorn and lime leaf relish, a Blackcurrant pie or a spectacular Summer fruit trifle. Come Autumn outward growth slows and activities turn more often to preserving late berries, plums, apples, pears and quince. Then the kitchen table bears Borlotti bean, chorizo and tomato stew, Red Florence onion Tatin, and Braised rabbit with juniper berries. Desserts are fragrant Quince and ginger upside-down cake and Steamed greengage pudding.

And, all too soon, the twelve month cycle is over.

The book benefits hugely from the stunning photography of Tessa Traeger. But, most of all, it's the pictures painted by the prose that stay with you. I found the book difficult to put down. Some of us paddle around the edges of biodynamics, never fully getting our feet wet - it's not for the faint-hearted. A few hard working people, like Jane Scotter and Harry Astley, live the life. Caution - reading this book may make you want to go in search of your own acreage.

As is my way with book reviews, I had to try at least one recipe. It had to be seasonal, of course, and, having pulled some sticks of rhubarb this morning, I chose Rhubarb and custard fool. Silky, creamy custard and sweet/tart fruit. Ringing the changes with a little fresh ginger root or orange zest is suggested. I added a little rosewater to the rhubarb at the end of cooking. A perfect Spring recipe. If you want to see it beautifully styled and photographed, go to page 124. Meanwhile, here's a serving:

Rhubarb and custard fool
from a recipe in
Fern Verrow - A year of recipes from a farm and its kitchen

Fern Verrow - A year of recipes from a farm and its kitchen by Jane Scotter and Harry Astley
First published by Quadrille 21 May 2015

How to Boil an Egg by Rose Carrarini

Egg in the Middle
from How to Boil an Egg - Rose Bakery
by Rose Carrarini
Illustration by Fiona Strickland

There seems to be no let-up in the trend for cookbooks based on one prime ingredient. In recent years we've seen In Praise of the Potato by Lindsey Bareham, Le meilleur et le plus simple de la pomme de terre by Joël Robuchon, Bacon by Michael Ruhlman, and The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford. Ruhlman followed his Bacon book up with the 2014 publication Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient. But before Ruhlman turned his pen to the egg came Jan Arkless with How to Boil an Egg in 1986. Within the past decade we've seen The Good Egg by Marie Simmons Michel Roux's Eggs Jennifer Trainer Thompson's The Fresh Egg Cookbook Lara Ferroni's Put an Egg on It A Good Egg by Genevieve Taylor and the latest addition to the pot, Blanche Vaughan's Egg. The egg's protein-packed versatility makes it the perfect food and so the books keep on coming.

Rose Carrarini's How to Boil an Egg, hit the bookshelves in 2014. The choice of title surprised me as I had fallen for the media myth that Delia Smith had got there first with that one. In reality, Delia devoted the first three chapters of her 1998 How to Cook book 1 to the subject of eggs, including instructions on exactly how to boil an egg. The fact she had the audacity to suggest anyone might not know how to boil an egg brought a degree of media ridicule not shared by her grateful readership and Delia had the last laugh with phenomenal book sales. Whatever you think, her advice "If you want to learn how to cook, start with eggs" remains excellent advice, I think.

My favourite of the clutch, Rose Carrarini's book is truly all about the egg and shows just what an essential role it plays in our cooking. Whether it's the star or has a supporting role, here the egg carries the dish. Based on the cooking for her Anglo-French bakery and restaurant Rose Bakery in Paris, means she offers some more unusual recipes and twists on the expected classics. Continuing the theme of her first book, Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, this book is presented in chapters. 'Eggs for Breakfast' offers Chocolate Orange Muffins and Lemon Pancakes as well as Egg in the Middle and Eggs Baked in Dashi. 'Eggs for Lunch' range from Poached eggs in Tomato and Fennel Broth through gratins, tarts and salads to Japanese inspired 'Chawanmushi' savoury custards. 'Eggs for Tea' offers treats like Purple Corn and Blueberry Cake, Green Tea Genoise, Îles Flottantes, Deep Custard Tarts and a Semolina Pudding that might just banish all memories of school lunches. Low sugar and gluten-free are something of a passion too.

I've tried several of the recipes in this book and I have to say it is not without the odd editing error or omission - one recipe forgets to mention the essential component in the ingredients list, another doesn't supply the oven temperature. It's not a hand-holding kind of book in the manner of a Delia but the small mistakes are pretty obvious so you can't go far wrong. In another of the 'Egg' books the instructions for 'scrambled eggs' extend to a page and a half, so I'm relieved to say that here they take up a mere three sentences.

Purple Corn and Blueberry Cake
from How to Boil an Egg - Rose Bakery
by Rose Carrarini
Illustration by Fiona Strickland

And if you're thinking how beautifully photographed the dishes are, look again. Illustrations are by
Fiona Strickland , a botanical artist who has made an intriguing diversion into food illustration. Different painting techniques had to be explored, including the use of opaque watercolour mixes and a lighter weight of paper. Shades of white had to be painted-in rather than Strickland's usual technique of allowing the white of the paper to shine through colour to provide highlight and contrast. The results are, mostly, astonishing. From the moist crumb and sticky glaze of Purple Corn and Blueberry Cake, to the luscious dish of caramel-drizzled îles Flottantes, you can't quite believe what you are seeing. My favourite illustration, perhaps, accompanies a recipe for Egg in the Middle (at the start of this piece) where the crispness of the fried bread and the just-cooked egg are so perfect you want to reach for a knife and fork.

Eggs Baked in Dashi
from How to Boil an Egg - Rose Bakery
by Rose Carrarini
Illustration by Fiona Strickland

Here's my adaptation of A Simple Apple Flan. I like it particularly because rather than being predictably encased in pastry, it's held together by eggs, a touch of corn flour and a layer of caramel. It's light and, despite the caramel layer, slightly tart from the lemon juice which is there more than to simply prevent the apples from oxidising.

A Simple Apple Flan
from How to Boil an Egg - Rose Bakery
by Rose Carrarini

A Simple Apple Flan
(Serves 6)

150g ( 5½oz or ¾ cup ) Caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
60g (2oz or 4 ½ tablespoons) butter, diced
1kg (2 ¼lb) cooking apples such as Bramleys
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)

Pre-heat the oven to 140C(fan 120C)/250F/Gas(oven temperature was missing from the printed recipe so this is my advice)
Heat 100g caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small, heavy-based pan over a high heat, gently swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar. Then boil without stirring for 4-5 minutes to achieve a smooth caramel.
Remove the pan from the heat, add half the lemon juice and 25g butter and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a round ovenproof dish (or smaller dishes) to cover the base and set aside.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Put them in a stainless steel pan with the rest of the lemon juice and cook over a low heat to a soft pur ée. Stir in the remaining sugar.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the beaten eggs, the remaining butter and the cornflour.
Pour the mixture over the caramel and bake for about 30 minutes until it has firmed slightly.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool then refrigerate overnight.
Just before turning out the flan, place on a low heat for a few minutes to release the caramel base then invert onto a serving dish.
Serve with custard or double cream.

How to Boil an Egg by Rose Carrarini - Published by Phaidon

A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

Radicchio and red onions on white bean pur ée
from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry
Photo by Evie

I think most of us now accept that eating less meat and heavy foods is the way to go - though "meat-free Monday" still annoys the hell out of me. Truth is meat has only been on my menus a couple of times a week for years now, sidelined for more vegetables, grains and fish, and I know I'm far from alone in moving to a healthier, more thoughtful way of eating. That doesn't make Diana Henry's latest book, A Change of Appetite, any less welcome. In fact it's a book for the way many of us eat now and, certainly in this house, it's finding an appreciative audience.

The focus of the book is the author's perception that people want to eat more healthily and the acceptance that it would be good for her to make some changes to her own diet. This book came out of curiosity about what 'healthy eating' means and how to achieve it without compromising on the sheer enjoyment of food. The guiding principle for the author was that dishes had to be delicious, their healthiness being a bonus, and there would be a thoughtfulness about the ingredients borne out of wide reading (there is an impressive bibliography). This is not a diet book. Diana Henry doesn't tell you what you can't eat - that was a relief because frankly no-one is going to take away my cake - but what you can. In that vein, I share Diana Henry's belief that "The problem isn't with what you eat at one meal, but what you eat across the board".

A Change of Appetite offers the, now, familiar format of the four seasons, each with reminders of ingredients that are at their best early, mid and late in the quarter. Along with stand-alone recipes there are menus to help bring balance of flavour and nutrition to a meal. Recipes globetrot with dishes like Vietnamese Rice paper rolls with nuoc cham a Lentil and roast tomato soup with saffronfrom India an Italian dish of Lamb scottadito with summer fregola a North African Spiced mackerel with kamut and as pretty a Persian Salad as you'll ever see a recipe for Georgian Roast chicken with walnut sauce and hot grated beetroot and there are dishes from Northern Europe like Citrus marinated salmon with fennel and apple salad and Braised venison and beetroot with horseradish. Puddings are on the menu but with an emphasis on fresh and light, like Blood orange and cardamom sorbet Raspberries with basil and buttermilk sherbetand Blueberry and gin jellies. Happily, you'll find Pistachio and lemon cakeand a Blackberry and apple rye galette too.

It's important to know that as Diana Henry says "there is lots of big front-of-mouth flavours, such as chilli, ginger and lime, the kind of thing you want when you aren't eating starchy or rich food". Spices are a prominent feature and, if they're something you're not used to, the first time you make a dish you may want to reduce the quantities just a little in some recipes.

Yoghurt with honeyed saffron syrup, almonds and apricot compote
from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

Photo by Evie

So, what have a I tried so far? Radicchio and red onions on white bean pur é ewith its mix of bitter, sweet and earthy, felt healthy and satisfying eaten on its own for lunch but there are suggestions for what to serve it with and how you can change the basic recipe (a feature of many recipes in the book). Yogurt with honeyed saffron syrup, almonds and apricot compotewas a big hit. The combination of apple juice, cardamom and citrus infused dried apricots with yogurt and a saffron and orange-flower water syrup is a delicious one and visually it's a stunner. I didn't have agave syrup so substituted a slightly lesser amount of honey. It's easy to overdo saffron, so be cautious. Cardamom too needs to be used sparingly for as Diana Henry says, cardamom "needs to move through a dish like a ghost" . Once all the elements of the dessert were put together, all was perfection. Citrus compote with ginger snow is another visually arresting dessert. I'm a big fan of lime so appreciated its liberal use in this dish. The "snow" is a granita that packs a big ginger punch and could be a little too powerful for some.

Citrus compote with ginger snow
from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

Photo by Evie

Dishes I'm really looking forward to trying include Smoked haddock with Indian scented lentils, inspired by Kedgeree Red mullet and saffron broth with corfu garlic sauce Roast tomatoes and lentils with dukka-crumbed eggs and, when summer arrives, a Middle-Eastern inspired Cucumber and yogurt soup with walnuts and rose petals and Poached white peaches with ros é wine jelly. I could go on.

I'm wary of the blurb on book covers but in this case Yotam Ottolenghi's "Everything Diana Henry cooks I want to eat" quote sums up my own feelings about A Change of Appetite. All this and Diana Henry's scholarly and engaging writing style. If you're still wondering if this book is for you, take it from the shelf and read the two pages at the back of the book ''Final Thoughts'. Full of good sense reminders for a more thoughtful way of eating. I think you'll be convinced.

A Change of Appetite
by Diana Henry

First published 2014 by Mitchell Beazley
Photo by Evie

Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini

Page of Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini
- Broccoli Cake

Not to have recommended Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carraini, first published in 2006 by Phaidon, until now is a serious omission. In truth I bought two copies, the first before I started writing this blog and a second copy from one of its several re-prints. Why two? Water damage. A neighbour. Don't ask. It was only when I bought Rose Carrarini's second book, How to Boil an Egg, published in 2013, that I remembered I had to catch up on my favourite book reviews. So, anxious as I am to tell you about the second, I need to get my books in order.

A little about the author. In 1988 the Anglo-French team of Jean Charles and Rose Carrarini set up one of the most influential food shops cum café/restaurants in London. With their treasure of an epicerie fine, Villandry (not to be confused with the present Villandry nearby), they drew people from all over the capital to their little space. It was one of the few jewels in what was then a rather jaded (imagine that) Marylebone High Street. Jean Charles and Rose Carrarini were pioneers and everyone in London who aspired to open their own deli checked out Villandry first. I've written about the Carrarinis before so click on here if you want to read more about their time in London and Rose Bakery which they opened in Paris in 2002.

Rose Carrarini is not a trained chef and this book is not simply a list of recipes but an expression of her learning and instincts a philosophy if you like. As with Sally Clarke who opened her inspirational restaurant in Kensington Church Street 30 years ago, Rose cites Alice Waters as a strong influence. Richard Olney and Elizabeth David informed her thinking, too, as she evolved her own pursuit of simplicity, seasonality and intensity of flavour. Breakfast, Lunch, Tea is based on the seasonal food prepared every day at the tiny one-time chartil which is Rose Bakery. The book conveys a deep love of good ingredients and Rose's passionate belief that "life is improved by great food and great food can be achieved by everyone".

Not many cookbooks stress the importance of feeling "free to add different ingredients or change things as you go along" to suit your own tastes, because "That is what cooking is all about". But it's important to remember, "the secret to getting a wonderful result lies ultimately in the ingredients. So choose them well." The Breakfast section of the book includes recipes for Fruit Taboulé , a delicious alternative to a bowl of muesli pancakes from classic to gluten-free and vegan Maple Syrup Scones no-nonsense Perfect Scrambled Eggs as well as juices, smoothies and cereals. The chapter on Lunch keeps things 'light' to suit both the way Rose Bakery customers want to eat in or take-away. Soups include Spiced chickpea and lemon soup and Cold Beetroot soup with a hot potato Salads such as Carrot and seed and Quinoa and pepper are packed with flavour the Pastry section includes recipes for Rose Bakery's singular square vegetable tarts like Artichoke and pea tart and Ricotta, tomato and thyme tart and a take on Pissaladière Rice features, including a new combination to me Tomato, Aubergine and mint risotto . I love the idea of a main course dish of Cod in tomato water (alternative white fish are suggested and sustainability emphasised). This takes us through to Tea, and a much longer recipe list including Chocolate, orange and ricotta tart Pistachio cake Brocolli cake Almond, cinnamon and meringue biscuits Jam sandwich vegan cookies coconut custard slices and puddings including classics like Apple Brown Betty and Summer Pudding and finishing off with a Japanese influenced Red Bean sorbet.

This is a very freeing recipe book. It's not prescriptive and hand-holding to the point where you feel you must follow the recipes slavishly. Rather, it encourages you to follow your instincts. It's my kind of cookery book. The photography is by Toby Glanville. From a flour-strewn pastry table to a portrait of 'Jacob, our kitchen assistant', he captures the mood of Rose Bakery perfectly.

Poached quince with pomegranate molasses, pistachio and jasmine recipe - Recipes

  • Prep Time: 2h 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1h 30 min
  • Serving: Serves 04

Orange and Ginger Roast Chicken

Getting a takeaway chicken for dinner can be quite an expensive exercise these days. Here's a yummy work around. Buy a whole chicken or two when you see them on special at the supermarket and store them in the freezer until you need them. It's a great way to get more bang for your buck. This is a really simple yet tasty marinade to take that budget chicken you bought to the next level. A simple and cost effective way to make your roast chicken more delicious is to soak it in salt water overnight. It helps to keep the moisture in the chicken when cooking and adds to the flavour.

Recipe Tester Feedback: "You will end up with a wonderful flavoursome roast chicken that's just a little bit different." - Gail

No: Gluten / Dairy / Egg / Nuts

Preparation Time 15 minutes + 2 hours marinating time (+ overnight brining if desired)
Cooking Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves 4
Can be frozen

Poached quince with pomegranate molasses, pistachio and jasmine recipe - Recipes

Squash Casserole
8-10 yellow squash washed and cut into on inch slices.
One onion cut into half and sliced into wedges.
Grate one medium carrot into slaw consistency.
Put in steamer and cook until tender. 10 minutes. Or boil in just a bit of water. I like to steam them. Set aside to cool. Then mix together on can of Cream of Chicken soup and 1 8oz Tub of Sour Cream. Mash up the squash, onion and carrots. Pour off excess water. Add soup and sour cream mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I have used a bit of cream cheese in a pinch. Take a package of Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing mix and sprinkle on the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer mixture of squash and stuffing mix for 3 layers. Top with more stuffing mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Egg Nog (Serves 16)
6 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 c. dark rum (opt.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. heavy cream
Beat eggs well. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until foamy. Stir in milk, rum and vanilla. Beat cream until just thickened. Gently fold cream into egg mixture. Refrigerate. Sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.

Horseradish Sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated horseradish
1-1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Mix all together and let stand for 2 hours. Cook 20 minutes over very low heat. Stir in butter, salt and pepper.

Baked Honey Ham
1 Ham 5 lbs.
1 quart of cider
1 cup honey
Slash fat on ham with knife and place in roasting pan. Roast for about 3-3-1/2 hours. Remove from oven about 1/2 hour before done. Cut off all the skin. Score into diamond shapes cutting only about 1/4" deep and pour honey over top evenly. Place back in oven until glaze browns. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.

Roast Goose
1 Goose 10-12 lbs.
10 slices stale white bread, broken into small pieces
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
8 tablespoons sage, chopped finely
giblet cooking liquid* or chicken stock
salt and pepper
Clean goose thoroughly, removing giblets and extra patches of fat. Combine bread, onions, butter, egg yolks and sage. Pack into goose loosely. Prick outside of goose all over. Place in oven in middle of rack. Roast for 1 hour. Pour off fat every 20 minutes. Roast until tender about 2-1/2 hours more. Set on plate for about 20 minutes before carving.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Place roasting pan on top of stove and scrape bottom. Whisk in enough flour to make thick paste. Slowly stir in enough liquid to make thin gravy. Continue to simmer until gravy thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. *Simmer neck and giblets in 4 cups of water for 1-1/2 hours. Strain.

Sweet Potato Pie Makes 2 pies
1 stick margarine (4ounces) 2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed 2 cups sugar 1 small can evaporated milk 2 pie crusts, unbaked 1 teaspoon vanilla 3 eggs 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon Mix potatoes, sugar and margarine well. Add other ingredients and mix well. Pour into crusts. Bake 1 hour at 350°

Christmas Plum Pudding
1 cup hot milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 pound raisins
1/4 chopped figs
2 ounces citron, cut fine
1/3 lb chopped suet
1/4 cup wine, grape juice or currant jelly
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon mace
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 egg whites
Mix bread crumbs in hot milk and let stand till cool. Next, add the sugar, egg yolks, raisins, figs and citron and chopped suet. Mix together well. Stir in rest of the ingredients except for the egg whites. Beat egg whites until stiff and stir in. Steam for about 6 hours. Just before serving, pour 1/4 cup warmed brandy over it and light with a match--carry to table flaming.

Plum Bread (1 loaf)
The toughest part of this recipe is finding the canned plums in the grocery store! 2 one-pound cans (or 1 1-pound,13-ounce can) purple plums, drained. Remove the pits and mash the plums with a potato masher. Place the pulp in a saucepan over medium heat, and add 1 stick butter, stirring until just melted. It's better if the mixture is not too hot. I usually heat the plum pulp, then remove from the heat, add the butter and start stirring. Transfer the mixture to a LARGE mixing bowl. Stir in 2 tsp baking soda. The mixture is going to FOAM up and turn a yucky shade of GREY. This is normal. Let the mixture cool to just lukewarm (barely warm to the touch). Add 2 cups flour 1 cup sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 cup seedless WHITE raisins 3/4 cup chopped walnuts Bake at 350* 70-80 minutes. Test by pressing the center to see if it's firm. Let the bread cool for one hour in the pan, then turn it out of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack. The bread is best served warm (slice it first, wrap in foil, then heat in a low (300*) oven. or zap in the micro). Very nice with cream cheese. Use whipped cream cheese - it spreads better. It will keep for about 1 week at room temp it will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks or you can freeze it.

Church Window Cookies - Makes 50-60 cookies
Melt 1 stick margarine and 1 12 oz package of chocolate chips. Let cool (so it doesn't melt the marshmallows, but is still soft). Then pour over 1 bag of colored mini marshmallows. Add 1 c. chopped nuts and stir until all is well coated with chocolate. Lay 3 pieces of wax paper on the counter. Divide a 7 oz bag of sweetened (Baker's) coconut between the 3 pieces of wax paper and spread out. Then divide the cookie mix between the 3 sheets. Form into a log, and coat the outside of the log with the shredded coconut. (Use the wax paper to help you roll and shape the logs--it will keep it a Little bit less messy) Roll each log tightly in wax paper and refrigerate until firm. Slice into 1" rounds when ready to serve. They look like miniature stained glass windows.

White Cookies (Stained Glass Cookies)
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup margarine or shortening 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla, lemon, orange, or almond extract (Which ever suits your fancy!) 2 1/2 cups flour 2 tsp baking powder scant tsp. of salt 1/4 cup milk Cream sugar and margarine/shortening. Add egg and extract. Combine dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. Add the milk last, sometimes you don't need all of it! Roll out and cut with your favorite cookie cutters. Roll it thicker for soft cookies, thinner for crispy ones. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Decorate when completely cooled. Variation: This recipe makes very pretty stained glass cookies. When you cut them out, cut a shape out of the center of the cookies too. Place the dough "window frames" on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes then remove from oven and fill the "windows" with crushed hard candies. I've used jolly ranchers and life savers (the fruity ones) with good results. Return cookies to the oven and bake until cookies are done and candy is melted. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet until the candy hardens, then gently peel off of the foil. Beautiful!

Holiday Shortbread cookie
Bake your favorite shortbread recipe. Cover over with melted white chocolate. While still wet cover heavily with finely crushed peppermint candies. All done! Just be sure to Really smash up the candies. I use a baby sledge hammer and a heavy duty freezer bag.

Microwave Peanut Brittle Yield: About 4 dozen pieces
No checking with a candy thermometer at all. I do recommend if you are making several batches in a row to check in microwave window about 30 seconds before the normal time ends, because the microwave gets a little warm inside, and the brittle might get a little too brown. Even if it is a little brown, it's still wonderful! 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1 cup sugar Dash of salt 1 1/2 cups raw shelled Spanish peanuts (I use Spanish peanuts that come in a can.) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon margarine 1 teaspoon baking soda In a 1 1/2 quart micro-proof measuring bowl, mix syrup, sugar, salt and peanuts. Microwave on high for 8 minutes. Stir in vanilla, margarine and baking soda. Pour onto a greased cookie sheet and spread 1/4 inch thick. Cool and break into serving pieces.

Holiday Sugar Cookies Makes about 7 dozen.
1 c butter or margarine 3/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar 3/4 c granulated sugar 2 eggs 2 tbsp milk 2 tsp vanilla extract 4 c all-purpose flour 2 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt Combine butter and sugars beat until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt stir into batter. Cover and chill 3 to 4 hours. Roll out about one-third of the dough to 1/8" thickness on lightly floured board. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 375 on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, or until done. Cool. Decorate as desired.

Painted Cookies
The dough can be made ahead and keep for several days chilled in the fridge if necessary. 1/2 cup butter (use real butter) 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg or 2 egg yolks 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1 tblsp. milk 1-1/2 cups flour 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. baking powder decorating sugar Cream butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Add milk and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture and blend well. CHILL dough in sections wrapped in waxed paper 1 hour or more. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll onto floured surface with floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with floured cookie cutters. Decorate with egg yolk paint (see below) and decorating sugar before baking on cookie sheets. Bake about 8 mins. Egg Yolk Paint 1 egg yolk for each color desired food coloring Beat egg yolk in cup with fork. Add desired food coloring combination until well blended. Paint with pastry brush.

Santa Lucia Buns
1 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon saffron- powdered or strands Scald milk with the saffron. 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup sugar Mix into milk and then let cool. 1/4 to 1/2 cup lukewarm water two packages yeast Stir yeast into water in large bowl. Add cooled milk mixture to yeast. 7 cups all-purpose flour Mix one half (3&1/2 cups) into milk mixture in bowl. 2 eggs 1/2 to 1&1/2 cups raisins 1/2 to 1 cup ground almonds Stir into dough. Mix in remaining flour until dough is not too sticky. Knead at least 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or oil bowl and dough and cover with a cloth. Let rise in a warm place until at least doubled in size. Beat dough down and shape: for Lucia cats roll out dough, cut slices, roll these into ½ inch thick and 5-7 inch long ropes, cross two of these, and curl the four ends around raisins. For larger loaves make larger dough ropes and braid them or shape as large Lucia cats. 1 egg 1 tablespoon water Beat together. Brush tops of shaped dough with egg water mix. Let shaped dough rise in warm place until doubled in size. Bake at 400 F for small rolls- 10-20 minutes- and 350 F for larger breads- 20 to 45 minutes. Bread is done when top is rich yellow brown but tapping on bread does not dent it- that is it is no longer doughy inside. Avoid overbaking. Bread machine: 1 c milk, ½- tsp saffron, 3/8 c each sugar butter, 5¼ c flour, 1 ½ eggs, ½+ c raisins and ground almonds, 2+ tsp yeast make/paint 2 braids and bake 350 for 20 min Here's a pie I make that is so simple. Even my pie hating sister and daughter love it. Make your pastry or buy frozen pie shells. Put 1 large can of pears (juice and all) plus 2 -3 apples cored, peeled, and sliced into a large bowl. Add about 1 tbsp of flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar and stir it all up, breaking up large pieces. Almost forgot the cinnamon. To your taste, I'm quite generous, perhaps 1/2 tbsp. Pour into pie shell, and you may have enough for 2 pies depending on can size and size of apples. Put on top pastry poke in some air holes then put in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes then lower to 325 for 40 minutes.

Holiday Wreaths
6 cups corn flakes 1 bag mini marshmallows 1 stick butter + a few extra Tbs Green food coloring red cinnamon candies Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add marshmallows stir until completely melted. Remove from heat stir in 6-8 drops of food coloring. Stir in corn flakes one cup at a time. Use extra butter to coat your hands to shape into either individual sized wreaths or one large wreath. Decorate with red candies you could also use red icing to make ribbons & bows.

Rum Balls
4 C Graham Cracker Crumbs 6 T Cocoa (baking) 2 C sifted Powdered Sugar 2 C finely chopped nuts (Pecans) 1/4 tsp Salt 1 C light Corn Syrup 1/2 C Rum or Brandy Mix dry ingredients together first. Blend corn syrup and rum together and mix into dry ingredients until when the consistency is correct. Stop when it holds together well. Roll into 1" balls, then roll in powdered sugar twice. Set aside in a tin for at least 12 hours to ripen. This recipe is a tremendous arm/hand workout as the dough is ver y thick so it can hold together. I also recommend taking off any rings and bracelets you have on, it's not much fun trying to get it out of the many hiding spots of jewelry (trust me on this)

12 oz. semi-sweet choc. chips (350 gr.) melted WITH 1/2 cup almond paste add 1 cup sour cream and stir Combine: 8 cu vanilla wafers crushed fine (buy at bulk store, or use 4 boxes of wafers crushed in blender) 3 cups icing sugar 1 1/2 cups melted butter 2/3 cups cocoa 1 1/2 cup white rum ( I use a lot less--maybe 3/4 cup) 2 cup pecans chopped fine Add chocolate and almond paste mixture and Refrigerate to cool. Then roll into one inch balls and roll balls in choc sprinkles (I'm not really sure how much you need to buy.) Put balls in small decorative paper cups made for homemade candies, etc. Makes quite a few depending on size

1 lb butter, melted
1 lb phyllo pastry leaves
1 lb walnuts, Shelled, chopped
2/3-cup sugar
1 egg
1/4-cup breadcrumbs - plain
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1-teaspoon allspice
3 dozen whole cloves
1-cup honey
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon orange rind, grated
Teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients for syrup in saucepan, bring to boil, simmer for 10 min., strain, and allow cooling. Mix egg, sugar, cinnamon and allspice together. Coarsely grind or chop walnuts mix thoroughly with breadcrumbs and egg, sugar, cinnamon, allspice mixture. Brush a 9"x13"x2" pan with butter lay sheet of phyllo in bottom brush with butter cover with another sheet of phyllo brush with butter, and repeat process until you have used a dozen sheets. Then spread 1 thin layer of nut mixture on top of phyllo cover with sheet of phyllo brush with butter cover with another layer of nuts and repeat process until all nuts are used. Cover with remaining phyllo sheets brush each sheet with butter. With a very sharp knife, cut the top phyllo sheets into triangles (cutting diagonally across pan). Insert clove in center of each triangle. Bake (350 degrees F.) for 1 hr. until baklava is evenly browned. Remove from oven pour cooled syrup evenly over it, so that it penetrates the layers. Cool several hours before serving.

1 box plain yellow cake mix 1 can pie filling 3 eggs

Mix all ingredients together, bake in 13x9 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, about 35 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched, at 350 degrees. (Jen’s note: unsure what type of pie filling they are asking for here)

Gingerbread Cake
1 box gingerbread cake mix 1 can apple pie filling 2 eggs I only use 2 eggs in this one, because gingerbread cake mix that I use makes a 9x9 pan, instead of 13x9 like a regular cake mix. I usually run a knife through the pie filling (while still in the can) because the apples are usually in large chunks. Mix and bake as above, still using a 13x9 pan, but reducing cooking time to 20-25 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Hanukkah cookies (from The Settlement Cookbook, page 151)
The dough handles easily and it works just as well with cookie cutters with intricate designs or simple outlines. Children love to help make these cookies!
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla, nutmeg, or any other flavoring
2 cups flour (about)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg, milk, and flavoring. Sift flour. Mix baking powder with 1 cup flour, combine mixtures, then add the rest of the flour. Chill. Roll on floured board 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts. Bake in a moderately hot oven, 375º F. for 8 to 10 minutes.
Notes: Flour the cookie cutters to keep them from sticking to the dough. Also, flour the rolling pin and if necessary, gently flour the top surface of the dough.
If using cookie cutters with a detailed surface design, don't sprinkle anything on top of the cookies.
You can emphasize the lines of the design with colored gel decorative icing. You can buy the small tubes of gel icing in the supermarket. It looks nice, but the tubes are expensive, and you have to allow a day for the icing to dry before you can stack the cookies.

Gingerbread: Straight from Betty Crocker
1 cup packed brown sugar 1/3 cup shortening 1 1/2 cups dark molasses 2/3 cup cold water 7 cups all-purpose flour * 2 tsp. baking soda 2 tsp. ground ginger 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. ground allspice 1 tsp. ground cloves 1 tsp. ground cinnamon * if using self-rising flour, omit soda and salt. Mix brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours. Heat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheet lightly. Roll about 1/4 of the dough about 1/4 inch thick on floured board. Cut with floured gingerbread cutter or other favorite cutter. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched cool. Decorate with colored frosting (see Creamy Vanilla Frosting below), colored sugar and candies if desired. About 2 1/2 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies 185 calories per cookie. That's the actual recipe. I tend to roll the dough a bit on the thick side - the cookies come out almost cake-like. The mess is HUGE but pretty quick to pick up if you sweep all the leftover flour off the counter BEFORE you add a wet sponge to the process. My best memories of high school include my brother, sister and I carefully frosting 2 or 3 cookies - and then doing an insane slapdash job with frosting and sugar sprinkles.

Marbled chocolate with peppermint
Crush 6-8 candy canes (depending on how pepper-minty you like your candy) - Unwrap your candy canes and put them in a zip lock bag. Wrap a towel around it and smash them with a hammer!
Melt 2 16oz bags of your favorite chocolate chips. Can do this in a small sauce pan over another sauce pan of water resting the top pan in the one with water. (basically a double boiler) This might be able to be done in the microwave, but have never tried it. Stir often.
While melting the chocolate chips, also melt 1 16 oz. bag of white chocolate chips. Now this sounds stressful, but its really not, because if you wait until the chocolate chips are about half melted, the white ones will not be ready until you need them. Also, stir often.
When the chocolate chips are completely melted, add the peppermint. Mix well and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. When the white chocolate is completely melted, drop by spoonfuls onto the chocolate and swirl with a knife or chop stick.
Put in fridge until hard.
Break apart and put in cute bags or tins as gifts. This is incredibly easy and looks amazing. It tastes good too.

Christmas Wreath cookies
1 package of marshmallows

6 c. Corn Flakes green food coloring red candy decorations or red cinnamon candies frosting (optional)

Melt margarine and marshmallows in non-stick pot. Stir until smooth and all marshmallows are melted.

Stir in green food coloring until desired color. Color will be lighter on cookies since it will be a clear syrup over light brown flakes.

Carefully fold in corn flakes until all combined.

Cool to touch then take a portion of mixture about the size of a golf ball and put on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper and flatten slightly and make a hole in the center.

Decorate with red candies to represent holly berries. You may also choose to just make a bow from frosting with or without the red candies.

Rudolph/Reindeer Cookies
Rolls of Bake and Serve Cookie Dough- Find them in the refrigerated section, choose sugar cookies or any you like.

Package of small baby sized pretzels- the curved kind

Package of colored M&Ms Some need to be red.

Instructions: Slice the cookie dough into individual cookies and place on a non stick cookie sheet. (or use Pam or grease it) Gently pinch the middle of each circle. Now you have a more oval shape that is slightly indented on each side. It's looking more like a face shape. Press two baby pretzels into the doug h at the top. Rudolph has antlers now. Press 2 M&Ms into the face for his eyes, and of course one red M&M towards the bottom of the face for his nose. Bake according to the package directions on the cookies.

Christmas Kisses
Cindy, These are a big hit and simple! 1 cup sugar 1 cup light karo syrup Bring to a boil. Remove from heat Add 2 cups creamy peanut butter. Stir, add 4 cups Special K. Drop by teaspoon on waxed paper. Add Hershey’s kiss on top (best to unwrap all the kisses before you start)

Friday, June 24, 2011

50 Great Curries of India

I should admit right now that although this book features 50 great curries, I have yet to sample most of them. The main reason though is that every time I flick through looking at the options I go straight to the Chicken dopiaza, so we've had this a number of times now. Even though I've only made a few curries from this book, I can thoroughly recommend it (both the book and the curry). The recipes are well written and easy to follow - even for a novice at Indian cookery, and they are so full of flavour that you can't be disappointed. There are curries ranging from Rogan josh to Goa pork vindaloo to Okra in yoghurt and even the very special Safed murgh korma, with its accompanying photograph complete with gold leaf to decorate the dish. Cooking the dishes within is a feast for all the senses, not only for the palate.

The book has a very lengthy introductory section outlining the philosophy of Indian cuisine as well as thoroughly describing in detail the use of particular spices and herbs (I for one wasn't aware of the use of Cock'scomb flower prior to reading this), and the wide variety of chillies. There is also an instructive section on the basics of making a simple homestyle curry before moving onto the more complex dishes featured throughout the book. All in all this is a very useful read.

Recommended for anyone who likes Indian food, and if you were only planning on owning one Indian cookbook, this is not a bad choice at all - a great variety of very nice curries.

Lemongrass Poussin with Green Mango and Peanut Salad by Ravinder Bhogal

This wildly flavourful roast poussin is inspired by the fragrant and punchy flavours of Thailand. If the weather permits, throw it on the barbecue and cook it in the seductive plumes of its smoke. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

6 poussins, spatchcocked 3 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the marinade
Large thumb of ginger, grated
5 garlic cloves
2 lemongrass stalks, sliced
Large handful of roughly chopped coriander, leaves and stalks
50g light brown sugar or palm sugar
250ml light soy sauce

For the dressing
1⁄2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
Small thumb of ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
A few drops of sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 small shallot or 1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped

For the salad
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
3 green (unripe) mangoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
100g mixed cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
Handful of Thai basil leaves
Handful of coriander leaves
Handful of mint leaves, torn
75g peanuts, roughly crushed

To make the marinade, put the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, coriander and sugar in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the soy sauce. Add the poussins and massage well, using your fingers to gently loosen the skin so you can get some of the marinade underneath it. Cover and leave in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Take the poussins out of the marinade and set aside. Strain the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, then let it bubble and reduce for about 10 minutes until you have a lovely glaze.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6.
Pour the oil into a large ovenproof frying pan over medium–high heat, add the poussins and fry, skin side down, until crisp and well browned. Brush over the glaze, then transfer to the oven and roast for 30–45 minutes, glazing again halfway through the cooking time.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by shaking together all the ingredients
in a screwtop jar. For the salad, use a mortar and pestle to pound the chillies, garlic and sugar to a smooth paste. Stir in the fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary with more sugar, fish sauce, vinegar or lime juice until you have that classic Thai balance of hot, sweet, salty and sour, then transfer to a large bowl. Lightly pound the mango with the pestle and mortar to tenderise, then add to the bowl and pour in the dressing. Crush the tomatoes with the mortar and pestle, then add to the bowl, along with the red onion. Just before serving, add the herbs, toss to combine and scatter with the peanuts. Serve the poussins with the salad on the side.

Watch the video: Poached quince with vanilla ice cream I Quince Dessert Recipe (January 2022).