A Week In France

What is with French toilets? I couldn’t believe when I pulled over into a service station that the ‘facilities’ were just a hole in the ground. Some had actual toilets but not once did I encounter a toilet seat and I felt like a kid at Christmas if there was toilet paper available. Anyway, enough about toilets.

I stayed in a gorgeous villa overlooking the French Pyrenees, which provided some lovely views for the duration of my holiday. I must say though, the Lake District on our own green and pleasant land is much more beautiful, at least in my opinion. We were blessed with amazing weather though which meant plenty of time sunbathing and splashing about in the pool.

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All the local restaurants were advertising their own version of cassoulet, a meat and bean stew rich with duck fat. I was desperate to try some authentic French food so ordered it one evening. This one had a duck leg, some pork belly, a local sausage and a garlic crouton. It was absolutely delicious, though completely inappropriate for the 30° heat.

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Of course I also just had to sample a crepe whilst in the land of the creperie. I was really boring and went for Nutella but it was yummy. I had this with an amazing hot chocolate.

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On the drive home we stopped at a restaurant called Poivre Rouge, which was a bit like an upmarket Harvester. The menu had lots of grill options but there was also a salad bar that you could pay once for then take as many trips as you like. I didn’t go for it, but saw the locals tucking into escargot and massive prawns from it. I had fillet steak which was amazing and the chips were these strange little curved tube type things.

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What I did like about French service stations, toilets aside, was the food options. They’re much better than the English counterparts. On one stop I had a really really good burger, and another had this hot dog with mustard, bacon and cheese which they served hot, with an apple tart which was very nice.

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Other than that, I ate a lot of pizza! The French seem to really love their pizza!

My 100th Post!!!

Bonjour!

I am back in The Gammon Kitchen. I took a few weeks off blogging to enjoy a holiday to France (more on that to follow!) and to give myself a break. Blogging can be hard work! I’m not ever going to be one of those people who make a living from blogging and whatnot, I just don’t have the time to commit to posting that regularly, but I’m glad to be back and am looking forward to sharing some more recipes and stories with you.

This back to blogging post also just so happens to be my 100th blog post! Milestone alert! As I sit here in my jumper (like, when did it get so cold?) I’m reminiscing about some of the previous posts I have shared with you and thought this would be a great opportunity to recap on some of my favourites before I share some new content with you, starting with what I did on my holiday.

My Favourite Ever Post

My Thoughts On Dieting from January 2016

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I remember writing this post in the early hours of the morning as I couldn’t sleep and needed to vent about my feelings towards diets and the current craze of clean eating. I got some really great feedback on this post and still very much stand by my thoughts!

My Favourite Recipes

Fully Loaded Sweet Potato Fries from February 2016

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Even just looking at the picture makes me dribble. Yum!

Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread from March 2016

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This is one of my most used recipes from my blog and one I always turn to when I want to bake, or have some manky bananas in the fruit bowl, which is every single week.

Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry from June 2016

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I developed this recipe during my vegan trial week and even though my time as a vegan didn’t last, this is still one of the nicest curries I have ever made and is a favourite in my house.

Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock from July 2016

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I was so proud of this recipe, I even considered applying for Masterchef!

My Most Viewed Post

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Pavlova from January 2016

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Thanks to a Twitter comment from the Queen herself, I have enjoyed many views on this post, many now coming from Google searches. I love this photo too, I could dive into that pav face first right now.

It’s been nice to look back on some of my favourite posts from this year and I’m feeling ready and inspired to go on and create another 100 posts. See you all soon! PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Recipe: Vegan Bircher Muesli

I’ve known about bircher muesli for years but have only just recently discovered how amazing it is. If you don’t know, let me fill you in. You mix together oats, fruit, nuts and seeds with some kind of liquid such as milk, yogurt or fruit juice, then leave it in the fridge overnight. What you get in the morning is a delicious, creamy cold porridge that you can then top with berries and yogurt for a complete, healthy balanced breakfast. Plus, it can be made to be totally vegan so good for you and for the planet. If you’re not sold, make a small batch to test out and I promise you you’ll be converted.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 grated apple
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • yogurt (dairy free to be vegan) and berries to serve

What you do:

  1. Very simply, mix all of the ingredients except the yogurt and berries together in a bowl and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. To serve, top with some yogurt, any kind is fine but the vegan coconut yogurt is amazing, and then some mixed frozen berries that have been defrosted. Tuck in!

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This is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create a recipe that is so easy yet so tasty. Do let me know if you make this one!

Recipe: Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich

Sometimes you need something a bit trashy to munch on to get you through the day. There’s nothing classy about this and it’s really a crime to call it a recipe. It’s more of a suggestion on some things to put together in a baguette for the ultimate sandwich experience. Make. Apply to face. Thank me later.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • 1 mini baguette or half a white baton
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • lettuce leaves
  • cucumber slices
  • tomato slices
  • cheddar cheese
  • 4 Southern fried chicken goujons, fresh from the oven
  • sweet chilli sauce

What you do:

  1. Cut the baguette in half. Spread both halves with butter then apply as much mayonnaise as you want to the bottom half. Top this with a handful of lettuce leaves and 3-4 slices each of cucumber and tomato.
  2. Next, add some slices of cheddar cheese, I used 4 thick slices.
  3. Top this all off with the chicken goujons, add some sweet chilli sauce on top and then sandwich with the other half of the bread.

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GET IN MA BELLY!

 

Recipe Review: Rick Stein’s Lamb Kleftiko

I love Greece and I love Greek food. As I can’t afford a holiday to Greece this year I thought I would bring a little Greek sunshine into my own dreary kitchen. Rick Stein’s ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ is a bible of recipes from, as the name would suggest, Venice to Istanbul. There are Italian pasta dishes, Turkish kebabs and lots of wonderful dishes inspired by his travels around Greece. With each turn of the page my mouth waters even more. Even the simplest of dishes from these regions look and sound delicious and lamb kleftiko is no exception. With only a few ingredients and minimal preparation it’s great for feeding dinner guests and tastes sublime.

Here’s my take on Rick’s recipe, which is actually exactly the same apart from the alterations for it to feed four. It was perfect.

Start the recipe by peeling 750g of waxy potatoes and cutting them into wedges. Slice a red pepper into strips and roughly chop 3 large tomatoes. Tip all of the veggies into a casserole dish and season well with salt and pepper.

Take half a leg of lamb and sit this on top of the vegetable base, then pour over the juice of 1 lemon and 60ml of extra virgin olive oil. Halve a bulb of garlic and chuck that in too. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of dried oregano and then add 150ml of water. Put on a tight fitting lid and whack it in the oven for 2.5-3 hours at 190°c.

When the lamb is falling off the bone it’s done. Check the juices, adding a bit more water if too dry or reducing them down in a pan if too watery. Crumble over 100g of feta cheese and pop the dish back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. I left the lid off to get a little bit of colour going on.

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The finished dish looks beautifully rustic and filled the whole house with the aroma of garlic, lemon and tomatoes. I served it alongside a Greek salad and some homemade tzatziki. Yum!

 

 

 

My Weekend Food Diary

Tyler and I took a trip down to Eastbourne last weekend for the annual nerd fest that is the air show. As much as I’m terrified of flying, I love planes and get fan girl excited over the Red Arrows. As we stayed over for the night I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share a food diary with you. It didn’t quite go to plan as I was really unwell on Sunday and ended up eating nothing all day so my weekend food diary ends on Saturday night!

Friday 9pm – Dinner at Zizzi’s

Starter: Arancini with tomato sauce

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Main: Chicken and vegetable skewer with potatoes, slaw and a lemon and parmesan sauce

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Dessert: Mango and coconut sundae

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Saturday 11am – Breakfast at Wetherspoons

Vegetarian breakfast

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Enjoying the lovely weather and planes!

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Saturday 3pm

Tango Ice Blast, mixed cherry and raspberry. So refreshing in the heat!

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Saturday 3.30pm – Lunch from a Thai street food stall

Tempura prawns with sweet chilli dipping sauce

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Saturday 9pm – Dinner at home

Crispy chilli beef, plain chow mein, chips and curry sauce from the Chinese takeaway. Too exhausted to cook!

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I’ll try and get a full weekend of food in next time I try this! Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend too!

 

Recipe: My Famous Lime Cheesecake

I’m putting myself out there here: This is the best cheesecake ever. Big-headed? Me? Don’t be silly!

No really, this has a buttery biscuit base and is topped with the most creamy mixture bursting with sweet and zesty citrus flavour. It’s my mum’s favourite and I think mine too. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make, the hardest part is resisting it whilst it chills in the fridge overnight.

Serves 8. Or at least it should, but never goes that far in my house.

What you need:

  • 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 350g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 115g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 175ml double cream

What you do:

  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and spices until you have what resembles wet sand, then push it into the bottom of a springform tin. Leave this in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together along with the zest and juice from the citrus fruits until the mixture is smooth and creamy. This won’t happen if your cream cheese is too cold so plan ahead!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it reaches a soft peak consistency then add this to the cream cheese mixture and fold in thoroughly.
  4. Pour and scrape this mixture on top of your biscuit base and flatten and smooth it with a spatula or pallet knife then chill in the fridge, ideally overnight or at least for a few hours. When ready, devour with glee.

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