The Sage of a Francophile

Growing up it was hard not to learn to love all things French. My father’s family come from Guernsey, an island that is approximately forty-three miles from the French coast, and double that from the UK mainland. Continue reading “The Sage of a Francophile”

One Step, Two Steps – Peas In A Pod

Peas in a pod
Peas in a pod

Back in 2012, I was asked to test this recipe for pea and courgette salad by my step-step-grand-daughter Niaomh, who was editing and publishing The Deptford Community Cookbook. Since then, the salad has become a spring-time favourite of mine. But before we get into peas and their pods, I suspect you’re trying to work out what is a ‘step-step-grand-daughter’? Let me explain… Continue reading “One Step, Two Steps – Peas In A Pod”

A Simple Soup for Sore Throats

The simplest of ingredients
The simplest of ingredients

There’s something about being ill that completely changes your appetite, both in terms of quantity and desire. Today was the first time in four weeks that I ate a fresh green salad – normally a daily habit of mine. But then I’ve been ill with bronchitis and an awful laryngitis and, as a result, my appetite has become that of a child. I’ve been eating nursery food.  Continue reading “A Simple Soup for Sore Throats”

An Italian Con-fucsion

I don’t think you ever forget your first trip to Venice. Mine was in March, a melancholy month at the best of times. Dark clouds were blanketing London and the plane trees lining my street dripped water from the tips of their, as yet, sticky buds. At work, I had been assigned to ‘special projects’ whilst seeing out a six month notice period for an American telecoms company. It was mind numbingly boring and I felt in need of a break if I was to embark on a new career with a spring in my step. Continue reading “An Italian Con-fucsion”

Sweet Paprika and Sweet Memories – Family Recipes

My mother in her kitchen - probably her favourite room!
My mother in her kitchen – probably her favourite room!

After many years of travelling – Germany, Kenya, Suffolk, New Zealand, Kent – we finally settled in Buckinghamshire in 1968 when my parents bought an old ramshackle farmhouse, the first ever house they had ever owned.

Looking back, I realise we only just scraped by on my father’s teaching salary whilst my mother juggled raising the three of us, working part-time as a school secretary, growing most of our vegetables and fruit, and making all our clothes. But I never had the impression that we lacked for anything. Continue reading “Sweet Paprika and Sweet Memories – Family Recipes”

Easter and an Extravaganza of Eggs

Polish babka cake
Polish babka cake

My mother was very parsimonious when it came to cooking with eggs. Clearly, her wartime childhood had affected her. The WWII ration allowance was one fresh egg per week, supplemented with dried egg powder from the USA – which she hated. But old habits die hard; even in her eighties, she would use only one egg to make herself an omelette. If I had ever had the chance to bake her this traditional Polish babka cake for Easter, which uses twelve egg yolks, she would have had a veritable heart attack! Continue reading “Easter and an Extravaganza of Eggs”

A Bit of a Porker

I am not a great pork fan. It used to work itself into my diet on only three occasions. A twice a year or so roast for Sunday lunch (where for me the crackling was always the main attraction), weekend bacon butties, and sausages – proper British sausages, 40% or so of minced pork and a fair amount of fat, mixed with bread or rusk, herbs and seasoning. I find it difficult to like their meatier denser European cousins, French saucisson or German bratwurst, encased as they are in a thicker skin that sometimes require boiling. Continue reading “A Bit of a Porker”

Not Mincing my Words about Chilli

To write this now in the 21st century feels like the start of a Victorian novel; to say that I was given an allowance by my first husband, for housekeeping and my own personal expenditure. But it was so. I managed to work in Ghana, our first posting abroad, but by the time we reached Zambia, two years later, their government had brought in a moratorium on accompanying expatriate wives working. Like many before me, bored with few other options, I got pregnant, learnt to cook and got to grips with how to stretch a small budget. My financial acumen was virtually nonexistent, despite having been the first female management trainee with an international bank, so was my knowledge about choosing cheap cuts of meat and what to do with them. Continue reading “Not Mincing my Words about Chilli”

Do Not Trifle with a Truffle

Ingredients for an 'Omelette au Truffes'
Ingredients for an ‘Omelette au Truffes’

I am a truffle virgin.

The closest I’ve got to cooking with truffles was a recipe for Cauliflower Soup by John Burton-Race which demanded – or rather, insisted – on a swirl of truffle oil in the soup just before serving. He swore this made all the difference, so I splashed out on a very expensive small bottle of truffle oil. He was right. That ribbon of golden perfumed oil whisked through the creamy cauliflower soup worked magic. My  guests asked me what had I done to make the soup taste so delicious?

But experimenting with truffle oil was as far as I ever got back in the UK – truffles aren’t exactly two a penny on the Welsh Borders. So last week, when I came across some truffle sellers in Albi Market promoting a Fete des Truffes at the nearby village of Villeneuve-sur-Vere the following Sunday, I knew I had to go. Continue reading “Do Not Trifle with a Truffle”