The origins of this recipe lie in stupidity. Last year, I grew pumpkins for the first time, a huge French variety called Rouge Vif d’Etampes. I also sowed green and yellow courgettes but, being highly disorganised, I got all my plants mixed up. Strange, round yellow balls began to grow which didn’t look at all like orange pumpkins or yellow courgettes. We picked them and they were delicious anyway, so I just assumed there had been a mix up with the seed suppliers and they had sent me summer squash instead.
Tag Archives: baking
And so, the season of the courgette is upon us. Ten days in and five kilos of them harvested already. Friends and neighbours are starting to avoid me in the street because they know I’ll try and force cucurbits on them. Fry them, griddle them, spiralize them, stuff them…do what you like with them, you’re still fighting a losing battle.
I first thought of making this dish a couple of weeks ago when some Irish Cheddar arrived as part of the Pong Irish Selection Box. There’s nothing fancy about it and – so I thought at the time – nothing controversial. But that was before the latest Mary Berry furore, otherwise known as ‘Pie-Gate.’ So, it turns out that a pie is not a pie unless there’s a great deal of pastry involved. Mary tried to get away with just a pastry top but was soundly castigated by the chairman of the British Pie Awards. Mine is entirely free of pastry. I’m still calling it a pie. I could call it a bake but I’m not going to. So there.
English muffins, that is. Not your blueberry-stuffed American monsters. We’re talking bread not cupcake. This was the first time I had attempted to make an English muffin and I was nervous, especially considering the time you need to fry them for. But, aside from the time needed to prove them, they turned out to be no bother at all. In this recipe, Sparkenhoe and black pepper come together to pep up a classic.
This post was meant to have been written days ago. It’s not even a very long or informative post. It’s probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever written up. But, still, it disappeared into the time-space vacuum otherwise known as ‘Life’. It was also a post that proved to me that cheese straws are one of the most boring foodstuffs in the world to try and photograph.
Apparently yesterday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most miserable day of the year. Based on a not-very-scientific-looking formula that takes into account weather, debt, breaking New Year’s resolutions and the fact that next Christmas is aaaages away, we were all supposed to sink into a pit of existential doom. Admittedly, it was a bit cold and rainy outside and the remains of the Quality Street were impinging somewhat on my healthier eating plans but all in all, it wasn’t so bad.
Never fear, Halloween haters, it’s safe to come out for another year. Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the surge in spooky celebrations has been a boon for pumpkin farmers. Every year, we enter the fiercely competitive Tooting Common Pumpkin Carving Competition and even managed to score a second prize last year with the scary fellow above. This year – allotment smugness alert – we managed to grow our own. I would love to take credit for their vastness by claiming that I’d administered secret potions or performed arcane fertility rites but, in reality, I forgot what I’d planted and only discovered them when we returned from a fortnight’s holiday.
Now that both children are at school I am endeavouring to be a good mother and provide them with a vaguely nutritious snack. Last week was flapjacks; stuffed with maple syrup and dried fruit, they were predictably well-received. This week I thought I’d gamble with savoury. Now that the season is mellowly fruitful etc. etc. apples are in abundance and so I’ve paired sweet eaters with a creamy sheep’s milk Wensleydale to make these muffins. There’s also a passing nod here to the Yorkshire saying ‘an apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze’ (note though, Mr Trump – you ask first).
I’ve wanted to make gougères for a long time but was afraid that my limited baking skills would falter when it came to choux pastry. I wrote about Cornish Gouda with Honey and Clover a couple of weeks ago and, on tasting it, I could imagine what a great cheese it would be to cook with: sweet but with interesting savoury notes. So, it seemed like the opportune time to get to grips with gougères. I used this Guardian recipe as my basis.
Last week I was off to see the Barber family, who make Cheddar cheese down in Somerset. I’ve been to see them before but, as they are the guardians of the last traditional cheese cultures, I wanted to talk to their cultures expert (I’m not very scientific so need such things explaining to me at least three times, preferably with pictures). I thought it only polite to take something suitably cheesy with me, so opted for scones, made with their 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar. There’s nothing worse than a cheese scone that isn’t cheesy so the 1833 is a good choice, punchy and tasty as it is.