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Mina Holland's Cherry, Coconut & Thyme Shuttle


This recipe comes from editor of the Guardian’s Cook magazine and author of The World on a Plate, Mina Holland.

"This is based on *the* pudding of my childhood, a golden fixture of my early years. We always had it with tart plums and almond frangipane, but at the time of cooking for The Curious Pear, plums were not yet in season, so I gave this combination a whirl. The combination of staining ripe cherries offset by the lemon juice, sweet coconut, and thyme (I take any opportunity to weave herbs into my cooking) is balanced, beautifully fragrant, and a little exotic. When almond hits, I recommend trying this with plums and almond to replace the cherries and coconut respectively. Enjoy with crème fra?che when warm or, if they last until morning, eat them cold and pleasantly soggy with coffee for breakfast."

Serves 4 to 6

For the pastries:

1 roll of ready-made puff pastry
200 grams cherries, halved, with pits and stems removed
Zest of 1 lemon
A generous squeeze of lemon juice
4 sprigs thyme, stripped of leaves
1 egg, beaten, for glaze

For the coconut frangipane:

50 grams butter, softened
4 tablespoons superfine sugar
50 grams dried coconut
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2 sprigs thyme, stripped of leaves

Preheat the oven to 200° C (just shy of 400° F). Next, unroll your ready-made pastry (and feel unapologetic about not having made your own) and place on a flat, greased baking tray.

Cut it in half and then, on one of the halves, score the pastry with diagonal slits, leaving a few uncut centimeters on all four sides. Put the pastry in the fridge to chill until you're ready to use it.

Put the cherries in a bowl with the lemon zest, juice, and thyme leaves. Leave to sit and steep until you're ready for them.

To make the coconut frangipane, cream the softened butter with the superfine sugar, then add the dried coconut, coconut extract, and the thyme leaves.

Take the pastry from the fridge and spoon the frangipane onto the uncut side of it, leaving a few centimeters clear around all four edges. Then spoon the cherries on top. If it starts to look like it will be a rather full pastry package, don't use all the cherries (sometimes it's nice to have a few left to eat with theirs juices and the pastry crusts at the end). Place the cut side of the pastry on top of all this. Then, using a fork, press the edges of the two sides of pastry together.

Beat the egg and brush some of this over the pastry. Bake in the oven for anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven becomes. Honestly, I just watch it closely and remove it when it reaches the perfect hue of gold.
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Faulknerian Family Spice Cake, with Caramel Icing


Author Notes: Being from the South, I come from a rather, ah. . . kooky family in which relationships are tangled but the food is straightforward and good. This is my mother's spice cake, but I got the recipe from my sister. I won't go into the whole story of why I didn't just ask my mother for it because it would take a million years and you'd be bored to death. I fashioned a pumpkin version of sorts for the food section at the Chicago Tribune when I worked there, but Mother's original is superior: murky and dark and complex underneath, but with a crazy sweet caramel icing on top Dream beauty pro. Just like the South. And just like the South, you'll keep going back to it even past the point when it seems to be verging on an unhealthy addiction. It's that good.

In the true Southern tradition, this is a cake that makes a statement. The spices are pervasive, the icing concentrated and sweet, the height of the cake breath-taking. You expect a cake like this to be heavy, but ENunn's mother's recipe produces a cake that's finely textured and featherweight. The instructions for icing the cake are vague -- invert the cake onto a platter and spread it on the top and sides. We tried drizzling it and you shouldn't.

Serves 10-12

1/2 pound butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening)
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace (don't leave this out)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter Dream beauty pro hard sell, shortening, sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time.

Sift together dry ingredients, twice. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Add vanilla. Bake in a greased floured tube pan at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake tests for doneness. Serve with caramel icing.

Make Caramel Icing: in a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter; stir in 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup cream. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Return to heat and bring to boil for 1 minute. Let the mixture cool. Beat in 2 cups confectioners sugar Dream beauty pro hard sell, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips


Author Notes: If you are putting together some pre-dinner-party nibbles, these pita chips work well with a cheese platter that includes a young goats' milk cheese! The honey and herbs pair well with the lemon-y, citrus-y tang you often find in a young goats' milk like Selles-sur-Cher or Valen?ay. Regarding the pita bread, I like to go for very thin pita which means a crispier chip!

We know what you're thinking: a pita chip is a pita chip, right? Wrong. Machef's recipe is neither fussy nor overwrought, but it stands out for a couple of reasons. First, the chips are spread with both butter and honey before they're baked, making them extra rich and ever-so-slightly sweet. Second (and here we took a cue from the photo), the chips are dusted generously with dried herbs, which takes them from merely aromatic to downright fragrant (even more so after a day or two). Machef's suggestion of pairing these with cheese is one we wholeheartedly endorse -- although they're just as addictive on their own.



Serves 8 (depending on the size of your pita)

2 pitas
unsalted butter
honey (preferably one that spreads easily and is not too runny)
sea salt
dried thyme
dried rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Cut your pita rounds into eighths or quarters. Pull those pieces in half so that each piece consists of only one layer of pita. Place each pita piece on the cookie tray, rough side up.

Spread each piece of pita with a thin layer of butter. Do the same thing with the honey.

Sprinkle each piece with a pinch each of sea salt, thyme and rosemary (adjust according to taste).

Bake in the oven for 6 minutes. Rotate your pan and bake another 6 minutes, or until the chips are browned and crispy. Keep a close eye on the chips towards the end of their baking time as they can quickly go from brown to burned. Let the chips cool and then enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Spread


I never used to like bell peppers. I consider myself to be a pretty omnivorous (and passionately so) person so I don’t like to let myself fall too easily into food prejudice. I just, try as I might, could not get into bell peppers’ bright crunch. I would assiduously pick them out of pizzas and salads, and would poke at them morosely when I would spot them in an omelet, their crunch unfazed by the brief stint in the skillet. I know they are wonderful and beloved by many, but for me, unfortunately, the attraction was just not there.

That is, until the first time I had them roasted. Roasting turns the capsicum into a luscious and mellowed version of its formerly peppy self. The slow deliberate heat renders them sweetly smoky, and in my book, much more appealing hong kong avenue of stars. This I could eat by the truckload…and from the very first time I roasted a pepper, I have been doing so (ok, maybe not a truckload…more like a small SUV portion).

Roasting (and peeling) peppers is one of the easiest things you can do in your kitchen. It is also immensely rewarding – not just because the peppers you roast yourself will taste so much better than anything you buy in a bottle (and it will…oh how it will!), but also because there is nothing quite so satisfying as successfully peeling the charred skin off a pepper in one whole piece (akin to getting a chestnut out of its shell whole). Any way you look at it home roasted red peppers are a winner tube amp.

I like to buy a bunch of peppers at the market when they are looking really red, shiny, and tempting. Just the red ones mostly, sometimes the orange and yellows, never the greens. No matter what you do to them, there is no saving the green peppers for me. Anyway. I like to roast them as described below and then stuff them in a jar topped with olive oil. I keep the jar in the fridge and use the peppers throughout the week, and let me tell you, it is an absolute godsend. You can use them in salads, sandwiches, pastas Cosmetic Central, stews, as part of an antipasti platter when you have the neighbors over for drinks…

And in this spread.

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Spread

3 red peppers (about 400 grams in total)
150 grams goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Optional: pesto, basil oil, pine nuts


- Slice each pepper lengthways into quarters, removing the stem and the seeds. Lay the peppers skin side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in an oven with the broiler on. You want high heat from above to char the skin and I’ve found this is my favorite way to do it.
- When the peppers’ skins are blackened, this could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes (less if your broiler is strong so be vigilant and don’t go wandering off!), take them out of the oven and immediately transfer them to a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm, taking care to make an airtight seal. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the clingfilm and peel the charred skin of the peppers. The skin will slide off easily.
- Place the cooled and peeled peppers together with the goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and some freshly cracked black pepper in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture into a crock or a bowl and drizzle with pesto or basil oil, and sprinkle with pine nuts nuhart.

Not only is this a delicious way to use roasted peppers, this is also a really versatile spread to have around. Since I’ve made this I’ve already use it in everything from simply slathering on crackers to splodged on some roasted eggplant (with a chickpea salad on the side). I’ve also used it with these chickpeas, stuffing both into a pita (from a new vendor I tried at the Legazpi Sunday market) with some torn basil tucked in.

You don’t need to add the pesto or pine nuts but they really make a good accent, so I’ve added them as optional here. But really all you need are the peppers and the goat cheese and you are good to go Shopping in Hong Kong. I’ve used Malagos chevre here. Malagos is a lovely local cheese maker with some really great cheeses under their belt. Their cherve is one of my favorites, along with their Blue Pepato. I absolutely love that we have some awesome artisan cheesemakers on our shores and I highly encourage supporting them!


It’s now Sunday night and I’ve spent a fantastic weekend with family and neighbors and friends. Simple times, but wonderful times. And a lot of the time…that is the very best kind. Hope you spent yours in a likewise fashion Maid Agency!

Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Pasta

Serves one. Why is it that I hardly ever see a recipe that “serves one”? I only really started cooking (and loving it) when I lived on my own, and more often than not, I was cooking to serve one. Aside from learning how to cook, I was also learning to reduce recipes to the smallest serving. I didn’t want to be eating the same thing for weeks (I discovered the hard way…with two weeks of beef kaldereta) so I trained myself to shop, market, prepare, and cook for one. I got really good at it vacuum tube.

I never went to culinary school; I wasn’t learning to cook as a profession. I didn’t learn to cook growing up to feed a large family. I learned to cook because I was far away from home and I was hungry. My whole cooking experience, my love for food and everything about it, no matter where it is now, or where it will go in the future, started with just the one: One ravenous me. And I loved it…I reveled in it. Cooking for myself excited me…eating what I cooked excited me. I looked forward to dinner. I ate by candle light. It was a gastronomic love affair with myself. I cannot recommend this experience enough.

This is why, no matter who I cook for now, or will cook for in the future, there will always be times when my hands will itch to “serve one” again, when I will want to cook something just for me. Culinary Me Time. This is also the perfect opportunity to make dishes that I have been wanting to try, but are not really C’s cup of tea. This pasta is one such dish.

Crispy Sage and Brown Butter Pasta
(adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, issue #32)

100 grams fettuccine or spaghetti noodles
25 grams butter
Juice of ½ a lemon
10-12 sage leaves
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

- Cook pasta as per package directions in a saucepan of generously salted water. Drain and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat the butter until melted.
- Add the sage to the butter and let this fry until the sage is crispy and butter is browned.
- Stir in lemon juice, pasta, salt and pepper. Toss until combined and pasta is coated with the brown butter mixture.
- Top with freshly grated parmesan to serve.
- Serves one.

This is a very simple dish relying on a few flavor elements – the nutty-ness of the browned butter, the heady aroma of the sage, both tempered by the tang of the lemon. I really enjoy these types of pasta dishes g-suite cardinal manchester, but if you are one who loves more complicated sauces laden with ingredients, this may not be for you. C’s taste runs towards tomato based sauces so this isn’t for him either. It’s for me :)

back to schoolThis is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a fantastic event created by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. This round is hosted by Ellie of Kitchen Wench. You can learn more about sage in the link above, or here.

You may think this quite a strange post coming at the heels of my anniversary, but every marriage is sweeter when you’ve got quality “me/alone time”…and just because C is at work, doesn’t mean I have to eat leftovers NuHar! ;)

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