Thursday, 24 November 2016


FORAGING FOR TREASURE...








On a beautiful sunny and crisp Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, Mr. W and I made our way to a 'secret location' in Sussex to meet foraging expert Melissa and her two truffle hounds Zeb the Labrador and Ella the Cocker Spaniel.





Our treasure hunting was of course for Wild Truffle!  While French and Italian truffles are famous, English truffles are less well known but still prized for their culinary value.  It was black truffles that we were searching for, and this beautiful beach forest with its chalky soil, promised a good chance of success.





Truffles are a type of fungus that attaches itself to the root systems of certain trees, with both truffle and tree relying and benefitting from one another.  




Melissa explained to us the importance of respecting the ecosystem and not over foraging any one area.




These beautiful dogs have been trained from first born, to recognise the smell of truffles.  Within no time, they were both enthusiastically sniffing around and obviously loving their environment.




After a short while, Zeb the Labrador was concentrating on one spot and pawing the ground. We were told to be quick to stop him before he ate any prized truffle....apparently his favourite treat!






Carefully scraping the earth away, we could not believe what was there....an exciting moment to find that first treasure.





This one was a beauty and a very good size!





Next was little Ella the Cockerspaniel, who had a different style of hunting.  When on the scent, she would dig enthusiastically and then look towards her mistress to signal having found something.  It really was fascinating to watch!







A happy few hours passed, walking in the winter sunshine, and taking in a lunch time picnic.   




Happy dogs enjoying their day too.









An informative and fun day in beautiful countryside and feeling close to nature...






And as we made our way back to the cars, thoughts turned to what we were going to cook with our tasty truffles.  Quite a haul which was divided between the five of us.




A day in the fresh air with plenty of exercise, certainly builds up the appetite!  It was a treat to put my feet up and watch my boys cook for me.... 




And the mushroom and truffle pasta was absolutely delicious!


***

Sophia xx

PS.  If you are interested in joining Melissa on one of her truffle or mushroom hunting courses, she can be contacted via the website at www.truffleandmushroomhunter.com

Thursday, 3 November 2016

CANAPÉ INSPIRATION...


Cucumber, horseradish, crab and pickled daikon




With Christmas and the festive run up to it just a few weeks away, many of us may be looking for  food and entertaining inspiration.

Whether for the big day itself, or if you plan to have a few friends and neighbours in for drinks in December, it is always lovely to make guests feel welcome with a little something delicious with drinks, other than the standard bowl of crisps or nuts!  I personally always feel particularly welcome when a host has made that little bit of effort with something yummy and appealing to the eye on first arrival.  It keeps hunger at bay over drinks, and certainly sets the tone for what is to come.


Watermelon and miso prawns with edible viola flowers. 


With a daughter who works as a private chef, I am constantly inspired by the food she produces.  Every time I get in a 'cooking rut' (does anyone else feel like that at times?!) I call her up to inspire me and get me out of my predictable cooking zone and try something new or that little bit more imaginative. 

Canapés are Georgie's favourite things to prepare for client parties and certainly my favourite thing to eat.  In fact I could possibly live on them!

Delicious little morsels of one bite heaven that look visually lovely too.  Here are a few ideas, created by Georgie, to whet your appetite....




Crab and chipotle tacos. 


 I shall certainly be incorporating one or two of these gorgeous ideas on the big day itself instead of a starter.  (or maybe just cheekily cheat and get 'darling daughter' to whip them up?)  Perfect of course with a glass of something cold and bubbly!



Sweetcorn frittas with guacamole and seared sashimi tuna, with red amaranth.



Crab, horseradish and cucumber gazpacho toasts.




Truffle crostini with celariac remoulade and lightly seared fillet of beef.



Mini poppadums with sweetcorn chaat, tandoori chicken and micro coriander.





Beetroot macaroons, goats cheese mousse and micro mint.



Here below, Georgie has passed on the recipe for these delicious 'Carrot and cumin frittas' with goat's cheese, pine nut and dill.  Thinking about it, they would have been perfect for recent Halloween, as they remind me of little mini pumpkins....next year!





Ingredients:

3 carrots
1 egg
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp plain flour

Dip:
1 log of soft goat's cheese
1 tbsp greek yoghurt
50g toasted pine nuts
1 handful chopped dill


Method:
Grate carrots or shred in a food processor.  Mix carrots with all other ingredients and mould in small rounds.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan and cook until golden, turning to cook evenly.  Mix the dip mixture in a food processor and place a small amount on each of the warm fritters.  Garnish with a little dill and edible viola flowers.


Healthy and delicious...
Bon appétit!

Sophia xx


Ps.  For more food inspiration, or to make an enquiry, check out 'G's Kitchen' on Instagram @georgies_kitchen



Monday, 24 October 2016


EMBRACING THE NEW SEASON...





As wonderful as this past summer has been, I am loving the change in the seasons.  Autumn to me is one of the loveliest and I am embracing all that it brings.

We have been working hard in the garden, generally tidying and putting things to bed.  The fun part for me is always the change of planting in my pots and planters, bringing a new theme for the time of year.  Beautiful 'Crown Prince' Pumpkins and pink and white Heathers are always an October favourite, along with squashes and colourful, decorative gourds.















White cyclamen too make their way in to both inside and outside planters ...






This month we have been harvesting the wonderful glut of red grapes from our pergola vine and enjoying them particularly with yoghurt for breakfast each morning....leaving plenty of course for the birds to enjoy.






Onions and chillies have been in abundance!  This is just a small selection of what we have grown, enough to last us all year.  All keen cooks will know how many one can easily get through...the basis for many a recipe!  Onions are stored in airy baskets in the cool of the shed, and chillies I have dried overnight in the warming oven of the Aga.





Aubergines were the surprise at the end of the summer!  Having thought that they were going to be a complete disappointment due to late planting, hidden below the leaves were a lovely crop of medium sized aubergines with the most wonderful taste and texture.  I shall definitely be growing more next year.





The last of the courgettes, beetroot, carrots, and beans have been enjoyed, and we are now looking forward to enjoying the next crop of all year round lettuce, kales, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach, celariac and brussel sprouts.  In previous years the winter veg has been slightly forgotten, but with a new effort in planning and planting earlier this year, I have high hopes for this winter!



The dogs and I have been enjoying the most glorious daily walks. Blessed with many sunny days recently, our lunch time walks are a welcome break in the day, away from my desk working and daily routine.  



We are very fortunate in our little corner of rural Kent, to be surrounded by beautiful unspoilt countryside.  





Our favourite walk is through the ancient woodland that borders our land...















A haven for wildlife and the perfect place to switch off and reflect on the changing season...














A change in the weather calls for a change in meal planning here at home.  Who doesn't love the chance to indulge in warming, healthy soups and casseroles.   Local game is bountiful too, and I am keen to try a few new recipes this Autumn which I look forward to sharing with you soon.




Friends and family over for relaxed meals is always enjoyable....




... as are cosy nights in with no plans,  in front of the fire or with a good book or movie.  













The clocks may be changing this weekend, but the earlier darker evenings won't be dampening my spirits!







Tell me, do you love this time of year too?  What do you enjoy especially to welcome in this beautiful time of year?

Wishing you a happy week ahead...

Sophia xx