My Just Desserts

Let’s get this straight, British desserts rock. Italians maybe the past masters at gelato – read my post ‘Decamping the Ice Cream Myth’ – chased only on the commercial edge by the Americans; the French may claim fruit tarts, custard based crèmes and le soufflé; the Portuguese have heavenly custard tarts and Australians the pavlova; but no one else does ‘puddings’ like the British do. Sticky toffee, suet, bread and butter, upside down and not forgetting Christmas’s ‘figgy’, all hearty warming puddings that smothered in custard stick to your soul and offer comfort.  Continue reading “My Just Desserts”

Expatriated Desserts

Fresh fruit, unctuous caramel and creamy custard

When I married for the first time and, at the age of 18 left for Africa to join my expatriate banker husband, my small circle of friends was, on the whole, envious. On the face of it there was a great deal to be envious about. In London I shared a hostel room with two other girls; in Ghana I moved into a fully furnished, light and airy apartment, with a house boy to do all the cleaning, cooking and washing. I exchanged a monotonous job for the excitement of travel, and different countries to explore and, although I left good friends behind, there was a ready-made circle of expatriates to fit into. Life was going to be one long round of sun, sand, and cocktail parties. Continue reading “Expatriated Desserts”

The Art of Digestion

The joy of being a Londoner is that you never run out of things to do or see. Man and I are often lucky enough to be able to skive off mid-week and spend an hour or two wandering around the capital’s museums and exhibitions. Art in particular, from the medieval to the modern, is high on our list of interests, to admire as well as to buy. Continue reading “The Art of Digestion”

A Tale of Two Picnics

The view from Snowdon
The view from Snowdon

A picnic is ‘an occasion when a packed meal is eaten in an outside setting’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The British enthusiasm for picnics is truly the triumph of hope over experience, be it parked up in a lay-by, surrounded by wind breaks on a stony beach, or on rare occasions, lying in long grass contemplating the Magritte clouds passing by overhead in a pool of blue sky. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Picnics”

Hydropathic Pudding – once an invalid food, now all that is best about summer

Soft Fruit Simmering

Gone are the days when Doctors visited the sick at home. It was common practice in 1950s Essex. I wasn’t often ill, just normal childhood ailments which weren’t fussed about or vaccinated against.  But when a sore throat turned into tonsillitis and the Doctor was called, then I was worried. Continue reading “Hydropathic Pudding – once an invalid food, now all that is best about summer”

Rich Rice Pudding – my favourite comfort food

A lot of milk and a little rice go a long way...
A lot of milk and a little rice go a long way…

My mother hated rice pudding. As a young teenager, she was evacuated during the war from a bombed-out Birmingham to the relative peace of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The family who took her in had their own cow, so there was plenty of milk, and a good cheap way to fill up young stomachs during war-time rationing was with rice pudding (it still amazes me how a tiny amount of rice can end up filling an entire pudding dish, thanks to all the milk!). Continue reading “Rich Rice Pudding – my favourite comfort food”

Petits Pots de Creme au Chocolat – memories of summers on the Normandy coast

Les petits pot de creme au chocolat
Les petits pot de creme au chocolat

Nearly half a century ago, I ate the most simple of chocolate puddings. The pudding itself was delicious but what really captured my imagination was what it was served in – a tiny white pot with its own lid, decorated with gold trim. It was 19th century porcelain and part of a set of eight little pots with a matching porcelain tray. Nicole, my French friend who had cooked the pudding, told me they were called “petit pots de crème au chocolat” and were made specifically for ‘crème au chocolat’. Continue reading “Petits Pots de Creme au Chocolat – memories of summers on the Normandy coast”

The Best of British: Fashion and Apples – a pudding to satisfy cravings

Bramleys to the Ready
Bramleys to the Ready

It’s London Fashion week and venues across the city are thronged by pale, waif-like figures swinging glossy carrier bags, faces shrouded behind dark glasses. This bi-annual event has this year coincided with the first signs of spring. After weeks of single figure temperatures and frosty mornings, a high of 11C seems almost balmy. Padded coats, swathes of scarves and knitted hats are being discarded, and many of us standard-sized human beings are becoming aware of  the tightness of our jeans and the realisation that summer fashions are just around the corner. So what, you may ask has this got to do with baked apples? Continue reading “The Best of British: Fashion and Apples – a pudding to satisfy cravings”