I‘m lucky enough to live in an old and rather beautiful home. It’s Tudor, with the oldest part dating back to around 1500, although like most houses of its sort it’s been altered and added to over the centuries. We have witch marks on the beams, elaborate Elizabethan chimneys and parchment-written deeds which, sadly though responsibly, the previous owner donated to the county records office for their preservation.
Living here has increased my interest in historical recipes and I thought it would be good to recreate some in a way that reflects the house and the periods it has lived through. Continue reading →
Here’s a thought – you’ve got friends and/or family coming round for a (socially-distanced) meal in the garden and you want an easy dessert that nonetheless will make people say “ooh”. Or maybe you just like cheesecake. I may be able to help. Continue reading →
Well, Mrs Portly’s only had one week off, but I wanted to share these frankly fabulous little filo pies while redcurrants are still in season.
Crisp, buttery pastry oozing with melty Baron Bigod cheese and redcurrant jelly, offset by the sharp tang of fresh redcurrants. They’re rich but they’re tiny, just a few bites, so they’re perfect as a starter with a few salad leaves or as a warm canape. Continue reading →
I understand the economic imperative, as one sarky journalist put it, of getting businesses with rateable values back up and running. I understand the joy of some of my friends in the restaurant industry, who’ve been struggling to make ends meet behind locked doors, at being able to earn a few quid at long last. I also understand the ones who’ve said: “Re-open? In these circumstances? Not likely!” Continue reading →
Whether you’re picking them from a garden or buying them in the shops and markets, this is a wonderful time for summer fruits. Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants, they’re all fresh and ripe around now. Continue reading →
I enjoy a complex curry or fiddly French pastry as much as the next person, but good ingredients don’t always need a lot of faff and hours spent hovering over a hot stove.
Some of the best meals I’ve had have been the simplest – fragrant amber honey poured over thick yoghurt with a handful of chopped nuts for breakfast in Corfu, freshly caught mackerel barbecued on the beach in Ireland, home-grown asparagus drenched in salted butter. And this. Continue reading →
Sorrel’s sour, lemony flavour goes so well with fish but it has an annoying habit of turning khaki as soon as it touches the heat. Here it is barely cooked, and its green is boosted by flecks of aniseedy dill. Continue reading →
These two-bite-sized biscuits are so moreish and versatile. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, so you can slice and bake them whenever the craving strikes. Eat them for elevenses or if you’re feeling particularly decadent, sandwich them with ice cream. Continue reading →
Loosely Greek in inspiration but with a personality all of its own, this pie looks impressive when you bring it to the table. Minutes later, of course, it’ll look like a dog’s dinner because it’s so good everyone will tear into it like ravening beasts. Continue reading →
The coronavirus lock-down has turned us all into home cooks, whether we want to be or not. We’ve seen large numbers of people embracing the joys of sourdough and posting social media pictures of cakes and cordials, pastries and pies. Long may it last, I say, though I suspect many new cooks will find they revert to old habits as the lock-down eases and the different rigours of ‘normal’ life ratchet up.
If you want to carry on cooking but make it fit around work and/or home schooling, here are some cookbooks I’ve found useful for easy but delicious meals, and a few more to provide inspiration for when you have the luxury of time. Continue reading →