Sunday, 26 February 2012


This is a Sophie Grigson recipe which came to me via my piano teaching chum and companion in piano adventures, Lorraine Liyanage. Lorraine runs a busy and popular piano school in south-east London. Unlike many chutneys which need to be left to mature for several weeks before they are ready to eat, this one can be eaten on the day it's made, which is great if, like me, you are impatient to try slather it on some bread and cheese.

When I was growing up, my father was the chutney-maker. He also made jams, marmalade and preserves, a habit he acquired from his own father, who made the meanest, most fiery Piccalilli in East Anglia, which would be brought out for high tea, along with that ham in a tin with a thick, wobbly slab of jelly, and Heinz Salad Cream.

I like making jams, preserves and marmalade: there is something very soothing about all that gentle stirring, and I love it when I find a jar of something homemade at the back of the cupboard. This Spiced Carrot and Garlic Chutney goes well with cheese and cold cuts; we also have it with curry and tagines. In fact, it tends to grace the table at nearly every meal, taking its place alongside another Demon Cook favourite, Belazu Rose Harissa.

It's easy to make, and the quantities given can be doubled up, or halved.

  • 1.8 kg carrots, grated
  • 110g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 litre cider vinegar
  • 8 dried chillies
  • 2 tbsp coarsely crushed coriander seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 60 g coarse sea salt
  • 3 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 500 ml water
  • 1.5 kg granulated sugar  
  • 1. In a large bowl, mix together the grated carrot, ginger, cider vinegar, chillies, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise and salt.

    2. Cover the bowl with a clean tea-towel and set aside to marinate for 24 hours.

    3. Pour the marinated carrot mixture into a large preserving pan. Add the garlic cloves and the water.  (Cook's tip - you don't need quite as much water as given in the recipe. Don't add the full quantity immediately, and add as necessary.)

    4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. Stir in the sugar, bring back to the boil and boil hard for 45 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and jammy.

    6. Take off the heat and ladle at once into hot sterilized jars with tightly fitting lids. Cover and set aside until serving.   

Saturday, 11 February 2012


An adapted version of this recipe, using pistachios instead of walnuts, appeared some 18 months ago on this blog (see this link). Now I am posting the original, from Claudia Roden's inestimable Mediterranean Cookery, a long out-of-print book on Meditterranean food, which I refer to time and time again. It's one of my most favourite cookbooks.

This walnut cake is also a favourite, and appears regularly on my supper table. It's easy to make, can be made in advance, and can be adapted using other nuts - the pistachio version was rather wonderful with its delicate green colour when cut. The sugar syrup, which is poured over the cake after it has cooked, turns it into a really rich dessert (omit the syrup if you want a "cakey cake"). Serve with cream, creme fraiche, ice cream or Greek yoghurt.

The quantities given make a big cake, to serve 12. Half this quantity is sufficient for 4 generously, plus seconds, or 6.

100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
350g walnuts, blitzed in the food-processor
6 eggs separated
350g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the syrup:
500g sugar
600ml water
1 tsp cinnamon

Oven 180°C. Prepare a 28" loose-bottomed cake tin.

Blitz the walnuts to fine crumb in the food-processor, and then mix with the flour, salt and baking powder. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with 150g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until pale and creamy. Whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, and then add the remaining sugar gradually (as if making meringue). Fold the walnut mixture into the egg whites, and pour the mixture into the cake tin. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the top is brown and crisp.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by simmering the sugar with the water and cinnamon for about 10 minutes. When the cake comes out of the oven, pierce it all over with a piece of spaghetti or a skewer and pour the syrup over it.