Monthly Archives: July 2013

Friday 5th July 2013

The past 2 days have been fishie-filled 🐟🐟🐟 , and very lovely too. Last night salmon was the fishie of choice, roasted in the oven and served with lentils.

ImageThe puy lentils were simply par-boiled, then sautĂ©ed with onion, celery and carrot. I just love lentils cooked like this- so simple, yet filling, tasty and good for you, could I ask for more! With the lentils I quickly charred some baby courgette, and of course some little olive oil roasted potatoes for Colin…..

The salmon was delicious- no fussing about here, just seasoned and quickly roasted in the oven for 15mins leaving it juicy and just cooked through. It’s funny to think that it is only a matter of months since Colin started eating salmon as we now eat it at least once a week it seems!

Tonight’s fishie of choice was sea bass: 🐟🐟🐟


This is a take on a Thai red curry. I simply added some red curry paste to a large pan and stirred over a medium heat until fragrant. To this I added a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmered for 5mins. At this point I added more chilli after tasting as the paste was not as hot as I like it! I then added a tin of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice and a tsp fish sauce, stirred all together and simmered for about 30mins until thick and reduced. To finish it off all it needed was another little squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

The sea bass fillets were simply seasoned and seared quickly over a high heat, making them crisp but still full of flavour! Really lovely for dinner, and any fish fillet would have worked really well.

Earlier this week we had some meatballs with pasta which was perfectly nice, and I worked a late night so went dinner free….

Monday 1st July 2013

Returning to work makes you tired! I can still not believe how much quicker time passes when you are off work compared to when you are at work, and this seems very unfair. Oh well…

What we needed was a nourishing start to the week so Lebanese Aubergine and Tomato appeared.

ImageThis recipe is based on one from a blog I follow, but slightly adapted for our taste. It was really lovely, a big hit with Colin, and could turn even the meatiest eater into a veggie for the evening!

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Jo’s Lebanese Aubergine Bake

2 medium aubergines, sliced into 3 thick strips

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 green Chilli, chopped

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp paprika

1tsp cayenne pepper

Small glass of white wine

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tin chickpeas

Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Squeeze of lemon juice

  • Heat the oven to 200°
  • Heat some olive oil in a sautĂ© pan and fry the onions and garlic until soft. Add the chilli and the spices and stir for 5 mins.
  • Add the wine and reduce for 5 mins
  • Add the tins of tomatoes and reduce for 15mins. Stir in the chickpeas.
  • Pour the vegetables into a baking dish. Top with the slices of aubergine, drizzle over some olive oil and seasoning.
  • Bake in the oven for 45mins until the aubergine is golden and the sauce is thickened. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • Enjoy!

We had some olive oil baked chips and some salad on the side and enjoyed every mouthful.!


Saturday 30th June 2013

A relatively easy drive home in the sunshine via the Riverford Farm Shop. This is the farm shop of my dreams! It has everything you would want in a farm shop- the veg is organic, the meat counter is fresh and local, and the selection of grocery, cakes and bread is unrivalled. We filled the car up to the brim and drove back slowly!

One of the purchases was this wine, opened as a welcome home treat, poured into some new glasses acquired in Bude!

ImageThis wine was truly delicious, worth watching out for.

You will know how much we like our curries and spicy food, and this week has been relatively Spice free- so I set to work on changing this for dinner, using the new Rick Stein India book as inspiration.

ImageFirst up was a summer vegetable curry. Quite dry this is more of a sauté of summer veg in mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Alongside this I made a dal, and this is the recipe.

Tarka Dal (courtesy of Rick Stein, India)

200g chana dal

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

4 green Chilli, slit open

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Small handful of curry leaves

1 tsp salt

1/2tsp turmeric


2tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

2 shallots, chopped

4 dried red chilli, broken up

15 curry leaves

Handful fresh coriander, chopped

  • put the dal into a pan and cover with 4cm water. Add the remaining dal ingredients, bring to the boil, them simmer for 1 hours until soft.
  • mash up with a potato masher to break up, but do leave some rough texture in.
  • for the tarka, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds until they pop. Add the shallots, chilli and curry leaves and stir for 2-3 mins.
  • Spoon the tarka over the dal, sprinkle with coriander and serve.

I have tried alot of different dal recipes but I think this will become my favourite. I loved the texture and flavour, and it was lifted by this tarka added at the end. Delicious!

Actually the veggie curry and the dal would have been enough but we had bought some chicken Supremes from Riverford and had some Bangladeshi curry paste, so I rubbed the paste into the chicken and roasted at a high heat in the oven for 20mins.

ImageNo rice here, simply some flatbreads to soak up the juices. And there is a good leftover amount for my late night dinner once back to work!

Devon holiday: 22nd-29th June 2013

ImageThere are 7 years between me and my little sister Marie, so I was off to University as she became a grown up, and then we have lived at opposite ends of the country (or in different countries!) ever since. It is rare to find some time when we can all get together, but we did find it 2 years ago when it was Mam’s 60th- a County Mayo road trip that we will not forget, especially when sat nav tried to get us to drive across a river…. This year Mam had some holiday due and Marie’s fiancĂ©e was off on his motorbike (very dramatic scenery through France, Switzerland and Italy) so we made our plans to travel down to Devon: Appledore our destination!

Actually it turns out that Appledore is in our family history- firstly my Mam’s brother, Uncle Bill, had worked here in the 70’s when the dry dock was constructed, and my Dad’s family would travel here to release pigeons. But we were here to simply relax, eat and drink!

ImageI worked on the Saturday and drove down in the afternoon. The northerners drove down and we met for dinner at ‘The Beaver’- gorgeous view our over the estuary, nice food, and we luckily managed to escape before the decidedly dodgy entertainment….

The weather on Sunday was a little mixed, but we ventured out and had a lovely Sunday lunch at ‘The Quay’. Roast beef for Mam, pan fried hake for Marie, and roast chicken for me. Washed down with a cold, crisp rose- a good start to the hols. We hit the little crafty shops of Appledore and bought some fantastic items- the shops here are superb, and staffed by really enthusiastic people who seem to genuinely care about the crafts that they are selling. I am still quite jealous of a candle holder that Marie bought, despite having made some fab purchases of my own!

 I was on dinner duty and here’s the kitchen which is mine for the week:

ImageI decided to make a lasagne. It was interesting to hear from the other girls how they make a lasagne, and you quickly realise that we all make a slightly different variation: all tasty, some with bacon, some with mushrooms, some blue cheese, some parmesan. For tonight I have gone back to the standard lasagne I first made as a student- starting with a sofritto, beef mince, lots of fresh and tinned tomatoes, and a large glass of red wine (and a glass of prosecco went in to as it was going spare!). Baked in the oven slowly it came out very well, if I say so myself.



On Monday morning my body woke me up early ready to go to work!!! So I made best use of the time by getting up and making some strawberry and apple muffins (recipe on 18/19th May2013).

ImageWe had a great day out in Bude. A walk on the beach followed by a lovely lunch at ‘Life’s a Beach’: Mussels for me, Mackerel and blue potato salad for Mam and a juicy sausage and onion baguette fro Marie. We then hit the shops and spent a small fortune on, among other things, door knobs (an obsession from the northern girls!), foot stools, mini drawers, candle holders. We could have spent double the amount, but exercised restraint in the end.

For dinner I bought some lamb chops from a butcher in Bude as they are Mam’s favourite. I simply grilled them in the oven and served them with spicy smashed chickpeas and balsamic caramelised red onions, with some asparagus especially for Marie (she had had a weird dream with asparagus in it…)

ImageOn Tuesday we headed to the beach as the sun came out- heading slightly north to Croyde. What a lovely beach, a surfers paradise, a little piece of seaside paradise I think. And what a delight for lunch- ‘The Sandleigh Tearoom and Gardens’. This is a National Trust cafĂ© and the garden is beautiful, sitting amongst the flower and vegetable beds.

ImageImageThe top picture is Marie’s lunch- dressed crab salad. Mam also had crab in sandwiches. The fish was so fresh, well seasoned, and the bread and salad accompaniments were light and tasty. My lunch is the bottom picture- smoked trout with horseradish cream, and it was delicious. I had not realised how well the 2 ingredients would go together, a match made in heaven, and one that I will recreate once home.

For dinner I made some puff pastry tarts: one with spinach and feta, and one with red onion and goats cheese. Hit the spot nicely.

Wednesday was the last day of the girl’s together as Colin made the 6 hour train journey across to join us. Before he arrived we spent the day pottering in Instow and Bideford, before having a lovely cream tea in ‘Susie’s Tea Rooms’ in Appledore. A little more shopping was done in Appledore, revisiting some items we couldn’t make up our minds on Sunday! I then hopped in the car and picked Colin up from the tiny station in Barnstaple, from a train straight from the 80’s!

For dinner we walked along the harbour to the ‘Seagate’. Recently renovated the inside is crisp and clean.


ImageMam ordered the steak which came with some good looking fries and a peppercorn sauce in a groovy little jug. The mussels were for me and were in a Thai green sauce, and juicy, plump and very filling. Marie had some smoked Haddock on polenta, while Colin had some pan fried sea bass.

On Thursday morning we waved the northern girls off for their mammoth journey home and we headed to the beach in the sunshine! Back to Croyde in fact as Colin had never been there and I thought it may be his first opportunity this year for a float in the sea. We headed back to the tea rooms for a cream tea- a very superior cream tea I might add. The scones were light, the strawberry jam was soft set and tangy, the clotted cream delicious, and, as a great twist, a small pot of very ripe, sliced strawberries. I don’t know why I have not thought about using fresh strawberries before, it adds a different dimension which compliments the cream tea perfectly.

For dinner a spaghetti bolognaise. We have caught the sun and slept like babies.

A couple of years ago we had a holiday in north Devon and made a trip down to Padstow where we had a great lunch and floated in the sea on a lovely sunny day. So today we headed south in the car, despite the mist and rain!

We had fish and chips at Rick Stein’s fish and chip cafĂ©.

ImageColin had the Haddock and chips whereas I went for squid. It was lovely, but I have to say that it was a little chaotic, a bit over priced, and potentially over playing the brand. You could say the same about the whole of Padstow in fact. So we headed back, via the Padstow Farm Shop.

For dinner we had some chilli burgers we had visited the farm shop for – their speciality. They were quite tasty, not subtle, but did affect sleep as they burnt away through the night!

We are off home tomorrow, driving via south Devon to visit Riverford. How quick the week has gone, it’s flown over. I will now have to start the count down to our Tuscany trip in September!

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