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Seasonal Recipe from Erikas Kitchen

Erika Adler shares her love of cooking and eating good food, much in the way that the late lamented Valerie Hedgethorne, one of her former teachers, did with her monthly recipes. Erika worked as a cook and caterer for many years before becoming a cookery teacher to adults and young people. She developed and ran the Community Cookery Project for the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, training future cookery leaders and passing on her passion for fresh, simple and delicious food to groups and individuals of all ages.

Crème Caramel

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jul 01, 2024

There is something about this egg custard dessert, apart from its delicious flavour and set, creamy texture, that never fails to delight me. It’s the way that just three basic ingredients – sugar, milk and eggs – are all transformed: sugar becomes caramel and liquids become semi solid. You will need to make this ahead of time, as it tastes best after it has cooled and spent a few hours, or overnight, in the fridge. There are a couple of things to bear in mind. Hot sugar syrup can cause serious burns, so take great care to avoid skin contact with it. Also, it’s very easy to overcook the custard, which will result in a scrambled rather than a soft set texture; this means carefully monitoring the ramekins towards the end of the cooking time.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jun 01, 2024

These delicious little parcels, or dolmades, are good at any time of the year, as snacks or lunchbox items, or for parties and picnics. The leaves are available, vacuum packed in brine, from Middle Eastern groceries or larger supermarkets all the year round.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on May 01, 2024

This is a version of the wonderful salad my German grandmother used to make, using herrings home-pickled by my grandfather. I’ve used his recipe many times, but I have discovered that you can get a very similar product in the Polish section of some supermarkets, as well as in Polish groceries. You will find them in the chill cabinet, packed in oil, sometimes labelled Matjes herrings. (Don’t be tempted to substitute them with rollmops – far too acid, or the Swedish variety – way too sweet).



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Apr 01, 2024

Bitter leaves have a place in many culinary traditions at the end of winter. In the West, they are often the first edible plants to emerge in spring, their leaves packed with many nourishing vitamins and minerals that we miss out on during the winter months. Their bitterness acts as a much needed tonic for our digestion and immune system. Remember to wash all the greenery to remove any soil or other residues, and spin or shake them dry.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Mar 01, 2024

This Italian sauce makes a change from the more usual meat based sauces served with pasta. Provided you don’t have a nut allergy, walnuts can provide a delicious addition to a healthy diet; although they are high in calories, the oil and other nutrients they contain make a valuable contribution to our heart, gut and cognitive health. For this recipe they are lightly toasted to bring out their flavour.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Feb 01, 2024

If you’re someone who believes that lentils are boring and virtuous, then this variation of chilli con carne will hopefully change your mind. In my experience everyone loves it, whether they are committed carnivores or vegans. And as well as being easy on both the purse and the planet, it’s very convenient, as most of the ingredients are store-cupboard items.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jan 01, 2024

This soup, with its interesting blend of flavours and textures, is hearty and comforting on a raw winter day, and is suitable for vegans. The barley and split peas release their starch during their long simmer, the vegetables add their own flavours, and the spices provide warmth and depth. Any potential blandness is lifted by the addition of apple, and by the fresh hit of coconut, lime and coriander leaf at the end.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Dec 01, 2023

Here is a recipe for some festive cookies for the Christmas period. Florentines are surprisingly easy to make, and in my family they disappear alarmingly quickly, so if you are expecting crowds it’s worth doubling up the quantity. Also they make a very welcome gift, if you are planning to visit friends.


Chicken Liver Paté

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Nov 01, 2023

Many of us omnivores don’t eat offal nowadays, except perhaps in paté, so I thought I would offer this recipe using chicken livers. Although we are advised not eat too much liver, it’s fine to eat once in a while and is a rich source of essential nutrients such as iron. All patés are high in fat, and this is no exception; there is a lot of butter in this recipe, which give it its luxurious flavour and texture. It works equally well as a starter served with toast or crackers, or on a buffet table, or as a sandwich filling.


German Apple Cake

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Oct 01, 2023

This delicious cake can be served warm as a dessert, or as a tea time treat, accompanied if you like by cream, custard or ice cream. For a vegan version, simply substitute the butter and cream with non-dairy products.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Sep 01, 2023

This is one of my favourite salads - perfect for a late summer lunch or supper, at a time of the year when there is still plenty of seasonal produce around. Although it needs to be assembled just before serving, it is easy to make and several of the stages can be prepared in advance. It looks really eye-catching presented on a large platter.


Tabbouleh Recipe

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Aug 01, 2023

There are many different versions of this summery, refreshing salad, which originates from the Arabic cuisine of the Middle East, where it is served along with small dishes of appetisers traditionally known as meze. But its fresh and citrus flavours also make it a perfect accompaniment to grilled and barbecued food.


Carrot & Orange Soup

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jul 01, 2023

This sweet/savoury, velvety soup can be served hot, but tastes even better well chilled on a warm day. It may seem odd to think of soup as a cold dish, but chilled fruit soups are a well loved tradition in many Eastern European countries. Once made, the soup can be kept in the fridge and makes an easy first course for a summer lunch or supper. Alternatively, pour it into a flask and take it to work, or on a picnic when the weather is hot.


Elderflower Cordial

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jun 01, 2023

<p>We’ve reached the season for making your own elderflower cordial.</p> <p>Pick the blossoms from trees away from roads or other places where fumes and dust can pollute them. Choose flower heads that are fully open but not yet losing their petals (give a shake to see if any detach themselves). If you are lucky enough to have a pink elderflower variety growing in your garden, you will get a beautiful rose-coloured cordial.</p> <p>Try and use them as soon after picking as possible, and prepare them by simply snipping off the stalks. Inspect for any stray insects, but don’t rinse them as this will wash away the ...</p>


Asparagus Quiche

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on May 01, 2023

To make the pastry, either rub the butter into the combined flours with your fingertips, or pulse together in a food processor until the consistency resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the cold water and bring together to form a ball. Press into a disc shape, lightly flour your work surface and using your flan dish as a guide, roll the pastry into a large round.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Apr 01, 2023

Hot cross buns are on sale all the year round nowadays, which I sometimes think detracts from their seasonal association with Easter. It is well worth making your own – not least because they taste so much better than the mass-produced variety. There is also a unique pleasure that comes with yeast cookery, with its tactile process of kneading and resting the dough, shaping and glazing the finished product. Your kitchen will be filled with a wonderful aroma while they are baking. And it is a rare chance to participate in an ancient tradition linked with the cycle of spring festivals.


Pearl Barley & Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Mar 01, 2023

Pearl barley makes a nice change from risotto rice, with its nutty flavour and creamy texture. I love the combination with mushrooms, but you could use other vegetables such as squash, carrots, fennel, celeriac, or chard, so long as they are cooked and soft. Make sure you don’t use pot barley for this recipe as it takes a lot longer to cook.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Feb 01, 2023

It’s the time of year for warming soups, especially those made with root vegetables. Celeriac lends itself very well to this purpose, with its distinctive yet delicate flavour, and its ability to soften and thicken the texture of the soup. Choose one that is heavy for its size, as they are sometimes hollow in the middle. Scrub well and use a large knife to cut it in half – this make it easier to peel.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jan 01, 2023

Waffles are a great vehicle for both sweet and savoury toppings such as crispy bacon drizzled, US-style, with maple syrup, fresh berries or fruit compote, cream or yoghurt with honey, or they can simply be sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar.


Potato Latkes

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Dec 01, 2022

Latkes are typical of the fried foods that are traditionally served during the festival of Chanukah which falls this month. My grandmother made the most delicious latkes, served in the German style with chilled stewed apple and a sharp cucumber salad on the side. Here is her recipe.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Nov 01, 2022

This recipe is a sort of savoury bread and butter pudding, which has Italian/American origins, and is both delicious and inexpensive. It can be served either as a brunch, lunch or supper dish. Although I have given fairly simple ingredients, feel free to make your strata more luxurious by including some of the following if you wish: cream or crème fraiche, chopped anchovies, fresh or smoked salmon pieces, ham, cooked sausage or bacon pieces, olives or capers. Any crusty bread can be used – French sticks, bagels, rolls or sourdough - but it must be dry rather than fresh, otherwise it will not soak up the liquid. You will need a deep oven dish.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Oct 01, 2022

I found this unusual dessert recipe in an old cookbook years ago, and was charmed by its curious name. It instantly became a hit with my family and friends. The combination of flavours - tartness, burnt sugar and bitter chocolate – with the contrasting soft and crunchy textures is both unexpected and irresistible. Bramley apples are in season at the moment, although you could make it at any time of the year. For a more interesting texture, stop cooking the apples before they have completely collapsed into a mash, so that there are some soft lumps. It's also a good way of using up stale bread. If you have a food processor, use it to grind stale bread into crumbs (cut off any hard crusts first); they keep very well in the freezer. The original recipe specified rye breadcrumbs, but brown or wholemeal work just as well. Best served chilled.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Sep 01, 2022

It can be quite a challenge to produce snacks that are healthy, simple to make and most importantly, good to eat. I chose this month’s recipe with the new school term in mind; these savoury flapjacks make a nourishing and satisfying snack for packed lunches, and can be customised to suit your taste, by varying the type of cheese you use. You could also flavour them with paprika, chilli, caraway seeds or dried herbs.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Aug 01, 2022

Here is a very simple dessert, ideal for this time of year when fresh peaches are in the shops. Baking them intensifies their delicious flavour; however, be sure to choose ripe fruit which yield when gently squeezed. Hard, underripe peaches will not soften properly in the oven, and have none of the sweetness or beautiful aroma that makes this dish so special. It’s fine to use ready ground nuts, although when I have time, I chop them at home in my food processor, as I like the coarser texture. You can bake them in advance and refrigerate until needed, but the peaches will taste better if you serve them at room temperature. Any leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jul 01, 2022

For this month I have chosen a savoury tart from the Alsace, which has been a firm favourite for many years. It’s well suited to the summer weather - either as a lunch or supper dish accompanied by a crisp green salad, or as a part of a buffet or a picnic. You could serve it warm or at room temperature. I grew up with imperial measurements, and found the original recipe easy to remember - 2lb onions, 2 oz butter, 2 oz cheese and 2 eggs - but I have converted it to metric for the benefit of younger cooks. It does seem like an awful lot of onions when you start off, but you will find that they collapse into a much smaller volume once they have cooked down. If possible, try and prevent them from browning, as this will affect both the look and the flavour of the finished product. The slow stewing in butter creates a sweetness and a melting texture, which is complemented by the aromatic tang of the Gruyère cheese. It is definitely worth making your own pastry, (in advance is fine) as the result will be incomparably better. However, to save time you could use ready-made pastry. You will need a flan dish or tin measuring about 22 – 24 cm (9”) across.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jun 01, 2022

The recipe for this cheesecake came from my dad, whose Viennese heritage and love of cooking helped to shape my culinary path through life. It is very light and soft, and would make a lovely summer dessert as well as an afternoon treat at any time of the year. Curd cheese is not so easy to find in the shop, but the own-label soft cream cheese sold in many supermarkets works very well.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on May 01, 2022

This salad is a lovely way of celebrating the new season’s home-grown produce, with its uniquely fresh flavour and texture. However as most vegetables are shipped in from abroad all the year round, you could make it at any time.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Apr 01, 2022

As Easter and Passover fall in April , this delicious recipe comes to you with both festivals in mind. Chocolate eggs are a traditional favourite at Easter time, and macaroons are enjoyed during Passover, as they contain no flour. And it is one of those recipes where you can safely vary both the quantity of sugar and the type of nut, according to your taste.


Crunchy Granola

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Mar 01, 2022

Granola has a healthy reputation, which is strange as most brands are highly sweetened. If, like me, you’re trying to reduce the amount of sugar you eat, this recipe provides a delicious alternative, and is very easy to make. It is one of those recipes that you can play around with, by choosing which flaked grains to use, which oil, which nuts and seeds and what kind of syrup you would prefer to sweeten it.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Feb 01, 2022

These fritters are popular with almost everyone I have met, even those who say they hate green leafy vegetables. The main ingredient, chickpea or gram flour, is high in protein, making the fritters very nourishing as well as delicious, and ideal for both vegans and people on a gluten free diet. They are quite rich, so I usually serve them with a bowl of cucumber raita (a mixture of plain yoghurt and finely diced cucumber); its sharpness and crunch make a lovely contrast. Tomato salsa or your favourite pickles or chutney would also work well as an accompaniment.



Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jan 01, 2022

The cold weather has well and truly arrived, so this month I thought I’d offer a warming soup that is quick and easy to prepare. One of the great things about making soup is that you can use up oddments of ingredients that would not go very far on their own. This recipe can be adjusted according to what you may have lurking in your fridge or freezer.


Brown Biscuits

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Dec 01, 2021

The recipe for these delicious little biscuits came from my daughter in law, via her Danish grandmother.