Sunday, 29 November 2009


This started out as a caciucco alla livornese, a hearty fish stew from Livorno, but then I realized that I've never actually eaten caciucco or even been to Livorno, though I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted this stew to taste like. I have had triglie alla livornese—red mullet stewed in a tomato base—which I liked a lot, and my very Swiss-Milanese grandmother-in-law noted to me that while the triglie were good, the little bony dudes were a lot of work, and the caciucco was something that she liked a lot more. She was not known for liking to work very hard for anything.

So although Adri is a hard worker, she somehow inherited Nonna Elsa's appreciation for boneless seafood, and although I actually doubt that any real caciucco has ever been so carefully relieved of bones, this is the way it would need to be for tonight's meal. Oh, and Adri really likes clams, too, so I'm buying some of them as well. [Weather and tides won't let me go looking for wild ones today.]

The impetus for this little idea was a brace of scorfani (scorpionfish) that I brought home from a wintertime fishing trip. Lo scorfano basically cries out "make soup," and it isn't just me who thinks this. There's no ingredient more indispensible for any European-style fish stew (from zuppa di pesce to bouillabaisse) than some kind of scorpionfish or poisson rouge. The flesh is excellent on its own, but the stock made from the bones and head is simply the very best fish stock possible.

I began by gutting and thoroughly rinsing the three scorfani (plus one treefish—a bonus catch), from which I then cut completely boneless fillets. Clean heads, bones, and skin went into a pot and the fillets into the fridge. To the fish in the pot, I added cold water, salt, a handful of slightly smooshed garlic cloves, and put this on gentle heat to simmer for about an hour. After that, I strained out the stock through a colander, and then through a fine-mesh strainer.

This fish base is enriched with a tomato mixture, which started as a sofrito (I use the Spanish spelling of this word, just to frustrate my spouse) of olive oil, onions, garlic and a small potato that's been diced, to which I added a box of diced tomatoes and let reduce for a bit, then added it to the fish stock and then blended things somewhat with my new wand-type blender. Tasted it—rich but a bit tame, so I added a teaspoon of a paste made from peperoncini from Calabria—this is basically a sambal oelek with an Italian and not Asian flavor. At this point I've got a red stew base that is rich in flavor and somewhat thickened by the potatoes in the sofrito. But more potatoes are needed for the stew, so a couple more are cut into bite-sized chunks and simmered in the pot for a few minutes.

While the second round of potatoes are cooking, I wrestled with the clams. I got littlenecks, which are pretty large clams, and my plan was to open them and put them in at the last minute with the fish. But damned, these things were clammed shut, and I couldn't get my knife in between the valves. Only one thing to do—cook them until the adductor muscles detached from one of the shells and the clams started to open. This added time to the prep, but this is still better than having the clams with their massive shells in the caciucco. Anyways, once I got the clams out of their shells and added them and the scorfano fillets to the stew, the potatoes were very tender.

After about four minutes (the time it took to set the table and call in the spouse for dinner) the soup was ready.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

What kind of pie?

Corn on the cob and sweet potatoes—two foods that most European-types I know don't love (my spouse is an exception). My father-in-law calls both "pig fodder," but then again he will eat polenta no prob, but then again he is from Milan so I guess eating swine chow is okay if it's dried and milled. I'm also pretty sure that it's dried corn that they pump through the feeding tubes (calorie-bongs?) used in fattening waterfowl livers for foie gras, and so the French are consumers of lots of corn as well, if somewhat less directly than the Milanese. But fresh sweet corn is a wonderful thing, and if the Europeans aren't eating it, then fine—there's more for us. This is exactly what Karen said when I told her that a post on sweet potato pie would not be of much interest to her yankee-expat followers who are cooking for European spouses and their families.

As far as flavor is concerned, I don't think it really matters which variety of sweet potato gets used, but the kind that is bright orange is the classic. A sweet potato pie made from a white- or yellow- flesh variety would look pretty non-traditional. Since these potatoes come in some pretty irregular shapes (usually very thick in the middle, tapering to narrow ends), I start by cutting them into uniform sized pieces that will cook in the same amount of time. I drop them into boiling, salted water and simmer them until they're done—about 15 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are. Then I drain them in a colander, and while they're hot, I remove the skins and run them through a potato ricer. This will leave a small amount of fiber-y stuff in the mash, which I prefer to eliminate by running it through a food mill (this can be done after the mash has cooled).

A classic American pie crust is your basic short crust with the difference that the butter is not quite fully incorporated into the flour. The tiny chunks of butter flatten out between the flattened bits of dough, and this is what makes a flaky (rather than crumbly) crust. I make mine with about two sticks of cold butter (roughly 400 grams, salted of course) which I cut into a good measure of flour (three cups? Sounds about right.) with a pastry knife (which is really a sort of round-bottom potato masher) until the butter is almost but not quite fully blended with the flour. Then I mix in some really cold water (about a quarter-cup) with a wooden spoon just until the moisture is uniformly distributed and the dough actually resembles a dough. Then I wrap the dough in plastic and throw it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then I roll out a huge circle of dough—there's much more than what's needed for one pie, so I cut off all but a generous inch of overhang after putting it in the pie tin. The rest can go back in the fridge for some other creation. The overhang gets rolled and crimped and I prick the bottom a few times with a fork. Then this gets covered with plastic again and thrown in the fridge. I know that this sounds pretty complicated and pie crusts can be pretty intimidating at first, but you just have to make it a few times and then it's not such a big deal.

My pie filling is a can of sweetened condensed milk (I think the standard size in the U.S. is about 7 or 8 ounces), three eggs, a bit of ground ginger (the dried stuff, not the fresh stuff), a bit of nutmeg, and about two cups of the cooled sweet potato mash. After homogenizing all this you'll need to add sugar—how much is needed will depend on how sweet the potatoes were (and there's quite a lot of variation in sugar content) and how sweet you like your pie. I like using superfine (baker's) sugar for this, but I suppose regular granulated would work, too. Need a rough estimate for starters? Maybe about half a cup. I typically add a bit more sugar than what tastes right when I'm making the filling, since I find that the final product usually ends up not sweet enough when I add sugar just to taste.

The filling should now be thick but pourable. Remove the crust from the fridge, fill and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 45 minutes to an hour until the crust is golden and the filling is puffing up but not quite browning. If you have extra filling, I suggest filling a couple of ramekins and baking them along with the pie—this makes a nice pudding—but the cooking time may be a little different from the pie.

This is a pie that should be thoroughly cooled before serving (otherwise the spices you added may be overpowering), so making this pie the day before the big dinner is both wise and gets one more dessert out of the way.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Cream puffs

Those of you who grew up with me (yes, that includes grad school friends, let's face it) will probably remember the killer cream puffs. So here's the recipe (happy now, you who shall remain nameless????!!!!):

1 stick of butter (real butter, no substitutes!)
1 cup water
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
4 eggs

1. It's essential to use precise measurements & follow directions scrupulously or these will be cement puffs

Preheat oven to a high-medium heat.
Melt butter in water. DO NOT BOIL.
Take pot off heat, add the flour with salt ALL AT ONCE. With wooden spoon quickly mix & form into a ball.
Let mixture cool 10 minutes.
Beat in eggs ONE AT A TIME.
Spoon onto a cookie sheet, leaving an inch between.
Place in oven. DO NOT OPEN DOOR!
After 20 minutes, turn heat down to medium.
When pastry is golden remove from oven and place puffs on a cooling rack.
If hermetically sealed, the puffs will keep up to 5 days.

Fillings: whipped cream, custard, ice cream.....
Glaze: sugar, caramel, chocolate.....

Thanksgiving turkey & stuffing

Although my kids were raised here in France, Thanksgiving is a tradition in our family (celebrated the following Sunday, as obviously it is not a holiday here). Here the turkey has to be ordered ahead of time from the butcher or producer, which means it's really fresh and PC. Usually we celebrate with another expat family, which means I share the cooking, but this year it's just us (8-10, not counting the dogs).

So the following is my traditional menu:
-Chestnut stuffing
-Cranberry sauce with orange
-Oven baked yams
-Pumpkin pie

Side dishes depend on whatever fresh produce is available.

The day before I rub garlic-herb butter under the skin of the turkey, then put it covered in the fridge. Just chop up fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, etc) and blend into room temperature salted butter, along with about 4 crushed cloves of garlic.
Take the turkey out of the fridge about an hour before cooking. Add stuffing.
Preheat oven to high. Calculate cooking time to 20 minutes/lb + 20 min
Massage salt & pepper into the skin of the turkey. Splash some olive oil or melted butter with white wine on it & place in oven.
Baste the turkey with its juices about every 20 minutes. Add more wine as necessary.
After about 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of the turkey), turn the heat down to medium.
Continue basting! If the turkey seems to dry, cover with foil until the last 30-40 minutes.
For browning, turn the oven back on high for the last 10-20 minutes. Then turn off heat & let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Chestnut stuffing
For the stuffing I toast dried bread as if making croutons. Just cut it in chunks and grill. I chop the chestnuts into large chunks as well. Modify according to taste!
Tip: the stuffing can be made ahead of time. In which case, add the egg just before inserting into the turkey.

1 lb cooked chestnuts or chestnut purée
1 large onion
1/2 loaf of dried bread or 2 cups bread crumbs
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 egg for binding
(livers & other meats may be added to the recipe)

In a large saucepan sautée onion and celery. Add chestnuts & splash of wine. Add parsely & season according to taste. Add bread. Turn off heat and let cool.
Add beaten egg, then proceed to stuff the turkey.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

If it quacks like a duck ...

Today I am not a happy camper. I have spent two hours on the phone trying to get France Telecom to send the bills for the home phone/internet to the office, and getting the actual billing account details changed to the business account. As was supposed to have been done when I took the contracts out, back in June.

This means I have spent two hours variously on hold, being shuttled between the "professional" and "particuliers" services (because apparently a professional account cannot be tied to a domestic phone, godnose how I managed to get the contracts set up but it didn't seem to worry them at the time), being cut off just as I'm to be transferred to someone who might be able to help ...

I would really like to kill someone. Preferably rather slowly, and it would probably involve roasting in my huge oven and perhaps some of the less-used kitchen implements around here. (I'm thinking maybe the butter curler, and perhaps the peculiar Device for removing the strings from celery stalks.) Best, perhaps, not to dream, and just say WTF. Which, as David Lebovitz pointed out, does not mean what you think. It's just the acronym for "Welcome To France", which just about says it all.

Anyway, I annoyed Sophie a week back by turning up at midday on Saturday and getting a perfect roast chicken ready. Well, annoyed is perhaps not the word (in fact, fâchée is, at least in Frog), more gênée, or embarassed. OK, she was in fact fâchée because she'd told me not to do anything (in my defense, let it be said that it was more of a recommendation than an outright order), and gênée because she worries what people might think - a semi-divorced woman being catered for by a married man! Shock, horror. I did point out that, if ever pressed on the matter, she could claim that the food was crap and therefore didn't count - not entirely successful as arguments go, but as she polished off the second drumstick we agreed to speak no more of the matter.

And in future, I will not turn up with unannounced food. Not even a chicken, which requires sod-all in the way of preparation and attention to become an object of desire. Just rubbing a decent spice mix onto the flesh under the skin and then into the oven for an hour or so ... bliss. Add some roast potatoes and a good salad and I'm yours. Especially if there's a Côtes de Languedoc to go with it.

Be that as it may, she did say that she wouldn't mind trying a bit of duck one day. Which is a rather treacherous admission coming from a Bressane (that would be someone from the Bresse region) where the chicken is king. Along with cream. One of these days, I'll get Sophie to give me her grandmother's recipe for poulet de Bresse à la crême and just maybe I'll share it.

Whatever, maybe I've corrupted her but she's getting these urges for red meat, and duck's a good way to get into that. And one of the best ways to have duck would have to be cuisses de canard confites, aka ducks legs cooked in their own fat until they fall apart.

One of the best recipes I've ever come across for this sort of thing comes from Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman. I'm not going to give it to you because I actually bought a copy with my very own money and you can damn well go and do the same, but I will tell you that it involves a brief salting with orange peel, cinnamon and star anise before the actual act of confiture ... I can see you dribble, you know.

On the down-side you do need to start it about three days in advance, which is not always an option. But a simple confit takes only a couple of hours (OK, maybe three) and is quite excellent.

Basically, all you need is some ducks legs. And a bottle of wine, or maybe two. A Côtes du Rhône, or a decent something from the Gers. Some potatoes and a few leeks would be good too.

First of all, put a good solid frying pan on the heat and open the first bottle of wine. None needs to be reserved for the actual cooking, so serve yourself liberally. When the pan's good and hot, turn the heat down and fling in the duck legs, skin side down. They will probably spit: so would you, under the circumstances. Give them half an hour or so like that: at the end of this time the skin should be crispy-brown and there'll be about a half-inch of duck fat in the pan. So turn the heat down as low as it goes and turn the legs over.

After another half-hour (during which I hope you've been paying attention to the wine) the meat will be well-cooked but will not as yet have achieved confit. So turn it over again, put a lid on top (or tinfoil, if you've no lid), and leave it for an hour. During which you could definitely drink, discuss whatever comes to mind, or maybe get a dessert ready. Up to you.

After an hour's steaming whilst simultaneously bathing in grease, the ducks legs are getting ready. Now would be a good time to peel a couple of potatoes and cut them into cubes, and slice a few leeks into half-inch slices. (The leeks are optional, use onions if you prefer.)

Now remove the legs from their fat and add the potato cubes in their place: raise the heat a bit and stir them around, covering them with fat, for ten minutes or so. Then add the leeks and carry on stirring for another five minutes. You will notice that the fat is magically disappearing: an as-yet unexplained mystery. There will be no cholesterol in the finished dish.

Sprinkle with salt and some herbes de Provence, then put the legs back in, skin-side down again, and cover once more. After 15 minutes the potatoes should be well and truly done: remove the lid, turn the heat up high to crisp the duck skin (this will take a couple of minutes) and serve.

Personally I would not go overboard on the side dishes. In the Gers you might find this accompanied with white beans cooked with tomatoes (getting perilously close to cassoulet) and the whole lot may well be preceded by foie gras: I would not turn down the foie gras but I'd settle for a salad with the duck. And there's that second bottle of wine, of course.

Oh, I finally did get the phone billing sorted out. Until the next time. I just had to pretend not to know anything about the business number (because otherwise I'd've been transferred to the commercial service, which doesn't want to know about domestic numbers) and sob. A lot. At the end, that was quite easy.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The nights are drawing in, you can see your breath in the mornings, the air smells of woodsmoke. I’m wearing pyjamas to bed. The fruit bowl is laden with clementines. In short, the time of salad and quasi-vegetarianism is well and truly over. It is time to eat meat.

It’s also, in these recessionary times, time to find creative ways to make the more costly ingredients go further. With this in mind, I decide to make a big batch of white beans. When I find them I splurge on the extraordinary ‘haricots de Tarbais’, a type of bean so truly delicious that it is ‘appellation contrôlée’, in other words, awarded a certificate of authenticity. Only then can they be labelled with the magic word ‘Tarbais’, after the area where they are grown, Tarbes, in the Hautes Pyrenées in south western France near the Spanish border. Tarbais beans have an exceptionally thin skin and a particularly luscious texture; apparently they can only be harvested by hand, which explains why the last kilo bag I bought set me back €15.

Feeling unusually flush, I tried to buy some more the other day from my nearest gourmet épicerie, but apparently there’s a current shortage, and so I am forced to use a dusty bag of beans that’s been in the cupboard quite some time, and comes, I would guess from the Arabic writing on the label, from North Africa. Still, properly prepared these unpromising-looking dingy little pebbles prove perfectly tasty.

Pour a cup of dried white beans into a pan, cover with water by about an inch. Pop a whole carrot, cut into chunks, a peeled and halved onion and a couple of bay leaves in and bring to the boil. If you remember you can skim off the foam at this point, but honestly, I don’t think it makes any difference. Turn down to the lowest possible simmer and cook, covered, until the beans are tender, which might take 45 minutes and might take 2 ½ hours. Check that the beans are covered by water and top up occasionally as necessary.

When the beans are totally tender – make sure they have gone past the chalky point – salt the water generously and add a big glug of olive oil. To check that they are salted to your liking, taste the water, rather than a bean, since the beans themselves take time to absorb the salt.

You can and probably should leave them for a couple of days; the longer you leave them the more flavoursome they become and the liquid they were cooked in becomes delightfully silky. But that requires some forward thinking, which I don’t really go in for, so of course I use them the very night they are prepared, for a lovely end of autumn fish stew, a version of a recipe from the Zuni Café cookbook.

Cut a fennel bulb into eight wedges and brown on all sides in some olive oil. When they are beginning to caramelise at the edges, add a couple of chopped white onions and a few chopped garlic cloves and gently sauté, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add a chopped dried chilli and a slug of ouzo or pastis, raise the heat briefly to boil the alcohol off, then tip in a  can of tomatoes and a glass of white wine. Taste for seasoning, then tip in a cup of cooked white beans. When you’re ready to eat, simply tip the tomato and bean stew into a casserole dish that can go on the stovetop, nestle four pieces of fish (cod, halibut, monkfish, anything with nice big chunks that won’t fall apart as it cooks) inside and poach until the fish is done. This is incredibly delicious with aioli, homemade or at a pinch a scoop of Hellman’s with a couple of crushed up cloves of garlic stirred in.

Now you’ll find yourself with quite a lot of beans left over. Of course you could just toss them with a chopped shallot and some vinaigrette and even a can of tuna, but your family will love you more if you make use of the leftover confit de canard from dinner last week. (I just open a large tin, scoop out the pieces and stick them in the oven at maximum temperature until the skin crisps up so that you need a hammer to break it, but if you’re Karen you make it from scratch – I’ll leave her to tell you how.) Because if you have some leftover confit, some perfectly cooked haricots de Tarbais or de anywhere else, an onion, some sausages and some leftover bread - you have the makings of what’s known in our house as a Cheat’s Cassoulet. Do not dismiss it until you’ve tried it. It’s really very good indeed.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Chop a couple of onions, a carrot and three cloves of garlic and soften in a little olive oil. Add some chopped bacon, raise the heat a little, and fry till the bacon crisps. Throw in a can of chopped tomatoes, a cup of white wine and 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (I use a cube, noone’s going to notice), along with some chopped sage and thyme. Meanwhile, in another pan, brown some sausages (pork is obviously traditional, but actually I made it last time with veal sausages and they were absolutely delicious) and then add them to the stew. Simmer, uncovered, for fifteen minutes, so that the sauce thickens. Add the remaining beans and some salt and pepper. It should be quite soupy, since it will thicken up quite a lot in the oven as it bakes; if it seems a bit thick, slacken it with a ladleful of bean liquor.

Pour the stew into a wide flat dish. Nestle the sausages and the cooked duck confit (I have even made this with leftover pieces of roast chicken, which is probably going too far if you still want to consider this a cassoulet, however bastardised) into the beany mess, and sprinkle the whole lot generously with coarse fresh breadcrumbs (this is one thing I insist on. Don’t bother with breadcrumbs if they aren’t freshly made from a loaf of sourdough or at the very least a decent day-old baguette) tossed with two or three finely-chopped cloves of garlic and a fistful of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and stick it in the oven till the breadcrumbs are a deep, crispy golden colour, for at least forty minutes. Longer won’t harm it and in fact it will probably improve it. Serve with a green salad and some more good bread to sop up the juices. 




Monday, 9 November 2009

Guilt-free dinner parties ...

A red-letter day last Tuesday, when Sophie actually cooked me dinner! Well, I should say "us", as Margo, Jerry and I all got invited.

Now let's be quite clear on this, Sophie does actually know how to cook. But she tends not to, as like most French-persons getting dinner ready is usually a matter of microwaving some frozen crap. So although the main course was unfortunately unmemorable, (I like my curries a bit spicier) and I'd brought along a pastis aux poires - which you know about, and is also one of the few sweets Sophie actually likes (not to say adores) - for dessert, I really did enjoy the entrée.

Which was remarkably simple: a feuilleté au chèvre et aux pommes, served on top of salad with a simple balsamic vinegar dressing. All you need to do is mash up some chèvre - or maybe rocquefort, that'd be good too - with a bit of sour cream, and use the resulting mortar to reassemble thin slices of something like a Granny Smith into a half-apple. Then wrap the lot in flaky pastry, brush with egg-wash, and into the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and steaming. Absolutely delicious.

Sadly, the evening saw the last bottle of 1994 Givry 1er cru I had down in the cellar disappear - a shame but the stuff is made for drinking, after all. And it was quite sublime. Shame Margo was driving that night.

The weekend after it was our turn to have people round for dinner, and after careful consideration and thinking about how lazy I was feeling, I went for pig braised in milk (and beer). Aristo alla maiale is, I think, the Italian name - whatever, it's not half bad.

To do this, you will - evidently - need some pork. A nice rolled rôti d'echine is perfect (that's pork shoulder to you) as it will be nicely marbled with a bit of fat and come out sumptuously tender: don't be tempted to use the côtes filet as they will be inevitably dry and disappointing. Anyway, brown it (or them, there were ten of us, four of them being adolescents) all over in a cocotte just big enough to hold it, and when that's done remove it and slosh in a decent amount of beer.

This is not traditional, but I had the beer (hand-knitted in some little brewery around Grenoble) sitting in the fridge and was wondering desperately how to get rid of it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Turn the heat up high, fling in some garlic, thyme, sage and crushed juniper berries, and reduce hell out of it un til it starts to go a bit syrupy.

At which point it would be a good idea to return the pork to the dish, roll it around in the beery slop to coat and pour over a couple of glasses of milk. Then cover the cocotte and let it continue to simmer - either over a low flame on the stove-top or in a low oven - for about two and a half hours. At the end of which time the meat will be very tender and the juices will look disgusting. So now you need to fish the meat out again and either strain the juices or haul the curdled milky bits out with a spoon - your choice - before reducing them to thicken. During which time you could usefully carve the pork, stick it onto a serving dish and keep it warm until you're ready to pour the juice over and serve.

This goes really well with heaps of crispy roast potatoes and goldenrod broccoli, which is not a variety but a reference to the sauce. Who knows, you might even get your kids to eat the stuff. Basically, you steam broccoli - while that's going on make up a thick bechamel to which you add a good dose of worcester sauce, grated cheese, chives and the chopped white of a hard-boiled egg. Having drained the broccoli and put it in a dish, pour the sauce over the top, sieve the egg-yolk over the lot so it looks pretty, and stick it under the grill for five minutes or so.

That is just so easy, I think perhaps I should go lie down and feel smug.

After all that you could do as I did and make apple cinnamon swirl. Which is, in fact, a bread, but don't panic. On the other hand, you will need a 10" diameter, 3-4" high round cake mould, so if you don't have one forget about it. If you have one with a removeable base use that (but do butter it well), if not line the base with well-buttered paper (me, I use the paper that our salted butter comes wrapped in. Saves bother.) Sprinkle that with cinnamon sugar and put it aside for later.

Now it's time to make the bread dough. Three cups of flour, 80gm of sugar, 80gm of butter, two eggs, grated orange peel (or use orange-flower water - or use both) and a packet of yeast that you've rescuscitated in warm milk. Mix the lot together and knead shit out of it. Or do it all in the Kenwood Chef, or whatever you happen to have. The dough should be soft and buttery, but not sloppy - if it is, add more flour. I'm not a particularly precise cook, in case you hadn't noticed. Then set it aside to rise for a while - I cheat, and stick it in the microwave on Really Low for a minute or so, to get the internal temperature of the dough-lump up to around 35°, which is perfect.

Go open a bottle, have a drink or two, then cream together 100gm butter, ditto brown sugar, and as much cinnamon as you feel like. More is better. Peel a couple of Granny Smiths, cut one into thin slices and chop the other one. Arrange the slices on the base of the cake tin (no, I hadn't forgotten about it) to your taste, then go roll out the bread dough into a rectangle about 1cm thick.

Now just spread the creamed butter/sugar mixture evenly over the dough, sprinkle with raisins and the chopped apple, and roll up along the long edge. Slice the resulting log into 2-3" chunks and put them on top of the sliced apples in the cake tin - doesn't matter if the chunks don't touch. They will. Then put it away somewhere warm for half an hour, so it can finish rising.

Finally, into the oven - also for half an hour or so. At the end of which you should have something that looks as though a crowd of Chelsea buns have got together for a wifeswapping party and forgotten the condoms but never mind that, turn it out onto a plate (this is where the buttered paper on the base will save you from looking a complete and utter idiot) and eat. Do that quickly - around here at least it doesn't last long. Bloody kids.