Crumpets – this recipe actually works!

I’ve been trying with frustration to make a couple of crumpet recipes to work for a while now, but tonight by dint of completely misreading the recipe I managed to get it right!

The entire process takes about 3 hours (what with all the rising time!) but it’s really worthwhile.

So before I forget below is exactly how I made them:

2 tsp dried yeast

600g strong plain flour

2 tsp sugar

1tsp salt

800mL milk

later addition

1/2 tsp bicarb mixed in 1tbs warm water

I put all the first ingredients in my breadmaker on dough setting (using a mixer does the trick too). Then I let it rise for about an hour (it should be around double the size) & stirred in the bicarb in water & after a further hour of rising it was bubbly & about double in size.

I then heated a frypan with egg rings in it really hot, took it off the heat & greased the lot. Then poured about 2tbs of mix into the rings (so that it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides), put it back on a low-medium heat (3 of 8 on my stove). When top is almost set & all bubbly, flip, cook for a minute or so until slightly browned & put on a rack to cool. And continue with the rest of the mix.  Oh & if you don’t have rings that doesn’t matter – they just turn out irregular in shape & slightly thinner…

This made so many I’m going to be freezing, refrigerating & eating for about a week. I’m so excited that it’s finally worked!!!

OK just counted: 57 in total!!!


The Rolling Curry

For the past week I’ve been cooking another 2 curries (or curry & pilau) approx. every second day, which is working really well – we have at least 3 curries & a pilau for dinner each night and it’s fairly varied as we use up the older curries & add in the new ones.  And I don’t need to cook every night!


Things I learnt about business by observing my local drug dealer whilst riding through the park yesterday

1) have an exit strategy ready – trying to produce one when it is needed often leads to a shambles (& potentially arrest), the local drug dealer was standing on his bike, ready to go at the slightest whisper of ‘you’re nicked’

2) don’t get too close to your business partners or their failure may bring your business down too – he kept the buyer at arms length

3) be prepared – he wasn’t paying attention to what was coming down the bike path & was very surprised & upset by the sudden rattle of my bike rack – this lack of awareness of what is happening in his area could lead to him being arrested, just as lack of awareness of the mood of the population and what’s happening in the market can bring down your business


Good Budget Wines

and I’m not talking about exceptional £10 wines here!

Last night we had a simple little Corbieres from Tesco, producer Lionel Faivre year 2000. It tasted quite fresh & nicely of damson plums. Nothing spectacular, but for around £5 very drinkable. I’m still angry though that I got the 2 cases I got to fill the order and not the case I actually wanted. Never trust Tesco!

Waitrose always treats us well & according to the wine importers they are an ‘honorary independant wine store’ for fair dealings & fair pricing and no outrageous market destroying gimmick marketing. Below are a few things we’ve been enjoying…

We drink a lot of the Moscatel by Lustau – this is a fortified wine at 15% alcohol, sweet but well balanced with nice aromas of grape. The great thing is that being fortified you can keep a bottle open in your fridge for about 3 weeks without it going off, however we rarely manage more than 3 days. At £5 really great value.

We recently had a little Portuguese red which is getting the critics (Wine Spectator, our local rag) excited at the £5 price (Altano Douro 2005), we weren’t that thrilled, however it was a solid little light bodied wine that drank well, so no complaints!

I believe I paid £5.50 for a lovely little pink bubbly, for that price great balance between the red fruits & the acidity which had both Julian (moscato drinker) & myself (champagne drinker) excited. It was the Marques de Monistrol Reserva Cava Seleccion Especial Rose Brut. The addition of a small amount of sugar to the wine implied in the term ‘brut’ gave it excellent balance. This is a traditionally vinified sparkling, however it did have slightly bigger bubbles than champagne.

Oh and a word of warning the Waitrose Pale Cream sherry at around £6.50 for 1L is really disgustingly undrinkable – the one sip I had before making Julian drink the rest was very sulphuric & lead to some nasty hangovers for Julian. On the other hand the Solera Jerezana Cream which is sweetened with some PX giving it lovely caramel and coffee tones is a bargain for £7.50.

However if you have the option always get the Lustau East India Sherry (available at Uncorked) for around £13 or around $40 at The Prince Wine Store as it is a truly magnificent sweet sherry with great complexity!

recipes vegan

Simple pumpkin & lentil curry (vegan)

I found this recipe in The Age a long time ago & it’s very good. With lentils I don’t worry too much if I don’t have the correct variety, I use whatever is to hand rather than go out on a special shopping expedition!

200g chana dhal (lentils)

vege oil

either 1 large onion sliced or a handful of those fried onion flakes available in asian stores

1.5 tsp cumin seeds

2 small red chillies, slit

600-700g pumpkin (= 1 butternut) chopped into 2cm chunks (life’s too short to peel a pumpkin!)

20 curry leaves

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

Cook the dhal in 500mL water in a covered pan 30 mins or until nearly cooked.

If life isn’t too short to fry an onion fry the onion with a pinch of salt until brown in a medium saucepan, remove the onion & then fry the cumin seeds in the same pan for a few seconds, before tipping in the dhal. Add the chilli, pumpkin, some salt & cover. Simmer stirring regularly until the pumpkin is soft. Add the curry leaves. Heat the mustard seeds in a dry small pan until they crackle & then tip into the pumpkin mix. Serve with the fried onion on top with steamed basmati rice.

food recipes vegan

Rice with pulses (one dish vegan meal), much nicer than the ‘saffron rice’ at Indian restaurants

150g split yellow lentils

vege oil

60g dessicated coconut soaked for an hour in 60mL water (I’m going to try it dry next time)

7 dried red chillies

2tsp corainder seeds

1 tsp split chickpeas (chana dal)

1 tsp split black lentils (urid dal)

1tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

500g basmati rice

50g tamarind soaked in 120mL boiling water for 10mins, then strained to get the water


vege oil

1tsp mustard seeds

10 curry leaves

3 tbs chopped raw cashew nuts (the original recipe uses 1 tbs, but they’re very good!)

Boil the yellow lentils in 450mL water until tender, drain.

Fry the coconut, chillies, corainder seeds, extra lentils, turmeric, fenugreek in oil in a frying pan until fragrant. Cool, then grind to a fine powder (so I bashed them until I lost patience in a mortar & pestle).

Rinse the rice, simmer it in 1L salted water for approx 20mins.

Then add the yellow lentils, tamarind water & coconut etc. powder. Cook for a further 5mins, add a little more water if necessary.

For the tempering heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop add the curry leaves & cashew nuts & cook, stirring, until the nuts turn golden brown. Pour the mixture over the cooked rice, mix & serve hot.

food recipes vegan

Ginger Parkin – no eggs, vegan suitable if you use margarine & soy milk!

mmmm cake! This is exceedingly easy to make & tastes a bit like anzac biscuits! It’s nice & moist and would work as a pudding with custard. Don’t worry the mix is really liquid, it turns out fine!

Preheat the over to 150 deg.

Melt in the microwave a mix of:

200mL milk

2 tbs golden syrup

110g butter

In a bowl or mixer mix:

175g plain flour

200g sugar (raw would be nice, white is fine though!)

125g porridge oats

1.5 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp bicarb

grated one thumbs length of fresh ginger (optional) – with ginger the exact amount is unimportant – more = stronger ginger flavour!

Mix the melted ingredients into the dry using whisk or mixer.

Bake in a buttered loaf tin for 45 mins. I hate lining tins, but this is a sticky cake so I’d have to recommend lining the base of this one!

Makes 16 squares.


Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz Grenache 2003 South Australia 15.5% abv. approx. £10 = well ok some sites say $14.40

This is a serious beast of a wine. I loved it & in researching the price in Oz just now I discovered that Robert Parker did too, giving it 92 points (which equates to something like ‘a wine of exceptional quality’). Massive rich fruit (black cherry & plum) underlaid with spicey notes from the fruit & the clean but not obtrusive oak – cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper, star anise. A lovely well balanced wine, relatively long & offers a lot for the price & remarkably it does manage to carry off that level of alcohol. Not so my head 🙁

And of course available at Uncorked.  If you’re wondering, no I don’t have links to this company, they’re just my most local decent wine store who always help me out, which I appreciate!

Or if you’re in oz & don’t mind taking a gamble on the vintage these people seem outrageously affordable:



Massaya Classic 2005 Lebanon Bekaa Valley 14.5% abv Cinsault 60%, Cab sav. 20% Shiraz 20% £8

Lebanese wine!

A first for me, and since firsts are becoming more rare wine-wise I was very excited! On buying it my nice salesman at Uncorked told me that it is completely unlike other Lebanese wines – consistent, unoxidised, nice to drink… How could I resist?

Now I haven’t drunk a cinsault based wine before so this was doubly exciting.

At first I had it at room temperature & it seemed excessively alcoholic, however after cooling in the fridge and breathing a little it became something extremely interesting – medium + bodied, medium flavour intensity, medium length, medium + acidity and with tannins coming ever increasingly to the fore. With notes of violet and licorice I could see why the South Africans decided to cross this with Pinot Noir to produce their major red grape, Pinotage! All in all this was a clean, simple wine, a bit high in alcohol, but that’s unavoidable with red wine at the moment, with unusual fruit, very enjoyable!

I would pair this with duck, salmon or maybe tomato based vegetarian meals – let me know if anything better occurs to you. Apart from my head the next day, perfect for a Wednesday night wine.


RIP Tiffany

My poor little pud expired recently. She was only 19. I thought she had a few more years in her 🙁