Food Archives

Tomrrow is Pancake Day!

12390_10152293342759721_1047232358_n.jpg Staying-in or eating-out, St Margarets’ independent traders have everything you need!

It's nearly time to celebrate!

Screenshot%202014-12-14%2020.01.56.png and the St Margarets Tavern is ready to host your celebrations!

If you're off work for Chistmas then it's time to celebrate... Pub?

Screenshot%202014-12-14%2019.58.25.png How ‘bout the Crown?

Need a present for that difficualt-to-buy-for beer-drinker in your life?

Screenshot%202014-12-14%2019.57.29.png The Real Ale Co has you covered, whatever their tastes!

Need warming up?

Screenshot%202014-12-14%2019.55.22.png How about a nice and spicy thai curry from Thai-Upon-Thames?

Looking for a Christmas recipe?

Screenshot%202014-12-14%2020.02.06.png Try Chase Buchanan’s St Margarets office’s favourite: Gravadlax dill-cured salmon, as featured in My St Margarets Magazine…

Food Phile - Pheasant and Raisin Ravioli

Pheasant and Raisin Ravioli

This was one of those times when the dish in question became the happier accidental cousin of the meal before. The pheasant was cooked as a tribute to the unforgettable River Cafe’s Rose Gray when she died in 2010. But pleasant as the original dish was, I don’t have wood fired oven in my kitchen, and I don’t have Rose’s magic in my finger tips. So having served the breasts according to the original recipe, I made this using the leg meat and carcass pickings from a large bird [a small whole bird will easily yield enough meat for two people]. I’m giving no precise measurements here other than to say that you should use 1 large egg for each 100g type 00 flour for your pasta dough. Beyond that it’s a case of let go and follow your instincts, they’re invariably right, as I’m sure Rose would agree…

Food Phile - Goat's Cheese Tart

Goat's Cheese Tart

In the latest edition of My St Margarets Magazine I wrote about remembering your summer holidays through food, and as Autumn’s tendrils start to twine through the thinning rays of October sunshine you may be tempted to do the same. You can read the full piece ‘Look back in hunger’ [and indeed the whole magazine] here but the viewer does require Flash, so for my iPad using readers I’ve reproduced the goat’s cheese tart recipe below…

Food Phile - Coronation Potato Salad

Coronation Potato Salad

Who’d have thought we’d be wanting salad recipes in October? I’d planned to pack this away with the barbecue and pull them both out next summer, but the weather says otherwise…

It all began with the cucumber pickle. Susie’s cucumber pickle, which had recently arrived at the shop and which was so good that a meal had to be created around it. It would make a great accompaniment to burgers or other barbecued meats, but I plumped that day for poached salmon. And I love potato salad with poached salmon but wanted something with a bit more poke to stand up to that pickle. Coronation potato salad was the answer.

If you’ve ever made Chicken Elizabeth, the correct name of the dish devised for the coronation of Elizabeth II by the Cordon Bleu cookery school, you’ll know that it’s not bright turmeric yellow as we usually see now, but a purpley burgundy colour thanks to the reduction of red wine and apricot jam which is added to the mayonnaise. But having changed the principal ingredient from chicken to potato I’m sure you won’t mind if I take a few liberties with the rest!

Food Phile - Homemade Mozzarella

Homemade Mozzarella

Not my worst disaster, not my finest hour…

After four years of selling cheese, frankly it felt like high time I tried my hand at making some. I had been warned, by no less an authority than writer, columnist, restaurateur, TV chef, fish fight champion, and all round food hero Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall that “making mozzarella is more difficult than today’s other cheeses”. Pah! What does he know? I’ve read the recipe, and I once saw a short video of skilled Campania artisans with decades of know how making the stuff. So what that I’ve never made so much as a simple strained curd before - how hard can it be…?

Continue reading "Food Phile - Homemade Mozzarella" »

Food Phile - Pina Colada Ice-Cream

Pina Colada Ice-Cream


I recently ordered a Pina Colada in a chi-chi Kensington cafe at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon - I was in the mood for one, it happens! - only to be told, a tad too frostily I thought, that cocktails weren’t served before 6:00. We were celebrating for heaven’s sake, and the waitress seemed to be implying that I was some sort of lush. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the first time that such an accusation’s been lobbed in my general direction, but normally by people with whom my acquaintance extends to more than just the passing of a menu. A menu which, I hasten to add, mentioned nothing about this cocktail curfew.

Food Phile - Smoked Mackerel Pate x 2

Smoked Mackerel Pate x 2

By slavishly following post heart attack dietary advice for over twenty years my late father ate so much smoked mackerel that he came to loath it with a passion. But then my parents always treated even the most casual advice from someone with a white coat and stethoscope as something not to be simply heeded, but rather carved in tablets of stone and set upon an altar. Ironic then that when the family recently gathered at the home the of my eldest brother, for the sole purpose of relocating our dear departed parents’ mortal remains to a dedicated area of woodland in the Lancashire hills, that I should be treated to a lunch of smoked mackerel pate.

Food Phile - Lime and Chocolate Cheesecake

Lime and Chocolate Cheesecake


Once upon a time, probably around 18 years ago, I remember picking up a recipe card in a supermarket after seeing the recipe advertised on TV. This was a cutting edge piece of marketing in the early nineties, before we all had inter-lives and tweet-nests and books full of faces through which companies could court our affections. Not sure if this marks me out as an early adopter or a sheep, but it worked.

What now looks like an essentially simple dish felt like quite a complex ‘occasion’ piece at the time, but that’s probably due to my relative culinary inexperience, the use of the then uncommon ‘Mascarpone’ [daring!], and the flim-flamerous decoration required by the original recipe. The smiley people in the TV advert easily made chocolate leaves and sugared their grapes for the topping, but it was always a bit more of a palaver in my kitchen.

Food Phile - One Year Older - Any The Wiser...

One Year Older - Any The Wiser...

Well blow me down, but a whole year has gone by since my first post on Independence Day 2010 [so Happy Birthday to America too while we’re about it]. I really had no idea what to expect when I started all this, but to the thousands of visitors I’ve now welcomed along the way I’d like to say a huge thank you for your support during my first year in the blogosphere.

Looking back I find that I’m clearly more interested in purple foods than I ever realised [I’m going to have to add that as a tag now!] and a quick glance at the tag cloud over to the right tells me that garlic, cream, eggs and butter are frequently featured. A quick glance at my waistline could probably have told me the same.

Food Phile - Curried Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Spaghetti

Curried Crab and Hot Smoked Salmon Spaghetti

AKA “Spaghedgeree” if you’re feeling all Spike Milligan, or are four years old.

So, there I am mooching around the farmers market in the sunshine, the asparagus and strawberries are in the bag, and I’ve already got my eye on some lovely looking crabs at the fishmongers stall, and I’m thinking that dinner’s a done deal. Spaghetti with crab and chilli (about which I’ll post another day). When all of a sudden I come across a fascinating little stall selling dishes from India to the Philippines and stopping at a few fun sounding places along the way. I’d have happily scoffed several there and then if I hadn’t already stuffed my face with a lamb bourek from the nice couple on the Algerian stall. One of their offerings was a kedgeree fish cake, and now I’m craving warm curry spices with the crab. I need to pimp my pasta, kedgeree style, and luckily there a couple of hot smoked salmon fillets in the fridge to provide the required smoky notes. Raj era bureaucrat’s breakfast it may not be, but we’re having it for tea…

Food Phile - Wallpaper* Duck

Wallpaper Duck

It will come as either a great disappointment or a huge relief to discover that this recipe does not in fact contain any wallpaper. Duck yes, Sanderson print or Anaglypta no. The name comes from the fact that I have based this on one which appeared in the launch issue of Wallpaper* Magazine way back in 1996.

When Tyler Brûlé’s original style bible first hit the newsstands I was one of the salivating fashionistas desperately drooling over the dreamily hip lifestyle portrayed within its pages. The editor’s eye for a handsome male model [first time I’d seen two pretty boys cavorting in an expensive hotel pool for a mainstream magazine travel piece!] certainly didn’t hurt.

Food Phile - Two Soups

Two Soups

both mushroom, but there’s a gag in there somewhere for fellow Julie Walters fans…

My favourite mushroom soup began life as a stuffed cabbage which, as opening gambits go, is going to require more explanation than most.

I’d intended to make Valentine Warner’s spectacular savoy cabbage stuffed with mushrooms, leeks, walnuts and stilton. It’s a vegetarian friendly dish so splendid that you might want to invite your non carnivorous friends over just for an excuse to make the blighter, assuming of course that you eat meat in the first place. As one of my guests on the night in question eschews red meat I was glad of the opportunity. Seriously, even if you don’t try these soups you must try Val’s cabbage.

Food Phile - The Full English Breakfast - On a Stick!

The Full English Breakfast - On a Stick!

OK, they might sound a tad unconventional at first, but I’m sharing one of my best kept secrets here, and after their first appearance I guarantee that you’ll be asked to make them again [and again…]

My “full English breakfast on a stick” was invented over a dozen years ago when I was asked to help cater the 30th birthday party of an old friend. His then partner (now wife) didn’t share his fondness for baked beans and I was tasked with devising a comestible Trojan horse to sneak them into the feast. Deciding that a canapé can cover a multitude of sins I set about hatching my egg and beans plot, and now it’s become my drinks party must have. Besides, if a full English breakfast is such a good hangover cure, surely there must be some preventative benefit to be gained by eating one with your cocktails?

Food Phile - Pot Thai

Pot Thai

Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve been enjoying of late, or maybe it’s got something to do with my having done two whole weeks of full-time work [I know, poor me!], but I’m yearning to get on a plane and head for distant shores. And with my own planned odyssey to explore the food of Indochina currently on indefinite hold it doesn’t help that you can’t turn on the TV at the moment without seeing a certain bum-chinned, potty-mouthed chef trampling all over South East Asia and its peoples and cuisines. Ah well, if departure lounges must remain a distant dream for now there’s nothing to stop me rustling up a mini-break from the comfort of my own kitchen.

Food Phile - Wal-Slaw and PFC

Wal-Slaw and PFC

Whilst to some of my younger readers this will clearly mark me out as some sort of antediluvian anachronism, I can actually remember a Britain before McDonalds. The golden arches didn’t make it to our sceptred isle until 1974, fully 6 years after I first landed, and it would be many years more before Ronald showed his face in the provincial backwater that was my childhood home.

Food Phile - Boiled Royalty

Boiled Royalty

Not a republican call to arms, but time to celebrate the start of this year’s Jersey Royal season!

A few years ago we were lucky enough to be visiting friends in Jersey in early March, and driving round the island on a gloriously sunny Sunday we found the first Jersey Royals of the season for sale in a farmer’s ‘honesty shop’, a shed full of produce with a box for you to leave your payment. I was as excited as a Yukon gold miner and dashing home with them felt like being on the old Beaujolais Nouveau run [does anyone else remember when that actually used to make the 6 o’clock BBC news?]. It being the Shopkeeper’s birthday we were due to meet friends at the local bistro for dinner, and my breathless call on landing at Gatwick was the first, and so far only, time I have phoned ahead to a restaurant to ask if the kitchen would mind if we were to bring our own potatoes! I can only hope that if it happens again our hosts will be as accommodating as Brula were that evening.

Food Phile - Sufficient Temptation

Sufficient Temptation

Sorry - couldn’t wait!

I have always known this as a recipe for Jansonn’s Temptation, a dish so delicious as to have allegedly made the eponymous Mr Jansonn renounce his vow to give up earthly pleasures, hence the name. But it would seem not. My research tells me that the Swedish original is not made with anchovies [as here] but with pickled sprats, and apparently the genuine article has a crunchy breadcrumb topping, which this doesn’t.

Flavour Saviour - Brioche and Butter Pudding with Marmalade and Whiskied Raisins

Brioche and Butter Pudding with Marmalade and Whiskied Raisins

February means it’s time to toast the short Seville orange season again and even if you haven’t been making your own marmalade chances are that somebody you know has. Whether you have a glut or not, don’t make it the exclusive preserve of the breakfast table. The bitterness of the bigarade [as the French call Seville oranges] brings an added dimension to otherwise sweet dishes.

A partially shared Scottish heritage might explain the long affinity of marmalade and whisky- it’s not uncommon to find marmalade with whisky in it, but you can also turn the combination on its head and add a dollop of marmalade to a whisky cocktail. So if you have some whisky marmalade lurking in the cupboard this is the place to use it. I used brioche this time but the beauty of bread and butter pudding is that you can use any old bread, one or two days old being best.

Flavour Saviour - Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour

Happy New Year to everyone celebrating the Spring Festival - may the year of the rabbit bring you prosperity, happiness and good health.

Learning a language as an adult is far more difficult than doing so as a child when the relevant bits of our brains are more plastic, malleable and hungry for linguistic stimuli. And as it is with language, so with tableware. I could read English by the time I went to nursery school, but I didn’t meet my first pair of chopsticks until I was in my twenties. By then I could speak knife and fork with ease, and could happily conjugate the correct cutlery course combinations for soup, fish, cheese etc. But my adult mind has never mastered more than a rudimentary grasp of chopsticks. My fingers lack fluency, and even when I do successfully manage to convey a morsel of food to my mouth I’m sure it’s done with a thick English accent, clearly audible to anyone within spitting distance whose mother tongue is chopsticks.

Flavour Saviour - September 2010

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So — September’s here. The Indian summer begins to wane and as we roll into autumn I can’t entirely agree with Keats. The mists are here on Marble Hill Park, and yes the shelves of Streets the grocers are groaning with the orchards’ fruitfulness, but this change of season is never a mellow time for the Food-Phile…

Flavour Saviour - August 2010

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In my kitchen we’ve already been using Verjuice to deglaze roasting pans and to enrich casseroles and stews, in reductions, beurres blancs and more. I find it works really well in cutting the richness of a creamy sauce. And as the summer months roll round it’ll be appearing in salad dressing…

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