This is the simplest of seasonal recipes but perfect for the first days of spring, whatever the weather is doing outside the kitchen window. Brilliant pink forced rhubarb, poached with blood oranges and fresh ginger, served with orange and walnut shortbread. And joy, it’s all quick to make, allowing you (me) more time to prune the roses you (I) should have done a month ago. Continue reading
The Cobb salad is notable chiefly for being named after the owner of an old Hollywood restaurant, the Brown Derby, which was built in the shape of a brown derby hat. Well, bowler me over, this was Tinseltown in the 1930s. I’ll have mine with a side order of whimsy, please. Continue reading
If any toad in the hole can be considered light, this is it. Rather than solid old sausages the Suffolk Toad is filled with comparatively dainty rolls of pork (or veal or chicken) with a herby, lemony stuffing. And if that sounds as though I’m hedging my words with lots of qualifiers, well, it is a batter pudding after all. It’s really very good, though, and I’d urge you to give it a try, especially as it’s British Yorkshire Pudding Day on Sunday.
I’ve called it a Suffolk Toad but that’s taking a bit of a liberty. I’ve adapted it somewhat but the original recipe came from a Mrs Kitchener in Buckinghamshire. It’s included in Farmhouse Fare, a collection of readers’ recipes collated by Farmers’ Weekly in the 1940s. I’m obliged to Elisabeth Luard for highlighting it in one of her columns for The Oldie, because although I have the book, I hadn’t previously spotted this.
The second thank you goes to Karen Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage, whose Yorkshire pudding method simplifies the process of measuring the ingredients. Rather than giving weights she suggests using cups or mugs and simply varying the size of the cup depending on the intended size of the pudding. The ratios are one mug each of beaten eggs and plain flour to half a mug each of milk and water. Works every time and I speak as one who is normally a bit sniffy about the American cup measure.
And while I’m expressing gratitude, I should thank you for reading this. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much recently – a combination of covid, building works and the cookery school have eaten up my time. Thanks for sticking with me.
Notes: As mentioned above, you can substitute veal or chicken (thighs, I’d suggest) for the pork. You will need a roasting tin approx 30cm x 24cm. A cider gravy goes well with the suffolk toad.
About half a pork fillet/tenderloin (save the rest foranother dish)
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
50g melted butter
Salt and pepper
8 rashers of thinly sliced smoked bacon (or stretch thicker rashers with the back of a table knife and halve them)
1 mug of beaten eggs (mine holds 250ml)
1 mug of plain flour
1/2 mug of milk
1/2 mug water
Salt and pepper
1 or 2 tbs oil
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, add the parsley and zest over the lemon. Bind with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Using the thickest part of the pork fillet, cut eight slices about 1cm thick. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap or baking paper and bash flat with a steak hammer or rolling pin. They need to be very thin.
Put a tablespoon of stuffing on each of the pork slices and roll them up into a cylinder. Wrap a rasher of bacon round the circumference of each roll. Cover and set aside in the fridge.
Mix the beaten eggs with the milk and water. Put the flour in a large jug and beat in the liquid ingredients. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit lumpy right now, it will smooth out after a rest and another whisking. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge for an hour or more.
Heat the oven to 240C/220 fan/500F/Gas Mark 10. Around 45 minutes before you want to eat, pour the oil into the roasting tin and put it in the oven to heat up for five minutes or until it’s sizzling. Whisk the batter again. Carefully remove the tin from the oven, space the pork rolls around the base and pour in the batter. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until risen and golden.
Butternut and Chard Roulade
Felled by a particularly noxious cold, all I want to eat right now is a vat of turkey broth. But if you’re looking for something light and veggie in the aftermath of Christmas you might enjoy this butternut and chard roulade. Continue reading
Christmas Tree Fougasse
I’m really fond of fougasse, southern France’s version of the focaccia. It’s fun to make and this Christmas tree version, while it departs from the traditional shaping, is a festive addition to the seasonal table. Continue reading
In the good old, bad old days, making potted ham was a way of conserving food to keep it from going off before it could be eaten. Modern refrigerators and freezers mean we don’t have the same problem, but if you have any leftover ham after Thanksgiving, Christmas or a.n.other holiday, this is a delicious way of using it up. Continue reading
If you haven’t tried quail, you’re in for a treat. If you’re an old hand, you know how good these little birds are, like tiny, tasty chickens. Here, I’ve cooked them in a classic creamy French sauce with white wine, tarragon and grapes. Continue reading
On Love and Kitchens
It was the kitchen I fell in love with first. I looked around at its pale maple floors, soft blue cabinets and comforting, bum-warming Aga and thought ‘one day, this kitchen will be mine’. It helped, of course, that I really fancied its owner. Continue reading
Cooking Under Pressure
We’re all cooking under pressure these days, aren’t we? Energy and food prices are rocketing, we’re on the brink of another recession (some say we’re already in one) and the government is making a dog’s breakfast of the UK economy. Or a pig’s ear, if you prefer a different beastly metaphor. So it makes sense to cook with economy. Continue reading
Pork with Pears
If you enjoy seasonal eating this pork and pear casserole is the perfect celebration of autumn. The combination of tender meat, piquant sauce and sweet, yielding pears makes a comforting but far from ordinary meal. I made it for visiting family the other week with one eye on possible leftovers and between us we scoffed the lot. Continue reading