Tuesday, 29 July 2014


A few recipes especially for summer now….  This is not Russian, of course, but Spanish. Their classic and most popular salad dish and a firm favourite with my family for decades. It is my daughter’s absolute fave cold dish and we eat it at BBQs, at Xmas with cold meats, picnics, when ever! It took me lots of experimenting and tasting to perfect this dish, to get it tasting exactly like the best in Spain. Even so, there are variations. For instance, in the Miramar bar and restaurant Es Castell, Menorca, they add peas to the mix and beat the tuna into the mayo. But for all good Russian Salads the ingredients are the same. [+ or - the peas]

To make a large bowlful, to serve at a party or BBQ. [leftovers are still good for a couple of days, kept in the fridge]. Probably serving about 12 [not my daughter’s portion size]

6 large eggs, just hard boiled, then chopped when cold
1 pack of baby new potatoes, boiled then halved or quartered [depending on size]
4 - 5 large carrots, diced, then boiled until barely cooked
1 large shallot, very very finely chopped [or two smaller]
6 - 8 gerkins, very finely chopped [the small ones, like Opie’s, pickled in a jar]
1 large tin tuna chunks, flaked into small ish pieces [preferably in oil]. Drained
Mayo - Hellman’s Light is good [BUT homemade is better - see bottom]
Sea Salt and lots of fresh ground pepper

No method, just mix it all together with the Mayo. How easy is that? Just keep adding the mayo until it looks about right for you. You can add less or more as you wish.

You can make it the day before, of course, or prep the ingredients and just mix before serving. It is the best party dish.

HOMEMADE MAYO - easy peasy. It is so worth the effort and keeps for a week.
[just google and follow Delia’s method exactly - she is so good], but use the quick method, all in one, in a blender for a failsafe easy way.

Friday, 25 July 2014


I have had this recipe forever and have no idea where it came from [but believe it is of Cornish origin] or why it is called Bridal Slices.  We were talking about it the other day because my daughter remembers making and eating it as a child. So that is at least over ***** years! It is pretty impressive and very easy, but putting the pastry lid on can be tricky, just take your time and carefully measure.

I am using a 10” x 15” x 1” large swiss roll type tin, oiled. The recipe can easily be halved and use a smaller tin.

Cut 8 slices off a [not new] loaf of bread. You need a proper loaf, homemade or uncut farmhouse etc. [I make my own bread]. See pic on my Blog. Then soak the slices for at least an hour in a water and milk mix.

Meanwhile make up a batch of Ruff Puff Pastry.
1 lb Plain Flour, salt, 4 oz lard, 4 oz hard block marg. Roughly rub in and mix with very cold water. Just enough to bring it all together, plus don’t work it too much. Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least an hour.

That’s the prep. When you return to the kitchen roll out just over half of the pastry and line the base of the tin, trim.  Then carefully measure the inside of the tin and roll out the remainder to fit.

Take a large bowl and mix together 1lb of any dried fruit, eg sultanas, raisins, currants, maybe a little chopped peel, along with 1lb of soft dark brown sugar and a little mixed spice [optional]. Make sure all the sugar lumps are gone. Then squeeze out the bread and get rid of as much liquid as you can. Tip the soggy bread into the fruit and sugar and mix well, making sure all the white bits are incorporated, then add a large beaten egg. Mix really well.

Tip all of this onto the pastry base, then cover with the pastry lid. Fold the outer pastry over the lid and press with a fork. Brush the whole with beaten egg for a nice gloss and prick with a fork. See pics on my Blog.

Bake for about 1 hour 10 mins in a preheated oven 220 Deg C, turning down to about 190 after 15 mins.
Cool in the tin for 10 mins. Place the tray on a cooling rack. Put some kitchen paper on top, then another rack upside down, on that. Quickly flip over, holding the two racks together tightly. Take the tin off and flip back, reversing the racks. Then you can slice. You can slice in the tin too, if you wish.  Very yummy. Keeps well too, in an airtight tin for several days.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

APPLE GINGER CAKE with Cinnamon Icing

This is one of the most unusual cakes! It is also very special. No photo can do it justice or show you how soft and delicious it is. Old, at least pre WW2 and the method is very peculiar! But worth it, trust me, it is just scrummy. You have to start an hour or more before you actually make the cake.

½ lb cooking apples [I used Bramleys], peeled and cored weight.
3 oz demerera sugar
¼ lb golden syrup
3 oz butter
6 oz SR Flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg

Prepare the apples and chop them up roughly, then put them in a small pan with a couple of tablespoonfuls water, to stop them catching on the bottom. Add about ½ oz of the sugar. Stew the apples until soft, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Fork through, making sure it is pulp like. Allow to cool.

In another small pan melt together the syrup, butter and the rest of the sugar. Stir until it is melted and the sugar dissolved. Allow to cool.

Now its time to make the cake! I used a spring form 6” tin, but this can also be made in a small loaf tin. Oil lightly and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.

In a bowl weigh the flour and ginger. Whisk the egg, then add it to the buttery mix, stir well. Beat that into the flour then add the cooled apple pulp. Give it a good mix then tip into the tin.

Bake in a preheated fan oven 160 deg C for about 40-45 mins, until just firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for ten mins before turning it out. When cold:

4-5 oz icing sugar and scant teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed with enough cold water to form a thick paste. Spread or drizzle over the cake.

Just lovely.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cheesey Savoury Bread

This is just delicious, wonderfully savoury and very easy. A word about teaspoons. I ALWAYS use measuring spoons for accuracy, and they only cost a pound or two, but essential when baking. Ordinary teaspoons vary so much. I also only use digital scales for accuracy.

12 oz Strong Plain Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fast action dry yeast
loads of fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
large pinch of smoked paprika
3 oz  grated, strong mature cheddar

Put the above into a bowl or mixer, add 8½ - 9 fl oz tepid water, add slowly at the end, [you may not need the last ½ oz] and mix to a dough, then knead until smooth - 10 mins, at least. Put to rise in a warm place, in the bowl and cover with cling film. When at least double in size, knock back and put in a tin of your choice. I quite like a round sometimes and use a basic 6” cake tin. Or just place on a oiled baking sheet. Whatever. Allow to rise once more. To finish off, brush the top with a little cold water, lightly dust with flour then you can add a little more cheese to the top or some more paprika - or both. I just used more mixed ground pepper and some sea salt flakes.  Place in a hot oven 210 deg C and bake for approx 30 mins.
Don’t forget to place a bowl of water in the bottom of your oven to create a nice steamy atmosphere.

I put a couple of slits across the top of the loaf. To do this you need a very very sharp knife and do it in one motion. I always put the knife through the grinder before cutting across, even if I did it the day before.

You can also make these into rolls. Just reduce the baking time.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

LAN’CEN PIE  [Launceston]

Once more I set off into the unknown, along with my old recipe book and commonsense. And once more there are few details to go by, so I will quote:

“Pieces of meat placed at the bottom of a pie dish, with salt and pepper”  tick. I decided to use rump, especially as it was on offer in Lidl. After trimming, I think it was about 12 oz. Of course I used sea salt and fresh ground pepper. But, I could not help myself! - I flash browned the pieces of meat first in a hot pan. It seals in the flavour, as I have been taught. You should always brown your meat! I also added a finely chopped shallot. Hey ho! I wonder why our forebears did not do this? Then placed them in the bottom of the pie dish.

“then sliced potatoes to nearly fill the dish, more seasoning and a little water”.
Well, you can see where this is going. I had to add stock. I love these stock pots.
So one of those will go in as well.

“Add a few small whole potatoes on the top and a roll of pastry as a ring of crust round the edge of the dish”. I decided to try an often used crust in the book, that I had used before cooking the old recipes. It really is good.

4 oz plain flour.
1 oz suet
1 oz lard
5 tablespoons very cold water.
Salt and pepper
Rub in the fats, add the water, form into a ball, then chill until ready. At least half an hour.

I sliced about 6 potatoes, thinly  [I have a very handy small mandolin - Oxo Good Grips, in Lakeland. Brilliant]  and layered them up as instructed on top of the steak and shallot. I used 3 layers, seasoning between each layer. After pouring in the stock I tossed some baby new potatoes in oil and placed them in the middle, on top, then rolled out the pastry and cut a hole in the centre to accomodate the baby potatoes. See pictures on my Blog. I then made a pattern on the edge to tart it up a bit and brushed the top with a little milk.

“Bake under a kettle in the open chimney” - I think I will pop it into the oven for about 45-50mins. I guessed at about 200 deg C, turning down to 190 after first 10 mins, then down to 170 for last 15 mins. In the end I left it in for almost an hour.

Footnote: The small potatoes on the top were just daft and made it difficult to cut through to get a proper slice. I will definitely make this again as the steak, sliced potatoes and pastry were just beautiful. [is this down to the stock?!!] My husband loved it. I was delighted with the tasty and easy pastry. It has been added to my own base recipes!!

It was good in fact. Not sure about just water for stock though. I apologise to the folk of Launceston for calling their dish daft!

NOW I have returned [a couple of weeks later] after making this Pie once more. This time as per the FB photo, without those silly small whole potatoes. I just made up the crust and rolled it out to fit over the top, then trim, after adding the sliced potatoes. Don’t forget to season between each layer. Just delicious.