Tag Archives: bread

Smoked Mackerel Pate x 2

Smoked mackerel pate, topped with melted butter, parsley, capers and cayenne pepper

By slavishly following post heart attack dietary advice for over twenty years my late father ate so much smoked mackerel that he came to loath it with a passion. But then my parents always treated even the most casual advice from someone with a white coat and stethoscope as something not to be simply heeded, but rather carved in tablets of stone and set upon an altar. Ironic then that when the family recently gathered at the home the of my eldest brother, for the sole purpose of relocating our dear departed parents’ mortal remains to a dedicated area of woodland in the Lancashire hills, that I should be treated to a lunch of smoked mackerel pate.

The fraternal recipe, borrowed from a farmer neighbour, consisted of just smoked mackerel and cream cheese [with I suspect a fish to cheese ratio of c.2:1] simply blended together. And quite delicious it was too. If you want a more straightforward approach than what follows then I can highly recommend it.

For this version though I wanted to exploit the indulgent richness of the triple cream Delice de Bourgogne, and I couldn’t resist a bit more phaffing about too [as my dad would have called it!]. So the choice is yours, farmhouse or fancy. Either way it’s a piscine treat, just don’t eat it every day for decades if you don’t want to get bored…

Six to eight people will have more than enough

  • 280g smoked mackerel fillets, boned, skinned and roughly flaked
  • 140g Delice de Bourgogne [or similar such as Jean Grogne or Vignotte]
  • 2 tbsps creamed horseradish [as heaped as you like]
  • 3 tbsps soured cream
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • A good grind of black pepper

To finish [optional]

  • Melted butter
  • Flat leaf parsley, some chopped and a few whole leaves
  • A few capers or a few preserved green or pink peppercorns
  • A pinch more cayenne

Remove the delicate bloomy rind from the cheese carefully with a sharp knife so as to minimise any cheese loss. I’d never bother to do this if just eating the cheese but the flavour of the outer layer isn’t what you want here. Then just tip all the pate ingredients into a food processor and give it three or four good blitz pulses. The texture is up to you – for a coarser pate blitz less, for smoother blitz more. Check the seasoning and spoon into one big dish or a number of small ramekins. Chill.

You don’t need to top this but it does look pretty and takes no time at all. Mix the chopped parsley into the melted butter and gently pour or spoon a thin layer over the pate. Add the capers or peppercorns, and press a few whole leaves of parsley artfully into the butter. Once the butter has begun to set [after just a minute or two in the fridge] sprinkle over a little more cayenne pepper. If you do this when the butter is too liquid the little red jewels will all disperse instead of sitting prettily on the top.

Serve with bread or toast, and few more capers or some cornichons or gherkins on the side.

#smokedmackerelpate   #WFTTD


One Year Older – Any The Wiser…?

Well blow me down, but a whole year has gone by since my first post on Independence Day 2010 [so Happy Birthday to America too while we’re about it]. I really had no idea what to expect when I started all this, but to the thousands of visitors I’ve now welcomed along the way I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support during my first year in the blogosphere.

Looking back I find that I’m clearly more interested in purple foods than I ever realised [I’m going to have to add that as a tag now!] and a quick glance at the tag cloud over to the right tells me that garlic, cream, eggs and butter are frequently featured. A quick glance at my waistline could probably have told me the same.

Looking forward, I see also that the tag ‘recipe’ has been the most used to date and so far these have mainly been my own. In future I think I’ll also tell you more about my experiences with other people’s, and maybe even include the odd review or opinion piece. Travel, too, will hopefully also feature more.

But for now, summer fruits are everywhere – so let’s have pudding!

To fill a 1.1 litre pudding basin

  • 6 or 7 slices day old white bread
  • About 1kg mixed summer fruit [I used strawberries, raspberries, black currants and blueberries, but vary according to what you fancy or is available]
  • 3 tbsps sweet fruit liqueur* [plus more to finish]
  • 3 tsps caster sugar [or vanilla sugar]

*I had some crème de framboises lurking in the drinks cabinet but I can highly recommend one of the offerings from Bramley and Gage if you’re shopping.

Put the fruit, liqueur and sugar into a pan and cook gently for about 5 minutes so that the fruit juices start to run but the fruits still retain some body and shape. Using a sweet fruit liqueur like this significantly cuts down on the amount of sugar you’d otherwise add.

Drain the fruit in a sieve into a bowl to catch all the juices. Cut a circle from the middle of one slice of bread. Remove the crusts from the other slices and cut through the middle at an angle, thus:

Shows the angle at which to cut bread slices for summer pudding.

Dip the circle of bread into the reserved juices and place in the bottom of the bowl. Do the same with the cut pieces and arrange in overlapping layers around the sides. Fill with fruit, and top with more juice-dipped pieces of bread, tucking the ends of the side pieces over this base. Sprinkle over a little more fruit liqueur if it’s for a grown-up party! Wrap with clingfilm, set the bowl into a shallow dish to catch any drips, place a saucer or small plate on top, and top this with a heavy weight [or a couple of tins of beans].

Refrigerate for 24 hours, and when ready to serve unwrap, place a plate over the bowl and invert. A couple of sharp taps or a good shake should see the pudding break free from the bowl, usually with a satisfying ‘schlurping’ sound.

If you have juices remaining reduce them in a pan to a syrupy sauce and pour this over the pud. And if you’re in the mood add another sprinkle of the fruit liqueur too. All you need now is some clotted cream. And a spoon.

The Full English Breakfast – On a Stick!

OK, they might sound a tad unconventional at first, but I’m sharing one of my best kept secrets here, and after their first appearance I guarantee that you’ll be asked to make them again [and again…]

A tray full of Full English Breakfast canapes

My “full English breakfast on a stick” was invented over a dozen years ago when I was asked to help cater the 30th birthday party of an old friend. His then partner (now wife) didn’t share his fondness for baked beans and I was tasked with devising a comestible Trojan horse to sneak them into the feast. Deciding that a canapé can cover a multitude of sins I set about hatching my egg and beans plot, and now it’s become my drinks party must have. Besides, if a full English breakfast is such a good hangover cure, surely there must be some preventative benefit to be gained by eating one with your cocktails?

This canapé essentially consists of a ‘fried bread’ crouton with a layer of baked beans, a slice of sausage, a dollop of ketchup and a boiled quails egg. Allow 2 or 3 per guest – once over the initial shock they’ll be back for more.

You will need

  • Sliced white bread [this can be as cheap as you like, but everything else should be the best you can buy]
  • Good pork sausages
  • Olive oil
  • Baked beans [would you use anything other than Heinz?]
  • Tomato ketchup [see above]
  • Quail’s eggs

First grill the sausages and allow to cool. Each will probably yield about 7 or 8 slices around the thickness of a £1 coin. Simmer the baked beans for a few minutes, all the better if a few break up, and allow these to cool too. This thickens the sauce and makes it much easier to perch a few beans on each crouton.

Cut small circles from slices of the bread with a pastry cutter or liqueur glass and slather them with olive oil. You will get between 6 and 9 croutons from each slice depending on the size of the loaf. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and cook in a 180˚C oven for about 10 minutes until golden and crunchy, but do keep an eye on them – one minute they’re golden brown and the next they’re charcoal! Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.

For years I cooked my own quails eggs and laboriously shelled them, which is easier if you roll the egg between your palm and a hard surface to crack the shell, and then peel under a running tap. Now I buy them ready cooked and peeled and suggest you do the same. It saves hours.

Pour some tomato ketchup into a small bowl, arm yourself with a couple of teaspoons and some cocktail sticks, and you’re ready to assemble. First top each crouton with a few beans using a teaspoon. Then balance a sausage slice on each. Next use the other teaspoon to dab on a blob of ketchup. Skewer an egg with a cocktail stick and push the bottom of the stick through the middle of the canapé, squishing the egg into its ketchupy cushion.

And voila, full English breakfast on a stick! Even if it looks slightly daunting at first the whole thing should be taken in one mouthful to be best appreciated. Recently a four year old guest of mine managed it [several times!] so I’m sure you can.

As with most canapés the best way to present these is in repeating rows – they look particularly good on a black slate.

The Shopkeeper has always been egg-averse, which somewhat lessens his enjoyment of this otherwise remarkable morsel. If you find yourself with similarly afflicted guests then a quarter of a mushroom sautéed with garlic and rosemary can stand in for the egg.

Full English Breakfast with Mushroom

Brioche and Butter Pudding with Marmalade and Whiskied Raisins

Brioche and Butter Pudding with Marmalade

February means it’s time to toast the short Seville orange season again and even if you haven’t been making your own marmalade chances are that somebody you know has. Whether you have a glut or not, don’t make it the exclusive preserve of the breakfast table. The bitterness of the bigarade [as the French call Seville oranges] brings an added dimension to otherwise sweet dishes.

A partially shared Scottish heritage might explain the long affinity of marmalade and whisky– it’s not uncommon to find marmalade with whisky in it, but you can also turn the combination on its head and add a dollop of marmalade to a whisky cocktail. So if you have some whisky marmalade lurking in the cupboard this is the place to use it. I used brioche this time but the beauty of bread and butter pudding is that you can use any old bread, one or two days old being best.

This quantity fed two, twice.

  • 75g raisins, soaked for at least 24 hours in…
  • 100ml scotch whisky
  • 6 small brioche rolls, sliced diagonally in half and generously buttered
  • Enough marmalade to smear over the buttered brioche
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp unrefined caster sugar, or vanilla sugar*

Arrange your buttered and marmalade covered pieces of brioche in a round dish, tucking them in to overlap slightly, to resemble the petals of a flower. Take the end of another roll, butter it and squeeze into the middle to complete your ‘pudding daisy’. Alternatively cut sliced bread into triangles and arrange in overlapping layers.

Drain the raisins, reserving the liquor, and scatter them around the dish. Mix the eggs, milk and cream and add the reserved whisky. Pour half this mixture over the bread base and allow to soak in for a few minutes before adding the rest. If there seem to be too many raisins on the top poke some into the gaps between the bread. Allow to soak for another half hour or so before cooking.

Heat the oven to 180˚C, place your pudding bowl into a roasting tray and fill with hot water to half way up the side of the pudding container. Sprinkle the surface of the pud’ with sugar and grated nutmeg and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

* Making vanilla sugar couldn’t be easier. Place a split vanilla pod in a jar, fill with sugar, and shake from time to time. As you use it you can continue to top up with more sugar, the vanilla pod will go on imparting its fragrance for months.

Fondue of Lancashire Bomb, Roasted Garlic and Zinfandel

 Fondue of Lancashire Bomb, Roasted Garlic and Zinfandel which is surprsingly purple!

Do not adjust your sets – this is supposed to be purple. It’s the red wine you see. Anyway it’s three for the price of one today, two fondues and a leftovers tip.

Here’s a game for you to play – try mentioning the word ‘fondue’ in conversation and see how long it is before someone says ‘retro revival’, or something similar. Well I’m sorry, but it’s got to stop. Fondue is no longer in ‘revival’. It is, officially, revived! Delicious but easy to prepare food which is ideal for sharing with friends is not only very contemporary but indeed a timeless concept, so ditch the flares [unless of course they’re the latest ‘revival’!] and dig out your fondue sets.

I’m done lecturing now.

For several  years I have owned a copy of the excellent recipe collection “Fondue – Great Food to Dip, Dunk, Savor and Swirl” by Rick Rodgers, but am so partial to my standard recipe that I have seldom strayed from it. Until now. ‘My’ recipe is not really mine at all but was given to me by my good friend Sophie Scott whose genius as a neuroscientist is equalled only by her genius in the vegetarian kitchen. Sophie, please forgive my meaty intrusions [and people, I will not tell you again about sniggering at the back!]. To make it use 200g each of Emmental, Gruyere and Keen’s Cheddar and 550ml white wine and follow the method below.

One of Rick’s recipes in particular had always intrigued me – a simple but intriguing mixture of fruity red Zinfandel, sweet roasted garlic and sharp cheddar. Then it occurred to me to substitute the cheddar with Andy Shorrock’s glorious Aged Lancashire Bomb [if you haven’t yet met the Lancashire Bomb you clearly haven’t been to yellowwedge cheese lately] and the excitement generated provided the momentum to break free of my customary ways. I have made some other slight changes to Rick’s recipe. If you want to see the original do buy the book [click on the picture below to find it on Amazon] – it’s a worthwhile investment.

Fondue, a book by Rick Rodgers [click to buy on Amazon]

Even the greatest fondue can be elevated further by the choice of dipping ingredients. My top tip?
V A R I E T Y. Yes there must be bread, but it doesn’t all have to be the same. A baguette is almost compulsory but accompany it with one or more others. We had a potato and rosemary sourdough. Cherry tomatoes are good, as are big chunks of mushroom sautéed with garlic, rosemary and a splash of sherry. Raid your local deli or deli counter too. Good chunks of thickly sliced ham, turkey, salami, pieces of smoked duck breast or slices of speck – whatever takes your fancy. What about mini chorizos, or big pieces of grilled Cumberland sausage [or like me, both]? Even pieces of apple and pear can make interesting dips for a cheese fondue. See below for some all vegetable suggestions if you don’t eat meat. Another top tip? Secure slipperier items like tomato or mushroom with a piece of bread on the fork too.

As I mentioned above, this does produce a purple coloured fondue. You might want to warn people about this. If you’re expecting a golden coloured gloop then it can come as something of a surprise. The Shopkeeper never quite got over the shock, and I think enjoyed the meal less because of it. Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.

Feeds six lactose tolerant adults

  • 1 original Shorrock’s Lancashire Bomb, wax and muslin removed
  • 100g Gruyere
  • 100g Beaufort [or if unavailable just use 200g Gruyere]
  • 40g Parmesan
  • 600ml Zinfandel, or other fruity red wine
  • 3 medium sized bulbs and 1 clove garlic
  • Some sprigs of thyme
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsps cornflour slaked with Kirsch, Vodka, Cognac or water
  • Kitchen foil
  • A fondue set

First roast your garlic. Take the three bulbs, slice in half across their equators and drizzle with the olive oil, some thyme and salt, and re-assemble. Make a foil parcel for the bulbs, add the rest of the thyme and a splash more olive oil, seal tightly and roast in a 200˚C oven for around fifty minutes to an hour. They are done when the garlic is a deep caramel colour and can be easily squeezed from its skin. Squeeze out this sweet fragrant pulp, mash with a fork and set aside.

Next grate the cheese – for this amount I use a food processor. Cut the single clove of garlic in half and rub the insides of the fondue pot well with the cut surfaces.

Prepare your dipping ingredients other than the bread and arrange on a large platter around the base of the fondue. Tear or cut the bread at the last minute so that it doesn’t become dry. Warm the fondue pot over a low flame or in a low oven.

To make the fondue warm the wine in a pan until you see the tremble just before the simmer. Add one handful of cheese at a time, stirring with a whisk until each has melted before adding the next. Once it is all incorporated add the puree of roast garlic and stir well, then add the cornflour mixture until the fondue thickens to your desired consistency. Transfer to the warmed fondue pot and set this atop it’s burner in the centre of the table.

Asking your guests to stir well with each dip will to help to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can also introduce forfeits for dropped morsels of food, but if you go as far as something like removing an item of clothing you might want to have a few stiff shots of the kirsch before you begin!

However much fondue I start with, and however many people are eating, I always seem to end up with about an inch left in the bottom of the pot. If you have the same then allow it to cool, scrape it out of the pot [removing any mislaid bits of bread], and reserve for the following day along with any stray scraps of your meatier dipping ingredients.

The following day…

Sauté an onion and a clove of garlic. Add your leftover pieces of mushroom, ham etc. and a splash of wine. Tip in a tin of tomatoes or some passata, simmer away for a few minutes then stir in your leftover fondue. Serve with some penne or macaroni, straight away or as a pasta bake.

At the risk of sounding obvious all of the above can serve as a vegetarian feast by omitting meaty dipping ingredients. The list of vegetable alternatives is endless, but why not try some chunks of caramelised fennel, charred wedges of red pepper and sautéed baby onions? With the exception of tomatoes I find that cooked [but still crunchy] veg make happier fondue bed fellows than raw.

Savoury Pear and Stinking Bishop Pudding

 Pears and Stinking Bishop cheese

I have just published a version of the following recipe in the September issue of My St Margarets Magazine, but the online version is not yet available so I’m sharing it here too…

So – September’s here. The Indian summer begins to wane and as we roll into autumn I can’t entirely agree with Keats. The mists are here on Marble Hill Park, and yes the shelves of the grocers are groaning with the orchards’ fruitfulness, but this change of season is never a mellow time in my kitchen. At home the Shopkeeper will be turning the last of the tomato harvest [red and green] into Putney – not quite a pickle, not quite a chutney! There are preserves and fruit vinegars to be made with the final fruits of summer. Game returned to the table with a vengeance at the start of September. And as you read this farmers in the Swiss Alps are bringing their herds down from the high summer pastures so within a month the first of this season’s Vacherin will be on the shelves.

But it’s back to orchard for one of my early autumn favourites, ripe and juicy British pears. My neighbour’s pear tree should be bursting with fruit around now, and I’ll happily help myself to the piles of windfalls she leaves out on the gatepost. Pears also partner perfectly with many cheeses. The great champion of seasonal cuisine Valentine Warner makes a splendid savoury tart using pears and Stinking Bishop, a marriage which works so well because Charles Martell’s delightfully smelly cheese gains it’s aroma from being washed in pear perry. I’ve used this partnership to create a savoury bread and butter pudding which makes a tempting lunch or supper dish, or which can be made in individual ramekins for a dinner party starter – or indeed a cheesy dessert, or for that matter a fruity cheese course…!

Feeds two generously:

  • 3 medium to thick slices of English Farmhouse white bread, preferably a day or two old, buttered
  • 2 ripe but firm large pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1.5 cm chunks
  • 180g Stinking Bishop cut into the same sized pieces as the pears
  • 2 large eggs and 1 yolk
  • 300ml single cream
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • A knob of butter

Preheat your oven to 180˚C and set the kettle boiling. Melt the knob of butter in a frying pan roomy enough to accommodate the pears in a single layer, and when it’s bubbling add them to the pan. Sauté the pears on a highish heat until they start to take on some colour and then set them aside to cool. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg and cayenne pepper and season with generous pinches of sea salt and black pepper. Cut the buttered bread slices into quarters and arrange them, points uppermost, in overlapping layers in a gratin dish, tucking about three quarters of the pear and cheese between them as you go. Scatter the remaining pear and cheese across the top. Pour over the savoury custard and let everything sit and soak for a few minutes. Place the dish into a roasting tray and pour in boiling water to two thirds the way up the sides of the dish. Pop everything into the middle of the oven and give it 35 minutes. The top should be golden brown and crunchy. Dust with a little more cayenne if you like a spicy kick. Give it a few minutes to rest and serve warm, with a salad of your choice.

This is a versatile base from which to experiment – If you want a sweeter dish try using brioche or a hazelnut and raisin sourdough. If you want to turn the savoury dial up a notch then try potato and rosemary bread, or replace one of the pears with a sliced leek sautéed with a little thyme. For the individual ramekin versions slice the bread thinly, and cut the pear and cheese into slightly smaller dice. Cut out three circles of bread the same size as the ramekin for each. Start with a disc of buttered bread in the base, buttered side up, and add a layer of pear and cheese, then bread, another pear and cheese layer, and top with a final slice of bread. Pour in the custard in stages, allowing each addition to seep and soak through before the next. These will only need about 25 minutes cooking time.

[recipe entered in the ‘Simple and In Season’ event over at Fablicious Food!]