tartare sauce-inspired fish cakes

tartare sauce inspired fish cakes
I am on a mission to empty my freezer before Christmas and unfortunately it means I am discovering frozen foods that one I didn't know I had (or frankly didn't remember - that case of out of sight, now out of mind) or unidentified things in Tupperware that I can't remember freezing and once defrosted have no ideal why I had kept them in the first place, apart from some ingrained sense of thrift. I suspect that this latter scenario is something to do with a combination of the current economic climate and being the child of people who themselves were brought up during an era of austerity and rationing.

a truly chilling ice cream - perfect for halloween parties!

toxic swamp ice-cream for
little monsters everywhere!
Sainsbury's had sent me their new spooky ice cream to sample - Toxic Swamp, a limited edition ice cream available for only three weeks from 12 October. It was created by nine year old Christopher George from Hampshire, winner of the I-Scream competition to devise a creepy ice cream for Halloween.

I decided to do a mini-taste test, on the basis that I probably wasn't the ice cream's demographic (being neither a parent nor a child). I knew my marketing background would come in useful one day!

beware! here be ice dragons . . .

William Eggleston: Untitled c. 1971-1973
I have a slight fear of icebergs. Odd, I know, especially since I have never been anywhere near one, there being a dearth of random ice formations in north London. But then having said that, I have a friend who is so afraid of Great White Sharks that he will never go into the sea, not even to paddle, not even in Southend.

So there is something about icebergs that I find absolutely terrifying. Their austere beauty fills me with awe but it also fills me with a sense of fear and horror that is really quite dizzying. Just how I feel when I look at the contents of my small freezer . . .

Babur - an adventure in southern Indian food!

idli with three chutneys
Like fine wines, and occasionally the French rugby team, Londoners don't travel very well. What I mean to say is that whether you are London-born or London by adoption (of which I am talking about myself) we are not very good at moving out of our own little territories. Yes, we may travel to the City or to Westminster or central London for work, or go shopping in the West End. But mostly we like to stick to our own little patches. Frankly, unless we are rioting, and there's a JD Sports, we don't move very far from our home manors.

No seriously, we don't. Especially after the age of about say 35 when frankly the novelty of travelling to new places and partying around London has worn off. Shame on us.

a glorious beetroot and hazelnut cake

beetroot cake with added nasturtiums!
I have an aversion towards beetroot. I wish I didn't. The humble beetroot has some many good qualities, not least in its sumptuous colour and natural sweetness. I blame this firmly on an early childhood memory of one of my father's contributions to the world of low cuisine - the piccalilli and pickled beetroot sandwich. Since then, the smell of beetroot, even the thought of beetroot has made me feel a little faint, not to say even queasy. But I have vowed that I will learn to love this vegetable which I have much maligned and to do this I have to find interesting ways to cook it, that don't involve pickling!

what's in season: october

a parade of pumpkin carriages
There was a yellow pumpkin
Born on a pumpkin-patch,
As clumsy as a 'potamus,
As course as cottage-thatch.

It longed to be a gooseberry
A greengage, or a grape,
It longed to give another scent
And have another shape.

The roses looked askane at it,
The lilies looked away, 
"This thing is neither fruit nor flower!"
Their glances seemed to say.

One shiny night of midsummer,
When even fairies poach,
A good one waved her wand and said,
"O Pumpkin! Be a coach!"