Thursday, 3 December 2015

Pickled Onions


Sometimes, trying to get a recipe out of somebody is like trying to get blood out of a stone. Especially if that recipe is a secret family recipe. Worse still, is when that somebody starts dicking you about. I am referring here to a conversation that I had with a friend via text, who had given me a jar of his Uncle Michael’s homemade pickled onions ages ago. Which I finally opened the other day, to accompany a plain Cheddar cheese sandwich that I had made for lunch. I was overawed by them. They were pungent and powerful, as you would expect from a pickled onion. They induced the usual sweats too. Anything remotely brackish and sour always sends my shiny, domed head into exultant pourings. I should wear a hankie on my head whenever I eat salt and vinegar crisps really. For they are bestest and most diaphoretic of all the crisps in the world.

Uncle Michael had obviously been up to other tricks though, with his pickling mix. The onions had subtle floral undertones, a slight touch of heat and the faintest waft of something alcofrolic was hidden in there, possibly sherry. As such, I was intrigued, very intrigued, as to what went into that jar.

So I asked my friend and the textual conversation went like this:

‘What’s the name of your Uncle who made those pickled onions you gave me?’

‘Uncle Michael. Why, do you want some more?’

‘Could do! But I am more interested in the recipe!' *smileyface emoji*

‘It’s a family secret, although I do have it.’

(An inordinate amount of time goes by...)

‘Well go on’

(Even more sands of time slip through the hourglass…)

‘Tell meeeeeeeeeeeee!' *exasperatedface emoji*

‘OK…….are you ready?’

‘Yessssss!’

‘Right, well you need vinegar.’

‘Yes.’

‘Onions too. Can’t make it without those.’

‘Of course.’ (This was tapped out rather peevishly by the way)

‘Oh and you need a jar’

‘Right.’ (The irritation was really starting to rise here)

‘And that’s about it. Good luck with replicating Uncle Michael’s onions! Bye!

*smileyface emoji*


At first I wasn’t going to dignify that final text with a response. But after about half an hour, I buckled and decided to reply with ‘Twat.

And I am still no closer to finding out what actually goes into the making of those pickled onions. Maybe I will have to track down this Uncle Michael and have a word in his shell-like ear. Possibly grease his palm. Buy him a beer. That sort of thing. I just hope that he doesn’t turn out to be just as elusive and sarcastic as my erstwhile friend.

These sort of traits do run in the family after all.

Uncle Michael's pickled onions and a Cheddar cheese sandwich

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Demos, Recipes and a Competition with a2 Milk

Show me some skin

'The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other is milk.' 

Wise words I am sure you will agree and words that belong of course to Ogden Nash, a funny named chap from New York, USA. Who once penned some fine lines of witty, humorous poetry. And then, he died.

Alright, I don't profess to know much about Mr Nash at all really. I am vaguely aware of his work but I just wanted to kick off this post with something related to milk and stumbled across the quote. So yes, milk, milk is on the agenda and after a period of ruminating in the wilderness (writing largely about MasterChef: The Professionals) I have got a hamper of joy to put on the table today; in the form of news, recipes and a competition. Hallelujah!

The news is that I shall be doing my first cookery demo at the BBC Good Food Festive Fayre at Hampton Court this weekend, working for, you've guessed it, a2 Milk. There have been numerous occasions where I have stood and wittered on in front of large groups of people before, so I have no qualms going into this exciting venture. But there is always the chance of falling flat on my face (and I have done that before) and therefore it would be nice if some familiar faces, or any sort of faces, could pop along and say hi and say that I am doing 'really, really well!'

I am talking to you Mum by the way.

The recipes, the ones I shall be demoing, are to be a spiced rice pudding with cherry compote and basil (yes, basil) and some savoury custard tarts, filled with shallots, peas and pancetta. Both are pretty nifty recipes in my estimation. The former delivers a delicious twist on a traditional recipe and the latter is the perfect suggestion for the party season. I am done with sweet custard, bring on the umami. These recipes will also be appearing on the a2 Milk recipe page soon enough. I just need to sort out some decent photos to replace the ones I lost on a corrupt memory card. Damn you San Disk and damn you long, dark winter nights.

The competition is two-fold. First up for grabs is a bundle of a2 Milk goodies and a £75 voucher for John Lewis and to enter, all you simply have to do is leave a comment on this post saying what your  favourite recipe is that uses milk as an ingredient.

The second prize is a pair of tickets for the Festive Fayre this weekend (Saturday or Sunday) and will be run via Twitter. To enter, just retweet this post with a link. A little bit like this -

'RT to win a pair of tickets for @BBCGoodFoodShow at Hampton Court, this weekend, courtesy of @a2MilkUK #competition'


The closing date for the bundle and voucher is Friday 11th December at 12:00PM and the draw for the tickets will end this Friday 4th at 5:30PM. All entries will be selected at random.

And there you have it.

Bon chance.

Custard doesn't have to be sweet you know

The making of spiced rice pudding (with a2 milk)

The making of savoury custard tarts (with a2 milk)
A sprig of basil really finishes this dessert off.............no, seriously, it does.
The perfick canape?



Congratulations to Nancy, you have won the £75.00 John Lewis voucher.