Stock and pesto

I’ve had several chicken carcasses in the freezer for ages, so I decided today was the day for making stock. This included the chicken from our first ill-fated attempt at spit-roasting said bird, which meant that it was a particularly meaty stock. Most of the birds had some sort of seasoning on them, from memory, and there was at least one lemon inside, and I don’t have any carrots or celery as recommended by Nigella. So I just added some parsley and thyme and simmered it all together for something more than three hours. It looks like it’s made a pretty good amount of good-smelling stock, so I’m letting it sit in the fridge for a while – I’ll skim it tomorrow and then freeze it…

Today I also made pesto. Initially I thought I might have invented a New Pesto, but on checking the internet no, of course I haven’t. This pesto was inspired by the delivery of a bunch of snow pea shoots in my fruit and veg box. I checked online and the suggestions were stir-fry (not a fave of my darling) or salad. OR, I thought, pesto! Yum! And this time I will freeze some! So garlic and walnuts and parmesan and snow pea shoots. I had some for lunch with avo on toast; delightful.

I hate sponge

Or it hates me, who knows.

On the weekend, I supervised a sponge being made by my niece (3) and mother in law (of episode 7 fame). We used a recipe from Taste, and we weighed the eggs because homegrown eggs are larger than store-bought ones. We had to increase all ingredients by an eighth, which we did, and the result was AWESOME. Fluffy sponge! So I thought, Hey, now I know the secret! I can do this!


This was the result today of using Anneka Manning’s recipe in BakeClass. I am very disappointed. Especially since I have also been challenged to Sponge by my own mother (she of episode 1). So next time I will be making the version from the website, and if that works… well, I won’t feel like this is quite my fault.

ETA: it doesn’t look quite so bad when on top of one another. I filled it with apple butter that I made today, as well as cream (obviously).


Acts of Kitchen episode 7: learning to cook and teaching to cook

AoK_logo_v2In which Robyn discusses baking for her grandmother, cooking with small children and letting teenagers choose menus, and changing food availability.

And then, We Make Sponge.

Email your comments to acts of kitchen at gmail dot com!



This is the recipe that we tried to follow. As you can see, not a whole lot detail!


Above is what the cake looked like when it came out of the oven. Not a complete failure, but still far from perfect… of course, we still ate the whole lot.


Family feasting

I had the opportunity to cook for part of my family this weekend – which doesn’t happen very often – so I decided to experiment. Which is perhaps dangerous, but that’s How I Roll.

9781743368565Dinner #1: Indian Made Easy

Chana Masala – chickpea stew basically. It was ok, although not as large as I had hoped. So it’s a good thing that I also made…

Stuffed potato and pea cakes – mashed potato with spices, wrapped around pulsed peas and paneer and more spices, lightly fried. 110% would make again. So good.

UnknownDinner #2: Saffron Tales

Chicken with walnuts and pomegranate – I’ve looked at this a couple times but been put off by the amount of time required with the walnuts. You need to cook the blitzed walnuts with water for two hours, so that it turns into a porridge-like consistency. But you don’t really need to do anything with it, just stir it occasionally, so if you’re home anyway it’s pretty easy. Then you add chicken (or eggplant) and pomegranate molasses and leave it for another 40 or so minutes and… absolute culinary delight; my sister thought it looked like mole (she’s just back from Mexico). Can’t wait to eat this again. Served with…

Coconut rice (because I couldn’t be bothered with proper Persian rice with saffron etc), and a play on salad shirazi (we removed the red onion and added avocado).

But wait! You’re all saying. What about dessert?! My sister made Nigella’s boiled mandarine cake. Which was good… after, um, a slight mandarine+saucepan malfunction. Probably the less said about that the better, if I want to stay on her good side…

Sweet treats

IMG_1241.JPG1. A friend came home from France with a madeleine pan for me. I had never had the urge to make madeleines before, but now I have a madeleine pan.

From France.

So I’ve made madeleines. I followed Stephanie Alexander’s honey madeleines recipe, and… they’re ok. They’re definitely not as crispy as they should be, although the second batch was a bit better (her mixture is for 24, and my pan is for 12, although it only made 18 I think) – I’d put a bit more butter in the pans I think. So that’s something to experiment with. I’m also not sure whether madeleines come in different flavours, so I guess I’ll do some hunting around to find out.

2. Our fruit n veg box this week came with a large number of bananas, so my mother IMG_1242.JPGreminded me that caramelised bananas are excellent. These are not as she suggested, though, because she was reminiscing about making them with rum or brandy ‘or whatever you’ve got handy’ – and I had nothing like that handy (not using Frangelico, or Pimms). I did use some of the cardamom-pistachio sugar mix I have from Gewurzhaus, which I think added a little to the experience, as well as a whack of butter and some additional brown sugar. Very tasty with ice cream.

Yes, more bread

The awesome Terri has been experimenting with sourdough, and so I have been inspired to experiment with a different recipe for my sourdough. I decided to go with this one, partly to see whether I could go for a really long rise – because that would make it easier to make: if you can have 12-24 hours of rising, then you can make it in the morning and bake it in the evening.

So it’s cold in my house most of the time at the moment, and I’ve been using heat packs when making bread previously. Yesterday, I made the dough, and just put it in a box with some towels so it wasn’t completely cold. About 12 hours later, I put it into a tin – which I could have done at the start but… I didn’t – and then I left it overnight, and baked it this morning. So 24 hours after making the dough. And… it’s ok. In fact it’s quite edible. I think it’s a little doughy, and I wonder what it would have been like if it had only risen for 12 hours – the baker we learnt from had this whole thing about sourdough dough ‘falling off a cliff’ when it over-proofs. So I’ll be doing this recipe again and trying it with just a 12-hour proof.



Acts of Kitchen episode 6: Anglo-Indian

AoK_logo_v2In which Alison discusses Indian-inspired Italian, as well as actual Anglo-Indian food, and husbands who bond perhaps too well with fathers-in-law…  and I have a three-burner day.

You can listen here or subscribe at iTunes.


Tomato rice, biryani, vindaloo, other delicious things…

Email actsofkitchen at gmail dot com with comments or questions!

Two kitchen failures

I’m feeling a little glum.

To be fair, they weren’t complete failures – like, they were edible, eventually – but still. Sad.

First: if you crowd chicken and potato together in a too-small container, the potato doesn’t cook completely. I thought I was doing the right thing putting it close-ish together because I was roasting it all with a couple of lemons, but it turns out that nope. Bit more space is important for potatoes. NOTED. (Ended up nuking the potatoes briefly, which was a bit humiliating.)

The second was a cake failure, which WOUNDED me. It was an apple butter cake. I made the ‘apple butter’, not completely following the recipe I’ll admit – that was an accident but it didn’t turn into a failure, because it was still tasty, a very concentrated apple. Anyway I decided to make the cake in a ring pan, because that makes it easier to cut up for sharing. I tested it, and the skewer came out clean… I turned it onto a rack after a bit, and then a bit after that I noticed that it had SUNK. It was still doughy! So I put it back in the oven for a bit. It seems ok now. At least it hasn’t sunk again.