Bitter with bits in: my ideal marmalade

When I was growing up marmalade meant one thing: a citrussy concoction with bits of peel in it, related to jam but somehow more complicated in flavour and less obviously sweet. It was also one of the only things my father ever cooked - it still is - and although he comes up with all… Continue reading Bitter with bits in: my ideal marmalade

Rediscovering the Mirliton – Charles Fourier’s favourite tart

  When you read any of Charles Fourier's utopian tracts you can't help noticing what an important part sugar plays in his idea of the perfect world. He constantly refers delicious cakes, jams and sweets, and does it with such relish that it feels obvious that his future world, Harmony, was the perfect place for… Continue reading Rediscovering the Mirliton – Charles Fourier’s favourite tart

Bread in Kazakhstan – Taba Nan baked in a dung fire

At any market in southern Kazakhstan you will see piles of the most beautiful big round breads, called nan or non. All of them have a raised edge and some kind of decoration on the central dough, though there are many variations on the theme, and they are priced accordingly. Some are plain (taba nan,… Continue reading Bread in Kazakhstan – Taba Nan baked in a dung fire

Bread in Kazakhstan – Baursak

During a visit to Aksu Jabagly nature reserve in southern Kazakhstan, the wonderful Mrs Natasha Karatayeva of the Ruslan homestay showed me how she makes baursak, the delicious puffy fried bread served on special occasions all over Kazakhstan. This isn't an everyday bread, but something for an important party, like a wedding, or even a… Continue reading Bread in Kazakhstan – Baursak

Cured egg yolk: final chapter, first round

The experiment is at an end, and judged on looks alone it is a triumph - those grated golden curls couldn't be more lovely. But on flavour, we have a hung jury. The effect of these flecks of proteinous gorgeousness on pasta or in a salad is very good indeed, I just wish it was… Continue reading Cured egg yolk: final chapter, first round

Crispy lichens and cured egg yolks – the forbidden experiment?

A few weeks ago I was thwarted in my plan to make Magnus Nilsson’s crispy lichen dish by my lack of a cured egg yolk. This weekend, it’s all come together: the egg yolks have had about a month to mature, and a walk on the North Downs produced a small bagful of beautiful grey-green… Continue reading Crispy lichens and cured egg yolks – the forbidden experiment?

How many grains make a good porridge?

I'm a major fan of porridge as my winter breakfast - but I now realise how limited my porridge horizon has been. Like any well brought up girl from Edinburgh, I'd only really considered oats as the proper content of my breakfast bowl. Needless to say, Magnus Nilsson (whose Fäviken cookbook I am currently obsessed with) has… Continue reading How many grains make a good porridge?

Whoever heard of a semi-dried pickle?

I've probably been living a sheltered life, but I'd never come across a semi-dried pickle - until I continued my investigation of Magnus Nilsson’s Fäviken cookbook. Never, it seems, a man to rush things, Nilsson recommends slightly drying out pickled vegetables until "they resemble vegetable raisins" to serve with a hot pork chop. I usually have a good… Continue reading Whoever heard of a semi-dried pickle?

Cooking steak at Fäviken speed

Chef Magnus Nilsson was a guest on UK TV’s Saturday Kitchen last weekend. His hilarious performance in the ‘omelette challenge’, where chef guests compete to make an omelette at record-breaking speed, nicely summed up for me everything that is wonderful about his approach to food and cooking. While Nick Nairn had already finished throwing together… Continue reading Cooking steak at Fäviken speed

Parmesan making in Emilia Romagna

Last weekend I joined a group of gastronomy masters students on a day trip from Bologna to visit a parmesan dairy: the Latteria Sociale Tullia Pavesi Ciro-Rolo. Here, in vast copper-lined cauldrons, gallons of milk is transformed into parmesan 365 days a year, at the rate of about 80 cheeses per day. The dairy combines… Continue reading Parmesan making in Emilia Romagna