Thursday, 24 January 2008

pup·py pop·si·cle

It has been brilliantly hot and sunny here in Wellington I thought I would give you dog owners out there a little tip for keeping your dog cool - puppy popsicles! They are particularly good for puppies when they are teething. Just almost fill a small container with water and add a nylon chew then freeze. Pop in your dog's water bowl when frozen for them to bob for and chew.

And may I introduce Nico, our new puppy :

Isn't she cute?! Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Sunday, 20 January 2008


"It is worth remembering that in its purest form a recipe was simply a cook's receipt written in a ledger to show where the housekeeping money had gone. At best it was an account of someone's meal, an aide-mémoire for the cook who might want to make a successfl supper again. To use either as an unshakeable chemcal formula is surely missing the point."

Nigel Slater, Appetite.

Monday, 7 January 2008

IV vs V

Four spice or quatre épices :
  1. White pepper (for savoury) or allspice (for sweet)
  2. Nutmeg
  3. Cloves
  4. Ginger
Used to flavour meats during the curing process and in the case of the sweet variation rich cakes and desserts.

Five spice or Chinese five spice:
  1. Star anise
  2. Cloves
  3. Fennel seeds
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Sichuan Pepper
A good flavouring agent for rich and fatty meats like pork and duck in a Chinese context.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

clot·ted cream

Q : What is the perfect accompaniment for scones?
A : Clotted cream, jam and butter - yes all three!

My brother-in-law is from Cornwall and I consider him the authority on Cornish goods : he makes the best Cornish pasties, has been to Rick Stein's restaurant and is an aficionado of clotted cream.

I have not had much clotted cream, but the few times I have I have appreciated it for its pure creaminess, delicious density and fine colour and texture. It is perfect with all deserts and afternoon teas. In fact don't bother with afternoon tea if you have no clotted cream. I made this for my brother-in-law at Christmas to have with the Christmas pudding, and we also had it with the mince pies. Oh yes. Really good.
Clotted Cream
makes 1 cup approximately

500mL cream

Preheat the oven to 90°c.
Pour the cream into a fairly shallow dish and cover firmly with foil.
Put the cream in the oven and leave for 8 hours.
Remove the dish from the oven and cool then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Skim the solid clotted cream from the liquid and eat with scones, Christmas pudding, mince pies, pies in general or how ever you choose.

Notes :
There will be a layer of a crusty yellow butter-like substance on the top. I just use this with the cream.
There will be a liquid layer beneath the clotted cream that is good for using in cooking where cream or milk is required : potatoes dauphinois , white sauce or bread.
Cheers Tonior! This is for you!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


When we were in Scotland we were treated to two nights at Monachyle Mhor (Thanks Maw and Paw R!) . It is a wonderful place : beautiful surroundings, lovely atmosphere and brilliant food. The chef is Tom Lewis who took part in the Great British Menu representing Scotland.

While everything we ate there was fantastic, it was the scones that we keep mentioning . . . isn't it funny how the little things done so well are so memorable?

The tea (morning or afternoon, or both!) menu noted that the scones take 15 minutes - arriving warm, fresh and obviously straight from the oven - complete with clotted cream, fresh butter and jam. The scones were light and had a lovely crust, fluffy yet substanital within, and tasted like they were made with good, honest ingredients and skill. I must admit that we had the scones both days in lieu of lunch ; what are holidays about if not having a brilliant breakfast, fabulous scones then a fantastic dinner?!

Once home, I tried to recreate the scones, to good effect I think, the outsides perhaps a little rougher, but looks aren't everything, right?
makes 12

250g plain flour (I use white spelt)
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, cubed
1t cream of tartar
1t baking soda
150mL yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 210
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter quickly with your finger tips. Sift in the cream of tartar and baking soda then quickly mix in the yoghurt to make a light dough. Form into the shape you fancy, either by rolling and cutting or just dolloping. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes on the bench
before baking 10 minutes. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


January is a brilliant month, so many of the best fruits and vegetables are around :
Fruit :
  • apricots
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • cherries
  • plums
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • oranges
Vegetables :
  • new potatoes
  • sweetcorn
  • courgettes
  • tomatoes
  • globe artichokes
  • beans
  • aubergines
  • capsicum
  • cucumber
  • radishes
Doesn't that all spell ratatouille cooked on the barbecue or a wonderful mixed salad?