Wednesday, 1 June 2022

View from the Breakfast Table, this morning...


Three of the Spice Boys, enjoying the morning sunshine against a background of trachelospermum in full bloom. The smell is intoxicating! (Also, with a guest appearance in the bottom left corner of the frame, of a puppy - now seven months old...)

Tonight's Dinner:

Turkish scrambled eggs (with feta, red pepper, chilli, onion, garlic, tomato, and a sprinkling of parsley)

Squid Ink Risotto

Apricot Tart, with apricots fresh from the tree, picked after breakfast, this morning (puppy currently in deep disgrace, as she snaffled a quarter of the tart before it was served - it had been left negligently too close to the edge of the kitchen counter. It's a learning curve...)

Friday, 18 March 2022


 ...or, to give its penny-plain monicker, 'egg-custard tart'. Which can either be the workaday version, using vanilla essence, or it can be raised to ambrosial levels by the use of a proper vanilla pod. 

This is - or, by now, was, at any rate at the time several months ago when this precise recipe was lifted from the pages of Le Monde - all the rage in France, when at least Le Tout Paris was apparently chowing down on little else.  Served with a raspberry coulis (1 cup of raspberries, liquidised, and sieved, and then sweetened to-taste, and a tbs of brandy added, to give the flavour some depth), it is quite splendid.

Serves six.

Ingredients: 1x 8 inch shortcrust tart shell; 265 ml milk; 90 ml single cream; 1 vanilla pod; 2 medium eggs (needs to measure 75g ); 90g sugar; 30g cornflour.


1. Blind bake the tart shell, to the biscuit stage

2. Combine the milk and cream; into this, scrape the contents of the vanilla pod, and heat in the top part of a double boiler.

3. Whisk the egg with the sugar, and mix in the cornflour. 

4. Add the cream/milk mixture to the egg mixture, and mix well, before returnng the combined mixtures to the double boiler, and continue to cook over gentle heat for five minutes.

5. Carefully pour the mixture into the pastry shell, and cook at 180 degrees C for forty minutes or so, until the custard is just set.

Allow to cool (best) before serving.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022



I confess, for the past few years I've been lazy, and I've used shop-bought mincemeat. Seduced in part by the interesting-sounding additions advertised on the labels, no doubt. And I did the same again, this year, last time we were in London, before Christmas. Except that the security gremlins at the airport intervened, and my jars of whisky-laced mincemeat were all seized as being a security risk. Apparently because it is 'spreadable', and anything 'spreadable' constitutes a terrorist threat. Go figure...

Even more debatable, though, was their reaction when I suggested that the security cohort might enjoy digging into the stuff, now it was safely in their possession. "Oh, no," I was told. "It all gets sent to the local food-bank - we don't keep it." risks blowing up a 737...but, it seems that it's fine to feed it to the poor? (Or, could it be, maybe, that they recognise that it represents no risk to security whatsoever, and that it's a question of just slavishly and witlessly following rules which even the security mavens know have no practical application? Yet another reason to despair...)

Anyway. I'd promised a batch of mince pies, as usual, for a seasonal gift, and so I had to get on and make some. To the following recipe:


750g mixed dried fruit and peel

175g suet

zest of 1 lemon, juice of half lemon

250g brown sugar

half tsp nutmeg

2 medium apples (peeled and grated)

100 ml (plus a bit more, if the mixture can take it) brandy


Mix everything together. Pack into sterilised jars, and keep at least for a week before using it.

Doing the sights...


Can be exhausting...

Tonight's dinner:

Salad of Beetroot, Feta, and chickpeas

Poached salmon; buttered spinach

Apple-Vanilla- Calvados Tarts