Monday, 31 December 2012

Thoughts

I should be writing about a recipe I have only put one post on since moving here.
I also have not been well since moving to France, and I have been feeling a little homesick!
But that is all about to change and I will get back to blogging about food and our time in France.
In the mean time here's  a couple of pictures of our new life.

This is the area that we have cleared for our veg patch.

And this is what it looks like now.
We still have 3 more raised beds to make, the soil is very heavy and the land has not had anything done to it for years.
We have dug a trench for our runner beans and filling it with a layer of newspapers and the veg waste from kitchen ready for next spring.
It will be a lot smaller than our plot back in Cornwall, as at the moment we are renting until we decide to find somewhere to buy.


HAPPY NEW YEAR
BON FETE


See you next year.
Paula
xxx

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Coq au Vin

I love the long summers that you get in Southern France, but I also like the winters, especially the start of autumn because for me it's the start of slow cooking, braising, casseroles. The smell of a casserole slow cooking as you walk in from the cold it brings back memories of my childhood. Coming home from school wet and miserable only to walk into our kitchen and be hit by a wall of tantalising smells that filled me with joy, and couldn't wait for dad to get home so we could all tuck into this wonderful food with a chunk of home made bread, followed by rice pudding..

Well, today is one of those days, it's raining and theres a chill in the air which I'm sure wasn't there yesterday even the leaves have taken on an autumnal colour today.
So I have decided to cook Coq au Vin.

Coq au Vin is a very old french dish invented (allegedly) by Julius Caesar.
And original recipes say you should marinate the chicken overnight which is fine if you remember or know what you are cooking the following day,which I don't always being a true Gemini I change my mind a lot!
Here is my recipe that I have adapted over the years. I used chicken pieces because I had plein air (free range) chicken legs that I had bought from the market the previous day.
But most recipe books say to use a whole chicken jointed into 12 pieces, the choice is yours depending how many you are cooking for.

Serves 4

4 chicken legs
300 ml of red wine
Glug of olive oil
2 tbsp flour
100g cured bacon cut into cubes
2 carrots cut into chunks
10 shallots small
100g button mushrooms
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
150 ml chicken stock
Bouquet garni
Ground sea salt and black pepper

Place your chicken pieces in a dish and cover with the red wine pop into fridge.
Heat the oven 180 *C/gas4
Put olive oil into an oven proof casserole dish and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes
Add the shallots and carrots fry gently for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped garlic and whole mushrooms cook for another 2 minutes stirring regularly.
Take off  from heat and with a slotted spoon put all cooked ingredients onto another plate and put to one side.
Put casserole dish back onto hob and add your chicken pieces in batches and brown, then remove from casserole dish put to one side.
Add the flour to casserole dish reducing heat slightly stir in all the crispy bits and juices until the fat has been completly absorbed .
Then add your wine that had been marinating the chicken and chicken stock stirring slowly.
Bring to the boil  add your chicken pieces, mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bacon, bouquet garni.
Cover and return casserole to the oven for 45 mins.

I served mine with mashed potatoes to soak up the delicious gravy, but a nice chunk of french bread is equally as good.
The wine we had with the meal was Chateau Tour d' Arfon a Bergerac Red.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Three weeks today!

Well, we have been here in St Aubin three weeks today, and it has taken me this time to readjust.
We had our first day of rain yesterday and today its wall to wall sunshine like it has been everyday since we arrived.
It is absolutely beautiful here and I am slowly falling back under its spell, France is such a fascinating country.
I know I  am supposed to be writing about my passion for food, and I will get back into blogging about it, but I just wanted to write a small piece today and to add some pictures.
My oldest dog Belle who has lived in France with us before is right back in the groove! Sidney who has only been past the Tamar Bridge into Devon twice, is one seriously chilled out dog(long may it continue).
We know we have a lot of paper work and red tape but at the moment we are savouring the peace and tranquillity that the Lot is offering us.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Well, less than three weeks now before I leave Cornwall  and head off to the Lot-et-Garonne.
I have been looking at my blog and feeling guilty for not writing anything! But I really have had a lot to sort out before the move.
My dogs passports check! My passport check! My ferry tickets check! My car serviced check! My furniture van booked check! The list goes on, and I won't bore you, but these are the most important things to have booked well in advance.

I must get out into the garden to do some weeding, I have people coming around tonight to view my home which I will be letting .
And when I write this I have a lump in my throat! my home, I know every crook and cranny of this house.
 The garden which is a joy and has lifted my spirits so many times.
And lovely neighbours who have been there when I needed them.
Why am I going? I am going because I want a different experience, I am going because I want to meet new people, I am going because I know in my heart it's where I need to be.
How long who knows, but unless I give it a go I will always wounder what if??
I am also incredibly  excited about the whole prospect of moving to another country although I had also forgotten how incredibly stressful the whole process is..

Well I better get back to the packing and dismantling of beds.

Abiento

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Moving to France in Five Weeks!!

I have been desperate to put something on my blog but I was scared that I would be tempting fate so to speak.

I am moving back to France and I am secretly over the moon...
I have lived in France before the first time was a sabaticle back in 2005 which was amazing,packed with highs and lows.One of the lows being I broke my ankle in three places in the october 2004 and was in plaster until the Dec 21st and pinned in my leg and ankle.
But I was determined that it wouldn't change anything as far as my year in France was concerned.

So on the 15 January we packed our car with just enough clothes our cat and two dogs to catch the ferry and drive down through France  to our "new home" for twelve months.
We ended up going back to France again in 2008 but it wasn't to be and we returned to my beautiful Cornwall.

Now it's happening again, after three years and more research we are moving lock stock and barrel.
We don't know how long this chapter will last ( hopefully longer than a year) .
I am nervous ,excited, aprehensive but in my heart of hearts it's the right thing to do .
So my humble little blog that I started this year will continue, but it will not be from my beautiful Cornwall it will be from Ma belle France.

As I said, haven't given up my blog, just am having to put it on the back burner so to speak until I can start blogging again, phew! Can't wait.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Rain,rain,go away!!

I have been desperate to do some work at the allotment but the weather has been so bad, and the gales we've had the last two days I was a bit weary of what damage had been done.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to see there wasn't too much damage. The broad beans had taken a bashing! But were all intact just needed a bit more support with some extra canes,the runner beans are only a couple of inches out of the ground so no damage there. The onions, shallots and garlic had rocked about a bit so I gently heeled them back into place.
Peas are struggling, what with the temperature jumping about and the dreaded slugs having a "jolly ol' time" with this damp weather, Where are the hedgehogs when you really need them!! I don't think we will have too many peas to get excited about.
Lettuces are doing splendidly and so are the beetroot, although not ready yet for harvesting.
Sweetcorn small but healthy, planted leeks where we harvested some early potatoes, they are doing fine.
So I made a start with the weeding for two hours in between the heavy showers, in the end the rain made it impossible to keep working, so I cut some rhubarb, dug up potatoes and picked some lettuces.




Tonight's meal is going to be a warm chicken salad with new potatoes and a rhubarb crumble with Cornish clotted cream for pudding.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Asparagus and chorizo tart

I love the taste of asparagus its up there as one of my top ten favourite vegetables, and it has been slow arriving this year due to the weather.
It is also one of the many vegetables that I don't grow sadly but it arrived at our local veg market in abundance at the week end.
 I saw this recipe from a brilliant new magazine which has only recently come onto the magazine shelves called  Landscape it had a variety of recipes using asparagus as the main ingredient in this first issue, amongst lots of other wonderful stories and glorious photography.
The one I chose was Asparagus and chorizo tart that I have adapted.

Asparagus and chorizo tart
serves 8

200 g plain flour
100 g butter cubed
100 g grated cheese cheddar
4 free range large eggs
100 g of sliced chorizo
1 tablespoon olive oil
A bundle of fresh asparagus
120 ml of double cream


Preheat oven 200*C/400*F/Gas mark 6
Lightly grease a 8in quiche tin

1.In a large mixing bowl add your sieved flour, some of the grated cheese, butter and an egg.

2. Pull your ingredients together by hand and knead until you have a pastry dough.

4. Roll pastry on floured surface and line tin with the pastry, prick pastry all over with fork and place in fridge for 15 minutes .

5. Fry the chorizo in oil for a few minutes drain excess oil and leave to one side.

6.Take off the ends of asparagus and add to a saucepan of boiling water for a few minutes drain and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

7. Bake the pastry blind in the oven for 15 minutes.

8. Whilst in oven combine the cream, eggs and cheese,with freshly ground salt and black pepper.

9.Put asparagus onto pastry, add the chorizo and cream mixture,and bake in the oven for 30/40 minutes.

10.Take out of oven and leave to cool slightly.


I served mine with some mixed salad leaves, tomato and a balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Fabulous flavours and very filling, would be great served cold for picnics and parties, I can think of one very important celebration coming up that this tart would go down a treat!














Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Our First Harvest of New Potatoes!

Our first crop of new potatoes for this year, and we are really pleased!!

This will be our 3rd year of growing potatoes, but you never lose that excitement and pleasure that you get when you dig up your first plants and find the treasure, I love it!

We planted the seed potatoes called Foremost on the 29th February and these beauties have come from 3 potato plants, which took 12 weeks to get to this
size.
They will keep the two of us and any guests that like to come for supper in spuds for at least a week or two.
 Depending on weather which is glorious at the moment, we could be having a lot of potato salads, or simply boiled with a nob of Cornish butter and some freshly ground black pepper and Cornish sea salt.
They taste delicious roasted in olive or rapeseed oil also.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Allotment Update

 A few pictures of our allotment . Ed is weeding around raised beds, onions are coming on a treat.
We have put up the bamboo canes for runner beans. This weekend I will plant french beans next to the runner beans.
 In this picture our first early potatoes, the weeds have gone mad on the paths so next few days I will be digging them up!
 Picture below are  broad beans that we planted out from seed back in February, again lots of weeding to do.
We have had weeks of rain here in Cornwall, so although the veg is growing nicely unfortunately so are the weeds.

Bacon Frittata with Homemade Coleslaw

Frittata is so simple and filling to make its something I love to create if we are both going to be late home from work.
I like to serve frittata with homemade coleslaw that I have adapted .

Ingredients for Frittata
Servings 4

4 large free range eggs
Knob of butter
Tablespoon of olive oil
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
2 large peeled and cubed potatoes
1 large onion
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
4 slices of free range bacon cut into small pieces

Ingredients for coleslaw

Half a  finely chopped white cabbage
2 finely chopped celery sticks
2 finely chopped/grated carrots
1 finely chopped shallot
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons of natural yogurt.


1.Cook potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender then drain, tip into a large bowl and leave to one side.

2.In a small pan fry bacon until cooked and add to potatoes.

3.Melt your butter and olive in large frying pan, add chopped onions, garlic and fry until soft and pale yellow in colour. Lightly beat eggs add to potato mixture stir and add to frying pan.


4. Then cook frittata without stirring, shaking  pan once or twice to loosen frittata, until underside is golden but the top is still a little wet.

5.Place pan under grill if handle not ovenproof,wrap handle with a double layer of cooking foil.
Grill frittata until golden and set. Slide onto a plate and cool to room temperature.

To Make your Coleslaw

1.In large bowl add your finely chopped cabbage,chopped celery,carrots and shallot.
Add 3 large tablespoons of natural yogurt and season to taste.

Slice your frittata into 4, place on plates with coleslaw and I served mine with some pea shoots.

Takes roughly 45 mins to prepare and cook.




Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spelt Bread

I've never tasted spelt bread and have very little knowledge of the flour.
So whilst shopping for my usual flour for making bread I spotted the organic spelt flour and remembered vaguely the Hairy Bikers making this type of bread so I thought I would bake a loaf.

I love wholemeal bread so this recipe was a given.
The texture is slightly crumbly and tastes delicious on its own with a smothering of your favourite butter.
Spelt bread makes great sandwiches and is very filling,but not a heavy bread.
The bread stayed fresh for three days in a bread tin.

Spelt bread  will naturally prove and rise more quickly than those made with conventional wheat flour, so reduce the rising time and bake as soon as bread has doubled in size.

Here's the recipe.

Oven 200*C/Fan180*C/400*F/Gas 6

This recipe will make 1large loaf or 2 1lb loaves

500g Wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of quick yeast
1 tablespoon of honey
400 ml of warm water
1 tablespoon of olive oil

1. In a large bowl mix together flour salt and yeast.

2. Dissolve the honey in the warm water  add to the flour roughly mix then add the olive oil and bring your dough together.

3.Knead your dough on a floured work top for 5 minutes, then divide between two 500g/1lb loaf tins.

4.Cover and leave dough to rise for 35 mins in a warm place.

6.Bake in preheated oven for 40\45 minutes.
If not sure bread is cooked take out of tin and tap the base, the bread should sound hollow.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lemon Sole with Peas and Pea shoots

I love fish..I love food...

This recipe is easy peasy!! sorry about the pun.
In half an hour you are serving up a delicious meal fit for kings.
Lemon sole with a buttery lemony caper sauce.


Serves 2

2 lemon sole filleted
Organic rapeseed oil
2oz of butter
Tablespoon of capers
1 whole lemon
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Frozen peas
Pea shoots
Purple sprouting brocoli (enough for two people)

Put oven on 160*C /325*F/ gas mark 3

1.On a baking tray lightly flour and add freshly ground salt and black pepper.
Add your lemon sole fillets and evenly coat each side with the flour, leave to one side.


2.Fill two medium saucepans with cold water and place on hob to boil, add some freshly ground salt to the water.

3.In a large frying pan add your tablespoon of oil and 2 oz of butter.
When starting to sizzle without burning add two fillets squeeze some juice of a lemon into the pan fry for 3 minutes turnover and do the same for the other side your fillets should be slightly crispy and golden colour.
Place fillets on a warm plate in the oven, then do the same process for your other fillets add more butter if needed.

4.Whilst your second batch of fillets are frying add your peas to boiling water and purple sprouting broccoli.

5.After no more than 6 minutes of frying place second batch of fillets onto warm plate in oven.
Add more butter and lemon juice to frying pan with your chopped capers and fry gently.
Drain peas and broccoli, season and add your pea shoots to your cooked peas and mix together lightly.

6.On warm plates place your lemon sole fillets, then your PSB, peas and peashoots.
Drizzle over your buttery sauce.
And there you have a delicious colourful meal that takes no more than half an hour to prepare and cook.
A taste of spring and the sea on a plate.





Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto is another of our favourite comfort foods.
It is time consuming, but worth the effort.
That gorgeous  creamy yet intense flavour is so comforting,it is so straight forward to cook the only snag is you must keep stirring your rice so it doesn't dry out too quickly.
My recipe will feed 4 people for a main, and has been adapted over the years from several different risotto recipes, I don't even think about measuring anything!

Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4
Litre of chicken or veg stock
1 oz of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of finely chopped garlic
1 large finely chopped onion
300g of risotto rice
175 ml of dry white wine
100 g of chopped fresh field mushrooms
25 g of mixed dry mushrooms.
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
100 g of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a measuring jug add your dry mushrooms and add 150ml of boiling water and leave to one side.

2.Get a small saucepan and add your litre of stock and bring to a gentle simmer.

3.In a heavy based pan add your olive oil, butter, onions and garlic, fry gently for roughly 15 minutes to soften. Then add your rice and stir so that you create a lovely coating over the rice without burning.

4.Add your wine to the rice and stir continuously, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5.Start to ladle/ spoon your stock into the rice add your seasoning at this stage and your fresh mushrooms and keep stirring.

6.Keep the heat down to a simmer because you don't won't to over cook your rice on the outside, after 15 minutes add your dried mushrooms and put half of the mushroom liquid in with your veg stock.
I don't put all the liquid in from the dried mushrooms because you will get some grit in the bottom of jug.
But the liquid helps to give the risotto that lovely intense flavour.

7.Keep adding your stock and taste rice to see if cooked/if you need more stock just add some boiling water to the rice.

8.Once cooked remove from heat, add a nob of butter and some Parmesan, taste to see if more seasoning is needed, cover with lid or foil and leave for 2/4 minutes.

Get your warmed plates and serve your risotto quickly.
I served mine with warm olive bread and loads of freshly grated Parmesan.
DELICIOUS!!!!




Thursday, 19 April 2012

Chilli Peppers Update!

I said back in January when I started this blog,that I would start my chillies early and I sowed some seeds in an electric propagator last week of January.
Here's how they are doing so far.

In the black pots are Banana Chilli (sweet pepper)
I have not grown these before.
Apparently they are often used for pickling and are delicious stuffed.
I  really like the look of the pepper and they are sweet, the longer they ripen the sweeter they become.
I will move them to a grow bag and sheltered sunny spot in a weeks time.


The chillies in the red pots are a Hot Pepper (cheyenne).
I have grown these before with success, these chillies are great for frying and salsas,amongst lots of other things.
Although quite hot, I find you still get that lovely sweetness, and for milder dishes I pick them green.
Again I will move these into a grow bag in a weeks time.
I am starting to harden them off outside during the day.





I had to put these pictures on of my Piris  shrub, I have never seen it look so beautiful, full of flowers and the bees are loving it.
As you has seen with my other pictures not the greatest of photographers, and I can't blame the camera!
But I hope you can understand  the pleasure I get when I walk out into my garden and see this fabulous shrub covered in these stunning bell shaped flowers with bees bums sticking out from within!!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Marinated Lamb Chops with Aubergine stacks

I do love lamb chops.
And I like to marinate mine in some olive oil balsamic vinegar smashed garlic and seasoning.
Then after a couple of hours or less depending on time I pop them under the grill for 6 minutes each side, I like mine slightly pink, but the fat has to be dark and crispy .
Here is a recipe that I do quite often it is relatively simple to create and everything is done in the oven with very little fuss.
Ingredients you will need
For 2 persons.

2 to 4 lamb chops depending of size and cut
Olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Clove of garlic smashed
Salt and ground black pepper.


1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
 Olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper

For your Aubergine stacks

1 Aubergine
Olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
Block of halloumi cheese cut into slices

1.Preheat the oven 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.

Make the marinade for your lamb chops.

In a bowl add 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 1 clove of garlic smashed, salt and black pepper.
Mix all ingredients together and brush over the lamb chops cover in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

2.Slice your peppers and place in an oven tray add a glug of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper give a good stir making sure all your peppers have a reasonable coating of olive oil and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

3.Slice your aubergines and season with salt.
Heat a frying pan or even better a griddle pan if you have one.
Brush your aubergine slices with olive oil and when pan is hot add your aubergine and cook for a couple of minutes each side so that they have a bit of colour.
Cook your slices in batches and then leave to one side while you prepare your halloumi.

4.Slice your halloumi cheese enough to make two stacks roughly four slices for each stack.
On a lightly greased oven tray with a food stacker if you have one start to alternate your aubergine and cheese, season each layer  with salt and freshly ground pepper as you go.
Use you larger pieces of aubergine for the base of your stacks and place in the oven with your peppers and cook for 10 minutes so the cheese starts to soften and brown.

5.With the peppers and aubergine stacks in the bottom of the oven, put your grill on and place lamb chops under the grill and cook for 6 minutes each side. I like my lamb pink so adjust the times according to your  taste.

6.On warm plates place your peppers, aubergine stacks and lamb chops, drizzle with the juices from your lamb.
I  served mine with freshly chopped coriander added to natural yogurt.





Monday, 2 April 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon

I haven't posted  recently because the weather has been so beautiful and we have had some work done on the outside of house  which then needed to be painted so our days off have consisted of nipping up to the allotment for a spot of weeding and checking the rabbits haven't polvolted onto our veg plot again !! and painting.

The last couple of days I have been hankering for Boeuf Bourguignon so I decided to cook it last evening.
I like many would be cooks, am a huge Julia Childs fan and have cooked Boeuf Bourguignon several different ways, but to me, hers is the best by far I have just adapted some things.
It takes alot of preparation and no rushing, the beef needs to be in the oven for at least 3 hours to benefit the full richness of flavour  and you will appreciate the effort that you put into the meal because you really get the individual flavours coming through from the onion,carrots mushrooms and subtle herbs.


So at 3pm in the afternoon I started cooking.

This recipe has been adapted from Julia Childs mastering the art of french cooking
Serves 6 people.

Boeuf Bourguignon
   

Ingredients
6 slices of free range streaky bacon cut into pieces
3lbs of lean beef for slow cooking
2 carrots sliced
1 medium sized onion sliced
2 tablespoons of flour
1teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.
1tablespoon of olive oil for cooking
3rd of bottle of red wine ( I used Bordeaux)
2 cups of beef stock ( I used kello organic beef stock)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
sprig of fresh time
1 bay leaf crumbled
18 small onions you can use more if you wish
1 lb of fresh mushrooms
knob of butter

For your braised onions
Knob of butter
Bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
1/2 glass of stock/wine/water

First put oven on to 220 C/425F gas mark 7

1.Place a hob friendly casserole dish on your hob and add olive oil once the oil is hot add the bacon and saute for 2/3 mins.
Then remove bacon from casserole dish onto a side dish.

2.Cut your beef into roughly 2inch cubes and add to the casserole dish which should be nice and hot.
Brown your beef in batches and add to your cooked bacon.
Once you have browned all your meat you can then add your sliced carrots and onion to the casserole  and saute until nice and brown.

3. If you have an excess of fat in pan drain a little off, then add your cooked bacon and browned beef in with the carrots and onion and season with salt and pepper.

4.Sprinkle on the flour and make sure that the beef is lightly coated.

5.Put casserole in middle of preheated oven for 4 mins remove  toss the beef and return to the oven for another 4 mins, this gives the beef a little crusty coating.Remove the casserole from oven and reduce heat to 160C/325F/gas mark3.

6.Add your wine and beef stock and make sure the beef is completely covered. Add your garlic, herbs and tomato paste stir and bring to a simmer on top of your hob. Place the lid back on casserole and return to lower part of oven and allow casserole to simmer gently for 2/3 hours (meat should be very tender at this point).

7.While the casserole is cooking, you can prepare your onions.

Place a small saucepan on a med heat and add your nob of butter and melt.
Then add your peeled onions whole , add either 1/2 cup of water or stock (I used some of the left over beef stock) , bouquet garni, salt and pepper.
And allow to simmer stirring occasionally for 40 mins, don't allow stock to dry out, add more stock if necessary.
You can do your onions well in advance and then leave to cool, remove bouquet garni.

8.Slice your mushrooms and in another pan add some butter and gently fry your mushrooms until soft and slightly brown in colour leave to one side.

9.Now Julia Child's recipe  when the beef is nice and tender would pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve over a pan and then washes out the casserole dish.
Then returns the beef and bacon.
 I skip that and just add the braised whole onions and mushrooms to the casserole give a quick stir and place back in oven for another 15 mins.

I served mine with mashed potato  some french beans, and crusty bread and  chopped fresh  parsley to decorate. You can enjoy this tasty casserole with traditional boiled potatoes and greens what ever you prefer.
Oh! and a Glass or two of French Red wine


Bon App├ętit!





Thursday, 22 March 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

This  recipe I have  adapted over the years  I don't use a whole chicken cut into pieces I use two free range chicken breasts which stay moist in flavour, you could use thighs, whatever you prefer.
I cook this dish for two, but you can double-up on the meat, stock and quantities of veg depending on how many mouths you have to feed.
This is a very simple way to cook chicken cacciatore, some recipe's say to cook for 1hour but I cook mine for an hour and half, just to make sure the carrots and celery are soft but again that is my personal preference.
You really get this lovely intense flavour coming through  from the carrots, tomatoes and especially the celery.
It takes no time to prepare and yet you create this fabulous meal.
I served mine with steamed broccoli and found that this was very filling.

My picture doesn't do the dish justice I feel ,so I apologies for that.


Chicken Cacciatore

Serves: 2
Cooking : 1.30 hr

2 chicken breasts cut into pieces
1 oz of butter
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 carrots chopped
3 celery sticks chopped
Salt and pepper


1. In a flameproof casserole dish put the olive oil, butter and fry the onion gently for 10 mins then add chicken, salt and pepper and cook on a moderate heat stirring frequently for roughly 20 mins until chicken has a lovely brown  coating.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes, carrot and celery, and pour in100ml of water,(I used veg stock ) cover and put in oven at 180C/350F gas mark 4 for 1hr  until the chicken is tender and cooked, . DELICIOUS!!!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Pan fried chicken livers



I love chicken livers, especially fried with buttery mash potato, this recipe is so easy to create and very delicious to eat, and it takes very little time to prepare and cook.
I use pancetta, but you could use streaky bacon instead.




Here's my recipe.

ingredients for 2

225g/8oz of chicken livers
6 slices of pancetta
3large potatoes
A nob of butter
150 ml of milk

For the Jus
2 tablespoons of cranberry jelly
1glass 150ml of red wine
150ml of vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven 160 C 325 F gas mark3

1. Peel and put potatoes on to boil

2.Fry pancetta in a frying pan you don't need any oil, when panchetta is crispy put on a warm plate and put to one side.

3.In same pan that you cook pancetta fry your chicken livers and season well, on a medium heat for roughly 20 mins
I buy my chicken livers from a well known supermarket already cleaned and chopped ready to go.
My local butcher doesn't sell chicken livers,( I should ask why, perhaps it's obvious, just not to me).

4.Whilst chicken livers are cooking drain potatoes. leave to one side to cool, I like to use a potato ricer for my mash potatoes and then leave to one side until I'm ready to plate the food.

5. Put chicken livers on a warm dish and place in oven.

6.In a saucepan melt cranberry jelly.

7.In frying used for chicken livers add the red wine and deglaze then add the vegetable stock and add all ingredients to the melted cranberry jelly.
Stir and on medium heat allow to reduce and thicken.

8.Whilst making the jus melt your butter in another pan and add the milk and seasoning ready for your riced potatoes.
When liquid is just about to boil turn down heat add your potatoes and whisk to form a nice light whipped texture.

9.On warm serving plate assemble your mash potato, then add your chicken livers, add crispy pancetta, grate some parmesan and drizzle with the cranberry jus and serve.









Saturday, 10 March 2012

Allotment pictures

Here are some of the pictures of our allotment .
It's slowly beginning to shape up.
I didn't get to plant anything today,although there is plenty of time, I just love planting.




 This picture is where we have planted our first and second early potatoes,right at the bottom of the picture (near white van) we will plant runner beans and french beans.
We will put the canes up next month.


In this picture to the right onions planted and to the left garlic.
We haven't decided what will go in the raised beds yet.Still plenty of weeding to do,and adding organic fertiliser to the soil.

Willow. 
 Loui the goat and
Agie,the farmers pet Gloucester Old Spot 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Planting

Have finally got our garlic Tuscany Wight, Cristo and Amo planted.
It was in early January  I posted that I would be planting garlic bulbs because the weather was mild here in Cornwall, Ha! Spoke too soon, the frosts came and the rain, so we abandoned planting until last week end.
Have also planted Broad Beans, Onions Stuttgarter Stanfield and Stur BC 20 onions.
We grew these last year,and they were very successful,we harvested them a month earlier than they were due ,because the weather became very wet and I was afraid they would rot in the ground.
They had already reached a good size, I wish I had some pictures to post here.

We have also planted early potatoes, they are, 1st earlie's Foremost, Amaroza, 2nd earlie's Edzell Blue.

In seed trays I have sown Savoy Cabbage, Leeks Bandit, Aubergine Black Beauty, Sweetcorn Luscious F1, and Parsnips White Gem.

With the parsnips I have sown into biodegradable pots so not to disturb the roots and crowns once they have germinated.

The weather forecast for us here in Cornwall this week end is dry, so will be turning over more soil and also getting some organic seaweed fertiliser into the soil.
I will post some pictures at the weekend.




Friday, 24 February 2012

Easy cupcakes

A dear friend of mine said to me that because my blog has the word cupcake in it that I should have at least one recipe referring to cupcakes.
I did explain that it's my blog name and an american friend of mine calls everyone cupcake (mainly because he can't remember their name) anyway it's a play on words.
But I thought I would put a recipe in,which is very simple, the batter is a plain sponge mix and for the topping I did chocolate frosting with chocolate beans.

This recipe makes 12 med cupcakes.
Heat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin 

100g of SR flour
100g of ground almonds (optional)
100g of unsalted butter
100g of soft brown sugar
2 large free range eggs (thanks Lottie and Martha)!
2 Tablespoons of cold milk.

1.Sift flour into mixing bowl
2.In another bowl beat together butter and sugar until soft and whippy
3.Add your slightly beaten eggs a bit at a time until butter sugar and eggs are soft and fluffy.
4.Gently fold in the flour to the batter.
5.Finally add the cold milk.
6.Transfer to muffin tray
7.Bake in centre of oven for 15/20 mins until golden and firm to touch.
8.Leave to cool for at least an hour before adding chocolate frosting.


In picture there were 12, but I had a hot cup of tea and couldn't resist doing a food test!!!

To make chocolate frosting

150g of icing sugar
120g unsalted butter
120g of dark chocolate broken into small pieces


1.Place chocolate in bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water,once all the chocolate has melted leave to one side to cool to room temperature.
2.Soften butter and beat until pale and fluffy
3.Add sifted icing sugar a little at a time and work into butter,once all icing sugar is worked into butter you can add your room temperature melted chocolate bit by bit until you end up with a lovely dark frosting.
3.With piping bag pipe your cupcakes and then add your chocolate beans.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Silver Spoon

Well, last week-end my partner and I were in Birmingham visiting his family, which he has not seen since before Xmas, so it was great to catch-up.
Waiting for us at his parents home was a present from his sister and husband,(big food lovers also)  this fabulous cookery book.

Called The Silver Spoon.

I enjoy Italian food, and to cook Italian food ,but my knowledge is small .
I buy in a lot of  different pasta but I do make the effort and make my own pasta sometimes.
And I have a couple of Italian cook books, but this book is fabulous! pages and pages of fantastic simple recipes, well 1503 pages and 2,000 simple and authentic recipes to be precise.








Thursday, 2 February 2012

Roast crispy pork belly with egg fried rice

Saturday mornings I love Saturdays Kitchen on BBC1 at 10a.m.
And I was particularly excited this sat as one of my all time favourite chef's Ken Hom was on!!

His recipe was Roast crispy pork belly with egg fried rice, which I cooked last night.
It was so easy but the results were fantastic! great flavours from the egg fried rice and the belly pork gorgeous.
I am not a fan of pork fat unless it's the crackling from a Sunday roast, but this was so tasty.
I think because you need to let the pork dry out for several hours once you have rubbed the warm spices into the skin, it gives an incredible flavour to the end result.

The piece of free range pork I used in the picture was just enough for two people.
It was about  2lbs in weight as you will get some shrinkage.
This recipe can be found on the BBC's food website, and I can highly recommend this simple but delicious meal.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cornish Fairing Biscuits (with a twist)!

Today's weather is dull and wet, lots of other jobs to do but not in the mood, and wanted to bake something quickly..

So I thought I would bake some biscuits Cornish Fairings actually, got my mum's old recipe out only to find I don't have ginger (quite important that one) and golden syrup!
Well I had a good old rummage in the spice cupboard and I found some galangal which has a slight smell of ginger!!! and the recipe also has mixed spice  which I have so I thought I'd give it a go.
Oh also substituted honey for golden syrup.
Well, they are delicious even if I say so myself, they look the same as fairings, but they are slightly more chewy without being tough and because of the galangal the biscuits have a slight peppery taste but just a hint.
I am having to bake another batch as these have been eaten already!!
Here's the recipe

100 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon of galangal ( or ginger)
Pinch of salt
40 g of Castor sugar
50 g of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of Honey


Firstly pre heat the oven 200*C/400*F/Gas mark 6
Line two baking trays with grease proof paper and butter lightly
Sift flour into mixing bowl add salt, galangal, spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda
give a mix and add sugar and diced butter
Rub with fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs
Then add honey and pull together with wooden spoon
Add a little bit of cold water if dough is still crumbly
You should now have a nice firm dough
On a flat surface with your hands roll your dough to form a large sausage about 15inchs long, 2 inches thick 
Slice into 20 sections  and shape each piece of dough to 50p size balls
Place on grease proof paper leaving plenty of space between each ball as they should double in size
Bake in oven for 7 minutes until golden brown 
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes
Then gently lift off trays onto wire racks to allow to cool completely
Once thoroughly cooled place in airtight container, will keep for a few days
Unless like me they have all been eaten in seconds and am know off to make another batch!!
Enjoy.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Getting ready for planting!

Well I know in some places of England it's quite cold but here in Cornwall it's still fairly mild, so we have been able to turn some of the soil on the allotment ready to plant the garlic I'm planting Tuscany Wight.
We planted these for the first time last year and I'm still cooking with them, great flavour and large size bulb, ours stored very well.

Here are a few pictures of our allotment.

As you can see looks rather sad at the moment, but it is the time of year! we would normally have brussels sprouts and cabbages but last year we had a VERY wet summer and humid so what didn't rot got eaten by the cabbage white, slugs and pigeons.
We should have covered with some form of netting but never got around to it, (we were away a lot ) and again the weather wasn't so great.

Having said that, early spring was very dry and we had a great harvest of pak choy spring cabbage, broad beans,early potatoes early carrots and beetroot.
But as the season moved on the rain came and so a lot of salad crops, sweetcorn,  carrots, got eaten or floated off down the allotment to the owners pig! who doesn't complain.
Hopefully we will have a better summer but I must put in the hours also.

I am in the process of ordering onion sets, I have never done onion seeds so can't comment on the difference.. if there is any I'd love to know.

My sister bought me a propagator for Xmas so I will start thinking about getting my chilli seeds and peppers planted , well maybe next month, I'm getting ahead of myself .




In this last picture we have turned over the plot on the right , but need to add some goodness to the soil, don't use chemicals only organic matter or as near as possible.
Thinking of planting potatoes and legumes ,also doing bit of companion planting, I love marigolds and sweet peas so have more research to do as far as what to add to the soil that's compatible to these vegetables and flowers.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Rosemary and Caramelised onion Focaccia Bread

My first attempt at baking Focaccia bread and it turned out very tasty!

I wanted to bake some bread because I was making chicken and noodle soup for supper, so I thought instead of the normal bread I usually bake I will try Focaccia.

I had some shallots leftover from xmas and we have a huge Rosemary bush in the garden so that was the topping sorted.

Rosemary and Caramelised onion Focaccia Recipe

500g White Bread Flour
1teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar  
7g Sachet of easy bake yeast
300ml Warm Water (1 part boiling 2 parts cold)

In large mixing bowl add flour and salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
In a measuring jug measure your water and add sugar until dissolved
Then add yeast and whisk until you have a light foam on top
Leave for another 10 mins
While waiting for yeast to ferment finely chop 2 shallots and gently fry in a nob of butter a
Add a teaspoon of sugar once caramelised take off heat and leave to one side
Chop up two sprigs of fresh rosemary leave to one side
When yeast mix is nice and foamy give another whisk and add to your flour
Bring all your ingredients together to form a nice dough (if to dry add a small amount of water, if too wet add a small amount of flour)
Knead the dough on a floured surface for at least 10 mins( great exercise for upper arms)
You should then have smooth dough.
Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with damp  tea towel and place in a warm draught free place for at least an hour( you want the dough to double in size
When the dough is ready take out of bowl and place on a lightly greased baking tray
Shape dough  by gently pushing air out and keeping dough flat
Make little indentations in dough using your little finger place in hot oven at 230 C/gas mark 6 for 10 mins
Take out of oven and sprinkle top with sea salt and your shallots and rosemary
Put back in oven for 20 mins until golden on top and bread has even bake underneath and sounds slightly hollow
Serve still warm if possible this Focaccia will keep moist for a few days or freeze on day of baking
I served mine with homemade chicken and noodle soup it was delicious