Author: K J G

Cassoulet

Many recipes call for the addition of chicken stock to this classic winter stew from the south west of France – but this dish is so packed with flavour from the goose and pork belly fat I think chicken stock is wasted if added. Save your stock for a hearty vegetable soup instead. Cassoulet is a simple – though perfect – dish for the cold winter months and fairly simple to prepare. This traditional, hearty dish may originally derive from France but in a modern age we are fortunate enough to be able to purchase most of the ingredients at a reasonable price. You can omit the duck if you want or because you can’t find it. The other ingredients will still make this a wonderful meal. The dense texture from the beans gives this winter meal that comforting feel so many of us desire as we sit down to a dark evening meal. Ingredients 400 gr of beans – an assortment. Use tinned. It’s easier. 1 kg tomatoes 1 kg carrots 2-3 celery sticks …

Citrus! The glamour of January

“Ain’t no sunshine!” announced The Guardian last week (as if we didn’t already know that!). One of the darkest on records (yeah we had suspected). Gloomiest winter since records began (no kidding). Trips to the therapist up by 30% ….(hmmm – anyone got the number of a good one?). Just as you begin to hang you head in despair and think about phoning up a therapist  you suddenly realise not all is lost. Forget the therapist. Hang-up the phone. Swivel your eyes to the market and look at all the beautiful array of citrus fruit. Yes ladies and gentlemen – citrus fruit are in season as I write from a dark “tupperware-box-like” Belgium. That bright orange ball ripened by the Iberian sun is the chink of light that’s been missing since the Christmas lights were switched off a couple of weeks ago. The blood-red oranges grown in the shadow of Mount Etna joyfully show-off their regal ruby-red interior –  a sign that somewhere there is still light … …whilst the grapefruit from Spain taste cleansing and …

Traditional Christmas Cake

Like marmalade English fruit cakes are an acquired taste. Already the family are looking less than enthusiastic about my very traditional Christmas cake. “Nah – sorry – that’s not my favourite Mum,” I keep hearing. I’m not judging them. It took me years to love this cake. Dried fruits and armagnac was definitely not my thing. Instead, like most kids, I’d pick off the marzipan and icing from the sides of the cake and hand the dark brown stuff to Dad who was and still is a voracious consumer of fruit cake. In many respects a traditional British Christmas cake is the ultimate in traditional cakes. Over 50% of this cake is made up of dried fruit with the added bonus of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and a good shot of alcohol. Marzipan which surrounds the cake is one of the oldest confectionaries dating back to the middle-ages. The pure white royal icing is a later Victorian addition and you can ditch it if you want – but that whiteness is a real beauty if you …

Autumn Colours

Master in the Kitchen has been quiet of late. Lots of cooking and baking going on over here but just not enough time to post regularly. Two main reason for this silence – firstly work. Secondly our kitchen is in need of a complete overhaul (more on that in another post). In my free time I’ve been trying to stay stress free by knitting. When I met my husband he never went to football matches. I had never picked up a pair of knitting needles in my life. Now he is totally crazy about our local football team and I spend my spare time knitting.  We’re learning to tolerate each other’s new found loves. I’m not crazy that he likes to spend Saturday evenings in the stands. He’s not overly crazy about me spending every spare minute buried behind balls of wool – but we’re beginning to realise that our new passions are cheaper than purchasing an expensive motor-bike. All things considered we’re exhibiting a fairly mild case of mid-life crisis. My latest project is a …

The Great British Remainalade

Don’t believe for a single moment that Brexiteers own the rights to British patriotism and identity. I am a British patriot and I am one hundred per cent behind Britain remaining in the EU. If May talks about a red, white and blue Brexit we fight back with a traditional, British Remainalade. I love my country for its long history of openness, tolerance and desire to trade with the world. I love my country’s cliff-walks, right-of-ways for ramblers, the sound of leather balls hitting a cricket bat on lazy summer afternoon, I am proud of Pimms with mint, cucumber and strawberries, I love British pies, camping in Cornwall, walking in Snowdonia and hiking in the Lake District. I love it that Manchester had a club scene in the 1990’s, that it is a country which produced Train Spotting 1 (and now 2) and that it is a land full of eccentric writers, musicians and muses. No other country I can think of has come up with anything comparable to The Sex Pistols or The Cure. I …

Baked Apples in Rum

At a recent advent’s market in Germany I was treated to some seriously good boscoop apples baked above an open fire. They were served with raisins either soaked in rum or apple-juice (the kid friendly version). I went for the rum and raisins option – hey – it was freezing outside and a girl needs to keep warm! Baking apples in the oven is an age-old recipe. Long forgotten but really worth the while since it is so easy and delicious. You can also make these plain and roast them for 30 minutes in the oven alongside a roast pork dish. Here though is the advent version. Ingredients 6 belle de boscoop apples 100 gr. almonds 100 gr. hazelnuts 100 gr. walnuts 150 gr. sultanas or raisins 120 ml rum or port or apple juice Method Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. With a sharp kitchen knife chop the nuts into small pieces. Put them into a bowl together with the raisins or sultanas and add the liquid of your choice. Cut the core out of …

Roasted haunch of venison

Unlike the tougher neck or “chuck” of a comforting venison stew,  traditional best practice requires neither a marinade nor a slow cook for a haunch of venison. There are, nevertheless, a couple of steps that should be followed in order to make the most of this prime, expensive piece of meat.  As for accomanying flavours the choice is yours – the cook can experiment with herbs and spices. Traditionally juniper berries have always accompanyed a venison be it in a venison stew or a game pie – but so do bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, red wine, quince jelly or red currant jelly …. that is because these flavours complement the late autumn robustness of this wonderful cut so well. For supper on Sunday we ate roasted haunch of venison with a potato and swede bake, red cabbage and a green winter salad (purslane). You could also serve the roast venison alongside creamed or buttered spinach,  roast potatoes and cabbages fried with some bacon. Alternatively, creamed celeriac is a popular choice. There are so many wonderful late autumn flavours to experiment with. The choice, as …