Springtime minestrone with wild garlic & butter beans

20200504_195728I have set myself a challenge of going to the supermarket an absolute maximum of once a week (though I do allow myself a quick dash into the village store to get fresh milk and fresh fruit in between). Robin is staying at home apart from our daily walk on the Bissoe Trail, owing to his advancing years and marginally dodgy ticker, so I figure that the fewer times I expose myself (and ergo him) to our new friend Corona, the better for everyone.

This means we end up with an odd collection of bits of this and bits of that in the veggie drawer, inevitably leading to either a cheesy-veggie tart or a bowl of soup. Last night we had severe storms down here on the coast, don’t you know, so soup was just the ticket. And the sourdough starter was calling to be topped up, so it seemed the perfect time to bake a couple of loaves of rye/durum wheat sourdough for dunking purposes. Continue reading “Springtime minestrone with wild garlic & butter beans”

Smoked mackerel paté & quick-pickled cucumber

20200401_151858 (2)With the end of Week Two of temporary ‘lockdown’ fast approaching, we are starting to get the hang of it. This week we should have been in Warwickshire and had planned to meet some friends for lunch – instead we had afternoon coffee and buns and a surprisingly satisfactory chat via Zoom. Continue reading “Smoked mackerel paté & quick-pickled cucumber”

Toscakaka (Swedish almond cake)

Toscakaka cakeWell, these are strange times. I hope you and all your loved ones are well. We should have been going back to Turkey about now, but it looks as though we will be in Cornwall until after the summer.

I am very much aware that there are worse places to be – today we were out for our daily walk on the Bissoe Trail and I think it’s fair to say that spring has thoroughly sprung. Primroses, daffodils, tulips, camelias and rhododendrons are in full and beautiful bloom – a cheering site to say the least.

Continue reading “Toscakaka (Swedish almond cake)”

A very good gluten-free loaf

IMG_4024I promise I am not on a mission to simplify other people’s recipes, but I saw a recipe in this weekend’s Guardian newspaper that I was keen to try, but didn’t actually have all the ingredients to hand. However, I couldn’t see anything in the list of ingredients that couldn’t be replaced with something I already had lurking in my pantry, so threw caution to the wind and gave it a go. And the result was excellent, even though I say so myself.

And before you think ‘uh oh, bread, complicated and time consuming,’ think cake mix rather than bread dough. For this loaf, you literally have a bowl with some (gluten-free) flour in it, plus a jug of wet ingredients, then you pour one into the other and mix with a spoon. No kneading or stretching, just a quick mix, then a little wait while it proves and you get on with something else. Continue reading “A very good gluten-free loaf”

High-fibre beef & lentil chilli

img_3479Happy new year to everyone. Rather late in the day, being half way through January, but the year already seems to be racing past at speed.

We are back in Cornwall after spending Christmas and the New Year looking after the most beautiful black labrador in the Cotswolds village of Bretforton, while her owners went off on holidays for a couple of weeks.

Thrown in with the deal was a velvety black rabbit called Bumbles – a comical, cantankerous, unpredictable, dish-hurling, naughty, affectionate little diva. After two weeks, we came to an understanding – she could nibble my jumper sleeves as long as she didn’t nibble my wrists, and I would provide her with an endless supply of brussels sprout tops, kale, cabbage and the occasional stick of celery.  That seemed to work. To be fair, the dish-hurling only happened twice – unfortunately this then involved me crawling into the pen on my hands and knees, Christmas-enhanced backside in the air, trying not to kneel on rabbit poo, in order to retrieve it. We’ve had more dignified assignments. Oddly enough, Robin left rabbit care to me, though I admit he more than made up for this by taking on responsibility for the early-morning dog walks.
Continue reading “High-fibre beef & lentil chilli”

It’s raining, so it must be a jam day

Quince tree

The rain we have been promised for days has finally materialised. But it is what we call ‘straight-down rain’, which anyone who lives here will tell you is the type that does not come in through every crack and crevice of your house to collect in pools which lie in wait if you are foolish enough to venture out of bed barefoot. We should be thankful for small mercies though – this is only the second time it has rained since we arrived in September, so it would be churlish to complain.

We have had a trying ten days with only intermittent internet and phone services while Turk Telekom installed new cables in our village, no service at all for several days, in fact. With limited opportunity to waste time on the internet, it has surprised me just how many jobs I’ve been getting done in the house. Not to mention plenty of beach time. Continue reading “It’s raining, so it must be a jam day”

Gluten-free berry almond torte

IMG_3192When is a cake a cake and when is it a torte? Sachertorte is the one that everyone knows, and it turns out that ‘torte’ is simply a German word for ‘cake’, though Sachertorte originated in Vienna of course.

It seems that if a cake contains luxury ingredients, such as ground nuts and fresh fruit, rather than just flour, butter, eggs and sugar, then it may well be a torte. Tortes also tend to be more dense in texture and less tall than their cakey cousins, so I’ve decided today’s offering qualifies on all counts. It contains ground almonds and fresh fruit, it has a deliciously fudgy texture, redolent of marzipan, it is under-tall and it looks pretty posh, even though it is extremely simple to make. Continue reading “Gluten-free berry almond torte”