Sunday, January 7, 2007

Fete de la Truffe - When you have the real thing it all makes sense.

On a cold and crisp day we went over to Menerbres to a 'Truffle Festival' and bought some lovely truffley eggs. But at 70€ for a 100 grams the truffles were way out of our league. It's funny but I think a lot of people don't like truffles because, like olives, they probably haven't really had the real thing. A tasteless salty black 'olive' that you find on cheap pizzas and a fresh italian green olive stuffed with anchovy and chilli are nothing like each other, and equally a slimey little 'truffle' in a little glass jar that you find on supermarket shelves and a proper fresh (preferably white) truffle are not even on the same planet. Ashleigh always hated Parmesan cheese but she had only had that weird stinky powdered stuff in the little pots. When she tried the sweet crumbly aged REAL Parmensan she soon changed her mind!
When you have the real thing then it all makes sense.

Christmas in France - The Valley

I was lucky enough to get away for Christmas to my Dad's place in France, and I can tell you after four months of getting up at three o'clock in the morning I really needed it!
I hesitate to say that it was in "Provence" as it brings up all the cliches of 'A year in Provence' by Peter Mayle. But the fact is that we were right near at the place where the book is set - LaCoste.
My Dad is selling up in the spring, as he just can't get down there enough to justify it, and so we had to have one last Christmas to remember it. The house is right under the ruined castle of the infamous Marquis de Sade and has this incredible view across the valley to another village called Bonnieux. It is a view I've seen many times over the years and I never get tired of it. It is like a living renaissanse painting. I'm posting a picture here but it could never do it justice as there is no sense of the depth of space across the valley to the Luberon mountains - (Click on the picture to see it larger).

Saturday, January 6, 2007

CoCo & Me

Check out Tamami Haga's delicious cake stall at the Saturday Broadway Market in London Fields.
She also writes a great blog about her patisserie adventures -

Monday, January 1, 2007

17th Century Cheesecake Recipe

Since we're on the subject here's a 17th Century Cheesecake recipe.
I am going to try and make this in the next couple of weeks and you can try it at the kiosk -

shortcrust pastry (or pre-made shortcrust pie shell - 9 inch diameter)
1/2 lb cheese curds
3 tablespoons rose water
2 tablespoons currants
3 egg yolks
3 ounces butter
3 tablespoons sugar
grated nutmeg (to taste)
ground mace (optional)

1. NB Ricotta cheese can be used in place of cheese curd or you can make your own cheese curd very easily.
2. Prepare a deep short-crust pastry shell (9-10 inches across) and bake it blind for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven.
3. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
4. (Or have your pre-made pastry shell waiting.) Place the cheese curd and softened butter in a bowl and blend well.
5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating them well into the mixture.
6. Add the rosewater, sugar, currants and nutmeg to the mixture and beat in well.
7. Pour the filling into the cooled pastry case and bake in a moderate oven (gas Mark 4, 180C or 350F) for 30-45 minutes.
8. The cheesecase should have risen a little and be a golden colour.
9. Lift from oven and lightly dust with ground mace (if desired).

Warning- once the mixture is poured into the pie shell, it should be baked straight away. Otherwise it will start to separate and become oily and not cook well.

WIlliam Brooke and Family

I'm really interested in the period spanning the 16th and 17th centuries. Here's a picture that I like from 1567 - William Brooke, 10th Lord of Cobham and his Family.


This is an occasional blog about what I've been up to and the odd thing I find interesting.
It is named 'kickshaws' which was 16th Century slang for a snack. (It is a corruption of the French "quelque choses").