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“There is no sauce in the world like hunger.”

Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in sugar (8)

Tuesday
Jan262016

Rhubarb crumble with vanilla custard

What is your ultimate comfort food? This is one of the questions I have asked all the people I have interviewed in the series I’m writing for Borough Market. My interviewees all come from different parts of the world, or have parents who do, so their answers differ a lot, but one thing they all share in common is that it tends to be something warming and filling.

“I don’t think you can get any better than a rhubarb crumble,” says Paul Wheeler, of Paul Wheeler’s Fresh Supplies. “If there was one comfort food, yeah that’d probably be it.” What is it that makes rhubarb crumble such a classic? Perhaps it is because the rhubarb is naturally very tart and contrasts perfectly with the sweet crumble topping and accompaniments, such as custard or vanilla ice cream.

I usually add nuts and oats to my crumble, but in this recipe I go for a shortbread topping. I think there is something elegant about rhubarb; perhaps it’s natural acidity and bright pink colour. A shortbread crumble seems to me to complement this, it seems more refined somehow.

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Wednesday
Apr302014

Edmonds Afghans

Yes, Afghans. New Zealand’s favourite, casually racist biscuits. I loved these biscuits as a kid and it never occurred to me that there was something inappropriate about their name until I made them for someone who had not grown up with a well-thumbed copy of Edmonds Cookery Book on their kitchen bookshelf.

We can perhaps excuse their name if we consider them as a product of their time. Edmonds Cookery Book was first published in 1908 and the recipe for Afghans is thought to have been in there at least since the 1940s. In a post called ‘Decolonising the Chocolate Biscuit’, one NZ food blogger (no name to be found) suggests that the problem is not with those who named the biscuit, but with the connotations it carries today. She/he suggests decolonising the biscuit by renaming it ‘Decolonisation Walnut Surprise’, among other suggestions.

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Thursday
Mar272014

Regan's beetroot and goat's cheese tarte tatin

“I think that this is the best thing I've ever eaten!”

I think that this is the best thing that someone's ever said about my cooking. I have called this Regan’s tart because this is what he said when he tried it a few years ago in the South of France. 

Usually such a compliment would have had me gushing with pride, but I had to show some restraint. Regan is my cousin Kirsty’s best friend. Kirsty loves cooking to and is very good at it. He said it in front of her. He was in the doghouse.

It has been much talked about since – both Kirsty reminding Regan of his thoughtlessness and Regan angling for a repeat. In this context it was with great trepidation that I offered to make it again this weekend, not just for Regan, but for Kirsty too. Eek!

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Friday
Dec282012

Diana Henry's Thai sweet chilli sauce

My sister will be surprised when she sees this. I have always berated her love of the shop-bought stuff. But when I read Diana Henry’s introduction I was intrigued:

“So much better than anything you can buy. It doesn’t have that cloying flavour of commercial bottles, but barks at you with biting, fresh taste.”

This led me to the list of ingredients, which looked very promising. And she is right, it is so much better than the shop bought version. Indeed, it might as well be another sauce.

The recipe is from Salt, Sugar, Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish, a lovely book full of recipes, tips and techniques for the home preserver. “I am a home cook” writes Henry, “I don’t have masses of special equipment and I don’t do things on a grand scale.” Her style is approachable and encouraging, showing that preserving isn’t just for “elderly ladies in floral pinnies or country-based downsizers with a vehicle big enough to transport several dead animals.”

I made this first to use up some chillies which my flatmate, Jen, had grown on our kitchen windowsill.  I liked it so much I decided to make it for Christmas presents in place of my usual jams or chutneys.

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Wednesday
Jan182012

Pear and ginger chutney

A few days before New Year’s Eve I took my friend Tina, a chef who is visiting London, on the obligatory foodie tour of Borough markets. This, of course, necessitated a visit to Neal’s Yard Dairy. I didn’t actually need any cheese but it is one of my favourite things to do and, if you are going to try everything in the store, you have to purchase something. So I decided to do some sort of cheese canapé as part of the New Year menu.

I started out with grand plans – a pear, Stichelton and walnut salad on chicory leaves – but I decided that a) chicory might be too bitter b) radicchio, my preferred alternative, would be too hard to find and c) it didn’t go with my other Asian themed canapés. I then thought I might try my hand at making oatcakes, which I’ve never done before, and make them really thin with a slice of Stichelton, a slice of crisp pear and a walnut on top. This would work well at the end of the meal, I thought, alongside the dessert canapé. In the end I couldn’t be bothered making oatcakes (I already had plenty to do) and I couldn’t find any ripe pears so I decided to make a chutney.

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