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13 Nov

Yum. I like baking that doesn’t need yeast (it hates me), and I like cooking with what happens to be in the kitchen or garden.

Edgledge's Ramblings

 

Every second weekend we have a long weekend, I work longer in 9 days to get the extra day off a fortnight. So on those weekends we usually make something to have for afternoon tea or a snack. We are also getting towards the end of the month, so the cupboard is slightly bare. So I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make. So I grabbed the last of the self-raising flour, an apple and some pepitas and thought hmmm what can I do with these. This is my creation, which came out really moist and light and tasty.

Ingredients
1 Apple cored and diced (I used Royal Gala, but any will do)
1/4 Cup pepitas (Sunflower seeds) toasted
1 Tablespoon Mixed Spice
2 Cups flour
60g Butter
Milk to combine
Beaten egg to coat

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 150 C…

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Tocana – a Transylvanian autumn treat

20 Oct
Gogosar is the Romanian word for rounded peppers, compared to the long, pointed ones known as ardei

Gogosar, the sweet capsicum you find in their natural shape and colours in Transylvanian markets

This is a fabulous foodie treat that hasn’t yet escaped its home cuisine in Transylvania (Romania). Tocana is a relish of the last summer vegetables, for sale in the market for buttons in October as the autumn takes hold and winter beckons. [Zacusca is a close relative, made by roasting the vegetables rather than cooking in oil like a confit.]

Housewives buy 20 kilo sacks of peppers and aubergines to cook and put in jars for a reminder of summer in the depths of a harsh winter, with smaller sacks of onions and carrots grown in the smallholdings of rural Transylvania.

Sweet with a hint of smoky bitterness, full of flavour and colour, the autumn peppers (ardei and gogosar) from the south of Romania and imported from Turkey are a far cry from the pretty but tasteless peppers you find in British supermarkets, grown in Dutch polytunnels without benefit of mineral-rich soils and southern summers. These aren’t perfectly shaped, uniformly coloured things, but organic vine fruit folded and twisted and coloured by the sun, grown without the synthetic encouragement of agrotechnology; the difference in taste is so marked that they might be different species altogether.

Tocana, the Transylvanian foodie secret that is one of the treats of the year

Tocana, organic, simple, naturally colourful and bursting with late summer flavour

So – tocana. A simple recipe, but cleaning and chopping takes time, so it’s best done as a family, or with a group of friends; if you’re on your own put some music on and surrender yourself to an annual ritual of aroma and maturing textures. Then you have the delicious reward of warm tocana for supper, and the looking forward to helping yourself to a jar of tocana from time to time through the long, frozen winter.

This is a dish of such rich summery colour and flavour that I’m amazed it hasn’t been swiped by savvy chefs in Britain, or exported by canny Transylvanians. An opportunity for you to make a coup, and worth every minute of preparation.

Ingredients

5kg red peppers

1kg carrots

1kg onions

800g tin of tomato paste

1 litre oil (sunflower or another mild-flavoured oil)

seasoning to taste

NB You’ll need a big pan for this amount, and several large jamjars. If you live in a northern climate, peppers might be prohibitively expensive in these quantities, but the 5:1:1:1 ratio of ingredients is easy to scale down for an occasional dish.

How to do it

Clean and deseed the peppers, skin the onions and peel the carrots. Chop the veg to a fine dice in a food processor (stop short of a paste) and put in a large pan (a jam pan is ideal) with the tomato paste, oil, salt, black pepper and/or cayenne, and if you like, a little sweet paprika. (Better to add a little seasoning and add a little more if needed, rather than overdoing it all at once.)

Cook over a high heat until the mixture is bubbling. The veg release plenty of water, so once boiling, turn the heat down and leave to cook (stirring often to stop burning) for a good couple of hours, until the water has evaporated, and the mixture is a thick, rich, glossy red conserve. Adjust the seasoning if you need to, then let it cool to blood temperature.

While still warm, put into sterilised jars and seal thoroughly. It should last for weeks, if not several months, in a dark place. Eat with a spoon straight from the jar, or if you want to be a bit more civilised, serve with toast or oatcakes. You can use it as a sauce for pasta, or as a relish with cold meat or cheese.

25 Aug

(from Arabella) Another scrumptious way of cooking sprouts. I love them in all variations, raw and cooked, but some people are sproutphobic, usually because they were forced to eat overcooked soggy sulphurous sprouts at school. And for British Christmas lunch eaters, sprouts can be an annual nightmare. But no more! Try this for starters. Maybe not as a starter, but as a first pro-sprout recipe.  

Low-cal fruit fondue (still licky-fingered)

28 May

The DIY pud has proved rather popular, but a couple of people have suggested it’s not waist-friendly. My initial reaction is ‘nuts to that – with added choc’, but there are folk who don’t share my ‘to hell with it’ attitude. So for the chocoholic, calorie conscious, healthy-eating, vegan people out there, here’s a variation.

Ingredients and method as before, BUT

It’s got to be unsweetened, and organic. Heavenly brown dust!

Instead of chocolate bars, with all the sugar and delicious gunk that makes them wicked, use organic, unsweetened, preferably raw, cocoa powder or nibs (tiny chunks). This is the healthy bit of chocolate, and it is phenomenally healthy and good for you. This is where the feel-good chemicals are found, and the heart-healthy ones, and the dark delicious flavour.Add a third bowl, with a little brandy (or whisky, sherry, liqueur of choice).

Now spear your fruit, dip it in the booze, then the cocoa, then the nuts. Eat with halo very nearly untarnished and feel all those lovely natural phytochemicals doing the rumba inside you.

Image

What do you think this is?

21 May

What do you think this is?

Patruncel is the Romanian word for parsley. They eat the leaves, of course, but they also use the root, which we don’t, in Britain. It’s used to flavour soups and stews, and (no surprise) has a parsley-ish flavour but with an earthy edge to it.
What would you do with it?

Zingy porridge

20 May

Image

I was in Vienna, and had just said goodbye to my kind chum who’d put me up en route from Romania to England; she worked in the Naschmarkt and had to start work, and I had to drive to London. But before I left I wanted a decent breakfast, and in one of the many eateries in the market I ordered a Swiss breakfast. Warm, soft oats and other grains, fresh fruit, creamy yoghurt – and black pepper. That was a surprise, and one that I’ve repeated with every bowl of porridge at home since. The pepper adds a spicy warmth and that glorious aromatic flavour to the creamy oats, with the fruit adding crunch, tang and sweetness.

I now add a bit of cayenne and a good shake of cinammon as well as the black pepper, and switch between my neighbour’s raw organic full cream milk, oat or rice milk, or when I have it, the cream skimmed from the same milk. I’ve found great German coarse rolled oats, to which I add a spoonful of flaxseeds, water (about 5mm above the oats in the saucepan) and the spices, and leave it all to soak while I have my shower. Then I cook over a gentle heat for about five minutes and serve with milk, cream, flaked almonds, some coconut, maybe some sliced apple or whatever’s in season. Quick, easy, very satisfying, aromatic, complex and healthy. A pretty damn’ good start to the day, if you ask me.

How do you do your porridge?

Hello, hungry people and frustrated cooks!

24 Apr

I keep finding all these fabulous blogs that torment me with exquisite dishes that look beautiful and must taste divine. They torment me because I’m a lax cook, never a chef, and have never bothered to learn the skills needed for all these stunningly presented recipes.

But people who come to eat with me have said over the years that they like what I dish up for them; some of them say ‘when’s the cookery book coming out?’.

Thing is, I’m no Delia. Because I’m lax in the kitchen, nothing ever turns out the same. I chuck in a bit of this, a handful of that; I change ingredients and work with whatever’s to hand. There are lots of fridge-dishes (what happens to be lurking in the fridge) and storecupboard-dishes (ditto), and the fresh herbs in the garden get snipped or chopped whenever the fancy takes me and there’s new growth to cut.  

So measurements are haphazard, due to all the above, and the fact that you may have different tastes to me. I like cayenne on almost everything, including porridge (see recipe later) because of the fresh zing it gives (fabulous with a mouthful of fresh coffee, too!) not to mention the healthiness of it. You may like more or less salt; more or less spiciness, more or less garlic – for example.

But stick with me. This blog is the antidote to frustrating gorgeousnesses elsewhere – I like quick and simple, mostly peasant food, and a mish-mash of home (Sussex) and world food. One of the simplest dishes EVER comes from my first Friday in Greece. More of that later.

Have fun with the food, however new or nervous a cook you may be. Try things, eat them, adjust, have a go, see what happens. Let me know! Tell me your variations of my recipes (recipes, hah! loose suggestions, more like) and if you fed family or friends with them, report back with their reactions, good or bad.

See you at the stove!

Abbs