Thursday, 9 October 2014

Change of Address

The Back Seat Gourmand has moved to a new home...

Please follow me, like Alice down the rabbit hole.
I promise you, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Frangipane Fly-Away Cakes

These aren’t pure frangipane, being more of a sponge/almond hybrid, so perhaps they should be called frangi-fairies.

Whatever you want to call them, they are light and delicious and are just the sort of thing you could rustle up with whatever you have in your dry cupboard, plus a quick dash to the local shop if absolutely necessary. They’ve come about as we desperately try, in our pre-move purge, to use up whatever happens to be languishing in a crumpled bag, stuffed into the back of the larder shelf - most probably past its sell-by date.

Using sis-in law Jemima’s failsafe sponge-cake formula, you match the flour/almond mix, sugar and butter weight to that of the eggs. Two eggs seemed to make batter for 6 good-sized fairies. However, following our Shed outing, I love the idea of 12 bite-sized versions - pixies if you like - nestled into twists of baking paper.


You need:

116g caster sugar

116g butter

2 eggs – (116g)

Drop of almond or vanilla essence

116g (50/50 self-raising flour and ground almonds)

Jam or marmalade (optional)


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or use paper cases – or smaller twists of baking paper on a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one and incorporate, as well as the essence. Sift in the dry ingredients and fold in to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cases, adding a tiny blob of jam or marmalade to the middle of each, if you like.

Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the cake, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm from the oven if possible, with a fruit compote such as rhubarb.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Shed. No tears.

Soon we’ll be leaving this lovely part of London and if there’s a place I wish we could take with us, it’s the Shed.

No, not our shed - though I am rather fond of it now, having done a timely re-felt with the BSG last autumn before Noah’s rains arrived. I mean The Shed, a very lovely nook of a place run by a pair of cheery and talented brothers in Notting Hill. With the menu changing every week, there’s a strong emphasis on seasonal produce (many sourced from the family farm and vineyard in Sussex) and each ingredient is seldom anything but exquisitely treated. If there’s ever a place that urges you to treasure and savour every component on the plate, it’s The Shed.

Across the board, from game and fish to veg and foraged ingredients, seasonal food is the VIP. I often imagine it sitting on a plumped up cushion in its crate or box as it awaits its time to shine in the kitchen. Speaking of which, you may want to ask for a ‘comfortable’ perch when you call to book a table, especially if, like me at the moment, you can’t quite manage a tractor-seat stool, legs astride an oil barrel gracefully. But I ‘spose that’s better than you’d get in my shed…

With small sharing plates between you, you come out feeling happily sated rather than stuffed. However be warned: you may get overexcited… Even off the sauce (instead we sipped on a delicious blood orange loosener with rosemary sugar and lime), we racked up a fair amount. Four plates between two (and three quarters), plus pudding made for a very good lunch indeed.

I am hooked: I went twice this week. I realised I’d already been three times - without the BSG. Criminal. Plus, if we got in there on Saturday, he’d still be lucky enough to catch the perfection that was the pear tart I tried on Thursday, made with cooked down Comice pears alongside a hazelnut praline cream. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

(Still, I hope to take a bit with me – they tell me they’ve a cookbook coming out soon. Goody.)


Here’s what we ate. Purty, ain’t it?


Tempura tenderstem broccoli with chilli and a dipping sauce


venison ragu

Venison ragu and black pepper pappardelle



Quail and homemade BBQ sauce. Shaved sprouts, apple, cheddar and nuts.



Beef cigars with mustard mayonnaise.


pear tart

Finally, that AMAZING pear tart…

(and a teeny marmalade frangipane. More about that next time…)