Cooking challenge!

... or more like a creative challenge...

we love to cook, we love to eat, we have the time. we have a fantastic larder on our doorstep and suppliers who are passionate (crazy?) about food.

i spent some time working as a cook - in a shooting lodge, in a stately home - cooking for hungry workers, difficult children, picky 'ladies'. I can pretty much cook anything - but I'm not a chef

now we have the time and inclination to cook for ourselves, and it's often the unavailable, and the unknown. 'breakfast' sausages, white pudding, pikelets, soda bread,pretzels - not readily available in provence!, pot stickers, pierogi, spaetzle, pitta bread. Chinese food - steamed dumplings, spring rolls... all great fun. some perfect - most a work in progress. PLUS the things we've not eaten before - cardons, sea urchins (no cooking!) black radishes... we've made pancetta, smoked salmon, and fired up some perfect pizzas...

you get the idea!

what i'm asking is - what's your challenge? what did you find? what did you cook that's not readily available anywhere outside your kitchen??!!

ideas, recettes, all welcome

x teresa

My local SuperU [19] has Quaker for €1.29 / 500 gm — and they're notorious for being dear!

Most of the SuperU and Intermarché stores seem to source from the same importer, they have a list of UK products they can order from. So if you find one of these stores stocking SOME English products, you could always do like I did and offer to help them refine their purchasing list.
I suspect it probably applies to other stores too (judging by the range of products they stock), but you'd have to check that, and I suspect the larger chains would be less amenable to suggestions.

I once found a smoked Brebis de Basque, never seen it again, it was divine.


I have smoked some local goats cheese quite sucessfully, my smoker has a waterbath above the charcoal and when I have done cheese, I put a block of ice in it to cool the smoke.

My other success has been home grown peppers that I have turned into adobo sauce

Yes I did add a splash of whisky to the Brose ....just a touch,

Atholl brose, real recipe is oatmeal brose, honey and whisky, it is named after the Earl of Atholl. As a dessert it is known as Cranachan, adding cream is for 'softies' it is said in Scotland. Sounds good with pears though.

I created a dessert many years ago which is not very exspensive to make but it

is a little different ....

I called it The marriage of Affole Brose to William pear.

Poach peeled pears when they are in season....leave the salk on.

Poach lightly in a little cinnamon, star anise and a vanilla pod....extracting all the

beany specks and immersing everything into white wine,,,,,,monbazilliac or similar.

Poach slowly and make sure that the pears are just slightly tender.

Store in a big sealed jar and serve with choc sauce and vanilla ice cream for kids...

A garnish for roast venison fillet,

Back to Affole,

Caramelise some oats slightly, add when cold to whipped cream, add a little mountain

honey [ if poss]

Make a caramel sauce for a nice puddle on the plate.

Make pastry pears baking and glazing them.

Assemble on plate....brose in pear case and pear standing proud on the

puddle of caramel.

Really nice and not too sweet.....BUT a bit of work,

thanks @John Sellers - the Bradley smokers look really interesting - Tony has his heart set on an 'egg' but i think that's probably an aesthetic choice!

Meszepice looks amazing! what a great tip - thank you so much... they have tons of stuff we can't get here

Will have to have another look in our auchan then cause we have not seen them before at that price. Unfortunately our local is an hour away!!

If you have an Auchan near you they have bulk oats of €1 /kg

Have a look at this site They are very good and reliable, I have been using them for 2 years. I have been smoking food for the past 24 years. In Uganda and here,but only in the winter for cold smoking. For a good smoker have a look at Bradley smokers, they are available here and in the UK. They are Canadian.

oh yes - hot cross buns - perfect for these snowy days - good idea!

I missed English bacon and roast ham, so one year I bought the pork and cured my own; it was delicious, though I'd like to try again and perfect it!
I also had a yearning for English crumpets, and made some of those, which turned out surprisingly well! I had already made hot X buns — but then I always used to make those anyway in the UK. And of course, I still make home-made mincemeat and Christmas puddings!

It is the cost of them in the supermarket, and we are lucky if they actually have them in stock! 1.57 for 500g when we can buy it for 50p for the same amount in the UK!

Quaker is available in most large chain supermarkets. Some places have Scotts. Both are the same firm, the latter is simply a bit coarser. Ditto, oats from health food shops but they do tend to be harder than the above.

We have learnt how to make several of our old english staples, rice pudding (why did we ever buy it?), golden syrup, sweet chilli sauce, Xmas essentials like marzipan, icing and mincemeat for mince pies! We have recently found that our local supermarket does Cheddar cheese at the same price as we got it in the UK, and we have now found bacon joints there as well! Still trying to find a good source for porridge oats that is at a reasonable price as we need our porridge at breakfast!
Like the idea of a smoker Brian, might have to put that on the wish list!

I'm sure you can do banana, I have done meat and mango so far.

wow Rob - that's AMAZING! - somebody delete this post double quick before Tony sees it and my courtyard turns into something resembling mad-max...


I started smoking (food, that is) a couple of years ago,after giving up the tobacco.

My first smoker was a steel locker with an offset smoke generator, made out of a redundant gas bottle. (If you don't know what you're doing please don't try to grind one open yourself!!!)

After having developed the taste for smoked stuff I took it a bit further and made a hot smoker as well as a cold smoker.

Both are made from the tank of discarded immersion heaters. I'm pleased with their respective looks, and also with the results I get from them.

Cold smoking is great for salmon, cheese, boiled eggs, paprika powder, bacon, etcetera, etcetera.

Warm/hot smoking is excellent for ribs and other cuts of pork or beef that need slow cooking. You'll find loads of instructions on YouTube.

The first cold smoker

The warm smoker, and ![](upload://iCDqLL6DrvMQHPsYMCuuR0qagCa.jpg)

The Cold Smoker. Sawdust goes into the drawer, and the meat/fish/sausages hangs from racks in the top part.

Now off you go to your local decheterie for some tanks and get welding!

Remi - a drying box sounds brilliant!

i've thought about having a go at chicharrones - dry pork rind thingys - they would go down really well in our house - but i think i need to dry the skin first

or on a healthier tip - dried banana chips? can you do that?