Thursday, 2 June 2022

In Praise of a Galette


I should start by apologising to the French, in this instance I’m using the word in its English definition. 

This is not so much a recipe as a recommendation. In recent months, I have turned to creating a galette of this sort when I’m confronted with vegetables I don’t know what to do with or bits of cheese that are past caring. 

I’ve been known to create a heavily carrot and Cheddar version, a beetroot, potato and cheddar version, a couple of leek, potato and cheddar version (I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s a recurring ingredient here, that’s because I always have not only a current piece of cheddar in my fridge but a piece of cheddar in waiting as it were). 

I make my own yogurt and cream cheese and I have in the past popped some of the cream cheese into a galette along with an egg or two to bind it all. So you see, all in all, it’s a case of putting together what you fancy.

The advantage of a galette over say a tart, is you can avoid using binding ingredients such as eggs and cream. By all means add them if you wish, but things will work happily enough without them……on the whole.

My pastry of choice is a flaky pastry, the recipe is at the bottom of this page.

I have a batch of pastry waiting in the fridge, I usually make a batch the day before, so it is nicely rested and chilled. There is nothing to stop you using shop bought pastry, pretty much of any variety, including puff pastry but why would you. 

When thinking about the filling, I reach for a large bowl, gather together likely ingredients and prepare them for use. This usually entails deciding whether things need chopping into thin, or thinner pieces, whether or not I’m in a slicing or chipping mood. 

Today’s galette used up, red peppers, bought in a moment of weakness in Morrison’s the other day when I saw they were on offer, Some blue cheese from the Isle of Mull, which although delicious when freshly bought, was by now a little tired, some red onions, mostly because very little gets passed me in my kitchen without onions being added and just on a complete whim, walnuts. 

Prepare the filling, by slicing, dicing, or otherwise, the vegetables. The only thing you have to bear in mind is having things cook evenly. If your using cheese and why wouldn’t you, now is the time  to grate some in. Notice I am not putting down precise weights here, this is where you discover you don’t really need them, you can gauge things and become an intuitive cook. Common sense is a wonderful thing and we all have it. 

Mix the entire pile of ingredients together having seasoned with salt and pepper and anything else you fancy, chopped herbs, cumin or onion seeds etc, until you have what in Medieval times might have been described as a goodly amount. I would say enough to fill a 2 litre bowl, for instance. If you think there’s not enough, slice in an extra potato or two. 

Roll out your pastry to a circle, roughly 30 to 35 centimetres across. I roll out on a large piece of baking parchment, so that transferring the galette to a baking tray or pan is made easy. Pile the filling in the centre and this is where it gets easy, bring up the sides of the pastry to form an overlapping edge. No gluing necessary. 

Transfer to a moderate oven, 180C and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 

My Flaky Pastry.

200gm of salted  butter 

350gm of plain flour.

Cold water.

Begin by cutting up the butter into small pieces, add to the flour. Spend no more than a minute rubbing the butter into the flour because unlike shortcrust pastry, you want largish pieces of butter throughout the pastry, Bring together with just sufficient water to form a dough, It’s important as with all pastry, pretty much, to be careful not to add too much water so add it little by little and err on the side to caution. 

Rest the dough in the fridge for half an hour or so. This quantity should be enough to make 1 large galette. 


There is nothing to stop you making smaller versions to this, in order to fit baking trays and pans that you already have.

You’ll find that the edge is good at keeping the filling in, even if you have used an egg and cream component in your filling, but the filling will cook to be much flatter than when it goes into the oven, but then I suppose so would we all 

I should apologise to the French for Brexit, really, what were we thinking? I tried my best but I was in a minority. 

Friday, 30 April 2021

Aubergine Dip

A while ago I came across a recipe for an aubergine dip being shown on television  by Raymond Blanc. Credit should go to him for this, I merely tweaked it a little.

Initially I imagined it was going to be much along the lines of the well known Baba ghanoush, or Mutable but it took a couple of interesting turns.

I decided to try it and although I usually stick to an original recipe quite strictly, initially at least, I found I really did not want to discard the liquid drained from the cooked aubergines. I utilised it and this is the recipe I share with you today.

For this recipe you will need:

2 large aubergines
200ml double cream 
A tablespoon of olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic finely minced or grated
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
Salt and pepper to taste 

Begin by charring the aubergines on an open gas flame, a barbecue or if you have to,under a hot grill. Turn the aubergines as they become burnt. They obviously shouldn’t catch fire at any stage, what you’re looking for is for the outer skin to become charred and blackened. 
Transfer the aubergines to an oven proof baking tray and pop into a medium oven 180C, for half an hour.
Toast the spice seeds and grind either in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

When the aubergines have had half an hour in the oven they should look very sorry for themselves, clearly having given up the will to live......

Allow to cool, then with surgical precision (see notes),  remove the charred skin and place the flesh in a sieve over a bowl. You’ll find this takes a little patience, but being able to extract large pieces of tender pale aubergine flesh is somewhat rewarding. Try to avoid pieces of skin joining the cooked flesh but seriously, don’t worry if the odd speck gets through, I guess it’s a form of charcoal and as such won’t harm you. Lightly chop up the  aubergine flesh so facilitate the draining of the juice. It’s important to do this simply with a knife and not a food processor because you don’t want a purée. Leave to drain for a few hours.

Now this is where I broke away from the original recipe. Raymond Blanc discards the liquid that, over a period of half a day, accumulates in the bowl. I found I couldn’t so after cautiously tasting it and finding it to have a rich, smoky savoury flavour, I decided to add it to the finished dish.

Place the oil in a small saucepan and gently fry the finely minced  or grated garlic, on a low flame for no more than a minute before adding the ground spices and the liquid drained from the cooked aubergine. Reduce this down from roughly 300ml to little more than a tablespoon of thickened liquid.

Add the aubergine pulp and continue to cook for a few minutes to fully incorporate all the ingredients. Add the cream and again cook over a low heat for a few minutes until you have a thick, creamy purée.
Season to taste. 

I make no apology for the fact that this is a far more labour intensive recipe than Baba ghanoush, but I promise, once you’ve tasted it, you will certainly not mind the extra effort required. 
Anyone who enjoyed dissecting frogs in school biology, I must say I was not one of them, will enjoy removing the charred skin from the aubergine, you can play forensic pathologist while you’re doing it and if you are really giddy, you can dictate a commentary into a recording device, “The victim appears to have suffered extensive third degree burns.........”
If like me, you lack the ability to have the patience which most sensible adults have, you can speed up the draining process by placing a saucer over the aubergine with a small weight on top to press the flesh (a term I believe means something entirely different in political circles)

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Candied Peel


Along with the polarising affect sprouts have on people at Christmas, candied peel also causes folk to fall into one of two camps, like it or loathe it. I have some sympathy for those who have formed there opinion based on nothing more than experiencing the pre-cut product that is most commonly used. Even buying the larger pieces of candied peel, when you can find them will deliver a much better experience, but as in so many cases eating the peel you candy yourself is infinitely more enjoyable. 

I regularly candy the peel of the large navel oranges we get in the UK early in the year, but my friend Chas Nicholson, well known for his regular article 'Dining in', in the Tannat Chronicle, introduced me to the idea of candied pomello skin. I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it. In many ways it makes more sense to candy pomello skin than any other, after all, pomellos, now readily available, have such a thick skin and you end up throwing it all away and are left with flesh that is little bigger than a grapefruit. 

The following method works well for all citrus peel.


For this recipe you will need;

The skin of 1 pomello

1 kilo of sugar combined with 2 litres of water to make a syrup

Copious amounts of water to blanch the peel.


Begin by peeling the pomello. I carefully remove it in 4 pieces then cut each piece into 2 forming 8 petal like pieces. Place the peel in the largest saucepan you have with lots of water and bring to a boil. You'll find the pith causes the pieces to be incredibly buoyant, far more than orange or lemon peel. Simmer for 4 or 5 minutes then drain the peel and repeat the process. You need to achieve a waterlogged state for the peel before moving onto the next step. I found I needed to move more stubborn pieces about a bit to ensure they all became saturated.

Weigh out a kilo of granulated sugar and stir into 2 litres of water. Place the syrup into the saucepan and stir while bringing to the boil. Add the drained peel and gently simmer for 2 or 3 hours, moving the pieces from time to time so each piece gets to be at the bottom of the pan. Drain well on a cooling rack before placing in a dehydrator or a domestic oven set on the lowest heat, to dry out. 

When completely dry, store in a lidded jar. It will keep for 3 months or more but is best used within the the first month.


It may seem like a lot of fuss, but believe me, it's not particularly labour intensive and the end product is very special. I sometimes cut my candied peel into fine strips before dipping them in chocolate, along with small packets of the peel itself, they make excellent gifts at Christmas time when candied peel is more often used.

This method works well for all citrus peel but don't ever skimp on the initial blanching, at least 2 or 3 times is ideal.

The large amount of syrup used is because of the size of the peel, the syrup can be saved in a bottle and stored in the fridge to use a second time. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Amchoor chutney


For my 70th birthday (some time ago now) my daughter treated us to a glorious trip around Rajasthan in November and December of last year. We were so lucky to make it before the pandemic. I learned a great deal to add to my knowledge of cooking Indian food. 

In Udaipur, a lovely woman called Sashi, shared with us her recipe for amchoor chutney. Now in India, chutney refers to a great many cold sauce like accompaniments to dishes such as dosa and vada, it in no way resembles the preserve that we in the West tend to enjoy with cheese or cold meats. 

Sashi was asking us about our lives back in the U.K. and assumed, on learning that I was a widower, that my daughter lived with me and looked after my every need. We explained that whereas I live in Norfolk, my daughter lives and works in London..... “but you go home each weekend” she suggested, when my daughter told our host that she usually pops up once a month, this poor woman was quietly horrified and realised she didn’t know what then to ask so that she could make sense of it all....... we got on with cooking....

For this recipe you will need;

2 tablespoons of Amchoor powder

3 medjool dates

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of Garam masala 

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chilli powder

1 teaspoon of Marigold bouillon powder or 1/2 teaspoon of salt 

500ml of water 


Begin by placing all the ingredients in a blender and blending well until the dates have succumbed and are no longer visible as small pieces. 

Transfer everything to a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle boil. Stir and cook for a few minutes then allow to cool. 

This sauce is ideal served cold, as a dip for papadum, onion bhaji, vada or even crisps if you find the lockdown has caused you to lose the will to live. 


Of course I shamelessly interfered with Sashi’s recipe as soon as I came back to Norfolk. In the original, sugar was used and I decided to replace it with dates, I might even try pomegranate molasses next time. When using sugar, then use cumin powder rather than whole cumin seeds and you can omit the use of the blender. 

This sauce keeps well for a week in the fridge. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Ginger & Pear Pudding


Sometimes a recipe just jumps out of the few things you’ve had around you in the kitchen for the last day or two. 

I baked sourdough croissants at the weekend, the few remaining ones have waited patiently whilst slightly drying out. Sylvia kindly brought some pears some time ago. I considered a bread & butter pudding that incorporated pear when suddenly stem ginger popped into my head. I always have a jar or two of stem ginger in syrup, one of the most useful store cupboard ingredients and one that keeps for ages. 

For this recipe you will need; 

3 or 4 day old croissants 

4 eggs

2 peeled pears

300ml of double cream

300ml of milk

220gm of stem ginger in syrup (drained & chopped) see note 

100gm of caster sugar 

Butter for greasing the ovenproof container  

A pinch of salt. 


Begin by cutting up the croissants into 6 to 8 pieces and placing into a buttered, ovenproof container. A lasagna dish is perfect. Slice up the pears and sprinkle amongst the croissant pieces, then sprinkle over the chopped ginger. 

Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream along with the pinch of salt. Pour over the croissants, pear and ginger and place in a low to moderate oven, 160C for an hour, when the custard mixture should be perfectly set. 

This is delicious served warm with a little pouring cream.



The amount of ginger I have used in this recipe makes it a ginger lover’s pudding, ginger is very much a major player and it get my vote but there is nothing to stop you reducing the amount or even leaving it out, but why would you.