Monday, 3 December 2012

Ricotta citrus tart, crostata to some

I have just made this tart twice, adapting Carluccio’s recipe a bit. It is really easy, and the result is a very light cheesecake, with a flavour reminiscent of pannetone. The difference between this recipe and a more usual cheesecake is that the eggs are separated and the beaten egg whites give it a lift. I’ve seen it made with short crust elsewhere too, which would make it richer. Also, Carluccio adds the lemon zest after cooking, which gives an extra tang.

I used half a packet of puff pastry and rolled it very thin, and leaving about a one inch overlap, which gets folded over the mixture. Then I put little straps of pastry across, which I think looks good, but a rather acerbic relative (while eating it) said makes it looks like a hot cross bun, clearly meaning not in a good way. Sob.

In the mixture I added a spoonful of marmalade, reducing the sugar a little.

Carluccio says this tart is delicious served on its own or with roasted pears, which I haven’t tried yet.

For the pastry
·         1 x 400g/14oz ready-made puff pastry
·         Plain flour for dusting
·         1 lemon finely grated zest only

For the filling
·         300g/10½oz ricotta cheese
·         200g/7oz mascarpone cheese
·         200g/7oz candied peel roughly chopped
·         125g/4½oz caster sugar
·         6 free-range eggs, separated

Preparation method
1.     Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2.     Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to a 3mm/⅛in thickness. Use the pastry to line a 25cm/10in pastry case. Cover with a damp cloth while you make the filling.
3.     In a bowl, mix the ricotta, mascarpone and candied peel with 100g/3½oz of the sugar and five of the egg yolks until smooth and well combined.
4.     Whisk the egg whites in another large, clean bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the remaining sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
5.     Using a large metal spoon, fold the whites into the ricotta mixture, then pour into the pastry-lined tart tin.
6.     Beat the reserved egg yolk in a bowl. Fold in the overhanging pastry and brush with the egg yolk. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through and the filling has a slight wobble in the centre.
7.     Set aside to cool for two hours, then sprinkle with lemon zest.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cake for an occasion

I'm revisiting Burnt Sugar Cake, which is a cake for sharing. It's not just that it is large, it's also a cake that tempts you to have another slice, and the second slice somehow always disappoints. This is a cake that really impresses, it's a surprise, it's flavour reminds the adult eater of a childish love of sweetness, and panders to to skewed taste of the young, so it ticks lots of boxes.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

popularity of posts

Out of curiosity I just looked at which posts are most read on this blog. The answer? Haggis Cottage Pie, at number one, and Gunpowder Sauce at number two.

Haggis Cottage Pie is a wonderful recipe, easy to make, economic too, colourful and tasty. The pepperiness of the haggis gets two lovely things to contrast with it, mashed swede (with carrot) and potato. It can be made in advance, which is most convenient, and still piped in! The only down side, for an exceptionally greedy person like me, is that it is extremely filling, and I like to eat a lot, which makes me end up resembling a haggis around the midriff, and having to sleep it off. I'm also told it goes well with whisky.

Gunpowder Sauce, or as I have renamed it, Peace Sauce, is a preparation to add to stir fries, to make them taste super delicious and extra authentic (she says, with no oriental credentials except slightly hooded eyelids). It's not just me, all who have tasted the dishes made with it say so too. It keeps in the fridge for around a week, but doesn't freeze. Worth a try if you like a stir fry. As for those who stumble across it, while searching for methods to blow things up, please, just cook a meal, and give up your violent ways.

Thank you to everybody who visits this blog.

Monday, 17 September 2012

chocolate and vanilla sponge marble cake

one of two cakes, and this is all that's left after a day
Marble cake, the mingling of vanilla with chocolate in random swirls. It looks fancy, tastes great, and is easy to make. Which is just as well, because I keep getting asked to make it. You need a little bit of organisation and two mixing bowls. I like making it in loaf tins, it's easier to slice, and I don't add any icing, there's enough going on without it. Maybe a light dusting of icing sugar, if you must.

I make a large batch, three good sized bread tins, lined with baking parchment. You spoon in some vanilla, followed by some chocolate and maybe a bit more vanilla, then you run a knife through it in a figure of eight. Don't stir it too much, it's nice if the two flavours aren't muddled up too much. The chocolate has a little spike of coffee, that makes it the perfect partner for a demitasse, or something longer if you prefer.


makes 3 large loaves - line three large tins with baking parchment (crumple it up thoroughly to make it sit into the tins, or use pre-shaped parchment

vanilla sponge
150g sr flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g fat, marg or butter
150g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp warm water

chocolate sponge
150g sr flour
50g pure unsweetened cocoa (sieved) including 1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking powder

200g fat, marg or butter
150g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3tbsp warm water

  • put all the ingredients for each sponge into two separate bowls
  • beat together the vanilla spone, until well mixed (I use an electric whisk), adding the warm water at the last moment
  • beat together the chocolate sponge until well mixed, adding the warm water last
  • put three spoonfuls, spaced apart in each tin of the vanilla mixture
  • fill the gaps with three spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture
  • keep adding more spoonfuls alternately, until the mixture is all used up
  • swirl a knife through each tinful of mixture in a figure of eight
  • cook for around 30m at 160 degrees, or until a skewer, inserted, comes out clean

best oriental coleslaw

If you like a fresh tasting salad, to eat on its own, or with a bbq, this straightforward recipe is for you. Quick to make, it has zing, freshness and a wonderful kick. And no fat. It is an oriental coleslaw, and I've just eaten a bowl that was still delicious after four days.

There's nothing more to say, apart from that everyone who tastes it loves it, and somehow there is never enough.

I like to add corn from a freshly cooked ear of corn, hot, to some salad that has been sitting for at least half an hour, letting the juices flow. The hot sweet crunch of the corn is a lovely clincher to the salad, and once it cools it is still a terrific addition.

Recipe - enough for four



  • 1/2 small white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • big handful fresh coriander
  • small handful fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp thai fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime (enough for at least 5 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • finely shred the cabbage
  • peel and grate the carrots
  • finely dice the onion
  • crush and peel the garlic and chop finely
  • deseed the chilli and chop finely
  • finely chop the stems of the washed coriander and shred the leaves
  • take the mint leaves off the stems and shred finely
  • put everything in a bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice and tsp of sugar
  • stir, mixing thoroughly
cook the ear of corn, in boiling water for 10m, then slice off the corn and add to the salad

Delicious. If I say so myself.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

apple tart with stripes

a bunch of dessert apples and some boozy pastry made this tart a hit. To get the striped effect I lazily peeled one strip off the midriff of each apple, and then cut them into quarters, took out the core and cut each quarter into slices. The wandering look of the stripes came about because I mixed up the apples, so the peeled part aligned in a wobbly way with its neighbouring slice. I think I will try it again using a bit of cinnamon. I used my easy pastry, but it would work well with a packet of puff pastry, or any homemade variety of pastry. Give it a go, it's delicious and impressive.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

choc and hazelnut biscuits, or cookies if you like

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cookies

I've been looking for a good cookie/biscuit recipe for some time, and then I came across this one. Rave reviews all round, along with much overeating on the biscuit front. The secret ingredient, because I don't usually keep it in the house, is condensed milk.

Depending on how long you cook these biscuits they can either be crunchy on the outside with a chewy centre or crunchy all the way through. If you can't wait for them to cool you'll get gooey chocolate too.

This recipe makes about 40 biscuits, if you make the roll about two inches/5cm in diameter. If you don't want 40 biscuits, keep a roll of the dough in the fridge, and eat within a week.

225g butter or margarine
not very round dough...

225g caster sugar
6 tbsp condensed milk
350g self-raising flour
100g dark chocolate
100g hazelnuts

Chop the roast hazelnuts and chocolate to a size that suits you. If you leave them too large, they will make cutting the dough into slices harder.
Beat together the fat, sugar and condensed milk, until well mixed and pale
Add in the flour and mix thoroughly
Stir through the nuts and chocolate
Divide the dough in two, and make two rolls about 5cm in diameter – using baking parchment will make this easier – and chill for around an hour

20m before you are going to cook the cookies, heat your oven to 180C

Cut into slices slightly less than 1cm, say .6cm (joke)
Lay onto baking sheet lined with baking parchment, leave some space between them for spreading
Cook for around 15m or until golden brown

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dolmades - stuffed vine leaves

Thanks to George, for a lovely evening making and eating dolmades. George never uses vine leaves kept in brine, so dolmades have a limited season in his house. The leaves he uses are not so palmate, they look more like a plain tree leaf, and he tells me that the grapes are small, red, and very sweet, so I think he may have a currant vine. The word currant comes from the French, raisin de Corinthe, or Corinthian grape. Whatever kind of vine it is, the leaves are less veined, and a better shape for wrapping the stuffing. I discovered that fresh leaves also have a slightly lemony taste, which really adds to the deliciousness of the dolmades.

Full recipe coming soon.

the vine leaves were blanched with boiling water

the stuffing is a mixture of beef and pork, with rice

the extra stuffing filled some tomatoes

Friday, 31 August 2012

marinaded chicken

Throwing together a marinade for chicken for an evening meal, I stumbled on something rather delicious. The principle is simple, to combine sweet, salt and sour to tenderise and flavour meat. It went down very well, so here is what went into it:

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 sachet of wasabi
juice of 1/2 lemon

Add to sliced chicken breast or thighs, cover and leave for at least two hours

Cook on grill or in pan, about two minutes a side - you can thread onto a skewer if you are grilling, it helps make turning it easier. Once cooked, cover and wrap to keep it nice and juicy.

Eat with rice and salad

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Summer Tart - easy and no rolling

Reading a recipe in the paper for an apple tart, I realised it was time to make the family recipe, alcoholic, no need to roll the pastry, just press it into a well buttered, or even better, lined tart tin and load up with fruit. The alcohol in the pastry keeps it crisp and gives it a subtle flavour, which you can use to enhance the fruit. Calvados in the pastry goes fantastically well with apples (no surprise), but so does rum. Use a strong alcohol! The recipe is here.


Friday, 27 July 2012

butterbean houmous

couldn't wait to eat it
Quickly made, butterbeans mixed some of the cooking liquid, together with a tablespoon of tamari, garlic, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Yum


half a tin of butterbeans (around 200g)
1 tbsp tamari
1 clove garlic
handful of parsley (leaves only)
olive oil
lemon juice (from half lemon/1 tbsp)
pinch of salt

I use a stick blender, but you could mash the beans with a fork, or use a liquidiser instead. If you are using a fork, remember to chop the pasley and garlic really fine, otherwise you'll end up with parsley in your teeth and surprising lumps of garlic every few mouthfuls. DON'T go mad with the blender, the beans may become a bit chewy.

  • drain the butterbeans, keeping back a little liquid
  • put butterbeans, garlic, tahini, roughly chopped parsley, a couple of slugs of olive oil and blend until smooth, no longer
  • add some liquid if it becomes a bit dry
  • taste, and adjust salt if you like

amazing olive oil made by friends
you are unlikely to find a better olive oil than the one we received from Paula, Kevin and Alice

Cassis cake

success, this is two hours later...
Our blackcurrant bushes gave some delicious fruit this year, not tons of fruit, they are just established, but the  currants were plump, round and wonderfully black. I cooked them up in a pan with just a little sugar and tried them with yoghurt, but the flavour was very strong. So I decided to try them in a cake, just stirred into a basic sponge mixture. Result? Delicious.

I lined a large tart tin, and treated it like pudding, because I knew the fruit would sink, and I thought it might be a fall-apart-a-bit kind of a cake.  It worked, because it wasn't too tall, and didn't fall apart, however in a deeper tin I don't think it would work. So stick to a big tin, or halve the quantities and use a smaller tin.

If you don't have home grown fruit, use some frozen berries.


see how the fruit sinks through the cake mix
for 10"/25cm tart tin


mugful of blackcurrants or berries 
heaped tbsp sugar

cook on low heat for around 20m, don't allow to burn

four egg sponge ingredients (it's a clue)

set at 200C

4 eggs
250g each sugar, self-raising flour, butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
tsp vanilla

I use demerera sugar

  • Mix the lot together thoroughly
  • pour mixture into lined tart tin
  • spoon fruit mixture on in five big puddles and stir through quickly with spoon handle (don't mix completely, you're just marbling the mixture)
  • cook for 30m and check
  • ready when skewer comes out clean
  • leave to cool completely before removing from tin

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cranks date & walnut loaf

adorned with honeyed yoghurt and fruit salad
Cranks was the first vegetarian restaurant in London, on Carnaby Street in 1961. I used to go to the one next to the Craftsman Potters shop, with my mum in the 70s, getting the full strength 70s dose of varnished pine, wholemeal everything and salt glazed earthenware. The food was laid out under the heating lamps you now mostly only see in motorway service stations. But then I don’t go to hotels much, or all-you-can-eat buffets. Oh, and they had a salad bar. It was jolly tasty stuff, and introduced me to the joys of red cabbage coleslaw. Now, in a moment of clarity, I have purchased the Cranks Recipe book via the estimable ebay. It is a gem.

I love a walnut loaf, and, to revisit an old subject, I have eggs to use, thanks to our very own chickens. So I gave the Date and Walnut loaf a try. I’ve just eaten the last slice. I wrapped it up and let it sit for three days before tasting it, or, if you want the truth, I hid it. Cake doesn’t last long around here, and I wanted to see what it was like when it sat for a while. The answer is: delicious.

three trying to lay at once
This cake is made entirely with wholemeal ingredients, and although the name is date and walnut loaf, it tastes wonderfully of orange. I can’t recommend it enough. Some of the walnuts are included in the mix, and some are scattered on top. You get a lovely orangey crumb, with bits of fudgey date the occasional crunch walnut fragment inside the cake and lovely toasty walnut on top. The Cranks recipe recommends it with butter, but for me it is heaven without accompanied by a nice strong cup of tea.

You’ll see that the ingredients are all based around the 3 eggs,  50g of fat, per egg and the same of dates and sugar 100g of flour and 25g of walnuts. So if you want to make a teeny loaf just add that to a third of the juice and zest of an orange. Or make a very very orangey version.

I use an electric whisk.

Recipe: Date and Walnut loaf
Set oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin

·         150g/5oz Butter or Margarine
·         150g/5ozDark brown sugar (muscovado)
·         3 Eggs, beaten
·         1 Small orange, grated rind and juice
·         150g/50z Dates, chopped and stoned
·         75g/3oz Walnuts, chopped
·         300g/10oz Wholemeal  self-raising flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
Beat in the eggs one by one, then stir in the orange rind
Fold in the dates, and half the walnuts and the flour
Add the orange juice last
Spoon the mixture out of into a lined 900g/1lb loaf tin
Level the surface of the mixture and scatter the rest of the walnuts over the top
Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, until risen and golden brown in a coolish oven 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3

If you can, leave for a few days before eating

Sunday, 17 June 2012

how to use thirteen eggs

despite a coffee spillage, still looks good
The chickens have been laying very well, four eggs a day since the days started getting longer. One day it was five, however the next day only three, so that balanced out. Despite a soft shell issue, which means two eggs have been lost this week, that still makes a hell of a lot of eggs. 7x4=28 after all. So, 26 eggs in one week. I haven't managed to flog any (didn't really try), so today saw me baking. Carrot cake which needs 3 eggs, tart a l'oignon also three, plus two for the pastry, and tortilla which used five. Here are some pics.

If I fill the pan full it takes ten eggs and at least eight potatoes, and then I can't turn the tortilla over, as it's too heavy.
slightly low, but I can't lift the pan if I fill it full

carrot cake, with a hole from which a walnut got nibbled
I used a long loaf tin for the carrot cake. It would have been better to leave it to sit for a day.....


Traditional sponge cake is light and fluffy, with a fine texture, small bubbles. Tales abound about the best method to get the right result. Fillings in WI style versions include jam, or jam and cream. I recently savoured a family version made by Layla which had chocolate buttercream as well as cream teamed with strawberries in the sandwich, with cream and strawberries on top, together with shavings of white chocolate. That was very acceptable... I'll check if she took any pix before the ravening hoards disposed of it.

Cake-meets-trifle is a lemon sponge sandwich, filled with raspberry jam, whipped cream and strawberries. I sometimes use raspberries inside too, but they are very juicy and squash easily. The lemon sponge has lemon zest and lemon juice in it, which gives a wonderful tang that contrasts wonderfully with the soft and sweet filling. Sometimes I just dust the top with icing sugar, and sometimes I put more cream on top with some more fruit. If the cake is chilled it holds together better when it is cut. All in all, this is my most requested cake.

The original recipe I used was an all in one sponge, ideal for a food processor. I don't use one at the moment, so I have gone back to following the traditional approach, creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs and beating them in one by one, followed by the flour. I used self-raising flour, and add a little more baking powder to add a bit more lift. The zest is added to the butter, and the lemon juice is added right at the end.


zest of 1 lemon
200g  sr flour
200g fat (butter or margarine)
200g sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
juice of 1 lemon

raspberry jam
double or whipping cream
punnet of strawberries


Heat oven to 160 degrees

grease and line 2x8" cake tins 
  • cream sugar and fat with zest
  • add eggs blending one by one (add spoonful of flour if mixture splits)
  • add sifted sr flour blend, adding lemon juice as you go
  • spoon mixture dividing evenly between two lined tins 
  • bake for 20m and check by inserting a skewer, cake is ready when skewer comes out cleanly and the cake is drawing away from the sides
  • whip cream, cut strawberries in half, removing leaves
  • when the cakes are cool, remove from tin, peel off lining paper, spread jam over base sponge, spoon cream on and lay cut strawberries on top, lay top sponge on top
  • sprinkle with icing sugar if you fancy it
this quantity makes a good size cake, if you want a monster cake use 8" tins and double the quantities

Monday, 21 May 2012

delicious, and soon gone

not so elegant, but tasty, easy to make and can be cooked from frozen, here's the recipe

Horses Dovers

Starters, hors d’eouvres, or horses dovers as somebody used to say. It’s a nice start to a meal, not too heavy, if you’re planning three courses, you don’t want anything too heavy. I like mixed salads. I don’t usually have meat, but some salami, or saucisson sec, is also nice.

So here are a couple of pictures of some salads I served up recently. Champignons a la greque, aubergines with parsley, tomato and carrot salad. And beetroot salad, with a mustard dressing.

Roast Chicken, hot and fast

We moved Sunday lunch to suppertime a while ago. I have to reinstate it in the early afternoon if we have people over. It means that the kids mostly make it home for their Sunday meal, However if they arrive and it isn’t roast chicken, complaints fly, even if it’s the fifth week in a row, or the 9th. I’d like to say it’s boring, but since Steve is the roast meister, I can’t. I did teach him… but a long time ago now, and truth be told, he’s better at roasting chicken than me now.

The way I learnt  to roast chicken was to cook it hot and fast. The basic calculation is 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes, so a 3lb chicken takes one hour. The only thing that you put in the bird is seasoning, half a lemon, a bunch of parsley, a bouquet garni and/or some garlic, the outside is usually covered with a trickle of olive oil, pepper and salt. The bird needs basting every 15 minutes, and we usually turn it onto its back at some point, to make sure the cooking is even and the breast doesn’t dry out. The oven needs preheating to the hottest it can go, the chicken goes in for 15 minutes at the top heat, and then you turn the oven down a third, for the rest of the cooking. Once it’s cooked for that length of time, you sit it on a board, cover it with foil and let it sit for at least five minutes, to relax and to let the juices flow.  Then carve.

If you think your oven might not be heating properly, check how well it is cooked, by pushing something sharp (skewer is the best thing) and if the juice comes out clear, the chicken is cooked.

It’s Monday, so pictures will have to wait until next week.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hot chocolate pudding with a fondant centre

This is a rewrite of Gordon Ramsey’s recipe for Chocolate Fondant Pudding, from the Channel 4 programme The F word. I followed this recipe and they were perfect. The chocolate flavour was seriously intense, the gooey centre was seriously gooey and the only problem was that they were a bit too big! Perhaps it would have been better to have just one course before. Hey ho. It took dedication, and a fair bit of greed to finish off those puds.

I’ve done a rewrite, making it slightly less bossy, and, I hope, easier to follow.

Gordon says this amount is enough for 9 puddings, either ramekins or foil cases, but I think the size that would suit the eater best is somewhere a little bigger than a small coffee cup, which would make more. Otherwise the puddings are more suitable for sharing, which is nice. They are delicious with ice cream or crème fraiche, and a short strong coffee.

Preparing the moulds is the fussiest bit of this recipe, but don’t stint on it, otherwise your puddings probably won’t turn out.

A rough calculation, per two pots is 50g each of dark chocolate, butter, sugar and flour, one egg and one egg yolk plus butter and cocoa to line the pots.

To make Hot Chocolate Fondant Puddings
·          50g melted butter, for brushing
·          cocoa powder , for dusting
·          200g good-quality dark chocolate , chopped into small pieces
·          200g butter , in small pieces
·          200g golden caster sugar
·          eggs and 4 yolks
·          200g plain flour


o    Prepare the moulds, brushing them with melted butter and chilling them, once cold do it again,  shaking off excess and rolling cocoa powder around to coat them
o    Melt the butter and broken up chocolate together over a pan of barely simmering water – the bowl must not touch the water, stir the melted chocolate and butter together until it is well mixed, then set it aside
o    Whisk the eggs and egg yolks briskly (I use an electric whisk) adding the sugar in a slow stream. The mixture will thicken, turn pale and bulk up with bubbles, and you’ll see a trail left as you drag the whisk through the mixture
o    Sift the flour onto the eggs and stir it into the mixture quickly
o    Pour the melted chocolate mix into the eggy mixture a little at a time, beating well as you go, until you have a dark chocolatey batter
o    Transfer into a big jug and pour into the pots, almost to the top and chill or freeze the pots

To cook, preheat the oven to 160C – remember cooking times vary according to the size and shape of the container you are using. The puddings are ready when they have a crust that bounces back when you give it a gentle nudge

From frozen – cook for 17 minutes
From chilled – cook for 12 minutes

Friday, 11 May 2012

oven cooked breaded chicken

Schnitzel, southern fried chicken, fish fingers. All breaded food. I thought I'd have a go at a kind-of fried chicken thing. I marinaded chicken pieces, all leg pieces, in milk, lemon juice, paprika, pepper and salt, having boned all but one of the pieces: I got bored. Only the unboned drum stick had skin on it.

So what did I do? I grated two pieces of wholemeal bread and stirred in some garlic pounded with herbs, pepper and salt, and a little bit of mixed spice, mixed herbs, paprika and turmeric.
I beat two eggs.
I prepared some flour with turmeric and paprika as well.
I put the flour mixture, eggs and breadcrumbs in three shallow bowls in a row.
Shaking off the marinade, I rolled each piece of chicken in the flour, then rolled it in the beaten egg, followed by rolling it in breadcrumbs, then laid each piece on some baking parchment. Once all the pieces were double dipped I put them in a hot oven for ten minutes, took them out and turned them over, and put them back into the oven, lowering the heat to a medium heat for another ten minutes.

Result? Pretty good. Nothing left. No comments from picky eater Kitty, although she noticed the yellow from the turmeric. I'll try it again and write it up properly with pictures.

carrot quantities corrected for carrot cake... eek!

Thank you very much to Jenny, who spotted I'd over carrotted the cake in the recipe! the correct quantity of carrots is 3 cups when coarsely grated, or 220g. That is 3 mugfuls, using an average mug.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

stock from double chicken roast + chicken

At the end of a wet Sunday we shared supper with Alex and Derek. We walked our food round to theirs, and had two roast chickens. Alex had made roasties to the usual high quality, I had thrown some cooked new potatoes around in pounded garlic with paprika, lemon and olive oil and let them cook for 15m on the shelf above my chicken. I had carefully removed the drumsticks and set them aside with another set of legs, remaining from the chicken we'd bought to eat just the breast meat. After all, the breast meat being sold on its own cost the same price as a whole chicken. So I roasted a chicken without its drumsticks, adding the chicken wings from the other bird. It was a mismatched puzzle of a roast chicken... because Derek really likes chicken wings, and that way there were six to choose from (remember, they were also roasting a chicken. Fascinating.

The upshot, after the meal was eaten and we waddled home, was that I ended up with three chicken carcasses. There were a couple of legs missing, and a couple of drumsticks (being made into stew soon), but it was still a whole heap of bones. So into the large pot went the bones with a bayleaf, a small bunch of parsley, an onion studded with four whole cloves, a leek, several cloves of garlic, peppercorns, a carrot and some mixed herbs. On top of that went about three litres of water, and then it was all boiled together for around an hour. The result? Stock, lovely gelatinous stock.

Soup follows