Saturday, May 28, 2011

forgotten sauce

This sauce keeps well in the fridge for a week or so, but if you buy a large packet of dog food, and put it at the front of the fridge and you push the sauce to the back of the fridge and forget about it, and then a month later you remember the sauce, then it will have grown some very pretty green and white spots and you will have to pretend you didn't notice it and wait until your Fella comes across it when he is hunting for kecap manis, and then watch as he scrapes it into the outside bin while you feign surprise.

Moral of the story: only buy small packets of dog food.

Satay Sauce
(from Johnson, A. Thai Vegetarian Cooking: a step-by-step guide Element 1999)

Makes about 2 cups

1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 3/4 cups tinned coconut milk
3 tbsp peanut butter

Process everything except the coconut milk and peanut butter in a blender.  Add to a saucepan with the coconut milk.  Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly reduced.  Stir in peanut butter and bring to the boil.

Pour it on whatever you like.  If you want to pour it on yourself, let it cool first.


Hurrah!  These three tasty treats bring me up to 100 blogged recipes.

I still have a teetering pile next to the computer to catch up on, but at least I haven't acquired any new cookbooks this week.

I am very proud of myself.

Aloo Kachori (stuffed potato patties)
(from Bergerson, S. Street Food of India I.B. Tauris 2010)

Serves 5-6

500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp ghee
30 ml yogurt
125 ml chilled water
2 or 3 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
300g potatoes, boiled and finely mashed
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp garam masala
pinch of turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
vegetable oil for frying

Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add ghee, rub until fully incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add yogurt and 6 tbsp chilled water; knead to make a smooth and pliable dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave aside for half an hour.

Combine remaining ingredients except oil in a mixing bowl and knead with hands until well blended.  Divide into 18 portions and form each into a patty; cover with plastic wrap while you are working.

Flatten each patty into a 6cm round.  Place a spoonful of filling in the centre of the dough, then bring up the sides to enclose completely.  Pinch seams together until completely and firmly sealed.  Cover with plastic wrap or a moist towel.  Repeat until you have stuffed all your patties.

Heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan.  Fry a few patties at a time until pale golden in colour and hollow-sounding when tapped.  The crust should be delicately blistered and crisp.

Drain on paper towel and serve with tomato sauce (ketchup).  Or tamarind chutney, as we did.  Or yogurt and mint would go very nicely too.


This recipe originally called for cabbage instead of cauliflower, but I didn't have any.  And I like cauliflower.

"Do Pyaza" is Hindi for "two onions".  But this dish only has one.  Things like this make me very confused and uncomfortable.

Vegetables Do-Pyaza
(modified from Mehta, R. Vegetarian Cook Book (2nd ed) Manoj Publications 2005)

Serves 8

250g green peas
half a small cauliflower
100g green beans
100g tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 green chillies, chopped (adjust to taste)
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp ghee

Trim beans and cut up cauliflower into small florets.  Fry with peas in 1 1/2 tbsp of ghee.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a pan and saute the cumin seeds, onion, green chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar and chopped tomatoes.

Mix the remaining spices and salt with the yogurt and add one glass of water.  Bring this mixture to a boil until it is a uniform consistency and add fried vegetables.

Cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve hot.


Paneer Makhanwaala
(from Mehta, N. More Paneer Snab 1995)

Serves 4

250g paneer, cut into 2.5cm cubes and deep fried (I shallow-fried)
4 tbsp oil
3 onions
2.5cm piece ginger
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tbsp cream
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
1/4-1/2 tsp sugar

Grind onions, ginger and garlic to a paste.  Fry in oil on low heat until golden.

Add turmeric, chilli, garam masala and cook for 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

Add 2 cups of water.  Boil.  Add sugar and simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Add cream and mix well.

Add butter and dried fenugreek leaves.  Mix well and add salt to tasate.

Add paneer and simmer until heated through and soft.

Serve hot.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the great sausage hunt of 2011

As promised, Ellen has chosen the winner of the Million Paws earring/pendant competition.

Over the past week Ellen and I workshopped a few ideas about how to conduct the draw.  I couldn't think of anything brilliant, but then Ellen reminded me that she really likes sausages, and she thought that we should use them in some way.  She also pointed out that with all the plants I've killed, there were lots of empty plant pots around, and why didn't we make use of them too?

So between the two of us, we devised a most fiendish sausage hunt.  Each of her sponsors would have their name randomly attached to a plant pot, under which a piece of sausage would be hidden.  The winner would have the last sausage to be devoured by Ellen.

A simple concept.

Unfortunately Ellen is a simple dog, and a distractible one.  The process of eliminating all but one contestant took a very long time, so the film has been abridged to suit modern attention spans.

Enormous thanks to everyone who helped the RSPCA by sponsoring Ellen.  Without the support of people like you, I would have had nowhere to go to adopt my psychotic cat and lunatic dog.

Hang on a minute.  Thanks a LOT guys.

But seriously, thanks.

I hope you enjoy the film.

coming soon...

Ellen and I are just heading outside to draw the winner of the Million Paws competition.

Video of the prize draw will be posted as soon as it's ready.

Good luck to everyone!

sisyphus makes a tart

I am cooking as fast as I can.  I'm churning out curries and pies and puddings and tarts, but I feel like I'm no closer to achieving my goal.

Like Sisyphus*, I feel I am making progress, and then something happens to take me a few steps back. That thing, namely, is the acquisition of more cookbooks.

I've tried very hard to be good, but people keep giving me cookbooks.  And bookshops keep reducing them to ridiculously low prices, and that is pretty much the same as giving them to me.

I take no responsibility.  I will just quietly list my nine new books, and happily report that I have already used one of them for this delicious tart.

This lemon tart has no pastry, so it's very good for you.

*you know, the Greek dude who was condemned to roll a boulder up a hill forever, only to have it roll back down again when he reached the top.

Lemon Tart
(from Granger, B. Bill’s Basics HarperCollins 2010)

Serves 6-8

3 eggs
75g plain flour
225g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
150ml lemon juice
300ml cream

to serve
icing sugar
cream or creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Lightly grease a 20cm round springform cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and then gradually whisk in the flour.  Add the caster sugar, butter, lemon zest and juice, cream and a pinch of sea salt and whisk well.  Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until slightly browned.

Leave in tin to cool for 20 minutes before turning out and slicing.  Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or creme fraiche.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

dum and dummer

This recipe comes from my first real Indian cookbook. I bought it in New Delhi and lovingly carried it around Europe and the USA in my backpack.  Along with a few other things.  Before I left India, I had added quite a few more books, fragile ceramic things and bulky textiles to my load and had to discard most of my clothes and medical supplies.  So by the time I reached New York six weeks later, I was stumbling around in filthy rags, with a bag of treasure, like a demented pirate.

It was worth it though.

Dum Aloo
(from Uberoi, P. & N. Pure Vegetarian Indian Cookery (2nd ed.) Sterling Publishers 1996)

Serves 4-6

750g medium potatoes
1/2 cup ghee
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (a bright red chilli powder.  Use ordinary chilli powder if unavailable, and adjust quantity to taste)
1/2 tsp asafoetida water (as always, I substituted a clove of crushed garlic)
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp fresh ginger paste (I doubled this)
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
a few coriander leaves

Boil the potatoes in salt water.  Peel and prick them with a toothpick.  Deep fry in ghee on low heat until brown (I shallow fried instead).  Set aside.  Melt the 1/2 cup of ghee in a pot and add the yogurt, cumin, ginger and garlic (or asafoetida) and cook.  When the yogurt becomes golden brown, add a little water and cook until the gravy is slightly thick, then add the potatoes.  Sprinkle with coriander leaves and garam masala and cover the vessel and simmer for a few minutes.  Serve hot.

Friday, May 20, 2011

blessed are the cheesemakers

A couple of weeks ago I did a cheese-making class with a friend.  The group consisted of 48 women, one dribbly man who shouted (but knew a LOT about cheese) and one man with dreadlocks who may not have known where he was.  The class was held in one of those demonstration kitchens like they have on morning telly, but our audience was neither as pretty nor as prone to hollering and getting teary.

After two hours watching milk being stirred, and $100 spent on spoons and special baskets and synthetic rennet and other Important Stuff, I went home excitedly to test out my awesome new skills.

Imagine my surprise when it all worked as it was meant to!  Awesome!

This is the haloumi I made:

And here is my ricotta:

The haloumi was gobbled up pretty quickly, but I had to find something to do with the ricotta.

This rolled-up lasagne did very nicely.

Rolled Wild Garlic and Pumpkin Lasagne with Pesto Cream
(from Gayler, P. Pure Vegetarian: modern and stylish vegetarian cooking Kyle Cathie 2006)

Serves 4

400g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into large pieces
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped wild garlic (or chives mixed with a little garlic)
200g ricotta, well-drained
1 tbsp double cream
4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
6 fresh lasagna sheets
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the pesto cream:
45g fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 garlic cloves
45g blanced almonds
2 tbsp olive oil
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
25g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
300ml whole or soy milk
4 tbsp double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 190ºC.  Place pumpkin in a roasting tray, drizzle over the olive oil and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, or until flesh is tender.  Remove and leave to cool.  Reduce oven to 150ºC.

For the pesto cream, place the herbs, garlic, almonds and olive oil in a blender and blitz to a coarse paste.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, cook for 1-2 minutes, then ad the milk and  bring to the boil.  Stir constantly with a whisk, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened, smooth and glossy.  Add the cream and the pesto and stir well.  Season to taste.

In a bowl, mix the wild garlic (or chives and garlic), ricotta, cream, pumpkin and breadcrumbs and season to taste.

Cook the lasagne sheets in boiling water until al dente, then transfer to cold water (alternatively, if you use the fresh Latina ones from the supermarket, you don't need to pre-cook them).  Drain and pat dry pasta sheets with a cloth.  Divide the pumpkin mixture equally between the pasta sheets, ensuring it covers them completely.  Roll up like a Swiss roll, starting from one short end.  Lightly grease a suitable ovenproof dish, then arrange the filled lasagne rolls in it.  Pour the pesto sauce over the rolls, ensuring they are completely covered.  Scatter over the parmesan, then place in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and slightly crusty.  Leave to cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

date night

We've been having ridiculously cold nights in Canberra.  When it gets down to -7ºC, the only thing for it is a large glass of red wine and some sticky date pudding.

Not everyone would agree, of course.  I have a friend who can't stand dates.  It's not that he's a fussy eater - indeed, he's quite the opposite.  He'll eat any disgusting thing that's put in front of him - make a risotto from aged donkey colons and garnish it with ground up beaks, and he'll wolf it down.  He would even drink that coffee that has passed through cats.

But present him with a luscious sticky date pudding and he'll gag and carry on.

Oh well, more for the rest of us.

Sticky Toffee (Date) Pudding
(from ABC Delicious: Wicked FPC Living 2002)

Serves 6-8

180g dried dates, pitted, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g unsalted butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
180g self-raising flour, sifted
vanilla ice-cream or cream, to serve

toffee sauce
150g brown sugar
250ml thin cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
20g unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Combine dates and bicarbonate of soda in a heatproof bowl.  Pour over 250ml boiling water.  Set dates aside for 20-30 minutes, or until room temperature.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.  Use a metal spoon to gently fold in the flour, then stir in the date mixture.

Pour the mixture into a greased 18cm cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside for 5 minutes before turning out.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring, until the butter has melted.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Cut the pudding into wedges, add a scoop of ice-cream and pour over the hot toffee sauce.

Monday, May 16, 2011

a grand day out

Yesterday Ellen and I completed our second Million Paws Walk.

The training was worth it.  We finished in the top three quarters of the field - just in front of the morbidly obese dogs and the dogs with only two legs and one eye.  We would have finished more quickly if there was a little less butt-sniffing, rolling around in the freshly planted tulip beds, stopping to stare at swans and cookie eating.  Ellen did warn me.

It was a beautiful day, and Ellen was shiny and happy and all smiles.

Although it had warmed up considerably from the -7ºC overnight temperature, it was still cool when we arrived.  But that didn't bother Ellen.

Ellen walked enthusiastically for the first hour, but as the walk progressed, I could see her looking with envy at some dogs who had a more comfortable ride.

We did try various strategies to boost her energy levels....

....but in the end, she peaked too early, and finished up a little tired and muddy.

She still had plenty of smiles, but they were a little wonkier.

And she fell asleep as soon as we got back in the car.

Thank you very much to everyone who has supported Ellen.  I will be drawing the winner of the earrings/pendant competition at 4:00pm next Sunday, May 22nd (AEST), so there's still time to make a donation if you'd like to be in the running.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

freedom ham

I love cook books that give little snippets of wisdom.  Most cookbooks provide recipes fit for an elegant dinner party, but fail to provide the modern housewife with tips on how to make sure the evening is a complete success, and an occasion that will ensure she is the envy of all her husband's friends' wives.

Thank goodness, then, for the magnificent Culinary Arts Institute series.  From the potato cookbook comes this invaluable advice:

Brilliant!  I can't tell you the number of evenings ruined through having my freedom curtailed by party dishes.  Oh, to have a meal that just sits there quietly and patiently while you talk to people.

And once the greeting is over, how do you get the party started?

I dare say they would be.

Perhaps the conversation would go like this:

"Excuse me, hostess?"
"Yes, how can I help you Ken?"
"WTF are those?"
"They are tiny cream puffs stuffed with potato-fish."
"WTF is a potato-fish?"
"I don't know"
"Well, they look disgusting.  I'm not going to eat those."
"Ooh, did you hear that?  Please excuse me.  I think I can hear the ham causing a commotion."

Lyonnaise Potatoes
(from Culinary Arts Institute: 250 Potato Recipes Consolidated Book Publishers 1975)

Serves 4

2 cups diced boiled potatoes
salt and pepper
1 tsp minced onion
2 tbsp fat
1 tbsp chopped parsley

The potatoes should be slightly under-done to produce the best results.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the onion in the fat until light brown, add the potatoes, and stir with a fork until all sides are brown, being careful not to break the potatoes.  Add more fat if necessary.  When done, transfer potatoes to a hot dish, sprinkle parsley over the top and serve hot.


The potatoes were served with these stuffed eggplants, and the lovely garlicky spinach recipe that follows.

Stuffed Eggplant
(from Katzen, M. Moosewood Cookbook Ten Speed Press 1977)

Serves 6

3 medium eggplants
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium green capsicums, diced
2 medium tomatoes
1 heaped tsp basil (dried basil is awful.  I substituted pesto)
1/4 tsp tarragon, or more, to taste
1/4 tsp oregano, or more, to taste
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for saute

Slice eggplants in half lengthwise, and bake them face down on an oiled tray at 180ºC for 20-25 minutes.  Scoop out the insides and mince them.

Saute eggplant insides with the onions, garlic, bay leaf and capsicums until the onions are clear.  Combine with everything except half the parmesan and the breadcrumbs.  Let stand 20 minutes, then drain off all excess liquid.

Stuff the shells.  Top with combined breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan.

Bake in a 180ºC oven uncovered for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Red Pepper
(from Della Croce, J. Roma: authentic recipes from in and around the eternal city Chronicle 2004)

Serves 2

500g fresh spinach, well washed and stemmed (I used baby spinach)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt to taste

Drain, but do not dry the spinach leaves.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes over medium-low heat.  Saute until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 1 minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high and immediately add the spinach.  Toss quickly and saute, stirring often, until the spinach is completely wilted.

Remove from heat.  Drain off excess liquid if you prefer.  Add salt and serve.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

food for serious athletes

It's only five more sleeps till Ellen and I tackle our second Million Paws Walk.

We're over the hardest part of our training, and now we're tapering and carb-loading.  She's eating lots of dog biscuits, and I'm gobbling up pasta and muffins and shortbread creams.

We're more plumped than pumped, but we're both looking forward to a great day.  If you'd like to sponsor Ellen, and be in with a chance to win a handmade silver pendant or earrings, you can donate via her fundraising page.  Thanks for supporting the RSPCA!

Spaghetti with Mushroom and Garlic Sauce
(modified slightly from Brown, S. Vegetarian Kitchen BBC 1984)

Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil
700g fresh tomatoes, skinned and sliced, or 1x800g tin tomatoes
1 level tsp sugar
1 level tsp salt
1 bay leaf
350g button mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 cup kalamata olives (my addition)
freshly ground black pepper
350g spaghetti

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cook slowly for 30 minutes in a covered pan.  You can liquidise at this point if you want a smooth sauce.  Then add the finely sliced mushrooms, olives (if using) crushed cloves of garlic, remaining olive oil and dried marjoram.  Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.  Simmer the mushrooms in the sauce until they are tender, which takes about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions, drain and put into a warm serving dish.  Pour on the hot sauce and serve immediately with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

a face-scalding surprise

It's fun to serve these muffins straight out of the oven and not tell people they have jam inside.

A burned chin is something everyone can laugh about.

Corn Muffins with Raspberry Jam
(from Chang, J. Flour: spectacular recipes from Boston's Flour bakery and café Chronicle 2010)

Makes 12

2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 cup medium-coarse yellow cornmeal (polenta)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (bi-carb)
1 tsp salt
55g unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream), at room temperature
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 180ºC.  Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, coat with non-stick spray, or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed.  In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until it forms a thick slurry.  In a second large bowl, whisk the eggs until well-blended.  One at a time, whisk the milk, then the oil, then the creme fraiche, and finally the butter-sugar slurry into the eggs.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold carefully just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined.  The batter will be thick and pasty.

Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of jam on top of the batter in each cup, then top off each cup with another 1/4 cup of batter, making sure the cups are evenly filled.  They should be filled to the rim.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the edges of each muffin are golden brown and the centre springs back when pressed with a fingertip.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.

Can be stored in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen for a week.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

cannibal berries and disaster pie

In the time I've spent not blogging over the past week, I've spent some happy hours yelling at the telly.

Although the Fella likes to point out that my anger at the TV has increased in direct proportion with my age, by any objective measure TV has got louder and stupider.  And it's not that I have highbrow tastes - I can enjoy Dog the Bounty Hunter, or a fart joke on The Cleveland Show as much as anyone - but lately I've found myself ending a night's viewing feeling like someone snuck into my ear and threw up on my brain.

What doesn't make me feel dumber makes me very, very angry.  Like commercials.  And in particular, the Ribena commercial.  Which is also very disturbing.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Ribena, it's a blackcurrant drink: tasty, packed with vitamins and choc-full of the goodness of sugar.  They use cute little berries in their ads.  This is a very sweet Amigurumi version of one:

Anyway, their latest commercial tells the story of a prodigal berry who comes back to his community with Ribena to share with all, and there is much rejoicing and celebration of its deliciousness.

I think you can see where I'm going with this:  RIBENA IS MADE OUT OF RIBENA BERRIES!!!  And these stupid, stupid fruits are guzzling the stuff, and we're meant to think it's adorable and get so overwhelmed with cute that we go out and buy Ribena.

But it's so wrong.  It would be like a cow enjoying a hamburger, or Nemo getting stuck into some fish fingers, or Mr Ed enjoying a pie.  It makes me very uncomfortable and shouty.

Another thing that gets my goat is when my meals end up looking like they were cooked by a labrador.

This what my potato pie looked like when I served it:

I think I need practice at plating.  It looked much nicer straight out of the oven.

Potato Pie
(from Galletto, L. & Dale, D. Lucio's Ligurian Kitchen Allen & Unwin 2008)

Serves 4

for the pastry:
200g plain flour
sea salt
30ml olive oil
warm water

for the filling:
1kg desiree potatoes, scrubbed
500ml milk at room temperature (on reflection, this was too much milk - reduce as you see fit if you don't want the sloppy mess I created)
60g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra
45g butter, melted
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 tbsp breadcrumbs

To make the pastry, place the flour in a mound on a clean flat work surface.  Form a well in the middle, sprinkle some salt all over and pour in the olive oil.  Start kneading and add warm water as required to achieve a smooth and soft dough, about 5 minutes.  Place in a ceramic bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for 1 hour.

In the meantime, cook the potatoes in salted water, drain and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel and place in a bowl.  Mash the potatoes, add the milk, Parmesan, butter and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon to amalgamate the ingredients and obtain a uniform mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a very firm round sheet.

Lightly oil a 30cm pie dish and line the base and sides with the dough, allowing it to overhang.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the dough, pour the potato mixture on top and spread evenly.  Brush with a little olive oil and add an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.  Fold the overhanging pastry back onto the tart to form a border, cutting off any excess.  Bake in a preheated 220ºC oven for 30 minutes or until you have a golden crust.

Serve clumsily.  Get angry at the pie.


The author of this recipe suggests serving it with crisp biscuits or tiny florentines.

I suggest serving it with an enormous spoon, a good DVD, and elastic-waisted pyjamas.

Classic Chocolate Mousse
(from Collister, L. Chocolate Ryland Peters & Small 2002)

Serves 4

85g plain chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp water, brandy or rum
10g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, separated
125ml whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

Put the chocolate and water, brandy or rum into a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of steaming but not boiling water and leave until just melted (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water, and melt gently, without letting it get too hot, and stirring as little as possible).  Remove the bowl from the heat and gently stir in the butter.  Leave for 1 minute, then gently stir in the egg yolks, one at a time.

Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form.  Stir about one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites in 3 batches.  Carefully fold half the whipped cream into the mousse.

Spoon into serving bowls or glasses, and chill for 2 hours before serving.  Serve with the other half of the whipped cream.