Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tempered beets

Many years ago, 1993, when touring around those areas of Sri Lanka which were open to civilians, I was served a dish of curried beetroots. I was so taken by the delicate spicing that I asked the waiter to give my compliments to the chef, as beetroots were never before one of my favourite vegetables.

The chef came to see me and we sat talking for an hour before he had to return to the kitchen. He had been a chef aboard one of the ships anchored by Port Stanley during the Falklands Campaign and was surprised that I had never heard of the method of “tempering” vegetables.

Tempering, a method of preparing vegetable dishes, comes from the Portuguese temperadu, and is only found in Sri Lanka and means “to fry and season”. It always starts with shallow frying of onions and curry leaves in very hot oil, then adding the vegetables and coconut milk.

However, this recipe uses the “cold method” of tempering, which involves no frying, just bringing all the ingredients to a boil in coconut milk and simmering for 15 minutes. I can do no better than reproduce the notes which I was given that most interesting night.


Amish Friendship Bread Starter

With the start of the month coming up, this is the ideal time to think about making this starter, as using Day 1 on the first of the month, Day 2 on the second and so on, saves a bit of extra thinking as to where you are on the plan.


1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour


Combine the ingredients with a non-metallic spoon in a large, deep glass or plastic container. Cover lightly. If the container has a lid, leave it slightly ajar or place a piece of cheesecloth over the container and secure with a rubberband. Store at room temperature.

Stir every day for 17 days.

On day 18 do nothing.

On days 19, 20 and 21 stir.

On day 22, stir and add 1cup of flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Stir again.

On days 23, 24, 25, and 26 stir.

On day 27 add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk. Stir. You should now have about 4 cups of starter. Give 2 friends each 1 cup and keep 2 cups for yourself. Use 1 of the two cups in the Amish Friendship Bread recipe and use the other to keep the starter going.

When you give the starter away include these instructions:

Keeping a starter going:

Do not refrigerate and do not use a metal spoon when stirring the starter.

On day 1 (the day you receive the starter), do nothing.

On days 2, 3 and 4 stir.

On day 5 stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and cup milk.

Pour mixture into large glass mixing bowl; cover lightly. The mixture will rise.

On days 6, 7, 8, and 9 stir.

On day 10 stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Stir.Give 2 friends each 1 cup. Keep for yourself 1 cup to make Friendship Bread and one cup to keep the starter going.

Amish Friendship Bread

1 cup starter

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups plain flour

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2tsp baking powder

1-1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2tsp salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Your choice of raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, apples, dates etc.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place the mixture in a well greased and sugared 9x5x3 inch loaf tin.

Bake at 180deg C or 350deg F for 45-50 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Chicken soup

This recipe was published in The Guardian newspaper last January by Felicity Cloake. It is the perfect antidote to a cold-jaded palate.


1kg chicken wings or drumsticks or a mixture, plus any leftover chicken bones
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, 2 roughly chopped, one peeled and more finely chopped and kept separate
3 leeks, 2 roughly chopped, 1 more finely chopped and kept separate
Small bunch of parsley, separated into stalks and leaves
Sprig or two of thyme
1 clove
8 peppercorns
750ml chicken stock, cold
200g barley, cooked (pearl or wholegrain)


1. Put the chicken in a large pan and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off the scum from the top.

2. Add the celery, onions, the roughly chopped carrots and leeks, the parsley stalks, thyme, spices and the stock. Simmer gently for about 2 hours.

3. Strain the soup through a fine sieve – pick the meat off the bones to add to the soup if you wish. Return the soup to the pan, add the remaining finely chopped carrot and leek and cook for 10 minutes until these are soft.

4. Stir through the cooked barley, season to taste, and serve with the chopped parsley on top.

I usually add a small piece of Scotch Bonnet pepper as well – just enough to excite the tongue, not to overpower the soup.


The word, fougasse comes from the Latin word focus meaning “hearth” and was originally baked in the ashes of the hearth to test the temperature of the oven before the proper loaves were put in and is an easy bread to make – children love making them!

Prepare a biga the day before by combining..

  • 280g flour
  • 170g water
  • 2g instant yeast

Mix in a mixer, at slow speed, for 3 minutes with a dough hook.

Place the dough in an oiled container, cover and leave at least 2 hours. You could proceed with the recipe then but I like to knock back the dough and save the biga overnight in the ‘fridge to develop more interesting flavours.

The final dough to be added to he biga the next morning consisted of…

  • 410g flour
  • 290g water
  • 10g salt
  • All the biga

cut up the biga into small pieces and mix all the ingredients in a stand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes with a dough hook. At slow speed. When they all start to come together, increase speed to medium for a further 5 minutes.
Place the dough into an covered, oiled container and rest for an hour and a half.

Preheat the oven and baking stone to 250 C.

remove the dough from the container and cut into three pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to a rectangle (or whatever shape you like). Take a dough divider or sharp knife and make five cuts for the traditional look but experiment!. Place the fougasse onto parchment or silicon sheet and leave to proof for 45 minutes.

Before putting them into the oven, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little course sea salt and strong herbs such as rosemary. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool and eat that day with a glass of red, a few olives, maybe a little cheese.

Seville Orange marmalade

Seville oranges are usually in the shops towards the end of January but be quick, they won’t be available for very long!

Weigh the oranges, you will need twice as much granulated sugar as oranges but this can be adjusted according to taste. It is preferable to warm the sugar in a stainless steel bowl or similar for 10 – 15 minutes but don’t let it burn. This saves a lot of time when boiling the marmalade. This recipe makes about 6kg.

Here we go!

Wash 2kg of Seville oranges and put them into a stainless steel pan with 5litres water. Cover and simmer gently until they are soft – about 2 hours.
Cool and drain but keep the liquid.
Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the insides. You can put the pips into a muslin bag if you don’t fancy fishing them out later.
Slice the peel finely and add all the ingredients back into the orangey liquid.
Bring to the boil and and let it reduce by at least half.
Add the warmed sugar and stir until dissolved.
Boil as quickly as possible until the setting point has been reached (105deg C or 220 deg F) You can also tell if you you place a little of the marmalade onto a cool saucer; if it forms ripples when pushed from the edge, then you’re there.
Pot up into sterilised jars and either cover with screw-tops or with silicone discs onto the surface of the marmalade and then covered with cellophane held in place with an elastic band/string.