Monthly Archives: November 2009


Bacon fudge!  Kids, shall we?

– Anna

Southern Comfort

A few weeks ago I had Anna and our friend Sean over for brunch.  We had all had particularly fun Friday nights, which called for the perfect hangover cure: getting drunk again the Bloody Mary.  A few of these and we were all feeling great again, maybe TOO great because we ended up in the pub after we we finished eating.  


Anna brought the bloody, Sean brought the Mary.

Along with round after round of bloody Marys, we had bacon*, eggs and a southern speciality: cheese grits.  The cheese grits were far too salty and oily (they did call for a half pound of cheese and a quarter of butter), but I found another recipe to serve with rabbit stew which was more restrained.  Grits are a lot like polenta and although they are traditionally breakfast fare, they can certainly be adapted and served with dinner.


Bacon and Cheese Grits


Just what the Doctor ordered... if the Doctor was a fat alcoholic

*The bacon came from the local butcher.  I was surprised that there wasn’t much difference in price from that purchased in major supermarkets, but the quality was vastly superior.





– Ryan






I’m a muppet

If you need convincing [insert joke about this being a big if], I submit two examples from yesterday as supporting evidence:

1) When I turned on Kira’s oven to cook the turkey, I turned the temperature dial to where 175C is on my oven dial.  Which is not 175C on her oven dial, but 150C.  I realised after about an hour, but it was enough to balls the timing up and dinner ended up being an hour late.

2) I picked up a dish that had just come out of the oven with my bare hand, and burnt my thumb quite badly.  Which meant that I couldn’t put down the cold beer I was using to ice it, and had to eat dinner with my left hand only…quite difficult!

I rest my case.

– Anna

Parsing Thanksgiving searches

Interesting article here from the NYTimes about what you can learn by analysing the most popular online searches in the run-up to Thanksgiving.

Happy turkey day everyone!  We’ll be posting photos from our London Thanksgiving extravaganza later today or tomorrow, depending on how deep the food coma is.

– Anna

Pumpkin Pie Meringues

The last time I made meringues I decided to get experimental and try them with a twist after taking inspiration from pumpkin pie.  In theory this was a great idea. In practice, a disaster.  Since baking is an exact science, it will sometimes take a number of attempts to get your recipe right – on the first attempt I knocked all of the air out of the meringue, leaving me with sugary goo. After this disastrous effort I found the correct amount of pumpkin puree to add and realised that folding the pumpkin very gently as not to deflate the meringue was critical.

Pumpkin Pie Meringues

These are based on the same recipe as the hazelnut and cinnamon meringues but add tinned pumpkin, spices and a topping of crumbled digestive biscuits (or graham crackers if you’re in America).

200g Egg Whites (about 7)

140g brown sugar (1/2cup + 2 tablespoons)

260g castor sugar (1cup + 1 tablespoon)

1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin puree

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Dash of ground cloves

Dash of ground ginger

2 Digestive biscuits or graham crackers (coarsely crumbled)

These are based on a Swiss meringue, which makes a very stable base but requires you to fully dissolve the sugar in the egg whites over heat before the mixing stage. The mixture will go from clear and brown to thick and white (and shiny) when completely mixed.  If mixing by hand have the TV on or a paper nearby as it will take quite a while to become stiff enough.

Combine both sugars and egg whites in a bowl. Place a sauce pan with a small amount of water on the stove, bring to a light simmer and create a double boiler with the bowl. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Do not allow the egg whites to cook, but heat through, ensuring the sugar is dissolved.

Measuring the sugar and egg whites

Combining sugar and egg whites in a double boiler

Place the egg white and sugar mixture into an electric mixer and beat for about 10 minutes on high-speed or until the egg whites are shiny and very stiff. Very gently fold in the pumpkin and spice mixture, divide into balls the size of medium apples and top with the cookie crumbs.  Bake at 110c for about 1:20 – 2:00 hours depending on humidity and oven settings.  The meringues should be firm on the bottom but still gooey in the middle – if you make smaller meringues, reduce the cooking time.

Digestive Biscuit Topping

Paula Deen Hit in the Face by a Flying Ham

We have a love/hate releationship with Southern cook Paula Deen.  We hate that she is trying to kill us but we love seeing her hit in the face by a flying ham.

– Ryan

Borough Market

I find it hard to believe that we have yet to blog about Borough Market. Borough is certainly the best known market in London and this fact is reflected by its popularity with tourists and foodies alike – particularly on Saturdays. It’s easy to be spoilt for choice with the selection of prepared foods at the market, some favorites include: raclette, venison burgers, brownies from Flour Power, loads of baked goods, strawberries with Jersey cream (in late summer), hot mulled wine and cider in the winter and greasy-spoon Maria’s – where you can get breakfast sandwiches guaranteed to cure any hangover. With all of this prepared food it’s easy to spend hours wandering around grazing while you pick up some special ingredients for dinner – incredible cheeses, meats, and vegetables. What’s on offer tends to be from the UK and seasonal, although there are several stalls specialising in German, French and Spanish fare.

We went to the market yesterday to buy some cider to mull for American Thanksgiving and picked up a couple of rabbits for some stew (recipe to come). I’ve posted some pictures below – note that they were not from yesterday – most were from October, but the strawberries and Jersey cream were from late July.

If ever you’re in London it’s a must-see.

rabbit, hare, bunnies, borough market, london

Fresh Game

Autumn Goodness

Carrots and Beets


More Veg

Strawberries and Cream!


Google fail

I don’t have a hard copy of the Christmas cake recipe I posted yesterday.  It’s in an email from my mother, and every time I open it in Gmail, the ad Google chooses to go with my recipe is this:

Enema recipes, enema – Recipe ideas, organic herbs, coffee Fast, discreet UK sales
– Anna

Christmas cake, part 1

Ready for four hours in the oven

Confession:  I don’t like Christmas cake.  The eating of it, that is.  But I do love the process of making it: the traditional recipe, then nurturing it with brandy for weeks ahead of the holidays, completing the final steps of marizpan and icing in a hurry on Christmas morning before the guests arrived…

The recipe is from Good Housekeeping, I think (my mother’s copy of the cookbook is so well-used it has no spine left).  It lives a sheltered life in the back of cabinet, and if I recall correctly, Kira and I weren’t allowed to touch it when we were kids for fear of further damage.

Anyhoo, here’s the recipe.  You should make it at least a few weeks in advance (the internets are conflicted about the optimal baking date, with some people suggesting as early as August).

What you need:

1lb 1oz currants
8oz sultanas
8oz raisins
4oz mixed peel (which I never use)
6oz glace cherries
10oz plain flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
10oz butter
10oz soft brown sugar
grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
6 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp brandy

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C
Use two layers of greaseproof paper to line a 9inch springform cake tin, the tie a double band of brown paper round the outside so it’s about 4 inches above the top of the tin.
Mix currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and cherries with the flour and spices.

After step one, 2.5 pounds of fruit coated in flour

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind until fluffy, then add the eggs a litttle at a time (don’t worry if it curdles because it will be fixed by adding the flour).

Seis huevos, prior to beating

Fold in half the flour and fruit, then fold in the second half and add the brandy.
Bake in the lower part of oven for about 4 hours.  To avoid over-browning the top, cover with double thickness of greaseproof paper after two hours.
When cake is cooked (try to take it out while the middle is still moist), leave it to cool in the tin then turn it out on a  wire rack.

Cooling before its first dose of brandy

Before storing, prick the cake all over and pour another 3tbsp of brandy over it
To store, wrap in several layers of greaseproof paper and put in airtight container OR wrap in clingfilm and aluminium foil and forget the container(the latter works for me)

– Anna

Must Resist Urge to Cook Flowers

I have seen ornamental cabbages* before, but this is the first year that I have ever seen the long-stemmed variety.

long stem cabbage, ornamental cabbage, long stemmed kale, ornamental kale

Long-stemmed ornamental kale

*My friend Sean was over for dinner yesterday and he informed me that although these are sold as ornamental cabbages, they are actually flowering Kale. A quick search proved that he was not only right, but that flowering kale is as edible as its less attractive cousins – now I’m tempted to cook my bouquet.

long stem cabbage, ornamental cabbage, long stemmed kale, ornamental kale

Ornamental Kale is ready for its close-up