Archives for category: What to Make
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Custardy Squash Prune Barberry Squares

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Custardy Quince Squares

Gratitude to the culinary grace of cookery writer Dorie Greenspan for these wonderful Custardy Apple Squares. She writes that she sees the recipe in the link as a “back-pocket recipe.” In the few weeks this recipe has been in my life, I’ve come to consider it a “back-pack” for the ways that it can travel, light and flexibly, be adapted to ingredients on hand, rise to an attitude of perfection or laziness as befits one’s mood, and sit somewhere on a continuum of cake, tea time snack, and pudding (in the various British senses).  And it doesn’t seem to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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Would you call this performance a kind of Housewife Burlesque? I don’t know but I think she’s fabulous! Watch and tell us what you think.

“Everybody’s good at cooking something, I’m good at cooking Crumble.” Since May when Lorraine Bowen was on Britain’s Got Talent, my kids go around singing this song, so I sing it too now.  We all sing it–it’s catchy!

Here we have a large forage of end-of-September blackberries picked by husband and son.

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And despite that it’s now October, there are still perhaps some bramble bushes fruiting in abundance. Read the rest of this entry »

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These are Kimchi Latkes, a pan-fried potato cake made and served with that ever-moreish Korean fermented cabbage condiment. Here the latkes are served in traditional style with sour cream and apple sauce as well.

And these are Pumpkin Pakora, a delicious treat with Scottish peasemeal and scrummy vegetables, perhaps slightly-more deep fried than other “pan” cakes but not necessarily so.

I’m sure as many of you do, I make stuff like this fairly often.  At some point I conceptualised these kind of cakes/ fritters/ patties as a genre, as something I could fiddle around with not using recipes, using what was on hand so as to use-up and not waste and please everyone around.  There can be a tender-morsel/ hor d’oeuvres quality, or a sense of burger to them as well.

I’ve talked about how I believe a cultural and media focus on fancy food and recipes may be part of the problem in people not cooking, feeling they don’t know how or can’t.  We all learn in different ways.  I think for many of us, there might be empowerment in knowing that perfection doesn’t matter, that you can throw things together with certain principles rather than instructions and specifics.  Certainly a looser approach means less kitchen waste in that you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy ingredients, and you are afforded a creativity in using up what you do have on hand.  I’ve tried to demonstrate this with frittatas and minestrone and some other posts I never quite finish.

Lately I’ve read two great approaches to making veggie pan “cakes”, and I wanted to share them with readers.

The first was this excellent Anna Stockwell article about Maria Speck’s approach to “Veggie Patties.”  It’s truly worth bookmarking for every home cook and food educator, because it’s schematic but leaves loose for the pleasures of experimentation.

And just today the lovely Zero-Waste Chef posted something similar on her thoughts on Vegetable Fritters.  I find Anne-Marie’s use of Sourdough Starter in this way very interesting.

Needless to say, for fermenting enthusiasts, there’s loads of opportunity to throw in our sundry creations.

Whatever ingredients you choose to play with, I find thinking this way liberating and fun– including the salsas and hot sauces you could serve as enticing condiments.


A 24 May 2016 postscript: see this fantastic Guardian piece: Anna Jones’ Versatile Veggie Fritter Recipe.  I love her work.

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Another quick must-share, yesterday’s Nettle Sorrel Green Soup, an easy and good Sunday supper and dish to discuss in my new anti-recipe, pro-technique zeal.

And I’m now polyamorous, sharing my passion for Nettles with Sorrel, because that lemony zing on the side of the tongue is a wild and captivating sensation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Idly browsing Food52, I alit upon this recipe for Punjabi Buttermilk Stew with Spinach Dumplings and was drawn in.  The dish sounded so utterly delicious. (Which it was, and is why I wish to share it.)  Preparing it became a kind of odyssey of ingredients, questions and realisations, about which I’ve written what I hope is not too laborious a blog post.  Please disregard if it is! These are the issues that came to the fore for me as I prepared the dish:

  • Culturing Buttermilk
  • How to substitute local winter kale for frozen spinach
  • Sour substitutions for citrus in your cooking
  • Peasemeal as a UK substitute for Gram Flour.
  • Cooking oil conundrums. British Rapeseed Oil as a solution?

Read the rest of this entry »

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A happy childhood memory: dancing in our living room by the piano to tunes played by Paul Garabedian, dear friend of my parents during those years. He was an incredible improvisor (and silent film accompanist) who would tinkle out tunes that suggested “nations of the world”– Chinese and Japanese and Italian and Rockabilly, and I’d dance my little interpretative dances in a frenzy of 5 year old glee. These sessions went on for hours– or so I remember, or wish to believe.

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Squash-leaf Soup with Flowers and Corn Dumplings in a Lemony Pork-Rib Broth. Meals evolving, like dancing on graves, creating a new cuisine. I saw this supper as a kind of exploration and experiment, which I guess is really my favourite way to cook and share food, learning as I go….

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There are times when I find no inspiration for the daily grind of family cooking, and feel just as much a novice as anyone.  Mostly however, and especially writing this blog, there are always more food ideas that I’d like to explore than time ever allows. So I woke up last Sunday with 20 projects on the go, and couldn’t conceive how to make progress AND make lunch.  That’s when the Venn Diagram came to mind.  Why not draw some up and decide that way what we would be eating.

Number One: I’m very interested in Peasemeal as an historic Scottish staple, a flour dating back to Roman times, made of ground roasted dried yellow peas.  I wrote to the people at Golspie Mill, a restored Victorian mill way towards the top of Scotland, and asked if I might have a sample bag, and was generously obliged.  The guiding thought was that peasemeal might be a good substitute for gram flour; it’s a relatively local (at least British) staple with culinary possibilities to span the globe. And it’s a Slow Food Forgotten Food included in their “Arc of Taste,”, and interesting for this heritage.  When I asked friends what they made with gram flour, many responses looked to India– not surprisingly! — and flatbreads and pakora.

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 SPROUTING POTATOES, HOMITY PIE, SOURDOUGH PASTRY, EATING LOCAVORE, POTATO DESSERT RECIPES —  IT’S ALL HAPPENING HERE…

I am overwhelmed by potatoes. This is because there are sacks of sprouted organic ones I am getting for free because no one else wants them, neither to buy nor be given, at our local organic vegetable shop /community enterprise.  I feel a personal resolve to rescue them.

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