Madness, Mangoes and Marvellously Delicious Black Pasta

Can’t think what has possessed the EU to okay the addition of animal parts to animal feed! That’s what caused the salmonella outbreak in chickens and eggs a number of  years ago – feed from Holland contained feathers, combs and other bits … chickens are not carnivores. Insects are part of their diet because of pecking the ground. BSE happened because body parts – brains and other organs – from other animals were fed to cows. Cows are not carnivores, either, although they too digest insects because they graze.

Madness, or what?

On a more cheerful note, I found some excellent black pasta in a new greengrocers – nowhere near enough to visit regularly, but still … It isn’t fresh pasta but beggars and an’ all that. The resident barista encountered a new fish shop and bought some huge prawns. Able to resist everything except temptation, I bought some mangoes – they smell delicious.

In a previous life, we used to visit a tiny family-owned pavement café which served the thinnest, crispest pizzas with a terrific selection of imaginative toppings, and pasta dishes, equally creative. Luca made his own pasta and brought squid ink from Italy to make black pasta and a dish that still makes me drool. As near as I can make, his mother’s recipe is below.

Prawns, Mangoes, Chilli and Black Pasta

approximately 60g dried black pasta per person (fresh is best but …)

300-400g/10-14ozs prawns, shell on, per person (500g/1lb.2ozs per person if you really like prawns!) Shell on makes for juicier prawns.

or 4-6 jumbo prawns without the shell, per person, more if you can eat them.

I prefer to devein prawns; won’t harm you if you can’t be bothered. It’s a visual thing for me.

100g/4ozs butter (I prefer unsalted) – more if you need it, should be plenty to coat the pasta.

4 tablespoons olive oil. Ditto.

Fresh garlic, thinly sliced or grated – as much as you think you want. I think 2-4 (large) cloves should do it.

1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced.

1 red chilli, chopped, more if you like a belter of a kick.

Large handful of chopped coriander or parsley.

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet – I find they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Melt the butter and oil (prevents burning) and add the chilli and garlic. Sauté till tender.

Add the prawns and cook while the pasta is cooking. The prawns should be a gorgeous pink on either side with flecks of chilli and garlic.

Drain the pasta, put in a heated serving bowl or plate, top with the prawns and sliced mango. Grind black pepper over them, some sea salt to taste and scatter the herbs on top.

Easy way to slice the mango: cut in half on the flat side of the stone. Slice lengthways or sideways in the first half, bend the skin back and cut away. Repeat with the other side of the stone. For the sides, peel skin off and slice away from the stone.

If you wish, you can drop some mange tout into the pasta when it is nearly cooked – the crisp and bright green peas add to the texture, taste and colour.

Serve with a green salad with everything in it except iceberg lettuce! Takes a long time to grow, a long time to digest and often the culprit for ‘marshy gases’, rather than cabbage. And I think it is tasteless – crunchy but tasteless.

A glass or two of wine will aid digestion, as will good company. Have a bowl of hot water to rinse your fingers – peeling the prawns is part of the pleasure. No lemon in the water – that is not comme il faut.





Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2021 Yvonne  Oots

Collops, Pancakes, Fish Pie – Lent is here

Well, that’s another year that I forgot about pancake day – Shrove Tuesday. Not popular with the folks and not enough milk and eggs to knock up a batter.

Also forgot about Collop Monday and Ash Wednesday. (Hangs head in shame.) All of which means I feel there is no need to give up wine o’clock for 40 days, excluding Sundays, which would make 46 days.  (Roll on wine o’clock.)

Collop Monday was the last day for eating meat before Lent started, along with luxuries such as eggs and butter.  Any meat in the household would be sliced into collops (Scandinavian word meaning ‘a slice of meat’ – that was a surprise, wasn’t’ it?), salted and preserved until Maundy Thursday, when Lent ends. Collops and eggs were a traditional meal on this Monday.

Beef Collops – serves 4 – 6

1lb/500g steak, thinly sliced

2ozs/40-50g butter (I prefer unsalted)

Small onion, finely chopped or grated

2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated

¼  pint/125ml well-flavoured brown stock

some slugs of red wine – optional

a little flour to thicken – not too much as it can affect the flavour of the sauce

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, fresh parsley and other fresh herbs of choice.

Melt the butter, sweat the onions and garlic (Do not burn the garlic or you’ll have to throw the onion and garlic away and start again – burning makes the garlic bitter.)

Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or so.

Add the beef slices, stock and wine and cook till tender. The time depends on which type of steak you have chosen; fillet will take 15 minutes or less. Season to taste.

Serve with fried, poached or scrambled eggs, triangles of toast and lots of fresh herbs. Carrots and a green vegetable work well with it.

Shrove Tuesday was traditionally a day for fun – after making confession and being absolved, or shriven, by the priest – with football games, truancy, cockfighting, skipping (yes, skipping) and general excess consumption of ale and other alcohol!

Pancakes were introduced as a way of using up eggs and butter before Ash Wednesday kicked off Lent. Pancake races and pancake tossing are still popular games in the UK.


4ozs/100g plain flour, sifted two or three times to aerate

pinch fine sea salt

1 egg

½ pt/250ml milk or half milk, half water.

Generous tablespoon (25+ml) of special ingredient …

Sling the lot in a blender or processor till smooth and bubbly. Or use a whisk and a large bowl to combine the ingredients.

Blend in the secret ingredient – a generous tablespoon of brandy or whisky or sherry or marsala or … this will ensure light, lacy, crisp pancakes.

Make the batter in the morning and leave to rest till needed for the evening meal – or make the day before if you want them for breakfast or lunch. This allows the starch grains to soften.

Use a good pancake skillet or a solid, thick-based frying pan. Heat the pan, melt a little butter till hot. Hold your hand over the pan – when you feel the heat, it is ready to tackle the batter. Pour in a little batter and swirl around the pan to cover. Cook till you see brown through the batter and toss to cook the other side. If you don’t want to toss, use a palate knife to lift and turn. I gave up tossing after wasting umpteen pancakes.

I suggest you have two pans on the go to keep up with demand.

Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze, and sugar. Or anything you like!

These pancakes are also good for savoury dishes. Try them stuffed with wilted spinach and sautéed mushrooms, in a tasty cheese sauce. Lots of nutmeg helps. So does garlic …

Leeks and smoked fish in a white wine sauce are good. As are chickpeas, chorizo, red pepper and a spicy sauce. Leftover chicken and sweetcorn in a well-seasoned white (wine) sauce is good too. In truth, you can make a filling for pancakes from anything that takes your fancy – ratatouille, curry, savoury mince, sausages (skinned and forked down to a mince) with grated carrots, prawns, veal and blue cheese – anything.

Divide filling of your choice between the pancakes, roll up and lay in a buttered/olive oiled ovenproof dish, coat with extra sauce, some grated cheese and bake in the oven. Make lots – there are never enough.

These pancakes are marvellous for crêpes Suzette too. Oro hot cherries and ice cream. Add the ice cream just before you roll the pancakes and serve.

Ash Wednesday signals that Lent has arrived – 40 days of abstinence and fasting. It used to be that only one meal a day was eaten and no meat, eggs or dairy produce. Ash was sprinkled on the heads of penitents, which later changed to the priest marking foreheads with a cross with the ash kept from the burnt palms of the previous year.

Fish pie is the traditional meal for this day. Everyone has a favourite recipe – unless they don’t eat fish!

Fish Pie – serves 4

1lb/500g mixed cubed fish – white fish, smoked fish, salmon or pink trout

6oz/150g shelled prawns – nice and juicy and plump

several chopped cornichons (small pickled cucumbers), depending on size and taste

1-2 tbls/25-50g rinsed and chopped capers

1 tbls green peppercorns, crushed

2 sliced red peppers – either charred and peeled, or use those that come in a jar. Much quicker, especially if you don’t have a gas hob.

Lots of chopped fresh herbs

½ pint/300ml fish stock

¼ pint/150ml milk or cream

dry white or dry rose wine – optional

sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, spoonful paprika (smoked, if you like it)

Some flour or cornflour


1lb floury potatoes, sliced, peeled or not as you see fit.

A thinly sliced onion

Extra milk or cream

Toasted pistachio nuts

Chopped herbs – dill if you like it – to scatter on top to serve

Cook the potato and sliced onion in the extra milk or cream or milk and water till just tender, in a saucepan. Takes too long in the over and sometimes the potato refuses to soften.

Mix the cubed fish with the prawns, cornichons, capers, green peppercorns, red pepper, herbs and seasoning and put in a deepish ovenproof dish.

Mix the fish stock, milk or cream in a pan. Add flour and some butter and cook till thickening.

Pour over the fish.

Cover with the almost-cooked potato slices and onions. Add the cooking cream or milk if there is not enough sauce in the dish. (I like lots of sauce.)

Dot with butter. Grated cheese if you wish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes 200C/400F/Gas 6 – adjust accordingly. Everyone knows the foibles of their ovens in terms of temperature and timing – until the fish is cooked and the potato browned.

Toast some pistachios in a hot dry pan.

Sprinkle the nuts over the potatoes to serve, along with some paprika and herbs for colour.

Good with spinach, broccoli, courgettes, baby sprouts, spring greens, mange tout or beans.

It’s not a traditional plain fish pie but it is tasty!

Enjoy.  And roll on the Easter egg hunt.




Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2020 Yvonne  Oots

Maybe not so mellow,but definitely fruitful.

Okay, so an autumnal chill has settled in – and not just the nip from the the antics of the nutters in government. A parky breeze assailed me this morning – a lazy one that went through me instead of around me – which made me think of comfort food. (To be honest, there is very little in the way of food that I don’t find comforting …)
Toasted soda bread (home-made) or genuine sourdough loaf with marmalade? Cheese scones with damson chutney? Cheese on toast or succulent sausages (see abovementioned recommendations) with grandfather’s relish … Crisp-skinned jacket potatoes with mushroom chutney … Afternoon tea with madeira cake and peach and raspberry marmalade … salivating …
I am rather fond of a simple marmalade made from grapefruit shells and windfall apples. Eat the grapefruit flesh and freeze the shells until you or the windfalls are ready. I love pink grapefruit and use those shells – but you can mix the peel of any citrus fruit – oranges, limes, grapefruit, mandarins, tangerines, whatever takes your fancy.

Autumn Marmalade
2lbs/1 kg fallen cookers/green apples – tart in taste – washed.
4 grapefruit skins ( I add more – love the peel in marmalade.) Or any mix that you have.
Juice of one lemon, reserving the shell
1 tspn/5 ml ground ginger (Depending on what is to hand, I add chopped preserved ginger or grate some fresh ginger into the mix.)
3lbs/1.5 kg granulated sugar
Simmer the grapefruit shells and lemon halves in a pint/half litre of water till tender. It’s easer to slice/chop the peel this way, rather than before softening – and you don’t lose any of the zest. When the skins are softish and cool, slice or chop to your preferred size. I like chunky marmalade, others like the finely sliced version. Return to the pan.
Add the chopped apples, with the skin still on. Check for bruises and ‘visitors’ before you chop! Add to the pan and cook till tender.
Add the ginger and sugar. Cook for 20-30mins.
Bottle in sterilised jars.

Damson Chutney
4lbs/2kg damsons, washed
1.5lbs/3/4kg aples, cored
4 medium onions
1.5 ilbs/3/4 kg seedless raisins
1.5lbs/ 3/4kg demerara sugar
2 tblspns/30 ml sea or kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1oz/25g allspice berries
1oz/25g fresh ginger root, grated
2 tspns/10ml cloves
Blitz the apples, onions and raisins till chopped – not to mush – in the food processor , or put them through a mincer. Or chop them.
Put the damsons, apples, onions, raisins in a pan with the vinegar and sugar, salt, rushed garlic and spices. Tie the spices in muslin if wished.
Simmer till thick. If any damson stones rise to the surface,you can take them out. Otherwise, leave them in, eat it outside and see who can spit the stones farthest. Not to be done in polite company.
Pot and seal.
I like spicy food, so often add some chillies. Fresh or dried, whatever I have in the kitchen.

Grandfather’s Relish
2 ozs/50g butter
½ tspn/2.5 ml dry mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
8ozs/250g grated matured Cheddar
1 tblspn/15 ml whisky – more if you wish, just make sure it blends in properly.
Cream the butter, mustard powder, black pepper.
Beat in the cheese and whisky
Turn into small pots and cover with cling film (saranwrap).
Mature in the fridge for a few days.
Serve with hot toast, tasty sausages, and eat with your feet up in front of a hearty fire.

Mushroom Chutney
3lbs/1.5kg open mushrooms
1lb/500g cooking apples – green and sour – cored and quartered.
1/2 lb/250g onions, chopped
2oz/50g fresh ginger root, diced. You can wrap it in muslin if wished, or throw it in loose.
8oz/250g sultanas
8oz/250g demerara sugar
3/4 pt/450ml white (wine) vinegar
1tblspn/15ml sea salt or kosher salt
½ tsp/2.5ml cayenne powder
1 tsp/5ml mustard powder
Bung all the ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 90 minutes or so.
All the liquid should have evaporated – without burning the mushroom and apples …
If you wrapped the ginger, remove it. I love ginger, so I chuck it into the mix to enjoy.
Seal in jars/pots and seal with vinegar-proof covers.
Makes approx. 4lbs/2kg

Raspberry and Peach Marmalade
1lb/500g raspberries, fresh or frozen – but not those frozen with sugar
3.5 lbs/1.75kgs peaches, skinned and halved, stones cracked an kernels removed
3lbs/1.5kg sugar
Juice of one lemon (use the skin for the autumn marmalade! Or freeze till you need it.)
Put the fruit in a pan and cook very gently till tender – do not burn. Can take half an hour or more. Include the kernals wrapped in a bag – or chuck ‘e in. I eat them in the marmalade.
Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.
Add the lemon juice and cook gently-briskly for 10 minutes or so. Do not burn! Watch and stir …
Drop a dollop on a cold plate to test for setting.
Rest for 7-8 minutes before potting in sterilised jars.
Should be about 6lbs/3kgs

***Do not mix the Imperial and Metric measures. The metric measures are rounded up for ease of use.***

***I don’t calculate the calorific values – such a killjoy practice! Just remember you should stop eating when you think  you could manage a little more …***

I was about to make some autumn marmalade: I have grapefruit shells and lemons. I raided a friend’s garden for windfalls (our is small – no apple trees) BUT I do not have any blessed sugar …
I will strain and freeze the chicken stock instead.

autumn,  marmalade, damsons,  relish,  mushrooms, peaches, raspberries

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Yvonne  Oots

Swoon Like a Sultan. Smoked Oysters Can Make you Do That …

It is legend that the sultan swooned when he tasted the dish imam bayeldi, created in his honour. (Imam bayeldi means ‘the sultan swooned’.) Never mind swoon, I am positively multi-orgasmic when confronted with smoked oysters. Not fresh oysters – altogether too reminiscent of snot, regardless of lashings of Tabasco sauce … the devil take those descriptions of fat, creamy, salty-sweet.
“Oyster, n. A slimy, gobby shellfish which civilization gives men the hardihood to eat without removing its entrails!” – Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) ‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ (1911)
Says it all. But smoked oysters? Luv ‘em.
“I never was much of an oyster eater, nor can I relish them ‘in naturalibus’ as some do, but require a quantity of sauces, lemons, cayenne peppers, bread and butter, and so forth, to render them palatable.” – William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)
He had it right.
Delighted to enjoy them in pâtés, dips, soups, stuffings, with pasta … and to prove it, I offer a selection of ideas I have picked up along the way.
Smoked Oyster Pâté (1)
85g can smoked oysters, drained. (Avoid those in cottonseed oil – affects the flavour in a big way.)
125g cream cheese (a good, full-flavoured one!)
100g unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Chopped chives (or tarragon, or coriander or parsley)
Melted butter
Optional extras: Worcester sauce (homemade would be good), cayenne, chopped cornichons.

Chuck it all in a processor or blender and blitz. Divide between ramekins or fill one dish. Garnish with fresh herbs and melted, clarified butter. Will keep for several days in a fridge. Freezes too – but better to enjoy it NOW!

Smoked Oyster Pâté (2)
4 cans oysters, drained (ditto above re cottonseed oil)
2 spring onions (scallions)
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – or to taste
Melted butter
Chopped parsley, grated lemon rind – the zester utensil gives strands of lemon rind which look attractive.

This is obviously for a larger number of people – or be greedy and eat it all yourself – but the recipe divides quite easily. Just use a small spring onion, a small clove of garlic and half a tablespoon of lemon juice to one can of oysters.
Blitz in a processor and scoop into one or more dishes. Garnish with fresh herbs and the lemon rind strings.
Serve with toasted sourdough bread (preferably stoneground), crudités or interesting savoury biscuits/crackers.

Smoked Oyster Pâté (3)
2 tins smoked oysters, drained. (Ditto re cottonseed oil.)
A fat clove of garlic – black garlic if you have some.
2 hardboiled eggs
2 small eschallotes (mild shallots – not spring onions)
Fresh herbs – parsley, coriander, thyme, tarragon – mixed or any one
125 – 175 ml of your favourite liqueur – I like Frangelico (adore toasted hazelnuts), but Curacao, Amaretto, port, brandy, scotch, will be good.
Melted butter, clarified
Blitz in a processor or blender. Taste – you may want to add freshly ground black pepper, more garlic, or liqueur.
Transfer to large/small ramekin(s) and top with the clarified butter.
Keeps well in the fridge – if you can resist it. Serve with crudités, breads, biscuits.

Pasta with Smoked Oysters
Serves 4
Tagliatelle, spaghetti, angel’s hair pasta – or fat macaroni, so the sauce can sneak inside
2 cans smoked oysters, drained. (Ditto re cottonseed oil but keep the oil if it is olive oil)
Oil from the oysters, or olive oil
2-4 garlic cloves, depending on how much you like it. (we eat LOTS – keeps Dracula away. He has never been to our house.)
500g baby spinach leaves
Small head of fennel – very thinly sliced
Small glass of Marsala or vermouth (well, big, if you must …)
Fresh parsley, chopped
Lemon zest (I like it in ‘strings’ from a zester, so they can be seen in the sauce)
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt to add when served
Fresh black pepper

Cook pasta – reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the cooking water – will give the sauce a gloss and help it to stick to the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, sauté the thinly sliced fennel (can add fennel seeds if wished).
Add the garlic when the fennel is j-u-s-t tender (good to leave a bit of ‘bite’– but do not burn. Burnt garlic is horrid. Throw it away if you do burn it.
Stir in the oysters and marsala or vermouth
Add the baby spinach and cook till wilted.
Add lemon zest
Taste for pepper and lemon juice – I prefer to let others add their own salt. Not keen on salty food but like the zing of sea salt added when I am about to eat.
Mix with the pasta and serve – remembering to add the 1-2 tablespoons cooking water.
Serve with extra herbs and a crisp, varied green salad.
Optional: Parmesan cheese – there are those who say that it should never be served with fish or shellfish. Your choice.

Beef Stuffed with Smoked Oysters
A rib of beef – for 4-6 people.
OR one steak per person – but thick cut, rather than large
2 cans smoked oysters, drained – keep the oil if it is olive oil. Discard cottonseed oil – flavour affects the oysters and the dish in general.
Large handful of chopped fresh parsley – or a mix off fresh herbs
Stick of celery, finely sliced
Small onion, finely chopped
Garlic – lots or to taste …
Freshly ground black pepper

Sauté the celery and onions in olive oil.
Add garlic but do not burn.
Quarter the oysters and add
Add the herbs.
Take a sharp knife and slice between the ribs and the nut of meat, without detaching the meat, to create a pocket.
Stuff the mixed celery, onion, onions, oysters, herbs and garlic into the pocket. Use a skewer or string to close the top.
Roast in a very hot oven for ten minutes, then turn down the temp. and cook till rare, medium rare or medium. Well done would be sacrilege!
If using steaks, make an incision through the middle of each steak, without separating the halves.
Stuff as above.
Use small skewers or string to hold the two halves together.
Sear both sides in a hot pan, lower the temperature and cook till rare, medium rare or medium.
No well-done steaks allowed.
Buttered noodles, broccoli, spinach, mixed green leaf salad go well with this.

P.S. I told a teensy-weensy fib about fresh oysters … I love Oysters Rockefeller. Fresh oysters topped with wilted, chopped spinach, then hollandaise sauce and parmesan cheese and grilled till bubbling. Yum.

#oysters #smokedoysters #pâtés #pasta #beefandsmokedoysters

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Yvonne  Oots

Break the fast – fast and leisurely

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said. -A. A. Milne

The BBC History Magazine advises that the Tudors (1600s)invented breakfast (April 2013 issue) – wouldn’t you know that the Brits were responsible? – and The Breakfast Cereal Information Service – History of Breakfast – states that Neolithic Man in the Middle East (late Stone Age 9,000 B.C. to about 3,000 B.C.) used large stones to grind grains to make a sort of porridge.
Roman Soldiers ate porridge – pulmentus – as a staple. In the middle ages, porridge or oatcakes peasants ate porridge or oatcakes in the morning, along with beer, made from barley and hops, though this is challenged by The Morning Advertiser: ‘During the Middle Ages, breakfast was practically non-existent for the masses …’ Unsurprisingly, religion meddled with the pleasure of such feasts – Catholic church leaders believed eating breakfast too soon was a sin associated with gluttony. Spoilsports.
The full cooked breakfast started in the 1920s. The English Breakfast Society says the dish should consist of back bacon, eggs, British sausage, baked beans, fried tomato, fried mushrooms, black pudding ( a must) and toast. This will knock you back some 750 calories, so breakfasting like a king, lunching like a prince and dining like a pauper will be important!
Bacon was included at a doctor’s decree (love that doctor!). Cereals came later, in the 19th century, and like bacon, it was on doctors’ orders. Apart from promoting general health and well-being, there was also a specific medical agenda. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg created granola and cornflakes as part of a puritan diet to suppress sexual desire and lead America away from sin: breakfast cereal was intended to save us from masturbation. But the real advantage of breakfast cereal is its convenience. Cost also plays a part – bacon and other meat products can be expensive. The ‘full Monty’ is terrific at weekends and when one doesn’t have to go to work – oh, the irony, as cooked breakfasts in general were brought about the advent of the 9-5 working routine!
Favourite things for breakfast? Fruit, Greek yoghourt, croissants, scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding(!) and everything else you can think of! Taken later in the morning, with fun company. Try some cream cheese delights or yeast-free rolls to accompany the fruit and yoghourt and eggs, or smoked salmon.
Cream Cheese Delights
3 eggs, separated
100g/3½ ozs cream cheese
Pinch fine sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder/cream of tartar. (Optional)
Oven 150C 300F

Whip the egg whites and salt till stiff.
Mix the egg yolks and cream cheese till smooth. Add baking powder or cream of tartar (or not).
Fold in the egg whites.
Drop medium-sized spoonsful onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
If wished, sprinkle sesame seed (packed with selenium) or poppyseeds, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, on top before baking. Haven’t tried chopped bacon on top, but it’s a thought …

Yeast-free Rolls

I cup/250ml/8fl.oz flour
1 tsp baking powder (or use Self-raising flour)
½ cup/125ml/4fl.oz milk
2 tbls/30ml/1fl.oz mayonnaise – good quality or homemade mayo
Oven 160C/350F

Stir the milk into the mayonnaise till smooth.
Mix the flour and baking powder (if used) and stir in the milk/mayo mix – gently.
Spoon into a greased muffin pan. I line with individual paper cups to save the bother of greasing the tin!
Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Baked egg and bacon is quick, easy and tasty, too.

1 egg per person
1-2 slices lean streaky bacon
Sliced tomatoes
Fresh parsley
Oven 160C/350F

Line each muffin compartment with the streaky bacon, covering the base too.
Put a slice of tomato – or sundried tomato is tasty too – in each base
Break an egg into each compartment
Top with another tomato slice
Bake for 15-20 minutes till the egg is cooked to your liking. Serve with fresh chopped fresh parsley.
Variations: add grated/sliced/chopped cheese – a good Cheddar, blue cheese, Manchego, Brie, Camembert, goat’s cheese – before putting in the first slice of tomato; add fresh herbs of your choice; add Worcester sauce or Tabasco to taste before adding the egg; add chopped (cooked) mushrooms.
Don’t spoil it with tomato ketchup or brown sauce unless you have made it yourself!

For a grander affair, have plates of smoked salmon, cheeses, cold meats. A savoury bread and butter pudding made with stale croissants is a winner too.

4-6 stale croissants, depending on size, sliced lengthways into 3 or 4 pieces
4 large eggs, beaten
¾ pint/12fl.oz/375ml/1½ cups milk
Greek yoghourt
Black olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, crisp bacon pieces, cheese(s), chopped spring onion/scallion, sliced (cooked) mushrooms – and anything else you fancy

Mix the eggs, milk, yoghourt together. Season with black pepper. Add salt when eating – the olives, bacon and cheeses might prove sufficiently salty
Arrange the slices of croissant to slant, almost upright, with whatever you have chosen (preferably all the tasties!) for the savoury elements scattered between each slice.
Pour over the egg mix, leave to stand for five minutes.
Bake for 25 minutes or so till risen and golden.
Serve hot with plenty of fresh, chopped herbs.

Fresh orange juice – worth squeezing it yourself (delegate!) – fresh coffee, herb tisanes, a bottle of bubbles, a table in the garden … enjoy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day The doctor says so.

April 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine
The Morning Advertiser
Breakfast Cereal Information Service – History of Breakfast
MASHED – The secret history of breakfast


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Yvonne  Oots

Love Apples Conquer All. But What About Mothers-in-Law?

“Take the intestine, stomach, and bladder of the yellow fish, shark and mullet, and wash them well. Mix them with a moderate amount of salt and place them in a jar. Seal tightly and incubate in the sun.” 544 AD
Don’t see myself persuading the family of its delectability … despite the fact that it is the original ketchup – tomato or otherwise.
It is, I am assured, the world’s favourite additive, whether on chips (fries), sausages, burgers, eggs, dastardly dogs (as Crocodile Dundee’s girlfriend said, ‘They taste like sh*t but you can live on them,’) chops (chips, chops, peas and tomatoes, or more usually tomato sauce – boring, but sure to tease the eye and titillate the palate with colour, texture and taste.) It’s a useful standby for adding to other sauces – barbeque, for instance. Can work a treat to transform an unappetising gravy. I have seen it added – sacred blue! – to luscious-looking pizzas. Shocking. Anything goes.
But the transition from the mind-boggling, unfriendly concoction described above, to the sweet, cloying, glow-in-the dark, often slimy-textured condiment that decorates cupboards, tables and food worldwide, was put on a roll by James Mease, scientist and horticulturalist, in 1812. T’was he who divined the addition of love apples – tomatoes to the likes of you and me. Although he based it on tomatoes, brandy and spices, the preservative facet of vinegar only came later. As did the bulking agent, sugar, which adds the addictive element. That’s why some children will only suffer a certain well-known brand, though the proportion of sugar has been reduced in acknowledgement (and from pressure) of health, teeth and weight risks.
Move forward a few centuries, and the fish paste element has gone and that well-known company continues to hog the limelight.
Shouldn’t we introduce our kith and kin to some fine-flavoured, all fresh ingredients, ketchup – or catsup. (This incites visions of cats stuffed in cooking pots … maybe it’s their eyes that cause the luminous sticky quality of some brands available?)
Larousse Gastronomique (the version in my possession) states tomato ketchup is a highly spiced, English condiment, available from grocery shops. Highly spiced doesn’t capture sweet, does it? And it is universally considered an American invention. But it seems ketchup’s origins are anything but American. Kê-tsiap is a Hokkien Chinese word, derived from a fermented fish sauce. It is possible traders brought the sauce from Vietnam to southeastern China. Regardless, Larousse’s recipe is worth visiting.
Cup up eight pounds of tomatoes (unpeeled), six medium onions, two sweet red peppers and two cloves of garlic. (Only two?! Ye gods.) Cover with water and simmer till soft. Strain through a sieve – fine enough to reserve the tomato seeds and skin.
Take one hot red pepper, two bay leaves, one tablespoon each of celery seed and mustard seed, one teaspoon black peppercorns, one cinnamon stick, and one level spoon sea salt, size is up to you, depending on your salt tolerance. (Don’t use table salt – it contains aluminium salts to make it free-flowing.) Tie in muslin or a clean linen handkerchief. Add to the strained tomato juice and reduce quantity by half over a steady heat, stirring often.
Add half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of white sugar, two cups of good wine vinegar, red or white, and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes, to desired consistency. Seal in sterilised bottles or jars. Makes approximately five quarts, or eleven-plus pints.
Personally, I’d sling the spices in at the beginning and cook till reduced, then strain. But that’s me.
Sometimes I make tomato sauce in the same vein as Bloody Marys, with all the bells and whistles and vodka. Bloody Shames, actually, when I don’t add the vodka. Tends to be rather popular.
Another favourite is making the sauce with tomatoes and cooking apples – sharp and juicy – works a treat. As does mixing the tomatoes – beef tomatoes, plum tomatoes, green tomatoes, to add an acid balance which dances on the tongue.
If I think aforementioned offspring will turn up their noses, I play sneaky and bottle it in those well-known manufacturers bottles … the labels can be hell to take off and often survive the oven sterilisation. They love to shake out more than they should when I’m not watching.
I am reminded of the wife who struggled for years to master the tomato soup her husband loved. No matter the recipe, no matter the effort, hours, expensive ingredients, he always reiterated that ‘it doesn’t taste like my mother’s’.
After a day from hell, she abandons the home-cooked route, opens two cans of Heinz tomato soup, serves it as though she has laboured long for his delectation.
His response?
‘Now you’ve got it right! Just like my mother used to make.’
His mother obviously forgot that her daughter-in-law is likely to choose the retirement home.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Yvonne  Oots