Crème brulée

So let’s get the history out of the way: No, it wasn’t invented at Cambridge University in the 19th century; it existed at least as far back as the 17th century in France, Catalan, Flanders and elsewhere. Because frankly, the idea of mixing together eggs, milk and cream isn’t something that takes hundreds of years…

Meringues

I have said – boasted, even – elsewhere that the only electrical device I use in a kitchen is a hand-held immersion blender. A cheap one, to boot, a €10 device bought from Lidl, Europe’s favourite discount supermarket chain. This is a lie. I also have a hand-held mixer. For mixing cake mix and for…

Tartiflette

Several people have asked for details on how to make this, so here we go. You need potatoes, lardons, onions, cream, milk, salt and pepper. And grated cheese. And butter. Slice up the onions fairly thinly – about 1-2mm slices. Put them in a pan with hot butter and the lardons and fry them off…

A day cooking with Scarlett

I hope that, when I’m even older and creakier, my daughters will continue their love of cooking. Right now at 6 and 8 they love cooking with Papa; we’ll see if it continues, but it’s a good start. First things first, write out your prep list. This is very important – work out what needs…

Basil oil

This is a very simple sauce, condiment if you will, that I use mostly on Trilogies but which also goes very well with carpaccio of beef, tomatoes on their own or more or less any place where you find a need for something a bit vinaigrette-y. And best of all it’s really simple to make….

Pancakes again

Well, crêpes really I suppose. I think of ‘pancakes’ as being the thick, stodgy affairs my mother cooked on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras) when I was a kid, or those things served in American diners. Which are fine and which I love with maple syrup and butter and bacon, but crêpes are…

Quick hedgerow tart

We (OK, OK, my wife) picked a sack of blackberries when we went for a walk along the old railway line the other day, and she’s been hassling me to do something with them ever since. Like, she said, make a tart. With crème patissiere. And pâte sablé. Well, me and pastry – as they…

Brioche buns

So when I was younger – OK, over 40 years ago – I went to an English Public School. The thing you have to know straight away about English Public Schools is that they’re not Public, they’re Private. Not just anyone can go there, OH no. You have to pass an exam – commonly called…

Non-Proustian madeleines

I have made thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of these madeleines. I can make them in my sleep. I may even have made them in my sleep, in fact. I can make them in an hour, enough for a giant birthday party with enough left over for breakfast. In fact, I’ve…

Chapter 27: Week 25: A little cheffy common sense

French bureaucracy is complicated for a number of reasons, not least the fact that it’s charged with keeping French bureaucracy going. In the UK, 11% of the workforce works for the government in one capacity or another – policemen, nurses, bureaucrats, whatever. In France, the percentage is 24%. Twenty-four percent! A quarter of the workforce…

Obsessive chefs

I have worked for mad chefs and for obsessive chefs. The two are not necessarily the same. One mad chef told everyone in the kitchen different stories about his life: to me, his daughter was finishing her studies to become a doctor; to the sous chef she’d just been airlifted by helicopter to a specialist…