Thursday, 17 April 2014

Moira's Remedies

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I've been really under the weather over the last week and have spent most of my time curled up under a big cotton duvet at home.
While I've been recuperating, I have been flicking through the cookbooks looking for ideas as to what to cook and share with you next. It turns out Moira was quite the medic and has a whole section of her book dedicated to treating common ailments. I would not suggest taking any of her advice or following any of her instructions (judging from her remedies, she was far from being any sort of medic), but I did think it could be fun to share with you...

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Cure for Toothache
"Mix in bottle equal parts of camphor and chloroform"

For Headache
"Sponge the head all over night and morning with water as hot as you can bear it and rub dry with a coarse towel"

For Falls
"Rub the part affected with a piece of fresh butter and it will prevent a bruise or any discoloring of the skin"

For Stings of Bees or Wasps
"Chalk wetted with hawthorn is a remedy for the sting of a bee, also table salt kept moist with wakes. A raw onion is an excellent remedy for the sting of a wasp, also poppy leaves"

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Do NOT practice any of the above at home, These are NOT to be taken literally!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Vanille Sugar

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"Vanille Sugar is made by  filling a small earthern jar with the finest sifted sugar and sticking into it 3 or 4 pods of vanilla. Close it up tight and when you want to have the Vanilla flavouring for anything use this sugar, and then fill it up with more plain sugar. Also a small bit of the vanilla pod may be cut off and pounded along with the sugar, this is very good for flavouring cream. The bits of the pod which are not pounded fine may be put back in the crock"

 A simple but very useful ingredient to have in the kitchen. If you don't know how to make vanilla sugar, then let the vintage cookbooks let you into this secret. I once met a chef who believed that only true bakers would have a stock of this delicious and versatile sugar stashed away in their baking cupboards.

There is no end to the use of vanilla sugar - from sprinkling over freshly baked biscuits, to adding a spoonful into a rich black coffee or, as Moira suggests, adding a delicate flavor to a whipped cream. It is one of my favorite sugars to use in cakes and is a staple when making up household favorite coconut bread (a modern pantry recipe that I will have to share with you soon).

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Friday, 4 April 2014

Buttered Eggs with Anchovy Sauce

One of my favorite things in the world is to wake up to sunshine. It just preempts the start of a fantastic day. Spring mornings - when the sun bursts in through the window, the birds are chirping away and the outside world is just starting to bloom - are a real reminder that summer is on it's way!

Personally, I find the best way to enjoy such a morning is to cook up a long lazy brunch. The cookbooks offer lots of great breakfast recipes, but this has to be by far the best.

Scrambled eggs (known as buttered eggs to Moira) served with a rich salty anchovy paste on thick slices of sough dough toast, drenched in butter. Served with a cup of coffee and a healthy glass of orange juice, this breakfast starts a spring day on just the right foot.

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"Melt a small lump of butter in the saucepan, then put in three eggs well beaten and a little salt. Stir well on the fire. When almost done, take off the saucepan and keep stirring for a few minutes. Spread some anchovy paste on hot buttered toast, then lay the buttered eggs on the top"

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Straight up Lemon Tarts

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If I am really honest with you, I find that neat lemon curd can be a love or hate situation; by itself, I lean to hate. But when it's found in a sweet freshly baked pastry, I can be found solidly in the 'love' category.

To me lemons evoke spring. They're bright, fresh and sharp. Perfect for this time of year.
With the world coming back to life after winter, for me this recipe just tastes of spring.  

Early 19th century curd has some serious zing to it and it can only be best served in a sweet pastry tart with lashings of cream. So I am in love.

The recipe saw me take a couple of attempts. The cookbooks can be a bit of a devil to interpret. It’s almost a case of trying to climb into someone's head and understand what their personal notes mean. It’s a kind of getting to know you thing. 

I mean they are listed down as Lemon cheesecakes.

So, point in hand, Lemon cheesecakes are written down as follows:

"Put the strained juice and grated rind of one large fresh lemon into the saucepan with the yolks of an egg, two table-spoonful of sugar and a slice of butter the size of an egg. Stir the mixture without ceasing till the ingredients are thoroughly blended and it begins to thicken. Fill the patty cases with this mixture and bake"

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Weekend Breakout - Dorset

Foodie haven, outdoor bliss, dramatic coastline, breathtaking countryside


Over the weekend we broke out of London and headed to the west country;  Dorset. It was the first beautiful weekend in spring. The sun shone, the bird song was wild and the daffodils were up. Over the two days we were there, all we could do was forget about the busy world we'd left behind and go totally carefree for the weekend.

Ice cream on the beach, huge walks through the countryside, sunsets on hill tops and hearty food (for breakfast, lunch and dinner). We headed to Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall's restaurant for a light lunch, picked up groceries in a farm shop and spent a lazy Sunday afternoon in an old country pub. We walked the sandy beaches, rode through rivers on horse back and hiked beautiful hills (got lost, had an argument, laughed it off and somehow got home).

Flushed, sun kissed and with full bellies, we headed back to London.

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Gingerbread pudding

This pudding is an ultimate old school restoration project. It tastes old fashioned, it's not too rich, it's full of flavor and it's good stodge. Perfect for a weekend in Dorset.

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Thursday, 20 March 2014