Have to hand a sink with a bit of cold water in the bottom, a jam thermometer, an electric beater and a well-greased swiss-roll tin, preferably resting on a trivet.
- 1 can condensed milk
- 1 kg caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 250g salted butter
- In a large pan, mix the condensed milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. Rinse out the condensed milk tin with a little bit of water, less than half the tinful, and add that to the mixture.
- Gently heat, whilst stirring, until the sugar has all dissolved and the butter is melted.
- Keep a track of the temperature with a sugar thermometer. Keep on stirring and cooking, as the tablet begins to take on a brown colour, and is up just past the ‘soft ball’ temperature, around 119 C
- When the tablet looks right and is the right temperature, take the pan off the heat, cool the bottom of the pan in a sink of cold water. Take your time to put down the spoon and the thermometer.
- Beat the tablet as it starts to cool, until the surface starts to lose its shine. If you test the texture on the beater wires, it should begin to thicken and look slightly velvety.
- While it is still hot, pour it into the greased swiss roll tin.
- Leave to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then score into squares. When it is completely cool (usually much later) turn it out and break into squares.
I like tablet with coffee.
This is a very easy Persian version of a common middle-eastern dip. Be prepared to get a bit messy for the best results.
- 2 large aubergines
- 1 tbsp very good quality olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 200ml plain full-fat greek yoghurt
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Rinse the aubergines and prick them with a fork in a few places. Put them in the centre of the oven on a rack with a baking tray underneath. Bake for one hour.
- Remove the aubergines from the oven, let them cool until you can handle them. Peel off the skin and chop the flesh.
- Put all the chopped aubergine into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I used my bare hands to squish the aubergine well, before beating with a fork. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with saffron water, a tablespoonful of plain yoghurt and mint leaves.
- This recipe is best made 24 hours in advance, and stored in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving. This is good served with bread.
Some of you will know that I spent some time living in Teheran when I was a child. Zara used to work for our family as a housekeeper, and she used to cook wonderful Persian home-cooking for us. Our favourite was a dish called Loubia Pollow, made with rice, beans, tomatoes and lamb. We also used to eat the most delicious barbari bread and thick plain yoghurt sold in blue earthenware bowls.
I have sought to recreate the flavours of the food we ate there, and have never managed to get it quite right. Persian food is very complex and sophisticated, from ancient civilisations, combining the herbs and spices of east and west.
There are a few sites online where you can look up Persian recipes, but the flavours and end-results are unfamiliar to most. I have one recipe book, A Taste of Persia which is aimed at the US market, and has all the ingredients in cups. I’ve been working my way through the recipes and re-jigging them to suit local ingredients and UK directions.
- 1 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
- 1 500g tub of full-fat plain Greek Yoghurt
- A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh dill or fennel leaf, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp dried tarragon
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Garnish of fresh mint, rose petals, dill leaf, chive flowers, chopped walnuts, chopped radishes etcetera
- Combine all the ingredients, mix well and adjust the seasoning.
- Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, and up to four hours before serving. Take out of the fridge ten minutes before serving and garnish.
I have no idea if this recipe is Mexican at all. I got it from my friend Kay, who I think got it from a book called the Vegetarian Epicure which I have never chased down yet.
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 floz olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 2 cups of white rice
- 1 1/2 pints of tomato puree (I use canned chopped tomatoes which I blend, or you could use passata)
- 2 tsp salt
- 14 floz water
- Chop the onions and garlic and lightly fry in the oil.
- Add the ginger, coriander, cloves and pepper, and stir for 30 seconds
- Add the rice and stir, cooking until the rice seems to be turning clear and beginning to brown
- Add the tomato puree, salt and water, and simmer for 25 minutes
A good recipe for left-over mashed potato.
- Mashed potato, seasoned well with salt and pepper – around 250g
- 50g plain flour
- Add the flour to the mashed potato, stirring it at first and then pulling the mixture together to form a dough the consistency of pastry. It doesn’t look like it is going to work at first
- Roll the pastry out very thin, and cut into portion-sized triangles
- Fry in hot butter, turn with a fish-slice to ensure each side is cooked to crispy brown. We used dripping this morning, in place of the butter.
Serve as part of a very ill-advised and delicious fried breakfast.
Dear Angela. Here is the original recipe for the chutney. I got this from Christina at the surgery, whose mother got it from a friend. The quantities are quite ‘loose’ and depend on what is in the store cupboard.
- 2 lb cooking apples
- as much garlic as you like
- 1 3/4 pints malt vinegar
- 1 lb dates, stones out and chopped
- 1 lb raisins
- 1 lb brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp salt
- ginger, peeled and grated, if wished
- Chop the unpeeled apples, garlic and ginger, and simmer in a pan with the vinegar, until soft.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.
Makes about 6 jars. The recorder of the recipe advises keeping your fingers crossed; I suspect because she is free and easy with the quantities.
A recipe from the spring.
I know that nettles are supposed to be tasty and nutritious and free, but I’ve always struggled with the recipes that I’ve tried, usually ending up with something that looks wrong. But the scent of blanched nettles suggests an affinity with gooseberries, elderflowers, mackerel, and a wonderful hint of spring. I was out foraging for seaweed on the day I made this. At the end of the walk, I scrambled up a bank of dried kelp and pebbles, then silverweed, and then a great abundance of freshly sprouting spring nettles.
When I got home, I blanched my pickings of nettle tops, and found I had 75g, enough to make myself a tasty wee risotto for one. You could easily multiply up for more.
- 1/4 mild onion, finely chopped
- 1 lovage sprig, finely chopped (leaves not the stem)
- 25g butter
- 75-100g blanched nettle tops, finely chopped
- 100g arborio rice
- 1 glass white wine
- 300ml hot vegetable stock (I used marigold bouillon)
- 1 oz parmesan, grated
- Salt and pepper
- Fry the onion in the butter until it is soft and nearly browning.
- Add the chopped nettles and chopped lovage, and stir in, frying, for a minute.
- Add the rice, keep stirring and frying, until the rice looks glazed and shiny.
- Pour in a glass of wine, and bring to the boil.
- Slowly add the stock, bringing to the boil and waiting until the stock is absorbed before adding more.
- Once the rice is tender, but still a little firm, add the salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Stir in, cover, and leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.
Could you serve fish with this? Not sure. It was very good on its own.
We had the usual debate through the late afternoon about what we might do for a meal, when the spouse mentioned that we had some squats, and I said that I liked risotto. We used Valentina Harris’s book, Risotto Risotto to give us the technical details. This is what we did.
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- A lovage leaf (or a little bit of celery)
- 50g butter
- 200g arborio rice
- 1/4 bottle vinho verde (or any dry white wine)
- 500ml boiling hot vegetable stock
- 500g squats, cut in half (peeled weight)
- 25g freshly grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
- Salt and pepper
My rule of thumb, for a good sized portion per person I allow 75g rice and 225ml liquid. For a starter, 50g. This recipe depended on how much weight of squats we had, and we got three servings.
- Fry the onion in half the butter until soft, then stir in the risotto rice and lovage.
- If you are using celery, chop it finely and fry it with the onion.
- Stir the rice into the frying onion until it looks opaque and is hot. Then stir in the wine, then start adding the stock a little bit at a time, allowing each bit of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.
- With the last little bit of stock, add the squats. When the stock is fully soaked in, remove the risotto from the heat, and add the parsley, the rest of the butter and the parmesan, add any salt and pepper that is needed, and then cover. Leave the risotto to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
One of my mother’s recipes from the 1970s.
- 1 grapefruit
- 2 tsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Cut the grapefruit in half, remove the pips and loosen the segments with a grapefruit knife.
- Mix the butter, sugar and spice together, and spread onto the grapfruit halves.
- Place under a hot grill for five minutes, to caramelise the sugar.