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Tonight we had to make something quick as Mr Rigg was heading out for a bike ride with Buddy. So I made our favourite scrambled eggs on delicious Campanou bread (a French country style loaf) from Barbakan.
I boiled some asparagus, fried mushrooms in butter and added some pretty pink thyme flowers, before lightly frying the asparagus in the mushroom pan to give it a bit of glisten! All on top of the scrambled eggs and soft bread it was lovely.
If you ignore the peeling paint in the back of the room (our house is still very much a work in progress) our house is looking quite Christmassy.
I have hung ivy and holly from most of the pictures, the staircase is wrapped in yet more ivy, the tree is decorated and sparkling, and the mantlepiece is twinkling with jam jars of tealights amongst fir branches.
Today I did the first part of my Christmas food shop – my bags were full of goodies…Morecambe Bay potted shrimp…herb encrusted salami…Wensleydale cheese studded with cranberries…and a few things I can’t mention as they’re for Mr Rigg’s stocking..ssh!
I love Christmas.
Last night we had the first fire of the season in our wood burning stove. It was such a treat to bring the logs in and curl up on the sofa by the fire.
We also made a delicious dinner from one of my favourite recipe books (it must seem like I have a lot of favourites!) - the Complete Traditional Recipe Book from the National Trust.
It was a Hobbler’s Seafood Pie – a so simple fish pie with rich creamy sauce and mash potato topping. Many of you readers will know that my camera’s broken, so I have included a photo of what it looks like in the recipe book – ours wasn’t far off!
Here’s my version with a couple of tweaks to the original recipe…
Hobbler’s Seafood Pie
Feeds 2 with enough leftovers for a light lunch
6 oz white fish (we used Coley)
2 oz prawns
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 oz butter
1 oz plain flour
150ml fish stock
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
mashed potato to cover (add grated cheese for added luxury!)
*Note: use the best fish stock you can – obviously the best would be homemade, but we used ready-made fish stock from Waitrose (not the stuff in the fridge, but in the cooking ingredients section) and it made a great rich tasting sauce.
Put your potatoes onto boil – once tender drain, mash and add some grated cheddar.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Into your pie dish, cut the fish into largeish chunks. Scatter over the prawns and parsley.
Now make your white sauce: heat the milk and fish stock until warm. In a separate pan melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring all the time. Stir in the warm milk mixture a little at a time, stirring all the while. Beat your sauce and bring to the boil – I read that the harder you beat your sauce the smoother it will be.
Once your sauce has come to the boil, turn it down and cook it a little longer whilst beating it. Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and grate in some nutmeg.
Pour the sauce over your fish and prawns, then top with the mashed potato – fluff up with a fork and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden on top.
Today as part of our holiday at home, Mr Rigg, Buddy and I drove up into Lancashire for a day of walking and eating. It was a fantastic sunny day (which is was a welcome surprise!) and we started with a long walk from Hurst Green. We followed a Tolkien-inspired trail which can be downloaded here.
It was a lovely walk, which took us through lush fields of cows, past the turrets and observatory of Stoneyhurst College, down into damp woods with mossy streams, past fields of sweetcorn and rushing rivers.
There were lots of cute calves like these ones…
And this sweet one!
Buddy – who it seems has never seen a stream before – slowly built up enough confidence to paddle.
This walk takes you through a landscape that it said to have inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and you can definitely seem glimpses as you pass through this countryside. I am a huge fan of the books so it was exciting to do this walk!
After our long hot walk we rewarded ourselves with lunch at The Three Fishes – one of Nigel Howarth’s country pub’s.
We have eaten at The Highwayman Inn up near Kirkby Lonsdale which we really enjoyed – I had a ploughman’s platter with scrumptious piccalilli - so it was easy to decide where to eat on our day out. Plus there is a huge emphasis on local and seasonal food.
We sat at a table outside so that Buddy could sit with us. I drank a cool chocolate milkshake and Mr Rigg a pint of ale whilst we waited for our food. Chocolate milkshake takes me back to my childhood and I still love ordering it now.
To start Mr Rigg had Three Fishes Fish Soup, Wicked Mayonnaise, Butlers Tasty Lancashire Cheese, and Garlic Croutons.
The soup was rich and fishy with a good kick of spice, the Lancashire cheese was crumbled and served in a tiny terracotta pot, and the ‘wicked mayonnaise’ was blushed red with flecks of fresh chilli.
I chose a dish from their seasonal menu which was a Salad of Cracked Wheat, Sweet & Sour Bank’s Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Garden Peas and a Yoghurt & Cucumber Dressing.
I wish I could eat this salad everyday for lunch – it was so delicious. The salad of cracked wheat, broad beans and garden peas was studded with fresh herbs and red onion, and topped with cherry tomatoes that had been cooked just until bursting. Then drizzled round the edge was this cooling dressing of yoghurt and cucumber.
Mr Rigg’s main was from the seasonal menu – Gazegill Farm Organic Sandy Oxford Black Pork Faggots, Girolle Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potato, Broad Beans and Garden Peas.
Neither of us had tried faggots before but Mr Rigg enjoyed them and the tiny morsel that I tried was delicious, but probably an acquired taste – very different in texture and flavour to something similar in shape like a meatball or burger. Mr Rigg said it was coarser and a stronger flavour like that of liver. It’s always nice to try something a bit different.
And for my main I pigged out with an Elmwood Platter of Local Seafood which included: Port of Lancaster Beech & Juniper Smoked Salmon, Lancaster Smoked Kipper, Hot Smoked Trout, Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Picked Cucumber, Beetroot Relish, Horseradish Cream, and Homemade Bread.
The smoked salmon with speckled with tiny capers and shreds of red onion, the potted shrimp fragrant and warm, the smoked trout went deliciously with the sweet earthy beetroot relish, and the pickled cucumber cut through all those flavours of fish.
The smoked mackerel pâté was light like a mousse, a tiny mouthful on a toasted circle of bread, topped with micro herbs.
I have never tried kippers before, and although it is a very strong flavour and perhaps not something I would order on its own, as part of a platter like this it was delicious.
We had initially planned to stop eating here…but I was too tempted by Raspberry Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream…
…and Mr Rigg easily gave into the lure of homemade Milk Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Ice Cream with chocolate sauce. Not a good shot of the ice cream, Mr Rigg was very protective after I nabbed the first mouthful which got me in a lot of trouble…
Both were absolutely delicious.
Our lunch was finished off with a glimpse of Nigel Haworth himself who arrived at the pub just before we left. If you’re in Lancashire, do make sure you stop at one of Nigel’s country pubs – we can certainly recommend the food from both The Three Fishes and The Highwayman!
I’m not one for putting photos of myself on here, but I love this picture of Buddy and I out on our walk…
I love visiting the farm shop and cafe, and I never need an excuse to pop in to pick up a few goodies. And they have lots of goodies! Loads of what they sell is grown or produced by the farm – from eggs and meat, to butter and cheese, and vegetables and flowers.
After driving down their tree-lined lane, past the fields of produce, the first sight we were greeted with outside the shop were buckets of gorgeous seasonal flowers and tubs of seasonal berries. Share with me, for a moment, their beauty…
The past two weeks I feel have hardly seen me eat a homecooked meal. I have eaten all kinds of food all over the country – some good, some bad, some better than others – but what I can say is that I am ready to eat platefuls of my own, homecooked food.
Here’s my two weeks in food.
1. Bradford ~ unexciting council catered sandwiches but delicious, spicy, vegetable samosas.
2. North Yorkshire ~ sandwiches under cling film, pretty tasty chunky cut ham sandwiches, good looking fruit scones but needed a minute in the microwave to soften.
3. London ~ more platters of sandwiches, this time M&S and fridge-cold, very nice goat’s cheese and sweet pickled carrot on grain bread shame about the cold.
4. Lancaster ~ disappointing pub meal in hotel, lots of local produce but cooked terribly, worst ‘crab’ cakes ever eaten – thick, grey stodge – yuk! Nice chocolate ice cream to save the day.
5. Kirkby Lonsdale ~ country pub lunch, good tasting ploughman’s with mustard yellow piccalilli, thick roast ham, and a Scotch Egg – dry bread but a won over by a chocolate milkshake.
6. Manchester ~ Polish lunch at training, a truly delicious beef and potato stew!
7. Chorlton ~ work Christmas party at Ostara, divine winter solstice vegetable and spice soup (a secret recipe!), scrummy cider pot roast ham with all the Christmas trimmings, but a sadly disappointing chocolate yule log. More on Ostara here…
8. Manchester ~ another wonderful Polish lunch, cheese filled pierogi’s topped with caramelised onions, and sausage and cabbage stew – am on the hunt for this Polish takeaway for more more more!
My conclusion – a dismal meal can always be saved by excellent chocolate ice cream.