Friday, July 01, 2011

Cabbage Bread

What manner of devilry is this? Triffid spawn? These fanciful looking critters are in fact standard, easily-baked-at-home rolls encased in cabbage leaves, resulting in this cool effect:

I came across the technique while reading an old English cookbook, "English Cookery, New & Old", by Susan Campbell. In parts of Gloucestershire, bakers would wrap bread dough in cabbage leaves before baking. Once in the oven, the cabbage leaves would soften, allowing the bread to expand and become imprinted with the vein pattern of the leaf.

Given that my first task upon arriving at work is to make bread, it seemed the perfect excuse to give it a try.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Raw Milk: Punch

My god, have you ever tasted raw milk? I wanted to get my hands on some just to see what it was like - it's amazing stuff! It's rich and creamy and sweet, and leaves bog-standard blue top in the dust. I made something with it which I'll post about soon, but in the meantime, here's a slightly altered cocktail recipe¹ that uses raw milk's richness to good effect.

Raw Milk Punch

NB: give the milk a good swirl before pouring, as the cream will be sitting at the top of the container.
  • 60 ml bourbon
  • 60 ml raw milk
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 tbsp sugar syrup
Pour everything into an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigourously, strain into a glass, and garnish with grated nutmeg.

¹ from the EUVS cocktail database

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Last week, in the midst of my annual fridge purge (discoveries: black and blue cheese, sentient yoghurt), I came across these: vaccum-packed apricot, nectarine and peach kernels. These were destined for use in a dessert project I never quite got round to starting. At the time, I was reading a thread on eGullet about noyaux, the French name for stone fruit kernels and their use as flavouring agents in desserts and liqueurs. Noyaux (pronounced "nwa-yoh,") are a commonly used alternative for bitter almonds. For those of you not familiar with it, the smell is that of almond extract, as used in marzipan, amaretti biscuits and Amaretto brandy. Oh, and cherry coke.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Borough Market, London

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

With nary a Dickensian street urchin, bell-clanging leper or 'Oliver!'-esque flower seller to be seen, Borough market makes up for it by being a foodie paradise. Located near London Bridge, this glorious market is host to a vast array of fresh fruit, veg, meat, game and fish sellers, not to mention the army of artisnal food vendors. They'll be only to happy to talk to you, as well as provide you with samples to taste. I went for a wander one Saturday morning and ended up with bags of blood oranges, custard tarts and bramley apples. Oh, and a slice of chocolate cherry cake, some mead and a curry.

I spent far too much money there. So will you if you do it properly. Go take a look.

  • Borough market's Flickr group (awesome shots in here): clickety
  • How to get there: clickety
  • BM's website (sign up & you get recipes, news & information on what's available): clickety

Monday, April 11, 2011

Billingsgate Fish Market, London

"Nah, mate - turn around and head back to Canary Wharf. Cut through the shopping centre - the shops will be closed but it's open, if you know wot I mean - and on the other side is a road. Go left out the door and follow it until you get to an overbridge. You should see the market on the other side of the road. It's huge, you won't miss it. You'll know you're not far off when you see the seagulls hanging 'round. Ha, fucking seagulls, ha ha!".

The last part of his comment turned out to be an invaluable tip.

Thanking the security guard manning his barrier arm on this cold, far-too-early part of a Saturday morning, I walked back to the station to try out his directions. I was you see, a bit lost. I'd been up since well before the crack of dawn, travelling from Surrey to London with the aim of visiting the Billingsgate fish market, the largest of its kind in the UK. Getting here was the easy part; finding the market was anything but.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

River Cottage Canteen, Axminster

Somewhere out in that vast, cold, English wilderness lies my lunch. That's not to say it's waiting to be trapped, shot or enticed into the back of a windowless van; it's actually in Axminster, which is pretty much wilderness country given the length of time I'd spent holidaying recently in the hubub of London. Axminster, located in Devon, is home to the River Cottage Canteen, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's eatery, offering nosh made from goods and produce sourced from both River Cottage HQ and its locale, the south west of England. I'm a big fan of the lad, and wanting to see what was on offer, found myself seated on a train with my sister, hurtling across Britain's cold bottom for a spot of lunch.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Goodbye, Provedore

Provedore, the neatest little restaurant and bar here in Napier, not to mention being my workplace for almost three years, closed its doors yesterday. I like to think of the place as being a bit like a Gucci shirt, hanging in a wardrobe full of rugby jerseys; out amongst the provinces, where steak and fush liberally dusted with chopped parsley is considered de rigeur, "P" dared to be a little bit flash. It's the place where I learnt my trade, under the auspices of two magnificent chefs, Zana Price and Stacey Worsnop. It's the place where I've experienced emotions running the gamut from profound shittiness, right up to moments of unfeasible happiness; it's also the place where I've worked with a wide range of people, most who've proven to be good, decent folk.

All the very best to my old bosses, Simon Kerr and Jen Cho (bless your hearts), and good luck to new owner, Brian Casey, who will doubtlessly take the restaurant to new heights.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pickled Walnuts - The Beginning

Walnuts are truly amazing. The wood from their grand trees have provided furniture for nanas' the world over; the shells of the nut are tough and strong, finding use in heavy industry, as well as in battle (predominantly playground-oriented). And then there's the nut itself, found gracing all manner of food, whether it be cakes or cheeseboards, ice creams and tarts, pastes, oils, sauces and preserves. Walnuts have a uniqueness of flavour which see them working harmoniously with apples, pears, prunes and honey; they also sit quite comfortably with cumin and anise.

Pickled walnuts are a bit of a rarity in New Zealand. An age-old British practice, walnuts are pickled first by immersing the immature, green-husked nut in brine and then flavored by placing in spiced vinegar for several months. When ready, the now blackened husk is removed revealing the flavoursome baby walnut, which is then eaten with cold meats and cheeses.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pineapple & Mango (But Mostly Pineapple) Chutney

Chutney: no self-respecting Indian meal would be without a generous dollop of the stuff. For those not in the know, a chutney is a combination of fruit and veg, slow cooked in vinegar with sugar and spices, and then stored for a long period of time to intensify its flavour. Chutney, in all its many and varied forms, is but one of the many gifts the fine people of the Indian subcontinent have bestowed upon the world. Taking its place alongside Buddhism, call centres, using rocks down at the river to do your laundry, chess, and the largest film industry on the planet, chutney is indeed a bright star, doing its motherland proud. All this, and tasty, too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet Pickled Cherries

I still have cherries to get rid of, so this was my next project: a sweet fruit pickle. Less acid and much sweeter than a typical pickle (chortle), this rich preserve is ideal for spooning over ice cream or other equally delicious treats.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cherry & Walnut Jam

Do you have so much fruit that the kids in your neighborhood have given up raiding your fruit trees and are instead honing their shoplifting skills in town? Here in Hawke's Bay, tree after tree after tree is laden with the summer's bounty. As a result, I find myself with quite a few kilos of fruit, particularly cherries, so it made sense to start preserving some of this excess goodness for later use - time to make some jam.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raspberry Vinegar

"Here is a pleasant 'refresher', specially suitable for the young after lawn tennis or sports on hot days, but acceptable also to their elders when exhausted by church, depressed by gardening, or exasperated by shopping."

"Take one pound of raspberries¹ to every pint best white vinegar². Let it stand for a fortnight in a covered jar in a cool larder. Then strain without pressure, and to every pint add 12 ounces white sugar³. Boil ten minutes, let cool and bottle in nice medium-sized bottles saved perhaps from some present of foreign liquers."

"A teaspoonful stirred into a tumbler of water with a lump of ice, or introduced to a very cold syphon will taste like the elixir of life on a hot day, and is as pretty as it is pleasant."

Recipe from "Kitchen Essays" by Lady Agnes Jekyll, 1922 (subsequent reprints, Persephone Classics)

¹ one pound = 450(ish) grams
² one pint (imperial) = roughly half a litre (0.568 ml)
³ 12 ounces = 340 grams

Monday, January 03, 2011

Brown Bread Ice Cream

I recently made a wholemeal rewena loaf, promptly forgot about it, and then re-discovered it several days later in all its stale, dried out, brick-like glory. It seemed a waste to feed it to the birds (and given its state, chances are they'd only pick it up & drop it back off on my doorstep), so I thought I'd give that classic English dessert, brown bread ice cream, a try.

Playing Chopsticks

Having difficulty convincing your child to eat their vegetables? Frustrated by the constant appearance of broccoli on your wallpaper? Are your threats of boarding school or millitary academy laughed off by your impudent 2 year old? Then teach them to use chopsticks!