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

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I want chocolate cake and I want it now!, Cathy Guisewite & Barbara Albright
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Saturday 27th September

Lomo con leche is pork cooked in milk. Sounds odd? The pork is just browned, then cooked slowly in milk with cinnamon and bay leaves. Once the meat is cooked through, the milk is reduced 'into caramelised, nutty nuggets'. It really works, it sounds disgusting and to be honest the curdled lumps of milk don't look too appetising, but get over it, because they taste of the meat and spices, and the meat is creamy and salty and unlike anything else, really.

Thursday 25th September

This week, a book believed by many to be the best in the world, ever. A book I wanted just an ordinarily huge amount until I ate in the restaurant, at which point I was on the doorstep of the bookshop when they opened in the morning. Moro: The Cookbook, by Sam & Sam Clark. Truly, I could eat this food - preferably cooked by them, but failing that by me - every day of my life. First up I made the pistachio sauce, which they serve with quail in flatbread. Next time, maybe. This time, with roast poussin. It's pistachios chopped with orange-blossom water, parsley and mint, loosened with olive oil so it's like a sort of crunchy salsa. But about a million times better than that sounds.

Inspired by that, C took over and made aubergines with mint and chilli, which is what he ordered when we went. I know, it's cheating. But have I mentioned that I don't do frying? Yes, deep-fried aubergines, all vey gorgeous. But my part of the process is to hover by the fire blanket - and, of course, to gobble up the hot, garlicky, oily, caramelised slices.

Sunday 21st September

Finally a bit of a treat, a soup which brushed up very nicely for a dinner party starter: prawn and fennel. It is simply a lot of fennel and shallotts sweated for half an hour, then puréed with white wine, a splosh of pernod (yum yum) and some fish stock (and the shells of even pre-cooked prawns make delicious stock). It had a lovely consistency without sieving it, but that was my only disobedience. Right at the end you add a generous amount of cream, and the prawns. In shallow bowls (so the little pink tails piled up out of the liquid) and finished with a little more double cream, black pepper and the fennel fronds, this was très elegant.

Thursday 18th September

I suppose the point of this project is for me to follow recipes, but I'm no good at it. Today was meant to be chicken, coconut and galangal soup, but it was fairly unrecognisable by the time I'd finished. I used root ginger instead of galangal - well, where does she think I'm shopping? - and poached the chicken on the bone in the soup rather than shredding it raw, to give the soup more flavour as I didn't have good stock. And I used fresh chilli where she says dried and I fried up an onion and a pepper and the stalks of the coriander, none of which was in the recipe. But then that is why my version didn't take 'literally minutes to prepare'.

Wednesday 17th September

This week a book I was dead keen on as a student: soup being a good way to posh-up a supper party without excessive expenditure or delicate construction (and let's face it, I can talk, but I'm a tear-stained food-smeared klutz in the kitchen when the pressure's on). [ Yes she is -- C ] 100 Great Soups, by Orla Broderick. But this week it has to provide actual meals, so I started with her recipe for cullen skink, which I can't say I was that impressed with. Partly it was my fault for using leftover potatoes of quite the wrong variety - it needs floury ones so that the starch thickens the soup. Otherwise it is just warm milk with smoked haddock in.

Sunday 14th September

What do students cook? Spag bol, chilli, stir-fry. I picked out a lovely little stir-fry recipe, sesame broccoli with noodles. You (assuming ex-student readers) don't need a recipe for stir-fry, but chunks of broccoli sizzled with red onion, hot chilli and anchovies, then tossed with egg noodles in soy sauce, and finished with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Admittedly, probably not a staple of most students' store cupboards...

Saturday 13th September

I found a dessert in the Wolf book, for Friday night supper with Anthony - who particularly wanted a mention. Hullo, Anthony. The pudding in question continues the trad-Brit-stodge theme: apple betty. A betty is a dish which layers fruit with breadcrumbs - which supposedly combine with butter and sugar (and, here, cinnamon) to make a 'succulent, soft and light yet mysterious mixture'. Well, I was having a bad evening generally (roast beef? What was I thinking?), and this was no exception. The apples were gorgeous (and kudos to Toby, who grew them) and the middle layer of breadcrumbs was nice enough, but the layer on top was not really buttery enough - it dried out and then of course the nuts scorched. More cracker than crumble.

Wednesday 10th September

This week, very seasonally as it happens, though it's a week or two before the real inundation of freshers here, A Wolf in the Kitchen, by Lindsey Bareham. It is back-to-basics, food for students and any others of us feeding big appetites on small budgets. Today we dived in to the easy hearty deep end with toad in the hole (yes, you can guess how suspicious C was of that). Justifiably, to some extent, because arranging sausages (pre-browned) in batter which you've just poured into boiling lard before it cooks itself is not really a beginners' procedure, and to be honest I made rather a muddle of it - but there, it was tasty. Not puffy enough - I think another time I will make more batter than she says, but that is a rather personal preference for stodgy carbohydrates.

Sunday 7th September

Finally from our friends in Ambridge, a recipe from Jennifer herself: sweet onion and thyme marmalade (with venison). This, of course, is simply red onions stewed with brown sugar. I have tried a few recipes for onion jam, having (of course) a bias towards Nigella's onion-and-marsala 'mush'. This one isn't bad, as they go - I like the touch of using raspberry vinegar - but I am mystified as to why it is said to need only half an hour's cooking. After an hour and a half it was tasty, soft but still textured. My unevidenced feeling is that red onions do keep more of a crunch than brown, which to my mind is a disadvantage, though each to his own. They are certainly prettier.

Friday 5th September

So maybe savoury isn't really the Archers' Pantry's strong point. It's such a sweet book, I can't tell you - pages and pages of jam and little sketches of flowers and teapots. Did you know how to polish pewter? (With a cabbage leaf, apparently.) To get into the spirit of things I took to the kitchen to make Clarrie's Scrumpy and Cinnamon Cake. Clarrie, of course, has the misfortune to have married into the notorious Grundy family - and thus has endless access to home made cider of lethal strength. Her cake seemed to work equally well with the supermarket variety, though it wasn't exactly the kind of cake that wins the Archer family prizes at the county show... Still, nice and moist and autumnal - and so virtuous (brown sugar and wholemeal flour) - though perhaps I'm not usually looking for virtue in a cake. Clarrie, on the other hand, has to take it where she can find it...

Thursday 4th September

And so to start at the very beginning, and don't for a minute think I'm going to stick to nice and tidy alpha order, but it's a very good place to start. A is for The Archers' Pantry, by (it says) Jennifer Aldridge. Who, as you may know, is a fictional character. But hey, stranger people have written cookbooks. For my first test I chose a recipe attributed to Jennifer's sister-in-law Pat, whose younger son inherited a herd of organic pigs from his elder brother when he was squashed by a tractor. Do keep up. Pat therefore urges us to make pork and apricot picnic pies, which consist of a minced pork, apricot, leek and sage filling and 'hot water crust pastry' - a thing across which I had never come, but it contains lard, so that was an adventure. Melting lard in boiling water was alarming, and pastry hates me, but eventually, with the help of a lot of flour and some rather un-delicate rolling, I made six little semi-circular pasties. I can't say they were as exciting to eat as they were to assemble, but perhaps when you live in a country town with death-by-cow statistics as worrying as Ambridge's, perhaps portable fuel is as much as you need. Tune in again tomorrow...

Wednesday 3rd September

Pertelote has a new project pour la rentrée. Shamefacedly I must confess that there are cookbooks on the shelf that have never been cooked from. Obviously I can't really sneak any new ones in while this is the case, so I challenge myself, as you are my witnesses, to work through them all. Now I don't kid myself I'm going to use every recipe, or even cook from books every day, but I aim to 'do' a book a week, cooking from it at least once. And write about it, of course - I do know this has been a bit lazy and dull in recent months, so two birds, one pie.