Friday, 26 August 2011

Shortbread with cheddar and rosemary

Shortbread is such a classic and goes back to medieval times though it had a slightly different shape and taste back then. It is really just a mix of three ingredients: sugar, butter and flour, baked at low temperature to avoid browning. Mary, Queen of Scots, made it popular in the 16th century and maybe for that reason it is being credited as a Scottish recipe though it was found all over the British Isles.
Traditionally shortbread was made with oatmeal flour but I used half plain and half spelt flour and it makes for a light and crumbly texture. The recipe will make about 40-45 cookies with a 2" cookie cutter and they are great with some cheese and chutney.


200g flour
100g butter
50g grated mature cheddar
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until it turns pale in colour. Mix the flour, cheddar and spices and combine with the butter. Knead but don't overwork the dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Urban foraging

Today we went foraging in the city and here are the fruits of our labour, literally: blackberries, sloes, elderberries and crab apples; all made into delicious preserves and sweet treats. It is highly satisfying growing your own food or going foraging and it always tastes so much more delicious.

Sloe gin is a classic and usually made with sloes picked around November after the first frost but I faked this process by freezing my sloes for a day. Once defrosted prick them with a fork and fill in a sterilized glass bottle. Add sugar and alcohol, in my case vodka rather than gin, and mix up. Agitate once every day for about 4 weeks and after that once a week for another 3-6 month. Over time the colour of the concoction will change to a deep red. Strain and keep in the dark.


75cl vodka
50g granulated white sugar
good handful of sloes

I also made crab apple, chili and rosemary jelly. Crab apples are too tart to eat but are great in a sweet or savory jelly. I only picked about 20 apples which I removed the stems and seeds of. Bring to boil with just about enough water to cover the wedges. Leave the skin on as it will be strained after anyway and the colour is so beautiful. Cook until soft and strain through a cheese cloth. The juice was enough for one jar of jelly. Even Martha Stewart likes crab apple jelly and she famously whipped up one during her time in jail with crab apples picked from trees on the prison camp grounds. Well, you just can take Martha out of the kitchen...


200ml crab apple juice
200g sugar
pinch of salt
2 small red chilies
some chopped rosemary

Boil the juice with the other ingredients for 5-10 minutes. Check for the setting point by spooning a little amount of the liquid on to a plate and wait for it to cool down. Check after a minute and if it has set. If so pour into sterilized jar and let cool down.


1 cup plain flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cardamon
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
150g white chocolate chips
2 handfuls of blackberries

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix all the ingredients together but keep some of the blackberries for the top. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Colour lovers: fig and thyme

This is the colour scheme of the Provence: lavender, thyme, rosemary, olive and fig trees. Purple is mysterious, comforting and restful and is said to encourage the imagination and creativity. It can be either cold or warm depending on what colours you pair it with and green is a natural combination enhancing its calming features.
Check out the palette at colourlovers

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lemongrass and ginger vodka granita

This granita is a refreshing dessert and a shot at the same time and perfect for a dinner party. We had a bbq this weekend and made Thai style chicken / tofu (marinated in a spicy curry paste) served with som tam salad so my dessert should go with these flavours. A granita is super easy to make and you can even do it some time in advance and keep in the freezer. Because of the alcohol it won't freeze solid but will have a slush like consistency. When you serve it make sure you chill the glasses in the freezer so it won't melt too quickly. The recipe will make 6 shot glasses.


1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vodka
3 stalks lemongrass
1 knob of ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon

Bash the lemongrass stalks with a rolling pin to release the flavour. Thinly slice the ginger and add to the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes to infuse the water and dissolve the sugar. Take of the heat and let cool down. When cold strain and add the vodka to the syrup. Put in the freezer for about 2 hours until ice crystals have formed. Rake with a fork and serve in chilled glasses.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Iced coffee with vanilla ice cream

I still like my coffee Vietnamese style in the mornings. My way of preserving the holiday feeling in a way. You brew one cup at a time in a small metal drip filter that sits on top of the cup. Just add a good dash of condensed milk and ready. I don't drink it on ice though but hot, purely because it is quicker. And then it's not as hot here as in Vietnam. But for the days when it is hot outside here is a cold sweet treat with homemade vanilla ice cream. You don't need a Vietnamese coffee filter, just brew it the way you always do and let it cool. Serve it over homemade vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and sprinkle with some cocoa powder.
For my vanilla ice cream recipe click here

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Colourful interiors in Udaipur

India is known for it's generous use of colour and the City Palace in Udaipur is no exception. Cool blue is more unusual to find though but it is a great contrast to the ochre and sand tones of the desert surrounding the city.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Apple and blackberry jam

We went to the New Forest this weekend and picked blackberries and there was just too much to use up fresh that I decided to make some jam. We also picked some apples, rather tart and too sour to eat raw but so perfect for this, too. The recipe will give you about 5 jars in the end.


500g apples
500g blackberries
150ml water
700g sugar
2 limes
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp allspice

Sterilise the glass jars in hot water. Peel, core and cut the apples into small cubes. Boil with the water for about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries, pektin, sugar, spices and juice of the limes. Boil for 10-15 minutes and use the 'spoon test' to check if it will set. Just dip the spoon in the mixture, let cool for a bit and hold horizontal. It's ready if it won't drip. While you test take the pot off the stove or you may go beyond setting point. Fill into jars and leave to cool upside down, turn again when slightly cooled down. This way you sterilise the lid with the boiling hot jam again.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Summer trifle

A trifle is a classic dessert that goes back to the 16th century in England. It's all about layers of sponge cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream. If you're pushed for time just get ready-made custard and sponge cake and just layer all the ingredients either in a large bowl or as individual ones in glasses.


Madeira sponge cake
Whipping cream
Raspberries and strawberries
Toasted almond flakes

Layer the sponge and sprinkle with amaretto. Wash and cut the fruit, fill in the glasses and pour the custard on top. Whip the cream and spoon in the glasses. Toast the almond and sprinkle over the cream.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


Pints outside and mini cupcakes from Broadway Market.