A black and white bavarois

I worked on the perfect bavarois for months — probably 18 months if the truth be known. There always seemed to be two insurmountable difficulties. The dish was always too rich, and always unattractive. I tried variations on cream content, cut down on eggs, piped different colours into the middle, served it sliced in half, [...]

An apricot pie, served from the pan

Before the apricot season departs, and the ‘cots are ripe and rich in sugar, try them one more way to keep you anxious for the next summer. Try the apricots in something like a tarte Tatin, that wonderful French upside-down version of the apple pie. This is not really an upside-down pie, but it takes [...]

A fruit sponge or cobbler

My mother loved cooking desserts, probably, I guess, because she received so many standing ovations. The earlier courses were just food for fuel, but desserts were a different matter. And the most consistent winner was probably the simplest — stewed fruit, usually apples, or blackcurrants during Christmas, topped by a butter cake. She called it [...]

Pears in caramel, effortlessly

Pears are the sort of raw ingredient that should be handed out as a confidence booster to anybody who claims an inability to cook. Not eggs or bacon, not spuds, not steak. Pears, especially at the peak of their season.
Think about it for a moment. Those who claim a lack of interest, understanding or care [...]

Sheer joy: a quince and pear crumble

If heaven doesn’t include apple crumble, or raspberry crumble, or quince and pear crumble, served, of course with vanilla bean ice cream, then we have been fed a lot of ordinary lines for a long time.
This crumble provides all the textural and flavour variation of a crusty pastry, with none of the effort of preparation, [...]

Quince and pear souffle

The quinces and pomegranates of autumn teach you a salutary lesson: never judge a fruit by its beauty, or lack of it. Quinces are a bit as they sound: round and heavily dimpled, and hard as rocks. Nothing, in short, to write home about. Pomegranates, on the other hand, are Hollywood stars. Alluring, expensive, a [...]

A short cut to an apple pie

We don’t always have the time for pastry, although it is one of the more pleasant tasks for a relaxed kitchen. But when you’re tired, and it’s late, and you still must have a pie for dessert, then there is another way. Just use a well-flavoured bread, sliced and soaked in a liqueur or spirit, [...]

Apples in caramel

I am particularly fond of this version of apple pie, as it came together with much lateral thinking. It is a combination of the cooking technique of two French delicacies: tarte Tatin, the famous upside-down caramel and apple pie, and clafoutis, cherry pie in a pancake batter.

3 eggs
125ml milk
40g flour
60g sugar
zest of [...]

An apple and berry puff pastry tart

I owe a lot to Anne Willan’s excellent work La Varenne Cooking Course. Not that the work provided any instant recipes, but it did more than any other book to teach me the basics of cooking. It is simply written, full of lovely anecdotes, beautifully illustrated, and clearly pronounces the do’s and don’ts of the [...]

A simple apple flan, or kids in the kitchen

How do you teach your children to not only cook, but to enjoy cooking, to use the kitchen creatively? Do you leave it to interaction: all in together ‘helping’ to chop and whisk and smash eggs etc? Or to osmosis: smells, and tastes, and admiring great results? Or do you leave them to it, handing [...]