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September 2014 Archives

cooking bircher muesli

September 27, 2014

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I like croissants for breakfast. Big flakey all-butter ones. I never eat muesli. Why would you? Miserable stuff.

Bircher muesli is an exception. I think of this as summery porridge. It’s cool, creamy and fruity and somehow feels quite indulgent despite actually being something Gwyneth Paltrow might approve of.

No recipe, because it’s too easy and straightforward, I’ll just talk you through.

You just put a handful of oats in some tupperware and pour over enough apple juice to just submerge them. Leave them in the fridge overnight and in the morning they will be all plumped up and pulpy like this

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Mix them with a dollop of nice thick yoghurt, I like Total or this French stuff is very good (Waitrose).

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Mix through some fruit. I like apple matchsticks and toasted almonds. Oh and dates, but didn’t have any in when I took the photos.

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cooking kale crisps with sesame yoghurt

September 25, 2014

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I’m aware that kale crisps have been done to death. But not with a cool sesame yoghurt dip they haven’t - oh no.

Not sure whether roasting kale kills its superpowers or not, but they do make excellent crisps. The curly leaves transform into something reminiscent of that deep fried seaweed you get in dodgy Chinese restaurants - but a good clean version.

To make ‘em you only need:

● A large bunch of kale. Washed and left to dry

● 1 tbsp olive oil

● 1 tsp salt

● 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

For the yoghurt dip you need:

● 100ml natural yoghurt

● 1 tsp ground cumin

● 1 tbsp runny honey

● 1 tbsp tahini paste

What to do:

  1. Cut the leaves up into manageable pieces. Put them in a mixing bowl with olive oil, sugar and salt and go in with your hands

  2. Scatter them about on a baking tray and roast them for about 25mins, or until crispy

  3. For the dip, just mix everything together. Would make quite a nice side dish with the dip drizzled over

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cooking apple plate pie

September 22, 2014


I have an ‘apple pie Mum’. Not that she’s ever stayed home and been domestic in any way. More in that she’ll…sometimes makes an apple pie :/

Her pies have gone through various alterations throughout the decades. They’ve been deep-filled with huge chucks of sour apple, shallow-filled with sweet apple mush, and often billowing with puff pastry. There’s nearly always been a great hulking piece of cinnamon lurking in there, shedding it’s bark.

I bought her a Japanese mandolin for last Christmas, and she now she makes this kind — a plate pie, which has layers of perfectly tart sliced apple inside and a sweet pastry crust.

It’s the best so far. It’s the kind of pie that you’d see in Tom and Jerry, resting on the windowsill. It also doesn’t require any additional sugar.

I didn’t take enough photos when making it, but basically you just layer up the apples until you’ve used them all. Think French apple torte. The recipe feeds about 6

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To Make it

6 granny smith apples

about 2 tbsp marmalade for daubing

1 block sweet pastry — my recipe is here, or just buy it — I like this one from Sains

zest of 1 lemon

cinnamon for dusting

1 egg (for the wash)


  • Roll out half the pastry and layer it over a heatproof plate. Cut out a plate-sized circle of greaseproof and cover with baking beans
  • Bake for about 20mins, then remove the beans and paper, and cook blind for another 10. You may need to put some foil around the outer edges if they colour quicker than the middle
  • Brush the cooked pastry with egg white and leave to cool completely
  • Peel and slice the apples thinly with a mandolin
  • Layer up the slices over the pastry, dabbing marmelade here and there as you go, and dusting with cinnamon and lemon zest. It will seem like you have too much apple, but build it high - they cook down
  • Roll out the top layer and squidge the sides in. Don’t worry about it looking dead neat — this is a humble pie. Egg wash the edges to the base


  • Egg wash the top and cut a cross. Bake for about half an hour or until it looks like the pie from Tom and Jerry

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These are the instructions I included with my mothers mandolin — she’s cut herself every time she’s used it, of course.



cooking richard corrigan's soda bread

September 17, 2014

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This is quite simply the one and only soda bread recipe you need. Throw away all your other recipes, actually, burn them.

It’s from Richard Corrigan —a great wardrobe of a man, and the daddy of classic seafood — he knows his shit, especially if it’s Irish. The loaf from the outside looks pretty basic. Like a great dried cowpat - but the inside, oh man. Perfectly moist, dark treacly soft bread.

I don’t make bread often, I’m too impatient to wait for the proving. Soda bread rises with bicarb, so the whole process takes under an hour. It’s best eaten on the same day but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

Some notes:

  • If you don’t have buttermilk, just use 500ml milk mixed with the juice of a lemon. This creates D.I.Y. buttermilk that works just as well. You can also use a thin yoghurt

  • Place a damp tea-towel over the bread when it comes out — this keeps it moist

  • Your oven needs to be really hot. Preheat it for as long as you can before you bake

Make it!

Soda Bread (makes one loaf)

Prep. Time 10 mins

Cooking Time 40mins

  • 250g strong white bread flour

  • 250g wholemeal flour

  • 150g jumbo oats

  • 15g bicarb of soda

  • 10g salt

  • 1 tbsp clear honey

  • 1 tbsp black treacle

  • 500ml buttermilk

  • Preheat the oven to 240C/475/Gas9
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and scatter a little flour over it to prevent sticking
  • Sift the dry ingredients together and make a well in the centre

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  • Mix the wet ingredients together thoroughly

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  • Pour in the wet goods and mix well. You should end up with a wet dough. Transfer the dough to your lined tray. It should look all bumpy and un-bread-like

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  • Bake for 40mins. It’s done when it has a rock hard exterior and is hollow when you tap the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and place a damp teatowel over it. This keeps it from drying out.

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cooking fried porridge (gf)

September 12, 2014


Having just spent a week with the fam on a tiny Hebridean island called Tiree, I thought it fitting to play around with oatmeal. My family are extreeeemely particular about porridge. It’s the only thing my dad insists on taking charge of in the kitchen.

His puritanical view is that the oats have to be pinhead, uncut. He uses water, adds a hefty pinch of sea salt and has it with a splash of cream if there’s any in the fridge. I see it as punishment porridge.

I’m more baby bear — I like mine made with milk and honey.

This recipe is inspired by an old school Scottish tradition of pouring leftover porridge into a drawer and leaving it to cool. It’s then cut up and eaten it on-the-go as the original energy bar. If you’ve read Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) you’ll know what I’m on about.

Oatmeal was the basis of the Scottish crofters diet, makes sense — cheap and sturdy fuel for slow energy-release. I like to imagine a burly Scotsman knee deep in heather, pulling a slice from his sporran along with a hip flask of whiskey while he’s roaming the highlands.

I know this sounds kind of DISGUSTING but stay with me — I don’t use a drawer to cool the porridge. I used a baking dish, and I fry it in butter. The result is something between porridge, French toast and oaty polenta. It’s one of the most brilliant breakfast discoveries I’ve had, I’m mad for it. So much so that I’m going to list what would be excellent with it:

Raspberries and honey drizzle

Crispy bacon and maple syrup

Yoghurt and berries with a dusting of icing sugar

Caramelised apples and cinnamon

Spiced butter (cinnamon/nutmeg etc) and roasted pecans


Crispy Fried Porridge Slices (serves 4 for breakfast)

200g porridge oats

300ml whole milk (or soy if you’re that way inclined)

300ml water

pinch salt

pinch sugar

grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)

  • Method:

  • Mix the oats, water, milk, sugar and salt to a pan

  • Stir on a low heat constantly for about 15mins until thick and creamy. The more you stir, and the lower the heat, the creamier the porridge!

  • Pour the porridge into a medium sized tupperware container or an oven dish


  • Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight

  • Turn the cooled porridge out carefully - you’ll end up with a beige solid slab of porridge. Slice it up into triangles or squares. Dusting the squares with a little flour prevents them sticking in the pan, if you don’t have a non stick one

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  • Pan fry in a little oil and butter (or can be fried without if you’re using a non-stick pan and don’t want the extra cals) for about 5 mins on each side, or until golden

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Serve with whatever.

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This one has been fried without oil — and has honey and cinnamon