Treacle tart

I mean, what the fucking fuck do you call this??!

I have for a long time thought that treacle tart is a thing I ought to be able to make, but I have always been scared off by this “baking blind” instruction.

That’s that thing, that I’m sure you’re all terribly familiar with and do it all the time, (in the evenings and weekends just for a laugh), where you roll out your pastry into a tin and then cover it with ceramic beads or beans and cook it before the filling goes in and then cook it again with the filling in it. A more pointless, time-wasty and stupid instruction I’ve rarely seen and so have always avoided it.

But tonight we’ve got some nice people coming round for dinner so I thought I’d break my baking blind, treacle tart duck and do it because the alternative is to cower in darkness – and that’s only hilarious for so long.

So off I went to Waitrose brmm brmm in my little car, and got some sweet pastry and a tin of golden syrup and some creme fraiche to go with it and came back and blithely stumbled into the worst and most useless recipe for anything I’ve ever cooked, ever. Except for that gumbo, remember that?

GARY RHODES I HATE YOU.

Just bad. Bad and wrong and unhelpful and stupid and ill and presumptuous and irresponsible. While the tart was doing its final cook in the oven I sat down for a bit with Waitrose Kitchen and had a flick through and alighted on a Fergus Henderson recipe for treacle tart that was far more detailed, complex and basically entirely different from the Rhodes recipe.

I experienced a terrible bumrush, of the sort you get when you turn over an exam paper and realise that you have spent the last week revising for a different, wrong module, or that the person you have just been massively bitching up is within earshot, or that your period is three weeks late.

I knew then. I knew in that moment that my tart was a bummer. And so it was. I can’t be bothered to start listing the catclysmic death roll-call of things wrong with it, but let’s just say that the BEST thing about it is that sides are burnt to shit.

FUCK! What a waste of my time! I could have been doing loads of other things! I could have been asleep.

I have nothing else to add. There is no nice ending to this story.

Spare ribs

I occasionally go on, what is known in our house as, “The Shitty Food Diet.”

The Shitty Food Diet is very simple and very effective – if what you want to do is lose a lot of weight very fast and don’t really care about the impact on your health.

What you do is eat INCREDIBLY shitty food – but hardly any of it. So on the downside you get quite hungry, but on the upside, you’ve got some sort of disgusting, shaming treat waiting for you and the thing about diets is that they’re all about morale.

So a typical day’s menu might go like this:

Breakfast: 1 latte with chocolate croissant

Lunch: nothing

About 2pm: McDonald’s double cheeseburger and small coke

6.30pm: 1 packet peanut M&Ms OR 1 Krispy Kreme OR 2 Jacob’s cream crackers

Dinner: 3 small glasses of oaky Chardonnay and 2 handfuls of crisps

This is the kind of menu I find myself eating quite often and I am thin as a rake. People say to me “You are so thin, what diet are you on?” and I say “The Shitty Food Diet” and they go “Ha ha ha, no really.”

Except next-eldest sister. She said “You are so thin, what diet are you on?” And I said “It’s called The Shitty Food Diet.” And she said “Ooh really – what does one do on that?” But my sister lives in Notting Hill – nothing surprises her.

So this is what I do on my own time, but on my husband’s time, it’s a different story.

But as it happens, we are getting a bit slack about provenence in this house. My husband’s strict rules about what, exactly, one is allowed to buy and eat basically allow for us to eat almost nothing except kale and roast chickens. He doesn’t want to buy, from a supermarket any fish that isn’t mackerel or any meat that isn’t produced by Duchy Originals. So if we haven’t been to the farmer’s market recently (where one can buy, guilt-free, anything one wants), the menu round here gets a bit samey.

I used to observe these rules faithfully but recently I’ve got a bit loose around the edges with it. The other day I just wanted some spare ribs, damn it. We’d just been to a restaurant called Sonny’s Kitchen in Barnes, which was AMAZING – just the best food I’ve had for a really, really long time and worth a trip if you’re anywhere near it.

You would think that being married to my husband I get to eat a lot of amazing food, but it isn’t so. A lot of new restaurants we go to aren’t very nice and if you order wrong, well: yuk. Sonny’s Kitchen genuinely stood out.

So anyway we had these spare ribs, which were like, out of this world and I wanted to re-create them, although nothing like as spectacular. But I couldn’t find any free range organic spare ribs in Waitrose so I just thought – fuck it – and bought the essentials ones.

And they turned out gorgeous, drowning in a barbeque sauce, which contained the following:

5 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 heaped teaspoons English mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1tsp chinese five spice
the zest of 1/2 an orange if you have it
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablepoons veg oil to loosen
1 tablespoon vinegar, any sort

1 Mix together the sauce ingredients and leave the ribs to marinade for as long as you can – all day for preference but even 30 mins will make a difference.

2 Put in the oven at 180 for about 25 mins.

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