“Cock your hat–Angles are attitudes.” Everyone should own a few. Which is why I’d like to introduce you to one of London’s best young milliners, Gabrielle Djanogly. As well as working for top designer, Stephen Jones, she also has her own line. She creates hats, veils, and fascinators to suit all moods and seasons. Must you attend the wedding of someone you loathe? Or someone you love? Maybe you are soon to be a bride and need a veil? Going to the derby? In need of a fabulous piece to borrow for an editorial photo shoot? Or perhaps you just want to be the chicest woman walking down the street? Whatever your millinery needs, Miss Djanogly is your woman. Take a look at her collections. Buy a piece you see. Or place a custom order. You won’t regret it.
On Sunday, and quite by accident, I made the fluffiest pancakes ever. I think the reason for this serendipity was because a) I was out of regular flour so I had to use self-rising and b) I added slightly whiffy cream to the recipe. When some women feel experimental they drastically change their appearance, career, hometown or even add just one of 50 Shades of Grey to their bedroom. When I feel experimental I add spoiled dairy to my pancake batter. I’m crazy. I know. Well here I am to prosthelytize because the addition of that slightly whiffy cream was one of the best decisions I ever made in the kitchen. The result was amazing(even better than my buttermilk pancakes). Especially with my orange blackberry syrup. If you fancy yourself a connoisseur of tasty, I recommend you make both.
for the pancakes:
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cream that’s gone slightly off
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups self-raising flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
for the syrup:
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fresh blackberries (or defrosted frozen ones and their juice)
the zest of 1/3 of an orange as well as the juice squeezed from that 1/3
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
for the pancakes:
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Now, in a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ones into it. Whisk to combine but don’t over whisk. Let the mixture sit a spell. At least half an hour. I left mine overnight but that’s because I tend to prepare things well in advance knowing that when my toddler awakes she wants breakfast NOW. Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Let it get really hot but not so it’s smoking. Pour some batter into the skillet. Wait until it starts to bubble then flip. Continue cooking another minute then remove. Transfer the pancake to a serving platter and butter. Repeat until the batter is gone.
for the syrup:
Heat a small saucepan over low heat. Add the butter, berries, zest, juice, sugar, and vanilla. Simmer but do not boil. The sauce will thicken. When desired viscosity has been achieved, remove the syrup from the stove. Pour it into a warmed ceramic jug. Now get ready for some pancakes and a nap!
Today is a good day. Not just because I purchased tickets to see my favorite Italian Grandpa perform in London later this fall, but because there is leftover coconut cake from this weekend.
Saturday was an old friend’s birthday. He and his joined us and ours for aperol spritzes and a Mexican feast I spent two days preparing. To top it all off, I made Mr. Peacock‘s famous coconut layer cake. The recipe is on Better Homes and Gardens if you want to check it out. There is even a helpful video of him walking you through each step. I recommend it. The only modification I made was using the fresh coconut milk in lieu of water for the syrup that goes in the icing. Also, yesterday, I served the cake with sliced mango. ’Twas a winning combination.
I know it’s technically summer but the seasons are changing. I mean sure our days are hot and sunny but there’s a crispness to the night air and a cool breeze that wasn’t a week ago. This means only one thing. Fall is falling.
Which is why I wanted something comforting for supper. Like this stew. It’s rich and fruity but with a deep aromatic savoriness that comes from the addition of vermouth, star anise, and mustard. I promise the ingredients emulsify beautifully.
The only criticism I have of this recipe is that no matter how much I make, there are never any leftovers. Really, it’s that good.
1.2 lbs of pork shoulder steaks
2 onions, sliced
2 fennel bulbs thickly sliced (Save the fronds to chop and put atop the stew before eating)
2 large green cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 smashed garlic cloves
2 stars of anise
1 cup of Noilly Prat
1 cup of chicken stock
2 heaping tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
First, season the meat. Brown it in a large ovenproof casserole and set aside.
Add a drop more oil to the pork grease. Then the star anise, the vegetables, and the apple slices. Cook until soft.
Dice the pork and add it to the pot. Stir for a minute just to make sure the meat is browned, not fully cooked but browned, then add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer.
Cover the casserole and put it in the oven at 330F/150C/Gas2 for 3 hours. After the first hour and a half, remove the casserole to give it a good stir. Be sure to scrape the brown savory grease that coats the sides of your dish.
Continue cooking for another hour. Then remove the lid for the final 30 minutes to thicken and reduce. When you are ready to serve, be sure to remove the star anise and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds. Delicious on its own with a thick slice of your favorite bread, boiled potatoes, or rice.
Oscar is my neighbor. He is twelve and despite the ten and a half year age gap, Helena adores him. Frankly, so do I. More Dickon Sowerby from The Secret Garden than Glen Bishop from Mad Men, he has a sweetness about him (a quality I think he inherited from his mother) and an interest in me, the lonely foreign outsider, that’s really endearing.
When Helena and I are out back picking berries he comes to the balcony to chat. Today, like last weekend, he came down with thick gloves and a pair of secateurs to help. For an hour and a half he and I collected blackberries while Helena sat on a gently sloping hill eating them and trying to fish out her Thomas the Tank Engine as well as her wooden clown toy she had stuffed down a fox hole.
While in the communal garden Oscar refilled his bird feeders and introduced us to his friend, Mr. Greedy, a chirpy robin red breast he’s been feeding for years. We talked flowers and fauna and woodland creatures and pest control–a trade he’s learning from his dad. But they never kill the animals he wanted me to know. They only trap them then release them into the wild. Well, maybe except for rats.
After some time Helena was much too stained and sticky and grumpy to remain outdoors. So we took her and her wooden toy inside. Thomas, it seems, has gone missing.
As a thank you for all his fruit picking help, I told Oscar and his mother that Helena and I would bring him a crumble of his own. But first, I’d have to cook Kleine Maus some lunch. So here is what we had–chicken legs cooked in bacon fat and Noilly Prat. Below is the recipe. And below that is the recipe for the apple-berry crumbles I baked. I hope you enjoy them both.
Bacon Fat and Noilly Prat Chicken Legs:
Knowing that I had chicken legs for lunch, I purposefully left this morning’s bacon grease in a pan. I reheated it over a medium-high flame then added the chicken pieces that I had rubbed down with Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. I sautéed them and constantly shook them around, so as to avoid sticking, for about 10 minutes. Then I added a quarter cup of Noilly Prat and allowed everything to sizzle. I waited until the liquid evaporated and the chicken skin was crispy again. The result was sweet, salty and aromatic. It was also stupidly delicious and probably too good for a toddler. But what can I say? I love her. I put truffle oil on her scrambled eggs and cook her nice things.
Apple-Berry Crumble Ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5
For the fruit mixture:
blackberries (I used about 6 cups worth)
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (not too thin! otherwise, they dissolve)
the zest of 1 lemon + half a teaspoon of its juice
1 3/4 cup sugar (a mix of Demerara and caster)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
Combine all ingredients except for the berries. Those you gently stir in once everything else is mixed. Take care not to bash them otherwise you’ll have soup.
For the crumble topping:
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar (I use a combination of soft brown and Demerara)
1/2 cup dried coconut
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons of cold cubed butter
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and use only your fingertips to combine it until it looks like fine meal. Sprinkle liberally atop your crumble.
Now bake for about 50 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden brown and the fruit is viscous and bubbling. Serve with Greek yogurt, whipped cream, or a nice vanilla bean ice cream.
We all know the idiom “When life gives you lemons. . .” That said, this summer has given us an abundance of blackberries. Which is why I’m making cobbler. Well that and because my friend, Miss Danielle Bell of de Porres, told me I should. When I told her of the surfeit we had and asked whether I should make preserves or pies, she answered with a resounding “COBBLER!” As her sentiment was strongly supported and echoed on my Facebook wall, I thought I better listen. Below is the recipe I used this evening based on her instructions. Let me tell you she is a lady whose word is to be heeded.
1/2 recipe of Only the Best Brisée Ever
4 cups of blackberries
the zest of 2 small lemons and part of your knuckles if you’re not careful like me (Here’s my public service announcement: Do not drink and zest.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 cup Demerara sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
freshly grated nutmeg (I only went the length of the grater 4 times. Just enough for a little exotic dust.)
Preheat your oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8.
In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients together except for the berries. Those you will gently stir in and coat once everything else has combined. Otherwise, you’ll beat your berries to a pulp. You don’t want that.
Set the bowl aside.
Divide your dough into three sections. Two of equal size and small one for rolling cut outs you’ll put on top.
Roll the first piece so it’s large enough to line the bottom of your dish.
Spoon a layer of fruit on top of that.
Now do another layer of dough followed by another layer of fruit. After that, place your cut outs on top and brush with the egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 375F/190C/Gas 5. Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt.