Raspberry Roulade

Lesley Holdship - Home Economist, Food Stylist & Recipe Writer

blast from the past

Sun, Jan 15 2012

New Year's resolution....write more blog posts!
Anyway, out at my friend Sally Ann's house for lunch today was a fun affair. Not only did we visit people we love being with but we ate great food and met their crazy Aunt Liz.
We have heard so many incredible and unbelievable stories about her, it was good to finally put a face to the name. Seventy something and from a farming background, she was lively and fascinating. and pretty eccentric too. Sally Ann had told me that Aunt Liz ate woodcock brains on toast and was also under the impression that I was very in to offal and had also brought some of her books to show me. Yeh, thanks for that Sally Ann!

Well the upshot was that one of the books Aunt Liz had brought, was a book that the family cook, Violet Buckingham had written and noted in during her service with the family 70 years ago. It was so very good to see a piece of history like that with newspaper clippings and recipes noted down. It certainly made me come home and want to write everything I do down in a book to pass on through the family. Aunt Liz had also brought with her 2 scrap books with recipes from magazines and some written by her grandmother and mother. But I dont think anything I stick in to a scrap book will be as interesting as how to make an omelette in the 1960's by a 12 year old in a paisley shirt!
It was a truly wondrous recipe account of her life, and I loved leafing through everything!
And I am definitely going to get my pritt stick out and get collecting myself!

recipe writers

Tue, Sep 13 2011
It certainly has been a while..... life has been hectic over these past summer months! The school holiday has flashed past and I have felt I have not spent enough time doing all of the things I had planned to do with Harley. But really I am not grumbling! I must be doing something right to be so busy with work.
I am still writing recipes for Borough Market and copy for their magazine, too, called Market Life. I really like writing for them, amid all of controversy, as the producers really believe in what they are selling which is evident walking through the arches of Borough. I have my regular work for Waitrose which I have been doing for many years now and then I have a few other regular clients like Roddas and Kallo . But over the summer John and myself have been working on a new baking magazine. I have written some of the recipes but the bulk of the work has been photographing all of the recipes within the magazine which has been a brilliant undertaking. Sourcing Christmas props has been fun yet challenging and we have been getting in the Christmas spirit.
Something I find particularly irksome though, are the quality of the recipes. There are other professional writers on board but the quality of their work is really terrible. Recipes that don't work, missed ingredients and quite frankly, recipes that are not nice.
I know that food is often based on the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but some of these recipes leave you cold...... What I really find astonishing is that most of these people present a client with substandard recipes and want to be paid. I cant imagine they have any pride in their work. When the recipe is submitted it comes with a photo. Well it makes you wonder whether people can actually cook. One of the recipes we have photographed has been giving us grief for weeks. We are going to re-shoot it as the photo is frankly not representative of the recipe. We are trying to iron out these issues.
Anyway, when the magazine comes out, the recipes will work. They have been tested and sorted out!
So, please, if you are going to write a recipe and don't want the food stylist to get ratty trying to make it work, then do it properly!

olive oil!

Thu, May 5 2011
Olive oil is a funny thing! We all know that it is good for us, lower in saturated fats and all that. But it seems to have got out of control and a bit centre of attention showing off in dishes where it really should not be! Recipe writers plonking it in a curry say. Well it's not the right flavour so just does not sit right.
With all the chefs using olive oil and the nation being told that extra virgin is much better for us, people - and chefs - are using it for what seems like everything. Even down to frying eggs! But extra virgin has such a strong flavour it truly overpowers things. It holds all the health benefits we are being told about but other oils can show interest in cooking too!
Take mayonnaise for example. Make it with extra virgin and the result will be an over-powering, oddly coloured concoction that wants to be the fore front in the taste stakes leaving behind the crab, lobster or egg you are pairing it with. Try making it with 3/4's ground nut and top up with olive. Do your dressing in the same way. Take a jar, place 2 heaped teaspoons of dijon in it. Add the juice of half a lemon, a good splash of water, sea salt and black pepper and then about 150ml of oil other than extra virgin. Mix blended olive with groundnut or rapeseed, say. Shake well. Oh! What is that I can taste? Is it my tasty lambs lettuce salad?!!
Stir it through pasta at the last moment, dip crusty bread into it, drizzle it over buffalo mozarella, but please give up cooking your curry or beef stew in it!

stock photography

Sun, Apr 3 2011
Last night I spent an interesting and utterly addictive hour looking at stock photography. I really could not believe how awful most of it is!
My photographer husband has recently done some talks to a design company about the benefits of having bespoke pictures for food and after looking at stocks ones I can clearly see why!
It has kind of been a mystery to me -as a recipe writer and food stylist - as to why a magazine, for instance, would use a stock picture that does not quite equate to the recipe as it is not a true representation of the recipe for starters. But really it is not cost effective at all, is it? A photographer and home economist can get through a good 8-10 different shots depending on the styling. Those pictures can then be used for anything for as long as they are needed. No time limit or even stipulation as to where they can be used. From those shots there will be more than 1 picture, too. So a day's shoot could produce dozens of pictures.
The level of photography in a lot of these pictures is flat and contains no flair or creativity. The lighting can be wrong, shadows in many of the wrong places! And the food styling is dire. I wonder if the food stylist has any pride or even skill?
Can these photographers call themselves professional or are they just amateurs hoping to make a bit of cash on the side? It is so easy nowadays to buy a professional camera and with all the money kicking around many people are thinking they can just jump on the band wagon. I am happy to say, though, that out of the dozens of pictures I stared open mouthed at, not one had actually been downloaded!
Maybe designers have sense after all!

children and food

Sun, Feb 13 2011
It makes me feel quite ratty when I hear people saying that good food is wasted on children. I was watching a programme not so long ago and the person cooking - I sadly cannot recall who - gave their opinion that children don't appreciate good ingredients and what they were making should be saved for adult consumption only.
This evening I cooked some fish which was most certainly not my best attempt at supper but I realised at 6oclock that I needed to cook as it is a school night so the food needed to be on the table at 6.30 ish. And oops, nothing in the fridge either! So I roasted some fish from the freezer only to be met with distaste at the fact it was too dry and did not taste of much. These comments came not from my husband but Harley, aged 8! Admittedly, I have never deprived Harley of anything. I have always given him what we eat and tried to teach him good values that should surround food.
It makes me feel proud when he is critical and analytical of his food. I really want Harley to understand and know what he is eating. He hates the smell of Macdonalds, wont eat ketchup and is not bothered that I wont let him have crisps in his lunchbox. I can hear the chatter now of you thinking that it is all down to parental influence and I think you are right. But how do all children learn anything? Through adults who lead by example.
I would most definitely want Harley to prefer Green and Blacks to Cadbury chocolate, say. At least then I know his taste buds are in perfect working order!

Borough Market

Wed, Feb 9 2011

First off, sorry to have been so long away! That really is rather lax.
Things have been steady since the new year began with writing taking the forefront in my work.
Last year, I was really lucky to have been asked by Borough Market in London to write a series of recipes for them. Recipes for their magazine and website too, bringing together the traders with a perfect marriage of ingredients and personalities.
Now, living in Wiltshire presents a whole different load of experiences to living in London. I am comfortable amongst the rolling hills and rarely venture into the big smoke for a variety of reasons. But a visit to the market to meet the traders was compulsory so I got myself together and made the trip. Sadly it left me with withdrawal symptoms when I left it behind!
John came with me along with his camera and we spent the day being guided around the most atmospheric and wondrous food market imaginable. Not only were there people selling street food but there were farmers, small producers and smiling faces too.
The market is situated under old railway arches just next to the London Bridge tube station and encapsulates anyone's love of food into one space. I really would love to be able to shop there every day, and I am sure many do. We started off by eating some amazing seafood at Shellseekers. Hand dived oysters and scallops either to take home or eat there and then. I opted for the scallops, cooked with a little bacon and served on a crisp salad in a scallop shell. mmmmmmm...! We then tried cider from Newforest Cider company, cheese from countless delicious stalls, walnut oil from Olivology and the list goes on. As we meandered around the market, it really became evident that there is a genuine love and passion emanating from the traders. This really comes through when you eat their wares. Something you can't get from a supermarket.
So my inspiration for the recipes is never ending. Ideas keep swimming round my head and I can taste and smell the market each time I recall the visit. It's so exciting, realising the ideas gleaned from the market into a dish. And then knowing the recipes are accessible and they work! Check them out on the website!
So get down there if you can. But you definitely wont want to leave!
ps. go to the ginger pig for one of their sausage rolls!


Christmas tidings!

Tue, Dec 21 2010
Something I never do is have family or friends for Christmas at home. We always go to my Dad's actually, where we spend most of the time talking about food, preparing it and eating it! Excitingly, this year we have 4 guests coming to our abode - where the three of us get in each others way as it is! Along with 2 neurotic cats it should be fun. But the aspect most anticipated for myself is the fact that I get to cook. And hopefully someone else will wash up! Classic turkey, stuffed under the skin with copious amounts of Yeo valley butter and herbs, cooked on a high heat entombed in foil. Goose fat potatoes, some good stuffing and one would hope not a sprout in sight. I really like classic flavours executed well at Christmas. For someone who is always having to think of new recipe ideas I like to keep a little to the straight and narrow sometimes! But alongside the turkey lurkey, we are having roast belly pork too. My preferred method of cooking it is to boil it first for about 30 minute, just in water, with a few bay leaves, some peppercorns and some sprigs of a punchy evergreen herb like rosemary. Pat it dry really well before roasting for around 2.5 hours until crunchy and incredibly tender. Use the stock to make some gravy while you are about it, too! Great vegetables like leek au gratin and buttered greens will round off the feasty proceedings, oh! and dont forget the stuffing. Just crumble cooked chestnuts and mix together with toasted almonds or macadamias, breadcrumbs and dried cranberries or cherries. bind with an egg and press into a tin. Use your eye to create the ratio of ingredients you think look right for you, after all, cooking is kind of a blueprint of your personality. Bake for 30 minutes whilst your turkey is having a little rest!
All I think it that you should not get too over zealous about cooking special things unless you feel totally confident. Christmas is a time to indulge, yes, but also to make the most of family, friends and yourself.


Mon, Nov 29 2010
Christmas is a magical time of the year, not only for the spirit of the season but also the food and fun. Preparing for it is half of the fun and increases the anticipation somewhat! I have just made my mincemeat in readiness and what I love about it is that a seed of an idea can be recreated into a flavourful creation without a recipe. Just an idea of perfect friendship and balance can end up in jars of home-made heaven. It is great for gifts too, just a tag, no need for wrapping, the contents is beautiful and speaks for itself.
From as early as the fifteenth century, mincemeat has been made. But traditionally it would have been with meat. Nowadays, just the beef suet remains of this relic of our past cookery. Meat and fruit were popular during Medieval times and spices too, with spices being used by the rich to show wealth, hence these flavours being turned into a pie. Our tastes have come a fair distance in some respects but still we turn our backs on fusion food and look to our past.
The kind of ingredients I like to add to my mincemeat are dried cranberries, cherries and perhaps even blueberries. Fresh fruit will ferment so the idea of gently cooking the mincemeat for a couple of hours is a good one. So to get you on your way, dig around in your cupboard and bring out all of your dried fruits. Pick the ones you would like to combine then add into a large bowl in what ever ratio you like. Nuts are good too, so choose those if you like. Add some suet, beef or vegetable around 1 to 5. Lemon and orange zest and juice are good, then sugar to taste. Light brown or Light muscovado work well. Lastly, add some spice. Mixed will do but invest in a good one. I bought some from an amazing stall in Borough Market not too long ago. The difference was astounding. Fragrant and heady. Macerate for a day then warm in a low oven for 2 hours. This will melt the suet and coat everything, stopping the mincemeats need to run away out of the jar. pack whilst still warm into warm sterilised jars, seal, then sit back and enjoy the moment!

time well spent

Thu, Nov 25 2010
First off, sorry about the different sized fonts. I copied and pasted the recipes from an old document which did not work as expected......! Ooops, too late at night to change it now! Anyway....

I had a fantastic day yesterday working with disadvantaged families in a local school. School funds are a bit of an enigma. I am going to find that out more as I have just been appointed a school governor! But I work with schools under the extended schools brolly where money is allocated to children who have less and need input for whatever reason. So yesterday was about bringing families together, working as a community, appreciating what we do have and giving to those who need it. This may not be giving something material but knowledge and suppport is important in this equation too. 8 families got together in the school hall and made 2 dishes that they then could take home and eat. First we made a simple sausage bake.... just an enormous sausage roll really!

Autumn sausage puff pastry bake

400g sausage meat

100g cheddar, grated or crumbled

1 medium apple, grated

fresh herbs of your choice ie chives, sage, parsley

1 pack puff pastry

1 egg, whisked

Squeeze together with your hand the sausage meat, apple, cheese and herbs until well combined.

Cut the pastry in half and roll out each piece until 1/2cm thick. Fold one piece gently in half and cut at 1cm intervals across the fold leaving a 2cm border on the remaining 3 sides.

Spread the sausage mix over the whole piece of pastry leaving a border. Brush with egg then lay the cut piece over the top matching up 3 sides then unfold to cover the sausage completely. Press the edges down well, then eggwash all over to give a lovely shiny finish.

Bake at 200˚C for 40-45 minutes until risen and golden.

we then embarked on the simplest of cheesecakes after which licking the bowl was most definitely obligatory!

Chocolate and orange cheesecake

serves 2-3

7 large biscuits like digestive or hobnob type biscuits

1 heaped tsp cocoa powder

40g melted butter

3 tbsp greek yoghurt

1 tub cream cheese

2 tbsp icing sugar

juice and zest of 1/2 orange

1 satsuma, peeled and into segments

1 flake

Crush the biscuits in a freezer bag. Add the cocoa and give everything a good shake. Pour in the butter and massage into the crumbs. Gently shake it all out of the bag into a dish and press down with the scrunched up freezer bag.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour onto the biscuit base. Top with the Satsuma and crumble over the flake. Chill for a couple of hours before eating.

These recipes, whilst they may seem ordinary or mundane, were loved by the children and parents that made them. The enjoyment of seeing all these families together, doing an activity they would never do is so important for all involved. I do hope I carry on working with families like these as my time could not have been better spent than enriching the lives with food of these fabulous families.


chocolate lovers!

Sun, Nov 21 2010
Chocolate is a bit of a niggle for me!. When I speak with people about it I am always in shock about the kind they like. I am sorry to say I am just a chocolate snob. I only like cocoa from South America, I only like milk with no less than 34% solids and I don't like chocolate that says it's chocolate when it clearly is not! It's like Macdonalds saying they are a restaurant when they are clearly not!
I did a workshop with some kids yesterday and the recipe was chocolate based so whilst the pudding was in the oven I decided to do a chocolate tasting. The young girl I was working with went out to get some from the shop floor and came back with Lindt 90%, Green and Blacks Butterscotch - could this be my favourite! - and a Cadbury with a name I can't recall. Bliss or something? We broke up the bars into bowls and had the children taste them. The 90% was received quite well considering they children were only 6! The feeling in your mouth is so dry from such a high cocoa content but it is fabulous to cook with, so rich, with good quality cocoa beans which have obviously been fermented properly and made with care. Some of te faces were classic though! The Cadbury was just horrid. It tasted of sweetness. No hint of cocoa and the nuts in this one were the only saving grace. The Green and Blacks, delectable but sadly as it is now owned by Cadbury it does not hold the same feeling for me any more, but that crunchy butterscotch and deep flavour......mmm, well anyway! The children just loved the Cadbury. We did not tell them what it was and still they loved it. I felt saddened as I wondered how unrefined tastebuds seem. Or have they always been that way? I kind of thought that many are brainwashed by Cadbury, or coke or sweets but actually, I now am pondering that perhaps as a nation our taste buds are receding as so many of us are used to eating rubbish. I think this could be a theory, but then again it may not!
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