Thursday, 31 December 2020

French Onion Soup

Basic ingredients: 

Approx 1Kg of onions. I used about 6 regular onions, 2 reds and 2 shallots - so you can mix it up a bit with whatever you have. 2 cloves of garlic crushed, knob of butter, 2 table spoons of olive oil, teaspoon of sugar, seasoning, a glurg of white wine/brandy, 2 pints of dark stock.


Chop the onions and fry them (hot) in the oil and butter until they start to caramelize, add the garlic, sugar, wine and seasoning. Stir it all in and cook until it's a sticky mess (don't allow it to burn). Then add the stock and let it simmer for an hour. Serve with cheese, garlic bread, croutons etc.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Mediocre Meringue

It was good, but it didn't look as good as this.......

4 egg whites
240g sugar (being 120g caster sugar & 120g icing sugar)
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vinegar (if you dare - I didn't - maybe that's why it didn't look like a mountain range?)

Beat the egg whites for a long long time until they are so stiff you can turn the bowl upside down above your head without worrying if they will fall out or not.

Gently stir in the caster sugar,  a spoonful at a time, and then fold in the icing sugar mixed with cornflour.

Think about adding the vinegar.  If you do it, let me know what happens.

Spoon over whatever it is that you are baking - for us it was baked apples but it could be a lemon pie or anything else.

Bake in a lukewarm oven (50 degrees c)  for a very long time - say an hour and a half.

Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Easy Peasy Soda Bread

Soda Bread - Christmas 2018

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius and prepare a greased baking sheet

40g shortening (I used lard, but butter or marg should be fine)
50g rolled oats
450g whole meal flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar / baking powder
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tablespoon honey
450 ml of buttermilk 
  1. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and rub in the shortening

  2. Make a well in the centre 

  3. Separately, mix together the buttermilk and honey

  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients

  5. With hands, fold and gently knead into a soft dough

  6. Form the dough into a round on a baking sheet.  The less kneading the better.

  7. Score a cross into the dough.  

  8. Dust gently with flour 

  9. Bake for 50 mins

 As encouraged by Alan and supported by John!

Friday, 10 June 2016



  • 8oz digestive biscuits
  • 4oz margarine (in the original) - butter I'd say in the butter-is-better version
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons drinking chocolate
  • 4oz sultanas
  • 1 egg (if you dare - and at your own risk)
  • a few drops of vanilla essence
  • 12 squares cooking chocolate to top


  1. Melt the marg/butter, sugar & chocolate in pan

  2. Crumble biscuits in baking bowl
  3. Add melted mixture and a well beaten egg (or alternatively, honey and/or golden syrup - enough just to bind) 
  4. Add sultanas & vanilla essence 
  5. Press into flat baking tin

  6. Melt cooking chocolate over a pan of boiling water (or however you like to melt chocolate)
  7. Spread evenly over the pressed stuff
  8. Leave to set and cut into squares
  9. Try not to eat too many squares at the same time
(If using the egg, check dietary requirements / allergies / sensitivities of target consumers and get everyone to sign disclaimers!)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rice Dams

Not two words that normally go together, rice and dam. A new (?)  Japanese designer food trend. A rice dam that once breached by the hungry user floods the other food in the dish with a tasty sauce. Whatever will they think of next and why is it that we never quite get there first? Served cold from the rear of the fridge after two long days it may well be a high quality, highly effective hangover cure.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Fictitious Dishes

You'll recognise these two. In my teenage years I did become a bit obsessed with the nutritious value of ice cream and apple pie using it as some kind of culinary reference point. Strangely I hardy ever partook of this treat until in my later years...the influence remains however. I was pretty much on the road in the wrong country. All you got here in the glorious non-glam post pretentious 70s was chips, pieces and filed rolls. As for Holden Caulfield's pedestrian snack cheese sandwich, well it's OK if unspectacular. I need to see what Gatsby had for a snack, just to make a meaningful comparison. Next: I'm sure there's a few questionable or bizarre lunchtime treats yet to be explored in Game of Thrones. That's for another day.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Steak Night

If you don't understand the significance of steak night then you've clearly a) not been in the navy or b) watched many episodes of Scrubs. Everybody needs a steak night now and then, so here we have:

2 x Sirloin steaks, mushrooms, tomato, (the pepper sauce and fat chips didn't make the pic).

Heat the cast iron frying pan (with a little oil) until hot, add the steaks and sear them, let it all hiss and turn frequently. 5 minutes = medium any more is well done so add the tomatoes and the mushrooms at about 2 minutes. The fat chips should be in the oven, they'll take 20 mins from frozen (don't judge me) so work backwards from that.

Pepper sauce: Double cream, peppercorns, beef stock, brandy (or whisky), butter and seasoning; all sensible amounts. Melt everything in a pan and then add the cream last, mix and simmer thoroughly until smooth and you're away. 

Serve on warm plates with room temp French Beaujolais. Nice.

Overall cost inc wine; £21.55.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Other burger recipes

Following on from the Earnest Hemingway burger recipe here are two slightly less sophisticated but still appealing options you might want to try.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Believing the hype

Tenuous linkages. Strictly speaking this is not a  recipe but it does exist way over to the left on the food and drink awareness spectrum. It's about the way that once you reach about half way with any jar of coffee the flavour tends to turn a little sour or flat or ceases to be as good as when the jar started. I've noticed this with all the major brands and derivatives; I've been robbed of coffee joy. A sad state of affairs. This phenomenon also applies to some extent to the sludge that Costa, Starbucks and the like serve up. So coffee pleasure has slipped away from my taste bud's top ten and been replaced with tea and milk bombs, strange  but still refreshing days. 

So in a bid to restart a coffee revival and as a result of some intense marketing and TV advertising I became aware of new Gold Blend Barista Style - it promised a lot (rich and full bodied) and I believed and...two cups later and it's ok. We'll see how well it's doing once I get to halfway down the jar.

Friday, 10 January 2014

How to cook

Happy days
All of this is stolen by the way - Dangerous Minds strikes again: A favourite Hemingway anecdotes always revolve around him being absurdly macho—like when he mocked F. Scott Fitzgerald for his monogamy, or when, in an attempt to prevent sharks from eating the tuna he had just caught, he opened fire with a Thompson submachine-gun directly into the water. This, of course, was pretty counterproductive, since it only produced more blood, attracting more sharks and exacerbating the feeding frenzy.

It only makes sense that Hemingway would tire of shooting fish at some point, and settle himself down for a nice, slow-moving animal like a cow, and it turns out that he had very interesting (and totally delicious-sounding) specifications for his burgers. Below is his recipe for an ultra-manly, super-robust burger. Apparently, Mei Yen Powder is no longer on the market, but you can approximate the rich, umami flavor with nine parts salt, nine parts sugar and two parts MSG. For 1 teaspoon of Mei Yen Powder, use 2/3 of a teaspoon of the mix, plus 1/3 of a teaspoon of soy sauce. (And don’t believe the hype about MSG—it’s harmless and delicious.)


1 lb. ground lean beef

2 cloves, minced garlic

2 little green onions, finely chopped

1 heaping teaspoon, India relish

2 tablespoons, capers

1 heaping teaspoon, Spice Islands sage

Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning — 1/2 teaspoon

Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder — 1/2 teaspoon

1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork

About 1/3 cup dry red or white wine

1 tablespoon cooking oil

What to do–

Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for ten or fifteen minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another ten minutes if possible. Now make your fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Have the oil in your frying pan hot but not smoking when you drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burgers should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.

That is one hell of a specific hamburger is it not? If you've no time for all this try a Tony Macaroni burger when you're next out on the town.