Author Archives: jennyridgwell

Dukka


This dip is used to scatter on Middle Eastern breads or use with oil and bread as a dip.

Ingredients

30g toasted, crushed hazelnuts

30g toasted sesame seeds

10g cumin and coriander seeds, toasted and crushed

10g fennel seeds,

10g ground cinnamon

10g paprika

5g dried mint or oregano

10g sea salt

Method

Mix all the toasted seeds and nuts together and stir in the other ingredients.

Put in a sealed jar and use within 1 month.

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Orange, rosemary and almond biscotti


These biscuits can be served with coffee or to accompany other dishes like lemon mousse.

Ingredients

100g blanched almonds

1 large orange

350g caster sugar

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2-3 large free-range eggs

4 sprigs rosemary leaves picked and finely chopped

100g dried cranberries

  1. For the biscotti, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Tip the almonds onto a baking tray and roast them for a few minutes until fragrant.

  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 1cm wide strips of zest from the oranges. Cut the strips into 5mm pieces. Place in a pan of water and bring to boil for a couple of minutes. Drain and repeat this blanching process 3 times.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar/flour mixture, baking powder and add the eggs, rosemary, blanched almonds, dried cranberries and orange peel. Use your hands to mix into a fairly solid dough – some extra flour may be required.

  4. Split the dough into 2 pieces. Use your hands to roll each piece to a sausage shape about 4cm thick. Place each piece of dough on a lined baking tray and use the palm of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes.

  5. Turn down the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Chop the biscotti on the diagonal into slices about 1cm thick. Separate the slices, place on lined baking trays and bake for another 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

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Choux buns


Choux pastry – 14 small buns

Eclairs, choux buns, profiteroles and cheese puffs are made with choux pastry.
Choux pastry is not rolled like other pastries – it is a dough of flour, fat, eggs and water.

Ingredients
50g butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing
125ml water
75g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
For cheese puffs, mix 100g grated cheese to the dough, fill with low fat cream cheese.
For profiteroles use 150ml whipped double cream and dust with icing sugar.

choux buns

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7 and grease a baking tray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan with the water then bring to the boil.
  3. Add the flour quickly into the boiling water and beat the pastry mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth and leaves the bottom of the pan. This takes about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Cool for 2-3 minutes then gradually beat in the eggs to make a smooth, shiny paste.
  5. Using a dessert spoon, put spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking tray.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 4 and bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffed up, golden brown and with a crisp bottom.
  7. When cooked, pierce holes in the top to let out the steam and bake for 2 minutes to dry out.
  8. Leave them upside down on a cooling rack to dry completely.

The science bit

When the eggs are beaten into the flour dough, they trap air which helps the pastry rise.
Beating the mixture stretches the gluten which helps form the structure.
When the mixture bakes, the liquid from eggs and water in the dough turns to steam and puffs up and raises the mixture leaving the centre hollow.
The egg protein denatures, coagulates and the gluten in the flour sets forming the structure.
Starch in the flour gelatinises as it cooks.
The hole is made in the choux buns to let the steam out and stop the buns from softening.
Coagulated egg also glazes the crust to give a golden colour.

 

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Thai vegetarian green curry


My thanks to Robin, Lewes Community chef for teaching me this recipe – adapted for school use. Instead of fresh curry paste, I’m using Thai green curry paste as it’s easier for students to bring to school.

The dish is a soup and served with rice.

Serves 2-4

thaigreen

Ingredients

2 tbs Thai green curry paste

400ml coconut milk

200ml vegetable stock made with boiling water and stock cube

200g sweet potato, washed and cut into cubes

1 medium aubergine 150g cut into cubes

100g green beans washed and chopped into 2cm lengths

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks

100g spinach washed and chopped

1 dessert spoon sugar (10g)

Method

  1. Put the curry paste into a large saucepan and heat gently for 1 minute.
  2. Add half the coconut milk and sugar and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
  3. Add the vegetable stock, sweet potato and aubergine and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and red pepper and the rest of the coconut milk and boil.
  5. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Serve in large bowls and garnish with coriander leaves – or if possible shredded kaffir lime leaves and Thai sweet basil.
  7. You can serve some sticky rice as an accompaniment.

Thai green curry paste

1 shallot

4 cloves garlic

4 green chillies

1 bunch fresh coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 lemon grass stalk

5 cm peeled ginger

juice of 1 lime

2 tbs fish sauce

Method

Chop the shallot, crush the garlic and ginger and put in food processor which chunks of lemon grass and chopped chilli.

Put the washed, chopped bunch of coriander into the processor and blitz until smooth paste.

Add lime juice and fish sauce and put in tupperware pot to use within next 2 weeks.

 

 

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Marguerite Patten – my tribute


Marguerite Patten

Today, June 11th 2015 is a great tribute day to Marguerite Patten. And here is mine.

In 1960 at school I was ‘too clever’ to take part in cooking lessons but I was given Cookery in Colour by Marguerite Patten.

In 2010 I went to her house in Brighton and she signed the battered copy and wrote ‘To Jenny with love – Glad you found this helpful’.

Indeed it was the start of something brilliant – over 40 years for me working with food.

cookery in colourcookery in colour

More to come but now I have to go to work!

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Pancakes


Teaching pancakes was a lesson firmly on my school calendar – the date changed along with the Easter holidays but we knew it was coming when Jiff lemons appeared in the shops.

As a child on Shrove Tuesday, my mother would stand by the gas stove and make pancakes just for me. She only stopped when I had enough and this could mean cooking and tossing up to ten crisp pancakes which were folded, sprinkled with fine caster sugar and squeezed with half a fresh lemon.  No Jiff lemon for us – she never believed in processed food!  By the time I’d finished eating one, the next was tossed and frying in the pan.  I had my own cooking servant, and a very good tosser.

My mother promised  we’d go to the Olney Pancake race outside Northampton. I’d  read about the Olney ladies dressed up in their aprons and hats who run through the streets tossing pancakes in their frying pans, but we never went.

So, like a juggler with a three ball juggling trick, I’m going to share this impressive skill with my class. Tossing pancakes is a risky business and the class gets noisy with excitement.

I tell them how pancakes are made on Shrove Tuesday so that the last of the fatty and rich foods could be used up before Lent, when people  restrict some of the foods that they eat. And eggs and milk were once considered rich foods for many people.

 Now my class is ready for our pancake making session.  We’ve made the batter from eggs, milk and flour. My old school frying pans are non stick after years of wear, so the pancakes should slide out when cooked.

‘Melt a knob of lard until the fat has a smoky blue haze, and pour in a thin layer of batter.’

Why are the boys laughing again – oh, its knobs. But what else do you call it?

‘Class – you’ll find your first pancake never works. It sticks to the pan and cooks into a gluey glob. So scrape it in the bin and start again.’

I hope even the hungriest boy is not tempted to eat it, as this uncooked dough is not easy to digest. Somehow the frying pans remember their task. The lard melts and smokes, the batter sizzles, and the thin pancake crispens, bubbling with little craters , ready for turning.

I challenge the group.

‘You need to toss your pancakes into the air and they must land in the middle of the pan cooked side on top.

So who is a good tosser?  If you don’t think you can do it, turn with a palate knife.’

The boys give each other a knowing glance.

What have I done now?  Is this challenge too great?

I learn later that tosser is a vulgar word, but what else do you call someone who tosses a pancake? Miss has been doing more rude cooking again.

Boys really love this lesson. Tossing a pancake appeals to their competitiveness and there’s a round of applause if their pancake lands in the pan after it has somersaulted through the air.  Some do a double flip  and take a bow, but I do wonder if the pancakes that drop on the floor are a deliberate tactic to enhance the game and increase the laughter. The girls are more reticent and safely flip their pancakes with a palette knife.

We keep our pancakes in a hot oven until we’re all ready to sit round the tables for eating. Quickly. No time to take our aprons off or throw on the seersucker table cloth or get out the doyleys. Our pancakes must be eaten now.

I  serve them like my mother did and with a sprinkle of sugar a squeeze of  lemon and then roll them up. Only we can’t afford fresh lemons. Our lemon juice comes from the bright yellow, plastic Jiffy lemons which corner shops  display in large wire baskets as Pancake day approaches.  Jif lemons are better than the real thing with no pips or bother.

The TV jingles out its advert.  ‘Don’t forget the  pancakes on Jif Lemon day’ .

I wonder if we will lose the plot on what food is real or not.

‘Eat the pancakes with your hands.’

The boys push in mouthfuls and charge out to their next class.

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Making marmalade 1973


On a freezing January day the greengrocer delivers a large box of Spanish Seville oranges for my O level Marmalade lesson.

We’ve stripped labels from empty jam jars and made a collection of the black haired gollies from pots of Robertson’s Golden Shred. Wonder if anyone will raise objections to these in future?

This is the first outing for the giant aluminium preserving pans stacked on the top shelf of the larder and I’ve dusted them and removed dead spiders and flies.

‘We’ll work in groups and share out the marmalade when it is made.’

Clever, stroppy, foldy arms Carol looms towards me.

‘I ain’t sharing me cooking with no-one. How will I get a mark if we share! I ain’t sharing.’

Carol has been ‘placed’ in my O level group with Vicky as no other teacher wants them. Cooking lessons are easy so why should I make a fuss?

The class despairs at their constant outbursts. They’d  love the pair to toddle off to smoke and drink Maxwell House coffee in the station cafe.

‘OK Carol – you and Vicky make marmalade on your own. Now all of you, slice the orange peel really thinly like this.’

I demonstrate how to cut tiny slivers of peel,  leaving the bitter pith behind.

‘Put the pith, pips and orange fruit in these pieces of muslin, tie up with string and simmer with the orange juice and water.’

A bolt of muslin is stacked on the top larder shelf ready for wrapping Christmas puddings and straining curds from whey to make cheese. And today my London teenagers will be tying it in tiny bags to boil in a pan. Oh ancient tasks of yester year.

Carol is on the moan again.

‘I don’t want no pips or peel in mine. We don’t eat them things.’

‘Carol, the pips and pith contain pectin which helps the marmalade to set, otherwise it’s runny and the peel is lovely on buttered toast.’

She doesn’t care. She and Vicky will strut out of the room soon, off to meet the local smokers who lurk outside the school gates.

We settle into the gentle rhythm of slicing the peel which  bursts with zesty fragrance. A warm, pungent calm descends.

This lesson is going well until Janice yells, runs to the rubbish bin and spits out a large lump of orange flesh.

‘Urrggh Miss, this orange is vile. Sour as anything. It’s off. Take ‘em back to the shop.’

‘Class, put down your knives and let me explain.’

The quiet hush has been disrupted again.

‘Seville oranges are bitter and sour. You don’t eat them. You cook them with sugar. The first marmalade was made in a factory in Dundee – they got a delivery of sour oranges that they couldn’t use so they invented a new recipe – Dundee Marmalade. Now let’s get on.’

I’m like the smart arse from Listen with Mother, only with a Midland accent.

Steam blurrs the classroom windows as we simmer the orangey juice then tip in vast quantities of Tate and Lyle sugar. Ah Bisto! The room smells delicious.

‘Please don’t lick your spoons class or taste!’

Marmalade may smell nice but it’s reaching tongue scorching temperatures.

I rotate from pan to pan sticking the jam thermometer into the bubbling mixtures. Sylvia, my classroom helper,  follows with a cold plate for the wrinkle test. A spoonful of marmalade is placed on the plate and if it wrinkles, it’s setting.

We’re ready. Hot jam jars come out of the oven and are filled with scalding, golden liquid. Quick now. Cover and seal it from germs with a circle of greaseproof paper and a crackly cellophane top tied with string.

The room glows orange –  floaty slivers of finely cut peel dancing in the gold jelly of our east London marmalade.

Two pots are different. Carol and Vicky have abandoned their sugary, orangey liquid which will probably never set and never deserve the name marmalade. But they gone down the cafe.

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