“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grand Days Out

Well, it's just been the last weekend in August, and you know what that means. Bank Holiday Weekend, and some superb days out for all.

On Saturday the 28th, Sis, Mum and I hot-footed it over to Heronden House in Tenterden for a walk round the spectacular gardens, followed by a lovely cream tea.

Liberally apply jam and cream.

Lovely soft scone.

Then yesterday, Bank Holiday Monday, there were three villages with Flower Festivals happening. The first was at Appledore Village Church, where one could purchase such delights as these lovely cupcakes.

We also bought some grape jam (foreground) and a plum crumble ready to be popped in the oven.

The other flower festivals were at Smallhythe (no food purchased there, although there was some available) and finally on to Rolvenden, where we bought the rolls pictured and the other jar of jam. The jam is a Hot Rhubarb & Ginger, and is actually more like a chutney. In fact, when we ate our lunch there, a ploughman's, that is what was served with it in place of a pickle. Fantastic stuff. The rolls are of the same kind that came with the ploughman's lunch also. 

Long live home made baked goods and preserves!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Small Bites

It suddenly occurred to me today in Zest that I had my camera with me. Unfortunately, at that moment I had already eaten most of my BLT and half of my salad. Still, I thought, why waste the opportunity? So...

I still had my coleslaw to polish off and I was drinking a Big Tom. What's that ya say? Not familiar with Big Tom? It's a lovely spicy tomato juice, just perfect for a Virgin Mary. Rapidly becoming a favourite of mine.

Oh, and in case my American buddies are worried that I'm not getting decent breakfasts here in the UK, take heart. Here's what I had today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peach Melba Mess

Waitrose make the best desserts.

I think I may have mentioned Eton Mess before, which is a joyous mixture of whipped cream, strawberries (or raspberries, or both), and bits of meringue. It is a fabulous dessert. But last night I experienced a new level of yumminess. As you can see in the pic above, they've gone and added peaches into the mix. I cannot describe how fab this is. There are no words adequate enough. All I can say is, when I die, I want the guests at my wake to be served this. 'Cause that's what I'll be eating in heaven, baby. Mm mm mm.

Good Chuck

Well, last time on Name This Food! I asked y'all what this here grub was called:

It is, in fact, a lovely dish known as
Cowboy Caviar
Sometimes known as Texas Caviar. It's basically a black bean and corn salsa, with black-eyed peas, lots of red onion and chunky peppers and cilantro. I made some the other day, and as I cannot get hold of black-eyed peas for love nor money in this country, used a combination of black and pinto beans, and some pearl barley in there for good measure. It was great. The really great thing about it is that the longer it sits in the fridge, the more the flavors marry and intensify, so if you still have some left the next day, it will have improved. I say 'if' because it is hard to stop eating this stuff with every meal! It's good for you! There are literally hundreds of recipes for it out there, all with different permutations and ingredients (like zucchini and avocado etc.) but here's a basic one:

2 ( 15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas and/or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 chopped red onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well.
2) Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side dish, or as a dip with chips, or even straight out of the bowl with a fork! Mmmm. I also threw some diced cucumber in there.

Alright, so what's next?

Name This Food!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rabbit Stew

That's right - rabbit stew.
Yes, my teaser was answered correctly by Laura... it is indeed rabbit stew. A wholesome and hearty dish for a cold day, or indeed anytime. Here's a recipe:

Rabbit Stew

Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
300g streaky bacon, chopped
1 wild rabbit, skinned and jointed
12 baby carrots
8 shallots, peeled and whole
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp honey
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
400ml cider (yes, American folks, that's hard cider we are talking about)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat a frying pan and add the olive oil. Add the bacon and sauté until golden and crisp. Remove the bacon to a casserole dish.
2. Add the rabbit joints to the frying pan, sauté until golden and then place in the casserole dish.
3. Lastly, add the carrots, shallots, garlic and honey to the pan and cook until caramelised. Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish, season with salt and pepper and pop in the thyme and bay leaf. Cover with the cider.
4. Cook in a preheated oven at 120°C (about 230°F - nice and low and slow) for two hours. Serve with veggies.

Now then - what's next?

Name This Food!

Monday, August 16, 2010

If You Go Down In The Woods Today...

Yes, I was skipping.

Today Sis and I decided to visit Challock, ostensibly to go for a walk in the woods, in which there are some art installations (see album at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=198216&id=576789334&l=15c424385a, and while you are at it, add me as a friend, won'tcha? ). While in Challock, though, we were fortunate enough to visit The Barn Shop where we did a little shopping. Here for your delectation and delight, are some piccies I took.

Even though it is fairly childish humour, the first thing I saw amused me because of its name emblazoned on the front. For those who do not know, Tits are birds.
Had to take a picture of this 'Tit Box'.
Here they are:
Left to right: The Coal Tit, the Great Tit, and the Blue Tit. See?
Next to the Tit Box was something I found mildly whimsical:

Once inside I took pics of a few choice items:
Yummy cookies...

Kinda like a rice krispie treat, but made with chocolate instead of marshmallows. A true taste of my childhood. They used to serve these as dessert in school.

Remember a few weeks back I talked about rapeseed oil from Quex Foods? Here's the link if you have forgotten: 

These sounded awesome, but I have yet to try some.

Similar concept to the rice krispie one, but using cornflakes instead. Yumm.

We bought some of these, and they were fab. There is a little caramel pocket inside so when you bite into it a little oozes into your mouth for that extra toffee flavour. 

It's been a while since I've had this stuff, and it is wickedly good. Good as a marinade, a dressing, a BBQ basting sauce, a dip for crudités... anything you can think of. I always grilled salmon with it. You can buy it online at: 

Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


So today Sis and I went to Zest Cafe/Bar/Restaurant in town. We had to go to the Post Office, and it so happened that Zest is two doors away, and it was getting towards lunchtime. The place was pretty busy so we sat on one of the outside tables, whch is where I took the above pictures. Unfortunately, being me, I did not think to take pics until after we had eaten, so I couldn't show you our scrummy dishes. I had the chicken liver pate with the red onion marmalade... delicious stuff. Sis availed herself of the baked potato with prawns, which was enormous. Great big jacket spud laden with mounds of prawns, a side of delicious coleslaw and some salad. I had a glass of Big Tom, a nicely spicy tomato juice, while Sis stuck to the Diet Coke. A lovely place and not terribly pricey. Of course, Sis and I cannot go anywhere without letting our anarchic senses of humour and general silliness make people look at us in a funny way and laugh uneasily. I was taking the above pic of the delicious banoffee pie and the young strapping lad who was taking the money said that maybe he should get in the pic for the blog, whereupon Sis told the chap that she'd be needing a copy of it too. He turned beet red and beat a hasty retreat to the back of the restaurant. Anyway, Zest easily gets a four and a half yums out of 5.

Zest Cafe Bar Restaurant - Tenterden

4 Manor Row, High Street, Tenterden, TN30 6HP

TEL: 0871 872 9316

Way Too Easy

So it becomes apparent that the Name This Food! items I pick are either too easy or too difficult to identify. I will try to do better and keep the playing field level by picking items that are not too tricky, but not dead simple. As you can appreciate, with a cross-cultural audience, this might be a bit harder for me, but I will endeavour to satisfy. I aim to please, and not only tickle your fancy and tantalize your tastebuds, but tease your brains to a sufficient level without being too obscure. Having said that, let's talk about the answer to the last item, which was

Yorkshire Puddings!

What is a Yorkshire Pudding and why is it from Yorkshire?

Yorkshire Pud (as we Brits sometimes refer to it) comes, not surprisingly, from the North of England. When wheat flour became common in England for use in cakes and puddings, cooks in the North came up with a way to use up the drippings from cooking meat by making a batter, similar to pancake batter, which was cooked and served on the side with the meal (or in some cases before the meal), which they named 'dripping pudding', which by all accounts was a somewhat flatter and less puffy affair than the Yorkshires we know today. However, it was a Yorkshire lady named Hannah Glasse that renamed it 'Yorkshire Pudding' for her 1747 cookbook entitled "The Art Of Cookery Made Plain and Simple". It is similar to the American popover. Traditionally it is served with the Sunday roast. 

This one is the Swift 'Flat Cap' pan, available from Amazon.
Yorkshire pudding is cooked by pouring a thin batter made from flour, eggs, butter, milk and seasoning into a preheated greased baking tin containing very hot fat or oil and baking at very high heat until it has risen and browned. It is then served in slices or quarters, depending on the size of the tray in which it was cooked. However the method that is illustrated (and one that I prefer) is to cook individual ones in a muffin pan or similar. You can even get pans specifically made for Yorkshires, where the individual sections are wider and somewhat shallower than a traditional muffin pan, making for lighter and puffier puds.

Here's the inevitable recipe:

Yorkshire pudding

3 eggs
115g/4oz flour
275ml/½ pint milk
beef dripping (or cooking oil if not serving beef)


Mix together the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt.
Add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a runny batter.
Leave this to rest, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
Place 1cm/½in of beef dripping or oil in the bottom of each pudding mould, or if you are using a rectangular roasting tray, place 1cm/½in of beef dripping or oil across the bottom.
Heat the oil in the oven (at 240C/460F/Gas 8) for about ten minutes, until it is piping hot.
Remove the roasting tray from the oven, pour in the batter, and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, making sure not to open the oven door for the first 20 minutes.
Serve immediately with your roast.

Now, to my mind nothing goes better with Yorkshires than a good Sunday roast, be it beef, pork, turkey, lamb or chicken, but to be sure, as long as you have a good gravy, you're halfway there. Now go to it, folks!

Next food on the lineup:

Name This Food!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Look, New Game

Okay, so as you can probably see I have been busy revamping the look of the blog. New banner and new background. So in addition to the Name This Food! game, which we will get to in a moment, I present you with a challenge. As you may notice, the new banner is made up of pictures of letters which are part of logos on food packaging. Some are easy, some not so much. If you feel so inclined, try to figure out what products the letters come from. Apart from the 'F's, that is, which have come from obscure products that you'd never get in a million years or from names of food contents (you would not believe how few F's there are in the pantry!). So the other letters, then. Okay.

Now on to Name This Food! What was it? Well, me mum correctly identified it as
Bakewell Tart

A moist, buttery frangipane sponge on a jam base cased in sweet pastry. For an in-depth description, see the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakewell_tart . All I know is, it's delicious.

Here's a recipe:

Preparation time: 1-2 hours
Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 8


For the pastry

300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125g/4½oz unsalted butter
30g/1oz sugar
1 free-range egg, plus 1 extra, beaten, to glaze
2 tbsp milk, to bind (if needed)

For the filling

225g/8oz butter, softened
225g/8oz sugar
225g/8oz ground almonds
3 free-range eggs
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
50g/2oz plain flour
jar cherry jam (or any red fruit jam)
flaked almonds, for sprinkling


For the pastry, place the flour, butter, sugar and egg into a food processor and pulse to combine. If necessary, add a little milk to help bring the mixture together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out until large enough to line a 26cm/10in tart tin. Carefully lift into the tin, then place into the fridge to chill for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Fill the tart case with a sheet of greaseproof paper weighed down with baking beans or rice. Bake the tart case blind in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Return to the oven for a further five minutes, until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
For the filling, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Mix in the ground almonds, then crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition - don't worry if the mixture begins to split, just add a little of the flour.
Fold in the lemon zest and the flour.
Spread some of the jam generously across the base of the pastry, leaving a 2.5cm/1in gap around the edge.
Spread the filling mixture over the jam and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until set and golden-brown. Allow to cool in the tin before serving in slices.

Give it a whirl!

Now, what's this?

Name This Food!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


One of the joys of  late summer and early autumn when I was a kid was going out with a big ol' Tupperware container and going to where all the bramble bushes were and picking a load of blackberries. Of course, we stuffed our faces with them too. Later, when we got back home, my mother (or grandmother, depending where we were) would use them to make one of any number of  dessert items or jams. My favourite was always this one...

An English classic, served with either custard or cream. Also enjoyed hot or cold. The basic crumble topping can be used to crown virtually any fruit filling you could think of. Adjust your quantities of apples and blackberries to suit your own taste.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble


Crumble Topping

225g Plain or wholewheat flour

75g Butter (room temperature)

75g - 110g Soft Brown Sugar (to taste)


600g Cooking Apples (Bramleys, if you can get them)

300g Blackberries

25g Soft Brown Sugar

2 tablespoons of Water


Pre-heat the oven to gas 4 or 180 centigrade.

Core, peel and slice the apples and place in a saucepan with the water and sugar. Cook gently until the apples are soft. Put the cooked apples into a casserole (1.75 litre) and prepare the crumble topping. Rinse the blackberries and mix gently with the cooked apples when ready.

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour and butter together until it looks crumbly and the butter has been evenly dispersed through the flour. Add the sugar and mix together to ensure that everything is combined.

Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top the cooked apples and blackberries using a fork to even out the distribution but don't press it down.

Cook in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes until lightly golden brown.

So, what's the new food?
Name This Food!


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