Pastry by Richard Bertinet

This month’s prize cookery book was Pastry
by Richard Bertinet, the anglophile Frenchman who trained as a baker in Brittany and set up Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School in Bath in 2005.

We picked the prize winners at our Squidbeak dinner held at Staithes Gallery in May. It is a beautiful book, almost too beautiful to take into the kitchen, but it’s such a good practical piece of work, I’d like to think the winners will soon have the pages butter splattered and floury, confirming it as a well loved cookery book.

Bertinet’s earlier books Dough and Crust are beautifully written and produced and Pastry follows the same pattern and is jammed full of really useful stuff.

Unlike many baking books which breeze through the pastry making techniques, Bertinet takes us carefully through each stage of sweet, salted,choux and puff pastry in the first 63 pages and 50 plus photographs.

His method too is unusual, beating cold butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper before flaking it into the flour, to stop it warming up in your hands. He sensibly advises making double quantity so that you have a batch to freeze and most reassuringly he promises to take the fear out of pastry. And who hasn’t felt the fear – the pastry that sticks to the worktop, the quiche that leaks?  Bertinet teaches you how to deal with all this and more and when you’ve mastered the basics there are the fabulous recipes like the chicken and tarragon tart, Cornish pasties and exquisite little Portugese custard tarts.

We’ll be testing the recipes in the coming weeks, so keep checking this blog.

Malaysian Vegetable Curry

Marlena Spieler is a wonderful cook. Like me she’s a member of the Guild of Food Writers and unlike me has about 70 cookery book titles to her name. What Marlena doesn’t know about food and ingredients isn’t worth knowing.

Her book Feeding Friends
was published in 2000, and it’s been a good friend of mine ever since. It’s full of spicy, zesty, interesting and cheap recipes. One of my favourites is her Malaysian vegetable curry. Beautifully fragrant and gently spiced it holds its own among meat eaters and veggies alike.

Serves 6


3-5 dried shitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts

1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon pureed lemon grass from a jar, or 2-3 teaspoons grated lemon zest)

1 onion, or 4 shallots chopped

2-3 fresh red chillies, chopped

6 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (including stems and roots if you like)

half teaspoon ground turmeric

quarter teaspoon curry powder

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

half aubergine, cut into bite sized chunks

about 125g pumpkin or squash

2 potatoes peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

salt and pepper

350 ml vegetable stock (if using coconut milk: 500ml if using creamed coconut)

250g green or runner beans cut into 2.5cm lengths

400g can chopped tomatoes

250ml unsweetened coconut milk (or 60-90g creamed coconut cut into chunks)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

several handfuls fresh basil, torn or coarsely chopped


Rehydrate the dried shitakes by placing them in a bowl with 250ml of hot water. Leave to soak while you make the curry paste and cook the vegetables.

 To make the curry paste: Put the peanuts, lemon grass (or lemon zest) onions (or shallots) garlic, red chillies, coriander, turmeric, curry powder and a tablespoon or two of the oil in a blender or food processor, or in a mortar and pestle and grind together. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy frying pan, add the curry paste and cook over a low heat for 7-8 minutes or until it is fragrant and the solids have separated from the oil.

Add the aubergine, squash and potatoes, and cook for a few minutes in the paste and oil, then sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste and add the stock. Cook over a high heat for about 10 minutes, then add the runner or green beans and tomatoes, and continue to cook for a few more minutes, stirring to be sure the mixture cooks evenly.

Remove the shitakes from their soaking liquid. Strain the soaking liquid to rid it of grit and save the strained water for the sauce. Cut the rehydrated shitakes into bite-sized piece and add to the cooking vegetables with the strained soaking liquid. Continue to cook the vegetables for a few more minutes or until the beans are cooked through.

Reduce the heat to a summer and stir the coconut milk or creamed coconut into the sauce. Let it cook through with the vegetables for a few minutes and thicken the sauce, then stir in the lemon juice and basil. Serve straight away.

Note: Dried shitakes can be costly when purchased in a supermarket or speciality shop. In Chinatown or a Chinese grocery, however, they are often very reasonable. Since they nearly last forever, stock up when you have a chance. You’ll find yourself using them in all sorts of dishes, ranging from the Far Eastern to East-West and decidedly European, such as an Italian ragu or pasta, their flavour is wonderful.


Rosemary Shrager’s Yorkshire Breakfasts

Rosemary Shrager is a force of nature, a gale force. She swept into Fodder last week, to demonstrate some breakfast dishes from her new book ‘Rosemary Shrager’s  Yorkshire Breakfasts’.

And it was a demo like no other: crazy, funny, chaotic. She couldn’t work the induction hob so Fodder’s director, Heather Parry, hovered behind her turning the plates on and off, up and down on demand and sometimes failing altogether. There was only one frying pan when she needed two; potato cakes had been cut into rounds instead of rectangles. Fodder’s head chef put up with relentless scolding mostly for being French, poor lad. Even a chap from the audience, whom she’d met years ago was dragged up to help make the scrambled eggs. His mistake was once beating her at table tennis.

But her ferocious bark is far worse than her bite. She may come over as a posh and bossy lady, but she’s a pussy cat really, utterly charming, entertaining, delightful.

And she seems to genuinely love Yorkshire. She raves about everything: the place, the people, the ingredients, the food. She was thrilled to find Chris Wildman, the Yorkshire Chorizo man, in the audience,  went off at a tangent to praise local ‘Serrano’ ham and loved Fodder’s bacon. She raves about breakfast. too, which of course was the point.

Rosemary Shrager and Heather Parry

She told us why she loved breakfast, gave us tips to make things easier when entertaining. She made kedgereee – her tip: add a spot of curry powder. She made creamy scrambled eggs, poached eggs, quails eggs. She fried up some bacon and made a proper hollandaise sauce. She took questions, signed books, teased the chef some more. I don’t know about her but the rest of us sat down to our meal exhausted and we really did enjoy all the above. Breakfast for supper, you can’t beat it.

Fodder is a charitable food hall and cafe run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to provide a market for local farmers and food producers.

Open every day until 5.30pm, 7pm Thursday.

Fodder, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate HG2 8NZ T: 01423 546111

Apple Frangipane Tart

My neighbour Angel gave me a bag of rosy red apples from her garden other day. Their flesh is pink, as if the deep red skin had leached into the flesh. I think they’re Discovery.

A really useful book when you have a glut of apples is The Apple Source Book. It’s where I found this lovely tart recipe by my colleague in the Guild of Food Writers, Lindsey Bareham. She grew up in Kent surrounded by orchards, so she knows her apples.

The tart turned out just as she describes: “thinly sliced apple ‘halves’ poking through golden frangipane”.  We ate it for Sunday lunch after our mains of roast lamb and Ben Cox’s prize winning Yorkshire pudding recipe…Result.

Apple Frangipane Tart

Serves 6-8

200g SR flour, plus extra for dusting
200g soft butter plus extra for greasing
100g of caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
2 large eggs
100g ground almonds
1 tbsp finely chopped lemon zest
4 Discovery, Worcester Pearmain or other soft eating apples
1 tbsp smooth apricot jam

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes plus 15 minutes resting


Sift the flour into a bowl and dice 100g of the butter directly into it.

Add a pinch of salt and, using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles heavy breadcrumbs.

Using a knife, stir in 1-3 tablespoons of water a little at a time, until the dough seems to want to cling together. Knead lightly to make a ball dusting with extra flour if it seems too wet. Chill for 30 minutes before rolling.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5.

Generously butter a 24cm flan tin with removable base and dust with flour, shaking away the excess. This make it reliably non-stick. Roll the pastry to fit and trim the edge. Cover loosely with foil and half fill with dried beans to stop the pastry rising. Bake for 10 minutes, carefully remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile beat together 100g each of butter and sugar, preferably in an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time. Fold in the almonds and lemon zest, then carefully tip the mixture into the hot pastry case.

Halve and peel the apples, then carefully cut out the cores. Place flat side down and slice thinly across the width.  ‘Plant’ the apple ‘halves’, spreading them out slightly, rounded side uppermost, towards the edge of the pastry case with the last one in the middle.

Melt a knob of butter a paint the exposed apple, then dredge with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the frangipane is puffy, golden and springy to the touch and the apples just cooked through. Paint the apple with the apricot jam and leave in the warm, switched-off oven with the door ajar for 15 minutes. Remove the flan tin collar and serve warm or cold.

Lindsey Bareham has written over a dozen cookery books  including Roast Chicken and Other Stories with Simon Hopkinson and writes the weekday Dinner Tonight column in The Times T2. Her book, The Fish Store, is her story with recipes of the family home in Mousehole, Cornwall. Her latest book, The Big Red Book of Tomatoes, published by Grub Street is available here.

Ten Minutes to Table

How delicious does this look? It’s from Xanthe Clay’s book  “10 Minutes to Table”.

Ten minutes is going some so if you want to see how it’s done,  book your tickets and watch her in action in a  masterclass to be held on 17th March at 6.30pm at Fodder.

If you haven’t been yet, Fodder is the brilliant food hall (see Mandy’s blog) run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and housed in a beautiful purpose built centre at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

Xanthe will be demonstrating fast, easy recipes that make the most of Yorkshire produce. “I’ll be cooking up quick, tasty seasonal and local recipes prepared in a flash.  Real food, real fast, you can have it all.

To book your space at Xanthe’s Master Class at Fodder visit or ring Rosamund on 01423 546 111.
Tickets are £25 and include a two course meal.

For Xanthe’s recipe for Tomato, Soft Cheese and Sesame Tart go to our recipe pages.

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