Truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own homes - Eliza Acton

Pertelote is learning to be an Eastender... [more]
Library Thing link
[Mostly food]
Chocolate & Zucchini
Cook sister!
Leite's Culinaria
Becks & Posh
The Passionate Cook
Jill Dupleix
[Mostly not food]
Petite Anglaise
C @ Advogato
Language Log
My photos on flickr
Persephone Books
Copine de Geek
September/October 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
October/November 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
October 2003
September 2003
July/August 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002

Friday 24th November


Knowing some of the other bloggers, I think it just possible that these may not be the most beautiful truffles presented for today's Sugar High Friday: And God created chocolate truffles, hosted by Johanna at The Passionate Cook. Still, like any proud creatrix, I decree that they are very good. I worked from the recipe in Real Chocolate by Chantal Coady (the brains behind Rococo Chocolates, who really ought to know what she is talking about). The last few months' intensive research has proved conclusively that the combination of fruit and chocolate is a reliable favourite, so I puréed mango with vanilla essence and added it to the ganache. The purée wasn't completely smooth, so the truffles are flecked with orange dots. Apart from that their appearance is due entirely to my impatience: as usual I had left this to the last minute, so a proper process of chilling, shaping, tempering and coating was skipped in favour of the 'dollop and shake' method. I've no doubt you'll find step-by-step instructions - not to mention exquisite photographs - elsewhere in the roundup. But I think there is an argument to be made in favour of truffles that look like their bosky namesake, wouldn't you say?

Dark chocolate, mango and vanilla truffles

100ml double cream
110g dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's)
25g unsalted butter
100g mango
tsp vanilla essence
cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate very very fine - with a food processor if possible. Scald the cream, i.e. bring it to the boil. Pour into the chocolate, a little at a time, stirring gently but thoroughly after each spoonful. When cream and chocolate are fully combined, add the butter in small dice. Stir gently until completely melted.

Purée mango with vanilla essence and add to ganache. Shape into truffles according to your preferred method.


Thursday 23rd November

You should know that when invited to a party, I bring cake. I can't help it - it isn't (usually!) a pre-judgement on your catering, it just seems like the right thing to do. Or a good excuse to make a cake, possibly. I have also been known to take cake to work meetings, which people find even stranger. So it's good to have a party to get it out of my system. At the latest, a few people asked for the recipe, so here it is: a fantastic trick to have up your sleeve at this time of year, a simple bake and a good traveller.

The Apple Lady's Apple Cake from The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells

23cm pan
70g plain flour
65g vanilla sugar
1tbs baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2tbs vegetable oil
80ml milk
1kg apples, peeled cored and sliced - I use coxes but anything that you like will probably work. If they are very sharp you might want to up the sugar.

65g sugar
1 large egg
45g butter, melted

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, oil and milk and mix well. Add apples and stir to coat slices thoroughly.

Spoon into greased tin and bake at 200C for 25 minutes until firm and golden.

Combine topping ingredients, remove cake from oven and pour topping over. Return to oven and bake until top is browned - about 10 minutes more.


Monday 20th November


The end of the birthday box: one milk, one white. Two discerning persons. The choice mine, by mutual consent and natural justice. Could I choose? Could I heck. The milk chocolate disc, speckled with silver, contains passion fruit coulis. The white, with the henna-like patterning, apricot with tonka bean. Both delightfully sweet/sharp, snappy/oozy, both demanding both to be framed and preserved for posterity and also gobbled up Right Now. The side-by-side comparison confirmed my recollection: they were equally good. Try for yourself: from Artisan du Chocolat, Lower Sloane Street.


Monday 13th November

I've had a good month for eating out. In particular I was taken to two good Italian places - one for work, one for pleasure - and was delighted to find them both in full autumn mode. Wild mushrooms are not exactly in the sushi league of things you'd only eat in restaurants, but they can be hard to get hold of and fiddly to prepare, so having them cooked for you is a lovely way to go (that's way to go as in "manner in which to proceed", rather than "method of self-dispatch": having professionals prepare one's wild mushrooms is also a good way to avoid doing a Claudius). Anyway, the mushrooms I ate at Carluccio's in Covent Garden were described on the menu so as to give the impression that these were what the chef happened to stumble across on the way to work this evening. He must have a long and woodsy walk if so, as I would have needed a tome of a reference book to identify them all. They were sautéd in butter, garlic and parsley and piled generously into the middle of a sheet of carta di musica bread so that the crispy edges stuck up like a crown. A few days later I was introduced to Sardo on Grafton Way (off Tottenham Court Road) where the specials were equally seasonal. I went for dover sole, which was spiralled around a filling of fresh porcini (aka ceps) and served with saffrony fregola sarda - a variety of tiny spherical pasta from Sardinia, rather like Israeli (i.e. giant) couscous. The fish stood up to the strong flavour of the mushrooms surprisingly well.


Thursday 2nd November

Aha, my evil plan worked! Well, not that evil to be honest. Not possessing the pure Scottish chutzpah that allows the Drs to open their door on Halloween with the question "so will you be singing a song or reciting a poem?" my only line of attack was to ensure that the only treats I had in the house were a) homebaked and b) stuffed with fruit. As anticipated, the wee bairns and their mums had all toddled off home by the time I got home from work, so my cakes were distributed to a lairy and frankly poorly prepared rabble of local youths. Guys? A hoodie is not a halloween costume. Nor was I impressed by one young man's claim, in response to my complaints about the lack of effort, that he was wearing 'special boots'. But the shortage of trick-or-treaters meant all the more cakes for us (banana muffins with ginger and chocolate chips), and we had a very cozy evening. It was further enhanced by the most delicious accidental soup: the leftovers of a nice but unremarkable oxtail stew, with no meat left but a few veg, a bit of potato and lots of juice, blended up into something subtle, meaty and entirely un-reconstructable. Sigh. As it used to say on the wall of our student house, "he who binds to himself a joy/does the winged life destroy;/but he who kisses the joy as it flies/lives in eternity's sun rise." I think leftover soup was almost certainly what Blake had in mind.