A picture of piccalilli

It's that time of year when we're up to our necks in fruit and veg. That said, we had to buy the cauliflower for this piccalilli from the shops.

I have a few recipes for this, including one from an elderly cousin that everyone raves about. However, I'm ashamed to say that I prefer St. Delia's. The only change I make to the recipe is to use 1½ oz of flour instead of the ounce used by her. I find the sauce too thin otherwise.

Delia's original recipe, in her book, omits the salting stage; I've made it both ways and they're both good.

On the subject of pickles and chutneys, I keep getting asked for Rhubarb Chutney. So if you have some late rhubarb spare, try it, it comes highly recommended.

A picture of putting piccalilli into a jar

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Belgrave Hall Food Fair

Belgrave Hall Food Fair Flyer

Plum Tart

Picture of a slice of Plum Tart

brought me a bag of plums along with the peaches that I posted about previously. What to do with them? Well, sometimes you just feel like doing something different; I recalled seeing a recipe for Tarte a'la Alsacienne, basically plums in custard in a tart, in Larousse Gastronomique and thought that I'd give it a go. A quick Google offered a few alternative recipes and this is my take on it from a mixture of those - mainly this one:


8oz Plain Flour
2oz Lard
3oz Butter
1oz Sugar
1 Egg
A pinch of salt

Rub the fats into the flour, add the salt and sugar and mix. Add the egg and form into a dough. Leave it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so and then roll it out and line a greased 8 inch flan tin with it. It's a pig to roll out and you may end up having to 'patch' the pastry in the tin. Leave in the fridge for 20 mins to rest and then line it with baking parchment and 'baking beans' and cook it 'blind' for about 15 minutes at 180°C - turn the oven down to 150 - 160°C. Remove the beans and parchment and cook it for a further 5 minutes, or until cooked but not too brown.
In the meantime make the...

7 - 10 plums (depending on size)
2 Tbsp Raspberry Jam (seedless) or other jam of choice
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Sugar
6 fl oz Double Cream

Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Brush the base of the pastry case with the jam and arrange the plums in it, cut side down. Whisk the eggs and sugar together then add the cream and mix well.
Pour this mixture over the plums and bake at 150 - 160°C for about 45 minutes until the custard is set.
Dust with icing sugar before serving.

I think I went a little overboard with the plums - it tastes superb, but would look nicer with the plums spaced further apart so that the custard surrounds them.

Picture of a slice of Plum Tart

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Good Friends

I'm a lucky man with generous friends and neighbours. In the last week alone has brought me a variety of veg, Marion some tomatoes, and Glenda some apples. But the peaches from are the crowning glory:

A picture ofPeaches

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Britain's Favourite Food County

Blimey, the world and his wife seem to want me to advertise their cookery competitions just recently - I don't bother putting half of them online. For example, the most recent request I got was for an ITV food competition and the 'cut off' date for applications was only a few days away. Given that when I last looked the ITV had a bigger media presence than I have, I didn't feel any need to promote their wares, after all they never think of promoting mine!

That said, the website Love British Food is giving people the opportunity to vote for their favourite food County. Just for the fun of it.

It's a great idea, but given that Scotland and Wales are not split into Counties for the purpose of the vote, what chance do poor old Leicestershire's 600,000 population have against 5.2 million Scots? Let alone those of Rutland or the Isle of Wight.

That's the second competition this week where the organisors just haven't thought things through.

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Competition Deadline Extended

A while back I posted about a competition the find a signature dish for Leicestershire. I have now received this email extending the deadline for entries "due to popular" demand!


Hope you are well.

Please find attached a release on the Leicestershire Cook Off – due to popular demand the deadline for entries to find Leicestershire’s favourite dish has now been extended to 4th September, so the hunt continues.

If you think you have the dish that could be crowned the county’s fav please send through your recipe ideas and you could have the chance of winning a prize worth £1000.

I’d appreciate it if you could push this announcement out to your readers, as it would be great to get support and more entries from all parts of the county.

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me.

Today I notice that it's been extended further to 11 September - that popular is it!

It's good to see that the criteria has changed above and is now to produce the County's favourite dish rather than it's 'signature' dish, although the competition website doesn't seem to reflect this change; it's as if they can't make their minds up what the competition is for! However, the assumption that something you've cooked will become a signature dish for Leicestershire just because it wins a TV competition was flawed to say the least. A dish becomes a 'signature dish' by having been associated with a County in the minds of thousands of people for years and years. Even the original competition announcement seemed to take liberties, saying: "...and whilst Leicestershire has a lot to be proud of in the food stakes, it's currently lacking a "signature dish". Have they never heard of the Pork Pie?

Finding leicestershire's favourite dish is a far better idea. Whether you can do this through a simple cookery competition is another matter.

Oh, I forgot to say, you can enter the competition at www.leicestershirecookoff.co.uk. If you find out what the competition is definitely about, please let me know!

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream


I saw this recipe for Kitty Travers Chocolate Ice Cream on The Telegraph website and as we're watching our weight, I thought it worth a try. It looks fairly low fat and as an added advantage would suit people who are allergic to eggs.

I don't know whether there's a 'typo' in the recipe or whether different Cocoa Powder's have a different thickening effect, but the chocolate liquid was that firm when it cooled that there was no way it was going to churn. I've check this twice using two different sets of digital scales (one set accurate to 0.01gm) and the results are the same.

My amended recipe takes account of this and makes a good ice cream even with semi-skimmed milk. I've also made it with a mixture of milk and double cream - very rich! I've added a little more sugar as it was quite bitter - I guess that Kitty uses better quality cocoa than I had. Some people may prefer it sweeter still.

Chocolate Ice Cream

570ml whole or semi-skimmed milk, or a mixture of milk and cream.
15g cornflour
50g cocoa powder
85g sugar
pinch of salt

Mix 100ml of the milk with the cornflour to a smooth paste.

Mix together the cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Heat rest of the milk to just below boiling, then pour it slowly over the cocoa mixture, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Put the mixture back into the pan and bring it to the boil. Boil it very gently or 5 minutes or so, stirring all the time with whisk. Take care, you don't want it to burn to the bottom of the pan!

Stir the cornflour/milk mixture again and then add it in a steady stream to the pan, whisking to prevent lumps. Bring it all back to the boil and simmer it for two minutes.

Strain it into a clean bowl and place this in another bowl containing cold water and ice. Put a sheet of cling-film in direct contact with the cocoa mixture; this should stop a skin forming on it. When it's cold, put it into the fridge for 4 hours or so to mature.

Churn it in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions and then store it in the freezer.

This recipe is also very easily prepared using a microwave.

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Website Update

I've updated the website to new software and hope that you like the new version.

At the moment many of the links to other pages on this site are awaiting update so may not work. Please bear with my whilst I correct these. Links to external sites should still work - please let me know if any don't.

In the meantime the 'search' function at the top right hand side of the blog will usually find what you're looking for.

Crab and Lobster

My lovely daughter Emma kindly remembered her half-starved 18 stone dad when she visited the seaside. She brought me these:

Crab and Lobster

They we a little reserved when they first arrived but they soon came out of their shells!

Preparing Crab

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