A Big Chocolate Mess

I had a eureka momment involving chocolate.
It needs Panforte di Siena with half the fruit missing (duh!), and melted chocolate.
The aim is to dip bases of squares of panforte in the chocolate, then to dust with spiced icing sugar.
The result should be a chunky, chewy florentine type sweetie.
Equipment: Chocolate melting over hot water.
Panforte cut into squares.
Pickle forks for dipping (best tool I have in the drawer)
Board lined with silicone paper.
Siilcone paper on the work top to take the dipped squares.

Let the fun begin!!

The Mill Race.

My brother and husband were off on their boys toys in the Wye Valley, a consultation of the Good Pub Guide led them to the Mill Race in Walford. They thoroughly enjoyed the Ham, Egg and excellent Chips on the lunch menu. Walford is along the Wye Valley, near Goodrich, so if you’re visiting the castle The Mill Race is the perfect lunch spot.

We have tried the evening menu twice and have been pleased with the quality and value for money. On our last visit I chose wisely

Wild Mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

Whole Plaice with Crab and lots of butter

Plaice Crab Butter

These were both well presented, cooked and very tasty, my only problem came with the vegetables that came with the fish. Carrots, white cabbage and broccoli are not the best accompaniments for delicate white fish. A little more thought required there.

Tony had the ever popular Plate of Charcuterie from the local Trealy Farm, followed by local Sausages and Mash. He enjoyed both very much. Again there was a lapse in concentration from the kitchen, the skin was not removed from one of the sliced meats on the plate. I know its a small thing, but it is the little details that make or break an experience.

The Mill Race is a very good country gastro pub with a strong policy on local sourcing. I think they just need a little more attention to small aspects and it will be excellent.

Tales of French Travels

Off on our two week summer break, driving to Alpes-Maritimes. Naturally we look for the good places to stay and eat so here’s the list of definites and possibles that get in our way.

My trusty Pudlo France, previous experience and recommendations has lead to this trail through France

Auberge a la Bonne Idee

Near Compiegne a great first stop after crossing the channel. We used to visit this lovely place a few years ago when the restaurant held a Michelin Star and served classic French cuisine in the traditional manner. The Menu Rabelais was a classic, as was the serving of a Rognon de Veau , as just that a giant ball of a veal kidney on the plate. The head waiter always wore a dramatic jacket with epaulettes.

It is now serving a more modern menu selection along with an a la Carte that seems to maintain some of the flavour of the previous ways, the hot Grand Marnier Souffle that appeared looked perfect.

On our first stay we had the 45 euro menu and then on our way home we stayed again and tried the Menu Degustation.

The wine we had with the Menu Degustation was a half bottle of  Chablis 1er CruValorent Blanc 2006 with a bottle of Chateau Rochemourin, a wine from the Pessac Leognan appellation in Bordeaux.

Georges Blanc

One of the greats in French cuisine, the hotel that bears his name is in Vonnas, near Macon. Great deals available including being able to spend time in the kitchen. I have two  Georges Blanc books Nature dans l’ assiette and Georges Blanc cuisine en famille. They are both in French, I can decipher the recipes quite well and love to look through the books.

This was truly a fantastic experience.

We booked a deal called Fete Des Saveurs which is dinner, bed and breakfast. We were given a specific menu:

Cocktail Maison & Les Amuse bouches du jour

Crepe Vonnassienne au Saumon et caviar Beurre battu aux Zestes de Combava

Minute de Bar nappee d’une mariniere a l’huile vierge et au chardonnay relevee d’une fondue d’aromates et d’herbes

Poulet de Bresse aux gousses d’ail confites Sauce foie gras

Fromages frais et affines

La Panouille Bressane Glacee a la Confiture de Lait

Macon Aze – Blanc d’Azenay

Vin de Bordeaux – Selection du Sommelier

Eaux Minerales

This was all classic Georges Blanc, presented and served with style, panache and many waiters. M Blanc toured the dining room twice too much hero worship for me to say anything meaningful, also my french is very limited, and the second time he turned up we had had the best part of two bottles of wine so were in no real state to make sensible conversation!

This was a great experience and there are many deals on offer, one includes a morning in the kitchens as well as the dinner etc.

The a la Carte is accessible, and you may order anything. The example is the couple at the next table.

The lady initially had a plate of frogs legs, there are two on the menu;



She then ordered another plate, the dish did smell delicious. Her  companion just had the same main course as our menu. They then decided to order dessert. Just as we were leaving they were presented with a pre-dessert much to their surprise, it looked like a dessert all on its own. So next time its main course and dessert!!

Give Georges Blanc a try if you plan to stop over in the Lyon, Macon area of France.

Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de La Celle

What luck, Alain Ducasse right on our door step. We’re looking forward to rocking up for lunch followed by a siesta.

Lunch with M. Ducasse seemed a good plan when the rain was pouring down. The torrent meant no pictures of the lovely setting for this venture.

Auberge du Parc

Described as a ‘jewel in the high Var’ I’m sure it is in our future for a lovely lunch

Our trip takes us on to Carcassone, too much choice so no definites as yet, plus we have to get back to the tunnel so the fun goes on.

Carcassone Restaurants.

Chez Saskia

Au Comte Roger

Auberge de Dame Carcas

Moulin de la Gorce

We’ve been recommended this as a stop on our way back from Carcassonne. It is a windmill ‘lost in the heart of the countryside’. We have a little room under the eaves to rest in after our dinner.

‘Boston Butt’

The ‘Butt’of the title is a piece of pork shoulder, purchased from Waitrose. It has been prepared as to achieve a slow cooked joint that creates tender pulled pork.

I have decided to cook on the BBQ so here goes.

I lit the Weber at 4.30pm,  the charcoal was ready about 30 mins later, I put on the lid and reduced the air to reduce the temperature. The piece of pork is in a small foil tray covered with foil and weighs 600g, so should take about 2 hours. I’ll need to check to ensure the temperature is fairly consistent, but its best to leave well alone.

All is well at the moment.

I’m making a large bowl of potato salad and will grill some veggies.

Okay the meat has now had 1hr 20mins, its looking great, cooking nicely. The temp in the BBQ is holding up well.

The pork cooked for 2 hrs is now in a warm oven, resting as the veggies, courgettes, aubergines and asparagus finishes off on the BBQ.

In the end the pork rested for nearly an hour. I had to heat up the charcoal as the temperature had dropped, so once hot enough the veggies cooked quickly.

When ready the pork pulled beautifully,  was tender and tasty. We ate nearly all the meat and the little that was left for the next day was delicious.

I will buy this product again. The recommended cooking instructions were for an oven at 180C for just over 2hrs. After using the BBQ, this temperature setting seems high and if using the oven would try a lower temperature. Otherwise burnt offerings maybe the outcome!!

Soup for lunch

Just preparing to make a light minestrone style soup for lunch. The twist is to use the rind from the piece of parmeasan for a yummy cheesy flavour. I keep the rinds in the freezer for when the inspriation strikes.


Sunny Weekend

Visiting friends one of whom has just had major surgery on his shoulder, so I think some treats are in order.  Think I’ll start with some cake, thinking about making Cut and Come Again Cake a light fruit cake with a crumbly texture and a lemony taste.


Rhubarb, Rhubarb

Rowley Leigh’s Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie in the FT reminds me to add strawberries to the next cutting from the garden. Pie or Crumble? Watch this space.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Breton very easy pie.

Piece of Pie

I made this in a flexible mould for the first and last time. Its hard to get the pastry right with the wobbly sides. So I’ll stick to the regular tin next time. I also had too much filling, so the fruit juices have bubbled out. Excellent with ice cream, even Rum and Raisin.

Sunday Roast

Getting the Dorset Free Range chicken ready for the oven. Planning to stuff with a lemon (used the zest for cookies) with a large sprig of rosemary. Will make a tasty gravy. I use a little extra fat from a previous roast that is very herby from salsa verde I rubbed under the skin.

Just found the oregano growing fast do that’s going in too, sloshed the end of a bottle of red wine under the bird and away we go.

Out to lunch

Fabulous lunch at the Hardwick near Abergavenny.

Cornish Asparagus with deep fried duck egg, yummy!!

Chocolate Loveliness


Just found this link, if you like cupcakes this is for you!


Great British Menu is back. The format has changed slightly and it will be interesting to see how the shows develop.

The BBC message board on the show is very entertaining.

The judges have their nicknames:

Captain Fort

Space Commander Leith

Leading Space Cadet Oliver (there's too much on my plate again) Peyton

The best quote so far is:

"I was hoping Glynn might come up with something that exploded when put down in front of Captain Fort and showered him in mint!"

I will keep watching and comment once the winners are selected each week.


Asparagus with cispy hen's egg, smoked duck and fresh truffle.

Masala spiced monkfish with red lentils, pickled carrots and coconut.


Did the right chef win? Well I think so. In my view the looking at the menus as a whole is misleading. Only one course from any one menu is likely to be presented at the final banquet. The judges assess each course as to whether it is fit for the banquet. On this basis Glynn Purnell effectively won two of the four courses. His fish course and dessert.

There was no doubting the technical expertise of Daniel Clifford as shown in his starter. I hope that there is another that matches the wit of his concept. The other courses seem to lack enough charm to carry the starter through.