Scrumptious Goats’ Cheese Tarte

DSC_1002-pNew recipe invented, cooked, sampled and found delicious: a scrumptious goats’ cheese tarte with gremolata, beetroot and caramelized onions.

It’s even vegetarian!

Check it out!


Bread Season

focaccia Fresh bread gives me a terrible heartburn, but since it is so very nice (the fresh bread, I mean), I am right in the middle of a bread making and baking frenzy. I keep both milk and Rennies in stock for the heartburn. I wanted to tell you about the bread, though.

Normally, I use a Panasonic SD-255 bread maker. It makes super bread and dough, and does it all for me. I throw yeast, flour, salt and water in the trough, select the program, set the timer, go to bed and awake to the most wonderful freshly baked bread. It’s quick, clean, simple, and delicious.


I love little more than playing with my new oven, and I have recently discovered Richard Bertinet’s Dough (which is also available in German). He makes a couple of good points about the whole process, and has a lot of really nice recipes.

I made the most wonderful Focaccia, served Tomato Soup in eatable freshly baked bread bowls, made a variety of breads, tried (and failed) making the puff balls (green leaf salad inside a hollow bread ball). Roast tomato, garlic and olive bread, more Focaccia, more puffball experiments, more fresh and crispy bread are all coming up soon. 

So. Richard Bertinet. Highly recommended.

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The Dangerous Etc

temporarydining I have commissioned the building work to my house. At some point in the now distant past, we emptied our kitchen, moved most of it into temporary storage (and the rest into temporary arrangements). We lived through it. With the builders nearing the finishing line with one last full-scale effort for maximum disaster (the re-flooring of the entire ground floor), we are gradually moving back into the kitchen. Step by step:

One box, labelled “herbs and spices.” Another box, labelled “spices and cooking ingredients.” Another one, labelled “spices” and, the scariest of all, one labelled “spices, etc.”

The same goes for cooking gear. One box labelled “knifes,” one with “spoons and ladles”, at least one more with a similar label, and again, the dreaded “spoons, etc.”

I also went through several boxes of provisions, pots and pans, bowls and dishes.

It’s always the same. One box. Oh, and another one. What? Three? OK. Then, the unavoidable discovery of etc. Some boxes contain nothing but etc, leaving my fingers black from unwrapping lots of newspaper, used to protect a wide variety of things, wide than I ever dared to consider my own.

I am surprised we don’t have a special, dedicated pen, designed for writing ‘ETC.’ I have not yet opened the box labelled “stationary, etc.”

It’s nice to be reminded of everything we have. It’s nice to know we have enough. It’s even nicer to know that we still have space remaining, but the nicest thing of all, of course, is to be moving back in.

That’s what I thought. Until I found another half-dozen of boxes. I haven’t dared check their labels yet.

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Progress Report

detention It’s time for another Friday progress report on Le South Wing. Although this week’s progress wasn’t as swift as we wanted it to be, a lot got done since last Friday nevertheless:

The kitchen wall tiles are fixed, grouted, sealed and cleaned. They are also much admired by everyone. Seems like we made the right choice.

All walls and ceilings have their first coat of paint, with the second coming on later today and tomorrow.

The nice, flat and level floor resembled a miniature version of the south England hillside. An attempt to fill the valleys has now been made, using a self-levelling compound. We can only hope that the corrections will be sufficient, and haven’t done more damage. The fix-up attempt has now cost us a four-day delay, one day for the fix, one for the drying out. Meanwhile, the joiner and tiler have both moved on to other jobs…

A few little bits here and there, such as the under-unit lights, have been sorted out.

Next steps include the kitchen floor tiles and the bamboo flooring, the moving in and the grand opening. Oh, and another four dozen little bits here and there. Next Friday’s progress report won’t be the last I am sure, but one of the last ones.

You can see the latest photos right here. All of them, actually. Most recent ones first.


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Progress Report

PommesDauphinoise I promised not to bore you too much with kitchen details any more, but I admit complete and utter failure: Progress this week focussed on the kitchen and, by the time that you read this post, it should be almost complete. The kitchen, that is.

Tiling and heating will be done over the long May-Day weekend, and we will continue our decorating efforts. Come another week or two, and we should definitely see the end of it all.

The new kitchen is much loved already. Check out the recent photos, and I am sure you will agree it’s just great. Here’s why:

  • Almost 6 sqm solid surface worktop.
  • A Neff BW1674N top-of-the-range oven that has grown very close to my heart already – with the preparation of Pommes Dauphinoise, shown in the little picture here.
  • A Neff CM5770N combination microwave oven (supporting combination with circulated heat, top and bottom heat or grill). I only reheated the Pommes Dauphinoise so far, but that was a delight, too.
  • A Siemens LC957BC40 900mm four-gear chimney-extractor with nice halogen lights (which, as you will see on closer inspection, requires some adjustment from by British builder’s standards of kitchen extractor installation to mine…).
  • A Siemens ET675MG11E Ceran cooking field with 6.6kW power rating for quick heat-up, two adjustable zones, and a touch-and-slide control. I made Halibut and Tuna a la Greque in my new Le Creuset toughened non-stick frying pan (served alongside the aforementioned pommes), and it was just great.
  • A Hotpoint G3201LIX two-flame gas cooker for those stir-fry meals.
  • A Siemens SN26M290 dishwasher, which is wonderfully silent and extraordinary flexible.
  • A Brita ‘Titanium’ water tap, supplying hot water, cold water, and Brita-filtered drinking water without the mess with filtering jugs.

Around it all is, of course, the IKEA-supplied kitchen (Faktum, with Ädel Birch fronts and Lansa door handles). I already told you about the beginnings of the journey to an IKEA kitchen; this deserves a separate post, some time soon.

Click here for the latest photos.

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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

barkbark …emergency kitchen food, again. I had enough of it now, but you wait until this Friday’s latest photos…

Braised Lamb shanks, roasted winter vegetables and saffron rice (always lovely, but will be even lovelier soon – did you know my new oven can run as low as 70 Celsius?),

Spaghetti Bolognese (a reliable source of good-tasting food whenever I can’t think of anything else),

A stir-fry from chicken, prawns, Chinese sausage, cabbage, ginger and chillies, with egg noodle soup (the world of stir-fry cooking is only just emerging – did you know we’ll also have a gas cooker in the new kitchen?),

Steak Tartare with beef tomatoes and french fries (yes, and a dedicated feature for this, too: the new kitchen has space planned for attaching the mincer, an affair that required a certain amount of improvisation in the previous arrangements).


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSCF6401 …on my knees and on the TV table, looking forward to having not just a kitchen –any kitchen-, but also having regular chairs and a regular table to sit on and at while having a meal. In this restricted and uncivilised manner, we enjoyed the following over the past week:

Roasted cured smoked loin of pork (known as Kassler in Germany), with mushrooms and buttery rice,

Chinese Take-away food from our local Hong Kong Gardens – I only mention this because I am happy to report this is only our second take-away meal since the loss of our kitchen,

A home-made pizza with spicy toppings from grilled artichokes and churizo,

A lovely quiche made from smoked Scotish salmon, grilled artichokes, roasted peppers, blue cheese and tomatos.

It’ll be another couple of weeks until we can move into our new kitchen, but the number isn’t all too big now, we hope.


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I Saw It Coming All Along

stockholmPalaceGuard I think I can say that I saw it coming all along. I didn’t want to buy my kitchen from Ikea, since I felt there was too little planning advise offered, and too many little fiddly (yet essential) parts to chose from by myself.

We bought our kitchen from Ikea, because they have the furniture that we wanted, including full-height pull-out larder units, for much less than your average kitchen supplier.

We prepared ourselves well, carefully worked out the shopping list, uploaded the kitchen plan and shopping list to Ikea online, and went there in the quiet hours of the evening. A good thing they open until midnight. Many others had the same idea, too, but the queues were still shorter than on a Saturday afternoon, so that’s something. In the kitchen adviser’s department, we were seen after only 15 minutes wait, and this is when I knew: I saw it coming all along.

Advise offered was naught. Questions were answered, economically without wasting time on courtesies, or enunciation. I struggle with Jamaican English, so we were on two different planets, language-wise, anyhow.

A good thing that I saw it coming all along. Had we had any real questions, we’d been lost.

In the end, we got what we asked for, sort-of. Between those parts that will be delivered at a yet-to-be-confirmed date, those that we had to collect in store right away, those that were out of stock and those that we forgot, I am confident that, eventually, we’ll build our own, custom-made, kitchen. If we succeed, it’ll only be ourselves to blame for the success.

Ikea didn’t contribute to it.


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Progress Report

progress-26-mar-2009 The weather has changed from fine and dry sunny skies to a mild but wet blow with showers (and occasional sunny spells), but we won’t care much very soon: the roof windows are in and the tiles are about to follow soon. All the interior walls are down (and you can really see the space now), and some damage found in the old part has been repaired.

We’re in good shape and well on track. Electrical wiring and heating pipes will go in next week, with plastering and the floor screed to follow.

It’s looking great! Almost as good as my new cooking field, which arrived in an unexpectedly timely fashion earlier this week. It’s a Siemens ET675, and it’s beautiful. Two dual-ring zones for small and large pots, fast-cook mode on all four zones, 16 level setting for each zone, and an insane total wattage of 6.6kW. A good thing we were planning to rewire the kitchen anyhow.

Most recent photos are available online right here.

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Mighty Inconvenient

DSCF2265 I can assure you that it is mighty inconvenient to have the fresh water tap outside, the makeshift kitchen in the first floor front bedroom, the sink in the first floor bath, and fridge and freezer in the hall on the ground floor. Oh, and cutlery in the makeshift lounge, downstairs.

I am used to climbing our stairs many times each day, but now I am breaking all records. I must learn the most efficient way of making a cup of coffee.

Talking of which… it’s also mighty inconvenient that nobody seems able to supply my cooker, microwave and hob; apparently, the new range at Neff, Siemens and Bosch is coming up soon, so stock levels of the current range are low. I may need to chose a different oven after all – shame, really. I really liked the idea of Neff’s B1664N0, combined with the H5972 combination microwave oven.

I am not giving up, though. Not yet.

Bamboo flooring is also chosen and on order from Tongling for just-in-time-delivery.

Latest photos are now online and available right here.

[Edit] Many people talk about the recent arrival of Google Map Streetview in the UK. We are right here. The picture must have been taken during last year’s summer, when we had the landscaping work done. The skip shown by Google is not our current skip, and we don’t always have a skip in the front of the house. [/Edit]

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Boosting the Economy

WeeCampSite While the economy isn’t doing so great, at least one business is busier than ever: the home conversion and extension business. People don’t want to sell-up and buy new homes right now. Putting money into the banks is not very attractive neither, but taking money out on credit is cheap, so many people chose to improve their homes.

So do we, although we decided before the interest rates changed so much.

Not that we can turn the economy around single-handily, but if you think about it, we are actually generating a lot of business: the builder and his staff, the suppliers of material as well as those doing the planning and the inspections. I’ve just been to John Lewis‘ kitchen planning and appliance department (and saw a lovely Neff oven and microware unit…), so some kitchen and appliances supplier will get some money. The garden will be a wreck and, at a minimum, the garden centre will see more of us next spring, …. The list goes on.

So, I am feeling double-proud already. All we need now is make swift progress, on both accounts, the economy and the building works. As to the latter, the foundations are cast in concrete and the drainage is being worked on. Concrete floor platform and walls should be coming up, and the whole thing should begin to take shape real soon. Will post a photo next week.

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