Monday, 25 June 2012

My Bakewell Pudding

My Bakewell Pudding

At the end of my previous posting A warm bowl of raspberries on the longest day I promised to give you a recipe suggestion for using up that jar of last summer's raspberry jam.  I planned to write a well researched piece on the classic English dish Bakewell Pudding before offering my own version.  Well, time is against me as I pack for a trip to Lisbon but a promise is a promise.  Some of you will know, the original recipe is much disputed.  Even the name - is it a 'tart' or is it a 'pudding'?  The thoughtful piece of writing will have to wait for another day.  Here is my recipe and it tastes good.  What more could you want?

My Bakewell Pudding

PASTRY (makes 2 x 20cm x 3.5cm deep tart cases – you’ll need one for this recipe):
250g (10oz) plain flour
25g (1oz) ground almonds
Pinch of salt
150g(6oz) cold butter
75g (3oz) icing sugar
Grated rind of half a lemon
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk

150g room temperature unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
150g ground almonds (if you grind your own, leave some of the skins on)
150g raspberry jam (or a little more if it's good)
25g flaked almonds

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the ground almonds and salt. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips. Sift in icing sugar and add grated lemon rind and mix. Lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together and stir it into the dry ingredients. Mix just until the dough just comes together then turn out and knead gently to smooth the surface.  Wrap half of the pastry and rest in fridge for just 30 minutes (wrap and freeze the other half for another time). 

Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan oven) Lightly butter a 20cm x 3.5cm deep loose-bottomed tart tin.   Roll out the pastry thinly and line the tin, smoothing off the top and pricking the base. Rest in the fridge for a further 15-30 minutes.  Line with greasproof paper and dried beans and bake the tart blind for 10 minutes.  Remove the lining and beans and return the tart to the oven for a further 4-5 minutes to make sure the base is cooked.  Remove from the oven and put to one side.

Turn the oven temperature down to 180C (160C fan oven).  Mix the butter then add the caster sugar and mix well.  Mix the eggs together and add gradually to the mixture beating well.  Gently fold in the ground almonds.  Spread the raspberry jam over the base of the tart.  Gently spread the almond cream right to the edges of the tart and top with the flaked almonds.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes (check after 30 minutes ad if it’s browning too much, place a piece of foil over the pudding).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A bowl of warm raspberries on the longest day

Tender II

It's hard to believe we've reached the longest day of the year as I sit here looking out at thick grey cloud and a steady drizzle.  On the positive side, there's no need to water the crops.  Soon we growers are going to have gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and currants in abundance.  Time for a larder clear out to use up all the bottled fruits and jams from last year to make way for the new.  Hopefully you haven't still got fruit squirrelled away in the freezer - an admission of one forgotten pot of raspberries just unearthed here, and not for the first time. 

My solution at times like these is to blitz them frozen with a little honey to make a simple sorbet or turn to page 1088 of Nigel Slater's Tender II - 'A dish of warm, heady berries'.  Nigel's recipe calls for fresh berries (raspberries, loganberries, tayberries) but his very easy recipe will rescue defrosted ones too.  Essentially the recipe is this: 

Weigh your berries and put them in a heavy-based saucepan. 
Add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar (less if your fruit is already sweet) + half a tablespoon of eau-de-vie de Framboise + half a tablespoon of water for every 100g of fruit
If using frozen fruit you won't need the added water. 

Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer 2-3 minutes, just until the fruit is about to burst. 
Serve warm over ice cream, or double cream and perhaps a crisp merinque if you have it.

If you don't have eau-de-vie, Nigel suggests a raspberry liqueur.  Strawberry and blackcurrant flavours go well with raspberries too or you could use a little rosewater at the end instead.  I experimented with a pomegranate and rose cordial which worked very well.

Last year's raspberry crop was abundant on my allotment.  Particularly from an unidentified summer fruiting variety - possibly Malling Jewel - gifted to me by an allotment neighbour.  A wet autumn sadly reduced much of my late fruiting more fleshy Autumn Bliss crop to a soggy pulp.  This year I've noticed the canes of the summer fruiters haven't grown as tall as normal.  They look rather stunted but are heavy with the promise of fruit. 

As for those jars and bottles in the larder, I need to use them up now as I'll need plenty of empty ones over the next three months to take all the fruit we can't eat or share.  I feel a gooseberry meringue pie coming on.  As for that raspberry jam, I'll be posting a recipe using it in a few days time to banish the weather blues.   

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Alphonso Mangoes 2, English Cherries 0 - Food Find

Some successes and some failures at market today.  The shockingly unseasonal weather continues to affect the English asparagus crop.  Some good tasting asparagus is coming in from Suffolk farms but Kent asparagus proved very hard to find again this week.  Even the Isle of Wight grown asparagus didn't get their usual two week head start this year.  As good growers normally stick to a pretty strict 6-7 week season for the health of the plants, it will be interesting to see when harvesting stops this year.  The English cherry season is also delayed.  Normally we would be seeing the early varieties starting to appear around now but we probably have a couple of weeks to wait yet.  I did finally manage to buy a couple of authentic Alphonso Mangoes. Bad weather on the Indian subcontinent severely reduced the crop this year. Some unscrupulous passing off of inferior varieties has resulted in good greengrocers refusing to stock mangoes labelled 'Alphonso'.  No sign of European apricots yet but I did at least get to taste a Lebanese apricot today - small, pale and unpromising to look at but surprisingly sweet, they have a very short season.  You can find them at Panzer's deli in St John's Wood. 
Please can we have some summer sun now!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Moro Restaurant

Wood roasted pork
at Moro

Yes, this is a terrible photograph, but quite honestly I was far too interested in eating the food on the plate to worry about such aesthetics.  If you'd been there to experience the aromas coming from this dish you would have felt the same way.  What's more, it lived up to its promise.

There's a confidence about the food at Moro that's been there from the first day they fired-up the wood-burning oven and opened the restaurant doors.  From your first taste of their distinctive bread, the wood fired oven imparting an almost liquorice flavour, you sense these people know what they are about.  It's a confidence borne out of apprenticeships at the River Cafe for both husband and wife Sam and Sam Clark.  Having learned all about the very best food of Italy from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, almost 15 years ago they took the decision to pursue their own shared passion for Spanish and Muslim Mediterranean food.  After much travel and many experiences Moro was born to marry the robust style of Spanish food with the exotic lightness of the Muslim cooking they encountered.  As at The River Cafe, the emphasis is on good ingredients simply cooked.

So why have I been absent from Moro for so long?  The fault is mine.  I have a bad habit.  I don't like to pre-book a meal if there is the option of eating at a convivial bar.  I like spontaneity, though I seem to be in the minority on this judging by many of the food critics.  OK, so sometimes you're going to be turned away, and that's disappointing, but it's not the end of the world.  Mostly it works out.  That said, after failing to secure seats three times in a row at the 'no-bookings' bar I flounced out.  Well, more fool me.  A return this week (and I still hadn't learned my lesson so I didn't book) reminded me just how good this noisy, vibrant, unfussy restaurant is.  The long, narrow room is furnished plainly, a splendid bar running virtually the whole length of the room.  An open kitchen spans almost the full width at the far end.  Moro engenders loyalty and a sense of family.  Some of the staff have been here many years, and so have many of the diners. 

The wood-fired oven not only bakes the daily loaves but some of the dishes too.  The menus are seasonal, currently starters might include a Lebanese spring vegetable soup, Salt cod with broad beans and mint or English Asparagus with almond sauce and sherry vinegar.  On our visit, mains embraced Wood roasted chicken with méchouia and chermoula, Charcoal grilled mackerel with tomato, celery, lemon and red chilli salsa with fried potatoes, and there was a Mixed vegetable mezza.  The dish I swooned over was not Iman Bayildi, it was a plate of Wood roasted pork with lentils, asparagus, peas and broad beans with grilled onion salad and thyme.  Succulent meat, melting, crispy crackling, the sweetest of onions and a mix of lentils and vegetables pepped-up with a stunning sherry vinegar sauce.  It didn't stop there.  A rosewater and cardomom ice cream, made with condensed milk, came with poached rhubarb and mulberries and scattered with preserved rose petals.  It was a heavenly assemblage and made the Malaga raisin ice-cream with Pedro Ximinez seem ordinary - but only by comparison.  Other desserts on offer included Yoghurt cake with pistachios and pomegranate, Chocolate and apricot tart and Alfonso Mango (a rare fruit this year thanks to poor weather).

Service was as good as ever and the wine list as solid and interesting as I remember.  You can also eat small dishes at the bar for most of the day.  A three course meal with a glass of wine and service will cost you around £45.  It's not cheap but you won't come away hungry, and may not even make it to dessert - though I will find the rosewater and cardomom ice cream dish hard to resist if it's on offer next time.  Oh yes, there will be a next time, and I might even book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Exmouth Market
London EC1R 4QE
Tel (to book a table): 020 7833 8336
No bookings taken for the bar

Moro has a baby which I reviewed earlier, Morito, right next door and serving tapas sized dishes
You can also read my review of Moro the Cookbook

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Purple Artichokes with black olives

Purple Artichokes

As the spring broad beans and peas begin to appear at market you might expect me to be regaling you with stories of abundance on the allotment by now.  Well, it doesn't work quite like that.  Some domestic growers do manage to bring in Spring crops early, but that's because they've raised their plants under glass before planting out.  For those of us who have to sow our seeds directly in the ground things happen a little later, especially if the weather is as unreliable as it has been this year.  For biodynamic growers there is the added complication of planting to the biodynamic calendar in less than ideal conditions.  Generally, the best guide for starting to sow can be taken from the weeds.  Once they start to appear you can start to plant the hardiest of your seeds - broad beans, peas and spinach.

The positively hot weather in early April saw me sowing seeds for three types of spinach.  All grew happily through a cool, wet May and are currently my only harvestable crop.  A first planting of broad beans and peas the second week in April is just flowering, so I'm a little behind.  The next few weeks should be much more productive with Charlotte potatoes, broad beans, peas, onions, shallots and garlic all growing well.  My gooseberries will soon be ready for a first picking and the blackcurrant bushes are laden with unripe fruit.  I'm determined to get the currants before the birds strip every last one, as happened last year.  Pink Fir Apple potatoes, carrots, parsnips, Borlotti beans, courgettes and squash have now been planted and my nursery bed of brassicas is, as yet, untouched by slugs, flea beetles or pigeons.  I'm particularly looking forward to my Long Red Florence onions which I grow from seed.  Harvested when thick-necked, they are gorgeous to the eye, sweet in flavour for salads and silky in texture when gently fried.

Purple artichokes with black olives

Artichokes are a crop I've never tried to grow as they are perennials which need quite a bit of space.  If you have the ground to devote to them, they require very little attention.  Plant rooted offsets in spring rather than seeds which can be very variable.  The deep purple varieties are, unfortunately, not very hardy.  Cover the crowns with dried leaves in winter to protect from frost.  You should divide the plants every three years to keep them healthy.  Growing them in a flower border is a good option as they are tall, stately and compact with blue-grey thistle-like leaves.  Leave a few unpicked and purple thistles heads will appear from the choke to add a bit of drama to your planting.  As well as the main heads they produce smaller satelllite buds which are perfect for the recipe given here. 

While I wait for my own vegetables, I couldn't resist buying some of the beautiful egg-sized Italian purple artichokes pictured above.  The heads were tightly closed indicating freshness and their small size meant they had very little hairy choke.  I wanted to serve them as simply as possible and this recipe is based on one in 'Chez Panisse Vegetables' by Alice Waters. I piled the stuffed artichokes onto salad leaves for a light lunch but they make a good accompaniment to roast or grilled lamb.  They would probably be good with green puy lentils.  You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days in the cooking juices.

Purple Artichokes with black olives
(Serves 2)

6-8 small purple artichokes
A handful pitted black olives
1 garlic clove
A few parsley sprigs (plus the stalks)
1 Bay leaf
A splash of white wine
A splash of good olive oil
Salt & pepper
A little lemon juice or vinegar

Strip off the outer 2-3 rows of leaves (more if the artichokes are larger), trim the stalk end. Slice off the top third of the artichoke and use a teaspoon to remove the hairy choke from the centre.  Artichokes contain tannic acid so, once prepared, stop them turning brown by popping each in a bowl of cold water with a good squeeze of lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar while you prepare the filling.

Chop stoned black olives, a clove of garlic and a few parsley leaves, mix together and stuff the artichokes.

Put about 1 inch of water in a pan, add a splash of white wine, the parsley stalks and a bay leaf and add the stuffed artichokes, standing upright.  Season and pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil over.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Serve at room temperature with the juices spooned over.  A few parings of parmesan on top would be a good idea unless you want to keep it totally vegetarian.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Butchery in Bermondsey

Nath The Butcher
at Spa Terminus, Bermondsey

A version of this article appears in The Foodie Bugle  (Winner of the Guild of Food Writers New Media of the year Award 2012)

The last railway arch in the row which houses a little enclave of artisan food businesses is rather hidden.  A raised-bed of herbs and a butcher’s block outside alerts you to what lies within.  OK, so it’s a butchery, The Butchery in fact, but Nathan Mills is no ordinary butcher.   Sourcing rare-breed, free-range animals from small farms, either direct or via the Traditional Breeds Meat Market, the emphasis is on pasture-fed native breeds.   These include White Park, Red Poll, Hereford or Dexter beef, Tamworth or Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Llanwenog lamb, hogget and mutton when in season.  Sourcing  from farmers such as Michael Bancroft in the Midlands for Dexter cattle; Sue Money-Kyrle farming Llanwenog lamb in the Wye Valley bordering Wales; and Nick Ball and Jacob Sykes of Fosse Meadows Farms in Leicestershire for free-range chickens.

The Butchery is about more than ticking the ‘careful sourcing’ boxes.  They buy whole carcasses, taking seriously the traditional practice of ‘nose-to-tail’ or whole-carcass butchery.  This means every part of the animal is valued, not just the prime cuts, for, as Fergus Henderson puts it in his seminal book ‘Nose to Tail Eating’, “… it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast …”.  This commitment to respecting the animal is at the core of The Butchery.  It requires the customer, or chef, to approach the counter with an open mind.  Of course we can buy fillet and loin but rather than insisting on a Rib-Eye steak, maybe we should try a Pope’s Eye and if there’s no shin beef left opt for some Bolar (from deep within the shoulder).   

The Cold Room at
The Butchery
Being brought up in a family immersed in the art of butchery in his native Australia, Nathan has 20 years’ experience at every level of the meat trade from abattoir to counter.  This means he knows exactly how long, and under what conditions, he should age (or not) his carefully raised meats as well as all the ‘sneaky butchers cuts’ he can get from them.  Cuts you may never have heard of include Teres Major, Goose Neck, Pope’s Eye, and Bolar.  The blog page of The Butchery website explains all.

Arriving in London in 2005, Nathan’s experience includes spells at the highly respected Ginger Pig, Jamie Oliver & Adam Perry Lang’s Barbecoa Butchers and Whole Foods UK flagship store in Kensington.  Nathan and partner Ruth Siwinski  opened the doors to The Butchery in 2011, initially from a temporary home amongst the Maltby Street group of businesses.  All these award-winning enterprises are gradually moving to their new location, the little centre of excellence off Spa Road, Bermondsey, known as Spa Terminus, where The Butchery is established.  All the businesses here sell directly to restaurants, cafes and other outlets, opening their doors for retail trade on Saturdays. 

The plan for The Butchery is to allow the business to grow organically, gradually and steadily without any compromises to the ethos.  Ruth and Nathan cite Joshua and Jessica Applestone, who in 2004 opened their own uncompromising butchery store in New York State,  as an inspiration for The Butchery.  Their book ‘The Butcher’s Guide to Well–Raised Meat’ tells the story of how and why, against all the odds, they came to do it and is packed with helpful advice.
The Butchery arch

The Butchery arch is also the location for popular courses where you can learn everything from knife sharpening or sausage wrangling to how to butcher a whole pig, lamb, or even, a whole cow.  It’s a great opportunity for chefs, customers and enthusiasts to learn more about the meat they cook and eat.  You can take your cuts away with you or leave some of them for a while in the perfect conditions of Nathan’s ageing room.  Nathan and Ruth also cure bacon, make their own sausages, and their burgers are 100% beef.  They even stock sustainably produced British charcoal to cook them over.   

Debate is currently raging over how to increase food security whilst reducing the environmental impact of its production.  Some argue that raising cattle intensively on a cereal-based diet results in a reduction of methane gas production.  However, recent studies carried out at 10 National Trust farms in the UK have reached a quite different conclusion.  The National Trust report, ‘What’s your beef?’, issued this month concludes that feeding cattle on grass throughout their lifecycle is the most environmentally sustainable way to rear beef.  The report states "The results are contrary to recent thinking that livestock farming methods must intensify further in order to lessen carbon emissions to feed an ever-increasing world population.”  You can read more about this on their website

Studies have shown that lamb and beef raised slowly on pasture have higher vitamin content than intensively-reared meat.  A report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council states that “Cattle and sheep raised on natural grasslands help maintain biodiversity and produce tastier, healthier meat”.    It’s known that higher rates of Omega 3 fatty acids, essential for physical and mental development, and lower levels of saturated fat  are present in pasture-fed beef and lamb. 

An old recipe book from William Douglas & Sons
butchers shop Farringdon Road, London
If you are going to follow the sustainable ‘nose to tail’ approach to eating you need to develop a relationship with your butcher.  It’s interesting to hear the customers at The Butchery debate the merits of particular breeds.  We all have our preferences, in my case I love Dexter beef and when Rib-Eye is available I will home-in on that, but because I trust Nathan I will try other cuts from the same animal.  Nathan and Ruth are more than happy to give advice on cooking and if you need more help, try Fergus Henderson’s books  ‘Noseto Tail’ and ‘Beyond Nose to Tail’.  Another useful book is ‘OddBits: how to cook the rest of the animal’  by American author Jennifer McLagan.  The writer concentrates on “all animal parts we have forgotten not only how to cook but also how to eat” and poses the question “Why is it stranger to eat a beef cheek than a cow’s back?”  There’s also a rather wonderful blog out there at

Purebred Certification
If you care about well-raised British meat and you’re shopping for a good butcher in London, I recommend you check out The Butchery.  They’re bringing the best of British farming to London.

Short Q&A with Nath the Butcher:

A “Banter with customers and watching a progression of meat from a chat with a farmer about their breeds and raising methods to delivery of a whole carcass, aging in my coolroom to cutting up a beast, then having a customer come back and say how much they enjoyed it.”

A “What breed is it ? What has it eaten and where was it killed ? Do you know the real history of your meat in other words. In the UK meat is stamped with a number that can give you all this information and more if you want to know.”
Nb. The website is where to go to make sense of these codes

The Butchery
Arch 13 Dockley Road
Spa Terminus
London  SE16 3SF