Sunday, November 25, 2012


  • Boil some cubed potato in salted water with carraway seeds and bay leaf.
  • Make a roux, then add milk and vegetable stock until you have a silky, soupy consistency.
  • Go to another country and buy sour cream. If you live in France, get crème fraîche instead.
  • Stir in a generous amount of the cream, adding the drained potatoes, salt, a truckload of dill and a good splash of white vinegar.
  • Serve with a soft poached egg and more dill.
  • Ask yourself how you feel about eating potatoes with sauce for dinner.

What did it taste like? To be honest, you could put an egg on cornflakes and I'd eat it, such is my love for the runny bundles of joy. This soup was an easy, warming dish with slightly sweet and sour notes.

  1. Make the roux with equal parts butter and flour in a pan over a medium heat until you have a little, beige, conglomerated ball. Then very gradually add a little liquid, mixing constantly over the heat and lifting the pan if it catches, until it comes together as one. Keep adding splashes of liquid and incorporating it thoroughly before adding any more. The more liquid your preparatiion becomes, the more liquid you can add at a time.
  2. To poach an egg, line a ramequin with clingfilm, brush with oil, add seasonings, then crack in your egg. Twist the top together then pop into gently boiling water for three minutes. Hoorah - perfect poached egg!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blackberry + Beaujolais

  • If you are making this today, hoorah! Go get some Beaujolais Nouveau and put it to good use. If it is not currently today, choose any red wine that you vaguely trust.
  • Pour some into a pan with some blackberries and sugar, a cinnamon stick and a slice or two of orange peel.
  • Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for ten minutes, until the sugar thickens the wine a little. Taste and adjust sugar.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream.
  • Swoon.

What did it taste like? Divine! Sweet and sharp, hot and cold - this is the easiest soup I've made so far and an impressive, elegant dessert. I pretty much lifted the idea directly from the Covent Garden Book of Soups, a birthday gift from my friend David (or as I like to refer to him, 'my readers'), where Avril O'Reilly shares her mum's recipe (a teetotaller who is apparently OK with booze in food and attempts this at any opportunity), though I changed the wine to honour today's sortie du Beaujolais Nouveau.

  1. Avril recommends Häagen Dazs ice cream which melts much slower. I did not have this in my supermarket so went with the poshest one I could find. I was happy because it tasted like milky bars.
  2. Hold back a few blackberries from the molten wine to make the dish look pretty at the end.
  3. Try and find some Beaujolais bread to eat before, to complete your Beaujolais meal (this is basically an empty suggestion since it is highly unlikely you will find any; I am probably just trying to make you jealous). I found this lovely pink bread at the bakery near my office - made with wine, hazelnuts and Rosette (a peppery saussicon from Lyon). Yes! Meat baked into the bread, look!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sausage + savoy cabbage

  • Set up an organisation to bring kale to France. Or buy a savoy cabbage.
  • De-sausage a sausage or two (i.e. take off its coat (i.e. remove casing)) and fry in bit of olive oil, breaking up as it starts to brown.
  • Remove from the pot, get rid of most of the fat then add onions/leeks at least, celery and carrot if you have. Leave the lid on so that the veggies sweat and the moisture starts to break down the crispy, brown bits of sausage stuck to the bottom of your pan. Now add garlic and sweat a bit more.
  • Turn up the heat, and add some white wine, bay leaf, seasoning, three corn on the cobs, a pancake and two and a half litres of spaghetti bolognese.
  • Check nobody's messing with you. 
  • Reintroduce the sausage and add some vegetable stock to not quite cover everything.
  • Bring up to a simmer, add some rosemary, and keep it gently bubbling, lid mostly on, til the cabbage is tender. 
  • If you want, mustardise: spoon some of the liquid into a bowl, add a spoon of dijon mustard and mix, then pour back in.

What did it taste like?  Hearty, stewy and deeply delicious. Cabbage is tasty, don't you forget it.

  1. Get a good sausage.
  2. Nip the sausage at the tip with a sharp knife. Make the universal sign for scissors with your hand and in sections 'cut' the sausage with your fingers and squeeze the meat out. If you know the sausage well enough, why not adjust the seasonings to bring it in line with your oral predeliction? Shape it into a big patty and break it up as it browns in your pan.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Celeriac + Lemon and Parmesan

  • Go to the market and buy the ugliest vegetable you can find. 
  • If, when you get home, you discover it is not a celeriac, go back out and buy a celeriac.
  • Cut off its gnarly bottom and discard.
  • Slice the skin off. It is now both naked and ugly. Congratulations, you have successfully humiliated a root vegetable.
  • Chop it into pieces, and roast at 220°C with some peeled potato, all smothered in olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • When tender, gently fry some onion and garlic in a saucepan with the lid on. Oil or butter, you choose. 
  • After five minutes or so, add the potatoes and celeriac, and enough vegetable stock to undercover them (i.e. not quite cover).
  • When it comes to the boil, whiz it with some cream and lemon juice - I used half a lemon, but added it gradually. See what you like.
  • Serve with grated Parmesan.

What did it taste like? Well, celeriac tastes like celery. And I am not a fan of celery. But apparently that's got more to do with texture than flavour because I thoroughly enjoyed this soup. The lemon is a magical companion to the rootiness of this vegetable, elevating it to a point where I became so enamoured with its citrusy powers that I nearly rubbed my whole body in it and squeezed it into my eyes. Happily I resisted this temptation and continued with the recipe. PS The lemon and Parmesan combination reminded me of eating risotto.

  1. To peel your celeriac, place it on its now-flat bottom and slice from the top down and around. Turn the vegetable and continue. You will lose some of the vegetable to this method (but it is preferable to hacking at it uselessy with a vegetable peeler and risking flesh divots in your hands). You could use the peelings in a vegetable stock if you are feeling frugal (but in this case, make sure you washed it well before peeling).
  2. If you fancy something different, save some celeriac, cut into slices, then into matchsticks and roast in a very hot oven with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, turning ocassionally. When they resemble chips, serve with mayonnaise, and eat alone in the kitchen.