Raspberry Roulade

Lesley Holdship - Home Economist, Food Stylist & Recipe Writer

Gotta love the rain!

Fri, Apr 27 2012
Today took a lovely, unexpected turn. My friend's daughter spent the morning with us and then the rain decided to visit too! All a fabulous recipe for doing some baking, me thinks!
I have a really small house with 2 cupboards full of baking ingredients, both of which get topped up when I write recipes. So I dug deep down and found all sorts of jewels. Well, maybe I mean many bags of opened flaked almonds, pinenuts and cranberries amongst other things!
We decided that some florentines would be the ultimate thing to make and extremely easy too.
When you make these, use whatever you fancy! There is such a cornucopia of dried fruits available now, tailor the recipe to your favourite ones! Similarly, the chocolate could be milk, plain or white but just please make sure you use a good one! What I have not told you to do tho, is use tempered chocolate. So what will happen is that the chocolate will bloom. Now, all this means is that you will see white streaks in the chocolate, but don't worry, it is just the cocoa butter rising to the surface. You can buy ready tempered chocolate, but actually, I think that the florentines wont last long enough to warrant it!!

makes 10
prep time 10 minutes
cooking time 10-12 minutes
50g butter
50g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
125g mixed dried fruits and nuts
250g good chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup. Stir in the flour, mixing well then add the fruits and nuts.
Place teaspoonfuls on to the baking tray spreading them well apart.
Bake for 10 minutes until golden.
Let them cool and then coat the flat side with chocolate. Leave it to set, then munch away with a cup of delicious tea or a glass of rivesaltes.

~These florentines are lovely to wrap up as a gift - if you can bear to part with them!


retro living

Thu, Mar 1 2012
In our house, what could be classed as retro food has never really gone out of fashion! I love the kitsch dishes of the 70's and 80's, they bring back good memories of some of my childhood food revelations!
Whilst shopping today, I spotted shell on prawns that Harley was keen on buying for our lunch.
I was going to eat the little chaps cold with some lemon but looking at them shot me back to about 1987 when I worked in my Dad's hotel in Cornwall. We used to cook copious amounts of shell on prawns in various guises but my favourite will always be garlic butter. The intoxicating smell of the shells cooking in the hot butter, warming up all of the essential oils in the prawns, that produces such a beautiful smell.
So, a big lump of butter goes in to a large frying pan. Melt it until it starts to bubble a little then throw in a couple of crushed cloves of garlic. Add the prawns and cook for around 5 minutes. Lastly, just before serving, scatter in a handful of chopped parsley and a squeeze in half a lemon. Stir well and serve with lots of crusty bread and a finger bowl! Lovely.

Back then, a measurement of prawns in a pub was often in a half pint or a pint glass. A dollop of mayo and the obligatory finger bowl as mentioned before.  Placing it down in, you would live in the hopes that the customer doesn't think it is some kind of weird soup!
Prawns also put me in mind of my first cat. He used to love the empty shells that came back from the restaurant. He loved to crunch them even if they were covered in chilli! It sounds a little like Fawlty Towers sketch to me!I wonder if there was ever a health inspector eating at the time!!
Anyway, Harley never had any prawns today, he wanted a peanut butter sarnie!

left overs!

Tue, Jan 24 2012
It seems a crying shame to me to put any sort of food in the bin! And there is something inherently satisfying about making a meal from bits and pieces left behind from headier times.
I love making a really simple soup with a cooked chicken carcass. Just strip off any left over cooked meat, bubble the bones in water with some vegetables - if you want.  Then dice things like carrots, onions, mushrooms, leek, courgettes softening them in some butter or olive oil, then pour over the stock adding some woody herbs. Simmer until the vegetables are tender adding some rice to thicken. Season well and serve with some crusty bread. If you didnt want soup, perhaps just adding the rest of the cooked meat to a risotto or make a lovely retro fricassee!
Tonight I fancied some rice so I just made a kind of jambalaya. I love one pot cooking!

to serve 2...
chop up a good handful of each celery, onion and courgettes and soften in a generous glug of olive oil. add a crushed clove of garlic if you fancy and cook for a moment more. if you have any, slice some chorizo at this point, it will really add flavour, so let it fry out so it starts release its oil. add 3 good handfuls of basmati rice along with a teaspoon of smoked paprika and stir to coat everything in the oily juices. pour in stock to a ratio of double stock to rice and add a little extra stock cube if you want! throw in some herbs like bay and thyme then season and simmer for about 10 minutes. scatter in some peas and sweetcorn if you have some and then any cooked chicken left from the carcass. Some prawns straight from the freezer, too, then bubble for around 10 minutes adding a little more stock if you think it needs it. serve with nothing more than a chilled glass of sauvignon!


gifts for friends!

Fri, Jan 20 2012
I love nothing more than taking something home-made as a gift when invited out to supper. Quite often, taking wine or a bottle is kind of redundant as the host will have most likely shopped for everything anyway!
So, our friend whom we visited tonight, really loves shortbread and brownies. And luckily for me, particularly the ones I make. So my son, Harley's choice was to take some shortbread. I bought butter and a bar of good chocolate to make it chocolate chunk and once Harley was ensconced with his best friend playing hotwheels, I set about in the kitchen. Finding no caster sugar I decided to use light muscovado sugar for the matter in hand, which turned out to be delicious! The texture and flavour was very different and the colour rich and golden. We liked it so here is the recipe! I use a tin that I don't need to grease, but you may need to if you are unsure of yours.

1 cold pack butter, diced
325g plain flour
125g light muscovado sugar
100g good chocolate, milk or dark

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.get a swiss roll tin ready.
  2. place the butter, flour and sugar in to a large bowl and rub in using your fingertips until all of the butter has been rubbed in to the flour. This is not so easy as a scone or pastry, say as the ratio of butter to flour is high. 
  3. Once all of the lumps of butter has been rubbed in the mixture will start clumping together. Scatter in the chocolate at this stage and then mix it through the crumbly dough.
  4. Spread the dough evenly over the tin and then press it down hard with the heel of your hand, evenly as you can and making sure you go around the edges with your finger tips. 
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden then remove from the oven and sprinkle a little more sugar. Cut in to small pieces about 3cm square and leave to cool.
  6. Wrap in a clear bag and tie with some coloured raffia or ribbon. Pass on to your friends with pride!
Comments (1)

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!

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