Monthly Archives: October 2016

And still I rise …

The title of today’s post comes from Maya Angelou, and is a wonderful rallying-call for all the times I’ve felt oppressed. However I’m using it as a shameless pun in this instance. You get double joy – my deathless prose and Maya Angelou’s inspirational verse!

Two of the cookery books I’ve read recently share a word in their titles – but apart from that they have very little in common.

The first is ‘One Souffle at a Time’ by Anne Willans. I picked the book up in a charity shop as the subtitle – ‘a memoir of food and France’ intrigued me. I’d never come across her before, despite her enormous body of writing – I think she might be better known in AProduct Detailsmerica. Her book tells her personal story – in a nutshell, rich English child grows up with all the trappings of privilege; discovers her love of cooking; uses her contacts and her undoubted talents and builds an impressive foodie empire based on teaching people how to cook like the French; receives lots of awards; writes her memoir. There are manyexcellent, detailed recipes along the way and I will return and try some of them. This book wasn’t a riveting read but it was fascinating to see how an energetic entrepreneur goes about the job of realising her dream.

The second book is ‘Killing Me Soufflé’ by Lachlan Hayman. This is basically a book of good recipes renamed using rock and roll puns, with numbers by the likes of the Ketchup Boys, Deli Parton, Harry Connick Tuna and Napkin Cole. You would think the theme would get a bit tired but instead I found myself browsing through the book and humming all the little tunes as I went along. This book would be a great gift for anyone who is keen on both food and music. The recipes are well written, and would offer an enticing repertoire to someone who hasn’t already got loads of experience and/or cookery books.

Soufflé is of course a delight to make and eat, and easier than it sounds. If you can make a béchamel sauce you can make a soufflé. Just add cheese to your sauce; then 3 egg yolks; then fold in the beaten egg whites; then, as Mel and Sue would say – bake! Here are some instructions from the BBC if you would like to have a go. Willans says to run your finger and thumb round the top of the dish before you put it in the oven, to make it rise evenly – I’ve never tried that before but it sounds logical.

So today is Friday … very nearly the weekend … another day, another dollar. And still we rise! Have a great weekend everybody.


Don’t Think Twice

… cause it’s all right! All hail, Bob Dylan, you are The King!

2016-06-17-12-08-07Anyway back to normal business. My Chocolate Pear Cake, with its off-piste variations, worked out really well. So well, in fact, that it all got eaten before I remembered to take a photo! Let me describe it to you … round, 20cm diameter, 5cm high; rustic or, as Mary Berry would say, informal; dark brown as in chocolatey, not as in burnt. As if! In fact I thought it would turn out raw inside because I mistimed it all and had to switch off the oven 10 minutes before it was due to finish cooking. I left it in there and went back later and lo! perfectly cooked cake. ‘Perfect’ being a subjective quality of course.

As noted in last post, this is based on a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fruit’ book but I made certain amendments based on what I had available at the time. Here’s the recipe as I made it:


Peel, quarter and core 4 pears. Melt 35g butter in a frying pan and add 2 tbsp. soft brown sugar, and a tsp of crushed coriander seeds. Let it all meld together a bit then add the pears and let them cook gently for a few minutes till tender. Set aside.

Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Combine 100g toasted ground hazelnuts, 100g self-raising flour, and 25g cocoa powder. Set aside.

Beat 150g softened butter with 150g caster sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in 2 large free-range eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the nut mix with each, then fold in the rest of the nut mix with a metal spoon. Stir in a tablespoon or two of milk to give a soft, dropping consistency.

Spread the mix in the prepared tin and arrange the pears on top, pouring leftover buttery juices from the pan on top. Bake for 45 mins (or you can do it the risky way like I did, above) – a sharp knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Let it cool in the tin.

Make a fabulous gooey sauce: put a bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Put in 75g dark chocolate, broken up; 75ml double cream; 25g caster sugar; and 2 tbsp. water. Let it melt slowly, giving it the odd stir; it’ll all come nicely together in 5 mins or so. Serve the cake with the sauce. HFW says it serves 4-6 but mine served 12 … and I’m certainly not one for bijou portions. His finger must have hit the wrong button on his laptop; an occurrence with which I am familious …

Perth Fruit Festival

Went with the Troubadour to the above on Saturday morning and were entertained by the Singing Kiwis … very talented  (Kee)wee band with a song for every fruit you could think of … 2016-10-10-14-40-43

Our old buddies Cairn O’Mhor were there with their stall, and in honour of the season I purchased a bottle of their dryer cider. There was also a stall featuring ‘fruit leathers’, something I’d read about but never seen. A batch of samples was on offer, and the apple leather was red and, yes, leathery looking! Just like my shoes in fact. What you have to do is boil up the pulp and skins, spread the mush thinly on greaseproof paper, and dry it slowly (over a couple of days at 35 degrees C). Then you can cut it up into little squares, peel it off the backing paper, and chew it as a healthy snack. I must say it was delicious, sweet and surprise surprise, appley! And then to our delight we discovered it had been made by Alison of the Newburgh Orchard Group – she who grew my recent Pink Fir Apple potatoes. Small world.2016-10-08-12-42-07

Apple conservation is very much in the news. Radio 4’s Food Programme on Sunday explored the world of apple growing, and how apples make themselves at home wherever they grow in the world. The focus of that programme was English apples but at Perth we had a tableful of just some of the many varieties grown in Scotland. We were reminded that if we don’t enjoy, try, share the many varieties available, we’ll lose them because it won’t be worth growing them. How do you choose your apples? I have to confess I don’t look first at the variety but at the country of origin, the way it looks, and the price. But I’m going to be a bit more adventurous in future.

Moving on from apples – I also bought some pears and have made a Chocolate and Pear Cake this morning, to take to friends tonight. The original recipe came from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘Fruit’ book, but I amended it in various ways … will give further feedback in next post, no point going on about it if my experiments didn’t work! But I have high hopes. The cake is in honour of my friend who was buried this morning. Among her many other magnificent attributes, she was a cake lover …