WHILST walking along the river in Richmond, we happened upon masses and masses of wild garlic, A leafy green herb with the unmistakable scent of garlic, it grows in large sprays along the River Swale and many other woodland locations around the UK.
We picked a load and carted it off home to experiment. I came up with three recipes which I will share with you over the next couple of weeks but, unsurprisingly, wild garlic grows in the… Well, in the wild. So I thought it would be a good idea to put together a short guide to picking your own as the season is fairly short and it’s not something you can generally buy from the shops – it would be a shame for you to miss out!
THE Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery is tucked away in Laverstoke, a tiny village in rural Hampshire in the UK, just north of Winchester between Basingstoke and Andover.
We have wanted to go since it opened its doors to the public in 2014. We lived in Southampton for five years but moved back up north a couple of years ago because of our jobs. It’s something we never really got round to but we were presented with the perfect opportunity to finally visit, and we are glad that we did!
We were down in Hampshire for a wedding on the first May bank holiday weekend and had planned to stay with my aunty and uncle who live about 40 minutes from Laverstoke. As it is such a long way from home I thought that we could make it a bit of a weekend away and do some exploring – the distillery was the first thing that popped into my head.
MY girlfriends came over for a casual midweek dinner the other night. We decided we needed to chill out over a chin wag and a mezze style tea with olives, stuffed peppers, flatbread, hummus, chicken skewers and all that nice stuff you can pick at whilst slobbing out watching trash TV and gossiping.
I had asked if anyone had any requests for food. One of the girls, Georgina, said that she had a craving for stuffed mushrooms. Say no more! I have created a great recipe that I like to use as a starter, a vegetarian main course or indeed as part of a mezze!
These mushrooms are so good that my friend Lauren, who usually hates goats cheese, loved them and even asked for the recipe. So here it is…
NASI Lemak was one of my favourite dishes to indulge in while we were exploring Singapore and Indonesia last year. A traditional Malay breakfast with lots of variations but in its simplest form it is made up of coconut rice, fried chicken, a boiled egg, ikan bilis (dried salted anchovies), redskin peanuts and a sweet mildly spiced sauce (the sambal) with tomato and cucumber on the side.
It is most prominent in Malaysia and can also be found across the Far East in places such as Brunei, Singapore, parts of Indonesia and the Bangsamoro region of Mindanao in the Philippines. In 2016, Nasi Lemak was recognised as one of the top 10 healthy breakfasts around the world by Time Magazine – I don’t know if this is strictly true but in short, it’s flippin’ delicious!
Whilst most of the ingredients are readily available in the UK, I have never found a sauce to rival the sweet, sticky and ever so slightly spicy sambal that complements this dish. Thankfully, we are booked up for a trip to Malaysia later this year but I can’t wait that long so I played around with the ingredients that I could get my hands on (we are limited in NE England!) and knocked up my own variation of this sambal.
A COUPLE of weeks ago my husband and I were busy enjoying ourselves on our annual ski trip. A week of sunshine, snow, good food and carving down some superb pistes. We went to Val Thorens in France (click here for my resort guide), part of the famous Three Valleys – a world away from the stress of daily life. It was our second time in VT and we booked up a little later than usual with only 8 weeks to spare.
Val Thorens is home to a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Self catering apartments co-exist next to luxury 5* hotels and there is even a hostel for those such as students who may want to keep costs to a minimum. This year we opted for a catered chalet – Chalet Curling which is a part of the Chalet des Neiges Hermine complex. We had never stayed in a chalet before but the prospect of homecooked food (made by somebody else no less) and freshly baked cake after a day on the slopes drew us in.
LAST weekend we were lucky enough to have some pretty amazing weather. A perfect spring day with bright sunshine, clear blue skies and a mild breeze. Possibly the nicest weather we have had in months and certainly good weather at any rate for the North East of England, good enough to walk outside without a big winter coat and gloves.
As it was mother’s day on Sunday we headed to Sandsend, a small fishing village near Whitby, for a stroll along the beach with Max the dog and some lunch at our favourite spot – a pub called The Hart Inn, a proper Yorkshire pub serving up the freshest seafood. Sandsend is our favourite spot for a Sunday walk anyway and we visit as often as we can. We ordered our usual crab salad with half a lobster as a mother’s day treat, chips for Mum and new potatoes for me. It was warm enough to eat in the pub garden so we basked in the sunlight and devoured our seafood while Max scoffed some gravy bones.
I don’t know if it was the combination of sun, sea and sand; the fresh, juicy crab meat or the notion that Spring was in swing but I just felt inspired. I wanted to put together a dish that was light and colourful with a chilli kick. We are going to Vietnam later in the year and it is no secret that the fresh, zingy flavours of Vietnamese food pairs really well with seafood.
VAL THORENS is set in the world-renowned ‘Les 3 Vallées’ ski area of France. It is Europe’s highest altitude ski resort and the area boasts over 600km of pistes across the Three Valleys – 150km of runs between VT and Orelle alone. With snowsure slopes, a long season, varied runs, breathtaking scenery and lively apres ski for those who want it; it’s a great resort whether you are an experienced snow sport enthusiast or indulging in your first ski holiday.
Having just returned from a briliant week of sunshine, skiing and snow in Val Thorens, I wanted to draw up a rough resort guide with a few tips and tricks for anybody who is thinking of visiting VT for the first time and/or looking to get the most out of their stay.
GUISBOROUGH, my hometown, is an ancient market town located on the northern most edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, roughly 10 miles south of Middlesbrough – I urge you, please don’t knock the area until you’ve experienced it for yourself!
Good old Guisborough is home to a disproportionately large number of independent coffee shops and tea rooms, all equally lovely and each with their own individual quirks.
Every once in a while a new kid arrives on the block, the endearingly named ‘Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House’ tucked away on Bow Street was the latest to catch my eye.
SHROVE Tuesday is upon us yet again. The beginning of lent is imminent and the start of the run up to Easter. It is an important date in any British household because… Well, pancakes of course!
‘Pancake day’, as it is colloquially known holds many a fond memory for Brits the world over. I remember eagerly rushing home from school to make sure I was first in the queue for one of my dad’s legendary pancakes.
Dad fancied himself as somewhat of a trick pancake flipper. Cautiously warning everyone to stand back, he would jerk the frying pan and in one movement was able to flip the floppy pancake over in midair and sometimes catch it in the pan. Sometimes he would miss or it would fold over on itself, but we didn’t mind – none of us could wait to smother our pancakes in a variety of sticky, sweet and occasionally fruity toppings. Nutella, peanut butter, honey, syrup or the classic lemon and sugar.
These days, I tend to be a little more health conscious and prefer to use this recipe for healthy oaty pancakes in place of the traditional ones. They are great for a casual Sunday morning breakfast or as a midweek dessert. Enjoy!