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Mexican layered dip

10 Aug

Mexican layered dip

Needing to bring something to our annual street party last weekend, I decided to make Mexican layered dip. While I’ve always adored this dip,  I did wonder how it would be received in London.

There is something slightly 1970s “hostess-with-the-mostest” about it. And despite having Mexican in its name, it seems unlikely to have originated south of the Rio Grande.

That said, when it is made with good quality ingredients, it is very tasty thing indeed – and it went down a storm. Continue reading

Borscht

24 Jun

Borscht

This is Mum’s borscht, which I grew up eating – she got the recipe from a Ukrainian neighbour who lived on our street.

I had a strong childhood aversion to beets. I didn’t like the sweetness of them, and remember hating how beet juice would seep into everything else on your plate.

Maybe that’s why I never minded borscht. For one thing, it was sour. Plus the seeping was a done deed, and everything stained a consistent shade of purply red. Continue reading

Nanaimo bars

26 May

Nanaimo bars

Nanaimo bars are a national institution in Canada. I’d always assumed these delicious bars of nutty, creamy, chocolatey goodness were first in Nanaimo (a town on Vancouver Island) – and research bears this out.

Loved across the country, there was even a knockout round in the first season of MasterChef Canada where competitors had to make desserts inspired by Nanaimo bars. Continue reading

Sourdough starter

4 May

Sourdough starter

Sourdough bread baking is on the rise (pardon the pun). To get in on the action, the first thing you need to do is acquire some sourdough starter.

There are three ways to go about this. The easiest way is to get some from a “culture-d” friend (like me). You can order dried starter culture through the mail, which should arrive with instructions on how to activate it. Or you can make your own. Continue reading

Lemon bread

25 Apr

Lemon bread

What I now recognise to be a mighty close cousin of the British classic lemon drizzle cake, went by the more modest name of lemon bread round ours.

Christmas baking aside, lemon bread was my hands-down favourite out of everything mum baked. I particularly adored the way the lemon syrup crystallised on the crust before seeping down to creating that thin layer of sticky citrusy goodness. Continue reading

Granola

9 Jan

Granola

Granola is mainstream fare these days, but when mum first made in the early 1970s it was pretty exotic. You certainly couldn’t buy it in the grocery store.

I’m not sure where she came across the recipe – perhaps in an issue of Prevention magazine? – but I’m glad she did.

Mum’s granola was my go-to breakfast throughout my childhood. When I went off to university, Mum would send big jars of her granola in my care packages, and there were plenty of times I’d opt for a bowl over whatever the canteen was serving up.

Continue reading

Prawn cocktail

29 Dec

Prawn cocktail

My mum always served shrimp cocktail before we tucked into our Christmas dinner. Now I’m wearing the apron, I’ve dispensed with the whole idea of starters. But it wouldn’t be Christmas without mum’s shrimp cocktail appearing on a menu at some point over the holidays.

Continue reading