Tuesday, 15 January 2008


On Sunday this blog turned one and, if I'm honest, I didn't start it with much thought of what it would be like to write a blog, or to have people read it, but it's been fun so far and I've encountered some lovely people out there in food blog land so thanks to you all. This monumental (well, to me) day coincided nicely with a meal I had been planning where pudding, or more precisely a galette des roix, was to be the star of the show. I know this is a dish to celebrate epiphany and 13th January is not exactly epiphany but then I am not exactly religious so no need to get hung up on dates.

With a pudding planned involving a huge quantity of eggs, butter, sugar, and puff pastry I decided that light(ish) savoury courses were necessary so Nigella's pea and roast garlic soup with a dollop of creme fraiche to start.

from 'Real Food' by Nigel Slater
serves 2 (I doubled it for 4)

a head of garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
200g frozen peas
25g butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
200ml vegetable or chicken stock, heated
150ml double cream, or to taste (I never use the cream but this time I added a dollop of creme fraiche to each bowl)

Lop the top off the head of garlic; you want to see the tops of the cloves just revealed in cross section. Cut out a square of foil, large enough to make a baggy parcel around the garlic. Sit the garlic in the middle of it and drizzle with the olive oil. Make a loose parcel around the garlic, sealing the edges of the foil. Put in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas 6 for about an hour, until soft.
Cook the peas in boiling salted water as usual. Drain and tip into a food processor, squeeze in the soft cooked cloves of garlic, add the butter and Parmesan and half of the stock. Process to a creamy puree. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and add the remaining stock. Check the flavour and add cream to taste. Heat gently, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Pleasantly warmed through by the soup I followed this with fondue filled butternut squash served with green salad. On a Saturday afternoon bookshop browse I picked up Annie Bell's 'In My Kitchen' and was immediately drawn to this squash recipe and so, obviously, had to buy the book. I tend to fall back on favourites when I am feeding vegetarians so any appealing new recipe is great. This is delicious, easy, and can be prepared in advance. I'm a big fan of not having much left to do when people arrive so this ticks all my boxes.

Then the main event. This came courtesy of the very well connected Dorie Greenspan. I had a much easier looking Nigella recipe in 'Feast' but decided that if I was making a galette des rois I might as well make it properly so I made the almond cream, worked my non-existent arm muscles making the pastry cream, rolled out the pastry and filled it with the mix, constructed the galette, scored a pattern on the top, cut out a steam hole, and then I realised that I had completely forgotten to insert the feve so it had to be delicately pushed through the steam hole, not ideal.

I was nervous about making this. I am used to baking but this felt like more than a small step towards patisserie, very scary, but Dorie's recipe was simple to follow and has given me a boost of confidence to try some of the more complicated looking recipes from her lovely books. The galette was well risen, buttery and the inside delicious. Four of us polished it off with no difficulty and I was crowned Queen.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


One of my baby step resolutions is to stop remembering really simple recipes to try and then promptly putting them to the back of my mind. Believe it or not this is my first shepherd's pie. They were a staple of my Mum's cooking and my heart would sink whenever one appeared on the table. Don't ask me why but I had an irrational hatred of all food involving mince. Anyway, time passes and I grew up and came to realise that mince is actually a good thing and I made bolognese, and lasagna, and I said yum but somehow shepherd's pie and cottage pie stayed on my mental to do list

So, the weekend came and flicking through Tamasin's Kitchen Bible I found the shepherd's pie recipe and decided to finally make the leap. I reduced quantites of the mince to 500g but left everything else the same which resulted in slightly too much liquid in the pie and a volcanic eruption as it bubbled up around the edges of the potato but aside from that, and the equally volcanic temperature when we first took a bite, it was delicious and, sorry Mum, way better than the shepherd's pies I remember (although that is probably just my inner fussy child speaking).

Thursday, 3 January 2008


I know I am a little late with my New Year greeting but the first was not pretty. It took all my befuddled energy to make a bacon roll and then I curled up in a ball until finally plucking up the courage to order some Chinese food. Yesterday, also a public holiday in Scotland, was better. It was a cold and grey day but we still managed a long walk. So, here I am, on the third, settling back into normality and the only thing distracting me is the occasional snow shower which I wish would carry on just a bit longer and settle so that I can feel the crunch of snow under my feet.

Back to 2008 and as we all know, try as we might to avoid them, somehow those pesky ideas for resolutions still creep into your head and sow seeds of possible changes for the year ahead. I am going with baby step resolutions this year, eating more varied breakfasts (less reliance on cereal/muesli with skimmed milk) being one example, but I'll keep these to myself just now and I'll let you know when I cross any food related goals off my list.

I hope you all have a very happy and healthy 2008 x