Playing with food

“Stop playing with your food,” my mother would tell her small, fussy-eater daughter as I pushed it around the plate finding yet another things that I’d decided I didn’t like. I’m still a fussy eater but nowadays I can enjoy ‘playing around’ with food as much as I want to …always assuming I can get hold of the ingredients. For the time being I’m conserving eggs, at least until I see whether Monday brings me the ones I’ve ordered in my shopping delivery. I’ve been looking at recipes for eggless cakes and biscuits and remembered that in the past I’d made a vegan lemon cake but found it rather stodgy and heavy.  A chocolate cake was recommended the other day, so that’s on my list to try, but first Husband fancied biscuits.

ZalettiI came across Zaletti, (pronounced with a soft z, more like an s) which are small, crumbly Venetian biscuits made with polenta (cornmeal) and raisins. Traditionally the raisins are soaked in Grappa, a high-volume alcohol which is made from the leftover skins, seeds and pulp of grapes that have been pressed for winemaking.  In fact the zaletti recipe did contain egg, but only one and it promised around 40 biscuits which seemed good value so a single egg was sacrificed to the mixing bowl.  I didn’t have Grappa (does anyone?) and debated over the various other bottles of alcohol in the cupboard finally settling on Amaretto.

Although some other zaletti recipes (I’ve since looked them up) show pictures of round biscuits, the one I was using, torn from the Sunday supplement several months ago but never before used, said that they should be walnut sized and shaped. The mixture is devilishly crumbly to handle but I ended up with 38 ‘walnuts’ so I reckon I got them about right. Whilst they don’t look pretty, they taste okay and I like the crumbly texture which probably comes from the polenta.  How come Husband gets three to my single one?  Oh I know – Slimming World!   When I removed them from the baking tray there were lots of crumbly bits left so I gathered them up and put them in a dish ready to use later.Baked apple

We don’t eat dessert very often but I needed to use up some apples. I’d usually make an apple cake but the egg dilemma reared its head again so the apples were cored, filled with sultanas, drenched in the leftover Amaretto (from draining the soaked sultanas used in the zaletti), baked and served with ice cream and the zaletti crumbs and if that’s not making use of leftovers, I don’t know what is!

A while ago I’d accidentally picked up a pack of frozen Mediterranean vegetables (I can’t remember what I’d thought I was buying). We’d eaten some but, although we love such a mixture, found the frozen version a bit too mushy. The rest had languished in the freezer for a couple of months so I mixed it with grated cheese and one of those precious eggs , defrosted a piece of shortcrust pastry (I always cut it into quarters before freezing it) and made three individual quiches. I’d expected to make two so the extra one was a bonus.  The pastry trimmings were used for a few cheese straws, and very nice they were.

Mini quiche



  1. AS a non cook, I really do enjoy reading about your cooking. I have found that cooks are more “discerning” (not actually fussy) regarding food, and generous. All the good cooks I’ve ever known have been sharing people. My grand daughter cook stocked up my fridge and pantry the day before the lockdown. I’ve never had such yummy food in my home.


    • I’m really pleased that you said you enjoy reading about my cooking, Ratnamurti. I sometimes think ,will my readsres be thinking – oh no mot food again’! I’m not chef, and no great shakes in the presentation department but I do enjoy ‘playing around with food’ and people seem happy enough to eat it. Yes, those of us who enjoy cooking also enjoy sharing our efforts with others.


    • Thank you Jean. I’d no idea about the vinegar….one to remember. I’d heard of using Aquafaba – have you tried it? I don’t like chickpeas so wondered whether there is a taste?


  2. Oh, I’m glad you get to play with your food, now, Eloise and it looks like you came up with some very creative dishes as a result! My usual no-egg cookie is shortbread. I have 8 eggs left, after my dinner of a scrambled egg, last night. I usually eat 2 eggs a week, so, I think I’m OK for eggs, for at least a month. My daughter had stocked up on eggs, but, she is running low on sugar!


    • That’s great, Bless. We get through around 15 eggs a week! OK for sugar but we ran out of bread and almost milk, hoping for some in the delivery today! I do make shortbread occasionally.


  3. Oh, I like the idea of the frozen (de-frosted of course Med veg, Eloise. I will see if there are any on the Waitrose website, but much of the foods has been simplified for the time being, fewer choices.
    I don’t think I’ve ever been a fussy eater, nor have our sons, and husband has always eaten whatever has been put in front of him, perhaps the result of being a war baby and perhaps being glad of anything to eat! There are things I’m not keen on but they are not ‘ordinary’ fare, such as calimari, and I’d not want stuffed hearts, and i’m not keen on kidney although I like liver & onions.
    Margaret P


    • Calamari, kidney and liver – three of my most detested things! Husband is not fussy but would prefer not to be given prawns or scampi, though he would eat them. He’d always choose a ‘proper dinner’ over some of the salads I make but eats pretty much anything I put before him.


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