My great-auntie Gertie, she of the rabbit-skinning speed record (Portly passim), used to keep a drawer full of gifts in her dressing table. Not ones she had bought in advance, the sort of thing you stash away on the off-chance you’ll match it to a suitable recipient, but ones she’d been given. It was not uncommon to get back the Christmas present you’d sent her a year or two earlier, neatly re-wrapped. Continue reading
This is a Hallowe’en bake where, fortunately for me, having the icing skills of a pre-schooler is no disadvantage, so if you actually have a four (five, six, seven, eight or thereabouts) year old, you’re ahead on points.
It’s a fun and safe recipe to make with youngsters, hot oven trays apart, obviously. The gingerbread is a very forgiving dough, so it really doesn’t matter too much if your child mauls it during rolling and cutting. Happily, it tastes good enough to please all the family, while allowing for lots of yummy mummy jokes. Continue reading
We called it Guy Fawkes’ Night when I was a child, and saw nothing odd about burning the effigy of a human being on top of our back garden bonfires. Dad would fire off rockets from milk bottles buried in the ground, the Catherine Wheels would always fizzle out after a couple of revolutions, I’d make patterns with my sparkler and my big brother would try to terrorise me with bangers thrown near my feet. It was over in no time but then we’d crowd into the kitchen. Continue reading
This pie is my interpretation of one in Thomas Dawson’s The Good Housewife’s Jewel, first published at the end of the 16th century, and the latest in my new series of historical recipes. I’ve followed his suggestions for both pastry and filling as faithfully as I can, because although Dawson gave more detail than many of his contemporaries, there’s still plenty of room for guesswork and because I’ve adapted it to modern tastes. Continue reading
Many years ago, travelling in Iraq and Jordan, I sampled cardamom coffee for the first time and fell in love with it. My friend Jenny, who is either psychic or knows my tastes remarkably well, recently gave me a packet from London’s Algerian Coffee Stores and it took me right back. It is the most evocative of tastes and although it makes a very fine drink, I wanted to use that flavour combination in a cake. Continue reading
It’s that time of year when all the early autumn fruit is ripening, a sort of bonus gift from nature to apologise for the end of summer and the imminence of winter. I’ve been pickling and preserving like my life depended on it, which historically would probably have been all too true.
Happily most of us no longer have to endure a subsistence lifestyle but while the blackberries are fat and juicy, you might like to do a bit of foraging and make this fruity, gently spiced cake. Continue reading
Jalousie: mid 18th century, French, literally ‘jealousy’, from Italian geloso ‘jealous’, also (by extension) ‘screen’, associated with the screening of women from view (Oxford Languages). The internet is a wonderful thing.
In this case a jalousie is a puff pastry pie with the top slashed to resemble (allegedly) a jalousie or louvred blind. It can be savoury or sweet and in this case proved to be the perfect vehicle for the greengages I picked from our tree, although you can use any plums you have handy. 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
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
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