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Nut crumb topping

I’ve recently discovered that nuts comes with pesky enzyme inhibitors inside them, that can put a strain on your digestive system and makes it more difficult for your body to absorb all the good nutrients in them.  You can overcome this by soaking the nuts overnight before slowly drying them out in an oven, then eating them as you wish.

This is something traditional cultures did and I’m all for learning from our ancestors and the knowledge they gleaned over many many generations.

Nuts ready for baking

After enjoying bowlfuls of Greek yoghurt topped with honey and a mixture of crumbled nuts on holiday, I thought I’d give it a go as I really wanted to recreate the mixed nuts ‘crumb’ for my own breakfasts.

Here’s said holiday breakfast…

Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts

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Millet porridge

This morning I have attempted to make millet porridge using millet flakes and rice milk with a hint of vanilla.  I searched the internet to try and find out how to use the flakes to make porridge as most recipes I came across used the whole millet grain.  There wasn’t a lot of information but it seemed to suggest double the amount of milk/water to millet flakes, so I took the suck-it-and-see approach.

It took quite a while to bubble away – I’d read 15-20 minutes, but for my little pan for one I was worried about burning it dry.  Anyway, after adding a few more sloshes of the rice milk and a tiny drizzle of agave syrup for a little extra sweetness I gave up stirring and poured it into a bowl.

Millet porridge

It looks ok, although it reminds me of wallpaper paste.  It has a slightly bitter note in the middle of tasting which then disappears.  The texture I imagine is a bit like eating wallpaper paste, but then again I have no idea if I’ve cooked it correctly.  I’m not sure I’m a convert, but as my breakfast’s recently have consisted of a small carton of chocolate rice milk I thought I should attempt at some other breakfasts on this new way of eating I’m following.

I must say, the new way, which I will share more about one of these days, is doing wonders for me – body and skin – so I can’t diss it.  Anyone else make millet porridge with millet flakes?  Any tips or advice would be much appreciated as I now have a bag of the stuff!  Perhaps I’ll try quinoa next time as I know I already like it.

Oh, and as promised – I came across this picture of a mummy partridge and her babies that my parents took on my camera when I was staying with them last weekend – so cute!!

Baby partridges

Last weekend we had the most lovely food all weekend – and, obviously, all meat-free.  We had Mr Rigg’s parents over for lunch on the Saturday so it was quite a challenge for us to come up with something we thought they would love, as they both really enjoy meat and fish.  We decided on a curry feast and some little nibbly bites to start.  Then on Sunday we seemed to eat well, or at least what I would consider to be eating well.  See what you think.

Saturday 28th January

beluga lentil goat cheese crostini

Beluga lentil crostini.  It’s always nice to do something a bit special when you have guests, so we made these little tiny nibbles, a lovely recipe I’ve been wanting to try from 101 Cookbooks.  They are small toasts topped with a goat cheese and herb mixture – utterly scrumptious!

Now the pictures get a bit less lovely as I was testing out my new phone and rushing to get everything out!

Jamie Oliver Rogan Josh vegetarian curry

We made Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals vegetarian Rogan Josh curry – it’s got butternut squash, cauliflower, spinach and chickpeas in it and is utterly delicious – one of our favourite meals to cook.  From the same meal in the book we also made the lemon pickle (I thought it was disgusting, but everyone else said it was quite nice in small amounts with everything else) and carrot salad (I leave out the almonds and don’t add much chilli).

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Yes, I really am cooking breakfast for the dog today.  Silly Buddy has spent the latter part of the week chewing on a mobile phone charger and a piece of wooden beading that came loose in our kitchen.  All of Friday his tummy was making these loud squeaks and gurgles, so off to the vet we went.

He’s now got to spend five days on a diet of white rice and cottage cheese.  Hence, I am boiling rice up this morning for the dog.  Boil in the bag stylee – I love our pets sometimes.  At least they keep life interesting.

Now this is all a bit misty-eyed and looking back at the ‘good old days’ through rose-tinted glasses…but I’m totally in love with the recent BBC series of Just William.

I love everything about it.  The beautiful vintage kitchen where Mrs Brown makes the family a decent breakfast every morning.  I love what the boys wear and I love what the adults wear.  I love that the children always look smart even when muddy and grubby.

What I especially love, is Mr and Mrs Brown and the way they ‘deal’ with their children and teenagers emotions.  I aspire to be a mother like that one day.  Ah…to dream…

So following on from yesterday’s post about my much shortened trip to London, I went to the National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards on Thursday evening.  The awards are given to National Trust farms, orchards or gardens who produce products of the very highest standards – environmental, welfare, and taste.

The awards have been running since 2006 and this year’s panel of judges included Tom Kerridge (winner of the Great British Menu this year) and Henrietta Green (FoodLoversBritain).

There were incredible displays of the winning produce and productscider and apple juice from Barrington Court Estate, golden beetroot from Wimpole Walled Garden, late season honey from Lyveden New Bield, golden hot chilli sauce from Gringley Gringo

steak and ale pie from F Conisbee & Son Farming Partnership, flour from Clyston Mill, hogget lamb from Calke Abbey, and rhubarb jam from the Brockhampton Estate – to name just a few!

We sipped delicious drinks all of which were made from the awards winning products – Apple Bellini’s, incredible apple cocktails some with mint some with cinnamon, cider, ale and beer.  The Apple Bellini (exquisite fresh apple juice with champagne) is one for my wedding drinks list next year I think!

We ate delicious canapes til we could eat no longer – tiny beef pies, mini hamburgers, spoonfuls of golden beetroot and garlic risotto, bite-sized tarts with blue cheese and chutney, rice pudding with honey, and miniature scones with cream and rhubarb jam.

The producers were recognised with a short film and speech from the National Trust and judges, and this year’s Overall Winner – rhubarb jam from Brockhampton Estate – was awarded their prize. 

I watched Richard McGeown (the Executive Head Chef from Couch’s in Polperro, Cornwall) give a demonstration on how to cook the perfect steak.  He had been giving cooking demonstrations throughout the evening, and as I watched I snacked on my first ever piece of hogget lamb. 

Tips I picked up on how to cook the perfect steak? 

  • Make sure the pan is really hot (if you have asbestos fingers like Richard test it with your fingers…!!). 
  • Only add a tiny drop of oil to the pan before adding your steak. 
  • Season with salt but not black pepper at this point – it will burn and taste bitter. 
  • Cook for about 15-20 seconds on each side to seal. 
  • Season with black pepper then finish off in a hot oven (220°C) for about 6 1/2 minutes if you like it rare, 7 minutes for medium rare.

The evening was finished off with more networking and nibbling on delicious canapes, before heading off with a goodie bag

…included was a bag of flour from Clyston Mill, a small bottle of the incredibly fiery Gringley Gringo gold hot chilli sauce, some of the new National Trust ‘Lancashire lemon curd’ biscuits, apple chutney from the Killerton Estate, and a treasured jar of the award winning rhubarb jam.

Friday morning breakfast: a soft chewy slice of Kaiserbrot from Barbakan, spread with goat’s butter and Brockhampton Estate rhubarb jam.  Yum.

So following on from my weekend (last week) with my family and then the little sister, this is what we got up to when she came to stay…

We made French toast or eggy bread.  The little sister had hers with cinnamon sugar and I added some crushed (and homegrown!) raspberries to mine…

We made ‘cheats’ wraps – seed flecked tortilla wraps filled with Moroccan style hummous, sweet potato falafel and homegrown lettuce.  Sadly only the salad was homegrown…

We also had a delicious girlie lunch at Tampopo (the little sister’s favourite) – we shared Vietnamese goi cuon, she ate yaki udon noodles and I ate pad Thai.  Sadly we ate it all too quickly and there are no photos to show for these delicious dishes.

However, we also grabbed some lunch from Selfridges which I did snap a few quick photos of before we devoured it.  A selection of Indian delights and a pesto, mushroom and cheese pretzel and a mango smoothie to share…

A vegetarian breakfast for a hungry sister – a fried egg, sunny-side up with diced vegetarian sausage…

As part of her final parting dinner we did a baked Camembert eaten with crusty white bread that we picked up at the Abbey Leys farmer’s market.  Recipe for how to bake Camembert (it’s really easy) here.

We also made to-die-for cookies.  These are Hugh’s 10 minute cookies from his River Cottage Everyday recipe book, and they are everything you want from a cookie.  They are moist in places but crispy in others, chewy, sweet, and bittersweet with dark chocolate…

And finally, just before we left to pop her on a train home, we whipped up a quick quesadilla.  Two tortillas pan fried in a little oil with grated cheddar cheese and chopped cherry tomatoes sandwiched in the middle…

I miss you little sister!

I can’t believe that I never finished my food memories of Italy.  Last September we were there!  And now we’re almost into June.  Terrible.  I shall try to pick up where I left off and share more of the lovely food we found and ate in Italy.

After our first night in Naples (see Part 1) we made our way by bus to the Amalfi Coast.  The journey by bus along the coastal roads was hair-raising!  Suddenly we went over the top and there was the sea far far below…

Every journey by bus after this I discovered that I had to eat in order not to feel sick as we wound backwards and forwards along the coast – bags of airy cheesy flavoured Wotsit-type crisps were my life saver.

We stayed at an agriturismo called Sant Alfonso in Furore.  It was all the way at the end of a very long road, down which we dragged our luggage in the heat. 

Our room was cool with a stunning view over the coastal hillsides and sea beyond.  Twice a day, every day, we would hear these bells, gently clanging across the valley.  A herd of goats would head up into the hills and back down again at night.  Blissful.

For breakfast there was a generous spread of pastries and cakes.  I always find breakfast in other countries fascinating and unfamiliar.  I always seem to try to make a familiar breakfast out of what there is available, and sometimes it doesn’t quite work! 

Cute heart-shaped sugared buns.

Over the next few days we often had lunch and dinner at Sant Alfonso.  Dinner I must say was unmemorable and often quite heavy going as we felt we should eat four courses every night – a starter, pasta course, main course and dessert!  Phew!  Whether we were supposed to eat all four courses or whether the Italians thought us all very strange for eating so much I shall never know!

The lunches however, under the shade of the terrace with a cool sea breeze were lovely.  Delicious platters of antipasto – salami, ham, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, grilled artichokes, pasta, melon, bruschetta, and delicious pickled aubergine with olives.

All served with crusty bread.  If only we could eat like this every day.

The farm grew grapes, their vines stretching out along the terraces which were cut into the steep hillside all around.  They also had some friendly goats and a fig tree that dropped sticky ripe fruits everywhere.

We also discovered a number of wild herbs growing naturally.  I think this was thyme sprouting from cracks in a wall…

And wild fennel along the road to the farm – this was used in quite a number of dishes we saw on menus.

And on our first night on the Amalfi Coast, in a quiet corner of the softly lit garden, looking out across the black sea and twinkly lights below, Mr Rigg got down on one knee and asked if I’d marry him.

p1060682

Two summers ago we went to Sweden for a family wedding.  We decided to make it into our summer holiday as it seemed like a long way to go for a wedding.  We travelled by boat to Denmark with our little car, then drove around a large part of the west coast of Sweden.  At the time, it felt exhausting, and by the time we got back we weren’t sure it had felt much like a holiday.

Now as I look back on our time there and the experiences we had, it was actually quite a lovely holiday.  Despite the terrible weather and the hours and hours of driving, we ate some lovely food and saw some fantastic things.  It is an amazing country and somewhere I would definitely like to return to one day.

We sailed from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark, then drove along the E20 through Denmark to Copenhagen.  We crossed the huge bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo – our first stop in Sweden.  Our parks conference the February before we went away had included a speaker from Malmo, and it inspired me so much I knew we had to visit. 

the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo

the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo

Everywhere that we stayed on our journey along the coast was a member of the Bo på lantgård – ‘staying on a farm’ – http://www.bopalantgard.org.  Our first farm was Vragerups Gård (http://www.vragerup.se/) in the countryside outside Malmo.  It was an idyllic farmhouse with beautiful furnishings and we really didn’t want to leave. 

Vragerups Gard, near Lund

Vragerups Gard, near Lund

In terms of eating out our plan was to drive around and see what looked nice, which means on one hand you might find a real gem of a restaurant, but on the other hand it could be dire.  Our first night we found this place…

Kallbadhus in Bjarred

Kallbadhus in Bjarred

It couldn’t have been a more stunning location, and the food was equally nice.  I have managed to find out that the restaurant is called Kallbadhus (this might be the name of the whole complex) or Kalendarium, but it is also Sweden’s longest swimming pier (http://www.kallbadhus.se/).

p1060669

Nearby to where we were staying, we discovered this unusual village, which we think it styled on a medieval style town.  It felt like a film set, especially as it was seemingly deserted.

unsual medieval style town

unusual medieval style town

We had a somewhat miserable day out in Malmo as it rained, and rained and rained.  So much for visiting parks – we ended up on a coach tour of the city, which was not quite what we were hoping, but there wasn’t much choice short of getting soaked.  We did also discover a cluster of craft workshops and a quaint sweet shop – perfect for gifts for younger brothers!

 

Malmo before the rain

Malmo before the rain

Our plan the next day, with storm clouds looming, was to head for the sun and blue clouds wherever they were on the horizon.  This worked out quite well, and we came across a little cafe-cum-farm shop.  We sat in a beautiful glasshouse and ate tea and cake under a canopy of kiwi fruit!

canopy of kiwis

canopy of kiwis

That evening, we found a lovely little restaurant in a nearby town and enjoyed a great meal.  That was until the roof above me sprung a leak, which turned into a waterfall, and the whole restaurant was swamped!  We sat in the car wondering what kind of holiday we were on…

rain rain go away

rain rain go away

One thing that Swedish hospitality does well is a fantastic spread for breakfast: cooked meats, jams, compotes, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheeses, and breads including the dark rye breads.  I fell in love with what I like to call pillow bread, what it’s real name is I’m not sure – but it’s soft, flat, with dimples in it like a sofa.  I ate a lot of it during this holiday, and brought a lot back with us. 

breakfast at Vragerups Gard

breakfast at Vragerups Gard

As we travelled up the coast and slightly inland to our next stop – an incredible looking colonial style house – there was more rain…

rain

rain

Drip, drip, drip, little april showers…

and more rain

and yet more rain

We started to see signs for a vaffle stuga (spelling probably not quite correct) and ended up in a log cabin deep in a huge forest eating waffles!  They were delicious and it was nice to sit inside by a fire while it drizzled outside.  There was a hamlet of houses selling artisan made items and we came away with a lovely rug that now sits in our living room.

the waffle house

the waffle house

Hults Gard (http://www.hultsgard.com/) the next place we stayed, looked beautiful, but our room was small and felt like we were staying in a hostel.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the incredible amounts of driving that we did, was it meant we could watch the landscape change – from the rolling farmland and towns near Malmo, to dark evergreen forests, then through great expanses of farmland with railroads, and finally to the rocky coastal islands with their clapboard fishing villages.

 

Hults Gard

Hults Gard

The wedding was held in a fairytale castle near Gothenburg and was a whole weekend of eating and celebrating.  We were treated to a gourmet meal featuring some delicious Swedish dishes – sadly no pictures.

the wedding castle, near Gothenburg

the wedding castle, near Gothenburg

Our final leg of the journey took us further up the coast and out onto an island.  We were staying at a strawberry farm called Tyfta Ostergård (http://www.lekander.nu/eindex.html) which had the perks of fantastic jams and compotes for breakfast. 

Tyfta Ostergard - the strawberry farm

Tyfta Ostergard - the strawberry farm

It was run by a lovely family with three generations of the family living and working there together.  The guest accommodation including a lovely kitchen and sitting room were decorated with that impeccable Swedish knack for style.

effortless Swedish style at Tyfta Ostergard

effortless Swedish style at Tyfta Ostergard

It was out on these islands that we had our best meals of the holiday.  It was also probably the poshest and most expensive meal that we have ever eaten – but worth every penny.  Situated on the “herring island” of Klädesholmen is Salt & Sill (http://www.saltosill.se), a small restaurant with a stunning view and excellent food. 

the view from our table at Salt & Sill

the view from our table at Salt & Sill

The highlights of this meal by far were the starters.  I wish at the time I had written down exactly what we had eaten, because now I just have the photos as a reminder, but don’t know any of the more interesting details!

Salt & Sill restaurant, Kladesholmen

Salt & Sill restaurant, Kladesholmen

N had a trio of pickled herring, each piece pickled differently, on a different bread or cracker, topped with a different sauce.  Each mouthful was pared with a different shot of snaps. 

trio of herring and snaps

trio of herring and snaps

I chose salmon, which turned out to be THE best salmon dish I’ve ever eaten.  I think that salmon dishes often run the risk of being a bit boring, but this was incredible.  I think it was poached somehow – it was so delicate, and still so pink, and came on a bed of green vegetables with a sauce that I think was broad bean.

THE best salmon

THE best salmon

For mains we had fishcakes and a piece of cod with a foam – sorry I can’t recall the details more accurately.

main courses at Salt & Sill

main courses at Salt & Sill

Desserts were also a highlight.  N had a(nother) trio of handmade truffles with a strawberry coulis. 

trio of handmade truffles

trio of handmade truffles

I had a delicate dish which comprised a miniature panna cotta dusted with vanilla, a chocolate fondue sauce, and a caramelised banana wrapped in filo pastry and finished with a scattering of nuts.  This restaurant would come highly recommended from me to anyone looking to visit this part of Sweden.  It’s not to be missed.

my dessert

my dessert

The island of Tjörn had a wealth of interesting places for ‘foodies’ to visit.  We found a pick-you-own tomato farm!

just a few of the tomato varieties at the pick-your-own farm

just a few of the tomato varieties at the pick-your-own farm

It was run by a lovely couple who showed us around their giant pollytunnel where there were growing unusual organic salads.  I have never seen or heard of some of the incredible vegetables, salads and herbs they were growing, so it was a fantastic experience.  Ever since this experience, I have always loved the idea of setting up a pick-you-own tomatoes, what a fab idea!

salads, herbs and cucumbers

salads, herbs and cucumbers

There was one cafe that I had read about on my internet searches before we left for Sweden that I was determined we would visit.  It is a small cafe-restaurant in the fishing village of Mollösund, which is right on the far tip of an island called Orust.  Café Emma (http://www.cafeemma.com/eng.html) is  a member of the Slow Food movement, and serve homemade food using seasonal and local ingredients. 

Cafe Emma in Mollosund harbour

Cafe Emma in Mollosund harbour

We both had their signature rich fish soup for starters, which is made with saffron, shrimp and two kind of fish.  It was served with bread, aioli and a herb mayonnaise.  I must admit this isn’t the sort of starter I would normally order, but it was incredible. 

fish soup with aioli at Cafe Emma in Mollosund

fish soup with aioli at Cafe Emma in Mollosund

It was a no-brainerwhat N would choose for his main – a homemade burger.  It was served in thin pillow bread, with a fresh tomato salsa and a bean salad.  Who said burgers have to be unhealthy?

homemade beefburger

homemade beefburger

I chose a quinoa salad with asparagus, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, olives, roasted beetroot and micro salad leaves.  This is food to die for.

quinoa salad

quinoa salad

Café Emma serve the kind of food that you never forget.  Food that you dream about.  Food that you spend hours trying to recreate.  These are my food memories.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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