When my daughter, Louise, and her family come to England for the New Year, Easter and in August, I cook their favourite foods.
Daniel, as a strapping nearly 18-year old, loves desserts in general and Plum Traybake in particular. I can’t remember where the original recipe comes from but it’s one of those that work every time.
As well as Louise’s family, our elder son, Simon, and Bernard and his girlfriend, Jo, came to dinner. It was Josh’s turn to cook but I made the dessert while he cooked a vegetarian cottage pie – Bernard is a vegetarian.
Our elder son, Simon, and his wife came to tea on their way to a party and I’m always glad of an excuse to bake a cake.
This fruit cake is one of my favourites. I always toss the fruit in a little of the flour so it doesn’t all sink to the bottom but is evenly distributed through the cake.
We’d been having a bit of a smashing time lately – sorting out the mugs chipped in the dishwasher and we’re always looking out for new designs. I found this one in the V&A gift shop when I last visited . The design is adapted from one of William de Morgan’s.
We have a full Thomas white china tea service but we’ve stopped getting it out even for our poshest visitors!!
Josh and I take turns cooking dinner and on Tuesdays I cook and we always have soup, which is much nicer with home-made bread.
Sometimes we have slices of freshly made granary or wholemeal bread but there is something special about having individual mini-loaves. Josh doesn’t really care for caraway seeds so though these are delicious, next time I’ll leave out the caraway.
Great having the family to dinner – Louise over for the weekend from the Basque Country, Bernie newly with an MA with distinction and his girlfriend, and Simon and his wife.
Joshua made his delicious Fish Pie and I defrosted the Pear and Caramel tarts I tried out the week before. Josh will sometimes try a new recipe when we have guests but I’m too scared and prefer to try them out on the two of us first.
The recipe is from the Waitrose magazine and I have now modified it to make only 6 or 7 tarts. Mostly we are six for dinner and if I make the 12 in the original recipe it would mean freezing some. Better to have something different next time.
I don’t often fancy recipes in newspapers but this recipe for a Sliced Apple Cake from the Times – with some minor adjustments – is now my favorite. It’s just as good, or even better, next day – if you have any left.
I always used to grease my cake tins with vegetable oil but then discovered Bake Easy! spray at Lakeland. It works really well but unfortunately they only do the liquid now so this time I had to buy the spray online.
The other indispensable gadget for me is their Cake Tester. The black end turns bright red when the cake – or muffin – is done.
One of my favourite dishes is Green Thai Chicken Curry which requires coconut milk. I much prefer making it up from the powder rather than buying the tins. The only shop I know which stocks the Maggi coconut powder is the Spice Shop in Drummond Street.
They stock so many kinds of rice and curry pastes and powders and pickles and chutneys – it’s hard to choose.
Though you can now get many of these exotic vegetables in your local supermarket, they are fresher and cheaper here.