Monday, 31 January 2011

My favourite tools


If you've ever watched Nigella Lawson's cookery programmes, you might have noticed she tends to use the same knife over and over. I expect most cooks have a weapon of choice, and mine is my Zwilling Santoku knife. It's just the right weight and size for me, and every time I use it I get great joy from such a well-designed tool.

I also have a Zwilling Chef's knife which suffered an unfortunate accident somewhere back in the mists of time, and no longer has a pointed nose. They don't come cheap, these Zwillings, so I can't afford to replace it but I still use it. But it doesn't come close to the Santoku.

At the other end of the scale, I love the Kuhn Rikon range - cheap, but really colourful and not bad quality either.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

I made marmalade


Hugely faffy, but utterly delicious. The chopping of the peel was an immense job that took me an hour or so, but it was that kind of repetitive task that becomes almost meditation-like. I went to a different place - Marmalade cafe perhaps - which was just what I needed on a cold and rainy winter weekend. There's a lot of shred in the end product (perhaps a bit more than I'd normally choose) but the flavour is so sparky. You can just about see in the pic that the recipe included two lemons, so it's quite a bitter-sharp combination, but bitter-sweet with it. The perfect balance.

Made using Riverford's marmalade kit and accompanying recipe - £4.49 ended up producing about six jars of amazing organic marmalade, that should hopefully last us at least part way through 2011.



The finest cakes known to humanity


... are made by the Women's Institute, of course. Malago WI is in its third year and going from strength to strength. Each meeting is centred around copious tea and cake, and for January's meeting I decided to use a silicon mould I'd bought in the Habitat sale. The mould is, I think, a canele bordelais mould which is designed for a very specific cake, a cake that requires 24 hours for the batter to settle.

Seeing as the meeting was that night, I decided to improvise with a basic sponge recipe and the addition of a third of a jar of mincemeat left over from Christmas folded in at the end. They weren't bad, and were a good way to use up mincemeat as it instantly transforms a plain sponge into a fruity cake. They looked quite impressive as well, thanks to the pretty mould.

The other cakes brought to the meeting by Malago women were ace too, and the cake table looked a picture.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Lunch of champions


I am desperate to own chickens. We even have a scrappy old patch at the end of the garden that would be a perfect home for a few feathered friends. Not to mention the stack of girls' names I never got to use on my human babies - they'd be just right for chooks, and I need to get the oestrogen levels up to even out all those boys.

But the reason I want them most of all is that there is no finer lunch than a perfectly boiled egg with toast soldiers. Dippy. Drippy. Delicious. Nuff said.

Egg cup is by Donna Wilson.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

First loaf of the year


Back in early 2010, I went on a bread-making course with the wonderful Mark of Mark's Bread. I came out filled with enthusiasm and sure I would be making bread every day. Didn't happen, of course, and I got distracted with babies and suchlike, but I'm going to try and get back to that calming rhythm of the kneading and the making and the proving and the baking.

And here's the first result of the year - a cottage loaf, made using a very simple recipe found on the side of the Dove's Farm yeast packet.

It was a good start.
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