Saturday, 25 August 2012

Nutmegs, seven is on holiday

Hello! Just a short note to say that this blog has been a bit quiet for a while, because I'm currently on holiday! I'm travelling the wonderful and exciting Vietnam and Cambodia and loving every minute, particularly (of course) the incredible food. So far we've been to Saigon, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, and Hue. I'm having the time of my life and don't want to come home, but when I do I'll be sharing delicious tales of my travels. I hope you're all having wonderful summers, even if you're not lucky enough to be where I am!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Greengage and honey compote

When, like the bee, culling from every flower
The virtuous sweets
Our thighs pack'd with wax, our mouths with honey
We bring it to the hive 
~ Henry IV, part 2.

Honey is an interesting ingredient. I use it so frequently but I never really stop and appreciate it pure and unadulterated, for the complex and fascinating product that it is. While I frequently use dark brown sugar for the wonderful caramel notes it lends to recipes, I often find the flavour of honey diminishes during cooking, and its interesting flavours are masked. I'm not one for spooning the stuff over toast or savouring it straight from the jar with a spoon, Winnie-the-Pooh style. I feel I might be missing out.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Summer wine tasting with Cambridgeshire Wine School

I recently attended a summer wine tasting with the Cambridgeshire Wine School in an attempt to educate myself further in a field I know tragically little about. It was a great evening and a very painless introduction to the frequently daunting world of wine, run by the knowledgeable and friendly Mark Anstead. As well as learning a bit more about various wines, I also had a fascinating insight into exactly where your money goes when buying a bottle of wine (hint: most of it doesn't actually go on the stuff in the bottle), plus the opportunity to try a range of wine and food matches (the best involving chips, naturally).

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Grilled peach, feta and prosciutto salad

There are many noises that occur in the realm of the kitchen, several of which bring small glimmers of satisfaction to keen cooks like myself. The gentle fracture of an egg against the side of a bowl and the voluptuous gulp as it divulges its gelatinous contents down into the centre. The crisp snap of a knife halving a bulbous pepper. The rasping graze of a zester against the knobbly flesh of an orange or lemon. The mercilessly efficient scrape of a mandolin through the crunchy flesh of a root vegetable as it shaves it into wafer-thin slices beading with moisture. The whirr of an electric beater as it pummels a solid mass of butter and sugar into soft, billowing pastel clouds.

But surely - surely - nothing beats the searing fizz as moist flesh hits the arid heat of a griddle pan.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Five things I love this week #6

1. Jordan's Super Fruity Granola. To mark their 40th anniversary of making granola, Jordan's commissioned a 'Perfect Breakfast' survey to find out what us Brits consider our ideal morning. Nearly half of the 2000 people surveyed considered a bowl of healthy cereal their perfect breakfast, and needed an hour and five minutes between waking up and leaving for work to be fully relaxed. Favourite breakfast pastimes include reading the paper and watching the news, but it also gets more specific - being made a cup of tea by someone else and not having to wear a coat outside are also ingredients for the ideal weekday morning, while guaranteed threats to such a morning include a bad night's sleep, running out of milk, or stubbing one's toe. I can agree with pretty much all of these, except I like to make my own cup of tea - I'm fussy like that.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Banana butterscotch pudding

My favourite meals are always the ones I feel I've earned. I don't generally like admitting to this, because the notion of 'earning' one's meals is often associated with pretty uncool food-related neuroses, and just generally isn't very socially acceptable. I'd hate you to think that I'm not the kind of person who gets anything less than the utmost joy out of food and eating. Obviously, if you know me at all you'll realise that food not only brings me joy, but it is basically the life force around which my universe revolves. Food brings excitement to my otherwise mediocre days. The act of sitting down three times a day to consume it is always a pleasure. 

However, there are definitely certain circumstances under which I enjoy food a little more than usual.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Gooseberry meringue pie

For someone who didn't eat any of them, I have very vivid memories of school dinners. Although every lunch time I would, without fail, pile my plate with the same old combination of stale bread roll and sawdust-textured luminous grated cheese (which, naturally, came out of a giant wholesale sack), I paid great peripheral attention to the feats of gastronomy quietly occurring around me. 

I remember 'pasta Wednesday', when the whole school was treated to vats of waterlogged, flabby pasta with a dollop of ketchup-coloured sauce. I remember the ripple of excitement that passed through the lunch queue on the sporadic occasions that chips featured on the menu, even though they were inevitably tragic, flaccid specimens sporting a thin film of grease and possessing all the crunch of a waterlogged marshmallow.