Little did we know that we were in for a Seafood Boil when we booked our 'Sisters London Night Out' at Andi Oliver's new Wadadli Kitchen in Hackney Wick last week.
Although not born to it, we have family of Caribbean heritage living in Antigua and Barbuda. This was going to be our farewell supper before the three of us could meet again in Barbuda next January. So how disappointing was it to be given a load of spiel from the serving staff about the Seafood Boil being the national dish of Antigua. What utter rubbish! Perhaps it was because we were expecting something much simpler? Or the fact that the serving staff had no real idea about Caribbean cuisine? But it was disappointing at £30 a head, more so the gob smacking £45 for a 750ml bottle of rum punch which required a further investment of £21 to add three extra shots of rum. Give me the real roadside food of Antigua and Barbuda any day.
Oh! the pressure on social media to be universally appealing to everyone all the time. I'm bored with it and also with the tedious suggestions that by writing a food blog I'm just some kind of influencer looking for freebies. Worse still because I have the word 'foodie' in my blog title I'm also an imbecile. Yes, I've seen that comment many times now including from the titterers on Twitter and idiots on Instagram. What's wrong with foodies? I've not posted much for a while but have been living my best life. Sure, I've not stopped cooking all my meals, feeding my family, writing recipes, going to work, advising clients and eating out, I've just not been inclined to share any of this for a while. Normal service might resume soon. In the meantime here's my fried green tomato recipe.
After a long lockdown and a year later than planned, a family wedding! We celebrated the marriage of my eldest daughter Harriet to Pratik with an Anglo Indian Wedding. A beautiful Suffolk garden setting, a huge marquee and a joy to welcome the Padhiar family into ours. I made the cake - the rich fruit wedding cake recipe is here.
I'm going backwards here because I'm writing this in October. I've spent the morning sorting through 'photos on my phone, reminding myself of the busy days in June. The fun I had growing marigolds by the pot full, gardening with my grandson, finishing layers for a three tier wedding cake and perfecting my Jain, egg free cashew and orange cake for my daughters Indian wedding in July. And that is why I didn't write any blog posts.
Roscoe's Deli and Farmshop has openend at The Coachouse on Thornham Estate at Thornham Magna, which is very exciting for me as I live in the next village, so plan to go truffling there regularly. I took a quick peep to see what was on offer and chatted to the owner Jason who is showcasing British produce, most of it coming in from very local suppliers. He has great plans to extend the offering, with a fresh fish counter now up and running at weekends and eventually a place to stop and enjoy a coffee. Keep an eye on their website for updates.
Busy, busy, back to work and sooo nice to be back out on the road. One of my first stops for elevensies was Bircham Mill. A welcome coffee and delicious Belgian (Bircham) bun. Well worth a visit to buy bread if you are in North Norfolk.
Food Season at The British Library is back with a mouth-watering menu of digital events inspired by the cookbooks, recipes and culinary stories in our collection. Founded and curated by food historian and British Library curator Polly Russell with award-winning food writer Angela Clutton as Guest Director, the season features an array of chefs, historians and food writers for a series of live conversations that you can tune into wherever you are. Speakers include Madhur Jaffrey, Raymond Blanc, Calum Franklin, Tom Kerridge, Ruby Tandoh and we’ll be covering topics from manuscript cookery sources, food and machismo, the cheese history of the UK, Caribbean cooking and restaurant criticism.
Ooh, Easter Biscuits. These have been on the tea table in our house since I was a little girl. This is my mother's recipe which probably came from one of those 1950's Good Housekeeping recipe books. A buttery shortbread style biscuit with spice and currants. Easter is not the same without them. Makes about 24 biscuits.
Such an easy way to use leftover over pitta breads or to make to go with dips at a party. These pitta bread crisps will keep in an airtight container for at least a week, if not longer.
Yesterday I ate far too much ice-cream, then dreamt about it all night and since then haven't been able to stop thinking about ice-cream. I even snuck back to the freezer this morning to hide the pot of stem ginger out of sight from Mr SFoodie. This is what happens when you get invited to to an ice-creamery.
Katherine from Suffolk Meadow invited me to try her range of ice-creams and whilst collecting a selection from her ice-creamery I felt very lucky to be given a little tour, learning how the ice-cream is made. Well, hooray for Waveney Valley cows because Suffolk Meadow uses milk and cream from nearby Beccles farmers, E S Burroughs and Sons - that's what you call 'loocal' in Suffolk. Mind you Katherine knows all about milk as she was very much part of the family firm Marybelle until the business was moved to a new partner in 2014. The family kept their ice-cream business leaving Katherine to run Suffolk Meadow full time. I had a peep in the ingredients store and saw all the different bottles of booze, nuts, fruit, chocolate etc that is used to flavour the ice-cream. There are so many different flavours of ice-cream and I chose five to take home and try. In the interests of research, to preserve my arteries and not have a riot on my hands I allowed my Mr SuffolkFoodie and my resident daughter to taste test them all with me, lining up our selection in order of favourites. If you want to treat yourself to some Suffolk Meadow then check out the list of stockists here otherwise online ordering is available from the website ... and it's well worth the drive to Walpole to stock up your freezer. Consider having a bespoke flavour made, which Katherine will do if you order the minimum production which is 8 litres. I'm thinking an ice-cream party is on the cards, and might very well be a good way to celebrate the lifting of lockdown.
- surprisingly good, rich, creamy and vanilla flecked ice cream was a favourite of us all
- where do you start? the answer is to try them all
- rum and raisin was packed full of raisins that had been soaked in rum and brown sugar
- ooh! look at the ginger in this - the all time favourite was the stem ginger, a smooth velvet ice cream base with delicious chunks of stem ginger
Your recipe, darlin', is so tasty, and you sure can stir your pot ... Jamaica Street. Ipswich - IMHO some of the best Caribbean food in Suffolk right now.
- we chose coleslaw as the side for the box meal
- fried plantains
- box meal jerk chicken with rice and peas
- curry mutton with the sides
- homemade carrot juice, creamy as it should be
Local hand-made chocolate alert! This rather lovely Spring Selection was sent to me by Marimba, the Suffolk based Chocolatiers. It's a family run business with a chocolate kitchen in Bury St Edmunds and a Cocoa House (chocolate shop and cafe) in Sudbury. The family, David and Jackie Wright, with son Brad and eldest daughter Katherine produce a Hot Chocolate Melt made from flaked chocolate, using top quality cocoa beans from Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, all selected for their distinctive flavours. Be surprised dear readers as I do not usually drink hot chocolate. It's the hot milk thing that I've never been crazy about, but I always try what I've been given and the Spring Selection included a 52% Vietnam Dark Milk flake. It dissolved easily in a mug of microwaved milk and a quick whisk with my aerolatte produced a very enjoyable strong and rich, smooth hot chocolate. I've obviously not been indulgent enough with my hot chocolate before. There's an online shop with fabulous range of hand-made chocolates, thins, bars, buttons and seasonal collections. Spring Sunshine Thins are sweet (I'm double checking as I write) white chocolate, cut through with zingy grapefruit and citrussy orange and a slight tropical flavour of those old fashioned sweets; pineapple chunks. Strawberry and Mint Thins are made with Venezuelan milk chocolate, rich and robust with hints of garden mint, softer than the often strong peppermint found in some chocolate. The little pieces of dried strawberry add some sharpness now and again. I saved the chocolate collection until last. Hands up if you remember violet and rose creams of the 60's? These tasted better - a Rose and Raspberry Caramel, pretty in pink with a delicate rose and nicely tart, not too sticky, raspberry caramel centre. A Lemon and Violet Cream, with a dark chocolate and sugared violet encrusted case, and strongly scented violet and lemon cream filling is delicate in flavouring, just enough not to make you feel you're at a perfume counter. Last to try was the very cinnamony and dark, spicy chocolate truffle, think hot cross buns. Perfect for Easter!
- chocolate flakes melted easily in hot milk
- with spring brings the hope of summer
- white chocolate and citrus - a perfect marriage
- so pretty and so well scented and flavoured
We ate Chicken Kievs from Waitrose last night and when Scarlett served them up she gave the usual hot butter squirting in your eye health and safety warning, which made me think, has anyone ever really been blinded by a Chicken Kiev?
What a brilliant idea of Pascal and Karine Canevet (from Bury's superb Maison Bleue) to create a French take-away menu that is served in simple, elegant glass pots. I ordered a family meal last Saturday, originally planning to eat it on Sunday as a casual lunch, but blown away by the delicious menu of seasonal French dishes we decided instead to set the table and sit down to a candlelit dinner on Saturday. What a menu! Every item that Pascal has created works so well in the mini Kilner style jars. There were 5 starters, 5 main courses and 5 desserts to choose from, the kind of menu that you have to dither over, as everything sounds so good. I started with a velvety smooth, brandy laced chicken liver parfait topped with a Port gelée, others in the family tried the pork, pheasant and sultana coarse paté with cranberry and also the salmon and smoked salmon rillettes with cucumber. Nobody was willing to part with their pots or share so I didn't get a taste. Crisp toast was also packed in the food parcel to accompany the pate and parfait. Any misgivings about eating food from a jar (I do like a plate) were allayed by Karine when collecting the meal who told me ' You must eat from the jars' and also seeing the care with Pascal's presentation. We couldn't possibly turn these out! Main courses which were in bigger pots took 20 minutes in the oven at 160 degrees to heat through - the contents already being cooked, so no worrying about cooking times or burning your food. There's a microwave in about 2 minutes option too, which might be easier if you are dining solo or choosing to eat for a quick lunch. My cod, tarragon and carrot stew produced forkfuls of glossy white cod, aromatically flavoured with tarragon; the King of french herbs, with sweet chunks of carrot and celery. A thickened buttery and wine infused sauce met with pomme puree at the bottom of the pot. Mum's Beef Bourguignon was so generous that she couldn't manage it all, maybe is was the side dish of Gratin Dauphinois Mum ... Mr SFoodie chose Pork Belly with Le Puy Lentil (again, not sharing but declaring as tender, with lots of herbs) Scarlett ordered the Smoked Haddock Cassolette, which would have been my second choice for a main course. Lovely lovely smoked haddock with prawns and rather delicious and fragrant pilau rice with hints of lime and coriander. Three courses make the meal a set price of £19.95 and I'd seen the images of the Mont Blanc on Insta and wanted one. It's one of my favourite desserts, I even have a vermicelli press bought in Switzerland years ago to make my own. To be honest if it had been the size of Mont Blanc I could have managed to eat this one, with a tangy blackcurrant puree cutting through the sweet chestnuts. Mum had Rhubarb Panacotta, light, vanilla infused, creamy and wobbly. Chocolate Mousse with salted butter Caramel disappeared in front of Mr SFoodie. But what was simply 'magnifique' was the Pineapple, Brioche, Chantilly. Oh la la!
- Chicken Liver Parfait, Port gelée
- Pork, pheasant and sultana coarse paté, cranberry
- Salmon and smoked salmon rillettes, cucumber
- Pork Belly, onion compote, “Le Puy“ lentils
- Cod, tarragon and carrot stew
- Smoked haddock, black tiger prawn, leek and pilau rice cassolette
- Léa “Mont Blanc” with chestnut, white chocolate and black currant
- Pineapple, brioche and Chantilly
- we drank Chatau Vari Monbazillac with the dessert, which is why I have no photos of the chocolate mousse and panacotta