Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Mr Redding is very fond of sweet palmiers - Wiki defines them thus: 'Palmiers are made from puff pastry, a laminated dough similar to the dough used for croissant, but without the yeast. Puff pastry is alternating layers of dough and melted butter. The puff pastry is rolled out, coated with sugar, and then the two sides are rolled up together so that they meet in the middle, making a roll that is then cut into about 1/4" slices and baked. Usually it is rolled in sugar before baking.' Whilst being associated with France different varieties occur across Europe.
I quite like sweet palmiers but generally prefer savoury to sweet and was reminded of a palmier recipe that Delia had in her Christmas book that contained parma ham. Anyway, I had some wild garlic pesto left over and some shop bought puff pastry so I thought I would  experiment.

Making palmiers is all about the construction. Take a ready rolled sheet of puff pastry that is roughly square.  Spread with pesto ( ordinary is fine but I had made some delicious wild garlic pesto - take an ordinary recipe and substitute wild garlic and rocket for the basil), then line anchovies up in two lines roughly equidistant. Srinkle a generous handful of grated parmesan over the whole lot along with a good grind of black pepper. Starting at one side roll up tightly as if you were rolling a swiss roll until you get to the middle. Turn the pastry round and do the same with the other side. Wrap the resulting roll in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Once the pastry has chilled pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees. Slice into approx. 50mm slices and place on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment, leaving lots of space between them. Bake for around 15 minutes until crisp, golden brown and bubbling.

These are a brilliat drinks nibbles and, having a little more body than many, enable two decent cocktails to be consumed before dinner. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


This is a delicious starter, quite light but full of good flavours - the saltiness of the bacon and earthiness of the beans and peas complement the sweetness of the scallops.

I love scallops, both the big fat King scallops and the sweet little Queenies. I find them to be a very useful thing to keep in the freezer for impromptu starters - yes, I know I should buy everything fresh from my local fishmonger (the excellent Sopers on Nunhead Lane) but I'm busy with lots of stuff and good quality frozen scallops are ok by me.

This isn't an original recipe, we have all seen variations on the theme of black pudding, scallops, broad beans, peas, but it is very easy to prepare - no purees or emulsions here, just lovely ingredients cooked quickly. 

Again, I apologise that I can't give much idea about quantities because lately when I have been cooking I have been doing so out of pleasure and to feed people.  Per person I would allow 2 large or 3 small King scallops, a handful of frozen broad beans and peas, 3 inches of morcilla sausage and a small handful of smoked lardons.

So, how to do it....

Pour boiling water over the broad beans, leave for a couple of minutes, then remove the outer skin of each bean. Cook the beans and peas for 2-3 minutes in boiling water until just done. Set aside.

Put a splash of oilve oil in a small frying pan, allow to heat up and add the lardons. Once they are looking browned and crispy add the morcilla and brown. Add the peas and beans and a splash of balsamic vinegar to create a dressing - taste and check for seasoning then keep warm.

Heat up a frying pan, add some olive oil and get smoking hot. Put in the scallops, and cook for a minute or so each side (depending on size) until just cooked. These are best served in small shallow dishes with the morcilla and bacon dressing on the side.

Monday, 13 May 2013


There are no excuses for neglecting my blog - I can trot out being busy at work, having various family commitments, etc. etc. but everyone can say that and basically it just comes down to priorities and my little blog hasn't been up there near the top of my list lately - I have no aspirations to a career in food, too old for all that hard work and long hours. However, this doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking so I thought that to get my hand in again I would just put up some pictures of things I have cooked with a brief description - no detailed recipe, just an idea of ingredients.

So here we go.......

My dear friend Amanda came over for a Saturday lunch of cocktails and food (note the order of importance) - we both love making cocktails and I have one of the Difford cocktail making bibles. We had a few (!) cocktails each and then I served up my Persepolis inspired lunch......

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb with Persian spicing...

Served with bejewelled rice and a cucumber, mint and pomegranate salsa. We also had a minty coriander yoghurt dip but I didn't take a picture, and

Amanda is very low carb so I resisted the urge to make bread.....

It was all delicious and extremely easy to make ahead - the ideal lunch to have after a few cocktails. We had pudding as well - my (well, Claudia Roden's) orange and almond cake is posted previously, here I served it with cream and some fantastic slivered pistachios from Sally at Persepolis.

I find this kind of food is very straightforward as long as you are as lucky as me to have a shop close by with a knowledgeable shopkeeper who can help you decipher the maze of spices. It was a splendid lunch, even though I do say it myself.