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Today we have been trying to finish off our wedding invitations, but we also managed to go for a lovely long walk along the canal and lanes near our house. It was pretty nippy but beautiful crisp blue skies.
Scenes from our walk…
A gorgeous horse caught in the sunlight…
The canal all frozen over…
A cute tiny cottage…
Seeds in the hedge twinkly with frost…
Now it’s time to huddle up by a cosy log fire and keep warm. Hope everyone else has had a happy weekend.
If ever there was a winter dish this was it. I’m pretty sure it must be quite healthy, all those lentils and greens, plus a good dose of garlic. Anyway…what matters was it tasted fantastic.
This is one of those meals where the quality of the ingredients really makes the difference. I used Puy Lentils, organic cavolo nero, and incredible coiled Italian sausages (that I picked up here).
These incredible Italian sausages were simply popped under a hot grilled for about 5-6 minutes on each side until they were golden. I even drained the little amount of amber coloured fat that pooled in the coils into the lentils – waste not want not!
The lentils (about 200g for 2) were covered with water, with a bunch of tied parsley stalks, a peeled garlic clove and a bay leaf. Simmered for about 15-20 minutes until soft, then drained. I mixed in a splash of sherry vinegar to taste, seasoned well with salt and pepper, and stirred through chopped parsley. Finally mash the garlic clove and stir in.
The cavolo nero
I’m not a huge cabbage and kale lover, but cavolo nero I have a bit of thing for. First I chopped it up, popped it into a large pan of salted boiling water and let it cook for 3 minutes before draining. Cool it immediately with cold water, then squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. When you’re ready to eat, gently fry some sliced garlic in oil then add the cavolo nero and stir to warm through.
I am behind on sharing the good meals that we’ve been eating this week – mainly thanks to an inspiration visit to Bath Farmer’s Market last weekend.
This type of meal – nibbly bits, antipasto, food to share – is one of my favourites. It always starts off feeling like a bit boring, eating up leftovers, making something out of odd bits in the fridge, but then it usually turns out wonderful.
We had melting delicious Coppa, Homewood Old Demdike ewe’s cheese and a candy stripe beetroot salad all from Bath Farmer’s Market. The beetroot I sliced thinly, spread on a plate and lightly drizzled with olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice and some black pepper.
There was tiny slithers of garlic salami from Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market, and a tomato salad with quick-pickled shallot, black olives and capers. You can quickly take the tang out of raw onions in a salad, by chopping them finely and soaking them in vinegar for 10-15 minutes before you need to use them.
Accompanied by the flowerpot loaf from Bath Farmer’s Market and some good quality salty butter, it was a quick but tasty dinner. Not at all boring.
This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends. On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!
Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots. I bought a bunch of each.
Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left).
Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.
Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.
This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings. I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.
The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products. Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.
The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding. All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice. Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these. Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.
The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape. Also deliciously tasty!
If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.
And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts. I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.
Our pre-dinner nibble – cheese and herb flowerpot bread (from Bath farmer’s market - more on that to come!), Mrs Kirkham’s crumbly Lancashire cheese, and Killerton Estate apple chutney.
Tonight we tried one of Hugh’s latest recipes – his version of pot noodle with spicy chorizo, spring onions and fennel seeds.
It’s really simple. In a bowl you pop dried egg noodles, chopped chorizo, sliced spring onions and crushed fennel seeds. To make this less pot noodle lunchtime snack and more dinner for two, I lightly fried the chorizo and crushed fennel seeds, and half the spring onions. Just to soften them a little.
The recipe then tells you to pour enough boiling water over the noodles, and stir in tomato passata that has been well seasoned with salt and pepper. Then you leave it for 5-6 minutes. We did this, but found that the noodles didn’t quite cook enough and the sauce was lukewarm by the time we came to eat it.
So we transferred everything to a pan and heated it up. I added a good-sized spoonful of sundried tomato paste which gave a depth of flavour. Lastly we stirred through some chopped flat leaf parsley from the garden.
All in all it was a pretty tasty and good dinner with a few little tweaks – really a delicious bowl of soupy noodles, spicy with chorizo and fragrant with fennel.
Spanish style chorizo and spring onion noodles
2 nests of egg noodles
8 spring onions
200ml tomato passata
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
salt and pepper
handful of parsley or basil
Chop up the chorizo and spring onions, and crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar.
Heat up a small frying pan and gently fry the chorizo, spring onions and fennel seeds for a few minutes.
Mix together the tomato passata, sundried tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a pan, place the egg noodles, chorizo, spring onions, fennel seeds and tomato passata. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Put over a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is hot and the noodles are cooked.
Stir through some chopped parsley or basil and eat.
Here’s our lovely dog Buddy posing as I test out my new camera! I’ve finally (FINALLY!) saved up enough to buy myself a really great camera.
No more slightly dodgy phone camera pictures. No more badly composed broken-screen camera photos. Just lovely lovely pictures…well as long as I can figure out all the different settings and how to use it properly!
Last weekend we had some beautiful bright, crisp weather – blue skies, sunshine and lovely autumn colours. Mr Rigg, Buddy and I walked to our local woodland in search of sloes to make sloe gin.
Armed with baskets we headed to the first spot I knew of – however, someone else had thought it was a good day for picking sloes so we carried on to the second patch I knew of and thankfully we found quite a number of them.
Picking sloes is a long slow process. They are small and dotted along branches that are armed with long thorns to prick your fingers. With the weather so lovely we were in no hurry, so pushed our way into the bushes picking off the fruits.
When we had picked what we could we headed into the woods in search of more bushes. We had almost given up when we came across three good bushes where we picked the remainder of our haul.
At home we discovered we had picked 1.6kg of sloes! We had only wanted about 400g…oops! With a couple of bottles of gin and granulated sugar we started to make our sloe gin. Sat in front of the Grand Prix we pricked every sloe multiple times with a pin, then we measured them into bottles and topped up with the sugar and gin.
We followed Darina Allen’s recipe for Sloe Gin from her Forgotten Skills of Cooking - to 700g of sloes use 350g granulated sugar and 1.2 litres of gin. Once bottled, seal tightly and store in a dark place, turning every couple of days to start with, then every couple of months.
We had an unusual but lovely tea on Sunday – hot buttered crumpets with homemade quince jelly and a plate of exotic fruits. Mr Rigg and I had eaten quite well the rest of the weekend (including a lovely meal out on Saturday night with Mr Rigg’s uncle) so we weren’t that hungry.
So we toasted some crumpets under the grill (our toaster is broken…has been for months…the new toaster I want costs about £50…too much for a toaster I’m told…) until they’re really golden and crisp.
My friend Jane makes the best crumpets and she always puts them in the toaster a couple of times until they’re really crispy and only a little bit soft right in the middle. Any less and you just get a soggy doughy mouthful – yuk!
Once toasted, I liberally buttered them – lots of butter is a must with crumpets – popped them on a pretty blue and white plate (this makes them taste better, I promise) and top with homemade quince jelly.
So you see, despite my lack of regular posting we have been busy making lovely food – like making quince jelly for the first time. Just without a camera I’m rather embarrassed and ashamed of my phone camera pictures.
We also had a plate of fruit – pomegranate seeds (we drank the tiny cupful of juice that came out in little shared sips) and feijoa fruit. Ever heard of a feijoa? Me neither. Unicorn had a basket of them, these small green fruits and they were described as tasting of mint, pineapple, strawberry, guava…they sounded too intriguing not to buy a bag full to try.
The instructions I had on how to eat the feijoa were to leave until they were tender when squeezed – then they were ripe. Simply cut in half and eat like a kiwi. Firstly, the fragrance of this fruit is incredible. Utterly bewitching. The taste is equally wonderful, and beyond description – quite unusual even. If you see them whilst out and about, my advice is to buy yourself a bagful and try them.
On quick investigation they are native to South America, also known as the pineapple guava, and the pulp used in some natural cosmetics as an exfoliant. Fascinating stuff.