31 October 2011

Walnut/Vegetable Roast

(or what to do with our hundreds of kilo of walnuts)
Caroline came up with this recipe, which may be of interest to food combiners (as it is a pure protein meal) or to vegans, who would clearly have to leave out the eggs, although I’m not sure how that would affect the “cohesion” of this dish.
There is no recipe for the tomato sauce mentioned but I will add one soon.

What you need

  • 250 g walnuts, ground
  • 50 g sesame seeds
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 2 medium carrots, a small celeriac, a small beetroot (or other root vegetables), all grated Half to one pepper, green, yellow or red, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Half a small chili pepper (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • 2 eggs, beaten (Vegans leave this out)

What you do

Line the base of a well-greased loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Pre-heat oven to 175 (150 if fan-assisted)
Fry chopped onions in a little oil for a few minutes until soft.
Add the wine, bring to the boil and add the grated vegetables, pepper, chilli pepper and garlic.
Add the stock.
Cook for around 10 minutes, or until there is no more liquid.
Take off the heat.
Add the ground walnuts and sesame seeds. Mix.
Add the beaten eggs and mix well.
Season to taste with pepper etc.
Press firmly in well-greased and lined loaf tin.
Bake for 45 mins to one hour, until golden on top.
Ease a knife around and turn out on to a serving dish, removing greaseproof paper.

Serve with a tasty tomato sauce and green salad (in the one on the picture there are home-grown zuchetti and elephant garlic, that Caroline brought back from the Isle of Wight (

22 October 2011

Caroline’s Autumn Breakfast Treats

This entry covers three types of fruit that are at their peak at moment, apples, which we get from our youngest daughter Frances’ organic fruit farm, quinces and sloes, of which we got bumper crops from our garden this year.

Thanks to Caroline for supplying the recipes and the pictures.

Caroline’s Apple Bread

As promised earlier, here’s the recipe for Caroline’s apple bread. Despite the main ingredient, apples, it goes well with sweet and savoury dishes. The apples used ideally should be slightly sour ones like boskop or bramleys.

What you need

  • 1kg wholemeal spelt flour
    500 g tasty apples, perhaps slightly sour (see above), weighed after peeling and coring
  • 1 modest tablespoon salt
  • 21 g yeast
  • half teaspoon sugar

What you do

Cook apples until soft. Set aside until warm.
Mix yeast and half teacup warm water plus sugar.
When frothy add flour, salt and warm apples.

Mix and knead. If necessary add warm water. It will be sticky.

Let it rise, covered with tea towel, in warm place until doubled in bulk.
Knead again

Divide between two small or out all in one larger bread tin.
Preheat the oven to 175° (fan oven), more if conventional

Cover the bread tins, leave in warm place until doubled in bulk.
Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on size of tin and type of oven.




Caroline’s Quince Marmalade

The lovely flavour of a quince jelly or jam without the hard slog of cutting, peeling and coring.

What you need

  • Quinces
  • sugar (the amount depends on the cooking liquid; see below)
  • optionally (I’m not sure Caroline would approve): a bit of quince shnapps to add to the flavour…

What you do

Wash the quinces and rub off the fluff.
Half to three quarter fill a very large pan with the whole quinces.
Cover them with water, bring to the boil and simmer until the skins start to come away.
Prepare glass jars. They should be clean and dry.
With a slotted spoon remove the hot quinces and place them in a bowl. Important: Keep the quince water!
When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins, quarter and core the fruit.
Put skins and core back into water.
Simmer the (uncovered) quince water, the skins and cores until quantity of liquid has reduced by at least one third.
Chop remaining quince flesh into very small pieces.
Strain the quince water liquid through muslin, then dispose of the cores and the skin.
Measure the liquid before pouring it into a fresh, large saucepan.
Add the sugar (1 kg sugar  to 1 litre liquid) and the finely chopped quince pulp.
Boil until the marmalade ready to set.


Quince Marmalade is one of my all-time favourite fruit preserves. I always loved quince jelly and my Mum also made something she called “Chrusi”, which was orginally intended to make use of the pulp left over after the jelly liquid had been squeezed out. However, being such a stickler for culinary perfection, she used the entire fruit instead of the pulp, which made this much richer and tastier, jam, really.
The drawback in either case is that cutting the quince up for jelly or jam is a really tough job. Caroline’s approach is much less arduous and combines the rich sweetness of the jam with the delicate flavour and texture of the jelly; the result comes up in a beautiful orangey colour that I’m told is called “cornelian”. And as you use the same approach as you would for orange marmalade, i.e. cooking the fruit whole first, it makes more sense to call this marmalade rather than jam.

Caroline’s Sloe Jelly

This also tastes great with autum dishes such as red cabbage or apples accompanying a venison dish.




What you need

Sloes (small plum type fruit that grow wild)
Sugar (the amount depends on the cooking liquid; see below)
optionally (I’m not sure Caroline would approve): a little sloe gin (recipe to follow soonest) to add to the flavour…

What you do

Put the sloes in a pan and barely cover with water.
Bring to the boil and cook, stirring the fruit from time to time, until there is a fair amount of liquid.
Strain the liquid from the fruit pulp, using a muslin bag.
Measure the fruit juice; as sloes are very tart, use somewhat more sugar than you would normally (at least 1.5 kg sugar to 1 litre of liquid).
Mix the sugar and the liquid and boil up in fresh, clean.
Allow to simmer until the jelly is ready to set (see remarks below)
Fill into sterilized jars and seal tightly.




A tricky thing for novices is to get the degree of boiling right, the moment when the jam, jelly or marmalade sets. To check this, place small plates in the fridge, take one out, place teaspoon of boiling jam on it. Leave it to cool for a minute. push jam gently with your finger. If it wrinkles, it is ready to put into prepared jars and fix tops on tightly.

08 October 2011

Pasta Sauce Sugo al tonno e olive

At present I am looking after my Dad while my Mum is convalescing. She is an excellent cook and has always been my inspiration. My Dad loves his meat, but I will still not quite go there, so my concession is fishy…
Oh, I'm cooking at my parents’ place, which explains the different backdrop, and I’m using my -- not quite sussed -- smart phone camera, which explains the poxy pictures.



What you need

  • 250 g fresh tuna, cubed
  • 2 tblsp olive oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • a handful of black olives, de-pipped
  • 1 tblsp vegetable stock powder
  • 100 ml red wine (good quality Italian wine is recommended; I don’t cook with what I wouldn’t drink)
  • 350 ml passata (or peeled tinned tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp honey or sugar
  • 2 tblsp Italian herb mix (oregano, marjoram, flat-leaved parsley, sage, basil)
  • some dried chillies if you like a bit of punch…


What you do

  1. Season the tuna with a bit of salt and tandoori powder (care needs to be taken as some tandoori masalas are very hot).
  2. If using fresh pasta, put the water on the boil; if you use conventionally packed pasta, put the pasta into boiling salted water (a rule of thumb is that the water should taste as salty as the sea, I have been told by an Italian)
  3. Heat the olive oil to the point that, when you add the tuna, it sizzles vigorously.
  4. Toss in the tuna, then the chopped onion and the slices of garlic.
  5. Brown the tuna, then add the olives. Keep stirring to avoid burning the onions and the garlic.
  6. Sprinkle the stock powder over the mixture and pour in the wine, then add the passata and stir until all elements are well mixed.
  7. Now add a spoonful of honey, or, if your wine is rather dry, a little more, depending on your taste. Honey really tends to bring out the tomato flavour.
  8. Add the herbs, stir well, cooking only briefly (to avoid the tuna getting dry and tough) and spoon over the freshly drained pasta. If the sauce looks too dry, add a couple of spoonfuls of pasta water.
  9. Add salt, pepper and finely chopped dried chillies if you like it a little hotter.

Serve, I would suggest, without adding cheese.

03 October 2011

Chocolate gateau with mint, cream and sliced pears

With a suggestion for a coffee with a difference, added free of charge!

What you need

  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites, whisked
  • 1 handful of finely chopped fresh mint (less if you can only get the dried variety), ideally Moroccan mint
  • 80-100 ml of williams (pear) schnapps (or amaretto; see Remarks)
  • 300 g thinly sliced pears, peeled and blanched in a hot syrup made with water, sugar, a hint of cinnamon and white wine (see remarks).
  • 200 ml whipped cream

What you do


  1. Melt the dark chocolate and the butter in a bain marine. (If you don’t have one, a metal bowl hanging over boiling water, but not in it, will do very well.)
  2. Add the sugar (you can take a little more or less, depending on the sweetness of your sweet tooth) and the schnapps (see Remarks) and allow to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks and mix in with the chocolate mixture, which must not be hot anymore at this stage to prevent the yolks from curdling.
  4. Add the finely chopped mint and mix well to ensure even distribution.
  5. Whisk the egg whites so they form peaks when you lift the whisk out of the eggs. You can add a pinch of salt as some people seem to think this adds stiffness.
  6. Fold the whisked egg whites into chocolate/egg mixture, trying to keep it as fluffy as possible.
  7. Line three round baking tins (about 20cm across) with greaseproof paper and distribute the creamy mixture evenly between them.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35 minutes or for 55 minutes for a crispier gateau.
  9. In the meantime, peel the pears, slice them finely and blanch dip them in a syrup made of sugar and water, a generous measure of white wine and a bit of cinammon for a few seconds if you like them crisp, for a bit longer if you prefer them softer.
  10. Whip the cream and a put on the freshly baked, but cooled gateau layers. Add the fruit   to the whipped cream before piling on the next layer.


This is a very easy dessert, but it tastes so delicious and moist that most people assume it has to be quite a complicated dish. I first had a version of this many years ago in what was then a very prestigious gourmet restaurant, Chrüter Oski’s Moospinte. I found a similar version is in Oskar Marti’s cook book Chez Oskar (lovingly illustrated by Oska Weiss), but he told me when I went back some years later and found to my delight that in his seasonally changing menu I had managed to be there when the same gateau was served that he would bake it longer now. I still like the shorter baking time as it leaves the gateau moist and soft, but the crispier version that results from the extended baking period is lovely too. You may want to experiment with the three layers done at different lengths, the crispiest one at the bottom, the softest at the top.
This may not seem to be the most seasonal recipe, but whatever fruit is put between the layers, smothered in whipped cream, obviously makes it seasonal: berries and cherries in summer, blanched pears or halved, depipped grapes in autumn, (caramelised) filleted oranges in winter, can be made to taste very seasonal.
Clearly, whatever fruit you use should determine what kind of schnapps or liqueur goes into the chocolate, Kirsch or a Himbeergeist with berries and cherries, Williams with pears, Marc or Cognac with grapes and Grand Marnier or Cointreau with Oranges. If you want to do this without fruit, slices of almonds are nice and add a different (brittle) texture. In any case, either without fruit or with almond slices, Amaretto di Sarronno goes very well with chocolate.
By the way, based on the harmonious combination between coffee, chocolate and Amaretto (no, I am not a shareholder), here is

Oltigen Velvet Coffee

As a quick aside, here’s a suggestion for a coffee, which in our family is sometimes referred to as Orgasm Coffee by at least one of our daughters:
  • 1 medium-sized cup of strong espresso,
  • 1 row of cremant or high cacao black chocolate,
  • a generous dash of Amaretto (and sugar if you like it sweet)
are warmed, without being allowed to boil until the chocolate has disolved. Serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream and drink immediately/in moderation…