Last night I served up sweetmeat cake, which is an egg-based tart with candied peel and chopped roasted hazelnuts in it. The recipe isfrom Jane Grigson’s English Food. To go with it I made ratafia ice cream – whipped cream mixed with crushed ratafia biscuits and some cointreau, and frozen. I meant to use Archers rather than cointreau, but didn’t have enough. The ice cream was nice, but rather too strongly flavoured for the tart. I might make it again and serve it with something else, though.
Found it in the freezer. Too big to snack on or easily use in sandwiches once it’s defrosted, but very strongly-flavoured and salty for cooking. Hmmm.
I embarked on shepherd’s pie yesterday only to find I had no potatoes. So I topped it with bread.
An onion, two sticks of celery, a left-over bit of fennel, a red pepper and a carrot chopped and cooked together in a frying pan until starting to brown slightly.
A kilo of minced lamb, browned a bit.
Put the veg, the meat, plenty of garlic and rosemary, and some beef stock in a pan and simmer for an hour or so.
Put the sauce in a shallow oven-proof dish, then top with slices of bread (I used multi-grain) spread with French mustard, mustard-side down. Put in the oven, 180C until bubbling and looking brown and crunchy on top. Yummy.
All these food posts are of course displacement activity to stop me getting on with any actual poetry.
I’ve made a cheesecake (haven’t tried it yet) from Jane Grigson’s English Food. The recipe originally comes from The London Art of Cookery, and Housekeeper’s Complete Assistant, by John Farley (1783). It’s flavoured with, amongst other things, crushed macaroons. I used Italian ratafia biscuits. What I was thinking was: it’s curious that almost everyone you ask thinks that Amaretto (the liqueur or the biscuits) is made from almonds, whereas, like my ratafias, it’s actually made from apricot kernels. Now, if Georgette Heyer is to be believed, ratafia (a drink – I’m not sure whether alcoholic or not) was a popular choice for genteel young ladies in the Regency period. So when did the taste of apricot kernels drop from Britain’s collective memory?
A bit of improvisation I was quite pleased with.
I was doing roast pork, and I’m not a big of classic apple sauce, so I thought I’d make a sauce by cooking onions with a bit of sage (cos its traditional) and rather more rosemary, and putting some cider in it for the appliness. And I had a third of a cabbage in the fridge.
Fry 4 smallish red onions with a few leaves of sage and a handful of chopped fresh rosemary.
When the onions are soft and just browning slightly, slosh in some cider (i.e. alcoholic cider, for any Americans reading). I used quite expensive cider, because the cheap stuff is revolting. Simmer.
When the cider has mainly evaporated, mix in a shredded third of a cabbage. Stir until the cabbage is a bright green colour.
I thought this was a bit of a success, although no-one who ate it commented on it.
I made kedgeree today. I’m intrigued by Anglo-Indian food like kedgeree and mulligatawny soup. Even more so, those things like Worcester sauce and brown sauce which are so deeply imbedded into the British consciousness that no-one even thinks of them as Indian any more.