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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.

Pork pie and variants

A colleague of mine was asked to supply a porkpie “wedding cake”. As you can see from the photo, each tier is different from the others. We have pork and game, traditional pork and pork with fruit and a collection of small traditional pork.
Here is the recipe I use for a good, meaty traditional pie suitable for a 4 inch pietin.
250g broken pork bones and pigs trotters
1 onion
Bouquet garni
600ml water
Make the jelly the day before by putting all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds.
Strain and allow to cool.
Place in the fridge and allow it to set. When it has set, you can skim off the fat.
250g cubed pork: mixed lean and belly
4 rashers bacon sliced
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Take the jelly from the fridge.
Put the cubed pork and bacon into a bowl. Add the cayenne pepper, thyme, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Set aside to marinade while you make the pastry.
100ml milk
125g lard
250g plain flour
Pinch salt
30ml water
1 beaten egg
Warm the milk and half the lard over a low heat and leave to cool.
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Cut the remaining lard into small pieces and gently rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the cooled milk mixture. Mix together to make a pliable dough.
Assembly of the pie
Preheat the oven to 180C
Divide the dough into two pieces, one larger than the other.
Roll out the larger and line the pie tin easing it around the sides and drape the excess dough over the sides.
Spoon in the pork mixture.
Roll out the smaller piece of dough to make the lid. Cut off the excess pastry and seal the edges of the pastry by pinching together.
Make a small hole in the centre of the lid, brush with beaten egg and bake on a baking tray for one hour.
Turn down the heat to 160 C and cover with a piece of damp greaseproof paper and bake for another hour.
Remove from oven and, when cool, pour in the jelly which you can warm over some boiling water.
Place the pie in the fridge to set.
For a game pie, substitute 60-80% of the pork with chopped mixed game. Try adding various dried fruit such as apricot or raisins smoked in port!