That’s right – vol au vents. We’ve done some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff and landed squarely in the ’70s.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t around for their orange-tinted heyday that I have a soft spot for a bite-size foods. Or it could be that they leave your other hand free for a drink. The actual reason I like canapés? There’s a lot of scope for using cheese, in more ways than you could with one of those cheese boards that only feature as many varieties as cheese knives in that long-abandoned box (four).
It’s the tooth-squeak of a grilled halloumi skewer. The tongue-tingle of a good quality cheddar paired with pineapple. The nutty quality of an aged Comté. The soft ooze of burrata. If it came to it, I could give up steak, or bread, or pasta. Just don’t torture me, alone(y) without torta mascarpone.*
The cheese of the hour is goats cheese. To some people, it tastes “like a farm”. (When and why and where have all these people been licking barnyards?) But truly, it delivers an unbeatable tang that sits so wonderfully alongside sweet fruits and honey. Here, a soft goats cheese nestles with lightly honeyed caramelised onions and jammy fig to make a vol au vent that’s very much for the modern age. Read More
Today, we’re nearly halfway through the Idiot Challenge for Idiot People. Set and voted upon by a group of university friends, the challenge forces us (the idiots) to work out in some way every day for the month of April. It’s less stupid, now, than it otherwise might have been – we’ve negotiated “lighter” exercise, like yoga, in, in an effort to give our bodies a little rest. Two weeks in, and a few people have dropped days, but thanks to a refusal to give in, most of us are going strong, despite aches and the necessity to wake up before the sun to squeeze things in. We’re all exercising more, and better, for it – I guess it’s the way we support each other. This is what I left university with: one degree, and several stubborn, idiot friends.
And then, sticky dancefloors and counting coins in the half-dark. Bubbles up my nose and a too-strong fruit taste. Half-carrying my friend’s dad back to his house after too many “mystery strength” Somerset varieties. These are my memories of most ciders.
It was university, of course, that did that too. May we never drink cider and black again.
Quite understandably, I shy away from cider a little these days, lest I get caught out by something overly sweet and too full of bubbles; still, when given the opportunity to try the new ciders from Aspall, I leapt at it because, well, I have faith in Aspall.
It’s no secret here that I think about breakfast a lot. Usually this means pancakes and porridge and an abundance of hot cross buns, but every now and then you need a proper English breakfast.
The other thing about breakfast, though, is that I like mine to be transportable, or at least able to be eaten at the office – I even took speculoos pancakes to the office to reheat and have with bananas. These parcels tick those boxes. Okay, so there’s no beans (how I like my breakfast) and it’s almost like a quiche. But you can pick it up and eat it on the move, without sacrificing any of that proper breakfast goodness.
English breakfast parcels
Serves 6 (ramekins)
3 rashers bacon, smoked or unsmoked, chopped
50g mushrooms, sliced
6 sheets filo pastry
4 eggs, whisked with 4 tbsp milk & seasoned with pepper
30g cheese, grated
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly fry bacon pieces and mushrooms slices (and tomatoes, if using them) until just cooked, then set aside. Brush each ramekin with a little butter to grease.
2) Cut your pastry sheets in half. Line a ramekin with one half, allowing excess to hang over the sides, then coat with butter using a pastry brush and place the second half on top, perpendicular to the first and allowing no gaps.
3) Add 1/6th of the mushroom and bacon to the ramekin, and top with approximately 5g grated cheese. Pour over the egg mixture until about 5mm from the top of the ramekin. Fold the excess pastry over, scrunch up, and dab with butter.
4) Repeat 5 times, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from ramekins when cool.