Jun 01 2007

Pickled Eggs

Living as we do in a place much favoured by holiday makers we often have too many eggs in winterout of the holiday season. Come the tourist season we or rather the hens can’t produce enough. So now is the time for me to put down a supply of pickled eggs for those summer salads and pickled fish dishes.
First I make the spiced vinegar. Two pints or just over a litre will cover about a dozen eggs depending on their size. Simmer white wine vinegar with a piece of crushed root ginger and twenty or so black peppercorns. Allow to cool.
Hard boil the eggs. This is the only time when it is easier to shell the eggs if they are a few days old, so difficult to keep the white in tact when the egg is very fresh. Put the peeled eggs in wide necked jars, Kilner jars are ideal. Push a piece of chilli and a strip of lemon zest taken off the lemon with a potato peeler into each jar. I add a couple of garlic cloves too. Then completely cover the eggs with the vinegar and fill the jars to the neck. Put the tops on the jars and screw shut tightly. The eggs will be ready in four or five weeks and will keep unopened for months. Having a warm kitchen, I am doubly careful and store my jars at the back of the fridge.

Pickled Eggs

No responses yet

Jun 01 2007

Nettle and Spinach Soup

Take a large bag of young nettles, some spinach leaves and a little sorrel. Remember sorrel has a strong lemon flavour. Chop an onion, a medium potato and a carrot and a crushed clove of garlic and sweat as described above. Add the nettles, spinach and sorrel well washed, wilt in the oil and butter. Now stir in the chicken stock you made from the carcass or that stock cube. Bring to the boil, simmer for 5-8 minutes. Season and puree in the liquidiser or push through a mouli. Return to the pan ,reheat gently and stir in a little cream or crème fraiche. Check the seasoning again and serve sprinkled with chopped herbs.

No responses yet

Jun 01 2007


Now for some comfort eating while we wait for spring! Old English Boiled Beef and Carrots, Italian Minestrone, Welsh Cawl, Suffolk Stew, and then there’s Garbure. Somehow this last wonderful pot of South West France brings so many regional dishes together. And as an English woman who am I to say how it is cooked! Well bravely, here’s my Anglicised version!

To begin: soak 500gms of dry white beans overnight. Make a good rich stock with a chicken or duck carcass in the usual way ( see making stock). Drain and rinse the soaked beans and bring to the boil in a heavy pan. Boil briskly for ten minutes, rinse and drain again. Blanch a 500gm piece of belly of pork.

Next put the pork belly, a ham hock, an onion stuck with cloves and the blanched beans into the strained stock. Simmer for about an hour. Add a couple of diced potatoes, 2 leeks, a turnip, a few carrots, green or red pepper cut in strips, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, a little paprika and a dessert spoon of dried herbs. Simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Add a shredded white cabbage, 500gms of garlic sausage and most importantly, confit of duck. Opinion varies as to whether or not the duck fat is added too. It’s a matter of taste, a little will enrich the whole, I think. Warm the Garbure through.

Just before serving take the meat from the pot and keep warm. Serve the broth on thick slices of bread as a first course and follow with the meat.

No responses yet

Jun 01 2007

Apple, Cabbage and Ginger Soup

Fresh, spicy and delicious this is a great way to use up a few windfalls and a bit of cabbage. But, a big but, it’s essential to have some good chicken stock to back up the flavour.

Shred half a large white cabbage and chop three onions and four green apples. Turn them over in melted butter, then put a lid on the pan and sweat for about ten minutes until soft but not, absolutely not, brown. Add a clove of garlic crushed with salt, a small piece of finely chopped fresh ginger and a litre of chicken stock (…made from that carcass you were going to throw away……see making stock ) Simmer a few more minutes until the cabbage is tender. Then blend, reheat, taste, season and serve. Very quick, very nice!

One response so far

Jun 01 2007

Family Picnic


River dart Smoked salmon

Avacado Mayonnaise

Home Grown Rare Roast Beef with Horseradish & English Mustard

Jersey Royal potato Salad

Tomato salad with Basil

Green Salad with French Dressing

Brie de Mieux and crisp White Rolls

Strawberries and Clotted Cream


Picnics have been on my mind for some time recently which surprises me because I usually hate them, rather in the same way that I hate barbeques, well, usually anyway. Rain, feel cold, uncomfortable, food full of grit, stodgy burnt sausages, charred raw chicken, beer, bon-amie, please can I go home, oh Sally, so anti-social…..

But it was my father’s ninety eighth birthday recently and we decided to take him a picnic. He was thrilled. Aunty Molly, ninety nine in August; was invited. She and Dad first cousins, friends and playmates since childhood, companions now, both razor sharp despite failing sight and hearing. Dad started planning the menu two weeks before the day; each time I phoned he checked I had it right…. “Scottish smoked salmon, not that Dart stuff” ( sorry Dart salmon fisherman, we have now established some serious mis-information on his part….!), with lemon and black pepper. Avocado (I bought organic, they tend to taste less like soap I think….) with good olive oil. “Not that stuff from Boots, Dad, you put in your ears?” I asked wickedly thinking of my very un-foodie mother. “Don’t you remember, I lived in France, Lyon, 1927…” Ah yes, whoops , sorry.

Main course: Rare Roast Beef, our own Sussex boys raised on the farm, probably be in trouble, it’s not Aberdeen Angus, but I’ll risk it.
“Must have mustard”.
“No,” me “oh, OK. “
“And Potato salad, Jersey Royals of course and a tomato salad, get English tomatoes, more flavour.”
“Yes Dad.”
“And a nice green salad with a really good French Dressing. Can you do that? And, if you can, make a big bottle and leave it with me.”
“Yes, Dad, yes Dad”
“Now, really crispy rolls, never get them here, I’ll probably eat two. Molly likes them, got all her own teeth, you know” … all her own teeth at ninety nine, good heavens.
“And French Brie, must be French” Yes, yes, French brie, Brie de Mieux, ripe and delicious from Simon in Dartmouth.
“I know its wrong, got into terrible trouble from a Frenchman once, but do I like butter and bread with my brie”. “Yes Dad”.

“Oh, and then we’ll have Strawberries, can we have yours?” “Um, no , that blackbird…” “And Devonshire Clotted Cream”. Big hint here, Dad is a Devon boy and Paul a Cornishman; ah, the ongoing cream debate, I’ll leave it there, I think.

The day came, the sun shone, we filed into the dining room. Oh joy, not on the lawn. I served the whole from my old ice box onto a elegantly laid table. They live in a beautiful place. Why is it that older people so often have to put up with dreary, depressing surroundings and yet here at, The Old Vicarage at Otterton, all is uplifting? But that is a whole other story. I digress.

“Delicious” said Dad, tucking in, “I just wish I could see what it is I’m eating though” “Yes” agreed Molly “so annoying not knowing what’s on your fork,” as all before her vanished. “Hm “ said Dad, ever the actor, “ It’s lovely, darling but I’m reminded of Shakespeares’ Seven Ages of Man; sans teeth, sans taste, sans everything.” Later we sat together in the sun and drank coffee and I wondered if I had inherited the Windsborrow gene. Would I be doing the same in nearly forty years time? Best keep breathing, I thought, reaching for my inhaler.

No responses yet

Jun 01 2007

Quick Fish Pie and Fish Cakes

I find it difficult to imagine anything but a fishy supper after our watery walk by the river Dart. Maybe we’ll have a traditional Fish Pie made with a mixture of wild salmon, white fish, smoked haddock and hard boiled eggs in parsley sauce, topped with creamy mashed potato and grated cheese. The important thing is to buy whatever fish is available on the day and that is dictated by the weather at sea; fresh and local are my rules.
This is my favourite quick pie, a Fish Gratin really, which often gets me by when I’m short of time.
Skin the fish and carefully take out the bones using tweezers if necessary. Put the skin and bones in a small pan with * of milk, a bay leaf, parsley stalks, a slice of onion, salt and pepper and infuse by heating gently. Peel and dice a couple of potatoes and slice half a bulb of fennel. Blanche them quickly till just tender, drain and set aside while you dice the fish. Heat a little butter and oil in a large frying pan or wok and quickly turn the fish around till nearly cooked being careful not to break it up. Pile fish, potato and fennel into a well buttered pie dish. Strain the infused milk and use it to make a creamy béchamel sauce; add cheese if you like. Pour the sauce over the fish and top with a mixture of bread, parsley, garlic, lemon rind and butter blitzed together until a slightly sticky crumb consistency. Bake for ten minutes in a hot oven till the topping is crisp. Serve with a crunchy, well dressed green salad.
Drying fish in Hokkaido, Japan

Next day fishy leftovers can be quickly transformed into delicious Fishcakes. With the addition of mashed potato and a dash of anchovy essence, the mixture can be shaped into cakes, dusted with seasoned flour and fried in a light olive oil.
Dart salmon is a luxury of summer not to be missed and anticipated with pleasure. And line caught sea bass baked with fennel and Pernod is, dare I say it, even better! But that is many months away. As spring creeps nearer now is the time to prepare for the long days and short nights of lambing.

One response so far

Jun 01 2007

Tarte au Pomme

I love making these traditional French apple tarts. There’s a comforting symmetry in the arrangement of the apples slices and a sticky deliciousness to the shiny glaze.

First I make the Pate Sucre. I used to make it by hand on a marble slab gradually drawing all the ingredients together but now we have food processors!

I whizz 200g plain flour, 100g soft butter, 75g caster sugar and three egg yolks in the processor, wrap the paste in cling film and chill for at least an hour before I use it. Even well chilled it is hard to roll, out so I find it easier to dip my knuckles in icing sugar and press it carefully into a loose bottomed flan ring. I chill it again.

I often make a double quantity of pastry, line two fluted flan tins, freeze one and bake one blind. While it cools I make the crème patisserie with 50 grams of butter, icing sugar and, ground almonds and an egg. I spread it over the base of the cool flan case sprinkling it with a teaspoonful of dry semolina.

Next, working fast, I cut red desert apples into thin slices and arranged them in circles on top of the crème patisserie. Every few minutes I squeeze lemon juice on the slices to stop them browning. Then another sprinkling, this time of caster sugar, and back into a hot oven just long enough to soften the apple. Finally I warm some home made redcurrant jelly and carefully “paint” the flan to give a dark red, sticky glaze. I serve the flans warm with double cream or Devonshire clotted cream.

2 responses so far

Jun 01 2007

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake was originally baked for Mothering Sunday but has now become associated with Easter.

Grease and line a 7 inch cake tin. Preheat the oven to 325F, gas 3 or 165c.

Cream together ½ lb/230gms of unsalted butter with the grated rind of two lemons and ½ lb/230gms of caster sugar, until light and fluffy.

Add four eggs slowly, beating as you go.

Now stir in 6 oz/200gms of mixed candied peel, 6oz/200gms sultanas, 1¼ lb/500gms currants. Sift 14 oz/400gms plain flour with a pinch of salt and a small teaspoon of baking powder and the same of mixed spice. Gently fold in. If it seems very stiff loosen with a dash of milk.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for about 3 hours. Test with a skewer and cook a little longer if it comes out of the cake sticky.

Turn onto a wrack to cool and make the Almond topping.

Mix together 4oz/120gms ground almonds with4oz/120gms icing sugar. Add half a lightly beaten egg and a few drops of lemon juice. Knead the paste till smooth. Then, using two thirds of the paste, roll out a 7 inch circle to fit the top of the cake. Form little balls with the remaining paste to represent the 11 Apostles, excluding Judas, and place them on the cake with crystallised flowers or pre Christian Easter Eggs to celebrate Spring.


No responses yet

Jun 01 2007

Roasted Apple Ice Cream

2 Bramley apples
25g unsalted butter
35g unrefined or raw sugar
300ml double cream
2tsp vanilla essence
4 lg egg yolks
60g unrefined or raw sugar
4tbsp crème fraiche

Peel, core and cut apples into 1cm cubes. Melt butter in oven proof, non-stick pan. Add sugar; let it begin to caramelise. Add apples, cook at high heat for a few minutes then put into oven to “roast” (180 c) for 10-15 mins,( nicely sticky and brown). Cool and be careful not to break up as you turn.

**Place milk, cream & vanilla essence into heavy bottomed pan, bring to boil. Combine egg yolks & sugar, pour onto milk mixture, mix well. Rinse pan in cold water, return mixture to pan & thicken stiring all the time, over low heat. It must NOT boil!. Cool. Whisk in crème fraiche.

Transfer to Ice Cream Maker and churn, or pour chilled custard into plastic box, place in freezer and, after one hour, take out & whisk with hand whisk. Repeat 4 times at 30 minute intervals adding apples after final whisking……….

Or, do this……………….
**Cook the APPLES as above

Then make the CUSTARD… just cream with a vanilla pod infused in it; most vanilla essence is disgusting!
(You can wash the pod afterwards and put it back in the caster sugar jar!).

Add two tea spoons of cornflour to the egg yolks and sugar to stabilise the mixture, less chance of scrambled egg i.e. easier and safer!

Then…….. make a MERINGUE CUITE

4 egg whites
9 oz icing sugar

Whisk together over a pan of hot water. It will be stiffer and better tempered than ordinary meringue!


Whip 1/2 pint double cream until it’s the same consistency as the meringue

Combine custard, meringue, cream and apples gently with a metal spoon.
Put the whole lot in the freezer and take out one hour before eating.
None of that whisking or rushing out to buy an ice cream churn………
You can give it one whisk if you like to make sure there are no ice crystals about but it will reduce the volume.
Any flavour will work but remember water means ice crystals so it’s safer to stick to thick fruit purees, praline, pure melted chocolate etc…

No responses yet

Jun 01 2007

Polenta Almond and Lemon Cake

The strawberries in the garden are in flower but no fruit yet so I must cheat and buy a small punit to go with the Polenta Almond and Lemon Cake I am making for a friends’ birthday in a couple of days. The crunchiness of the cake goes so well with the delicious luxuriousness of strawberries and cream.

First prepare the cake tin by lining with baking parchment. Preheat the oven.

For the cake take 25gms unsalted butter and 225 gms * vanilla flavoured caster sugar and beat hard with a wooden spoon till pale and light, or whiz in the food processor. Stir in 225gms ground almonds. Now beat in 3 eggs one at a time. Fold in the zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1 lemon, 80gms of polenta and 75gm of plain flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and a good pinch of salt. If the mixture seems very runny add a little more flour and polenta. It depends on the size of your eggs. It should be the consistency of stiff batter.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 160C/325F/ gas 3for 45-50 minutes. My range has a hot oven which is too hot and a cool oven that is too cool so I bake in the bottom oven slowly till the cake is set! Test with a skewer. If it comes out of the cake clean, the cake is cooked. Turn the cake out onto a wire tray to cool.

Place the cake on a large dish, surround with strawberries drizzled with thick cream, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

* Vanilla sugar: Keep caster sugar and a vanilla pod in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and the sugar will absorb the glorious flavour of the pod.

No responses yet

« Prev - Next »