Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rabbit and artichoke paella

The past month has seen me spend little time in the kitchen. I've been struck down with two tummy bugs which seemed extremely unfair. I'm just getting over the second one and after five days of consuming nothing but dry toast, mashed potato and plain pasta, I'm finally hankering after something a little more interesting (...and nutritious!)

Back in September, the flower-sender celebrated his birthday. Like me, he is a fairly keen cook and one of his signature dishes is paella. Until earlier this year, I had never enjoyed a paella. I can't eat shellfish and as all paellas seemed to involve mussels or prawns or clams, I assumed it was a treat I'd ever enjoy. How wrong I was. On an early date, the flower-sender wowed me with a special shellfish-free paella made with monkfish, chorizo and a variety of vegetables. This delicious dish now makes a fairly regular appearance in our household. His only complaint was that he didn't really have the right equipment to make an 'authentic' paella. So, for his birthday, I decided to invest in a proper paella pan. I chose a kit including special 'La Bomba' paella rice, saffron, pimento and other bits for making the perfect paella. I also invested in a book all about the famous Spanish dish.

The book is actually really rather interesting - much of it talks of the techniques and tools required to make a good paella and the other half is full of great recipes. What interested me most was the number of these which did not contain shellfish, or even fish for that matter. I was allowed to choose the first recipe cooked in the new pan and selected an interesting sounding rabbit and artichoke paella.

This really worked very well - it was delicious. The rabbit was moist and tender and the rice perfectly textured and flavoursome. The only problem we had was the instruction that we shouldn't stir the paella. This was not really a goer as the food soon started to burn on the bottom of the pan. We eventually added more stock but unfortunately a few burnt bits did make their way into the finished dish ( you'll see from the photos).

We asked the butcher to joint the rabbit for us and halved the recipe. We also used chargrilled artichoke hearts rather than preparing our own fresh artichokes, so I've adapted the recipe to take this into account. Make sure you hang onto the rabbit's liver - pounded together with almonds, it makes a delicious addition to the paella (although it was so delicious I almost ate it all before we got to the stage of pounding it in the pestle and mortar).

Please excuse the 'wide-screen' nature of the photos. New camera and I'd hit the wrong setting by accident!

Paella de conejo y alchachofas
(Paella with rabbit and artichokes)
From 'La Paella' by Jeff Koehler
Serves 6

1 whole rabbit, cut into 12 pieces, keep the liver
6 tbsp olive oil
6 artichoke hearts (we used ready cooked hearts and washed off as much preserving oil as possible)
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped into 1-inch square pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 medium ripe tomatoes
1 tsp sweet pimenton
8 cups chicken stock
2 pinches saffron threads
3 cups short-grain rice (buy special paella rice or look for a brand such as La Bomba)
handful of tomatoes
handful of chopped parsley

1. Toast the saffron to release extra flavour. Do this in a dry saucepan until the saffron starts to change colour and then crumble onto a piece of paper (or pound with a pestle and mortar).

2. Season the rabbit with plenty of salt and pepper. In a large paella pan (or large wide saucepan), heat the oil and brown the rabbit for around 5 minutes, along with the rabbit liver. Set aside.

3. Pound the rabbit liver with a handful of almonds in a pestle and mortar and set to one side.

3. Grate the tomatoes. To do this, cut the tomatoes in half, remove seeds with your finger and grate on the widest setting on a stand-up grater. Discard the remaining skin.

4. Cook the pepper in the pan over a medium heat for 5 mins. Add the garlic and tomatoes and a couple of pinches of salt and cook until the tomato starts to darken (about 5 minutes). Return the rabbit to the pan along with any juices and cook for another 5 minutes. This base is called the 'sofrito'. According to the author, it should look 'pasty' at this stage (...though I'm not sure how pieces of rabbit can look pasty!).

5. Sprinkle in the pimenton and stir to combine. The add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts.

6. Sprinkle in the saffron. Taste and add seasoning if required. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice and with a wooden spoon, push rice to ensure it is evenly distributed.

7. Do not stir again but cook, uncovered for 10 minutes over a high heat. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 8 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is 'al punto' (with a slight bite to it).

8. Remove paella from heat, sprinkle over the ground rabbit liver/almond mixture, cover with paper towels and leave to rest for five minutes.

9. Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Guilt-free sticky toffee puddings!

It has been a long interlude! When I last posted in September, I didn't for a moment think that it would be November when I finally returned.

The reasons for my blogging absence have been various. It has been a busy few months with much change on the horizon for me and I just haven't felt like blogging. So much has been up in the air and I suppose I've been concentrating on all those other things. Finally, my plans are all out in the open and I feel able to think about other things. I won't bore you with details of these plans but essentially they involve a big move (out of London to the Cotswolds). The big move also involves a change of job as I won't be able to commute to Hertfordshire from that area. As yet, I'm not sure what this will be as I'm not sure when we will be able to move (it depends on the sale of my flat). So, exciting things ahead but also an air of uncertaintly. I've handed in my notice with nowhere to go next and I have to say that it is a little scary! In between getting my flat ready for sale, planning our May wedding, looking at properties in the Cotswolds and looking for jobs I've had little time to blog. That's not to say I haven't been busy in the kitchen, I just haven't felt inclined to grab the camera as much as usual.

I'm hoping to get back to normal now though I suspect the next few months may be a little erratic. Please bear with me - once the move has taken place, I suspect to have much more time on my hands ( theory!).

Anyway, with a very lovely wedding dress to show off in May, I've succombed to the inevitable pre-wedding diet. I've been very overweight for years - my love of puddings, cakes, pastry, cheese and butter are entirely to blame (...along with my total lack of enthusiasm for most forms of exercise). I finally decided that with something to aim for, it was time to reign it in a bit. Fortunately for me, the flower-sender is equally keen on pastry and decided that he should also get on the bandwagon. So, one stone lighter than I was in August, I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. It has been challenging though and there is still a way to go.

The biggest problem for me has been puddings. I'm the sort of person who doesn't feel that a meal is complete unless it ends on a sweet note. And by this, I don't mean a piece of fruit. I like proper puddings. Lunch isn't a problem - I'm happy with a yoghurt. But in the evening, I want things to end properly. The trouble with most low-fat dessert recipes is that they are generally what I call 'non-puddings'. Fruit salads. Poached pears. Compote of plums with greek yoghurt. These things are all perfectly nice, but they don't really satisfy the craving in the same way that a crumble, sponge or treacle tart would.

I've become almost desperate in my search for low-fat puds to satisfy my sweet tooth and have come to the conclusion that the whole point of a dessert is that, by its very nature, it is something indulgent and that a low-fat pudding is really something of an oxymoron.

In the meantime, I have found this rather nice little recipe. It is, if such a thing can exist, a low-fat sticky toffee pudding (...did someone say something about oxymorons?). Usually someone who extols the idea that a thing is only worth doing if you do it properly, I decided to give it a whirl.

It is a recipe from BBC Good Food - a website useful for dieters as each recipe is accompanied by the full nutritional information. I made these as a treat one Sunday night after our weekly roast. Sticky toffee pudding is perhaps a bit of a stretch. It isn't really the same pudding at all. But it was rather good despite this. It had good date flavour and whilst maple syrup is hardly a substitue for a good toffee sauce, it is still rather delicious. My craving was completely satisfied and I'd definitely make these again. It is a very simple recipe and individual puds look so pretty for a dinner party. Ideal for the colder nights!

Guilt-free sticky toffee puddings
Makes 4 individual puds
Original recipe here

175g pitted dried dates
150ml maple syrup, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
85g self-raising flour
Low fat greek yoghurt or custard to serve

Individual pudding moulds
Food processor

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

2. Place the dates in a saucepan with 6 fl oz/175ml water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Tip the dates and water into a food processor with 6 tbsp of the maple syrup and the vanilla extract and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and then mix in the egg yolks.

4. In a spanking clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the date mixture.

5. Grease the pudding moulds and then pour 1 tbsp maple syrup into the base of each. Then divide the pudding mixture evenly between them. Cover each tightly with foil and place in an ovenproof baking dish.

6. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it comes half-way up the sides of the pudding. Place carefully in oven and cook for an hour (until skewer comes out clean).

7. Turn the puds carefully out onto plates - you may need to loosen with a palette knife. Serve with yoghurt, custard or ice-cream and an extra drizzle of maple syrup if desired.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another interlude!

No sooner have I returned and I'm off again!

Today we are heading off to Cornwall for a week's holiday in Port Isaac. Looking forward to the freshest of fish and perhaps even the odd pasty.

When I return, I'll be sharing the recipe for this delicious terrine!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Normandy Apple Tart

What a long time since I last blogged! A catalogue of reasons for this, mainly camera-related. Having had both our cameras stolen earlier this year whilst on holiday, we finally bought a replacement. All was going well and I was even quite pleased with the food photos it was taking. Normality resumed. Until a few weeks ago when the camera suffered a bit of an accident and, sadly, no longer works.

We have since invested in yet another replacement - this time a rather cheap camera as a stand-in until we can get another we like. I've not been pleased with the quality of the photos and as such, haven't much felt like sharing them on the blog.

But I've finally pulled myself together and plan to do the best I can with the tools I have - I'm still busy in the kitchen and have lots of food to share!

A few weeks ago I turned thirty. To mark this milestone, I had a lovely party with friends and family at my parents' home on the Isle of Wight. For three days, my mother, the flower-sender and I cooked and baked and chopped and cooked some more. I have to admit to feeling rather pleased with myself when I saw it all laid out and people trying to cram a bit of everything onto their plates.
I have lots of recipes to share - we poached a whole salmon, made a beautiful terrine, baked a ham and prepared all kinds of salads, nibbles and starters. We also made three divine puddings. One of the most striking was this lovely apple tart made by my mother. It is the sort of thing that I would probably never make - I don't have much patience for 'perfect' presentation and my apples wouldn't be nearly so neat on top. It didn't just look good though, it also tasted superb. It is really a very simple recipe and when my mother assembled it she didn't actually think that the recipe would work - the purée seemed to runny. However, it firmed up nicely when left to chill overnight in the fridge.

The recipe comes from an Isle of Wight cookery book which was published some time ago in aid of charity. It is a basic recipe rather than a detailed one but fairly easy to interpret.

Normandy Apple Flan

12oz Shortcrust Pastry
1 pint thick apple purée, well sweetened
3 dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons Apricot Jam
2 tablespoons water

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Line 9in flan ring or tin with the pastry.

2. Prick base and bake blind for 15 mins.

3. Fill flan case with apple purée and then arrange the sliced apples over the top. Pour over half the lemon juice.

4. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins. Remove from oven and cool.

5. Heat jam, water and remaining lemon juice until syrupy, but do not allow to boil. Press through a sieve and spoon over tart to glaze.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Living in London, I'm frequently surprised with the constantly changing face of the streets around me. Every couple of weeks a shop or restaurant will close, only for another to open in its place. Sometimes this is sad, as in the case of the excellent independent toy shop which metamorphosed into a Costa coffee. But sometimes it is exciting, as in the case of the lovely new bakery and cafe which recently opened on the Northcote Road.

Earlier this year, I was intrigued when wooden boards went up around a high street building society. These boards were plastered with Jamie Oliver's name and I wondered what on earth to expect. Surely he wasn't opening the latest branch of Fifteen in the shadow of Clapham Junction tube station?

Indeed, no he wasn't. A few months later and the boards were removed. Behind them was a branch of his new venture 'Recipease'. This shiny new store has been attractively Jamie-fied. At the front, shoppers can buy all kinds of Jamie merchandise, including some rather lovely wooden chopping boards. There is also food for sale, much of it packaged in over-sized Kilner jars. Imagine mustards, chutneys and jams. And bread too. Lots of bread. Foccacia. And the most expensive Chelsea buns you are every likely to eat. The busy shopper can also buy pseudo ready-meals freshly prepared instore to take home and throw in a pan for supper. You can even buy the wine to go with it.

But at the heart of the shop are several huge workstations where you can assemble your own meals. There is a pizza station where you can create your own signature toppings. Or you can select from a changing menu of different dishes to prepare. All the chopping and preparation is done for you - you just book a session, turn up and create one (or two) of Jamie's mouthwatering recipes.

As well as this, you can also book in for cooking lessons focusing on a particular skill - knife skills, risotto, cooking the perfect steak, pasta to name just a few. The best news, these classes are a great deal cheaper than many other cookery demonstrations in the capital.

I haven't sampled the 'ready-meals' and nor have I booked in to assemble my own Jamie recipe. But recently I took part in a very fun hen party that included a pasta-making session at Recipease. Upon arrival, we were greeted with glasses of wine (...tea, coffee and soft drinks were provided too but these were rather ignored in favour of the wine!). We then set to work with our excellent and highly enthusiastic chef. She showed us how to make pasta dough and then we all headed to our own workstations to make our own. Once all twelve of us had enough spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli and caramelli to feed an army, we then made a super sage butter sauce to accompany the ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shapes. Divine!

I would thoroughly recommend a private party at Recipease of this type - it was great fun and a real ice-breaker. I think we could have used another member of staff as twelve novices making pasta was somewhat chaotic and our chef could only help one of us at a time! However, it was great fun and despite making a horribly dry-feeling dough that fell apart in the pasta machine, I ended up with some quite delicious pasta. I clearly need practise...

Recipease, 48-50 St John's Road, Battersea

Friday, August 14, 2009

A low-fat chicken curry that is rather good

A strange thing happened to me on Wednesday night. I was preparing a butternut squash for roasting and, after I had peeled it, I noticed that my hands were becoming most uncomfortable. Sort of tight and dry. No amount of hand cream or washing would relieve the feeling. I then watched with some alarm as the skin of my hands started to peel off. It was revolting and rather unnerving. Thank heaven for google! I raced to the computer and typed in 'strange skin reaction to butternut squash'. It seems that this is a quite common problem - many people experience the tightness but the peeling skin is quite a strong reaction. Oddly, I've handled butternut plenty of times before with no ill effect... I wonder if anyone else has experienced this? One article likened the effect to that of a chemical peel - perhaps I should be grateful for the now soft and rejuvenated skin on my and?

Anyway, moving swiftly on. The flower-sender and I are trying to eat a little more healthily in order to shift a few pounds before the wedding in May. We are keeping this a secret as I don't want to feel under any pressure to transform myself into someone I'm not. Frankly, we both love food far too much to ever be as thin as we might wish. I'm not planning to give up my love of cake just so I can fit into a smaller wedding dress. But it would be nice to be a little healthier and so we are trying to change a few things.

One of our initiatives is to try and make healthier versions of favourite high-fat dishes without compromising on taste. We are particularly pleased with this recipe which we found in a Weight Watchers cookbook called
'Delicious'. We loved the creamy, rich-tasting tomato-based sauce and the aromatic flavour of the ginger and lime leaves. We tinkered a little with the recipe, adding some extra vegetables. We made this with left-over roast chicken which worked very well, but the recipe below gives directions for cooking the chicken. If you want to use leftovers, add the chicken to the pan once the initial veggies have softened - just before you add the liquid. The addition of thinly sliced mange tout is far more than just a garnish - the refreshing crunch really adds something to this curry.

Fragrant Chicken Curry
Based on recipe from
Weight Watchers Delicious cookbook
Serves 4

low fat cooking spray (or tbsp oil)
600g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
150g sliced mushrooms
1 bag spinach
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 freeze dried lime leaves
1 tsp mild or hot chilli powder
1 tbsp mild curry powder
50g low-fat soft cheese
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml chicken stock
handful chopped fresh coriander
large handful mange tout, shredded finely lengthways

1. Heat a non-stick saucepan or wok and spray with cooking spray/add oil. Add chicken chunks and cook for around 5 mins until sealed all over. Remove and set to one side.

2. Spray/add a little more oil if necessary and add the pepper, onion, mushrooms, ginger, garlic and lime leaves. Cook for a minute or so until starting to soften. Stir in the chilli powder and curry powder and return the chicken to the pan, stirring constantly for a minute.

3. Add the soft cheese, tomatoes and stock. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes until thickened and the chicken is cooked. Serve with rice, topped with the coriander and shredded mange tout.

For anyone who is interested and knows how Weight Watchers works, this curry (without rice) is amazingly just 2.5 points per portion. And the portion was pretty generous - we felt very full afterwards.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Summer squash and sweetcorn salad

Since I am now mainly cooking for two people, rather than one, I decided that it was time to re-instate my weekly veg box order. This week I was delighted to receive a rather attractive pattipan squash. I usually associate squash with the autumn and had a brief moment of depression when I wondered whether summer really was over already.

I then read the accompanying recipe sheet and realised that this was a variety of summer squash. I also read the accompanying recipe and decided that it sounded rather good. It was for a salad of roasted squash and corn (torn off the cob rather than from a tin!) with rocket, feta and a sweet chilli glaze. We decided to roast a chicken and serve it alongside the bird for a summery supper.

I made the classic error of not reading the recipe through before I started and I then realised that both the corn and squash needed time to cool before adding to the salad. I didn't have time for this and the squash was fresh out of the oven when I added it to the peppery rocket leaves*. It actually didn't matter a bit and was perfectly delicious as a 'warm' salad. As we were eating it immediately, the leaves didn't wilt at all. However, we did have to throw the excess away which was a shame. Next time, I'll make it with more time to spare and try a cold version to take for lunch at work.

Summer squash and sweetcorn salad
Serves 4 as a starter or side-dish (2 as a main)
Recipe from Abel and Cole


1 summer squash (we used a pattipan squash, the recipe suggests onion squash)
1 garlic clove peeled and chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cobs sweetcorn
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp red chilli jam (I used
Jules and Sharpie red pepper jelly)
1 bag fresh rocket leaves
100g feta cheese (recipe suggests 200g, but this seemed too much to me)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Halve the squash and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Cut into small wedges or chunks of around half and inch square. Keep the skin on as it is very thin and helps the squash keep its shape.

2. Place squash in a roasting tin with olive oil, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and mix together with your hands to ensure all is well coated. Roast for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, remove husks from corn and place in a large saucepan of water. Bring to boil, put a lid on the pan and simmer for around 20 minutes until tender. Drain and cool (run under cold water if short of time). When you are able to handle it, cut the kernels off the cobs trying to keep them in large panels rather than individual kernels. Use a sharp knife for this - the panels should come off fairly easily.

4. Remove squash from oven and add butter to pan immediately. Dot the chilli jam over the top and pop back into the oven for then minutes to give squash colour and a sticky glaze. Remove from oven and cool (optional)*.

5. Take a large salad bowl or plate and add the rocket. Add the squash and toss together. Add corn and fold through. Finally, crumble the feta cheese over the top.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bakewell Cake

It has been a very social fortnight with not one, but two big parties held at my flat. Though we haven't quite had the 'barbecue summer' we were promised, Mother Nature was kind enough to turn the taps off on the both occasions. The day of our engagement party was a little nerve-wracking. We were expecting around thirty for a barbecue in the garden. It poured on and off all morning and we spent the time setting things out and then racing out to bring them all in again. Fortunately, the afternoon was largely dry and we had a great day.

My cousin's hen party was a week later and we were even blessed with a few rays of sun - quite a bonus!

On both occasions, I'd been busy in the kitchen. The flower-sender did the barbecuing, but I did all the salads and a serious amount of baking. Strawberry cupcakes and chocolate brownies were popular, but my personal favourite was a deeply almondy Bakewell Cake. Like Bakewell tart, only in cake form. I made it for a friend whose birthday happened to fall on the day of our party and she seemed pretty chuffed with it. Of course, I gave the leftover cake to her to take home but I have to confess I was rather sorry to see it go. I think I'll have to bake it again soon.

As with so many of my favourite recipes, this came from BBC Good Food. I made a couple of adjustments though. I much prefer raspberry jam to cherry so filled it with this. I also chose to ice the cake so it looked more like my idea of a proper 'Bakewell tart'. Despite what the picture at the end of this post might lead you to believe, it was wonderfully moist and sticky in an amost marzipanny sort of way.

Bakewell Cake

Based on this recipe from BBC Good Food


200g butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
200g golden caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp almond essence
4 large eggs, preferably free-range

1/2 jar good quality raspberry jam
175g icing sugar
approx 5 tsp lemon juice
5 glace cherries

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease and line the bases of 2 20cm round cake tins.

2. Using an electric mixer if you have one, cream together the butter and sugar until pale. Add the ground almonds and eggs, one by one. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Add almond essence and mix well until you have a smooth batter.

3. Spoon into the two tins (equally) and try to smooth the tops as best as possible.
Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the cakes are springy on top. DO NOT be tempted to open the oven to check on them until at least 25 minutes has passed!

4. When cooked, cool cakes in their tins for a few minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

5. Once cool, sandwich together with the jam. Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and mix with the lemon juice until smooth and thick. Spread icing over top of cake - it doesn't matter if it drips down the sides a bit. Decorate with halved glace cherries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pork tenderloin with a mustard and herb crust

What a long time without posting! I can only mumble feeble excuses and try to win you back with promises of pork tenderloin, bakewell cake and a great paella.

The past few weeks seem to have been a whirlwind. I had never realised that getting engaged would be such a social activity! So many friends have invited us to dinner, plus we've been busy organising our engagement party. Added to this, we've been dealing with the insurance companies trying to get back the money for the items that were stolen on holiday. So far we've been completely unsuccessful. Much as I could now embark on a long rant about the insurance blighters, I think it is best for all of us that I keep my feelings to myself.

Despite the problems, we have bought a new camera. Not the SLR we're saving up for, but an interim point and shoot that seems to be doing the job reasonably well. It is taking me a while to adjust to the new device so apologies all round if my photos aren't up to scratch over the next few posts! I'll get there in the end.

I rarely cook pork.

Actually, this isn't entirely true. I have something of an unbridled passion for sausages. It verges on the shameful. Fortunately, a cure may be to hand. Following our engagement barbecue at the weekend, we have a grand total of 50 sausages lying in wait in the freezer. I fear I may be sick of sausages come the autumn... Never knowingly under-catered. That's my motto...

But pork in its pure, untouched form? I rarely cook it. Yet I always thoroughly enjoy it. I'm training myself to experiment more with this deeply satisfying meat, especially as it is reasonably good value.

This is a Delia recipe. I followed it to the letter and I have to say it was really rather good. Pork fillets rolled in a mustardy, herb crust and served with an onion and mustard sauce. It looked impressive for a dinner party but was actually a cinch to make after work. Easy as pie. I served it with new potatoes and greens - we all agreed it was very tasty.

Roast Tenderloin of Pork with Mustard and Creme Fraiche Sauce
From Delia Smith's 'Pork' recipe book
Serves 4


2 good sized pork fillets
1 large egg
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, peeled
large handful curly parsley
4 heaped tbsp white breadcrumbs

For sauce:
1 dessertspoon each of wholegrain and Dijon mustards
1 tbsp creme fraiche
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
11 fl oz dry white wine

1. Pre-heat oven to 190C. Trim the fillets of as much fat and sinew as you can.

2. Beat egg together with the mustards and pour into an oblong dish, long enough to hold the pork fillets.

3. Chop the garlic and parsley together finely. Add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and then spread out onto another long dish.

4. Roll the pork fillets in the eggy mixture first until they are entirely coated. Then roll them in the herby crumbs before setting each one onto a greased baking tray.

5. Roast the fillets in the oven for 30 minutes (or until cooked through). Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and cook the chopped onion for around 10 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add the white wine and bubble for about 10 minutes to reduce slightly.

7. Add the creme fraiche and mustards and simmer very gently for a further 5-10 minutes.

8. To serve, carve the pork into thick slices and pour over the sauce.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Strawberry and marzipan tartlets

Am back from holidaying in Tuscany and Lake Annecy in France. We had a wonderful time though it sounds like the weather was much better here than in chilly, windy and frankly rather damp Tuscany! I'd love to be showing you photos of the fantastic scenery and, more importantly, the superb food we enjoyed but alas, we fell prey to some rather greedy burglars who broke into our apartment one night and stole (amongst other things) both our cameras from our bedroom whilst we slept!

Despite this somewhat traumatic incident, we had a cracking couple of weeks. Much of it was spent either in the cucina or at the table, feasting on the best of Italian produce and indulging in some superb French restaurants. I'm stuffed!

Sadly, the incident means that it may be a short while before I'm back up and posting regularly. We've the insurance to sort out and then the purchase of a new camera. We hope to get a point-and-shoot to tide us over before hopefully investing in a proper grown-up SLR. I'd be interested in any recommendations!

In the meantime, here is a simple yet tasty summer tart that I made before we left. The night, in fact, that the flower-sender proposed.

It hardly warrants a full recipe as it is so simple. Basically, all you do, is buy some ready-made puff pastry. Roll it out and cut into little squares or rectangles. One per person. Using a knife, lightly score a line around half an inch in from the edge all the way around. Prick the pastry lightly with a fork.

Roll out some marzipan and lay a slice over the centre of each tart. Arrange sliced strawberries on top, then brush the lot with melted butter. Sprinkle with caster sugar and then bake at 200C for around 25 minutes.

Lovely served with ice cream, or just regular cream.