It's a constant, if not full-time job to keep enough food in the house for the seemingly hollow children. And while bergamot curd may not be up on the list of household necessities, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons...I had a box of bergamots hanging around as one does, and after trying palm them off here and there on unsuspecting family and friends, the remainder were destined for a slow and sad decline. I'd used some in a pasta dish with broccoli, garlic and Parmesan in place of lemon and I'd squeezed the juice into sparkling water for a touch of the bath bomb in my evening drink. I was considering using the rest for a lemon-style tart, but seeing as the children seem to have developed a new and mysterious love for lemon curd on toast I had my solution.And it's very nice. Perfumed but not like walking past a soap shop, it's citrussy and delicate. I know bergamots are not really the kind of thing you come across that often --it's almost exclusively grown in Calabria -- but if you do, this is a good use for it. And, as a bonus you can spoon it into little sweet pastry cases for a speedy little tart.This recipe works just as well with blood oranges, which is my next stop if I'm lost for curds.Makes: 2 jarsPrep time: 5 minutesCooking time: 10-15 minutesIngredients4 bergamots, juice and zest (giving up about 160ml juice)4 eggs1 egg yolk200g golden caster sugar100g unsalted butterMethodZest the bergamots into a heatproof bowl big enough to sit on top of a small saucepan. Halve the fruits and put them in a bowl. Microwave them for one minute. This will give you all the juice from them. An astonishing amount comes out. If you don't a microwave, roll them really hard on the bench before slicing open. It will help, but isn't as good as the micro.Put some water in the bottom of the pan and bring to the boil. Add the butter, sugar and juice to the bowl and stir well. Put on top of the pan, making sure it's not touching the water and reduce the heat to a simmer.Stir, dissolving the butter and melting the sugar.Lightly whisk the eggs and yolks and tip into the bowl. Whisk in well until incorporated and cook for about 10-15 minutes, very gently. Stir occasionally with a spatula until the whole thing is beautifully and gently set.Remove from the heat and put into jars. Leave to cool and store in the fridge.This weekWatched:Jiro dreams of sushi. I now want to retrain as a 90 year old Japanese sushi master, but I feel some ambitions are impossible.'Somebody feed Phil' on Netflix; another travel-food-ologue, but as usual, interesting and hosted by someone who seems genuinely enthusiastic and nice.Coco, from Pixar with the children. I didn't know where to look there was so much going on.Listened:Blind Melon: not listened to them for a long time. Uplifting in a melancholy way.Kodaline: thought I'd try them out, see what the youth of today are listening to. Or something like that. They probably aren't, it's more likely to be hairdressers in Newbury or somewhere that listen to this boring snorefest of a band. Ate:Dull Indian takeaway. Dull Italian food at Ecco, Clapham and a dull lunch at Franco Manca after the cinema. Followed by heavenly gelato from Odono's on Lordship Lane. Homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli with sage butter. Children hated it. Savages. Philistines. It's one of the world's finest dishes.A steak sandwich with anchovy, melted cheddar, watercress, salsa verde, chillies, radish, cucumber and gherkins. That was a sandwich alright. Nico dreams of sandwiches.Read:Death in Sardinia, '60s set Italian detective novel, lots of good food descriptions as well as the usual detective formulas.
There are weeks, like the one just gone where I can barely remember the slightest thing of interest happening in day to day life.Most noteworthy was hurriedly inflating an air bed on the pavement outside my in-laws' house fifteen minutes after the children were due to be asleep on it in our bedroom as there were guests needing theirs. I had to do it outside, in case you were wondering, because the air pump attaches to the car's cigarette lighter. It wasn't because I love the great outdoors.I immediately punctured it on the thorns leading up the path to the house. This is what comes of doing things last minute. We've had this mattress ten years without incident, using it perhaps three times over the decade. The one time we really need it a prick burst it.I've barely cooked this week at home –by home I mean the in-laws house as we continue our stay away from the dust sheets and collapsed lost tomb of the Incas our place resembles– which has made a welcome change. It is nice to have an occasional break from the kitchen, if a little odd. As much as I love feeding people, I like the control I have over something and the feeling I get when making other people happy. Filming every day this week I haven't been around much for my family; I've felt my absence keenly.Still, the food cooked for me by mother-in-law Sue has been delicious. Highlights were the mushroom risotto and an incredibly irresistible pineapple pudding from a Jane Grigson recipe that over the course of three helpings with ice cream overcame my avoidance of sugar during the week. I have a feeling that in a fortnight we will have extended waists as well as a redecorated home.But I have cooked a couple of things. A simple ten second pasta sauce for the children on Saturday (blitz together one tin of tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic, olive oil, a pinch of oregano, a dash of tomato purée and a pinch of salt then cook quickly) which everyone tucked into except me. I had bratwurst onto which I spooned the remains of the salsa verde from the other night. Its zing and freshness had faded like a green velvet curtain left in the sun, it's lost grandeur just a reminder of better times. And because everyone else seems to hate bratwurst in my family I got all the sausages.On Saturday night, as we all sat down to watch 'Strictly', the children's eyes kept open with matchsticks, zombified with tiredness yet unwilling to admit defeat to the enemy of sleep, we ate bowls of haricot beans slowly stewed with chorizo, sofrito, a dash of stock and chicken thighs first browned in the paprika infused oil then left to slowly simmer in the mix until tender. Comforting and very tasty.Here's a recipe the children helped me to make the weekend before we shipped out. The sourdough starter and longer ferment gives the brioche stronger structure and deeper flavour than the standard brioche so it stands up a little more to serious abuse from pouring over a load of hot chocolate sauce, if that's your kind of thing. It is mine. At least when I'm not avoiding sugar...Ingredients2tbsp starter200ml lukewarm water plus 50ml350g flour plus extra for kneading15g fresh yeast (or 7g dried)1 egg, beaten60ml milk, lukewarm80g butter80g golden caster sugarAnother 150g flourA generous pinch of saltChocolate buttons, I used a mix of dark, milk and whiteMethodAdd the water to the starter and stir well until dispersed. Stir in the 350g flour and mix well. Leave to rest for about half an hour.Add the salt and the 50ml water and knead together until mixed. The dough should be quite wet and sticky.Add a little more flour and start to knead on the bench, folding and pushing it until it starts to become smooth and elastic. Add flour a little at a time until it becomes tacky rather than sticky and you can shape it into a nice firm but soft ball of dough.Leave in the bowl, covered with a cloth for four hours.Add the yeast to the milk and stir to dissolve. Pour onto the rested dough and add the butter, sugar and egg to this. Mix into the dough. It will be quite sloppy. Add the 150g flour and knead well for another five minutes, adding a little more flour if the dough gets too sticky. Don't make it too dry and firm though, it needs to be on the wet side of tacky.While kneading, add a little more flour if you need, just so it doesn't stick to the bench too much. It will become sticky but silky enough to handle and shape into a ball.Leave to rise for a further two hours then knock back and shape into eight balls.Put the balls in two lines in two brioche or loaf tins. Brush the top with beaten egg mixed with a splash of milk. Dust the top with sugar crystals and a sprinkle of grated chocolate. Leave to prove for another half an hour and bake at gas 7 (190c) for 25 mins until golden and cooked through. Don't have the heat on too high and blacken them as I did. Leave to cool until just warm before serving.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And while this is not pudding and I have nothing to prove, the only way you're going to understand how delicious this dish is, is by making and eating it. I urge you to do this as soon as you can.Read More
In honour of national sandwich week, I present to you the Monte Cristo. A marvel of simplicity. It's really just a version of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, but if ever one were to be presented at the Great Exhibition, this should be it.Read More
About an hour after I've had my jasmine tea in the morning, I'm ready for breakfast, which almost every morning is a Nutribullet smoothie.Usually I will start with a base of kale or other greens then add a little fruit or avocado, some coyo yoghurt, and top it up with almond milk and various ground things from mysterious containers. (Actually, they're all labelled, so there's no real mystery).This morning though, I was distracted. No hemp seeds, no flax seed, no greens. Mainly berries. And that's fine every now and then. It was much like a fruit ice-cream milkshake, and that's a pretty good way to start any day.Fortunately I have a few boxes of Bioglan superfood powders on the shelf. A tablespoon of the supergreens one went in. A quick fix. I can steam the greens later with some garlic, chilli and ginger and have them with lunch.Ingredients for two1 large or two small bananasA large handful of frozen berries (I used a mix of raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants)1tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter (amazing stuff- goes great with bananas)1tbsp Bioglan supergreens powder, we got ours on Ocado (if you don't have this, I would recommend it. Along with hemp powder, flax seed, chia seeds and all those things you can get in the health food shop and many supermarkets now)1tsp raw cocoa nibs1tsp turmeric (fresh preferably, but I only had extract and powdered on my shelf)Almond milk, fill up to the line, otherwise enough for two glasses (unsweetened and preferably with a high almond content)MethodBlend it all together until smooth. Couldn't be simpler. If you don't have a Nutribullet, a normal blender should do the job.
As a supposed grown-up, I feel I can eat whatever I want, whenever. Cold pizza for breakfast and such.While I try and promote a healthy diet to the children, that doesn't mean we can't have fun. And while I wouldn't really condone ice-cream for breakfast, I don’t see the harm in it every now and then. Say once a year.This recipe, however, is the best of both worlds. Healthy fruit and yoghurt, but disguised as a seemingly illicit ice-lolly. It’s a great way to get some fruit into the children if they’re not that keen, and it’s something they can enjoy making with you. Of course, you don’t have to serve them at breakfast, but they’re pretty exciting to wake up to when you’re five years old…Ingredients4 ice-lolly moulds and sticks4 tbsp ‘Coyo’ coconut yoghurtA handful of: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants (feel free to add or replace as you like)1 kiwi, peeled and slicedWater to fill the moulds (you can add a little fruit juice if you like, but I prefer to avoid it)MethodLine up your moulds and distribute the berries between them. Slide a few kiwi slices down the side of each and half fill with water. Use the end of a spoon to slightly squidge some of the berries to release a little juice.Mix the coconut yoghurt with a little water to loosen it and top up the moulds. You can just top them up with water if preferred. Stand them securely upright in the freezer and after an hour or so, push in the sticks so they’re nice and central. Freeze for another 3-4 hours, or overnight because I imagine you wouldn’t be getting up at 3am to make these…