(Not) Bouillabaisse – But A Good Fish Soup

Bouillabaisse

So you want to cook bouillabaisse? Well, you can’t. Says who? Says The Marseillle Bouillabaisse Charter, issued in 1980 by a group of restaurateurs in the city. The stated objective is to specify the elements of a good quality Bouillabaisse, with the goal to make this local dish better known among customers, while at the…

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Fennel

Fennel

I am taking my first faltering steps to learn the Czech language. People tell me it’s difficult, but my guess is that learning English pronunciations must be a nightmare.  Take for example the words, therefore, plant, pack, female pig: so, sew, stow, but sow. Or, things in a line, type of deer, propel a boat,…

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Lemons

Amalfi Lemons

Taken for granted by many whose only use for it is to garnish a G & T, the lemon is an underrated kitchen essential. A cooking tool, to prevent your butter browning further when frying fish or chicken; a fundamental in most Middle Eastern recipes; an invisible flavour enhancer to add that little extra zing…

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Aubergine Parmigiana – An Impostor?

Carry out a survey for the best known Italian cheese, and what would the results be? Gorgonzola? Less popular than it once was. (I remember my Dad telling me about this blue cheese that was so strong it used to walk across the plate. Perhaps, however, he was referring to Danish Blue, and, yes, I…

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Warm Salads

Warm pigeon salad

We’re really not great at salads here in Scotland. Yes, we now grow plenty of the ingredients, but our way of assembling them seldom gets the taste buds going. From the Far East, on the other hand, there are wonders to be had, served with vibrant zingy dressings. But you have to source the appropriate…

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Breaded, Battered and Bewildered Part 2

Chicken Schnitzel

After last week’s column, we had a minor domestic. The current Mrs Johnston took me to task for omitting one of her more celebrated oeuvres (and there are many), to wit her famous blinis. I contemplated including them today, but we are battered out. The breadcrumb is the thing. And here I shall pause for…

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Breaded, Battered and Bewildered Part 1

Yorkshire Pudding

I can’t remember how the idea of an article on breadcrumbs came to mind. In the interim, I glanced at a pub lunch menu, which proudly offered diners the choice of having their fish either battered or breaded. What a nation of sophisticates we have become. So, taking things in that order, let’s start with…

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Cauliflower Part 3 – Hot and Spicy

Aloo Gobi

As nearly one third of the world’s cauliflowers are grown in India, it is no surprise to find it featuring in so many curry dishes. Perhaps the best known is Aloo Gobi, the hearty mixture of cauliflower and potato. Recipes abound: I offer my version, cherry picked from others. Don’t worry too much about your…

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Cauliflower Part 2 – Steaks and Braises

Cauliflower Steak

I wrote last week of the incredulity of hearing of a dish entitled Cauliflower Steak. Far from being an oddity these days, it has become an important part of the vegetarian cook’s repertoire. I’ve done a bit of research and suggested a couple of ways of doing this, one oven baked, the other started in…

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Cauliflower Part 1 – The Basics and A Few Twists

Cauliflower

Not so very long ago, some vegetarian friends (yes, I do have a few, albeit no vegans) were known to complain loudly that the token veggie offering on a menu, (assuming the establishment stretched to more than just an omelette or pizza) was likely to be mushroom based. Not so very long ago, most of…

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It’s Spring – Roast Some Peppers

Roasted Peppers

It’s been difficult this week to fit in time for Tom Cooks! At the time of writing I’m in London – the hardships I have to endure to research restaurants for you all – and don’t have access to my vast library. Those of you who think I just recycle all my stuff from the…

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Roasted Pineapple Two Ways

Roast Pineapple

This column has considered the pineapple before, but a couple of things brought it to mind recently. Costa Rica, whence we have just returned is the world’s largest pineapple producer. The quality, when you are eating a fruit picked when ripe, as opposed to harvested early to off set a long journey across the world,…

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Tom Cooks! in Costa Rica and The Galapagos

Gallo Pinto

The title of today’s article is actually something of a fib, as cooking opportunities were limited. But among the wonders and delights of travelling, the chance to sample other culinary cultures is a major one. They say that there is nothing new under the sun. Even if that were true, it is fascinating to observe…

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Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

The story behind this now ubiquitous dish is an excellent one. Unlike many tales of the origins of famous plates, it is almost certainly true. During the Prohibition era in the USA, an enterprising San Diego restaurateur, one Cesare Cardini, opened a restaurant in Tijuana, just across the border in Mexico. It was very popular…

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Crab Ravioli with Prawn Bisque

Crab Ravioli

In the cookery course which I teach, this week’s class featured bread and pasta, the theme being dough and what to do with it. I don’t make a lot of fresh pasta, so I dug out the machine and had a wee practice. Truth be told, for staples such as spaghetti dishes I prefer the…

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Cabbage Stuffed with Spicy Mince and Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Cabbage

I have two apologies for this dish. Firstly, while it may be a staple in many households, it’s something I had never made before. Secondly, it’s laughably simple. Lest you had forgotten how basic my culinary skills are, read on. This was a Ready Steady Cook thing which I made at the weekend. Our shopping…

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Sue Lawrence’s Rhubarb Crumble with Ginger Mascarpone

Sue Lawrence

Last week we had rhubarb in a savoury dish. This weekend we’re back to its more normal use as a dessert ingredient. I invited the very lovely and very talented Sue Lawrence to contribute a recipe. What sort of recipe, she asked? Anything, I replied, but seasonal would be nice. Easy, she said, has to…

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Mackerel and Rhubarb – Yes, Really

Mackerel

Has the man finally lost it? I hear you ask. When I was young mackerel were viewed with much suspicion. Scavengers of the sea, my parents’ generation would describe them. Following that logic you could say exactly the same about crabs, lobsters and many other delicious marine life. The same generation would also consider coley…

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Beth Stone’s Stone Bass Ceviche with Blood Orange

Ceviche

Many thanks to the very lovely Beth Stone, our guest cook, for this very quick ceviche recipe. As you will see from the photo, the finished dish is as elegant as the author herself. Many of you will know that ceviche is a technique for “cooking” fish by marinading in citrus juice. Needless to say,…

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Christopher Trotter’s Steak and Kidney Pudding

Steak and Kidney Pudding

It’s Wednesday morning, and I’m both starving and bereft of inspiration. Later we’re collecting an old, in every sense of the word, friend, to take her out for lunch. I made some soda bread, which both exacerbates the hunger and makes me realise that neither of this week’s blogs even has a subject, never mind…

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National Pizza Day

Pizza 2

Saturday 9 February 2019 is National Pizza Day. Yes, it’s official. Who thinks these things up? I have no idea, but I have a sneaky hunch that the British Society of Pizza Restaurateurs may have some involvement. It’s fun to make your own, though the BSPR won’t thank me for sharing this recipe. When you’ve…

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Amaretto

Amaretto Torte

It’s amazing how one thing can lead to another. And even more amazing (and wonderful) to discover a kindred spirit who shares my love of completely useless pieces of information, and the sharing thereof. Some of you may know that my culinary repertoire has extended to the field of teaching. The Retired Big Financial Whizz…

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Lobster Risotto

Lobster Risotto

Happy New Year, dear reader. I did tell you that Tom Cooks! would resume later in the month. A couple of reasons for the change. Firstly, we are still within the 12 days of Christmas, so festivities are still allowed. Secondly, I cooked a particularly fine routine masterpiece for the current Mrs J on Hogmanay,…

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