30 December 2010

lacquered ham (la cuisine de Monica)

My dear friend and foodie Elisa emailed me the video to French grandmother Monica's recipe for Jambonneau Laqué in November.
And I knew I had to try it for our informal dinner of sliced meat and pickles betwixt Christmas and New Year.

Elisa's posted her version of the dish on the Wildfood forum too.

It's gently citrussy, light, & importantly not at all sweet, and is a refreshing change to the clove studded or mustard version.

and as Monica says in her video transmission, keep that broth/ bouillon, surprisingly it's not salty


1.5 kilo boned gammon here (or ham hock)

for the bouillon: turnip, carrot, leek, onion, parsley, celery, pepper (no need for salt)

for the lacquer: the juice of grapefruit, 2 lemon, 2 orange, lime, & honey


soak your ham in water for 24hrs, changing periodically
then poach your ham in the oven, in water flavoured with those bouillon ingredients, for 2hrs30 at 150
& leave it to cool in the stock

heat a squeeze of honey and add half the grapefruit juice, the lemon, orange and lime
place the ham into the pot, and baste on the hob for 10 mins

add the remaining grapefruit juice & lid on, put the ham pot into the oven for 30 mins, basting two or three times

if your syrup isn't reduced, put your pot on the hob again and baste until the juices are completely reduced and have glazed the joint - this should take 4 or 5 minutes only

cool, and serve with boiled potatoes and red cabbage

27 December 2010

... that blogger picture

Warm clothes and boots on and up the Leckhampton Road looking back at Cheltenham

further up towards Cricklade

that's the Malverns at the cloud line in the background,
from the high point of the Cotswolds 

passing the tasty hairy Belted Galloway cows

and back home for a slice of
and to try out my instant pocket photo printer

20 December 2010

2. How to make a painting frame

It's wonderful to have made your oil painting.
But framing your piece of art costs a lot of money.

So why not make you own frames!   
You need 2 pieces of specialist kit, that I couldn't find a work-around for

- the mitre cutter

- the v-shaped staple tool
but when you make two or three large frames, you've recouped your money.
~  ~  ~

First, buy your moulding woods, they come in 3 metre lengths.  
The cheapest is £2 - 3 per metre, but it goes into £15 - £20 metres the more fashioned the frame wood 

I prefer to buy the cheapest I can get, and sand, polish and paint it myself afterwards
  • always measure in millimetres
  • measure the sides of your canvas to the exact millimetre
  • measure the depth of your moulding (not inclusive of the routed recess) and double it
  • add 2 millimetres for a comfortable fit
Once your 4 sides are cut with accuracy, you need to glue them and staple them:

not too much wood glue
match up the inside angles - and not the outside corners!

wipe any excess
and leave for 24 hours
gently insert v-shaped staples
paint it

I use two coats of Farrow and Ball eggshell paints, 1 part water : 1 part paint 

beeswax your frame
buff to a silky finish
secure your picture to frame

One last tip before we see some frames.
People pay a lot of money for oil paintings, so don't forget the back.  I buy upholsterers' Hessian for a finish to the reverse of my pieces of work

staple and stretch the Hessian
to keep your painting reverse protected
a selection of small frames

24 November 2010

1. How to make a canvas for an oil painting

and save money.  With smaller canvases, it's not so evident.  But large shop-bought ones can cost £70 for a 6 footer let's say - if you're lucky.
You can make one for £10 - £20, depending on your chosen materials.

So, firstly.  
Let me introduce you to my new friend, my mitre rotary saw, reduced from £150 to £85.  It's got a laser light for visible line cutting, but I've discovered you have to cut aside the guide light

I bought him to make frames, in a drive to save money.  It's all very well painting your pictures, but pro-framing costs eat into your empty pockets.

So I thought I'd jolly well make my own, with a little outlay and practice, & I've cracked the process.
3 frames later, and the saw has paid for itself, so long as I don't miscalculate my measurements and make too many bad cuts! 

So.  More about how to make a painting frame later.

Now to making canvases today ..... 

If you have a mitre saw, always wear your goggles, the wood flies off worryingly at the end of the saw motion, and needless to say, keep your fingers clear of the power cutting zone.
That part doesn't bear thinking about, does it.

Otherwise, without the mitre equipment, cut your wood lengths, I use pine, at a straight, block-edged 90-deg angle, with a saw, compensating 2 sides, as necessary, with shorter cuts.

1. Keep your wood balanced and straight when working, I use my painting easel which I can manipulate up and down for the work

2. Measure your length of wood accurately, always using millimetres, and cut 4 canvas edges to their correct size

 3. Using wood glue, in the first instance, (soft) fix your canvas square, or stretchers - & rest for one hour or overnight ideally. 
It's not hardy enough like this yet, one gentle tap and the stretchers will fall apart. 

So handle your frame carefully.

4. For that firm fix, secure the 4 corners with a countersunk (slender) screw

5. Then tack an edged beading, matching your frame size, to your square

The beading is essential to prevent your painting pressing against the wood, getting ugly unwanted markings on your art.
As you can see inside here, your canvas will be raised proud away from the wooden stretchers, for you to work the paints comfortably onto your canvas material alone

6. Applying the canvas.  Mine's unprimed.  (Some artists wet and stretch the canvas beforehand, but I don't find it necessary).
Start at the centre of a stretcher edge, and staple gun the canvas midpoint on the reverse.
Work at the opposite side and pull the canvas tight with gentle artist pliers (I use yellow wallpaper pliers), moving round the canvas, working at opposites to get that important tight stretch.  

You will see I've left the corners till last

7. For that final clean, tight pull, create your "nurses corners" as best you can.  
Bear in mind, too clumsy and fat, and you'll have difficulty framing your painting neatly at the end.

8. How to make rabbit skin glue here.
Gently warm your rabbit skin glue block to a painting liquid state

Try not to pass out, it's a rather grim natural material to work with

9. and double prime your stretched canvas, leaving it to set overnight

Your hard work has been rewarded, and your canvas is now ready to be painted.

22 November 2010

I've been published on the BBC Messageboard

I was reading Dan's excellent blog post regarding Christmas baking last night, and my eyes drifted over to the right hand side of the page,

where I spotted my blog name in lights, along with Azelia and Kavey

It doesn't take much to stir my positivity in general, but I felt distinctly perky to see this.

Thank you, the BBC food messageboard.

21 November 2010

Dan Lepard's crisp cracker treats

  My they're good!
Served with Wensleydale & my apple, blackcurrant and balsamic savoury jam

We're always buying crackers in our house.  Either ryvitas, or those Italian Doriano packets.
So when I saw Dan's Guardian recipe for the salted oat crackers, it jumped out at me as something to make immediately.

To be honest, I wasn't true to his method here, as I rolled out the cracker pastry to 2mm thick - where they ought be potato crisp thin, and fragile.
Not that I'm worried, my results were fabulous.

I used half and half milk & water for the liquid.

the raw pastry, rolled & cut
ready for the oven

cooled on a rack - the sun came out in my kitchen

29 October 2010

we've booked the premier inn - docklands

unseen online a month ago, at the bargain price of £50 a night in December

so we took a stroll around Docklands and Canary Wharf yesterday whilst we had time to kill,

Can't wait me!


26 October 2010

chana dal


Doesn't this chana dhal over at Celia's blog look amazing: figjamandlimecordial

So when Tony and I had a deep, long discussion about eating fewer meat based meals, I thought of chana dal immediately

I'd saved a conversation some time ago by Raja about a Bengali version of the dish, and based on that, this is the warming, pleasant version from the Painter house, non-authentic I'm sure


chana dal, I used yellow split peas
water to soak
tomatoes, half a tin
toasted, ground cumin coriander and black mustard seeds
fresh chilli
fresh coriander
1 teasp thick curry paste, vindaloo
coconut milk

soak the chana dal in water for 2hrs30 at least
blitz the above ingredients to a paste and gently fry for a couple of minutes

add tomatoes, the dal and the water
simmer gently, covered for 1hr30, or until it is cooked 

to finish, add a little fragrant coconut milk and fresh coriander leaves

serve with freshly made naan bread

25 October 2010

Pakoda Indian Snack

test for pdf printing template

google document recipe

scribd recipe

serve with minted mayonnaise
mint sauce
spicy mango chutney, combined

serve with minted yoghurt 
mint sauce
thick yoghurt
spicy mango chutney, combined

24 October 2010

through the square window ........

As a display from the street, Lella and I usually leave paintings perched in our window, whether they are finished or not
Mainly it helps us see the balance of our work from a distance from over the road.

But we also get comments from local people and sometimes friendly souls come in for a chat with us too

So last night's view for you through the square window, is a painting from my "ordinary objects" series.  Quirky pictures, with little or no narrative to speak of.
And this one is "Edible Nasturtiums", a gift from my painting partner Lella from her allotment

I'll have it finished today and framed

and now it is finished!