All posts filed under: cooking

Essential Cuisine Stock Mix

A couple of years ago, I discovered a little trick that advanced my cooking from good to great: instead of salt, use stock mix in savoury dishes to deepen the flavour and remove the risk of over-salting food. I’ve tried quite a few stocks over the years, but none come close to those made by Essential Cuisine. Their range of gravies, glaces, jus and stocks are flavourful without being overly salty. I’ve tried many over the the years, but these three are my favourites. If you want to boost the flavour of just about any savoury dish, Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock, £14.95, is your secret weapon. It instantly adds depth and interest to a variety of foods and doesn’t need to be reconstituted for use. I like to sprinkle it onto chicken before roasting and I also add a bit to pasta sauce to enrich the flavour. If you’re from the southern US like I am, try it for cooking grits. The flavour is absolutely amazing. If you are vegetarian or enjoy cooking without meat …

Homemade Pumpkin Syrup

  I know it’s a bit passé, but I enjoy the flavour of spiced pumpkin this time of year, especially pumpkin chai and pumpkin lattes.  After trying several shop-bought syrups and finding them artificial, I decided to try to make pumpkin syrup myself.  It took two attempts, and the syrup isn’t very thick, but it’s absolutely delicious in tea and coffee. Easy Pumpkin Syrup: 1 cup chopped fresh pumpkin (you can use tinned pumpkin if you like) 1 cup caster sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces 5 whole cloves 1 teaspoon ground ginger 3 cardamom pods, opened but not crushed 1.5 cups of water Boil the pumpkin and the spices in the water until the pumpkin falls apart – 30-45 minutes. Cool slightly and carefully strain through a clean cloth* so that all of the liquid is collected.  Return the liquid back to the pan with the caster and the brown sugar and boil for about 10 minutes.  Then decant your lovely syrup into a sterile jar.  It’ll keep in …

Bird in the Hand

Yesterday, I noticed the tell-tale sign of a chilly night – condensation on the windscreen of my car and inside the greenhouse.   So I decided not to chance losing the remainder of my tomato crop and harvested the lot.  We now have four jars of gorgeous green tomato pickle – ready to bring a bit of sunshine this winter, when we’ll need it most.  


Yesterday we stripped the crabapple tree bare and made jelly. I’ve put it with the strawberry jam I made on Wednesday. Our plum tree looks like it’s going to produce more plums than ever before, so I have extra jars at the ready. The jam cupboard should be well-stocked for winter this year.


The beginnings of an Indian curry called bindi bajhi which is very similar to the stewed okra and tomatoes we eat back home. Okra is a treat here in the UK. It’s quite expensive, and it’s hard to find it at its best. I still manage to indulge from time to time.

Working Lunch

Work is a bit busy at the moment, so I’m putting in extra hours. This means less time for cooking and I’ve been existing on finger food on the fly. Hummus is a personal favourite. It’s delicious, and its garlic content means fewer interruptions from other people. I’m pretty sure my breath could peel paint today.