Kitchen Capers

Lots of activity here in the kitchens.

Last Saturday Stephanie’s pasta making class was a hive of activity. All manner of pastas were made, from savoury with accompanying sauces, my personal favourite of gnocchi in a blue cheese sauce, and for dessert delicious little choc-orange and walnut crescents, deep fried no less, and then dusted with a little icing sugar, served with Chantilly cream. Decadent and delicious!

And that’s not to mention the lasagnes, cannelloni bakes and pesto pasta. There were ravioli too, filled with a tasty ricotta and chorizo mixture.

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I don’t know about anyone else who came along for the class, but I didn’t need anything else to eat until late in the afternoon next day.

It came to my attention yesterday that some of the staple preserves of my pantry were worse than low, non-existent. Simply can’t manage without the homemade sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce.

You know how it goes, once you start….. so now there’s a mixed berry cordial on the making, seville orange cordial at the steeping stage and I’m trialling a recipe for gooseberry jelly. I think it will be great for glazing little tarts, or simply served on scones or toast.

I found the recipe for the jelly in an old, old cookbook that some-one so kindly sent me.

With the luxury of Seville oranges, I decided to make some marmalade. I sneaked just a little (well, half a cup) of Robert’s best whisky to give a little extra something and indeed it tastes very good. However, I couldn’t be bothered taking out the pips from the the oranges and tying them in a muslin bag as should be done of course. Now there are a significant number of pips in each jar. Oh dear.

Maybe I can just refer to that as its “mark of authenticity”. That’s what my Nan used to say about her greengage jam.

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It occurred to me also that I’ve been cooking almost exclusively in or on Carmichael, the wood fired slow combustion stove in the cooking school, or else Herman, the outdoor bread oven that Robert built.

There is simply nothing like this way of cooking. For baking in these stoves I bought a new pot too, my new and absolute favourite kitchen piece. It’s a cast iron pot – 3.5 litres or maybe 4. It came with leather gloves to protect from the heat, handles (I took those off) a lid remover and a carry bag.

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I have to say it is exceptional. I have now cooked two pieces of pork in it (in Herman’s oven). No need to remove the lid to obtain amazing crackling, the fat renders out perfectly.

The pork is even more delicious cold, that crackling losing none of its crunch.

And so now with the aroma of gooseberries filling the house, I’ll look around for something else to cook.

Certainly is the Valley of Abundance!

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