Showing posts with label British food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British food. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Another trip to the seaside!

The Boy and I jetted off to the coast again last weekend on the hunt for our perfect seaside wedding venue. This time we picked the gorgeous Heritage Coast of our neighbouring county of Suffolk. Even though the weather wasn't as dazzling as it was for our trip to Cornwall, the short two hour journey to the Suffolk coast made a big difference to our moods compared to the seven hour hell we embarked on a few weekends earlier!

Thorpeness Meare - the boating lake

We know the beaches and heaths of Suffolk well. The Boy holidayed there for years with his family and we've had some great times revisiting his childhood holiday spots together and discovering some little gems of our own. The quaint and quirky holiday village Thorpeness was our first stop. Just a couple of miles from the popular town of Aldeburgh, the tiny village retains the 1930s charm of the resort created by the Ogilvie family for English tourists to enjoy traditional pursuits on their summer holidays. Much of the architecture is resonant of small town America, with some quintessential English touches like the boating lake and brightly coloured beach houses. The village looks out to the north sea, over a wide sweeping beach of pebbles, with amazing views along the coast in both directions. When the sun is out, the neat black and white timber buildings of Thorpeness nestle quietly (almost eerily so) in between huge blue skies and glittering turquoise waters.

The House in the Clouds
For such a popular strip of coastline and considering it's proximity to resorts such as Aldeburgh and Southwold, which have become increasingly overrun by upmarket yacht clubs and exclusive holiday homes, Thorpeness has remained a unique and fairly unspoilt haven of good old fashioned fun. Home to a friendly and welcoming hotel, golf club and country club, as well as a good selection of Bed and Breakfast and holiday accommodation, the village also has a cute refreshments kiosk and boat house, a good foodie pub, and a no-frills bar and restaurant serving fish and chips alongside an antiques and bric-a-brac emporium! It's all delightfully intriguing.

The Country Club
We had a fabulous time. We put wellies on and walked along the beach in the wind and rain. We ate burgers and nachos at The Beach House, looking out on the meare and watching the landlady chalk up the specials board and sports TV listings for the day. We drove along deserted heath roads and lanes bordered by the unmistakeable Suffolk gorse bushes with their little specks of gold flowers. We drank refreshing Aspall cider and lazed around in our cosy guest house, which had been completely renovated last year, when the owner salvaged some lovely original Victorian features... to use as planters in the garden!

Best of all, we found the perfect church and reception venue for our special seaside wedding next summer and we're now busy planning all the delightful little details! I'll keep you posted :-)

Enjoy the sunshine! 

Aspall at the Engineers Arms, Leiston
Home from Home, Leiston


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Recipe: Savoury Crumble with Mediterranean Veg & Tomato sauce

As part of yet another healthy eating phase, I'm subjecting The Boy to a few meat-free evenings each week. I decided to create a new recipe this evening using Mediterranean-inspired flavours and vegetables and a slightly adapted crumble topping borrowed from a Minced Beef Crumble recipe that we both love. The rich tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce, mix of roasted and sauteed vegetables, and the crispy crumble and Parmesan* topping make this dish a successful vegetarian mid-week supper. Hoorah! 


For the sauce...
2 cloves of garlic - one whole with skin on for roasting; one peeled and minced/pressed 
1 onion - half for roasting in segments; half chopped finely for the sauce
1 red and 1 green pepper
1 courgette
Large handful of mushrooms, roughly chopped
175 - 200g drained and rinsed borlotti beans
400g chopped tomatoes
6 fresh vine tomatoes 
Generous glug of balsamic vinegar
Dried basil
Herbes de Provence
1 (ish) tablespoon tomato puree
Salt and pepper

For the crumble...
100g self-raising flour
40g margarine
25 - 50g Parmesan cheese, depending on your taste
Salt and Pepper

1. Heat the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius and add some olive oil to a large, deep ovenproof dish. Prepare some chunks of onion, a whole clove of garlic, red and green peppers, and courgette, and chuck into the dish. Add whole vine tomatoes. Mix with the olive oil, season well, and add a sprinkling of herbs such as dried basil and herbes de Provence. Put in the oven to roast.

2. Meanwhile, prepare a tomato sauce using the rest of the vegetables. In a large frying pan or saucepan lightly fry the minced garlic and finely chopped onion in a little olive oil until softened. Dice about a quarter to a half of each red and green pepper, half a courgette, and add to the pan. Keep moving and soften the vegetables.  Add the chopped mushrooms and stir.

3. Add a big splash of balsamic vinegar and a generous tablespoon of tomato puree and coat the pan with the liquid. It will reduce quickly. Add some herbs and then the chopped tomatoes, filling the empty can about half-full with tap water and adding to the mixture. Stir well and leave to simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes.

4. Keep an eye on the roast vegetables and keep giving a shake. When they are turning golden-brown, prepare the crumble topping. Put the flour in a bowl and add the margarine, cut into small chunks. Rub between the fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the grated Parmesan and some salt and pepper.

5. Add the borlotti beans to the pan and stir into the sauce. Take the roast vegetables out of the oven and add the sauce to the ovenproof dish, stirring everything well. Using a spoon, sprinkle the crumble mixture all over the top of the dish and add a dusting of paprika. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden-brown and crisp.

I served the Savoury Crumble with potato wedges cooked in olive oil, pepper and paprika. The Boy likes his carbs. It would work equally well with a nice green salad.

Enjoy! :-)
*Check the Parmesan you use is actually vegetarian if you are serving this to actual vegetarians!

Monday, 5 March 2012

A trip to the Cornish coast

The Boy and I took a road trip this weekend to the beautiful south Cornwall coast of the Roseland Peninsula. We booked the weekend just after getting engaged back in December, when we discovered that the enchanting English Heritage St Mawes Castle was holding a Wedding Showcase. Getting married in a castle by the sea?? Yes please! We may, however, have got a little ahead of ourselves with romantic dreams of vows by candlelight, photographs of us by towering turrets, and speeches echoing around medieval stone walls. Here's a peek at how our first "wedding research" trip went...

St Mawes Castle 

After an early Saturday morning start and a very long drive accompanied by classic CDs such as The Best of the Beach Boys, we arrived to dazzling sunshine, sparkling blue ocean views, and a biting wind. We headed straight to the English Heritage castle overlooking the entrance to the Fal estuary in St Mawes, a delightful little fishing village surrounded by fantastic sea views and the lush greenery of the temperate Roseland Peninsula. As a major castle geek, I was super excited to see one of the best-preserved coastal artillery fortresses built during Henry VIII's reign to guard the area against invasions from France and Spain. Fast becoming a wedding planning bridezilla, I was even more excited to see the castle dressed as a unique, seaside wedding venue. The castle was just as enchanting as we had hoped it would be. From the beautifully minimalist ceremony room at the top of the castle, with panoramic views of the sea, to the turreted terrace used for drinks receptions, and the ancient gun room used for dinner (prepared by an adventurous team of caterers in the open-air makeshift kitchen!), the castle certainly provides a special venue for a wedding. Unfortunately we knew immediately that it felt like a great place for a day out but not the right place for our wedding (especially as the narrow stone steps and slatted floors would rule out any elderly guests or high heels!). 

St Mawes Castle, looking out to the lighthouse used in Fraggle Rock!
Childhood Memories 

We spent a whole day exploring the gorgeous villages and coves along the coast between St Mawes and Fowey. The very friendly landlady of our B&B gave us a list of places to visit if we were "brave enough to take a drive around the coastal road" and waved us off, jokingly checking that we knew where the reverse gear of our hire car was. An incredible adventure followed. I took The Boy on a tour of the delightful harbours and unspoilt beaches that I used to visit as a child, which involved some scary near vertical, one-track, winding roads; some near-misses with scathing local drivers; and some absolutely breathtaking views. I loved rediscovering the area. I had forgotten how clear the sea is in Cornwall, and how golden the clean sandy beaches are. Even the huge seagulls are haughtily superior and the salty air smells amazing. Here are a few of my favourite snaps from the weekend... 

The harbour at Mevagissey

View from the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon

Sheltering from a rain shower at Caerhays beach

Daphne Du Maurier's Menabilly bay

Pretty shop window at Portscatho

Urchin shells for sale on the quay at St Mawes

View of the creek from St Just in Roseland church
Foodie Treats

Now that we're saving for a wedding, The Boy and I have had to reign in our foodie tastes somewhat and eat out a little less. We packed up a picnic for the long journey down to Cornwall, consisting of flasks of coffee, chocolate brioche, kettle chips, sushi and delicious corned beef and mustard rolls. After a quick trip to the castle, The Boy just had to sample the local fish and chips as an afternoon snack. We grabbed a portion of twice-cooked chips from The Watchhouse in St Mawes and were disappointed. They were too crispy and tasted of the oil they were cooked in. The Rising Sun Inn right in the centre of St Mawes more than made up for it with a fantastic dinner menu later on. I had Scallops and Smoked Salmon with lemon mayonnaise, followed by a tasty special of grilled bass fillets and crushed new potatoes with cherry tomatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. The Boy tucked into a wintery dish of roast pheasant breast and bacon on a potato rosti. Delicious!

I was desperate to revisit a pub in the nearby village of Portmellon after enjoying their menu of fresh fish a few years ago. As part of our tour, I took The Boy to the Rising Sun Inn on the harbour at Portmellon for a traditional pub lunch. Luckily the pub remains unspoilt and we sampled a simple and generous roast beef lunch - I especially liked the fresh, flavourful carrots and green beans, and the interesting cheese rosti added to the already heaving plate! The welcoming mother and daughter team also offered us extra gravy and homemade horseradish sauce. It was the perfect lunch spot, and really well-priced too.

Roast Beef at the Rising Sun Inn, Portmellon
So, although the search for our perfect wedding venue continues, I'm looking forward to having as much fun along the way as we did this weekend! I'll keep you posted...

Enjoy! :-)

Monday, 20 February 2012

'Twas the night before Shrove Tuesday...

I hope there are no rules about tucking into pancakes a day earlier than is traditional as I'm taking advantage of a free evening to make a huge pile of pancakes and eat them all to myself. I'm going to Ashtanga Yoga tomorrow and it doesn't feel right to gorge on lard and sugar after pretending to be a dedicated yogi all evening. Plus, The Boy just won't accept that pancakes constitute a meal in their own right and he's away On Business at the moment. So, hoorah, it's Pancake Time! 

I've decided to go for the classic pancake recipe with a lemon and sugar combo, adding a little zing to proceedings with some delicious homemade cinnamon sugar a friend gave me for Christmas. I'm not sure whether anyone actually needs to know the recipe for pancakes but, considering that I had to Google it last year, I'll pop it down here just to be on the safe side:

What you need to make 6 large pancakes:

115g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 medium egg
170ml milk
55ml water
Vegetable oil for cooking
Lemons and sugar, to taste

What you do:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Beat the egg and pour in to the well.
3. Mix the milk with the water and slowly add to the egg, beating with a wooden spoon. Gradually incorporate the flour from the sides of the bowl.
4. Strain through a sieve into a jug.
5. Leave to rest for 30 minutes (optional).
6. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat. Rub with a thick wad of oil-soaked kitchen paper.
7. When hot, start cooking your pancakes! You might like to try removing the pan from the heat and ladling the batter into the pan at an angle. Then, whizz it around so the batter thinly covers the whole pan.
8. When the batter begins to set and form bubbles, loosen the edges and flip!

Here are some little snaps to whet your appetite... Enjoy! :-)

Jess's Homemade Cinnamon Sugar!