August 19, 2012

Winter blues...

It can't have been that long ago that I was getting excited about the prospect of long nights, stews and slow roasts. But now, after a few months of short cold days, I find myself pining for sunshine and warmth, and all the beautiful spring produce that comes with it. But with days as drab and dreary as this I get the impression that winter is not done yet, and there seems nothing for it than to hold up, pop the kettle on and get baking.

As the rain hammered down my thoughts immediately turned to Snowflakes and Schnapps, and it was not long before the lamb shanks were simmering away in a delectable blend of allspice, brandy and anchovy.

Lamb and anchovy is one of those fabulous food pairings that I often forget, and so this was a wonderfully tender and sticky reminder of the pleasures to be found in surf and turf. To emphasise this further each shank was accompanied by Janssen's Temptation - a gratin-of-sorts topped with crispy breadcrumbs, and laced with both thyme and our little salty friends.

If I could settle down with this and a nice red beside an open fire, then I suspect this wintry eve wouldn't seem quite so bad...

For dessert it was quark fritters with honey syrup - a crunchy, creamy, raisin-studded treat laced with lemon and vanilla to effect something so perfectly light and tangy that only the sweetness of the honey made it seem like a real over-indulgence.

And since it's been a long time between bakes, I simply couldn't let the day go by without cake. As there was some Tenderness on loan from a dearly-related, it was straight to the ever-favourite carrot cake, this time with a frosting of mascarpone and orange.

Beautifully light and moist, the frosting offered a refreshing tang without being overly sweet, and it was a lovely version that I will no doubt repeat. Now, where did I put that cup of tea...

August 5, 2012

Sporting snacks...

Following the recent arrival of some much-anticipated titles I'd been itching to get in to the kitchen, and since there's been so much athletic endeavour gracing our screens of late it seemed only apt to pursue a little sport-watching fare. With some wintry days ahead my thoughts immediately turned to sausage rolls, and since there was some homemade puff all ready and waiting, I needed but a quick trip to the markets for some meaty supplies before I could bunker down as the miserable weather set in.

For me, sporting snacks need to be simple, and if you can source some exceptional sausages for said rolls then there's little more to do than throw in some onion, parsley and nutmeg before you have a delectable lunchtime treat.

That said, I couldn't resist stepping things up just a little and so, with the addition of a blanketing layer of jowl bacon, these flaky delights suddenly went from the delicious to the utterly sublime.

As an accompaniment I opted for a kale market salad, which offered a refreshingly crisp and tangy contrast, and will most certainly be revisited once avocados are back in season.

And of course, a simple Sunday supper wouldn't be complete without sweets, where it was difficult to go past this comforting baked treacle pudding before curling up with a pot of tea as the storm clouds rolled in.