food recipes

Cannelets bordelais or canneles de Bordeaux

It is one of my biggest regrets at this point of my life that I didn’t copy down the cannelet recipe that a German guy posted on a forum in the early noughties, because now it’s gone.

So I will have to attempt to recreate it from memory and other people’s recipes.

I go through a large amount of vanilla beans (my stock of 35 bought 15 months ago is long since gone), so because my blender is not up to cutting up the vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar I just store the beans in a bottle of decent quality rum, which is excellent in cocktails and of course, cannelet!


500mL milk
30 g semi-salted butter
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, the husks of 3 vanilla beans which have already lost their seeds or just use vanilla rum
100 g plain flour
180 g sugar
3 eggs
80 ml rum

Yields about 20 medium cannelets.

Heat the milk, butter and vanilla (scraping the seeds out first & adding them to the mix) in a medium saucepan (or a pyrex measuring jug in the microwave), to 87 – 90 degrees. In the meantime, combine the flour and sugar in a medium mixing-bowl and break the eggs into the middle.

Pour the milk mixture (which should be at the above temperature still) into the flour + eggs, and whisk until well combined.  This temperature is very important for getting the elements to bind together & the butter to not separate out – I think it has something to do with heating the flour enough to activate it’s properties without cooking the eggs.

Add the rum and whisk well. Let cool to room temperature on the benchtop, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

When you are ready to bake your cannelet (or cannele or canele, but imagine the accents in this spelling variants), preheat the oven to 250° C. Remove the batter from the fridge: it will have separated a bit, so whisk until well blended again. Pour into the prepared molds using either a drip free jug or a ladle, filling them approx 2/3 full. Put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven door) lower the heat to 200° C and bake for another 40 to 60 minutes, the exact time is experiential depending on how cooked you like your cannelets, your oven and of course your mould size – if you have the mini moulds which are something like 30 cannelets to a sheet I give them 15mins on 250 then another 20 on 200. The cannelets are ready when the bottoms are a very dark brown, but not burnt (the bottoms being the bit on top when they are in the moulds).

Unmold onto a cooling rack (wait for about ten minutes first if you’re using silicon molds or they will collapse a little) and let cool completely before eating.

I use a silicon mould for this which I had a friend bring in from France, they appear to be surprisingly tricky to find.  You could try other shapes, if possible something substantially taller than its diameter, if you can find a tall muffin tin that may be appropriate, just keep an eye on the cooking times.

food recipes

Lemon, almond & ricotta cake

Two days ago I had a slice of the most amazing lemon & almond cake – moist, delicious, so here begins my search to recreate it. Luckily there were a lot of great recipes on the web, my main source was:

2 duck eggs (or 3 chooken eggs)
2/3 cup sugar
100 g almonds put through the blender until fine
75 g salted butter, melted
125 g oz ricotta
zest and rind of 1 lemon (or two if you like it really strongly lemony)

100mL flour

-Whisk eggs and sugar until smooth, add the ground almonds then butter.
– Break up ricotta and add, beat. When the batter is smooth, beat in the flour.
– Pour it into a round 20cm springform cake tin and bake it in a pre-heated oven (180° C) 30 minutes.

I think I baked mine a little too long (as I added an extra 10 mins, but this is probably also because I can’t justify to myself heating up the whole oven for one little cake so I just do it on the oven setting on our microwave.  Next time I will probably make a little syrup with grated rind of a lemon maybe 50g sugar, 20mL water, then add the lemon juice when it has boiled, prick the warm cake all over & pour over the syrup before taking it out of the tin.

food recipes

Anzac Biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts (optional)
1/2 tsp bicarb dissolved in 2tbs boiling water
125g butter, melted
2 tbs golden syrup

Preheat oven to 160 deg. Combine first section of ingredients, then mix in the wet ingredients. Place in teaspoonfuls on a greased baking tray. Bake for 15mins or until golden brown.

food recipes

Curing salmon – quick, easy and delicious

I’ve been meaning to test the recipe for curing salmon in Charcuterie by MIchael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn for ages but as with all ideas I thought it might take too long. Well we went to Billingsgate fish market with friends recently & I cured it in 5 minutes whilst chatting to them. It tasted fantastic & was so easy! To cure a smaller amount reduce the amount of cure.

1 side of salmon (1-1.5kg), skin on
125g sugar
180g soft brown sugar
175g salt
60mL limoncello / grand marnier / cointreau / other triple sec / extra orange juice
Zest of 2 lemons & 2 oranges
A squeeze of juice from lemon and orange
a pan just big enough to fit the fish

Mix sugars, salt & zests, spread half of the paste on the bottom of the pan
place salmon fillet in pan and sprinkle with liqueur, cover with remaining sugar/salt paste
cover with plastic wrap and weight down with another pan / loaf tin with 2-4kg tins in it
refrigerate for 48h, basting with cure half way through
the salmon should now feel firm to the touch
if not cure for another 24h
when cured rinse well and dry
wrap in butchers paper or greaseproof paper and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks
this is lovely in sandwiches with creme fraiche & lettuce, on its own as a starter, in salads or with eggs for breakfast

we finished the 1+kg in a week (2 people)

recipes wine

Liqueur making

Whilst I’m on the subject of spirits, this is something I believe most of us do not do enough of! It’s quite simple to make very nice liqueurs which can then be drunk straight with tonic water or maybe with a couple of drops of orange bitters. A general recipe:

use lots of passata and put the bottles through the dishwasher to get them really clean, you need these to store your liqueur in & speaking as someone who has tried shoving damsons (small plums) through the neck of a gin bottle, the wide opening is really necessary;

start with decent quality spirits (gin, vodka, brandy all work well as they are dry – I’ve tried rum and it’s natural flavour is a bit too sweet);
prick the fruit a few times (for cumquats, sloes, damsons, apricots etc, not necessary for thin skinned fruit like berries);
put fruit in the bottle up to the half way mark;
depending on the sweetness of the fruit itself add sugar to the 1/4 – 1/3 mark of the bottle;
top up with your chosen spirit (the bottle will then take a little over half it’s volume in spirit (i.e. a 700mL bottle will take about 400mL of spirits);
gently mix every couple of days until all the sugar is dissolved (by gently turning the bottle, don’t shake hard!);
drink any time more than 3 months later – the longer you leave it the better it will taste!

recipes wine

Cocktails – Aviator

My line of work takes me around quite a few cocktail bars, and I was recently glancing through the drinks list at Lab (Old Compton St, Soho, London) and came across their ‘Dutchy’ which reminded me that I’d always wanted to try an Aviator. Given Julian’s almost got his private pilot’s licence it seemed strangely appropriate. That night we tried it out & it’s fantastic, despite a couple of substitutions in the ingredients department!  I’ve also added in the orange bitters, which I think I saw on someone’s recipe when I was web trawling & I find it really balances out the flavours (also of many other drinks, including my home-made damson gin)


  • 60mL gin
  • 15mL (1 tbs) lemon juice
  • 10mL (2 tsp) maraschino liqueur (gotta buy it as currently the Bombay Sapphire is balancing out the pretty rough cooking kirsch I’m using)
  • 5mL (1 tsp) cr�me de violette (I’m using Monin violet syrup)
  • 2-3 drops of Orange bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

food recipes


Cassoulet can be as quick and easy or as long drawn out and complicated as you make it. Ditto for the costs! Everyone makes it differently, below is my preferred method/mix. Confit duck legs are a traditional part ingreditent. If you want to confit them, recipe follows, but you need start 2 days to 2 months in advance. Apparently they improve with age. I’m a bit unsure about that, as I’m not sure of my skills at providing a cover fat cover thick enough to keep all mould at bay. So I would start about a week in advance. If you forget completely you can either buy confit duck legs (very expensive) or just slow fry them in their own fat for about 2h whilst you’re putting the rest of the cassoulet together.

I have to admit using tinned beans is much quicker & easier…

To make the enough confit duck legs for 2 cassoulets (takes 2 days): 4 large duck legs
50g rock salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4-6 thyme sprigs
5 broken bay leaves
10 crushed garlic cloves
750g extra rendered goose or duck fat (in a tin, I don’t bother though)
48h before you cook mix the above except for fat, rub into the skin & meat of legs of duck & put on a tray in the fridge for 24h, then remassage. After 48h scrape off the seasonings & put to one side.
Heat a frypan to moderate, put the legs in skin down & brown, then turn & brown. I then return the seasonings, turn them back on their skin (to render out the fat) & shallow fry in their own fat at a low heat with a lid on for about 2h, turning occasionally.
Alternatively after browning, put the legs in a preheated oven (150 deg C) with the extra fat & seasonings & cook for about 2h. To preserve them place in a large jar with lid, & pour over enough warm liquid fat to cover completely. Let fat go hard & cover with lid, keeps for months in the fridge. If you don’t have enough fat, smear them in fat & wrap in clingfilm

The cassoulet itselt:

2 confit duck legs
500g – 700g shoulder of lamb (or leg if you prefer), deboned & diced to about 3cm pieces
3 Toulouse sausages (or other coarse garlicky sausages
if you like 500g fresh pork belly in 3cm cubes (I don’t usually use it)
1 large onion chopped
6 garlich cloves, chopped
5 large tomatoes, chopped
150g breadcrumbs

The Beans:
600g dried beans soaked overnight (I use a mix with lima, haricot, borlotti, haricot is traditional)
1 large onion, peeled & stuck with 4 cloves
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 bouwuet garni (bay, thyme, parsley stalks)

Drain the beans, cover them with fresh cold water about 3cm higher than bean lever, add the other bean ingredients, bring to the boil & simmer until beans are tender but retain their shape (1.5-2.5h). Add a little extra water if they start looking dry, but allow the liquid to thicken & become saucy at the end of the cooking. Season, remove & discard the onion & bouquet garini.

Whilst the beans are cooking melt 2tbs of duck fat & brown all the meats one after the other, sausages last & set them aside separate to the other meats. Cut the duck legs into chunks & the sausages into 4 chunks. Then add the onion & garlic to the pan & cook on low until softened. Add the tomatos & a little water & simmer ~ 20min until you have a rich & pulpy sauce.

The cassoulet will be cooked in an around 3L crockpot (we’ve got an IKEA Le Creuset imitation), so if you think your beans & other ingredients won’t all fit in your pot, reserve some of the beans (you can freeze them for next time). When the beans are cooked stir in the tomato sauce & check the seasoning (don’t forget the meats are salty, esp. the duck), stir in the meats (except for the sausage). Sprinkle over a layer of breadcrumbs (no more than 1/3 of them) & then drizzle some melted duck fat over them & place uncovered in a preheated 140-150 deg oven for 2-2.5h. Check occasionally & break teh crust & add more crumbs. If the mixture becomes too dry, make a hole in the crust & pour in some water. Before the final layer of breadcrumbs (1/2h before it is finished, press the sausage chunks into the beans surface so they become crusty too, then add the last layer of crumbs. The beans should be melting & creamy & the meats tender, the crust deep, crisp & golden. Serve with a rustic red wine – something strong & tannic e.g. a nice ‘black wine’ from Cahors or Madiran would be appropriate.

I like to make servings slightly smaller & have heaps of broccoli on the side.

food recipes

Our Ideal Chilli con carne

the chilli con carnage made with my friend’s roadkill wallaby was good, but this is better!

This is a pretty simple recipe, just start a good 2.5h in advance & don’t forget to soak the beans overnight if you’re using dried ones. (Or cover them with heaps of boiling water about 4h before intended use if like me you forget!)

Quality of ingredients is paramount, try to get your cooking chorizo from a spanish specialist & ask for one that is best suited to stewing. We got our meat from Riverford (organic) & it tastes superb, maybe it is what made the difference so I’d recommend a quality organic if possible (from the producer rather than a supermarket).

500g beef mince
500g beef stewing steak diced
250g cooking chorizo (probably 3-4 sausages depending on size)
I used approx 250g each of haricot & lima beans soaked overnight in heaps of water
+ one tin of kidney beans (400g)
2 large onions, chopped
4+ cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp spanish hot paprika (smoked) – I used El Ruisenor brand (yum)
2 tbs vinegar of your choice
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 x 400g tins of nice tasting tomatoes
6 chopped prunes
2 bay leaves
scant 1 tsp oregano
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Drain & rinse the soaked non-tinned beans and put them in a large pan of fresh water. Bring to the boil, boil hard for 10min then simmer gently until soft (time depends on size can take up to 2h), drain, reserving 500mL of the cooking liquid.

Whilst the beans are cooking brown the meats in batches, transferring the browned meat to a large saucepan. Then sweat the onions & garlic in the oil left in the pan (adding a little water if necessary) until transparent. Add to the meat along with all other ingredients except for the beans. Bring to the boil & simmer gently, stirring regularly. If it begins to look dry use some of the water from the beans. Cook for around 1 – 1.5h until the meats have softened & mixed with the sauce. Add the beans for the last 20+ minutes of cooking, season.

I served it with toasted pittas and creme fraiche.

food recipes vegetarian

Pasta with pumpkin, sage and mozzarella

Pasta con zucca, salvia, e mozzarella

I found this great recipe book in my local bargain basement bookshop, the thing I really like about it is that the recipes are regional and authentically Italian: not just the standard dishes found in every Italian restaurant! The measurements used are mine, as the recipe book uses ounces….

Ursula Ferrigno’s Trattoria: A passion for Italian Food

I have been contemplating using ricotta rather than mozzarella & butter, but my friends say it was perfect as is, so don’t meddle with it!

Serves 4
Olive oil
~ 600g pumpkin
1 bag of mozzarella in brine (220g I think?), drained & diced
30-40g butter (i.e. a lump a little bigger than the 25g marking on your pack)
2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
12 fresh sage leaves, plus extra to serve
juice & zest of 1 lemon
400g pasta (conchiglie or orichette, as per below)
grated parmesan

Put the mozzarella, butter, garlic, sage, lemon zest & juice, salt & pepper into a food processor & blend to a coarse paste. Make into a roll in cling flim & wrap with alfoil & chill.

Chop the pumpkin into small pieces (I leave the skin on, but it’s up to you!) season with salt & pepper, coat in olive oil & roast until tender & golden-brown – I use the vegetable roasting function on my combination microwave oven which is very quick, easy & tastes just as good as pure oven roasting.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or if you’ve made the pasta yourself until it rises to the top – usually 3 mins.  Drain well.

Add the pumpkin to the drained pasta and slice in the mozzarella roll (crumbly texture), toss until the cheese has melted and it’s well mixed and divide the mix between 4 bowls, topped with parmesan and the reserved sage.

food recipes

Making orichette

Last night I thought it would be easier (& nicer) to make my own orichette than to buy commercial conchiglie.  Well it definitely tasted good.  Making pasta is pretty simple really – as always start with good quality ingredients – I used 00 organic ‘pasta’ flour from my local online retailer (Ocado) which had a grittiness different to normal flour & really worked well, & of course free range organic eggs.

Take  one medium egg to each 100g of flour, add some olive oil if the dough doesn’t form a mass hanging off the dough hook of your mixer after about 5 min.  Room temperature eggs would definitely help!  Some recipes suggest that adding salt to the dough causes it to take up water so I don’t do this.  After the dough is mixed (it should be really stiff, don’t add too much oil or water!) wrap it in cling film and leave it to relax in the fridge for an hour or so.

After struggling making little thumb hats for about an hour Julian came to my help with an array of YouTube videos which he played sequentially so that I could watch them whilst making (the advantage of being in a tiny appartment).  The problem though is that the Nonna’s are so fast that it’s hard to track what they do!  So below is my description of how it worked best for me, refer to said videos to get a graphic impression!

Roll a piece of dough out into an approx 1cm diameter roll.  Using a sharp flat bladed knife (I used my Santoku knife) slice a 3-5mm thick slice off the end, then turn the knife on its side to smear out the pasta, as the pasta appears from under the knife (I needed to use quite a lot of pressure) put your thumb on it and as more pasta is extruded, move your thumb onto the new part (this gives the dough it’s typical hat shape).  When the slice has been completely smeared, turn the hat inside out & there you have your orichette!  It took me 2.5h to make 400g of flour worth of pasta, but the result was worth it and I expect to get quicker.

N.B. on one of the videos the nonna said she mixed the flour with a couple of tbs of boiling water, rather than egg, each egg being approx 60g & if we assume it has a slightly greater density than that of water, I would expect maybe 50ml per 100g of flour????  I would however be cautious and test it out with half the amount first up!

Also I estimate 100g of flour per person, though I used only 2/3 of the 400g pasta for 4 people – the exact amount depends on how many men are eating and how hungry people are!