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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Dish of the Month Round Up - May 2013

Dish of the Month, Cooking the recipes of Nigel Slater had fewer entries in May,  however the quality of the cooking was not diminished. There are some real treats to enjoy so many thanks to you all.

Sue at Heaven on a Plate hosted the challenge this month and presented this delicious looking dish of Spiced Lentils with Mint Labne from the Kitchen Diaries II. 

Braised neck of lamb with apricots and cinnamon is the warming dish shared with us by Rachel at Marmaduke Scarlet. It's well worth reading this post from Rachel where she compares Nigel to an enormous fluffly alpine dog with a barrel of brandy round his neck!

Jane from Onions and Paper found an unseasonal recipe from Nigel Slater, on the Guardian website, to match the unseasonal weather!  This Pork Belly and Beans looks like a great comfort feast.

 My own entry is a simple one, Rhubarb with Butterscotch Sauce from The Kitchen Diaries II.  I can recommend it!

I love the look of this Lamb Flatbread dish brought to us by The New Mrs P who seized on the first recipe in the May chapter of the Kitchen Diaries II and I'm so glad she did!

Claire at Foodie Quine, caused a bit of a stir on Twitter and 'himself' seems rather pleased with her delightful Chicken Skin Popcorn

Let's finish with a nice cup of tea and slice of the entry from Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog,  Chocolate Muscovado Banana Bread,  check out the post to find out why "it was a victim of it's own success and had it coming".

Thanks to to Sue at Heaven on a Plate for hosting the May Dish of the Month, I'll be posting the June event at the weekend, I have my dish planned already.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Raw Rhubarb and Rosemary Tabbouleh for the Aero Perfect Pairing Challenge

The good people at Aero HQ set out a challenge to create some wacky and wonderful flavour pairings to celebrate the two-toned bubblicious makeover of Aero with it's delicious flavour combinations of orange or mint with bubbly milk chocolate.

To help me with the challenge I was sent a box full of cooking equipment, a flavour thesaurus and some bubbly Aero chocolate to help inspire me!  In fact, I found my inspiration in the Flavour Thesaurus where I spied an amazing combination of raw rhubarb and rosemary marinated in honey, I thought this would work well in a Tabbouleh providing the acidic element to a classic salad.

Raw Rhubarb and Rosemary Tabbouleh (Serves 4)
2 sticks young rhubarb, very finely sliced
2 tbsp runny honey
2 sprigs of rosemary, bruised
250g bulgar wheat
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp celery leaves roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon

1. Finely slice the rhubarb, preferably on a mandoline using the finest setting.  I used the OXO Good Grips Mandoline for this.

2.  Place in a non metallic bowl and add the honey and rosemary, leave to marinate for several hours or preferably overnight.

3. Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl and cover with boiling water.

4.  When the wheat has swollen and absorbed all the water, add the rest of the ingredients and mix through. 

5. Finally add the rhubarb and marinade, cover the bowl and leave to sit for at least an hour for the flavours to mingle, season to taste.  You may wish to add a little more finely chopped rosemary if you would like a stronger rosemary taste.

If you didn't know it was rhubarb, you would be hard pushed to recognise it, the honey has softened the sharpness to a pleasant bite and a subtle flavour of rosemary permeates the Tabbouleh.

Many thanks to Sophie for the Perfect Pairing Aero Cookery Kit.

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Friday, 24 May 2013

Beef Bourguignon Pie and a book review

Beef Bourguignon Pie

 This recipe comes from 'A Suitcase and a Spatula' by Tori Haschka, a Sydney-born food and travel writer, blogger at and intrepid gourmet.

A Suitcase and a Spatula
A Suitcase and a Spatula is a quirky little book, a kind of hybrid travelogue cookbook.  At first glance, it seems a bit wordy, but the words are well written, amusing and informative and the recipes are very good.

The Introduction tells you  about Tori, her travel companion or 'co-pilot' and some of the places they visited. 

Off to a good start - Food for a sociable start to the day and when you crave breakfast for dinner 
Here are a few of the Breakfast treat,  starting in London with Mushrooms, Brown Butter and Parmesan on Toast, New York gives us Corn Popovers with Tomato Bacon Relish, in Paris a Raspberry Croissant Pudding is the delightful offering.  In Agadir,  warm and spicy Baked Moroccan Eggs brighten up the breakfast table and we finish up in Sydney with Latte Banana Bread, nuff said!  My favourite part of this chapter was the double pager called "How to get the best out of a breakfast buffet" what a brilliant idea and so many good tips to avoid gluttony but have your fill of the good stuff.

Summer - Feasts best eaten with sand between your toes
Living in Scotland, we don't often have the kind of weather that makes you want to eat light summer dishes, but on those days when the sun shines and the temperature gets above 16C (yes, really 20C is a heat wave!) I'm going to be trying out some of the following summery recipes:  Griddled Bread with Ricotta, Mint, Chilli and Lemon from Bondi, Sydney's iconic beach, Pork Burritos with Spicy Pineapple Salsa from Avoca Beach (that's in Australia, not Ireland) Sardines with Campari Peach and Fennel from Venice, Fava with Lamb Meatballs from Athens.  There is a lovely section on The South of France featuring Mussels, Fennel and Chickpeas in Pink Wine and Rose Jelly with Vanilla Cream - mmm how delicious.

Another fun section is the Minibar Cocktail Party - create a Citrus Gin Fizz, a Coffee martini or a Lazy Sangria, amongst others!   The chapter ends with Avocado Milkshake Popsicles displayed in stunning coloured glasses.

Winter - Feasts best eaten when hunkering down in front of a fire.
I would certainly eat Roast Apple and Pumpkin Soup with Maple Nut Crumble while hunkering down in front of a fire in the Blue Mountains and Tori has some sound advice for would be frontier-braving campers!

Another great section provides a Formula for Carpet Picnics, for those days when the weather doesn't allow you to eat outside, some simple combinations of local ingredients make for a great picnic no matter where you are.

More winter dishes include Slow Cooked Pork Ribs with Rhubarb Pickle from Brooklyn, Icelandic Hot Dogs and Pecorino, Pepper and Pig Cheek Pasta from Rome. I will definitely be making Koshary a  spicy rice, pasta and chickpea dish from Cairo.  Full details of the French Beef Bourguignon Pie below, another pie from San Francisco: Tomato Soup Pie!

The Sweet Stuff - Desserts for sharing, treats for snaking and things to call on when a grey day needs a lift
There are some nice recipes in this chapter, but I don't think it is as strong as the other chapters, I was drawn to the following recipes: Elderflower Almond Cake with Summer Berries from London Fields, Apricot Frangipane Puddings from Val D'Isere a perfect 'chalet girl' pud!

In 'A Tale of Two Christmases' we are given menus for a hot Christmas in Sydney and a cold Christmas in London.  I liked the look of the Christmas Pudding Semifreddo with Boozy Chocolate Sauce which I think would go down just as well in London as Sydney.

The presentation of some of the recipes as pages stuck in with tape appealed to me, and the photographs of the completed recipes were beautifully styled. There was also a theme of airmail and postcards which was effective. Each recipe comes with a few paragraphs to tell you about the author's travels and the dish featured. The narrative pieces, some of which I have already mentioned but there are more e.g. 'Plane Food', are a real treat. Great ideas for travellers written with gentle humour.

It is a rather eclectic mixture of recipes, which is inevitable given the travel theme.   There are still quite a lot of Australian themed recipes, but all the recipes use ingredients which should be fairly easily available.

Ease of use
Both imperial and metric measures are shown.  The instructions are clear and well laid out.  There is a photograph for all the main dishes, some simple recipes mentioned in the narrative pieces don't have photographs.

I chose to make the Beef Bourguignon Pie because it is the dish in the book which features Beaune, the delightful French town in the Burgundy area that I visited in March.

Hotel de Dieu - Beaune

Charcuterie - Beaune

Fromagerie - Beaune

Wine Tasting - Beaune

Janice in Beaune!

Tori tells us "one option is to serve the silken hunks of meat over mashed potato or white bean purée. Or you could do what every homesick Australian does when stranded in the middle of France, and ponder how it would taste under a cap of pastry."

Beef Bourguignon Pie (serves 4)
1kg/2 1/4lb beef shin or chuck steak, cubed
1 1/4 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
1tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
3tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
675ml/2 3/4 cups red wine (burgundy is classic)
2tbsp tomato purée/paste
1tsp sugar
2tbsp cassis or sherry (optional)
150g/5oz lardons/streaky bacon, cut into strips
200g/6 1/2oz button mushrooms, halved
375g/12 1/2 oz puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
4 ovenproof bowls or pudding containers

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. Dust the beef in the flour, salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a casserole dish over a high heat, and brown half the meat. Remove and add another tbsp of oil before browning the other half (try not to crowd the pan - you don't want the meat to stew.
Remove the meat and add 1tbsp olive oil to the pan. Sauté the carrots, garlic and onions until the onion is translucent.
Return the meat to the pan. Add the bay leaves and red wine. Scrape up the sediment on the bottom of the pan with a spoon to encourage it to join the stew. This is where the flavour is.
Simmer over low heat with the lid off for 2 hours or longer if you have it. An hour before serving add the tomato purée/paste and sugar. (If you feel inclined, add the cassis or sherry).
Just before serving, brown the lardons or streaky bacon in a frying pan. Add both to the beef stew, season with salt and pepper.

Divide the stew among 4 pie dishes. Divide the pastry into four, roll out on a floured surface and place on top of the pies. Seal around the edges of the dishes. Brush with beaten egg, make a cut in the centre and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden.

I don't have any little pie dishes so decided to bake the pastry separately and serve with the meat stew.

 Stunning dish, worthy of a restaurant (even though I say it myself) the Beef Bourguignon was rich and full of flavour and deconstructing the pie worked really well as the pastry was crisp, airy and light.

A Suitcase and a Spatula
Recipes and stories from around the world
AUTHOR Tori Haschka
RRP £18.99

PUBLISHERyland Peters and Small

c. 100 colour photographs
ISBN 978-1-84975-349-4

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Chocolate Drops for Tea Time Treats

These odd little biscuits (cookies) are called 'Chocolate Drops', they come from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, a rather retro cookbook I used for my April Random Recipe: Treacle Bites

As the Treacle Bites were such a success, I thought I'd try one of the other recipes on the same page.  The Chocolate Drops were not in the same league as the Treacle Bites but they are also very good and incredibly easy to make.  They taste a bit like a chocolate Viennese finger or shortbread, very short in texture.  I'm not sure they were supposed to come out quite so lumpy as mine did, perhaps if I were more delicate in blobbing them onto the tray they might have looked better!  My answer to that was to melt about 100g of white chocolate and dip the dark Chocolate Drops into it so they were half coated, that certainly improved the look of them and, I have to say, added to the general pleasure of eating them.

Chocolate Drops (makes 18 -20)
100g.4oz softened butter
50g/2oz caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
90g/3 1/2 oz plain flour
15g/1/2oz cocoa powder

1. Cream butter with sugar and essence until light and fluffy.
2. Stir in flour sifted with cocoa
3. Drop 18 to 20 teaspoons of mixture, well apart, on to butter baking tray.
4. Bake just above centre of moderately hot oven (1190C/375F or Gas 5) for 17 minutes.
5. Leave on tray 1 or 2 minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack.
6. Once the Chocolate Drops are completely cold, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water and dip each biscuit into the melted chocolate to half coat it.  Place on rack until the chocolate has set.
6. Store in airtight tin.

Printable Recipe

The theme for Tea Time Treats this month is 'Biscuits and Cookies' so I am entering these Chocolate Drops.  Tea Time Treats is organised and hosted alternately by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked.

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Royal Highland Show - A festival of food from Scotland

Foodie fans to feast at this year’s Royal Highland Show
Food and drink producers are busy preparing for what many regard as the most important four days of the foodie calendar – The Royal Highland Show. My first visit to the Highland Show was with my Mum and the ladies of the Scottish Women's Rural Institute better known as 'The Rural'. I would have been about 10 years old and can remember my friend and I went off on our own and got slightly lost, however we found our way back to the 'Rural' tent and were reunited with our Mums. My second visit was after I had become a member of the farming community and my son was in his buggy, the ground was wet and muddy and it was quite a trial getting around with the buggy, let's hope the weather is kinder this year! The food aspect of the Royal Highland Show has grown phenomenally since I last attended so I am really looking forward to seeing the demonstrations and tasting so much excellent Scottish produce.

Over 100 exhibitors will be joined by a host of the country’s best chefs and restaurateurs in an annual celebration of Scotland’s finest food and drink.

The event, with main show partner The Royal Bank of Scotland, welcomes an average of 170,000 visitors every year with the majority expected to visit the Food Hall over the four day event this June (20-23).
Reaching consumers and leading industry players, exhibitors will be hoping that their produce will benefit from the significant exposure the show platform presents. Last year, The Island Smokery on Orkney caught the eye of the Tesco buyer and the company is now ramping up its production after securing a deal to supply 45 Tesco stores across Scotland.
Innovation is key to the show, which has been successful in attracting new audiences while maintaining interest from those who return every year.
New for this year will be a showcase for The Highlands and Islands food and drink producers under the title ‘Land of Opportunity’.
Presenting a engaging stage for the region, ‘on the go’ street food will become a focus as four top chefs take to the Countryside Area to showcase the culinary delights from northern Scotland. Although relatively new in the UK, street food is eaten by an estimated 2.5 billion people a day across the world.

Taking on the theatre are famous chefs from the area including Bruno Birkbeck, Head Chef of the 3 AA Rosette Restaurant at the Torridon Hotel, Muji Rahman from the Michelin recognised Cafe India in Dingwall, David Coubrough, Head Chef at Cafe 1 in Inverness and Steven Devlin of the highly acclaimed Rocpool Restaurant in Inverness.Each chef has been tasked with creating a menu for the day using only Highlands and Islands sourced produce.
In the Food Hall, top attraction 120-seat Cookery Theatre, will return with a rolling programme of more than 30 all-action demonstrations over the four-day event. This year, the Cookery Theatre will be renamed the Natural Larder to pay homage to the Year of Natural Scotland celebrations.
Organised by acclaimed food critic Wendy Barrie with the support of theatre sponsors Event Scotland and The North Highland Initiative (NHI), this year’s President’s Initiative region, the Highlands and Islands, will take the fore.
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said, “Scotland’s many glens and munros, deep lochs, dramatic seas and coastlines are home to a rich natural larder that entices visitors from all over the world. Scotland is an unspoilt environment and has a climate without extremes - the ideal conditions to produce superb, high quality Scottish food. The Year of Natural Scotland aims to celebrate the wealth of Scotland’s natural larder.”

NHI Chief Executive, Tom Campbell added: “In sponsoring the Cookery Theatre at this year’s Royal Highland Show, the North Highland Initiative will aim to communicate with retailers, the hospitality industry and consumers the quality of produce for shelves, menus and plates.”
In addition to top chefs from the Highlands and Islands the theatre programme will also feature; Carina Contini and Suzanne O'Connor from The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant; Neil Forbes from Café St Honoré; Henderson’s of Edinburgh celebrating 50 years in the business; Paul Wedgwood from his eponymous restaurant and Craig Wilson, Eat On The Green’s one and only ‘Kilted Chef’.
Wendy Barrie commented on the star-studded line up. She said: “Passionate as we all are about our national food culture it is great to have such a positive message to broadcast – low food miles, unquestionable provenance and great tastes! We are all looking forward to cooking the produce, meeting the visitors and contributing to making the Royal Highland Show the ‘greatest show on earth’.

“Chefs descend from Peebles to Torridon; East Lothian to Aberdeenshire, so magnetic is the pull of the Show. Over the four days the Theatre is a living community: sponsors and chefs; students and commis chefs, set builders and sound engineers, all working collaboratively together to pull off one of the most impressive showcases of Scotland’s world class larder.”
Sampling Scotland’s larder at Show will be The Royal Highland Show’s new show manager, Becky Elvin. She said: “The show provides a unique opportunity for food and drink suppliers to reach new audiences. We are committed to supporting new businesses as well as established players as food and drink production is an important economic driver for Scotland.

“The Royal Highland Show is an invaluable source for highlighting the whole chain from farm production to retail counter. That, coupled with some hand-picked exhibitors from other areas, makes the Food Hall and the Cookery Theatre a priority on any show visitor’s itinerary.”
Joining Highlands and Islands producers will be a who’s who of Scottish food and drink names from big hitters such as Mackies of Scotland, Macsween and the Spencerfield Spirit Company who were all named as winners at last year’s Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards.
East Lothian Food and Drink will also return to the show for the fourth year to highlight the breadth of local production from the region. Six exhibitors including Thistly Cross Cider, Glenkinchie Distillery, Scots’ Cheer, Yester Dairies, Hood’s Scottish Honey and the famous S Luca Ice Cream, will allure foodies to sample the best from the East.

The Royal Highland Show takes place between 20th and 23th June at Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh. Visit for more information.

I am posting this press release in return for a ticket to the Royal Highland Show, I have received no other payment.


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Sunday, 19 May 2013

K is for Kugelhopf

The letter K is a rather challenging one to bake.  However, one of the main reasons I like to take part in blog challenges and events is to push myself to try recipes I wouldn't otherwise have made.  I searched around for bakes starting in K and there were not very many at all, I toyed with making some Kiwi Fruit Muffins but in the end decided to attempt a Kugelhopf. Kugelhopf is a yeasted sweet bread usually baked in a fancy tube tin.

Alphabakes is a blogger baking challenge run by Ros at The more than occasional baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes who is hosting this month.

It was particularly fortuitous that I was contacted by The Craft Company to review some items from their website.  The Craft Company specialises in cake decorations and cake decorating supplies including cake boards, cake boxes, cake decorating equipment, baking tins, ingredients and cake toppers, everything you might need for decorating cakes. When I browsed around their site I found this 'large tube ring silicone mould'  which is perfect for a Kugelhopf. I also asked to review a bottle of PME Release-a-Cake which I felt might just be required for such an intricate mould. Delivery from the Craft Company was prompt and the items were well packaged, I couldn't fault them. Prices were also keen with the silicone mould costing £7.00 and the PME Release-a-Cake £2.85 for 236g. A range of delivery options are available.

Dough risen in the mould
The Kugelhopf recipe that I used is one with an excellent provenence.  It is a recipe by Dorie Greenspan, a well known US author, and comes from her book "Baking from my home to yours".  I found the recipe on line at Leite's Culinaria  I did make a slight change (regular readers will not be surprised by this!) I soaked the sultanas in a miniature of Poire William, a pear flavoured eau de vie (40% alcohol), that we brought back from holiday in France.

Poire William

Baked and ready to unmould
The dough is very similar to a brioche dough and is best made in a stand mixer, although it is possible to make it by hand.  I don't have a dough hook for my vintage Kenwood Chef  (something I'm planning on remedying very soon) so mixed the dough with the K beater which worked perfectly well - how very appropriate for this challenge!  The process is not so much difficult and, while it takes a long time from start to finish, most of that doesn't involve you doing anything.  I started making the dough on Saturday morning and the Kugelhopf was baked and complete by Sunday lunchtime. 

Kugelhopf just before being brushed with melted butter
The Kugelhopf slid easily out of the mould which had been brushed generously with the PME Release-a-cake.  The silicone mould was very well behaved, I supported it in an 20cm cake tin on a baking tray, mainly for ease of putting in and out of the oven,  but it is quite a sturdy mould even without that.

The verdict? The Kugelhopf was a huge success, it was light, sweet and rich, the alcoholic sultanas don't overpower the soft bread.  Everyone loved it and my mother-in-law said she preferred it to cake.

I was very impressed by this recipe and by the silicone mould and PME Release-a-cake from The Craft Company.

I chose products up to £10 from The Craft Company to review.  I was not paid for this review and my opinions are my own.

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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Rhubarb with butterscotch sauce - Dish of the Month

This dish is simple but devastatingly good. Stew some rhubarb with sugar and water until tender, then remove the rhubarb to a dish, reduce the syrup and add muscovado sugar, cream and vanilla.

Nigel describes it as a 'sweet sour sauce for rhubarb' in the kitchen diaries II, a sauce for rhubarb that has the same comforting vanilla flavours as custard without making custard, I served my rhubarb with Madagascar Vanilla Ice-cream. Being a bit of a rhubarb obsessive at the moment, this certainly hit the spot.

 If you would like to take part, then please:

  • Make a Dish of the Month from ANY recipe by Nigel Slater
  • Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen or A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate
  •  Use the Dish of the Month logo in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @serialcrafter or @Heavenona_plate and #DishoftheMonth and we will re-tweet it to our followers. 
  • If you own The kitchen diaries II please do not publish the recipes on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using recipes from the BBC Food website, please link to the recipe on BBC Food rather than publishing the recipe.  Likewise recipes on the Guardian Lifestyle website.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.

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