Saturday, 5 October 2013

That Cake

My lovely daughter and I have just returned from a few days in Lucca, Tuscany, with my very dear friend J. I have only ever been to Rome which, after a near miss with a pick pocket, I was left feeling slightly disappointed. But Lucca was a wholly different experience altogether. I can see why J loves it so much and returns every year (check out her blog - Paninigirl@wordpress)

Even on a budget, Lucca was not an expensive place to eat and the food was so obviously prepared with pride; from the simple pizza slices to the beautiful cakes and colourful gelato. This cake was no exception. Bought by the lovely Bonnie for a supper at her apartment, it came encased in a folded gold card box, looking like a gift from Melchior. a light layer of dark chocolate mousse sandwiched between two layers of soaked sponge and then entirely enrobed in a thin layer of Italian meringue which was scorched gold with a blow torch. Sprinkled with fine cocoa. I have yet to try and make it as I do not own said blow torch. Next stop Amazon.

Watch this space . . .

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sweet Italian Sausage

When I first went to visit J in California, on the night of our arrival she had prepared a beautiful supper of Lasagne made with Italian sausage. I had never tasted a lasagne so delicious and the Italian sausage was gorgeous. Ever since then I have tried to buy them, but nothing has come close. I tried to recreate the flavour by chucking fennel seeds in, but that didn't work. But then, by chance and by Googling something very unrelated, I came across this recipe, which called itself a recipe for sausage but advised not to bother putting them into casings as they will only be broken open and the meat extracted for cooking anyway!

 I made it and they were perfect (still not as good as J's lasagne!)

We had them the night before last with some fresh tagliatelle I had made and a rich tomato sauce. Last night I piled three flour tortilla wraps with a layer of tomato sauce with broken and fried pieces of the sausage meat, cheese on top, in the oven, delicious!

900g minced pork
1tbls Salt
1 tbls ground fennel seeds
1 1/2 tbls sweet paprika
1 tbls finely minced garlic
1 tbls black pepper
3 tbsp Red wine vinegar

Mix all of these together and, hey presto, sweet Italian sausages.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


First time I have made these, definitely learnt how not to make them...I didn't whisk the egg whites enough, and probably over cooked the little chaps too. b=But they were nice, didn't have the chewy centre of which I have read, they were quite hard.

Must do better.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Danish Pastry


Starting to get my cooking libido back. I feel like I've been living in a damp, depressing cave for the last six months, the winter just dragged on and on.  But now the sun has come out and it feels so different. I don't remember a winter/spring ever feeling like this.

Back to Danish pastries.. Thought I would bake some. I'm not going to include a recipe here because (a) it would take to long and (b) nobody reads this anyway! It took ages, make the dough, rest the dough, add the butter, fold the dough, rest the dough for an hour, roll and fold the dough, rest for an hour, repeat three or four times and then leave for eight hours or overnight. Finally roll the dough, shape the pastries, prove the pastries for two hours, fill the pastries and then FIVE YEARS later you can BAKE the pastries!!! Woohoo!!! 

So I did, I then iced them and ate them. 

Definitely worth the wait.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sour Dough

About ten years ago I gave life to a sour dough starter. I used grapes and fed it strong bread flour as required. We were living with my parents at the time, in between houses, it was a bit cramped but there was room for one little yeast culture. After three weeks I had two large jars with very active and healthy starters in. At this time R and I were going on holiday so we left strict instructions with my parents on the feeding of the starters. I was so excited about returning from holiday and making my first sour dough loaf. Sad aren't I?

Anyway, to cut a log story short, I returned to an empty shelf - dad had managed to drop one jar and smash it, mum simply thought the other jar an eyesore and threw it away!

I was scarred and haven't attempted another one, until now.

Gordon, the starter has a name, is very lively and last night I made my first loaf. It wasn't great. I will keep trying though and when I achieve my first great loaf I will take a photo. It's not that I'm
ashamed, it's just I can't work out how to upload the damn photos from my iPad to this blog, I have to do it via my work computer, it's Saturday and I'm at home and I wanted to finish this post, which I
started at work yesterday.

Monday, 18 March 2013


Still skint form all the vet bills and pay day a week away.

Rissotto to the rescue.

Anything lurking the cup board can be used, even just a handful of Arboria and some sweated onion makes a good little supper. I happened upon some dried porcini, a few frozen peas and a tub of frozen grated parmesan. Oh and a small shallot.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spaghetti garlic chilli parsley

After another expensive trip to the vets I find myself with no money two days after pay day. Miserable. Anyway, one of the cheapest and tastiest meals is this tres simple pasta dish. While the spaghetti is cooking (I hate people who call it Spag...or worst Spag Bol) melt some butter and olive oil together and then throw in some finelay chopped garlic and dried chilli flakes (or fresh if you have) and allow to warm in the oil. Add the finely chopped parsley and season. Turn the heat down or off to prevent the garlic form burning and tasting bitter.

Drain the past, reserve a little of the water to moisten the finished dish if so required. Turn the flame on under the sauce again and toss the pasta into the flavoured oil. Coat well and serve. If you have the luxury of parmesan cheese, or similar, by all means add. But I didn't so it was just more seasoning!