Chestnut crepes

Chestnut flour is something we don’t rave about enough. I hadn’t really heard of it until this year, having come across it in a couple of recipes while editing a cookbook, but it is such a scrumptious and delicious flour that I intend to use more often. It isn’t easy to find, nor is it the cheapest flour on the market, but if you do enough research you can find it slightly cheaper than what Wholefoods sell it for. I found mine at Lina Stores in Soho but you can also get it from the brilliant Natoora website.

These chestnut crepes are so wafer thin and taste divine. I went to the photo shoot for the Nina St Tropez cookbook (publishing in June 2014) and Nina made these with her Nintella (like Nutella, but with the luxurious addition of macadamia nuts). We got to eat the crepes after the shot was done and oh my my was it a rollercoaster ride of the tastebuds. I was literally stamping the ground with my feet in excitement because it was the best crepe I had ever eaten. Paired with the chocolate spread, it tasted truly out of this world. They are so delicately thin and light-tasting. The chestnut flour gives the crepes an almost roasted nutty, sweet quality, and even after you eat five or six you don’t feel bloated or fat (and they are gluten free).  Since making these the first time, I’ve had them again and again. They are going to be my go-to weekend breakfast, there is simply no turning back.

Pictured directly below are Nina’s version from the photo shoot.

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Chestnut crepes

150g chestnut flour

60g golden caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

300ml whole milk

10g unsalted butter

In a large bowl, mix together the chestnut flour, sugar and egg. Drizzle in the milk, stirring continuously with a whisk to stop any lumps from forming. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Once melted, add a ladle of batter to the pan, quickly swirling it around to create a very thin crepe. Cook for about 1 minute per side. Eat immediately. Don’t even attempt to keep them warm because they are best straight out of the frying pan and into hungry mouths.

Serve with Nintella (recipe featured in the book, published in 2014!) or Nutella. I also love them with Greek yoghurt, maple syrup and strawberries or sliced bananas.

(Recipe from Nina St Tropez: Recipes from the South of France, Nina Parker, W&N, June 2014)

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Piccalilli

One delightful experience I had when I moved to the UK was discovering piccalilli. I had bought it at Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden, along with an assortment of delectable cheeses. It was love at first taste and thus began a life-long love affair with this very unique, love-it or hate-it preserve. Piccalilli is a traditional English pickle that consists of a mixture of vegetables (generally cauliflower, peppers, onions, courgettes) known for it’s bright-yellow colour and heady spices. It goes especially well with salted beef, but I like it on toast with slices of cheddar. A real pantry staple, it’s worth taking the time to make just because it tastes so much better than the shop-bought versions.

This was my very first successful attempt at a savoury preserve, other than an epic-fail back in 2006 when after waiting weeks for my home-made chutney to ‘mature’ I found myself throwing out jars of mouldy goulash. Luckily, this time it was a roaring success, proven by my utter greed having just about eaten half the jar all on my own in one sitting! I used Romanesco cauliflower and a mixture of crunchy veg along with tomatillos because they were in season. As long as you have a good mix of vegetables (five or six different kinds) you can really use any combination. The trick to good piccalilli is to use very fresh vegetables (from the garden if you’re lucky enough), which will give you a lovely crunchy pickle.

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Piccalilli

Makes 3 x 340g jars

1kg washed, peeled vegetables (I used Romanesco cauliflower; green beans; cucumbers; courgettes; tomatillos; shallots; green peppers)

50g fine salt

30g cornflour

10g ground turmeric

10g English mustard powder

15g yellow mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roughly crushed

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly crushed

600ml cider vinegar

150g granulated sugar

50g honey

Start the night before you want to start cooking the piccalilli and potting it. Chop all the vegetables into small and evenly sized pieces. Put into a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix well and cover the bowl. Leave in a cool place (or in the fridge) for 24 hours. Rinse the vegetables with ice-cold water and drain very well.

In a small bowl, blend the cornflour, turmeric, mustard powder, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander to a smooth paste with a splash of vinegar. Put the remaining vinegar into a preserving pan with the sugar and honey and bring to a boil. Add a little of the hot vinegar over the spice paste, stir together and then return to the pan. Over a low heat, bring the mixture gently to the boil. Boil for 3–4 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavours into the thickening sauce.

Take the pan off the heat and carefully fold in the well-drained vegetables. Pack the pickle into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately with vinegar-proof lids. Leave for 4–6 weeks before opening. Use within one year.

(Recipe from River Cottage Handbook No. 2: Preserves, Pam Corbin, Bloomsbury)

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