Mackerel? Do you like it?

Personally, I don’t like mackerel. I eat almost all fish, but am not keen on smoked haddock although with a poached egg it is ok. Not over keen on Shark, would never choose it but like or love almost everything else. My condemned mans last meal would be Fish and Chips ( though I am very choosy about how it is cooked and the chips have to be triple cooked). Himself ? He likes most things, will try anything as long as there is no fat or gristle ( memories of childhood). And really likes mackerel. it being one of the oily fish, it is really good for you!

The first time I had mackerel was many years ago in Berlin , where himself was studying and myself a mere tourist. Didn’t grab me them and doesn’t grab me now.

However, I am always on the lookout for ideas and inspirations and have recently tried a new one which involves Nduja and chickpeas.

Quiet by chance I had some Nduja in the refrigerator and naturally had all of the other ingredients as well, including the fish.

Nduja is a spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria in southern Italy, though other regions in Spain and France have something similar. The roasted hot chilli peppers give it a deep red colour and a fiery taste and has become popular in the USA and the UK.

For 2 Servings

  • 2 +2 tabs olive oil
  • Small onion chopped
  • +/- 75 grams Nduja
  • a tin of cherry tomatoes or a good handful of fresh cherry tomatoes (I used fresh as I had oodles of them)!
  • Can chickpeas drained
  • A couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Small bunch parsley chopped
  • 1/2 lemon including zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2-4 fillets of mackerel depending on size
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and add the onion until, soft but not coloured
  • Add the garlic and then the Nduja, cook for about 5 minutes breaking it up as it softens.
  • Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, cook until the tomatoes are soft. Season to taste .
  • Mix together the parsley and lemon juice and zest.
  • Dust the filets with the paprika
  • Heat the remaining oil and cook the mackerel skin side down until crisp , quickly flip over and cook for a quick minute.
  • Spoon the chick pea, tomato mixture onto a plate or a bowl. Top with the fish and then the parsley (oops I forgot to add the parsley)!

So if you like fish then give this one a try. Obviously with a strong tasting fish like mackerel thIs works well, but I really don’t see why it wouldn’t work with other fish as well, especially Salmon. I will give it a try!

Broccoli Love it or Hate it ?

Who doesn’t like Broccoli? It would seem many people but the most famous being George H.W.Bush the 41 st President of the USA, though apparently his wife liked it enough to eat his share. Here in our Tower, I think indifferent is the word used for broccoli, though Himself expresses a dislike for purple sprouting broccoli and Kale, whereas son in law dislikes Brussels Sprouts. Each to their own I guess. My own son has always disliked baked beans and willowy blond detests mushrooms. When they were younger and I made Spaghetti Bolognese I would take whatever vegetables were in the refrigerator, blitz them in my food processor and incorporate them into the sauce. My son recently accused me of making my sauce RED, well maybe I did, but it would be the result of carrots and tomatoes!

These days, we occasionally have broccoli but I have to admit not often. However, when I choose my delivery from the lovely Watts Farm, I troll through the vegetable options and will always choose a variety, including broccoli. I have been meaning to try alternative recipes for it and have found one, which I adapted to use other things that were in my refrigerator

For my Broccoli Salad I used

  • A large head of broccoli, blanched and and cut into small florets
  • A handful of toasted nuts ( pistachios, peanuts or hazelnuts)
  • Some chopped mint leaves
  • Some chopped coriander leaves
  • Some chopped dates
  • A squeeze of runny honey
  • Half teaspoon chilli in oil
  • Any other salad type ingredients, such as baby tomatoes, spring onions, chopped celery.

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice ( bottled is ok)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 1tablespoon rice vinegar
  • A piece of fresh ginger about a thumb length
  • 50 mls sesame oil ( or olive)

Throw all of the dressing ingredients into a blender or hand blender and whizz until well blended.

Mix together all of the salad ingredients, and toss with about half of the dressing, serving the rest on the side.

Some useful information:-

  • A good source of Vitamin C
  • Useful amounts of beta carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A
  • Some folate, iron and potassium
  • The darker the florets and stem the better the Vitamin C content
  • Much better to steam, stir fry or microwave to retain most of the vitamin C

A Birthday Lunch and a Gentleman’s Relish

Another year, another Birthday, but in the same restaurant, albeit several years apart but weirdly enough with some of the same dishes still on the menu! Is this complacency or is it because these dishes are just so good that they can not be removed from the menu. To my mind it is the latter!

A few years ago we ate at Dinner for dinner, en Famille, at the Chefs table but this time we ate at Dinner for lunch and just Himself and Myself. The service is just as good ( he sneezed and tissues appeared by his side, my handbag was on the floor, a table hook appeared, with apologies and bag was duly hooked onto table). And the food? We took the lunch menu and yes the dishes that were on the menu last time, were just as wonderful as before.

We started with Hay Smoked Salmon, which had its inspiration from 1730 and was served with Gentleman’s Relish.

Next came the pièce de resistance. The Meat Fruit from the 13th -15th century. When is a Clementine not a Clementine? When it is a meat fruit. This wonderful concoction looks like a Clementine but is in fact chicken liver parfait.

Duck and Turnip from absolutely ages ago written about in the edible History of Pompeii Ref Apicius

Of course Heston being Heston, he is not satisfied with one Pièce de Resistance but there are two. The second being the Tipsy Cake. This dates from the early 1800’s as in the English Cookery Book by J.H.Walsh. I don’t often eat dessert, but this is absolutely DIVINE. A kind of Brioche in its own little cocotte with I think a hot crème anglaise and hot roasted pineapple, Umm Umm !

Himself also discovered a red wine which , we decided it was very tasty.( I did have a sip).

Gentleman’s relish was a 19 th century gentry’s favourite and was called Patum Peperium. Why? A play on words, Patum for paste or pate and Pererium from Greek for pepper. The fact that it is made with lots of anchovies and garlic and butter is indeed neither here nor there !Maybe a 19th Century version of Anchovy butter?

To make your own relish you will need

  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • About 25-30 anchovy fillets, best to buy tops quality Ortiz is the best
  • 150 grams unsalted butter softened
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • A good grind of good black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme.

Simply blend all of the above either in a mortar and pestle, with a hand blender or in an electric blender, until smooth . Put in a pot, you can refrigerate it but take it out before using to soften, spread on toast, add to Welsh Rarebit, add to Caesar Salad dressing, put onto grilled fish, stuff mushrooms and so many options! And of course the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret. At Dinner it is a bit of a hybrid as they mix it with fine mayonnaise.

Meat Ball Sandwiches and Raspberry Shortcakes.

Once again this week I have been let off the cooking duties ( well almost), as the two youngest of the houseguests Sam 6 and Tess 11 decided that they would cook. Sam was desperate to cook meat ball sandwiches and Tess with her copy of “One Tray Bakes” wanted to make the Strawberry Shortcakes.

I had done my research regarding the meatballs and had saved in my electronic filing system the recipe for IKEA MEATBALLS! IKEA has been making meat balls for nearly 40 years and now have four different kinds. They added the vegetarian version along with the chicken version in 2015, and the salmon and cod version in 2018. In 2019 they started experimenting with a plant based protein version as well. But come what may we or rather Sam was going to make the meat version.

I rummaged in my freezer and came up with minced beef and Turkey breast. The IKEA meat version called for a combination of pork and beef but Turkey and Beef would have to suffice, after all it was Sunday afternoon and no grocery stores were open. This quantity makes between 35 and 40 meatballs. We actually made 38, which meant Sam having to use his 7 x table to work out how many we each could have! (5 each and three remaining ).

  • 500 grams minced beef
  • 500 grams minced pork/chicken or Turkey
  • 1large onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 minced cloves garlic
  • 2-3 eggs
  • A splodge of milk if too stiff.
  • 150 grams breadcrumbs, I used panko crumbs
  • Simply mix all together, it is absolutely better to stick your hands and and mix
  • Using a spoon or even an ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball
  • Roll in some flour and put on a baking tray, try not to let them touch as they will stick together.
  • At this point they may be placed in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  • Heat some oil in a frying pan and carefully fry them just until light brown on all sides
  • Place back onto the baking tray and bake at 180C for 20-30 minutes

IKEA meatballs are always served with a cream sauce and this can be made easily by

  • 40 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 300 mls beef stock
  • 200 mls crème fraiche or sour cream, or double cream
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • A good dollop of Dijon mustard
  • Melt the butter
  • Stir in cornflour
  • Pour in the stock and stir, if it goes lumpy, whisk
  • Add the cream, mustard and soya sauce,
  • bring to the boil
  • Taste, serve over the meatballs or as in our case on our meatballs, on French bread.

Meanwhile Miss Tess was eager to make her dessert. But first things first, we are at altitude, and so the recipe needs adapting, altering the oven temperature, the amount of sugar, the amount of baking powder and liquid. Once that was done, it was easy sailing . She was eager to ‘Do it her way’ but a few corrections to instructions were needed ( like pre heat the oven ). The end result was excellent and much appreciated. Due to the distinct lack of berries ( read absolutely NONE, no strawberries, raspberries,blackberries, red currants, black currants, not even white currants or gooseberries! NADA, ZILCH, NICHTS! ) raspberry jam and whipped cream had to suffice. I would like to say that these delights were much more in the way of American Biscuits than English scones or Shortcakes, but that does not distract from their yummiest! The recipe and instructions are adapted from the book.

  • 350 grms flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125 grms chilled unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 275 mls milk or buttermilk or sour milk
  • To serve
  • Cream and berries or jam

The absolute simplest way to make these is to put everything, except the milk into a food processor. Switch on and process and it will form breadcrumbs look-a- like. With the machine running pour in the milk and it will go thump thump and form a ball.

Scrap out onto a floured board, knead slightly to form a ball and roll out gently to about an inch thick. Cut into rounds about 2-3” , place on a greased baking tray ( or a non stick one) and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Best eaten the day they are made, but then again, why would there be any left!

Key Lime Pie with Speculoos

This week, it would seem that we have been more or less taking it in turns to create in the kitchen.

Himself was left home alone whilst #1 daughter, kids and I decamped down the mountain to the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy. It is in an amazing setting, with a huge lake and the whole is surrounded by mountains and hills. The downside is, as it is so beautiful, both in winter and summer is that it is a huge tourist attraction. Summer is particularly bad and more so this year because the French are also Staycationing ! ( Les Vacances en places). Consequently, there are the locals who wish to enjoy their wonderful town, lake, mountains and beaches, and the visitors who wish to do the same.

Parking proved to be a nightmare, all Complet! The French and Belgians are very apt to do as they please in these circumstances, and that is Double Park! Which of course adds to the chaos! And then the almost extinct priorité à droite. Which is really very interesting, as in the middle of the old town there are lots of minor crossroads, all of which have to give way to each other! The end result ? GRIDLOCK !

Abandoning our sortie into town, we headed to the beach where said daughter was interviewing and taking part in Freediving. Another first though a challenge with the French Electric charging point, in which we succeeded, before beach and diving ( not me you understand,); I was happy to ‘ Babysit’ on dry land.

Meanwhile, himself taught himself how to make crumble, which was much admired followed by Miss Tess making a Key Lime Pie and then a Pad Thai for dinner!

A true Key Lime Pie is made with what Americans call Key Limes, which are in fact more like Mexican limes, they are smaller and nowhere near as green as the limes that we find in Europe and are best used when the skin has turned a dull yellow. Beware they do contain many more pips. Another feature of the typical Key Lime Pie is the base, again traditionally made with Graham crackers crushed ( akin to Digestives) but can also be made with Speculoos, ginger nuts etc. Some recipes also say a pastry base, but this is a bit contentious to my mind. Key Lime pie is never green ( do not use green colouring) and is always made with condensed milk, as fresh milk was unavailable in the Florida Keys until about 1930. In 2006 , Key Lime Pie was made the official Pie of the State of Florida! And was winner

For a Nine inch pie/ Flan tin

Following on from Tess my 11 year old granddaughter I decided also to make a Key Lime pie. She made hers in an oblong 9×13” pan. But I opted for the more traditional pie or flan pan.

  • For the Base
  • 10 Oz of Speculoos, or any other biscuits such as digestives or ginger nuts, crushed
  • 75 grms unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar ( optional as the biscuits are already fairly sweet)
  • For the Filling
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 Oz / 3/4Cup of Lime juice, bottled is fine
  • 1 large can (400 grms) of sweetened condensed milk
  • Grated zest of 2 limes ( optional)

Heat the oven to 190 C.

Crush the biscuits and mix with the sugar and melted butter. Press into the pie dish including the sides. ( a pan with a loose bottom is good and an easy way to extract the pie from the pan when ready to serve.)

Bake the crust for about 12 minutes only and in the meantime prepare the filling, by beating together the Lime Juice, condensed milk and the egg yolks, along with the lime zest if using. Pour into the crumb case and bake on the middle shelf for about another 20-25 minutes. It should be set round the edges and have a slight wobble in the middle.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before refrigerating, and serve with whipped cream and lime zest or thin slices of lime.

I just saw a recipe for Key Lime pie that needed no cooking whatsoever! Firstly it used a shop bought base and secondly the condensed milk was then incorporated with Cool Whip. For the uninitiated, cool whip is an American product that to my mind is just awful, but Hey Ho, who am I to judge .

Kraft Cool Whip’s first ingredient is water, followed by hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and — finally — skim milk. From its name, you would think that the cream part of this “whipped topping” would appear higher on the list. Alas, Cool Whip is mostly just syrupy oil.

Hot Fudge Sauce, and Grocery shopping!

I now know why I have fallen in love with online grocery shopping! ( in London at least). Here we are in the French Alps, with the nearest grocery store 7 km away, down 7 hairpins and a detour through the next village. We never know if it is open all day or if it going to close for a three hour lunch break. The hours change on a regular basis. And on top of that is it not my favourite in the base case, ( ah! I said to the manager, Did you know you have Mice? Ah Madam, it is a grocery store, of course there are mice !)

Consequently, I choose to drive down a couple of mountains to a larger store that is guaranteed to be open over lunch, the bonus being that the average French person in the neighbourhood goes home for lunch, hence not so many people shopping.

But the effort, the schlepping of the groceries in general , the bottles of water, wine and beer. I had forgotten just how hard work it is. Drive, shop, pack, schlepp to car, drive, unload, schlepp once more into house. Unpack, sort, put away. Phew it is quiet exhausting! And as we are currently 7 that amounts to a lot of groceries!

This week, Himself decided that he and young Sam would make pasta, a lot of work for 7 people, but as the weather is not conducive to Barbecuing or eating outside, Pasta seems a good option.

Sam in Pasta making mode

Himself, has in the past made pasta though I have to admit I’m not a big fan of it, I would prefer to eat a salad, but when needs must. Many of the recipes call for a multitude of eggs but the one which I tend to use, uses just a couple of eggs to 200 grams of flour. In London I use pasta flour, but here the local supermarket did not have any, so plain flour had to suffice.

So Himself and young Sam made triple the quantity, which in fact was more than needed, so much so that we could recycle the next day. Day one consisted of pasta with a Bolognaise sauce or Pasta with a Garlic Mushroom cream sauce. Guess which one I chose!

For the recycle dinner we had Fish Tempura and the leftover pasta, sautéed with broccoli florets and chopped chillies and garlic.

Dessert was homemade vanilla Ice Cream and hot fudge sauce.

It is very easy to make the sauce, quantities are a bit Hit and Miss so very simply more or less equal quantities of Sugar ( brown or light brown if you have it, I did not, so used white, golden syrup and butter, heat gently until almost and blended into one. Add more or less the same amount of cream and simmer gently. It will all amalgamate. Serve hot or cold, but if cold, it might be too thick, but it can be diluted with milk or some more cream. Pour over your ice cream, shop bought or home made. YUMMY!

It is easy to say equal quantities when working in cups, but not so when using grams. I would recommend buying a set of measuring cups. Or use any standard teacup and use that for all of the ingredients listed.

  • 1 cup golden syrup, or light corn syrip
  • 1 cup of sugar preferably brown
  • 3/4 cup double cream
  • 4 Oz butter

Heat the syrup, sugar and butter, gently and stir from time to time. When all amalgamated, increase heat and boil. Careful, stir and do not let boil over. Reduce heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a little, stir in the cream. Use at once or keep in a plastic box and refrigerate until needed.

If at first you don’t succeed!

Success at last. For several years, whilst in the French Alps I have tried making bread, with or without a prepared mix, with very much mixed results.

When we first came here, about 13 years ago, the bread man came on by every morning, but with so few residents here it proved not to be worth his while and came no more.

For many years Himself would then drive down the 7 hairpins to the Boulangerie, The trouble with this was a) in the winter, 7 extra hairpins in the snow before the snowplough had been and b) baquettes go stale very quickly.

Finally I resorted to a bread machine. I made bread using standard ingredients and dried yeast or I made bread with a ready prepared mix. But with mixed results. What to do, what to do? It was a bit of a conundrum. Buy bread on a weekly basis, pop into the freezer and defrost when needed.

Last summer I spent extended periods, making sourdough starter. All seemed to go well until cooked and then disaster. But then I discovered in the UK Sourdough bread mix! Ok not exactly the same and cheating to boot, but how would it work in the mountains.

With all of this bread making attempts in the mountains, I learnt a very valuable lesson. Baking at altitude is not the same as at sea level. Adjustments have to be made.

Lower air pressure at altitude causes air bubbles trapped in the mixture to rise at a faster rate. When this happens the cake/ bread rises very fast and high, and then collapses, result disaster, dense and dry. Cakes and breads with yeast, rise quickly, so proofing times need to be reduced as well. Only fill tins, if cake making half full as they can easily overflow.

Our Mountain home is at an altitude of almost 4000 feet and so several adjustments have to be made.

  • For cakes:-
  • Reduce Baking Powder by 1/8 tsp for each tsp needed
  • Reduce sugar by 1 tablespoon for every 4 oz
  • Increase liquid by 2 tablespoons for every 200 mls
  • Increase oven temperature by 25 F

The higher you are the more adjustments have to be made.

So today, using my English sourdough mix and a bread maker ( just for the kneading process,) I tried again and YES! It worked. I increased the water, and I used olive oil instead of butter. The machine kneaded for about 1 hour 30. I set the oven at 220 put in the cast iron pan to reheat so that it was hot and ready to go as soon as the bread machine beeped. Popped the dough in the hot pan, put on the lid, waited for about 20 minutes, removed lid and returned to the oven until the bread was a beautiful shade of brown !

Cheating Yes! Easy Yes! Way forward, Yes, here for sure !

Pea Soup

This is really weird, I read the other day a short recipe from the award winning restaurant chef, Skye Gingel. It said, that she had always made pea soup, the same way that she made other soups, cooking peas in stock until tender, purée them etc etc. Well that is exactly what I have been doing, it seems like since forever! Now she puts forward the idea of just using frozen peas and blitzing them, before adding stock etc.

As Himself has been poorly, soup is the lunchtime answer. BUT, I had no soup in my multiple freezers. He had “gone off “ soup in recent times, even through Lockdown # 1, Lockdown #2 and Lockdown #3, soup was not on his agenda. But now he is more or less confined to Barracks, No Golf, No Driving and the worse of all No Housework ( as if !) I had thought of making the simplest of tomato soup, using canned tomatoes, but then I thought, Umm, pea soup! A quick trip across the road, bypassing the myriad of Deliveroo, Just Eat, ( the market leader in food delivery) and Uber Eats, there the cycle, electric cycle and moped deliverers amass. Why do they amass near where I live? Baker Street is full of fast food outlets, some better than others, but there are residents here in my building who order, breakfast, lunch and dinner from these outlets. (And for many of them, it is Maccy DJ’s morning noon and night)

To make this very simple but oh so delicious soup is ease itself, I deviated from her suggestions, but the basic idea was worthwhile. This quantity makes enough soup for 6-8 and once cooked ( reheated and cooled it maybe frozen for future use.)

  • 1 kilo of frozen peas ( petit pois are best)
  • Up to 1 litre of vegetable stock, I used the above above, so easy
  • A large handful of fresh watercress
  • A small bunch of fresh mint
  • 300 mls plain yogurt
  • Crème fraîche and basil leaves to serve.

This is simplicity itself.

Start off by semi defrosting your peas, much easier to process if marginally soft. Tip the peas into a food processor and process on high until it is a purée. This is made easier by adding some Luke warm stock. Add the yogurt ( or cream if you fancy). Blitz some more add stock and or cream, / yogurt until you reach the consistency you desire. Add the watercress and mint. Blitz some more.

For serving, it can be served hot or cold but for storage ( and I’m needing freezer snack type foods) cook first, leave to cool before bagging for the freezer.

My original version of Pea Soup included Baby Gem Lettuce but not watercress but I am fine with this version, it is worth giving variations a try.

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More Indian Food ….. Parsi Omelette

Himself has been a bit in capacitated this week and so haven’t been cooking. I become a bit of a slob and just grab something, or nothing as the case maybe. Which makes me think of my Mother. She was a widow for 34 years, but standards never slipped. She would always cook for herself and set the table, always do the dishes ( no dishwasher). She would always peel her new potatoes ( didn’t like skin) as well as her tomatoes ( didn’t like skin), this puts me to shame. Mental note to oneself……. Must do better.

I have a new cookbook ,well two or three, or maybe even four, but the one I am currently in love with is Chefs at Home. This is a compilation by 57 chefs in aid of Hospitality Action, a charity which supports the hospitality industry.

There are many recipes and ideas in this book which have piqued my interest, so much so I must have bought Amazon’s complete stock of sticky page markers.

There are a couple of recipes/ ideas that I have been salivating over for the past few days, namely JAMSHEDPUR -STYLE EGG ROLLS and PARSI OMELETTE.

The Parsi omelette led me on a quest to find out more about Indian spices and their concoctions. The recipe called for Garam Masala ( already in my store cupboard) and Dhansak Masala, ( not heard of before ).

I am absolutely not an authority on this subject, but have been reading a lot. There is an Indian supermarket, a very large one, not far from Heathrow airport ( this area of London has a large population from the Indian sub continent). Unfortunately I haven’t been there, since Covid struck but have every intention of visiting again, armed with my various books to try and fathom out the vast array of ingredients, fresh, dried, canned or frozen !

India is approximately 13 times larger and has 1.46 BILLION people. The UK is on the whole fairly densely populated but comes in at 64 million. Thinking of regional cooking, in what is a fairly small country the UK has a lot of regional dishes, so going on from that, just imagine the differences in a country like India .

Masala, is the generic word for various mixtures of spices. Each region has its own special blend, so in the north, where winters can be cold, it is Garam Masala, meaning hot spice. It has a rich warm fragrance and tastes hot and aromatic.

In Maharashtra, the capital of which is Mumbai, and sits on the Deccan Plateau. It has a tropical climate and good vegetation, hence lots of fruits and vegetables. The Masala that is used here is GODA MASALA and is not usually found commercially but made in the home and contains coconut, whereas in the Punjab it is TANDOORI MASALA, it rich in colour, is fragrant and spicy. And then I found GUNPOWDER MASALA and DHANSAK MASALA.

Moving on to the Parsi Omelette, it calls for Dhansak Masala, and had no idea where it could be bought, hence I had to make it myself.

I used half the quantities of spices suggested and even so made a fair amount, which I have stored in a jar. I started out grinding my spices in a pestle and mortar, but it was seriously hard work, moved onto a hand grinder ( now discarded) and finally a high speed jug blender. A small coffee grinder, will work well.

  • 100 grams coriander seeds
  • 25 grams dried red chillies
  • 25 grams cloves
  • 15 grams green cardamoms
  • 15 grams black cardamoms
  • 25 grams stick cinnamon
  • 15 grams black peppercorns
  • 15 grams dried bay leaves
  • 15 grams star anise
  • 15 grams mustard seed
  • 15 grams poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg.

Very simply grind and blend all of the above together. Store in a jar.

I made my Parsi Omelette using

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • A small red onion chopped
  • A green chilli chopped
  • A teaspoon of Dhansak masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric,
  • some grated cheese
  • Some chopped coriander leaves
  • A chopped clove garlic and some chopped ginger
  • Pinch salt

Gently fry the chilli, the onion, garlic and ginger in either ghee or oil, pour in the eggs and agitate so that the eggs can fall to the bottom of the pan to set, do this a couple of times until almost set. Add the cheese and coriander, salt and pepper and turn over to finish cooking . The easiest way to do this is, to place a plate over the pan, invert the pan so that the omelette tips onto the plate, then gently slide it back into the pan to finish cooking. Fold in half and serve with some salad.

You might want to adjust the seasoning second time around. I think basically one can call this an omelette curry, but the flavours are very subtle. I would have liked it to be a little stronger.

As a footnote, the Parsis migrated from Persia to India in the 7 century. There is a distinct community in Mumbai.

Crab Cakes and Crab Scotch Eggs

I love all things Crabby, from dressed Crab, which I think is very English, to anything to do with crab, cracking the claws, sucking the claws, crab cakes, crab on toast and the latest Crab Scotch eggs!

My all time favourites are Soft Shell Crab and when in New Orleans, Soft Shell Crab Po-Boys! Ok, I’ll have to stop salivating and tell you about Crab Scotch Eggs.

Well, these are OK, but about to be put down as experience., rather than something I would have again, and in fact, having eaten them two nights running, the remaining ones will go in the bin. This is very much against my philosophy, of Waste Not Want Not, but Enough is Enough!

We went to a restaurant the other week, called Kricket. There are a couple of them in London and this one was at the Old Television Studios in White City. I was interested because the owner travelled around India and decided to open an Indian restaurant. I think I have said previously that I was not really impressed, especially when I looking at some of his recipes and found that he used tons of Ghee.

However, I am so glad that I haven’t bought his book and I quote here” the publisher needed my book so I didn’t have time to proof read it “ OOOPS!

But never mind, I had two tubs of crab meat which need using. Himself was under the weather ( much more serious than Man Flu) , but once defrosted it needed using. In the UK crabmeat tends to be claw rather than lump so we have to work with what we have.

I chopped, celery, coriander, shallots, chillies , ginger, garlic, ( I also added some avocado and mango ) and made two piles, one for my crab cakes and one for the Scotch eggs. Soft boiled the eggs. Prepared my beaten eggs and panko breadcrumbs. Divided my crab mixture, formed my cakes, dipped them carefully into the egg and then the breadcrumbs into the frying pan, perfect! Onto the Scotch eggs. Moulding a slimy mixture around a slippery soft boiled egg is not the easiest task in the world and dipping it into the egg followed by the breadcrumbs is even more difficult but I persevered. Finally success, quickly into a pan of hot oil to deep fry.. Done!

Was it worth it? Absolutely not! Will I try again? Most definitely not!

Shame sounded a good idea!