I made this soup in an attempt to get my husband to eat parsnips, he hates them apparently! Not any more, I tricked him with this delicate soup, based on a German theme but rich and creamy with a hint of apples and spice! The wine can be omitted and replaced with extra stock.
1 chopped onion
400g parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large potato peeled and chopped
250ml dry white wine (Riesling)
150ml apple juice
500ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
200ml single cream
salt and pepper to taste
handful smoked lardons
in a large pan soften the onions in the butter then add the parsnips and potatoes, cook for a few minutes stirring all the time. Then add the wine and bring to a boil this will remove the alcohol content but leave the taste.Add the stock, mustard, apple juice and all the seasonings. Simmer about twenty minutes until the vegetables are soft. Using a hand blender stick blitz the soup until very smooth, add more stock if its a bit thick . Add the cream and let it heat gently.
Meanwhile in a frying pan cook the lardons in their own fat, it will be released as soon as it gets warm. Crisp them up.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls then swirl a little cream into it, place a spoonful of lardons in the centre and sprinkle with smoked paprika. To make this vegetarian friendly omit the lardons and replace with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.
This is a deliciously rich and decadent tart I created for The Taste of Kent Food Festival
50g Crushed hazelnuts
115 g butter
50g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
200 g plain flour
2 Tbs cold water
120g condensed milk
60g golden syrup
150g light brown
Large pinch smoked sea
225g 70% chocolate
175ml Double Cream
100g caster sugar
50 g hazelnuts
100 g dark chocolate
Rub all the dry ingredients together and the add egg yolk and water and form a ball. Chill in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out the pastry and place in a 20cm loose bottomed flan tin. Blind bake the pastry in a pre heated 180 degree oven for 15 minutes, remove the baking beans and lining paper and continue to cook for about another 10 minutes .
Make the caramel by heating all the ingredients together in a saucepan until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees. Pour into the pastry case.
Make the ganache by very gently warming the ingredients together until melted and glossy. Pour onto the caramel.
To make the praline gently heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed fry pan, swirling as it melts not stirring. When it has become a golden colour pour over the hazelnuts. Once cooled grind together in a food processor until it is like coarse sand.
Sprinkle the praline around the circumference of the ganache.
Using melted chocolate in a small piping bag makes triangles to resemble sails. Cool in the fridge and the stand upright in the ganache.
sprinkle ground sea salt over the top of the ganache.
Karen Wright writes: “I like things to happen and if they don’t happen, I like to make them happen”. This is actually one of many quotes from the late, great Winston Churchill and I really feel like that too. I like ringing the changes, keeping out of a rut, and taking opportunities when I see them.
The reason I started this article with a reference to Winston Churchill is because we are staying on a campsite right next to Blenheim Palace where he was born. The palace is only one kilometre from here and makes for an easy stroll. The palace is gilded and ornate and the gardens are expansive and beautiful.Countryfile is going to be filmed here the first weekend in August so stay tuned to the telly and get a glimpse. In addition to being born here, he and loads of the other Churchills are buried at the local church in Bladon, so we had a walk there to pay our respects.
We caught the bus into Oxford and met our youngest daughter for lunch as she was researching in the Radcliffe Camera library. Oxford is magnificent, so historic, the buildings feel golden and warm. This time of year, it is rammed full of tourists.
On Wednesday we went to visit a friend of ours who lives near here. We had lots to catch up on and of course she hadn’t seen me since before The Bake Off so she wanted to hear all about it. She had recently had an armchair re upholstered and it was a glorious yellow fabric, I just had to have a photo taken sitting on it, it felt like a throne.
Thursday was a baking day in the caravan. I needed to make a birthday cake for our daughter and various other treats, so I got my apron on and got stuck in. I kept things simple with a Victoria sponge as it can be difficult to gauge ovens, especially one running on bottled gas, but it turned out well.
Friday I was invited to a launch of a new range of caravans from the manufacturer Bailey of Bristol. It was a fancy affair and held in a hotel with a hot lunch provided, which meant a sandwich for tea instead of cooking, made a nice change, simple things are often the best.
Saturday it was the birthday party. We travelled to Abingdon in the morning and we went for a birthday swim in the open-air pool. It was great. It is set in lawns and the river Thames runs parallel. We could bob about in the water and watch river boats sailing past. In the afternoon we came back to the caravan and had a mini party. Both our daughters, their chaps and our little granddaughter came. I had made a vegetarian lasagne, side salads, birthday cake and a Bakewell tart.
We are back home to Wakefield this week and I have a busy week in front of me including a training session for the radio slot, a cake to make for an event on Thursday at the Sculpture Park and a food festival next Saturday in Worcester to prepare for.
What was it that Churchill said? Make things happen!
So that’s is my round up for this week, hope everyone managed to stay cool in the heatwave. Until next week, bye bye!
I was recently lucky enough to be gifted a trip to this Holiday Parc, one of my old stomping grounds. Had a great time, really fab, here is my review.
Review of La Croix du Vieux
Pont and the Four Bed Lakeview Lodge
My husband John, myself, our
daughter and her partner and our two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter have
just returned from a wonderful holiday on this holiday parc. Our accommodation
was the four bedroomed lakeside lodge. John and I were very familiar with both
the parc and the accommodation as we have worked as seasonal maintenance within
the holiday parc industry for many years and spent two full seasons living on “Berny”. We were very excited to be invited back as holidaymakers and
perhaps see things through different eyes.
We sailed overnight into
Zeebrugge from Hull as we live in Yorkshire. We treated the crossing as a mini
cruise and set out to enjoy everything on-board. We quickly found our
comfortable cabin and then did a tour of the vessel. There are two bars on
board. One is quite lively and on this occasion a duo singing well known songs.
There was a game of bingo and a disco billed too. The other bar was a quiet
lounge and on the outward journey we enjoyed a solo guitarist who was good. On
the return we were treated to a pianist at the grand piano. We enjoyed a couple
of drinks before heading off to the self-service restaurant. There is an a la
carte restaurant too. In our restaurant there was masses of choice, all eat as
much as you fancy. Soups, crudités and salad selection (my favourite) carvery,
curries, beef casserole, lasagne. There was cheese and biscuits and desserts aplenty.
The breakfast was just the same – you name it, it was there.
Once we had docked next morning
we had a three-hour drive to the parc. An easy drive too. It is just over two
hours from Calais for anyone driving to Dover to sail, or Folkestone for Le
As you approach the site you
can’t fail to miss the beautiful, huge flower beds so carefully tended and
watered by the parc staff. This is just a taste of things to come. The parc is
quite beautiful. It is big but every inch of it is a pleasure to saunter
through. It’s like being on holiday in a park; lush, green with mature trees
around the edges but the emplacements are all so big nothing encroaches or
blocks out the sunshine. There are three lakes, for fishing, or for hiring a
canoe or pedalo. There are swans, moorhens and ducks with ducklings to enjoy.
Facilities are many but without
feeling too busy or overwhelming. Water wise there is a great pool complex with
covered/uncovered option dependant on the weather. We were there in a June
heatwave, so it was all opened to get the rays. There is a large proper
swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a toddler pool, a lazy river, and slides too. In the
middle of the parc there is a manmade swimming lake with a very sandy beach.
The water is filtered so is clean and blue. Our granddaughter loved this and I was
in there every opportunity too. Both the pools and the beach pool have a bar
restaurant too, so it really is heavenly.
There are playgrounds too and
some facilities that are available at a cost, bouncy castle, trampoline, go
carts that type of thing but the prices were fine I thought.
We did not eat at the restaurants
this time but in the past, we found them to be of a high standard. They were
always nicely busy so that speaks for itself. There is a takeaway which was
very popular. The shop in the parc was great, plenty of things to make a meal
or buy something to drink and not inflated prices. The boulangerie in the
morning was to queue for if you went late, but always plenty of baguettes and
croissants to go around, delish! The nearest supermarket is a short walk away
in the village and that is perfect for the bigger shop to get really stocked
The main bar has regular
entertainment which is lots of fun for all the family. Karaoke, kids disco,
there was a pool party too which also doubled as talent show with the Eurocamp
Reps doing the judging. That was a great night.
The Eurocamp Reps were fantastic.
There was nothing too much trouble. They clearly loved the job they were doing,
in fact they told me they did. There was such a happy positive vibration in the
guest services lodge, I was very impressed. Perhaps I might take it up again?
There is Eurocamp activities for all the family. We all took part including our
two-year-old who went to the tot’s club. Our children always loved the Eurocamp
kids’ clubs when they were small, and it still has the same appeal now. Our
oldest girl was a Eurocamp kids club rep when she was eighteen and then of
course we joined in too when we got the bug.
There are new attractions that
are up by the main bar, which include ten pin bowling and laser quest. There is
table tennis to be enjoyed and there is one tennis court. Bikes can be hired
too and there are pony rides across the road. I spotted crazy golf, zip wires
and a climbing wall.
On the parc Eurocamp offer a huge
variety of accommodation. There are huge Safari Tents which is very stylish.
There are mobile homes of different sizes and layouts to suit every families
budget. There are two, three and four bedroomed wooded lodges too. On this
occasion we were staying in a four bedroomed lodge with a lake view. It was a
strange feeling to be back inside the lodge. I could see the curtain poles and
the curtains that we had put up, felt like coming home! The emplacement all
over the site are generally large. The lodge emplacements are three times as
large as my garden back at home. It was lawn, with matures trees all around for
privacy and shade and how pretty it looked too. In front of the big deck was a
huge mass of pink wild roses, smelt beautiful.
There are steps up to the deck.
The deck has a picnic bench style table and chairs to sit ten. There is an
awning for shelter from the elements be it rain or shine (its generally shine).
Once inside there is an open plan space with lounge area, dining table and
chairs for ten and a fully equipped kitchen. The kitchen boasts full sized
integrated dish washer. A full-sized electric oven and a four-burner gas hob.
The fridge freezer is tall and of a large capacity.
There is a double bedroom
downstairs along with a loo and a large shower room.
Once up the stairs there are
three more bedrooms. The master overlooks the front and has the lake view.
There is a balcony large enough to sit out on and enjoy the view. The other
bedrooms are spacious, one has bunkbeds the other has twins with a pull out
single bed beneath each twin. There is a loo and a very large bathroom with
bath and shower over. Plenty of storage everywhere and because there are
shutters as well as curtains it is possible to keep the lodge cool when the sun
gets its hat on.
We really enjoyed our holiday, it
was over too soon. We know from our experience living there that there are very
many and varied places to go off and see but, on this occasion, we just stayed
on the parc and relaxed. We watched the world go by, we fed the ducks when they
waddled up to our deck to say good morning. As the heat of the sun ebbed away
we cooked our dinner on the BBQ and enjoyed a bottle of wine. In the mornings
we bought fresh bread and croissants and enjoyed those sitting on our lovely
deck with a cold glass of orange juice.
We had the opportunity of
inviting people in to look around our lodge, this was such a lot of fun.
Everyone seemed very impressed. We enjoyed chatting about our own experiences,
about which other sites are in the Eurocamp brochure that they might like too
and which of them we have worked on in the past.
This Holiday parc really does have something for everyone, be it just enjoying the facilities on the parc or venturing out and about to Paris, Disney or the vineyards of the Champagne region. Closer to the parc, even in the village itself there is so much history to discover, caves used as hospitals in WW1 and WW2. There are war cemeteries and only half an hour drive away is Compiegne where the Armistice was signed ending the hostilities of WW1. I can, and do, recommend this Eurocamp Holiday parc experience to everyone and I am very much looking forward to my next visit, see you there!
I was trying to develop a recipe for a savoury cheesecake using Stilton in particular, I love blue cheese with walnut or pecan and pears go so well with both that this evolved. In my mind this will be great on a buffet table with the cheeseboard or instead of. A hint of sweetness in the base with ginger biscuits in there too. My thesaurus of food pairings told me that a sweet praline might give some texture and a touch more sweetness, so the shards and then the dried pear flames were born. A juicy spicy poached pear on top of a sweet/sour relish is the King of Spain’s Daughters Golden pear as i liberally polished it up with gold spray, and a scattering of crushed pecan praline looks like sparkling jewels. Showstopper!
120g Savoury Crackers and Ginger Biscuits
80g Melted Butter
250g Full Fat Cream Cheese with Chives/Herbs/Garlic
Crush the biscuits and stir in the melted butter. In a greased and lined loose bottomed 20cm tin, press the biscuit mixture firmly down and chill in the fridge for an hour or more.
Mix all the cake ingredients together and pour on top of the base. Bake in the bottom of a 160 degree oven for about fifty minutes or until the cake is set with a slight wobble in the middle.
Put all the relish ingredients into a heavy based fry pan and bubble up until it is a jam like consistency.
Poach the pear in the sugar cinnamon water for about twenty minutes until tender
Heat the sugar and water gently in a separate pan for the brittle, do not stir, melteing the sugar and heating until it becomes caramel colored, stir in the pecans then pour it out on to grease proof sheet.
To dry the pears, slice as thinly as possible and dry in an oven on the lowest possible setting for several hours to dry out the moisture. If not using immediately store in an airtight jar.
To assemble, spoon the relish on top of the cheesecake. Place the poached pear centrally on top. Break the brittle into shards and push into the cheesecake also crushing some into smaller bits and scattering on the top. Using a small knife make slits around the cheesecake and push the dried pears into them.
I then spray some gold glitter all around for a shimmering golden pear effect.
Yesterday we were on the last day of our holiday in our caravan and I was keen to use up odds and ends in the fridge and cupboards. I found four Quorn Sausages in the freezer so this was my inspiration. I let them defrost and the sliced them into tiny bits. I found an onion a pack of mushrooms and a small pot of cottage cheese and a cube of cheddar. With the addition of some garlic, tomato pure, herbs and spices I made a massive sausage roll. I had a pack of supermarket puff pastry in the fridge too, always a standby you can make a lunch or a pud with ease.
This recipe is easy to adapt whatever you happen to have handy and is super tasty and gives you a meat free option which we are all being encouraged to do more often.
4 vegetarian sausages chopped into bits
small tub Cottage cheese
Matchbox sized cube of Cheddar Cheese (any cheese)
Tablespoon tomato Puree
Crushed Garlic cloves to taste
Smoked paprika and Oregano (any in cupboard)
Pack Puff Pastry
Using low cal spray mist a large frying pan and gently soften sausages, onion and mushrooms, add spices and herbs, garlic and tomato puree and cook for a few minutes.
Take off the heat and mix through the cottage and cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Open the Puff Pastry and lay mixture down the middle vertically. Using a sharp knife make slits on the diagonal in the four o clock direction down the right hand side and the same on the left but towards the eight o clock direction. Plait from each side overlapping in the middle and brushing with beaten egg to help stick the pastry together. Brush the finished roll all over with beaten egg and bake at 200 degrees until puffed up and golden.
Yesterday I was making a very quick rhubarb relish in the Demo tent at Wakefield’s annual Rhubarb Festival. I made a quick Soda Bread and a mackerel pate to make a full lunch or supper dish.
1 Cup runny honey
Half cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 thumb sized piece of grated ginger
Half a red chilli chopped
2 Tsp Chinese five spice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped red onion
4 cups chopped rhubarb
In a large frying pan heat the honey and vinegar until boiling, add all the ingredients except the rhubarb and bubble on a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken into a jam like consistency. add the rhubarb and continue to cook until it is starting to soften. Turn off the heat and stir to combine the rhubarb and relish, try to keep some chunks of rhubarb for texture.