padrón peppers

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A couple of weeks ago in the guardian’s Saturday Magazine, Yotam Ottolenghi gave us a recipe using padrón peppers.  I have eaten these in Tenerife but not cooked like this!  Fast forward a week or so to when I was looking for inspiration … Continue reading

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coffee anyone?

I love coffee.  Coffee chocolates, coffee ice cream and up there at the top is, of course, my morning coffee.  Heaven help you if you encounter me before I’ve had it.  You have been warned!  Only joking.  Well, maybe not …… 😄!

Last week I came across recipes for coffee cake in three different locations on the same day  and thought someone must be trying to tell me something.  I decided to make the one baked by Kath over at The Ordinary Cook.  She weighs her eggs (in the shells) which is something new to me, then weighs the flour, butter and sugar to the same weight.  Clever!  My eggs weighed quite a bit more than Kath’s so I used two 23cm sandwich tins (9 inch for those who don’t work in metric).  I was also rushing a bit as I had a pile of ironing to do so I opted for the all-in-one method for mixing.  (Actually, I put everything in the mixing bowl then read the method – oops!).  I baked them at 150°C in my fan oven (which runs quite hot) for 25-30 mins and they looked pretty good when they came out of the oven.  The cakes are sandwiched together with a lovely coffee buttercream which isn’t too sweet and, if you have any left, spread it over the top.  Thanks Kath – it’s very good – just the thing for a cold and miserable day.  Or any day come to think of it.  Who needs an excuse!



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Happy 2016

fresh and tasty

fresh and tasty

The second day of the new year already!  I really did mean to post this yesterday but didn’t quite get around to it.  No I wasn’t partying, nor did I have a hangover.  This year I was trying to get myself ready to face the year – you know, gather my thoughts, make resolutions (haha!) and generally get the house tidy after Christmas.

My first meal of the year (yesterday lunch) was delicious.  The recipe I found in the donna hay magazine (oct/nov 2015) Issue 83 – corn, kale and coriander fritters with crispy bacon.  I’ve actually made it a couple of times now as it really is so good.  Fritter batter made with greek yoghurt (0% fat for me), flour and eggs then sweetcorn, kale, fresh coriander and chilli stirred in along with some salt and pepper.  I couldn’t get all the kale stirred into the batter so I served it on the side with some sweet tomato and chilli chutney.  It even sounds healthy!  I’ve had it with and without bacon and my  preference would be for without, but that’s just me. This is my kind of food.

I hope all my meals are going to be as tasty as this one!  Happy New Year!



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manãna, manãna

I’m afraid to say that the words ‘manãna, manãna’ seem to have featured rather a lot in my life lately.  I know that while I have been resting my sore foot I should have been writing heaps but I just kept putting it off. And now here we are in November!  My foot is almost back to normal thankfully but wasn’t helped by my accidentally running on it at about week 9 of recovery.  How does one run accidentally?  Ah well, engrossed in my book on the train, I suddenly realised I was at my stop and, completely forgetting I had a sore foot (no crutches, no boot), ran to the door.  Oops.  Silly me.  Hence my rather delayed recovery.

Today I decided to try a new soup – a recipe from Elly Pear which I tore out of an InStyle magazine recently. Elly Pear (real name Elly Curshen) of the Pear Cafe in Bristol is InStyle’s food writer.  I didn’t make this butternut and cannellini bean soup for any Halloween celebrations, I just made it because the recipe sounded really good.  And it was!  There was smoked salt, sweet smoked paprika, bay, chilli and cumin to spice it up.  And it did!  I had a whole dried chipotle chilli which I blitzed in the spice grinder to get flakes.  Mmmm.  Powder more like.  Suffice to say it was fairly hot!  I added some extra squash and this reduced the heat.  I served it with some Greek yoghurt (0% fat) and some toasted pumpkin seeds as I didn’t want (or need) the calories of mascarpone!

delicious 'warming' soup for a chilly autumn day

delicious ‘warming’ soup for a chilly autumn day

I confess I noticed on the outside of the chilli pack it said hot, hot, hot.  I should have been paying attention!  Mmm.  I do believe chilli raises the metabolism.  Yes!  Every cloud etc, etc.


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mes vacances

No prizes for guessing where I’ve been on holiday this year but it really was the holiday with a difference ….

then ... and now

then … and now

Unfortunately I slipped walking down a very steep hill on the second day of our holiday in the south of France and broke a bone in my foot!!  My 5th metatarsal to be precise.  It was a very relaxing holiday for me but I’m afraid I can’t quite say the same for Graeme as he had to do the shopping, the cooking, the dishes and make sure I had everything I needed.  You know – water, sunscreen, book, sunglasses, phone … and the list goes on!  Let me tell you using crutches is not easy – only essential journeys were undertaken.  And whilst I was unable to swim in our lovely pool I was able to lounge about and enjoy the sunshine which was fantastic. Now I’m home the cast is off and I have the very sexy black boot which you see here (I feel sure it will be the “it” boot this season!).   I’m also able to get around without the crutches which makes a huge difference.  It’s not until you do something like this that you realise just how incapacitating it is.

I can’t remember the last time I went so long without cooking and so I really enjoyed making the simplest tomato sauce for pasta this week.  Back in the swing just as my our first courgettes are ready to pick.

round squash - perfect for stuffing

round squash – perfect for stuffing

These round yellow squash are a new variety for us – I thought they’d be good stuffed so hopefully they’ll be big enough soon.  Tonight we’re having regular green courgettes and I know they’re going to be delicious not to mention seasonal and very, very local.


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you shall have a fishy in your little dishy

Or rather, in my case, a bit of a fishy.  We’ve been eating more fish in our house recently and I’ve been trying to ring the changes so we’re not eating the same things all the time although we have had this dishy quite often recently.  I was going through my food cupboard (my yearly clear out) and found I had rather a lot of tinned beans.  (Well within their ‘best before’ dates too, I may add!).  I used them to make a delicious bean, spinach and tomato stew and served it with a portion of roasted halibut.  

What you need – for 2.

Olive oil, garlic – crushed, tin of beans (cannellini was my choice but only because I’d obviously thought we were going to have a long, hard winter when I couldn’t get to the shops!!), bag of spinach, 2-3 decent sized tomatoes, a lemon or two, fresh basil and some salt and pepper – also 2 fillets of fish

Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the crushed garlic and cook gently without browning.  Skin and deseed the tomatoes then chop into smallish squares before adding to the pan containing the garlic. Cook the spinach separately, drain well and set aside.  Drain the beans, rinse them and put them in with the tomatoes.  Add the spinach when it’s almost time to serve, along with some fresh basil. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over and season to taste.  Serve with the fish of your choice.

I don’t think the bean stew needs to be boiling hot – just nicely warmed through. This dish can be made with your favourite beans (preferably not the ones in tomato sauce) and your favourite fish.  You can roast it, steam it, pan fry it.  You choose.  This is a really quick and tasty supper, suitable for any night of the week.  

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bread, bread and more bread

I recently visited The School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire for a four day Artisan Baking Session.  It was fantastic!  Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, assisted by David Carter, showed us how to make everything from a plain white loaf to a rye sourdough as well as croissants and Danish pastries!  It was an action-packed four days and I did hope to write about each what we did each day but unfortunately I had no internet.  All the breads were made using a folding technique which makes it quite easy rather than feeling you’ve had a strenuous workout.  Although, if that’s what you want, go for it!

We arrived at 9 o’clock each day for breakfast (toast and croissants) then made bread from 9.30-5.00 with an hour for lunch every day.  Lunch was provided and each day they were more delicious.  Lamb and pomegranate salad, roasted vegetables, pulled pork (divine!), quiche, and more – accompanied, of course, by a selection of home made bread and cheese*.  Thank you girls!

A small selection of the bread I made …

 On the last day we made croissants and Danish pastries which looked so professional.  We all made the croissant dough and puff pastry but did a batch bake so I’m not sure if these were actually mine but I can assure you they all looked amazing and tasted scrumptious!  And that’s from someone who’s not really a pastry eater!  I took home two of each and for my supper I managed to devour a pain au raisin (my Danish pastry of choice – only if forced to have one you understand) and a pain au chocolat!


Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking – two of everything and two missing but not a pain au raisin or pain au chocolat.  Worry not!  The missing two went to the owner of the B and B I was staying at as they were her favourite and not into my tummy!

We did a photo shoot at the end of the last day ….. 

It was a brilliant weekend.  I met some lovely new people and I learned how to make better bread in beautiful surroundings.  The only downside for me was that I couldn’t take all my bread home because I was travelling by train.  I did manage to pack up my pastries for the journey home though!

*The Welbeck Estate is the home of the Stichelton cheese referred to in my post “cheese on toast”

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