Wednesday 26 February 2014

Salted Caramel

I’ve been looking for a European salted caramel recipe for a while now, but all seem to be from the other side of the ocean, so it was with excitement that I discovered Rachel Khoo’s version in her book. It was also with excitement that I thought I might be able to pull it off. I’m not good with sugar … many a time has it crystallised or stuck to the pan, but this one looked simple and clear, and I noted that it also kept in the fridge for up to two months, so I could use it in my mini caramel lattes as and when! (Or dollop a spoonful over ice cream if the need arose!)


It’s a case of combining 150g caster sugar melted in a pan until dark golden, then adding 150ml of double cream and a tsp of salt (in future I’d add a little more salt) whilst remembering NOT to stir the caramel, but to swirl the pan instead. You then leave it to bubble for a few minutes and pour into sterilised jars. This I did, and it looked and tasted good.It was only when I came to use it the next day, and couldn’t remove any of it from the jar, that I wished I’d bubbled it for considerably less time after adding the cream. Rookie error, but one I make regularly when attempting plum jelly, often ending up with a very stiff paste.

So what can I do with the caramel, or should I say toffee? I’m going to have to heat the jar to loosen it, then use immediately I think: ice cream for 20?

Sunday 23 February 2014

Pea & Ham Soup–Winter Warmer


I don't often make soup, but this was one I tried a few months ago to use up some sad looking vegetables and some ham from the roast. A large 'batch' was therefore created and much of it put into pots for the freezer with the ham chopped and stored separately. When we unearthed it some weeks later, it was just as tasty as I had first remembered, but I hadn't any idea how I might have made it in the first place. So today, I attempted the recreation.


A simple case of chopping an onion and softening in some butter. Then adding chopped potato, just one, and stirring around for a bit. After that, pour in stock and simmer until the potato has cooked. Tip in some peas and boil for another few minutes. Season to taste then blend. If it's too thick, add a little more stock or water. Sit some chopped ham / gammon in the middle and grind some black pepper over the top. If you prefer to follow a recipe, this BBC one is the one I glanced at before beginning, and also used the picture above from: I forgot to take any of my own, but then, how different can pea and ham soup look?!

I was amazed that this second time, I had managed to get it right! Just as tasty and just the right texture...perfect for packed lunch in my new bento boxes!


Picture from bbc website.

Sunday 16 February 2014

The New London, Chelmsford

We used to live round the corner from The Red Lion on London Road in Chelmsford. We didn’t visit often but sometimes enjoyed a game of darts (in the loosest sense of the phrase) and a quick drink. It was a taxi driver who mentioned, several months ago, that it was being turned into a nice little restaurant, The New London. It’s an odd place for one, on the main road, out of town and with no parking, but somehow, that doesn’t seem to matter. Rumour has it, the owner bought the red phone box outside for £1 and used this as inspiration for the splash of red amongst the, it has to be said, fairly blank and monotonous greys inside. A few large, abstract paintings wouldn’t go amiss.

We booked a table for Sunday Lunch on my dad’s birthday, and although the table was needed back two hours later, we were one of only three tables there at midday. The set menu had enough choice and looked good. I opted for goat’s cheese with honey, beetroot and walnuts, while the others chose a pigeon salad. For mains, it was the pork and crackling that swung it for me, whilst the men had sea bass with a poached egg.


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The starters were excellent, tried and tested flavour combinations and well executed and presented. The mains were good: not brilliant, but good quality and generally well cooked although the pork was on the dry side (and I’d have liked more crackling, but think that’s just me!)

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I’d go again, but having looked through the general brunch and lunch menus, I think next time, we’d try those options rather than a ‘roast-type’ dinner. It is, however, one of only a handful of independent restaurants within walking distance of Chelmsford, so I’d much rather revisit and try different choices than go for the usual pizza / pasta combinations everywhere else offers.

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