April 27, 2014

Saturday nights are really nights for mooching, well they are for me anyway. Settle down in front of the fire in the winter, or outside in the evening warmth in the summer and cook up a simple storm in the kitchen (or on the BBQ!)

This saturday I popped by my local supermarket and picked up some fresh giant prawns and a few king scallops for an easy night in.

Once home I melted good chunk of  butter, smashed a couple of garlic cloves into the butter and let it cook until the garlic was turning golden. Next place all the prawns into the sizzling butter and cook for   a few minutes.

Cook the prawns until they turn colour, a soft coral pink should be a good indicator that they are done. 

Serve up and enjoy with a big class of wine! A perfect saturday night in. 

April 25, 2014

This place is my idea of heaven. Set in the heart of the cotswolds not far from Stow on the Wold is the most gorgeous organic farmshop, spa, cookery school and garden centre. Daylesford have a few of thier organic food outlets in London as cafés and restaurants and they also have a chateau in France where a lot of their orangic produce is from. 

The buildings, converted barns themselves are made of pale wood and the typical pale cotswold stone of the area. As a result each room is light and airy and full of  scented candles, organic veg, wines and cook books. A real country delight. 

After a good wander around it was time for some lunch. We kicked off with a couple of juices..

I went for the green juice, a mix of spring greens, parsley, cucumber, apple, celery and a good chunk of ginger.

Whilst Mum went for market garden rhubarb, carrot, ginger, apple 

We went for the Chicken, lemon and tarragon croqettes with butter beans and spring greens and fresh herbs for main.

For dessert I went for the salted caramel treacle tart, as divine as it sounds. 

Mum went for the creme brulee with orange and rhubarb sorbet. Creamy and delicious. 

After lunch we went into the gardens and wandered around the plants for sale and into the Bamford Haybarn and the spa. They have a beautiful relaxation room which looks out over the Cotswolds.  

If you wander back through the restaurant you can find at the cookery school, a fantastically equipped kitchen with the spices and ingredients on display in jars, the perfect larder!

A great little escape into the country.

April 22, 2014

The Ashmolean is a place of wonder and mystery. As you walk through the temple style entrance with  Doric columns towering over head and wander up the sculpture hall you become immersed in history and can easily get lost.
Once you reach the end of the corridor you are met with several different walkways all as enticing as each other. A few days ago we found ourselves wandering through the Italian Renaissance room and onto the Impressionists. A pleasant surprise as I had never really wandered deep enough to come across these rooms before. After a good soak in culture it was time for coffee. 

It is a bit of maze to get out of but once you know where you are head up to the fourth floor to the restaurant and terrace. A beautifully light large restaurant. 

Seeing as the sun was shining, we decided to forgo the comfiest looking chairs to soak up some spring time rays. 

A perfectly frothy cappuccino.

April 21, 2014

Artichokes are in season in France and Greece now. They have started to show their pretty purplish head in supermarkets here at home and they make a great snack or shared started.

 I am pretty new to cooking and dealing with artichokes. One of my best girlfriends from university spends half her time in France and is always raving about the beautiful artichokes they get there. While I can't compete with local produce I thought i would experiment with a couple of recipes. 

Not being sure on the best way to cook them I decided to go with two methods. First the steaming whole method and second the cut and remove choke first then steam and grill method. 

Both are easy, but personally the prepare, steam and then grill method worked best. The artichokes were easier to enjoy once the choke had been removed prior to cooking and finishing them off under the grill made them deliciously crispy. 
Pairing the juicy leaves with a homemade saffron aioli made them even more tasty!

For two, as a starter, or one if you are hungry, you will need one medium artichoke
a clove of garlic
a wedge of lemon.

For the Saffron Aioli
1 egg
1 tsp brown sugar
1tsp mustard powder
5 tbsp vinegar
5 fl oz olive oil

First prep your artichoke. Cut it in half, give the leaves a trim and take out the choke (the furry and purple bit in the middle)

Once you have scraped out the choke and sorted out the mess you should be left with your two artichoke halves looking like this. 

Fill a pan with half an inch of water, a clove of garlic and a wedge of lemon. 

Then place a steamer on top place your artichoke face down onto the steamer and let cook for 20 minutes. 

While you wait for that to cook you can get on with your homemade saffron aioli. I am using an old family recipe - with a few changes. 

Put your egg, sugar, salt and pepper, vinegar and mustard powder into a blended and slowly add all the oil. until it becomes thick.

Then mix through a few strands of saffron and save a few to sprinkle on top for decoration.

Then get back to your artichokes. Take them out of the steamer, coat the cut side with some lemon juice and olive oil and place under the grill for 5 minutes. 

Once golden serve up and start tearing apart the leaves.

Work your way all the way down until you get to the heart - the most prised part of the dish. all share and enjoy. 

April 20, 2014

Every year when I was small an Easter Egg hunt would be the highlight of my birthday party. Being born in mid April means that Easter more often than not falls within a couple of weeks, and on occasion on my actual birthday. Therefore - for me, Easter has that familiar excitement we all get with a looming birthday.

This year is no exception. My birthday was this week and Easter Sunday, sure enough, falls tomorrow.  This years Easter Egg hunt was this on Easter Saturday. There was a big family debate about when lent actually ended. The consensus was actually easter saturday so easter egg hunting, and more important consuming was allowed!

Shimmering coloured eggs hidden among flower pots, trees and a flurry of excitement as baskets begin to fill up.

The garden is looking beautiful too which meant hiding eggs in bursting flowers and among fresh buds. All the more fun and trickier to find!

The large golden egg is the prize for the person with the most eggs. This year positioned precariously in the cherry tree.

If you are having an Easter egg hunt with little ones this year, give everyone a different colour to find, this avoids arguments and gives your egg hunt a difference.

Happy Easter!

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