Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Table in the Tarn

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book in Waterstones last weekend. It tells the story of a British couple who give up their lives in London and renovate an old manoir near Cordes-sur-Ciel, in South West France. They convert it into a boutique b&b called Le Manoir de Raynaudes, and the book describes the local lifestyle and food and has over 100 recipes. Very inspiring!

Here is the Amazon review:
"While walking in South-west France, cook and journalist Orlando Murrin dreamed up the adventure of a lifetime: why not wave goodbye to the rat race and come to live in this rural paradise, where the only traffic is the boulangerie van delivering baguettes? His book tells the story of how he set up a boutique b&b and includes 100 amazing recipes. The story of the Manoir de Raynaudes begins on New Year's Eve 2001 when Orlando and his partner first glimpse the ruined manoir at dusk. Set in 13 acres of lush meadow, woodland, lakes and garden, they set about transforming the dignified old manor house into a phenomenally successful boutique b&b with its own magnificent kitchen garden. A Table in the Tarn charts the discovery, acquisition and renovation of the property. Along the way, we learn about the local food scene, with its astonishingly rich heritage of ingredients and dishes, about working in France and coping with the famous French bureaucracy, and about the unforeseen delight of working with the locals. Four years on, with countless plaudits and a coveted entry in the classy Mr and Mrs Smith directory, the business attracts visitors from around the world and continues to be a gastronomic destination for anyone seeking peace, tranquillity and above all fantastic food. Everything at the Manoir is home made, from breakfast breads to after-dinner chocolates, and the book includes 100 recipes. From the sublime Roquefort Brioche via Savoury Mini Clafoutis and Roast Pigeon Breasts in Armagnac to the unparalleled Chocolate Nirvana with Creme Anglaise, this collection of recipes offers a vivid experience of life in rural France. Cooks everywhere will devour the descriptions of country cooking as mastered by generations of French cooks. Not only will you learn the insider secrets of making acclaimed dishes from the Manoir, but find out what it's like to make a dream come true."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recipe: Marrow squash stuffed with mushrooms and bleu d'Auvergne

Serves 2 (quantities can be doubled to serve 4)


-1 good sized marrow (or any other similar shaped squash)
-200g chestnut or field mushrooms, chopped finely
-100g hazelnuts, chopped (best done in food processor, I used my new mini chopper :-) )
-100g breadcrumbs
-1/2 red onion, finely chopped
-handful fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil), chopped
-1 tsp dried oregano
-75g bleu d'Auvergne (or other blue cheese)
-1tbsp olive oil
-knob of butter
-salt, pepper

1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the red onion and mushrooms for 5 mins or until softened. Add the nuts, herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning. Mix well and put to one side.
3. Cut two 3-4 inch slices from the marrow and remove the seeds (keeping the skin on). Place in a saucepan and cover with boiling water, simmer gently until slightly softened (5-10 mins). Remove and put on a baking tray.
4. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the hollow centres, pressing down as you go. Drizzle with the olive oil and bake in the oven for 30 -40 mins. Towards the end of the cooking, top each one with half of the blue cheese and return to the oven until melted.

This dish is lovely served with some green beans and Dauphinois potatoes. I do not advise eating the skin!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Organic Food Festival 2010

Last weekend the national Organic Food Festival took place in Bristol. The festival celebrates all things organic, mostly food but also clothing and cosmetics. As a Soil Association member, entry was free so I felt obliged to go on both Saturday and Sunday...

Over 100 stalls took over Bristol Harbourside for the weekend. Each stall was very happy for us to sample their products and most of them had ample free samples to hand out. Yeo Valley were this year's sponsors alongside the Soil Association, and they were handing out free yoghurt- I think I must had eaten at least 6 over the two days. There were also cooking demonstrations taking place as well as wine tastings from Cono Sur- for me this was one of the highlights!

My favourite stall was Godminster. They sell cheese, chutneys and flavoured vodkas. I think it is the best cheddar I have ever tasted! The cheddar also comes in wax coated heart shapes. What a great gift idea for a cheese lover.....

It was a great weekend and it was good to see so many people supporting organic produce.