Archive for March, 2008

Winter wonderland

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Winter Scene

I’ve been away in Cumbria for Easter week and rather than feeling like spring it has felt more like winter. The day after we arrived we were wading ankle deep in the snow and the lambs in the neighbouring fields were wearing their little plastic macs to ward off the cold.

Lambs in the snow

We stayed in an old barn conversion (The Heights) near Appleby-in-Westmorland, which was beautifully furnished and really cosy with absolutely gorgeous views. It was quite secluded but only about a five minute drive from the village center and only thirty minutes from the larger town of Penrith.

Penrith Delicatessen

Penrith is a large town thirty minutes south of the Scottish border, with lots of nice foodie havens like the James and John Graham Ltd delicatessen in a large wonderful old building and The Narrow Bar cafe where I had the most delicious lemon cake I’ve ever tasted. I will make an attempt at replicating the cake but only after a long drawn out detox as I ate and drank enough over the week to sustain a family of four (although I did go running twice, so I can justify the cake, almost!)


We also went to Windermere and Bowness which were absolutely beautiful but heaving with people. We ate in a lovely little place called Francine’s Coffee House where I had crab cakes with smoked salmon and caper berries followed by carrot cake and that was followed by a nice gentle walk round the lake on a gorgeous sunny day. For a nice relaxing Easter break it’s just the ticket.

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Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I imagine lots of people will have an opinion on the new Delia smith series and fan or not, it certainly has raised an interesting debate on cookery. I can understand some people’s point of view that it isn’t using fresh ingredients, so you don’t know what you are eating and it won’t necessarily be free range or as good for you as cooking from scratch. I actually think that if it gets people cooking that were previously culinary phobic, then it’s o.k in my book and the audience she is aiming at probably won’t be so worried about the quality of the ingredients.

I have found the program interesting but watching her open tins and scooping out what looked like cat food into a bowl didn’t leave me salivating. The very thought of tinned meat brings meat out in a cold sweat but the thought of putting on an apron and sharpening a knife doesn’t, so I guess it isn’t me she is trying to convert.

The premise of the series isn’t what bothers me. Having missed the first half of this week’s program, I switched on the TV only to stumble upon what I thought was Songs of Praise. She spent at least 10 minutes of the program talking about her faith, interspersed with shots of her attending mass and swanning about with Sister Wendy Beckett. If Delia finds solace in bothering the man upstairs, then good for her but she is supposed to be doing a cookery program. Last week it was about her passion for football. Who exactly is she trying to appeal to? Does she think that if she does something to grab the attention of the religious and football fanatics as well as cookery novices, she is covering all bases and appealing to a wider audience. Surely the way to make successful television is picking your audience and trying to aim at their interests.

Not everybody was a fan of the old style Delia, she was a bit reserved and stiff and never ever tasted her food, but I quite liked her. You knew where you were with her and you didn’t expect to sit through three verses of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ or a shot of the Norwich city lads in the showers, although that’s probably another program entirely. Bring back the old Delia, before we have to endure her banging on about her collection of limited edition Royal Doulton.

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I am still here, Honest!!

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Chocolate amaretti parfait

I am struggling to get my act together to write blog posts recently. Maybe it’s just because of the amount of energy that goes into making the cakes and I need a couple of weeks to recharge my batteries after making one. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. So to make amends I will tell you about this dessert I made last weekend.

Last Saturday I saw James Martin making an iced coffee and honeycomb parfait on Saturday Kitchen. I had never made parfait before, but it looked nice so I thought I would give it a go. As usual my inability to stick to anything written down or done for me, i.e a recipe, lead me to make a totally different, but delicious, chocolate and amaretti parfait.


150g dark chocolate

3 free range eggs - separated

150g caster sugar

500ml double cream

50ml Amaretto (optional)

100g Amaretti biscuits

Line a loaf tin with cling film. Lightly Crumble 50g of the amaretti biscuits into the base of the tin. Put the egg yolks and half the sugar in a bowl over some simmering water. Whisk the mixture for about ten minutes until thickened. Remove the bowl and set aside. Melt the chocolate in another bowl over the simmering water with the Amaretto and then add to the egg mixture, stirring to combine. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and then add the rest of the sugar to make a raw meringue mixture. Stir this into the chocolate mixture. Finally softly whip the cream and fold this into the chocolate mixture with the other 50g of the amaretti biscuits crumbled lightly. Pour this into the pre-prepared tin and tap to settle out properly. Put in the freezer for about four hours until set. To get the parfait out of the tin, either use a chefs blowtorch around the outside of the tin or sit the tin in warm water for a minute, then simply turn out. Cut into slices and serve.