Saturday, November 19, 2011


It's always reassuring to find there are other people out there with bigger problems than your own. Personally, if I felt a need to constrain my fried eggs with these 'egg rings' I would run screaming from my kitchen in search of the nearest therapist.

Using them to make your own crumpets, of course, is perfectly okay.

275ml milk
50ml water
7g instant yeast (1 sachet)
1tsp sugar
225g strong white flour

  1. Mix the milk, water and sugar in a jug. Heat until it is warm but not too hot. (It should feel pleasantly warm when you hold your finger in it - 1 minute or so on the medium setting in a microwave should do the trick.)
  2. Add the yeast, mix well, and leave to stand for 15 minutes until it has formed a good foamy head.
  3. Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, add the liquid and whisk together to make a smooth batter.
  4. Place the bowl inside a plastic bag, and leave to stand for 45 minutes.
  5. If you are using egg rings, oil them lightly. Oil a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat gently, and spoon about 1.5 tablespoons of batter into each ring. (It's best to have a glass of water next to the stove, and dip your spoon into it before spooning out the batter.)
  6. Cook on a low heat for about 4 minutes. Lift the rings off the crumpets (if they stick, just gently separate them fromLink the sides with a knife). Flip over and cook for a further minute.

Homemade vs. shop bought
I 'borrowed' this recipe from Delia Smith. She starts by saying "Although you can buy quite good crumpets, I do think they're fun to make." They're definitely fun to make (and very easy), but I can't say that I agree with her verdict on shop-bought crumpets. They are generally rubbery, and not a patch on the homemade version. My kids agree - they have always refused to eat the commercial version, but these ones disappeared immediately.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tomato juice

A glass of tomato juice with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of black pepper. It is 1975, I am 8 years old, wearing a denim suit from C&A, and running up a bar tab at the Holiday Inn in Belsize Park, London. Sophistication, as they say, doesn't come much more sophisticated than this.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pickled pears

I made these a couple of months ago, when we had a few more pears than we were able to eat. The result was really good, but I was slightly reluctant to post because I hadn't worked out what they would go with.

The other day, Gemma and the kids came back from Mellis cheese shop and I found the answer: cheese! Doing my best Wallace and Grommit impression, I ordered the kids to bring out the crackers and tried slices of pickled pear with durrus, taleggio and some blue stilton.

1 lemon
10 cloves
1 tsps black peppercorns
1 tsp allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
500g white wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
1 kg small pears

  1. Sterilize four 500g jars.
  2. Zest the lemon, and combine the lemon zest, cloves, pepercorns, allspice berries and cinnamon in a saucepan with the vinegar and sugar.
  3. Peel, and quarter the pears and remove the fibrous cores.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil, simmer gently and stir well until all of the sugar has dissolved, then add the pears and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the pears from the liquid with a slotted spoon, and transfer to the sterilized jars.
  6. Continue to simmer the liquid uncovered for another 15 minutes or so, then pour over the pears and seal.