Monthly Archives: April 2013

Green fingers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the beginnings of what will hopefully be a bumper tomato crop. We’ve had previous success out on our balcony over the years but last summer was a low point, we barely got enought for a salad. These lot have been hardened up out on the windowsill and planted out now the frost has passed (?). There’s a couple of varieties to increase their chances, Tumbling Toms which go quite bushy, and another,  Alicante, which will need stakes. Continue reading


Zen and the art of bread


This is, quite frankly, the best bread ever. People always talk about bread making as therapy, all that kneading to get your tension out and then sitting back and relaxing while the yeast does its thing and the smell of freshly baked bread floats round your home. However, producing a decent home-made loaf that’s sufficiently chewy and crusty to pass as real bread is something that has always eluded me. This one was it. What it wasn’t was a therapeutic job. Bread-making is hard work. Continue reading

Boring biscuits


No! They’re not boring, not really. They’re basic biscuits that can be cut into any shape you like. They’re a bit lemony and taste great smothered in icing and hundreds and thousands. If you’re of an artistic bent, these are the type of biscuits you can really go to town on decorating. I am not, so my biscuits are built for speed, not good looks. Continue reading

NW Negronis



Invented in Florence and named after an aristocrat, Count Camillo Negroni no less, this is definitely my cocktail of the moment. Equal parts gin, Campari and Martini Rosso, stirred over lots of ice and served with an orange twist. They’re bittersweet and strong but so red and very, very moreish. Not to everyone’s taste perhaps but if you like gin or Campari, worth a go.

Continue reading

Chop chop – a quick one

Just to prove that I don’t spend all my time eating cake and drinking bourbon, here’s two delicious things that are good for a mid-week dinner, using a pack of four pork chops I pulled out of the freezer. I took no pictures of any of this so you’ll have to use your imagination.

The first is a sort of pork rarebit. Bake the chops on a foil lined baking tray for fifteen minutes. While they’re in make a mixture of two teaspoons of creme fraiche, a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and a bare handful of grated cheese. We had some pre-grated mozzarella that needed using up and worked quite nicely, although classier cheese would be nice. Take your chops out of the oven, spread this mixture over them and bake for another 5 minutes till the topping is brown and bubbling. Since we had this on a Sunday, I had time to make a pile of mash and some greens (our crazy green grocers had chard) and save half for Monday.

For the last two chops I wanted something saucy to go with the leftover mash so did this, a sort of bastardised stroganoff/goulash. Thinly slice and fry one onion, then add two chopped gloves of garlic. Slice the pork and add to the pan, along with two big teaspoons of paprika. Fry for a minute or so until the meat starts to colour then throw in about 250ml of beef stock (made from a cube of course) and half a box of mushrooms, sliced. Simmer for about 15 mins. Or until whoever you’re waiting to eat this with gets home, it’s pretty forgiving like that. Once that person is in, stir three tbsp of creme fraiche (handily left over from the day before) into the pan and heat through. This makes a very orange, slightly spicy and smoky sauce, perfect with leftover mash.