A small mid-afternoon snack

This morning I spent a leisurely few hours in Liberty’s tea room sipping Lahloo Tea‘s White rosebud tea, eating a large and delicious slice of Victoria sponge cake and chatting to fell food blogger and twitterer @comestibles.

It was lovely way to spend part of the day but the slice of cake was so large I felt full for ages (in a nice way).

But I finally got a bit peckish so I fixed a little snack…..


Dalloways cherries and Alham Wood buffalo cheese with cumin both from the farmers market, some Peters Yard crispbreads and some goats cheese.

Just the job to fill the emerging hole in my tum and tide me over until supper which is at least 4 hours away still.

E17, the food, the place, but mostly not the band

I just looked up E17 on wikipedia…..where it tells me that it can refer to:

Well I never and I just thought it was the postal district adjacent to mine famous for its dog track (now defunct), being the birth place of William Morris (pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement) and well all sorts of other unlikely people passing through like Ian Dury and Florence Nightingale’s dad!

But today I journeyed their not to find evidence of famous past residents but to sample its farmers market and shops. There’s a farmers market right in my own lovely high street that has now been going for a year and I love it, but its only once a month so that leaves a lot of weekends when something better than the supermarket should be the source of my food. Walthamstow farmers market is every week and despite it being a mere 2 miles from me and having been there since 2007 I’d not managed to go until today. That’s London for you, you’ll traipse to the other side of town for something you’ve heard is great but you’ll forget to check out what’s almost on your doorstep if the journey is in any way convoluted and believe me going a short distance in London is often harder than you might imagine. But spurred on by the possibility that Dallaways specialist cherry grower from the Kent/Sussex border was likely to be there off I headed, via a convoluted route of course.

First stop was to go and meet up with Lynne of A Greedy Piglet, who is Chingford way, then in her car we went back down to Walthamstow and explored the market…and the shops…and we found loads of great stuff…

On the farmers market itself we explored all the stalls…..and bought goodies from the Giggly Pig (trotters, faggots, sossies), Ted’s veg stall (radishes, patty pans, broad beans), one of the two bread stalls (100% rye loaf), Muck & Magic (Tamworth breed crackling, Red Poll mince beef, Norfolk Horn lamb mince), the herb plant stall (horseradish, french tarragon) and Alham Wood (cheeses and milk) and of course the cherries we had come for.

Then we headed for a stroll along the shops dipping in the fish shop (amazing selection of fish all looking super fresh, live crabs, salt fish) and the halal butcher (boiling chickens, cows feet, goat, mutton) to check out the produce for another day. And on into the various (green)grocery/minimarts. Walthamstow being the culturally diverse place that it is these were a mix of Turkish, Caribbean and Indian influenced shops. In all of them the staff were super helpful and rather amused at two somewhat past their first flush of youth English women exploring their shops wide-eyed like kids having a Charlie and Chocolate factory moment. After much ooo-ing and ahhh-ing we invested in dhal, pomegranate seeds, mixed aubergines, sweet peppers, puri shells, flat breads, daktyli bread, flat peaches, apricots…and I think that was it….

We struggled back to the car with out heavy bags sampling the warm flatbread as we went….then home and to work out how to fit it all in the fridge.

Please note that the items listed were our joint haul of food I did NOT buy all of this myself, though I may have bought somewhat more than half (cough)!

Eating Norwegian for Eurovision, naturally

Its Eurovision time again. Tonight. In Oslo. Surely you are going to be watching? And you’ll need something to eat whilst the 25 contestants do their stuff followed by the age long voting process. So how to decide what Eurovision dish to have. Well you could rustle up a menu from the cuisine of the country you are supporting, you could just have something random and un-Eurovision related or you could try something from the cuisine of host country Norway.

Some of you might be saying ‘what Norwegian cuisine, isn’t it just herrings and meatballs?’ Apparently not according to Signe Johansen of the blog Scandilicious, and currently working on her first cook book. She’s already ranted on the very topic at the Real food Festival recently and she’s one a number of people championing Nordic cuisine as being seasonal, tasty and good for us too. Another champion of Scandinavian food is Trina Hahnemann, Denmark’s own Delia apparently (wonder how she feels about that!). Trina has had two books published in the UK in the last 18 months and both have plenty of recipes to whet the appetite for a fresh regional cusine that not Mediterranean. Even Jamie Oliver cooks Sweden in his latest book and series.

Regular readers will know that I’ve sampled various Norwegian dishes before, and that I have a particular penchant for the curious thing that is brown cheese (gjetost). But always keen to explore more, particularly if there is cheese on the menu, I jumped at the chance to attend a cooking demo and lunch with Trina being held at Madsen earlier this, especially because it was in association with Jarlsberg cheese.

Its not that Jarlsberg is new to me in fact I’ve been eating it from back in the days when it could only be bought in the food halls of smart department stores (all good department stores used to have rather nice food halls back then). My Dad used to buy it and rather lovely German style rye bread and it quickly became a staple on sandwiches. For whatever reason that’s kind of where it stayed. It never occurred to us to cook with it, and so it has remained in my mind a cheese for pairing with good bread and tomatoes but not one that is cooked with.

Until the lunch spent with Trina. To start off Trina explained a bit about how Jarlsberg is made (the exact recipe is a secret of course!), the process and ageing are like Gruyere and in fact the gentle nutty flavour and texture are very similar. Had I spotted this similarity myself I might have thought of cooking with it sooner. We then moved on to the demo where Trina made a cheese bread and a rye based pizza using Jarlsberg. I can hear the traditionalists howling at the very idea of the latter and Trina was mindful that it was a dish inspired by pizza but made with ingredients more traditional to Scandinavian food. I was a little sceptical, I love rye bread, I love pizza but I wasn’t sure how the two would fare together. Whilst Trina finished off the other elements of our lunch we all went back up to the restaurant where we sampled beers from AERØ. The food started to arrive and Trina came back to join us. We had a huge spread of citrus cured salmon with scrambled egg, Jarlsberg bread, rye pizza with bacon potatoes and Jarlsberg, a kale apple walnut and Jarlsberg salad, crispbreads, huge hunks of Jarlsberg, a variety of AERØ beers, tomato salad, plum compote and…..as you can imagine we were pretty full by the end. Trina was great company telling anecdotes about cooking in Denmark and also a font of useful information about Scandinavian cuisine.

After coffee we were packed off with giant goodie bags. And in my case a new set ideas for a cheese I’ve been a fan of for many years. For all you doubters the rye pizza was delicious, very hearty and full of flavour and just what you probably need for a long evening in front of the Eurovision.

You can find the recipe here on the Jarlsberg site.

With thanks to Jarlsberg, Trina Hahnemann and Madsen for hosting a great event.

Easy Lunch: Asparagus

I’ve said on here before how much I love asparagus and I’m very certain I will be saying it again before the season is over. Earlier in the week I went really simple with steamed asparagus and slithers of Ticklemore cheese popped under the grill until the cheese was just melting. The salty goats cheese was great with the asparagus. I didn’t take pictures though because I was so busy eating it.

Today I went for Parma ham, steamed asparagus and fried guinea fowl eggs.

Oh yum.

I don’t think you need instructions to be able to copy this, of course feel free to substitute the egg of your choice.

This week I am mostly eating asparagus from Norfolk.

In Season: Cheese and Onion

This article was first published in Francoise Murat & Associates newsletter in March 2010.

Mention cheese and onion and most people think of crisps. My quick Twitter survey revealed answers naming the Walkers brand, the colour of their bags (blue apparently) and even Gary Linekar, the face of Walkers crisps for so long he must surely have earned more from promoting crisps than from playing football and being a pundit. A few people were more inventive suggesting pasties and toasties but for most it was all about the crisps. The reason the crisp flavour works well is that the milky sour tang of cheese and the pungency of alliums are happy bedfellows, which means they have lots to offer in the kitchen, and spring is when plenty of both are at their best, real cheeses and real alliums, not Walkers crisps.

Thinking about the combination a whole host of dishes come to mind: leek and cheese sauce for pasta or chicken, onion soup with a lovely melting cheese crouton, cheese with pickled onions, cheese and onion marmalade sandwich, fresh goats cheese with chives, Yarg cheese wrapped in wild garlic, omelettes, frittatas or flans in a variety of allium and cheese combinations. The possibilities are endless.

British grown alliums are at their best now, lovely slim tender delicate leeks, new season spring onions, regular onions, shallots and of course wild garlic. Wild garlic has become an ‘on trend’ ingredient in the last couple of years as foraging has grown in popularity. It’s easy to find (the smell is a giveaway) particularly in woods by streams, you can grow it in your garden in a shady spot (but beware of it taking over) and you might see it at farmers’ markets or farm shops. You can eat the leaves and the flowers but like any allium it can range from mild to blow your head off in strength so always taste a little first before deciding how to use it. If you go foraging make sure you aren’t on private land or ask permission first, don’t collect from close to busy roads and be sure you know what it is you’ve picked. Don’t dig it up, leave enough for others to have some and for the plant to survive next year. The flowers are pretty sprinkled on salads and the leaves make a good substitute for leeks or spring onions.

As for cheese, fresh cheeses are particularly tasty in the spring as herds start to feed on grass again enriching the milk with clean herby flavours. Britain has a wealth of artisan cheeses and you should be able to find at least at one or two fresh cheeses in delis and farm shops. If you can’t then why not do a little experimenting in the kitchen and try making your own curd style cheese. It’s very simple to do and works with all types of fresh milk: cow’s, goat, sheep, even buffalo. Unpasteurised milk is lovely but normal works fine. This method is quick and easy and good as a supervised experiment for children. The yield varies depending on the milk, its highest with buffalo and lower with cow’s milk but whatever you choose you’ll get a lovely fresh delicious cheese. You can use the leftover whey in bread making in place of some of the milk or water.

Fresh cheese

Adapted from a recipe in the Casa Moro Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark.


  • 750ml milk
  • 1 tbsp essence of rennet (note that essence of rennet has already been diluted if you use undiluted rennet you must dilute it with water first)


  • Warm the milk to between 32-37C.
  • Add rennet and stir.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover with cling film.
  • Leave in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
  • The curds will have set so cut them into about 3cm cubes whilst still in the bowl. Be gentle.
  • Leave for a further hour in a warm place.
  • Strain the curds into a muslin-lined colander.
  • Leave for about 6 hours for the whey to drain.

It’s as simple as that. The cheese will keep for up to a week in the fridge. It’s very mild in flavour and is particularly good rolled in some finely chopped wild garlic leaves or other fresh herbs. It also works well in omelettes, flans, and frittatas and stirred into pasta, with alliums of course and maybe a little mustard.

So next time you think of cheese and onion go beyond the immediate thought of a crisp flavour and branch out a bit in the kitchen.

Prosecco prosecco prosecco

Matching food to wine or wine to food? Well normally I decide what I want to eat and then I think about what wine might go with it. I’m no expert at all, I stick mostly to ‘standard’ rules and also to wines I like. Occasionally I’ll go a bit off-piste, or someone will introduce me to something different, then I’ll revise my rules a bit. But its always the food first and the wine second.

In the last few weeks there’s been chance to turn this on its head. Try the wine and then wonder what to eat with it. Maybe if you have an extensive cellar this is a game you can play regularly….

“Darling I’ve found another bottle of that Puligny-Montrachet 1978 stuff, do you think it would be best with ……”.

These weren’t quite those kind of chances. Instead they were regular priced wines looking for new partners. First there was the Casillero cook off, great fun, great recipes and finding out that a wine I probably wouldn’t have looked at (I often avoid big brand names) was actually eminently drinkable. And now Niamh over at Eat Like a Girl is luring us with the possibility of prizes to try our hands at matching prosecco to food. Specifically Bisol Jeio prosecco and a chance to eat at the chefs table at Trinity.

Prosecco isn’t something I know much about and tempted by the possibility of a free tasting to help inspire food choices I popped over to Niamh’s (almost an institution) stall at Covent Garden on Thursday to see the lie of the land. I had a chat with Niamh about doing the stalls (hard work, great fun) and sipped the prosecco. Pears, peaches, off dry – but what to make to go with it. In my books prosecco, like most sparkling wine, makes a lovely aperitif but its maybe not quite so easy to have with food.

A little bit of googling and reading and a few thought came to mind…..pears…well they go well in salads with blue cheese and often walnuts. Pears and peaches…sometimes served with air-dried hams. A sweetish fruit and salty theme was emerging. I’d also got a hankering for something autumnal, earthy…

On the day I decided to experiment my husband turned out to be having beer in Bath, that’s the town in Avon and glass after glass of hoppy malty brown liquid, rather than any other beer/bath combination that might spring to mind. This meant that I had been abandoned/left to my own devices/was delighting in the perfect moment to do exactly as I wanted* (please delete as applicable). This was fortuitous, mostly he’s not a fan of sparkling wines, of blue cheese, or sweet/tart combinations and that’s right where I was heading.

Off to purloin ingredients from the local, erm, (super)market to combine with some goodies I already had in the fridge. I was aiming for English meets Italian. Italian wine, English inspired dish. This is where I ended up:

Goodshoeday’s autumnal sort of salad (for 2 people as a light meal or starter)


6 small beetroots
½ small squash
2tsp salsa di mostarda (I actually used some of the sweet pickle juices from my pickled cherry plums)
extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil (I like Hill Farm – and no they haven’t sent me any for free)
Blacksticks Blue cheese
Smoked cured ham (I used Richard Woodhall Black Combe Ham)
¼ savoy cabbage

Roast the beets in their skins for 1*1 ½ hours at R6/200C covered in foil. Top and tail, peeland cut into quarters (remember to wear rubber gloves), and keep war

Peel and core the squash and cut into small chunks. Roast in rapeseed oil for 40 minutes at R6/200C.

Shred the cabbage fairly coarsely and steam for 3-4 minutes so it retains some crunch.

Toss the beetroot and squash in the salsa di mostarda and some rapeseed oil.

Arrange 3 slices of ham on each plate with a gap in the centre. Pile the steamed cabbage in the middle then add beetroot and squash, add slivers of cheese and serve.

It was delicious though I have no idea whether it goes with prosecco of any type let alone the Bisol Jeio – the supermarket was clean out of prosecco all the other bloggers must have got their first.