Pastry marathon...

It was our monthly pie-tasting event yesterday, so now of course I never want to see pastry ever again (well, not until next month, anyway). It ended, six pies later, with nine people sat, bloated and happy, around our dining table. We'd eaten a ridiculous amount of pastry, marrow chutney, pickled onions and Branston pickle, but it was all in a good cause - Mog's birthday. We managed to chomp our way through:

  • Claire's mince and potato pie
  • Claire's corned beef, potato and onion pie
  • Mog's Cornish pasty
  • Pippa's giant cheese, onion and potato pasty
  • my chicken and leek pie
  • Kerrie's mincemeat pie (the sort you have in Christmas mince pies, not the savoury version!)
All topped off with birthday cake. Mmmm. Gluttony is good.


Pastry galore!

Now, you'd better get your pastry hats ready soon, because it's only 4 months to the World Pastry Team Championships in Las Vegas...apparently each team will create

  • a chocolate showpiece
  • a sugar showpiece
  • a pastillage tray
  • entremets
  • entremets glace
  • plated desserts
  • an assortment of petits gateaux and bonbons
over a period of two days (if I find out what these mean, I'll let you know!). Apparently, this year's theme is Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. Get practising now!

Jamie takes over France

Apparently the French are cottoning on to the delights of Jamie Oliver, to the chagrin of their food establishment. I can't say I love watching him on tv (especially the early series with the mad 'yoof' camera work), but his books and recipes are great - easy to understand, stunning photos, and delicious food. And anyone who can convince so many young people to go out and buy real ingredients and try their hand at cooking, rather than sticking a ready meal in the microwave or going for a McDonalds has to be ok in my book.

Speaking of real ingredients, there's a great article in the Guardian about how our TV dinner culture is pushing real food like porridge off the menu in prisons.


Viele Torten

Apparently, the Germans, and more especially Berliners are going mad for Cornish pasties....wonder what they'd make of a Greggs cheese and onion one?

The Food of Love

If you ever want to treat someone to a fantastic cookery experience, you could do worse than the Rosemary Shrager cookery courses at Swinton Park castle in Masham, North Yorkshire. For my 30th, Rob treated me to a 'Food of Love' one day course last weekend....which was fantastic. I learned how to make sausages, make spaghetti from scratch, shuck oysters, create quail in a puff pastry heart with chicken mousse, and play with meringues. All under the watchful eye of Rosemary, a very knowlegeable and jolly lady, who kept our gang of 14 classmates under control and motivated for about 5 hours in a stressful kitchen cooking a meal for 25 - no mean feat. Really good fun...and the three-course meal we cooked was amazing, even though I say so myself....



After several days of feeling sick, dizzy and altogether nasty, it's wonderful to be back in the realms of food again. It's awful when one of your main hobbies is writing about, cooking and generally eating food to be stuck with toast and margarine and endless cups of tea. You don't even want to pick up a cookbook, which is a major disaster...

Speaking of which, I've just finished reading the Marmite Cookbook, which is extremely funny, but one of those rare cookbooks that I don't think I'll ever make a recipe from. I'm strictly a Marmite on toast or Marmite soldier girl, I think.

To celebrate feeling better again, and because Kerrie bequeathed me a load of empty jam jars, I've made another batch of spicy apple chutney. I'm turning into a bit of a jam jar queen at the moment - only a couple of weeks ago I made my first ever batch of seville orange marmalade (which frankly was a doddle, so I'll make another load next year. It'll take me and Rob that long to get through the umpteen jars that this year's batch filled!) There's something utterly satisfying about looking at the smug rows of marmalade and chutney jars at the back of the cupboard. Must be the hoarding instinct. Anyway, preserved lemons are next on the list. But I'll need a bigger jar for this experiment, I suspect.