Friday, 29 June 2012

random recipes round-up #17

... it seems the middle is a nice place to be if you're a cook or a cookbook writer... much less random than the first or the last and all rather yummy... once again a wonderful selection of submissions to random recipes for which I am ever grateful... and some more virgins to add to the pyre too!

book: Bill's Sydney Food by Bill Granger
recipe: Grilled Chicken Club with Avocado Mayonnaise

Jennifer kicks of the middle this month by NOT cooking the sardine recipe found in the first random choice cookbook she picked but the second... I do understand, if you're not  fan of sardines and anyway, will you look at this club sandwich... is it not perfection?

book: Meat - by HFW
recipe: Aromatic Pork Belly Hot Pot

Lou got meat... quite literally... this is an amazing book both beefy in weight as well as content but the recipes are fantastic and i've actually made this myself so I know how good it is... 

book: Gorgeous Greens by Annie Bell
recipe: Pea Risotto

I was actually leafing through this very book myself the day that Jean's post came through and was admiring this very same dish... and as if by magic...

book: River Cottage Veg Everyday
recipe: Vegetarian Tartiflette

how could you not love a tartiflette... both Karen and I are self-confessed tartiflettes... tartiflette... i'll say it again... tartiflette... oooh the tongue is warm!

book: Leiths Cookery Bible
recipe: Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce

Claire couldn't find a woodcock in SA so had to settle for a simple roast chicken but just look at the beauty!... perfection personified...

book: Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health
recipe: Chinese Cabbage and Five Spice Seitan with Fermented Black Beans

Janet reminisces about Chinese take-outs and Chinese food in this lovely post and cooks from the brilliant Moosewood book... I really need a bowl of this right now!

book: Make Bake and Celebrate by Annie Rigg
recipe: Malted Chocolate Cake

Ros uses a colleagues birthday at work to bake this stunning cake... which means we don't get to see how fabulous it looks inside... but if the outside is anything to go by that was one very lucky friend!

book: Jenny Baker's Cuisine Grandmere
recipe: Far aux Pruneaux

Phil goes all French on us yet again with his randomness and comes up with this delight... Prunes may not be to everyone's delight but I love 'em (as does Phil)... and that's all that really matters...

book: 100 Sweet Treats and Puds by Mary Berry
recipe: Chocolate Rum Cake

poor Gary is left hugely disappointed and a little deflated with Mary Berry and her oh so clever egg separation's clearly her fault and not yours... walk away from the kitchen Gary... walk away from the kitchen...

book: My Abuela's Table by Daniella Germain
recipe: Albondigas

a mexican meatball from a Brit living down-under... don't you just love the blogging world... Lucy makes Grandma's finest Albondigas taken from the middle of the book that was in the middle of the book-shelf!

book: Supper with Rosie by Rosie Lovell
recipe: Grilled Mackerel with Pomelo Salad

love love love me a bit of Mackerel... divine fish!... and thankfully so did our Random Recipes Virgin Chris and his lovely new blog Cooking Around the World... please welcome him nicely to the gang!

book: A Treasury of New Zealand Baking
recipe: Greek Yoghurt and Honey Cake

Mel tells us all about how she 'borrowed' her mums whisk... didn't we all... but how lucky she was with all the whisking she had to do to make this glorious cake...

book: Fast and Rich Marie Claire Cook Book
recipe: Seared Scallops on Lemon and Red Pepper Risotto

Naz is back to work soon... can you believe her maternity is over already?... but this dish of wonderfulness must be a little comfort for her... would be for me!

book: Essential Pasta Cookbook
recipe: Pasta with Anchovies and Broccoli

another RRV this month, which is so lovely, especially from someone lovely like Amanda who's been a longtime follower but never taken the random recipes plunge... and another lovely dish to kick her off...

book: Jamie at Home
recipe: Creamy Rice Pudding and Strawberry Jam

lucky Denise to have chosen this yummy dish too!... and to get to make strawberry jam as well... I love it just for that... it could have been a lot worse... spiders webs on toast anyone?

book: Mini Pies
recipe: Mini Mississippi Mud Pies

Laura goes all out fabulous again with these divine mini creations... and uses baking beans for the first time... couldn't you just sink your teeth into them...

blog: Makey-Cakey
book: Mornflake Oat Cuisine
recipe: Oaty Pancakes

Ruth experiments with upside down pineapple pancakes with a book she 'rescued' from the charity shop... and comes up trumps with some delightful looking fabulousness yet again... I wish breakfast at my house was this yummy!

a couple of late additions...

book: Sheila Lukins All Around the World Cookbook
recipe: Spicy Peanut Sauce

Susan goes all Italian with her Thai food and this rather fancy thai sauce with bowtie pasta... but you know... it's all food!

book: The Big Bean Cookbook by Nicola Graimes
recipe: Grilled Pollenta

Debby does her one day a week vegan with this wonderful grilled polenta... something I have still yet to cook with... but it's the thai curry it goes with that really looks fabulous!

and that's it for this month... I have an exciting, simple and hopefully fun idea for next month, so do tune it on Sunday for the next exciting instalment...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

spiced butternut tagine with cauliflower couscous

... to be honest, even though the wonderful TOTAL Greek Yoghurt is an essential and delicious addition to this recipe and one of the 1000 ways to LOVE your TOTAL... the real star of this dish is the cauliflower couscous... and it comes to us from the infamous El Bulli restaurant in Spain... via the lovely Paul Merrett of course... it's both totally brilliant in its replacement genius and completely obvious in a slap-of-the-forehead, why-didn't-i-think-of-this kind of way... I mean come ON we've all swept up those annoying little ball-bearings of cauliflower florets after preparing one for steaming or baking... it's just taking this a step further... and I for one am very pleased to have been taught this... just think of all the wonderful ways this could be jazzed up and served... so excited...!

spiced butternut tagine with cauliflower couscous
i'm going to give you the long method for this recipe but to be honest I think you could easily do this in one oven-proof dish, roasting the beg together at the start and then, once nice and toasty, adding the rest of the ingredients for a long slow roast...

for the spice mix
1/2 bsp fennel seeds
2 pinches chilli flakes
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander
1 inch cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2  tbsp paprika

for the tagine
1 butternut squash peeled and roughly cut into smallish cubes
8 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 red onion - finely diced
1 yellow pepper - diced
1 red pepper - diced
1 3/4 tins of chopped tomatoes
100g dried apricots - halved
approx 20 green olives
1 tin of chickpeas

for the fennel seed yoghurt
200g of TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
2 tsp of fennel seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1tsp mint - chopped

for the cauliflower couscous
1 head of cauliflower - cut into florets
20 inch square of muslin (or a thin tea-towel)

- gently dry fry the spices and then grind them with a pestle and mortar

- place the cubes squash in a bowl, sprinkle a third of the spice mix onto them and mix them around till they're coated

- in hot olive oil gently fry the squash in batches until they are golden brown

- in a large casserole dish saute the onions and garlic till soft, then add the peppers, followed by the tomatoes and chickpeas and let them simmer for 5 mins

- add the apricots, olives and the squash, stir, add a little water to stop it from drying and let it simmer gently for 5 mins or until all is soft.  At this stage you can add as much as the remaining spice mix to taste.  Place the lid on and take it off the heat.

- dry fry the fennel seeds, cool and grind then mix with the yoghurt, paprika, mint and coriander and set aside

cauliflower couscous
- trim the cauliflower florets from the stalk and then whizz them up in a mixer, using the pulse setting until they resemble... well... couscous...

- wrap the couscous in muslin and steam in a colander or steamer for 5 mins

a big shout-out to my laydeez Liz and Fleur without whom I could not share this dish with you today...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

salmon rillette - 1000 ways to LOVE your TOTAL

on the 11th July TOTAL Greek Yoghurt are launching a new collection on their website called 1000 ways to LOVE your TOTAL which is actually quite a nice way to show some yummy recipes and suggestions of how to use their gorgeous creamy yoghurt... and the lovely people at TOTAL invited me to a launch event in the big smoke... a cookery masterclass with the rather gorgeous chef Paul Merrett no less... and you know me, I could hardly refuse the opportunity to eat good food and maybe pick up a tip or two in the process!

the day started well with this TOTALLY creamy panna cotta

... it's also important for me to let you know that I don't take these kind of invitations lightly... i'm not about to start promoting a product that I don't use or don't like... as it happens I don't eat or cook with yoghurt very often but when I do I always use TOTAL Greek Yoghurt... it is particularly thick and creamy and has a wonderful tartness that I love... I grew up in suburban London surrounded by myriad of cultures one of which was Greek and many of my Greek friends mums always extolled the virtues of this excellent and authentic yoghurt... if you haven't tried it or used it yet then you must... it has been on the supermarket shelves since the 1980's and is now an international product...

isn't he dreamy...?

... after a swift haircut the day started as I arrived early at the La Cucina Caldesi Cookery School in Marylebone... it was just me and the lovely Paul for about 10 minutes, which was nice because we could chat and gossip about food, cooks and the appalling state of British cookery television... but once everyone else had arrived we were split into groups and told that WE would be doing the cooking for the day... this was a great idea and meant we'd all get to be truly involved in the process...

...Paul had devised a full meal for us with starter, main course and dessert... all using the lovely yoghurt in the recipes as well as accompanying them...


you looking at me looking at you... Gill Bland

... I was teamed with the delightful Fleur from Homemade by Fleur a blogger I follow and a regular contributor to random recipes and mummy blogger Liz from the brilliant Me and My Shadow... although the day was not in any way a competition and others may tell you differently, our team was clearly the best and our food the tastiest!... I had an absolute blast with them... and amazing food aside it was a brilliant day...

butternut squash tagine with the now infamous cauliflower couscous

mmmm... cake...

as there were three distinct and delicious recipes I'm going to split this post into three and make you wait patiently for the piece-de-resistance (as far as I was concerned anyway) - the dessert... but the three course meal went something like this... we started with a Fresh and Smoked Salmon Rillette with Wholemeal Toast followed by a Spiced Butternut Tagine with Roasted pepper and Tomato & Toasted Fennel Seed Yoghurt, served with Cauliflower Couscous... let me tell you here and now that the Cauliflower Couscous was a revelation and will be making many an appearance on this blog, in fact I would go as far to say the whole trip down to London was worth it for this dish alone... the meal was finished off with a stunning Semolina Sponge Cake with Almonds, Hazelnuts, Greek Yoghurt and Honey...

so we'll start today with the Fresh and Smoked Salmon Rillette with Wholemeal Toast
i'm a HUGE salmon fan and could have eaten this by the bucket full...

2 tablespoons TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
200g fresh salmon
1/2 lemon - juiced
60g diced and very softened butter
1 dessert spoon fresh dill - chopped
2 teaspoons horseradish relish
75g smoked salmon - shredded

- place the salmon in a small oven-proof dish, cover in foil and bake in a gentle oven (170C) for 6 or 7 minutes (the trick is to get it barely cooked)

- let the salmon cool and then flake it into a bowl

- add the rest of the ingredients and gently fold them together but be careful not to break up the salmon too much

- chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving with a slice or two of brown toast

... there will be more from me and the yummy TOTAL Greek Yoghurt over the next few days but until then don't forget to...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

goats cheese pizza with red pepper, fig and tomato chilli jam

... this dish is all about those long slow cooking days... a proper weekend of sloth-like shuffling around the kitchen with nothing to do but stir the sauce every hour or so... and then, at the end of the day you are rewarded with a taste sensation of sweet sticky heat and deeply rich tomatoey love...

... the hero of any decent pizza is the tomato sauce... and i've made the tomato jam before but i'm doing it again here with some added ingredients that came in the wonderful #CapricornChallenge hamper I received last week... some red peppers, an ingredient I rarely used but have been feeling the pepper love quite a bit recently... and best of all some dried figs who's sweetness will compliment the acidity of the goats cheese beautifully... i've also used fresh tomatoes as well as tinned tomatoes this time... I will be using this jam quite a bit over the next few weeks as it can be used in so many dishes from a pizza base to a pasta sauce... it's even great simply smothered on toast, although i'll try and be a little more creative...

... as you know I would normally make my own pizza base but again those wonderful people at Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese provided me with some decent quality ready-made pizza bases in the hamper...

red pepper, fig and tomato chilli jam
1 red pepper - finely diced
1 large red onion - finely diced
1 medium hot chilli - finely diced
5 or 6 dried figs - finely diced
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
fresh herbs - i used rosemary, lemon thyme and oregano

- heat some olive oil in a pan and gently saute the onions for 5 mins until translucent

- add the peppers and fresh chilli and saute again for a further 5 mins

- add the fresh tomatoes, dried chilli and herbs and saute again for 5 mins

- add the tinned tomatoes, figs and balsamic vinegar, turn the heat down very low and simmer for at least 4 hours until you have a gooey, unctuous, thick sauce and your house smells like Mediterranean heaven...

goats cheese pizza
for me, keeping it simple is the key to a good pizza... loading it with too much crap just ruins the point... make two different ones and mix up the toppings but apart from the tomato base, no more than three...

1 x pizza base
1 tablespoon tomato jam (as above)
1 x small mozzerella ball
50g Capricorn Goats Cheese
a handful of pitted black olives
a sprinkling of fresh oregano
extra virgin olive oil

- pre heat the oven to 200C

- spoon the tomato jam onto the base and spread it around leaving a small clear edge of base

- tear some mozzarella and goats cheese on top as well as some fresh pitted black olives and a drizzle of olive oil

- bake in the oven for 10-15 mins or until bubbling and golden

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

caramelised pear, roasted walnuts and goats cheese cake

... i've been wracking my brain, thinking about how I can use the wonderful Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese in a sweet dish... but I realise i've been trying too hard... goats cheese has a natural affinity with sweetness... it works beautifully with figs and has that creamy consistency which is perfect for baking with sugar...

... I have always loved a challenge too... when I was at fashion college (yes folks - I do indeed have a masters degree in fashion design from a famous London fashion school) one of my favourite tasks was when we were all given a large box filled with fabric remnants and had 3 chances to dip-in and pull out fabric... we then had to make an outfit with those fabrics only... ahh such fond memories of that pacer-mint striped Dior-inspired dress and cape... and so it is with the #CapricornChallenge hamper... to use ingredients given to you and be as creative as you dare...

caramelised pear, roasted walnuts and goats cheese cake
... two classic goats cheese friendly ingredients from the hamper are conference pears and walnut pieces... and here they are in a sweet cake with a twist... I love this cake because its one of those cakes which is more like a pudding and can be eaten warm with custard or chilled with cream... divine!

1lb pears - peeled and diced
8oz light brown sugar
6oz butter or margarine
2 eggs - beaten
2 tablespoons milk
9oz self raising flour
100g walnut pieces
100g goats cheese - rind cut off and crumbled
1 teaspoon cinnamon

- pre heat the oven to 180C and lay the walnut pieces out on a baking tray, sprinkled with a little sugar and bake for 8 minutes

- place a nob of butter in a pan, add 2oz of the sugar and let it melt for 5-8 mins

- add the pears, stir and let them caramelise for 8 mins

- in a large bowl, cream the butter and remaining sugar, add half the eggs, combine and then half the flour and combine, add the rest of the egg followed by the rest of the flour and cinnamon and stir

- add the milk to slacken then stir in the walnuts, goats cheese and pears

- pour the batter into a large, greased and lined, loose-bottomed spring-form tin and bake in the oven for 45 mins or until golden and risen

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 22 June 2012

goats cheese and fennel risotto with pea and pernod served with goats cheese and cornish cheddar straws

... as you all know I live in the heart of the countryside... surrounded by nature's bounty... the sound of the cows bellowing in the field across from the cottage drifting through the open doors on a warm sunny day... so this morning as I lay in bed with the glorious summer sunshine streaming in through the gap in the curtains it was an unfamiliar tinkling of bells that gently woke me from my slumber... I could hear the clip-clop of cloven hooves trotting up my driveway and the gentle butting of horns on my front door... was that a bleating I could hear...?

... I feel very fortunate to have been included in the #CapricornChallenge... i'm not sure how she did it... did she walk all the way from Somerset...? but this morning Ethel the Goat delivered a beautiful hamper to my door... as you can see, the hamper is filled to brimming with glorious goodies as well as some divine Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese... my challenge (although one could hardly call it challenging to cook with such inspirational produce) is to create some delightful dishes and blog about them...

.. it's win-win really... I get to cook and eat some yummy stuff... you hopefully get some inspirational recipes and lovely Ethel gets the chance to bleat about her wonderful cheese... to find out more about the challenge and Ethel herself check out the website...

goats cheese and fennel risotto with pea and pernod
in my humble opinion there are no 3 ingredients that go together better or are more reminiscent of summer evenings that fennel, pernod and goats cheese... yes it's a bit of a liquorish kick but it's subtle enough not to be overpowering and deep enough for the goats cheese to remain a light flavour to the final dish... oh and the aroma in the kitchen...

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb - finely chopped
300g risotto rice
1 capful of pernod
2 pints good quality vegetable stock
a large handful of peas
100g Capricorn Goats Cheese
butter and olive oil

- melt some butter and olive oil in a heavy pan then add the onions and fennel and saute until soft

- add the rice and stir so that the rice soaks up the vegetable juices

- throw in the pernod and stir

- add the stock 100ml at a time, stirring after each addition until the stock is absorbed - this really shouldn't take too long, roughly 15 minutes

- once all the stock has gone you should be left with a thick but creamy risotto - add the peas, stir and then the goats cheese, stir once more and set the dish aside for 4 minutes before you serve.

goats cheese and cornish cheddar cheese straws
these are a super-fast but always impressive accompaniment for the risotto... barely worthy of a recipe but here goes...

1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
a wedge of strong cheddar - I used a cornish cheddar to keep in theme
40g Capricorn Goats Cheese

- pre heat the oven to 190C and line 2 baking trays with parchment

- dust your work surface with flour and lay out the pastry

- sprinkle with grated cheddar and bits of goats cheese

- fold the pastry over and roll out again

- repeat once more then cut into strips, twist, sprinkle with dried thyme and bake for 20 mins or until golden

eat and of course enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

the lincolnshire show - June 20th and 21st 2012

... as many of you will know... sitting in a stationary traffic jam... on a hot day... one mile from your destination for over two hours can be exhausting... not just physically but mentally too... it drains you of not only much needed hydration but pretty much sucks the joy and enthusiasm from your day too... especially when you've come prepared... woken up extra early... set off with plenty of time to spare...

... The Lincolnshire Show is one of the biggest agricultural shows in the UK, it's heritage dating back to 1868, and has become as popular for its traditional display of farm equipment and animals as it has for its selection of stalls selling everything from country fashions to county cuisine... situated at the Lincolnshire Event Centre at the Lincolnshire Showground, a 200 acre site just outside the stunning city of Lincoln, this two day event shows off everything that is great about living in rural Britain... and although I have lived in the county for over 9 years I have never been... something I felt I ought to reconcile... so when the Events Centre communications team invited me to come and write about the show for my blog I could hardly refuse... in fact I leapt at the chance...

... it's just such a shame that the day was tainted by the very poorly organised traffic control... it's something that The Viking and I cannot help but get annoyed with... being event organisers ourselves we can see many of the flaws that the average Joe on the street simply doesn't... sometimes this can ruin an event for us as the frustration of the glaringly obvious can get in the way of a nice day...

... sweating and bursting for the toilet we did finally arrive...

... the show itself consists of a number of key areas such as The Countryside Area - this year sponsored by Duckworth Isuzu, where they have everything from falconry and pig racing to chainsaw sculpture and dancing sheep... The Flower Show and Floral Decorations, where Chelsea comes to Lincolnshire with some pretty decent flower displays and stuff for the garden... The Food Court and Demo Kitchen, where produce from our fine county is displayed... the Trading in New Markets area, highlights the innovations in engineering and production that our county trades in on the international market, Scruffts (Lincolnshire's answer to Crufts) and the highlight being the Clydesdale Bank Main Ring where the traditional livestock and animal parades take place.

the following are my highlights for the day... if you're passing this way and can get over to Lincoln tomorrow and are prepared to brave the expected downpours, I would try and get along... tickets can be bought on the gates...

... being the foodie that I am we headed directly to the Food Court, making a swift detour to say hello to my lovely editor Caroline from Lincolnshire Life Magazine... all the usual suspects were on display including many old friends such as Ginny and Simon Harrop from the Belleau Smokery and the lovely guys from Cotehill Cheese, who slipped a couple of wedges of their new Cotehill Red Cheese into my bag... there was plenty of wonderful meat products on show too but very little for The Viking... we understand, after-all this is about showing off produce from the land but we were both a little dismayed as to how little the veggies were catered for... Lincolnshire does produce a huge percentage of the UK's vegetables...

... as you know, I am obsessed with honey, so the Beekeepers Marque was lovely to see and the displays of award-winning honey along with cakes and breads and some delicious fresh honeycomb direct from the hives was interesting and fun for me...

...I really enjoyed the Cottage Industries Marquee which highlighted many of the small artisan craft businesses and there was an excellent collection in here including some beautiful hand-printed fabrics and some pretty vintage-style carved and painted wooden picture frames...

... there were, of course lots of fantastic displays of boys toys, vintage cars and motorbikes but I loved the juxtaposition of the old steam tractors sitting next to the gloriously yellow JCB's... I felt like a kid again and the lucky Viking got to ride up high in a special scissor-lift to take some fun photo's of the show from above... oh the advantages of a press pass!

... talking of kids there were a lot of beautiful farm animals on display... again not so brilliant for The Viking but one can appreciate the beauty of the animals and after-all, we do live surrounded by these incredible beasts so it's nice to find out a little more about their breeds... the sleeping pigs were particularly cute...

... as you can imagine we avoided a lot of the doggy stuff although it was pretty hard walking around as there were lots of beautiful dogs of all shapes and sizes everywhere you looked...

... all-in-all we did have a nice day even though the dreadful disorganisation at the start did put a downer on it all... i'd not say this kind of show is really my thing but it is fascinating to see the county show itself off and if you took the time to look past some of the naff brands you tend to see everywhere in this world of globalisation there were some stand-out gems that make me proud to say I live in Lincolnshire...

...further details about the show, including times for tomorrow and ticket prices can be found on the official site

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

thank you...

...well, The Viking and I wanted to thank you all for the wonderful and clearly heartfelt comments left on the blog, facebook and twitter... it is amazing how all your voices have been so comforting... many people criticise the internet for being a soulless place but after two years of blogging I know that my family extends so much further than it did before...  As you can imagine it's been a really tough time and the decision we made on Sunday was truly heartbreaking... but one we feel had to be made to spare our little monkey-dog from any suffering... as many of you said, she did have a wonderful life with us and was part of our family ...there is a space where she used to be which I don't think i'll ever really get used to...

... i'm not feeling in the mood for doing too much creative stuff at the moment but I do have a couple of posts already written and I also have work commitments to meet and I think getting on with some of the nice stuff can't be a bad thing... it's the Lincolnshire Show this week and it'll be my first visit... as a member of the press - no less...  but I thought to start, a little treat... something sweet... would lighten things up a little...

blueberry ripple ice-cream
this ice-cream makes a perfect entrant for two of the best bloggers challenges out there; bloggers scream for ice cream - hosted by Kavey from Kavey Eats, who's theme this month is fruit... and tea time treats - hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage, who's theme this month is berries...

for the ripple
9oz blueberries
3oz caster sugar

for the custard
10fl oz milk or single cream if you're feeling lush
3 egg yolks (oh god... that's more meringues again then...)
1 level tablespoon caster sugar
2 drops vanilla essence
8fl oz double cream or extra thick cream

- place the blueberries in a pan, add the sugar and bring to a gentle rolling boil for about 20 mins or until reduced to a sticky syrup... it shouldn't be totally smooth however, a few recognisable blueberry bits will keep a more home-made look to the final ice cream - chill completely

- to make the custard, gently heat the milk or cream until just hot

- in a separate pan mix the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla, then, off the heat, pour the milk into the pan, gently stirring.

- place the custard mix onto a gentle heat and stir until the custard thickens - which should only take a minute or two - chill completely.

- once chilled, blend the thick cream into the custard and pour the mix into an ice cream maker for 20 mins or until nearly frozen

- at this stage, place the ice cream into a bowl, add the chilled blueberry syrup and fold in - freeze for at least an hour before serving... as you can see from the top picture I didn't have the patience to wait and the ice-cream began to melt straight away, so I had to pop it back into the ice-cream maker which turned it the most wonderful lilac colour shown in the next picture down... still tasted bloody good!

eat and of course enjoy!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Holly Golightly 18th Nov 1999 - 17th Jun 2012

... I remember the day that my old flat-mate Satu told me she thought her dog Cherry was pregnant... Cherry was a crazy, gangly, scatty, scooby-doo type of a dog... sleek black hair, long legs and an odd-ball face and she got up to some proper comedy things too... Satu says she ran off from her that day in Regents Park and when they eventually tracked her down she sauntered casually from behind a bush followed by a golden labrador... both smiling sheepishly...

Holly as a puppy with her mum Cherry

... a few months later our Holly and her 8 brothers and sisters were born... Holly was the runt of the litter and pushed out first, she was always smaller than her siblings and never quite got all the nutrition she needed from her mum... and I remember having to tell a little white lie to The Viking, saying that i'd promised Satu we'd look after her for the weekend whilst she went away... Holly being the last, unwanted puppy, I couldn't resist and I have a deep-seated memory of carrying her in one hand  back to our home... and then of course she stayed...

our puppy

...she was a sickly puppy suffering from a dreadful skin condition and for a few years we thought we were going to lose her... our friends will tell you of winter holidays we took in rented cottages in Kent where we would follow her blood stained foot-prints through the snow... but with a huge amount of love and an even bigger vet's bill she pulled through...

... she went everywhere with us and because of that she touched so many lives... she came to work with us... she travelled on the London Underground and in cars, lorries and trains... when we were away with work or moving house and needed a place to stay she'd stayed with mum (or grandma as we called her) ...on so many occasions in fact that mum thought of her as her own... she'd come with us to stay with friends who didn't have dogs and once they got dogs she would make sure those new dogs understood that she was here first... anywhere we were was her home... and whilst she was always a little stand-offish (a cuddle was always on her terms) she had such a cute face and if you had a bit of cake or cheese or.. well anything really, you'd have a friend for life...

... when we moved to Lincolnshire she seemed to get a new lease of life... she loved running through the fields and woods, adored messing about for stones in the river and most of all simply loved the beach... even into her old age, if we said the word 'beach' she'd get so excited and hop and skip around till we took her down to the sea...

... being part labrador, food (followed closely by sleep) was pretty much the most important thing in her life... she would eat anything, the older and smellier, the better... and whilst we only had the new kitchen for a little over a year she loved being in there watching us cook and hanging round for anything that might fall her way...

... she has been everything to us... life-changing... best friend... companion... silly... grumpy... sleepy... intelligent... loving... and one of the loudest snorers i've ever heard...we are broken without her...

I miss you my little monkey-dog...

... The Viking has written the most beautiful and eloquent tribute on his blog...



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