What to cook?

Dinner last night was out at a local Italian restaurant. That was very easy.

Dinner tonight is going to be more difficult. It’s a beautiful day, so I was heading towards the braai, but I’ve still got those 20 whole chickens, the 60 eggs and the 110 gallons of water which I really don’t want to go to waste.

Oh, and that lamb.
And a camel (medium size).

So I’m thinking that maybe a stuffed camel is the way to go.

Sure, it’ll take the big pot and the large oven, but the solar can deal with that given the cloudless skies today. And I’m hopeful that with only the family here this evening, there might just be enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

Of course, the only issue with having a large camel-based main course is that there’s rarely any room for desert.

I’m so sorry.

“Highly experimental” recipe in progress

When life gives you lemons loquats…

When we bought this place, we also got a loquat tree thrown into the deal. Not specifically, it was just one of the things in the garden. The previous owners didn’t like loquats, apparently. They had asked their gardener to snip off the buds at the beginning of the year to prevent any loquat development.

And I do get why. Which is actually kind of unusual for many of the decisions that were made here.

The birds love the loquats, so there is huge fruit loss from that direction, which also means a fair amount of mess in and around the tree as well. Add to that the beagle, which will happily hoover up anything (in this case, half eaten loquats) that drops to the floor, and the… er… consequences of mammals gorging on soft fruit. Nothing horrific (yet), but we’re going to have continue to keep an eye on that as the season progresses.

Anyway, because we didn’t snip any buds off the loquat tree, today, I went up a ladder and brought down a couple of kilos of actual loquats. I avoided the over-ripe ones, the under-ripe ones and the ones that the starlings had taken a single peck of and moved on elsewhere. And I made – well, I am making – loquat chutney.

It started like this, looking exciting and colourful:

That’s destoned loquats, vinegar, sugar, cabbage, carrot, chili, an apple, red onions, garlic, salt, pepper, a splash of Hendo’s, a splash of red wine. Lob it all in a pan and reduce it down for a number of years. Simples.

And it’s now beginning to take on that world-weary, homogenous chutney appearance:

Which – I am happy to admit – does not look great. But this is chutney. You don’t buy chutney for its rugged good looks. You buy it for it’s sweet, tangy flavour. And this seems to have that in huge amounts.

I’m quite hopeful that I might have made something quite good here. But there’s some more reduction that needs to happen before I can say for definite, so I’m leaving this on a low heat while we go for our regular Wednesday afternoon horse visit to the other side of the Mountain. (Yes, there are other people at home to keep an eye on things.) (Thanks for your concern.)

Stand by then – eventually – for a full report on how successful (or otherwise) this highly experimental recipe turns out to be. Bring on some well-aged Cheddar, I say.

UPDATE: It’s really good. Really strong, but really good. I’m quite impressed with myself.

Coleen is new bonnag champ

I know. You’ve been on the edge of your seats waiting for the results to filter through from the Isle of Man. And I can now officially reveal that the new World Bonnag Champion is Coleen Cowin, having beaten off some strong competition from two time Champion Vanessa Callin. In fact, bookies’ favourite Callin seemed all set to make it a hattrick of wins before a bewilderingly disastrous incident with the bicarb.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the competition, it was only Mrs Clague that let the Clague household down, with hubby Gordon taking first prize in the men’s event and son Bryce demolishing his opponents with a magnificent Manx Bunloaf-style bonnag in the youth section. This being the 21st century, it’s less likely that Mrs C will be cast out from the family in shame.
But still, if she was, who could really blame them?

The 2015 Championships were nothing if not innovative, with a gluten-free bonnag side tournament and a Mandoza-inspired 50-50 bonnag competition, whereby a half-plain, half-fruit bonnag is presented to the judges in kwaito style.

If you want to make your bit for World Bonnag stardom in 2016, now seems a good time to start with a basic fruit bonnag recipe (the plain bonnag really being suitable only for industrial building projects, IMHO) like this one:

Fruit Bonnag
2½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup currants
1 tbsp margarine
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large tsp mixed spice
1 few drops vanilla essence
1 cup or more buttermilk
Rub the butter into the flour. Add other dry ingredients.
When will mixed, add buttermilk and mix.

Bake about 1 hour at 180ºC.

Cast out Mrs Clague.


That Chocolate & Hendo’s Mousse recipe

I mentioned it here. And I got it from here (although I have adapted it a little bit).
If it goes well for you, support the author and buy a copy – there are loads of other lovely recipes in there too.


  • 325g 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 130ml milk
  • 4 tsp Henderson’s Relish
  • 150ml single cream
  • 400ml whipping cream


  • Melt the chocolate slowly over gently simmering water or in a microwave.
  • Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light in colour.
  • Heat the 150ml cream, milk and Henderson’s Relish until a gentle simmer.
  • Slowly pour the cream onto the egg mixture, mixing continuously to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Pour back into a clean pan and stir.
  • Cook until the temperature reaches 80°C or the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from the heat, put into a cold bowl and immediately blend with a stick blender.
  • Pour onto the chocolate, stirring continuously.
  • Whip the 400ml of cream into soft peaks.
  • When the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, fold in the whipped cream using a metal spoon or flat spatula
  • Pour into moulds or glasses as required and chill in the fridge.
  • Serve with fresh berries and a sprig of mint.

As I said, this is a slightly adapted recipe. I found that the Hendo’s flavour wasn’t coming through enough and so I (wait for it) quadrupled the amount the that original recipe suggested. That might seem like a massive increase, but if anything, I think you could go even further. Be warned that this makes a lot of very rich chocolate mousse – certainly enough for eight people. You need the berries and the mint to cut through that richness.

Usually the only recipes on this blog are ones for disaster. But given that I got a couple of cookbooks for Christmas and the fact that I am now a master in the culinary arts, expect some more over the next few months. I’d suggest that this one marks a pretty decent start to the proceedings though.


I always wanted to have my own cookery blog. I once asked a foodie about being a foodie and he told me that it’s tremendously cool to be a foodie. And there’s no ambivalence in foodie circles. They either love each other or they hate each other. No middle ground.
I think I’d be good at such dramatic extremes. I just need to pick the right side to be on.

Anyway, while I’m doing that, and with it being Tynwald Day (roughly the Manx equivalent of yesterday’s American Independence Day in layman’s terms, I guess), here’s a recipe I devised copied from a conveniently hung Manx calendar.


I haven’t actually tried it, but at the end of the day, it’s fudge, so even if it ends up as a sloppy mess, it’s going to taste pretty amazing, right?
Now, foodie friends, I can tell you’re impressed, so gather round and worship at your new-found altar.

Bring fudge.