All posts filed under: featured

Traditional Fruit Tart

J. turned 18 last week. He requested a strawberry cake for his birthday celebration. I was not in the least bit surprised – it’s what he’s asked for since as long as I can remember. Strawberries and raspberries are an old favourite and his birthday happily coincides with the appearance of the first home-grown strawberries. You can always replace strawberries with blueberries, or raspberries or apricots or gooseberries …. Below is the basic recipe – you decide what fruit to use. This recipe is suitable for a shallow, 24 cm loose-bottom tin.   Ingredients For the base 180 gr. plain flour 100 gr. chilled butter 90 gr. muscovado sugar 2 egg yokes  For the custard filling 3 eggs 80 gr. sugar 100 ml. cream 150 ml. milk Vanilla essence or a vanilla pod. Method For the sweet pastry base In a mixing bowl rub the butter and flour between the fingers and thumb until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar and add the egg yokes. Combine the ingredients together until the dough …

Traditional Asparagus Soup

The best way to make asparagus soup is to keep it simple. Four ingredients and a food mill is all you need. I use a chicken stock since it complements the light, delicate flavour of asparagus. If you buy asparagus from the market you may find the farmer or trader has sorted some of the fatter, bent and otherwise ugly spears from the more elegant, pristine ones and is selling them at a cheaper rate since they are too fibrous and woody to eat as a vegetable. These are real stars – packed with flavour and cheaper than the show models. Last week 1 kg of asparagus cost EUR 10 – but 2 kg of the woody, fatter spears cost only EUR 6. As is usual with soup recipes I don’t give exact measurements and amounts. Decide how much you need for the people you are preparing the soup for. Any uneaten soup can always be frozen. Ingredients Older asparagus being sold off cheaply Chicken stock An onion Butter Potatoes (optional) Salt and Pepper Chives Directions …

Ol’ Limey Honey and Coconut Cheesecake

I have a feeling this raw cheese cake would appeal to the Royal Navy of yester-year since it is full of fresh lime juice to keep the scurvy at bay and one can only imagine the mariners of old eating plenty of coconuts as they landed in paradise on their way to discovering new lands. For those of you who abhor anything grain based you’ll also be pleased to know this recipe doesn’t rely on biscuits to form the base but almonds and coconut. I used honey as a sweetener which is a very mild way to sweeten a cake. I loved it – but some members of the family protested that it wasn’t sweet enough, so depending on how puritanical you’re feeling you might want to add some sugar alongside the honey to give this cake an added boost. You can also replace lime with lemon if you prefer  – and if you don’t like coconut use cream instead of coconut milk. This recipe fits a 23 or 26 cm tin. Ingredients For the …

Butter and Buttermilk

Butter Butter derives from full fat cream. Prior to industrialisation fresh milk would be poured into a wide, shallow dish which allowed the cream to rise to the surface. The cream would then be skimmed by hand and collected in a jar. Vermeer’s “The Milk Maid” is doing just that in his iconic painting from 1657. The jar would be topped up every day until there was enough cream to make butter. By way of example 1 kg of butter – or four 250 gr. packs of butter – requires 2.5 lt. of cream. It can take a while to collect such an amount depending on the size of the herd. As the cream rested it fermented spontaneously. The natural and spontaneous fermentation of the cream meant that the cream could never “go off”. The acid from the wild microorganisms are excellent at preventing the colonisation of pathogens meaning that it could safely be preserved for future use. Neither Vermeer not his milk maid would have known that their cream was souring because of wild …

Dystopian Futures: Food for a Brave New World

Were he alive today Orwell may want to re-write the script to his seminal work entitling it Innovation, as opposed to, Animal Farm. For, if current food innovators have their way traditional farm animals will be a thing of the past.  Orwell would not even be able to construct a series of animal personalities capable of forming the back-bone to a popular revolt against the oppressive Farmer Jones given that farm animals are currently undergoing an existential crisis. Animal Farm: The year 2008 At the beginning of the twenty-first century the world descended into chaos and instability as the agricultural community divided into two camps. The first camp, supported by Farmer Snowball, felt passionately that farming should be based on traditional best practice and the use of modern technology relied upon in times of necessity only. Farmer Snowball was a fourth generation farmer who owned a medium-sized farm and a herd of dairy cattle. He made a meagre living out of selling raw milk and traditional cheeses at local farmer’s markets. The opposing camp was led by Professor Dr. …

Autumn Recipes

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shell; With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. To Autumn, John Keates, (1795 – 1821)

Alpine Cheese Fondue

One of the great things about rediscovering traditional food and cooking is learning to embrace all the natural fats we were once warned are the root cause of all our current ills. Of course there are those who always knew, instinctively, that abandoning butter, cheeses and drippings was nonsense. Then again there were many, myself included, who for years spurned melted cheeses, butter or other delicious animal fats convinced they would clog the arteries and make us fat. Now I know that low-fat alternatives are just phoneys with artificial flavourings thrown in to mimic the delicious taste of natural animal fats whilst failing to deliver the necessary nutrients. If you’re going to indulge – indulge in the real McCoy! Best of all kids love the conviviality of sitting around the table poking sticks into a communal pot. Probably not something to be eaten every day of the week given that few of us toil in Alpine fields during the day or hack at timber with a heavy axe in sub-zero temperatures – but then again …