The Fragrant Pantry is here!

First they brought us: 

The Scented Kitchen

 Then came:

The Floral Baker

and now comes:

The Fragrant Pantry

(click on the links for more – you won’t regret it!)

Thank you Frances Bissell and Serif Books!


Quince Inspiration

It is that wonderfully fragrant time of year again 🙂

Its always a bittersweet task, rounding up my favourite quince recipes for the quince harvest, but the quinces do make a wonderful conclusion to the orchard year!

My firm favourite first up (click on the links for the recipes):

Candied Quince with Ginger


This is a famous recipe this one is, featuring as it does in The Edible City, a kind of urban kindred spirit to this blog, written by London’s foremost forager, John Rensten, and published this last September by Pan Macmillan.

And what a classy publication this is (and not just because John features my Candied Quince with Ginger!). Beautifully illustrated by Gwen Burns, it features foraged food fit for a feast from a man whose “green vision” I can totally relate to:

Once turned on, your ‘green vision’ will be impossible to turn off: otherwise neglected street trees will suddenly bear fruit, patches of previously irrelevant land will become focal points and the city will reveal a network of free, edible treats, coming and going throughout the year.”


 My other firm favourites during the quince season include:

 Quince and Honey Sorbet

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Quince Chutney

Quince Confectionery


and of course

Quince Liqueur

Happy quince season everyone!




Citrus and spice and all things nice…

Lemon Curd

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Received this week as a gift from one of my faithful blog followers here in Franconia… What a lovely – and delicious – surprise, just like Mum used to make it (takes me right back here: memory’s myth land) and it pairs up really well with Hazelnut Crispbreads.

Thank you so much Karin!

 And the citrus hasn’t stopped there: I am currently working my way through a treasure of a cookbook received as a gift last autumn:

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Preserving, by Emma Macdonald

of The Bay Tree fame, published by Nourish Books 2014

The photography is classy, the recipes (both classic and contemporary) truly inspirational.

 (And just for the record: apart from owning the book, I have no connection whatsoever to either the author or affiliates…)

 A tale of kitchen table talent, here’s where you can read up on the story behind the book:

 And here’s where you can see what I have been testing and tasting this week:

 Orange & Cardamom Marmelade

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Lemon and Lavender Marmelade

(the recipe calls for lavender flowers and lavender essence – I had a couple of bottles of lavender syrup left over from the summer so worked those into the recipe instead…)

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Assessment: top marks awarded by both Hermann the German and Mini-Kraut – one of the most stringent juries out there..

 P.S. the book also contains a recipe for Lemon Curd…

A Beautiful and Positive Gift

09_04_2011 Kirschblüte, Walberla (2)

Orchards of tall trees are a wise way of sharing the land – a beautiful and positive gift to those who follow.”

Sue Clifford, Co-Founder of

in Orchards and Groves: Their History, Ecology, Culture and Archaeology, Ed. Ian D. Rotherham,

… cropped by curious goats with long brown coats…


Elisabeth Luard’s description of a meadow in the Balkans reminded me of these fine fellows on one of my regular cycle routes here in the heart of Europe…

Her description comes from her book Still Life (Bloomsbury, 1998, paperback 2013) – a highly readable travelogue telling the tales of the research beind her monumental work EUROPEAN PEASANT COOKERY, originally published in 1986 and again in paperback by Grub Street in 2007 and covering 25 European countries from the North, South, East and West…

Just another two of the treasures in my Basket of Books 🙂

“Gastroprose” – love it, don’t you?

And it is the perfect word for the elegantly enticing contents in the new Frances Bissell book from Serif Books: The Floral Baker.

My copy arrived this last weekend and has had me enthralled: as well as notes on floral flavours and ingredients (including make-your-own and suppliers where relevant), The Floral Baker includes a very do-able alternative to the gum Arabic method for crystallising flowers, and then goes on to combine lavender, jasmine, saffron, rosewater, wild garlic blossom and marigolds, for example, with caramel, chocolate, cheeses, walnuts and almonds, for instance, in all manner of breads, buns, loaves, muffins, scones, shortcakes and shortbreads, tarts and cakes, as well as pastries and biscuits, sweet and savoury…

… and it even features Melktert, which instantly warmed my southern African heart 🙂

The predecessor to this book – The Scented Kitchen – is also profiled here in My Basket of Books: let yourself be inspired!

The Floral Baker

Blackberry Jelly

21 July 2014
Blackberry Jelly
Celebrating the link between the landscape and food…
… is what the National Trust Complete Country Cookbook (by Laura Mason, National Trust Books 2012) does …
… and the recipe for Blackberry Jelly (page 262) is a fitting summer landscape celebration – simply delicious, and referred to as the “Brombeer-Leckerli” by my German family!
A highlight to celebrate the start of the blackberry season, you will find a transcript of the recipe below:
Blackberry Jellies

Taken from the National Trust Complete Country Cookbook, by Laura Mason, National Trust Books 2012


Prep. Time: approx. 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes

Serves: 4-6


Blackberries                                     750 g

+ additional to decorate

Vanilla pod                                      1

Powdered gelatine                                1 sachet

Granulated sugar                                 115 g


1. Rinse the blackberries and put them in a pan with the vanilla pod. Cover tightly and cook gently for a few minutes, until they have yielded all their juice.

2. Strain the juice through a jelly bag. Discard the pulp and measure out the juice. Make up to 500 ml with water if the quantity is a little short. Don’t forget to retrieve and rinse the vanilla pod to re-use another day.

3. Put the juice in a pan and heat gently until almost boiling. Pour 100 ml of the juice into a cup or small bowl and add the gelatine, stirring to dissolve the powder. Add the sugar to the remaining juice and continue to stir until this, too, has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatine mixture.

4. Pour into a large serving dish or individual glasses, or rinse a jelly mould in cold water and pour in the mixture. Leave in the refrigerator until set and serve the jellies chilled, decorated with a few whole blackberries.

Redcurrant Cake (Ribiselkuchen)

3 July 2014

Taken from Jane Grigson’s FRUIT BOOK, © Jane Grigson 1982 Michael Joseph/Penguin as well as THE BEST OF JANE GRIGSON © Sophie Grigson 1992, Michael Joseph

Prep. Time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes

Makes: 1 x 23 cm (9 inch) cake


Butter                                     160 g

Sugar                                      375 g

Egg yolks                                  4

Ground almonds                             100 g

Flour                                      300 g

Redcurrants, free of stalks                500 g

Egg whites                                 4


1. Cream the butter and on third of the sugar, add the yolks, almonds and flour. Or else mix to a dough in the processor.

2. Roll out into a circle to fit a 23 cm (9 inch) tart tin, preferably one with a removable base.

3. Bake at 190-200 °C for 30 minutes until cook.

4. Meanwhile mix the redcurrants with half of the remaining sugar.

5. Whip the egg whites until stiff, add half of the remaining sugar and whip once more until thick and soft. Finally fold in the rest of the sugar.

6. Take the almond base from the oven and raise the heat to 220 °C. Spread the redcurrants and sugar over the pastry, leaving a narrow rim of cake free.

7. Pile on the meringue, right to the edge of the cake. Fork it up and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the meringue is nicely caught with brown. Be guided entirely by appearance, rather than precise timing. Serve warm or cold.

Basic Basics – Jams, Preserves and Chutneys

18 June 2014

Entirely devoid of glossy pics of pickled nostalgia, this book is always close to the top of my pile as the preserving time of year gets into full swing:

The Basic Basics Jams, Preserves and Chutneys Handbook by veteran food writerMarguerite Patten, published by Grub Street Books © 1995 and 2001 – my copy is the 2010 reprint i.e. this is a classic, hands-on handbook.

Complete with Golden Rules for Success, it takes you through jams, conserves, jellies, butters, cheeses, curds, syrups, juices, coulis, as well as crystallising, pickling, drying, ketchups, chutneys and vinegars.

No frills, just all you need to stop procrastinating and start preserving!

The Scented Kitchen

22 May 2014

The Scented Kitchen, by Frances Bissell and published by Serif Books – one of my discoveries from 2013 and what a delight this book is – just listen to the chapter on Elderflowers: Elderflower Milk Punch, White Peach and Elderflower Jam, Elderflower Custard, Strawberry and Elderflower Jelly… 

…and that’s just (some of) the sweets – here come the savouries: Mackerel in Elderflower Vinegar, Elderflower Cream Cheese Mousse, Elderflower Mayonnaise… the list goes on.

If you are an elderflower fan, this is a book you will love!

(And no, no-one is paying me to say this… I am simply expressing pure elderflower enthusiasm!)