Category Archives: English traditional

Crumble of rhubarb, apples and blackcurrant GF

Pie is my favourite number...

Pie is my favourite number…

Over my years as a London based foodie, I have developed an addiction to pies, crumbles, cobblers and anything with a crust outside and stewed fruit inside… The simple mention of this sends a tremor along my spine: Fruit and crust, a very sexy combination indeed. I still do love tarts and tartines, but I think I slightly favour a crust ON TOP rather than UNDER.

Each season offers its own enticing variations and Autumn is a season for : rhubarb, sharp apples and black currants. All three are quite acidic so in this version, I have put a little more sugar than usual to counter balance the tartness of the fruit but you can make it less sweet if you wish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of rhubarb
  • Bramley or other cooking apples, 2
  • Handful of frozen blackcurrant
  • Cornflour, 1 Tbsp
  • For the Gluten Free crust:
  • Ground almond, 100g
  • Chesnut flour or rice flour, 50g
  • Butter, 100g
  • sugar, 100g

Cut up all the fruit, mix it with the frozen berries and the cornflour – the object of the cornflour is to soak up the juice of the rhubarb to avoid a very wet pie!

Mix the flour, sugar and butter with the tip of your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Lay the fruit in a pie dish or gratin dish. I have used frozen blackcurrants here, but you can opt for blackberries instead. They have a more subtle flavour but work deliciously toward a very British taste.

Top the fruit with the flour mix, trying to cover all of the fruit but do not worry if the lumps do not hide it perfectly. Just try and shake your sandy mix everywhere.

Put in a hot oven for 45min at 180º C.

Eat warm with some clotted cream or yogurt. If you are in France, it goes also well with a nice Faisselle or full fat fromage frais. This is the ultimate in homely, comforting puddings and with this GF version you won’t be leaving anybody out!

A patchy cover is not a problem...

A patchy cover is not a problem…

 

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Great Fun Flapjacks (GF)

The name of these gluten-free flapjacks is the result of a bit of banter between my 22 year old nephew and I about finding the right acronym for his condition ! Being gluten-free is undoubtedly a constraint and sometime can be felt as a bit of a stigma, but it is not as complicated to cater for as I first thought and because our nephew is staying with us in London at the time of this writing, I have had to extend my repertoire of coeliac-friendly recipes and this is one of the first that I tweaked for him.  So here is the harbinger probably of a series of gluten-free meals that I will try and share with you.

Whether you are intolerant or not – and the figures here differ from 10 per cent to may be 40 per cent of the population!-, eating a diet lighter in gluten is possibly not a bad habit. It seems to me that we are generally having far too much of it and from food not necessarily associated with wheat! Did you know Malt vinegar, most soy sauces and many industrial products including sausages contain gluten?!

Crunchy with a tender heart

Crunchy with a tender heart

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Ingredients list:

  • Butter, 100g
  • Rapeseed oil, 2 tbsp
  • Treacle, 1 tbsp
  • Porridge oats, 200g (choose Nairn’s GF variety)
  •  Agave syrup, 2 tbsp
  • Muscovado sugar, 50g
  • Xantham gum, 2 Tbsp
  • Mix of sunflower, pumpkin, linseeds, sesame and raisins, 120g

Melt the butter and oil in a medium pan.

Put all the dry ingredients together 
in a big bowl, then pour the melted butter and mix while adding the 
agave syrup and the treacle.

Spread into an oiled tray so that you get 
a depth of about 1 cm. Put in a hot oven at 180° for about 20min. The edges 
must look brown and crispy before you take it out. Let it cool down 
then cut big squares with the tip of a knife. The GF version is more brittle than the original but the magic of the Xantham gum helps in binding it together quite satisfactorily.

Oats are very good at lowering your cholesterol . The agave syrup is a health option because its low glycemic load means that your glucose levels won’t shoot up too quickly, so no hunger pangs straight after and more long term energy.

Coeliac is a very serious and precisely diagnosed, defined, medical condition and unless you suffer from it there is no reason to go gluten-free, but may be going gluten-light carries it own health benefits. If you are interested in this stream, I am sure more “Great Fun” recipes will be coming your way and I hope you enjoy the change and maybe experience some health benefits yourself.

I feature in a new cooking and travel guide by GlobeKid

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I have the pleasure of featuring in the new “Globekid” guide: “Je cuisine à Londres”: Go there to find 4 of my British recipes, alongside with more from the famed “Ateliers des Chefs”. GlobeKid is a new publishing start-up, specialising in travel guides for children: You can download their guides for free in PDF or ebook, customise and personalise them or order them in book form for a few euros.

Vive la cuisine Britannique! Long live British cooking!IMG_2160

Lemon posset with fennel shortbread

ZIngy and creamy posset

ZIngy and creamy posset

A posset is really a cooked cream dessert very popular in gastropubs and the best alliance to the iconic shortbread. For me, this is a marriage made in British heaven and one of my favourite dessert.

I made this last sunday for my niece Antonia to go with the fennel seeds shortbread I had brought for Christmas and I knew she liked… I was thrilled to discover it is such a quick and easy pudding to make and it is definitively going into my favourites’ repertoire. This recipe is from the wonderful Tangerine Dream Cafe in The Chelsea Physic Gardens where they serve incredibly creative and quirky dishes using lots of the plants and flowers available all around the kitchen. I am a particular fan of their Lavender scones and ginger bread for tea…

Ingredients list: Serves 6

For the Posset:

  • Double cream, 500 ml
  • Caster sugar, 125g
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons (I recommend Amalfi lemons still seasonal and so fragrant it’s untrue)IMG_5829 IMG_5824

For the Shortbread:

  • Butter, 250g
  • Golden or caster sugar, 110g Plus for sprinkling
  • Plain flour, 250g
  • Fine semolina, 110g
  • Crushed fennel seeds, 1 tsp

For the posset:

Place the cream and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes.

(5 minutes at 80 in the Thermomix works well too)

Stir in the lemon juice and zest and leave to cool.

Pour into sundae cups or martini glasses and decorate with edible flowers : pansies or nasturtiums are soon in season! I also use dry edible flowers bought on a stall in Borough Market.

For the shortbread:

Beat the butter in a mixer until creamy then add the sugar, followed by the flour, semolina and crushed fennel seeds.

Mix until it forms a smooth dough then roll out onto a floured surface and cut out shapes.

Place on a baking parchment or silpat sheet on a rack and bake for up to one hour at 150º. Watch so the edges do not colour too much. The cookies need to be still a bit soft on coming out as they will harden when they cool and you want a crumbly and slightly chewy texture. Sprinkle with a bit of caster sugar before they cool down.

This is a fresh and delicious pudding, perfect for a spring lunch al fresco!

For Tony

For Tony

Orange marmalade with whisky

The origin of the marmalade would apparently, according to Wikipedia, be Portuguese and it was the name given to a quinces’ jam. I had heard the “Marie malade” cute story involving the Queen of Scots and her French cook but I am afraid it all seemed a bit far-fetched, so Portuguese it is!

The arrival of the famously bitter Seville oranges is a short-lived event and one of the year’s highlights for any marmalade lover but if you have missed the slot do not fear because you can make a very commendable one with the stuff sold in tins in every British supermarket… I should not admit to that but I’ll say it: It will save you time, effort and even a bit of money to get yourself a tin of Ma Made by Hartley’s.

The cheat!

The cheat!

Just add sugar, water and boil as you would normally and there is is: Magical marmalade done – no sweat. I usually add a little less sugar and a little more whiskey but that’s just me. The great bit about Ma Made is that you can decide to do your Seville marmalade any time of the year and because it is just oranges, pectin and a bit of water inside the tin, it really tastes as good as homemade. The sugar is still up to you!

For those of you who, like me, enjoy getting the fresh oranges from the market, here is a very easy way to go about that too.

Labelled and dated

Labelled and dated with eat by date

Ingredients list:

  • 500ml of juice squeezed from fresh Seville oranges
  • The zest of 3 Seville oranges, peeled off and cut up finely
  • 500g of white sugar for jam (with pectin added)
  • 2 sweet oranges, cut in fine slices and then quartered
  • Juice of one lemon (its zest if you wish for more acidity)
  • A little glass of whisky

Buy your oranges (bigarade in French) as soon as they arrive and use them fresh: this way they will have more natural pectin and set quicker.

The day before your jam making session, sterilise the pots in the dishwasher and check you have all the ingredients: jaming is time consuming and then is nothing worse than discovering on the day you are missing a crucial element of the mix…

This recipe will yield about 6 to 8 pots.

On the day, press and zest your oranges and the lemon. Slice the sweet oranges. Cut up some of the skin of the bitter oranges to keep. Put all the pith and the rest of the skin into a muslin bag to dangle in the mix while cooking.

Put the fruit in a jam pan or pressure cooker with 1/2 litre of water and the sugar.

Bring to the boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Check the setting by putting a blob of jam on a cold plate: it should be runny but not liquid and move slowly when you tilt the plate. If not, give it another boil. Be careful not too let it go too dark or it will be burnt. Add the whisky at the end and take it off the hob.

Check the cut up skin is nice and soft. Then transfer the boiling jam into jars with a laddle and a funnel, being careful not to burn yourself. Screw the top of the jars tightly and flip them upside down to cool.

If you don’t have Jam sugar or would rather use natural pectin, try this other version with cooking apples.

On marmalade days, I love the smell that pervades from our kitchen up to the whole house: It conjures up images of orange groves and memories of the thick shade their glossy green leaves harbour all around … In Sicily, my son and I found a sunken garden where multiple species of citrus grew since the most ancient ages. Some produced bitter and thick skinned fruit and some the sweetest, most fragrant oranges I have ever tasted. In those Gardens of Kolymbetra, hidden at the feet of the ancient temples of Agrigento, we drank a heavenly orange juice and bit in a few citrus fruit we had no names for. It felt like sharing the food of the Gods.

Upside down!

Upside down!