Sunday, 25 October 2015

Microwave Hollandaise Sauce

The asparagus season has started, new potatoes are out, and salmon is fresh and tasty at the supermarket, so what better accompanying sauce than a home-made Hollandaise? I have never made one before but they're notoriously difficult, so I looked for a microwave recipe. This one worked first-try, and I made 2/3rds of the website quantity, which gave generous helpings for two people.


  • 125g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon), well-strained

Put butter in a small pyrex bowl and microwave for 10-30 seconds, until the butter is soft, and no warmer than 45C. In a separate bowl or ramekin, mix the yolks and lemon juice. Add this mixture to the softened butter and combine well. Microwave on high, stopping to whisk every 10 seconds, which will feel very frequent but is necessary. Suddenly the sauce will thicken as the yolks cook: don't overbeat or overcook beyond a good consistency.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Faux Middle Eastern Lamb Tart

OK Uncle Richard, you can look away now! This is a totally inauthentic bit of fusion food that I've taken even more time-saving liberty with than the original. But it was surprisingly tasty, and I think I will make it again.


  • 1 red onion
  • 500g lean lamb mince
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste or three tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • juice of a lemon
  • a generous handful of finely chopped mint, plus extra leaves to serve
  • 3 sheets frozen puff pastry
  • two more tomatoes
  • handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • hummus made from one tin of chick peas
  • 1/2 to 1 pack of feta cheese, to taste

Lay the pastry out to defrost, preheat the oven to 200C, and make the hummus, if you haven't already.

Finely chop the red onion and fry gently for a few minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the lamb mince and fry, breaking it apart, until browned. Crush in the garlic and stir through the paste, or finely chop the tomatoes and stir them in. Add the spices and fry for a few minutes, until fragrant. Turn the heat off and add half of the lemon juice, cumin seeds, and mint. (The mixture will appear undercooked compared to e.g. moussaka; you can cook it for longer, but it will get a blast in the oven later, so don't make it too dry.)

Spread the middle third column of each pastry sheet with hummus, then top with the lamb mixture, and scatter over the crumbled feta. Loosely fold over the outer thirds of the pastry to form a fat edge. You can slightly crimp the tops and bottoms of the sheets if it looks like the juices are going to run out. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden.

Meanwhile, dice the remaining tomatoes and combine with the parsley and the remaining mint, cumin seeds and lemon juice. When the tart is finished, top with this salad, the reserved mint leaves, and serve.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Daikon and Carrot Pickle / Salad

This crispy sweet-sour Japanese accompaniment is halfway between a pickle and a salad. You can use daikon, in which case I suggest using a mandolin, so that both the carrot and daikon come out in long thin strips; European radishes work fine as well, but in that case I suggest slicing both the carrots and radishes into thin disc-shaped cross-sections, so that the salad is made up of many little circles instead of long strips. The vegetables become softer and more pickled the longer you leave them in the marinade, and it keeps well up to at least 10 days in the fridge (I have always finished it faster than that :)). The finer you slice the vegetables, the faster they will pickle. This works great with rich foods like tempura or in banh mi, as the astringency cuts through the fat.
With cauliflower tempura.


  • 250g carrot (about 2 carrots)
  • 250g daikon (about 20cm)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4.5 tsbp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds


Top, tail and peel the carrot and daikon, then mandolin or julienne. Place the daikon and carrot in a mixing bowl and combine well with the salt, preferably using your hands to get all the pieces covered. Leave for 30-60 minutes. Drain the vegetables into a sieve and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Wipe out the mixing bowl and return the vegetables.

Mix the sugar and vinegar together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved (warming gently in the microwave can make this easier). Pour the sweet vinegar over the daikon and carrot, refrigerate, and leave for as long as you can: after a couple of hours the vegetables will be marinaded but still crispy, and as you leave them longer they will soften and the flavours will deepen. Stir every day to ensure the vegetables get an even pickling.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Crystallised Rose Petals

Two of our friends recently celebrated their engagement with a party, and I wanted to bring something as a gift. She is super-crafty and loves baking, and I thought maybe it would be fun to bring crystallised rose petals, perfect for topping cakes. I have a huge range of roses in the garden so I tried a few varieties:

I used this recipe, and even with a hundred rose petals, I didn't get through a cup of sugar and an egg white. I also found it too fiddly to use tweezers and just picked up the petals by hand. I would like to try simply painting them with sugar syrup next time. All of the varieties were tasty, but for some reason the white roses became very fragile and stuck to the tray completely. The red simple roses worked the best, while the magenta and orange roses were somewhere in between. Better than greaseproof paper are silicon baking tray liners: they provided the best non-stick surface. It's also important to wait a good 24 hours before attempting to remove the petals.

Overall they made a lovely combination of colours, and I gave them to my friend in a jar, separated with layers of greaseproof paper:

Also, once you've made them, don't let them get above about 25C. They can collapse and go sticky, as I found a week later when I checked on the jar of offcuts I stored in a top cupboard.