Amalfi Lemon Tart and Beetroot Ice Cream

I found this recipe the other day and was very keen to try it. I am not sure if I have ever tried Amalfi Lemons, having never been to the Amalfi coast, but when I googled, “Where to buy” I found I could get them on-line at ”” but at a hefty £11.95 a kilo!! I am pretty sure that Selfridges Food Hall could sell them as well, but when Himself shopped there a few weeks ago, he blithely bought me two beautiful mangoes for my breakfast, what he didn’t realise was they sold them by the kilo and had a bit of a shock at the till £19.0 for 2 Mangoes !! So maybe I will not be going there to hunt for Amalfi Lemons.


Consequently, I used common or garden unwaxed lemons. As we use the zest it is obviously better to use Unwaxed one.

  1. Use your favourite pastry recipe or really cheat and use bought pastry.
  2. 5-6 Lemons, unwaxed
  3. 300 grams chilled unsalted butter
  4. 300 grams caster sugar
  5. 6 whole eggs
  6. 3 egg yolks
  7. 1 beaten egg white

Heat the oven to 200 C/ Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry and press into a 26 cm tart tine, ( preferably one with a loose bottom) leave to rest for about 10 mins.

After that line the pastry with some greaseproof paper and fill with some form of baking beans, Rice, lentils etc will do. These can be reused time and time again, as long as you mark the container ” For Baking Only” otherwise someone might just try to cook with them, which would be a disaster!

Bake the pastry case for 20 mins, remove the paper and the beans, brush the case with the beaten egg white to seal it and bake for another 5 mins  and then remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile zest the lemons and then juice them, mix both with butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently to melt both the sugar and the butter. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks until pale yellow and pour into the saucepan. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Do not allow to boil as the eggs will scramble.

Remove from the heat, leave to sit for a few minutes and then pour into the cooked pastry case.

Light the grill and place the tart under it to char the top of the tart. It might be prudent to cover the edges of the pastry with aluminium foil before hand, to prevent the pastry from burning. When the tart is cool refrigerate before serving.

And finally, Beetroot Ice Cream.IMG_8276

A few years ago, we were in Mexico for Easter and went to San Miguel d’Allende, an absolutely delightful town about 3 hours drive, north-ish of Mexico City. It seems a safe haven for many retired Americans, the climate is great, life is cheap , medical service excellent and not so far from the USA. Dining experiences in Mexico, have on the whole been excellent, but with one remarkable exception. We had been on a tour of the botanical gardens and headed off to find an organic farm with restaurant. However, upon arriving, although we had a reservation no table was available, only one in the midday sun ( and we had 2 small children with us). Needless to say, Son in law was not impressed. A quick telephone call and we were headed back into town, to the restaurant we had eaten in previously and it is called “The Restaurant”

All I remember about this restaurant was a) the food was very good b) they didn’t mind children at all, infact welcomed them and c) our starter, which was a goats cheese salad with Beetroot and Horseradish Icecream. Divine ! If you check this restaurant out on trip advisor, it says, the food is American, it is not and secondly mixed reviews. I put this down to, too many American Expats, who expect a cheap meal. My family and I, as we went twice in two days, thought differently.

Since then I have made my own version of the ice cream, experimenting along the way.

For the Ice Cream you will need

  1. 500 Mls, ( 2 Cups) double cream
  2. 3 Large eggs
  3. 6 oz/150grms fine sugar
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 1 jar of horseradish sauce apprx 160 grms
  6. +/- 500 grms cooked beetroot ( thank goodness you can buy them vacuum packed already cooked!)

Blend all of the above together in a blender. If you have an ice cream machine, so much better, and then it is very simple, set the machin to cool/freeze and pour the mixture in, it does not freeze solid, but when the machin stops turning, remove the mixture and put into a plastic container and put into the freezer.

If you do not have an Ice Cream machin, pour the mixture into a plastic container, put into the freezer and about every 30 mins or so, give it a good stir.

I servve it on a bed of leaves along with some goats chees, either baked ( hot and melting) or just cold. Delicious either way.

P.S. too much tart? cut into slices, and freeze! it freezes well!



Collecting Recipes

Whenever I am reading newspapers, magazines, new cook books or nowadays web recipes I copy and try many of them. Yes, in days gone by I was the one who would annoyingly, rip out the pages of magazines in dentist and doctors waiting rooms. Nowadays of course with smart phones, I just take a photograph of them. No wonder my phone is constantly  telling me ” Storage almost Full”!

I even have an I-pad, dedicated to all things food and travel. On this I-pad, I either store recipes in a recipe folder or I store them ( and the travel) as PDF’s in books, and so I can flip through them just like flipping pages of a book.

I nearly always condense the recipes, and in a real book I annotate, but have not found a way to do this using the PDF method ( I must consult my all things computers gurus). Oftentimes, I find the recipes too long-winded, so much so, that anyone new to cooking would be severely “Put Off” at first glance. I first condensed and simplified recipes many years ago, firstly as my young son was having difficulty reading, but loved cooking, so I created an easy to read cook book, just for him. At the time also I had my own, informal cooking school, in Brussels and my pupils were mainly Expat women of many different nationalities. It became necessary to come up with methods that were easy to understand for all.nbg

So to this day, I still annotate and condense.

Today I tried 3 new recipes, one by Tom Kerridge, of Hand Flowers fame one by Theo Randall and one by ME ! They all  worked but I have reservations about the first, but inspite of my reservations, HIMSELF seems to like it a lot !

Tom Kerridge has a recipe for Caramelised honey and roasted vanilla crème brûlée which I came across in The Times.

  1. 2 Vanilla pods ( I used liquid vanilla, which takes out the step of roasting the vanilla pods)
  2. 60g of heather honey ( I used acacia honey from Waitrose as it also contained the honeycomb)
  3. 7 eggs

And to serve the Honeycomb cut into 8 pieces and he used Demerara Sugar, I used fine castor sugar.

Now this is the bit of the recipe, that I have a problem with, so listen very carefully ( well I mean read and understand).

It says measure the honey and heat to 140 C using a digital probe or thermometer. I possess three such items, two cooking thermometers  and a digital probe ( a Thermopen, which decided not to work) I think most home kitchens do not have a thermometer, let alone a digital probe. As my digital probe was defunct I used the thermometer, but actually 60 g of honey in the bottom of a pan is not very much honey and although it was a smallish pan, I had to tilt it, to be able to measure the temperature, and then my stove top would flash at me ( it is induction), however I got there in the end. If you do not have either a probe of cooking thermometer, I would suggest heating the honey gently until it begins to change colour and caramelise, keeping a careful eye on it so as not to burn.

Remove from the heat, add the cream, whisking well.

Whisk the eggs, until they are pale yellow, pour over the cream, again whisking whilst doing so. Return to the heat and heat up to 86C stirring constantly, the mixture will bubble up almost to the top of the pan but will subside as you whisk.

Pour the mixture into a blender and process for a minute and pour into ramekins.

Refrigerate , until they are cool and ready to use. Sprinkle sugar on top, and either place under a hot grill to caramelise or use a blow torch. Serve with a bit of Honey comb on top of each.crene brulee

After all that, I forgot to serve with the Honeycomb !!


Don’t go there, Club Med, Vittel, that is !

Once again we have been thwarted, on our annual drive from the French Alps back to the UK.

We are Club Med aficionados, and have been for the last 30 years, and most recently crossed the Atlantic ( for the 2nd time) on their beautiful sail boat Club Med 2!

This year we thought we would be really clever and drive to the Spa town of Vittel, where there is a Club Med, with two golf courses! What could go wrong?

Well , apart from the golf courses ,Le Peulin was beautiful and Le Mont St. Jean, very interesting as it also formed part of a Point TO Point horse racing course, so trying to decide to go over the object, around it, under it proved to be a challenge. Actually it reminded me of ” We are going on a bear hunt, can’t go over it can’t go through it, etc.” Otherwise, everything was wrong, perhaps not wrong but to be honest it was the worse Club Med, that we have ever been in !

Partly our fault maybe, we did not realise that there are  3 hotels for Club Med in Vittel, and I feel that the Club Med booking agent should have told us, or maybe it was full, but we were in the family hotel, and nothing wrong with that BUT, we were just the two of us.

When we arrived, it was just before “La Rentreé” return to school for French kids. The place was full to bursting and going in for dinner at 8 pm was absolutely manic! It seemed that chaos reigned, and worse of all, A BUFFET!  Something I abhor! 99% of the tables, were family tables, which were all full. Normally there is a hostess who will seat people, but not here but we did find a table for 3, which was occupied by a teenager, who quickly departed, when faced with two old fogies and English ones at that!

And on top of that? Well three dinners and three breakfasts, are just not worth any mention at all. Appalling is all I can say.

We have been going to Club Med on a regular basis since 1986, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mauritius, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mexico, France, the USA, Morocco, Egypt, and Transatlantic, the list goes on. The one thing I have always said about Club Med, is the food is always good, but not this time. Three items were just passable, the Beef Wellington, which actually was very good, and the Ongelet beef, which was OK, even f it was a bit tough, and an omelette! I had an omelette for dinner, which the chef cooked very well.

Subsequently , I ordered an omelette for breakfast, not the Chef unfortunately but a cook, who probably couldn’t even boil an egg, let alone an omelette, over cooked, more like cardboard, which couldn’t be folded, but rather dumped in a mess on the plate.Inedible!

I could go on about the food, but enough to say it was awful, so awful that I di not take any pictures, and I should have done so!

And then I move onto the buildings, Grand in appearance, huge and once very grand but now resting on their faded glory, A beautiful Mosaic floor, laid by a Master Mosaic, designer/artist, a mosaicist.  And it was beautiful but the armchairs, were in part severely worn.

barThe main bar was  minuscule  and severely understaffed ( and by 10.30 pm they were more or less putting the chairs on the tables !)  Outside broken tiles and paving stones were everywhere. pavement

And the staff, the GO’s ,  Katie and Adam were delightful, but the Chef de Village? He was not to be seen, not once in three days ( we did meet his deputy, Teddy) the receptionist in  our bit of the hotel was functional and not the smiling happy GO that we are used to, in fact she  seemed decidedly bored, the navette driver, even more so and certainly did not get out of the truck to help with our golf clubs.

building 2
our part of the hotel

Our part of the hotel, was another beautiful building, but with dark corridors, where you had to hunt for the light switches, even during the day, room small, towels, sadly lacking and cheap, the shower door, hanging by a thread and no amenities ( shampoo, shower excepted) no tea/ coffee-making facilities, these are the norm these days. On top of that, no window coverings, a thick curtain but as we looked out onto a small apartment block, ( and they looked straight into our room) it meant drawing the curtains, even during the day, to change .

The main hotel, which is a beautiful building

Maybe, if we had stayed in the Ermitage section of the hotel, it might have been better, but am not so sure, as we took late lunch there, after golf, and it certainly wasn’t any better.

Vittel itself was founded in the mid 1800’s by lawyer Louis Bouloumié when he purchased the Fontaine de Gérémoy. It is the source of the water by the same name VITTEL, whch today is bottled by the Nestlé Company.

The town is very pretty, beautiful architecture and a wonderful, very large park, for walking, biking, running, alongside a horse race track, a point to point horse race course, barrel racing ( again with horses) and tennis courts.Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 17.24.07

Rumours abound that Club Med is about to close this resort. Can’t come fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

A Trip to London’s Meat Market.

Smithfield or, to give it its official name, London Central Markets, is the largest wholesale meat market in the UK and one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Located within the Square Mile of the City of London it is housed in three listed buildings.

It is a place packed with history there has been a livestock market on the site for over 800 years and yet is as modern as tomorrow with its state of the art facilities for the receiving, storing and despatching of meat and poultry.

Periodically, we make trips to this market, either when our freezers are running low, or as in this instance a trip to France was due. Once a year himself drives off to France with the car absolutely fully laden, one would think that after 10 years there would be no more stuff to be transported, but I can assure you, that there is always stuff! And I mean stuff!

And so it happened again that just before he was about to decamp, from metropolitan London to very rural France, we made our pilgrimage. It is very easy for us, we go at about 6.00 in the morning, before the morning rush hour, and just a few stops on the Tube gets us there, and we must not forget the shopping trolley, to aid with our purchases! Some of the workers, start at about 10pm, that is when the deliveries start, but the market is open from 2 am until about 7 am though some of the traders sell until 10am.

Buying guide

The basic thing to remember is that anyone can buy at the Market but one should really arrive before 7am to see the market at its best. Walk around and check out the stalls, and ask questions, the stall holders are a cheerful bunch and are more than willing to answer any questions. Prices are not normally displayed so it will mean asking, and check out other stalls before buying, prices do vary ! They will take cash and some will take credit/ debit cards as well.

All kinds of meat, poultry and game are available as well as cheeses, and delicatessen products. Apparently one of the best times to visit, from an experience point of view is the run up to Christmas. Something I have not yet done, but must try and remember to do so this year.

MONDAY to FRIDAY from 2am (visitors and buyers should arrive by 7am to find full range of stalls open) Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

This time we bought Rib Eye, it comes vacuumed packed and in packs of 2 kilos, @£15 a kilo so we bought 2 of those. Next was chicken breast and boneless skinless chicken thighs ( more flavour than breasts and juicier) and then it was what was described by our friendly butcher ” beef that the Asians buy for their stir fry” so we bought that and I have to say, whatever cut it was, it was great in stir fry or fajitas!

We ventured home and the meat ( as it was vacuumed packed), was sent off to France to wait for me to slice and pack as necessary.

The one thing I did not expect to find in the market were Portuguese custard tarts! But there they were! Amazing!

If you want a fun early morning trip I can thoroughly recommend a trip to this market and for more info. go to

Happy Market Shopping Everyone !

A Summer Occupation

Something happens to me in summer time in the mountains. I have to make Jam. This started a few years ago simply because Himself has to have Apricot Jam whilst in France. Of course I could go to the grocery store and buy “Bonne Maman” but that would just not be the same! In France, in the summer there are roadside stands selling trays of apricots and so inspired I started making jam.

The first year, was just Apricot , but the following year Marcel, the farmer whose house/barn is attached to ours, decamped to the Lakeside and put his barn up for sale. In the garden was a wonderful red currant bush and so I asked if I could pick them and so that year we had red currant Jam / Jelly as well, and so it has progressed.

However, I have now learnt to cheat a little. Using frozen fruit has tremendous advantages, no need to bend low to pick, de-stone, wash, clean, or remove bugs. Consequently, so far this year I have made raspberry, cherry ( fantastic being able to buy de-stoned frozen cherries), Myrtilles, again these are the equivalent to blueberries, but they grow wild and are few and far between on the low bushes, but frozen ! Easy Peasy, as they say. And of course some more Apricot, but for this, I actually had to stone them etc. myself!

Jam making has to be an occupation of rural French Housewives. As the grocery stores at this time of year are full of the requisite Bonne Maman type jam jars, and other jam making equipment including Sugar! I am sure it is also available in the UK, but here is is there on the shelf, next to ordinary sugar, so no need to go hunting for it. The sugar is labelled Sucre Gélifiant ( Preserving Sugar) it contains 98.7% sugar, along with acidifiant ( pectin); citric acid. So almost no need to add anything else, though I have to admit that I have added, maybe a 1/4 Cup lemon juice.

The other things that make life a bit easier, is having a preserving pan, a long handled wooden spoon or wooden shaft with a metal stirrer, and a jam thermometer.

So put very simply:-

Put into the pan the fruit, defrosted or not and heat until the fruit is very soft. For each kilo of fruit a kilo of sugar is require. Pour in the sugar, stir well and continue to heat on a medium heat. Put in the thermometer and occasionally stirring, keep an eye on the thermometer. Using a thermometer makes life very easy indeed, as there are different heats indicated and Yes there is one marked JAM! No more guess work needed, but being old school in this respect I do still test that the Jam has reached a setting point. This is done by spooning a small amount of jam onto a a plate or saucer, put somewhere cool for about 5 minutes, press a finger onto the surface and see if it is setting.

The jars need to be sterilised , and this can be done in the dishwasher or in the microwave. Place the jars half filled with water and microwave on high for about 3 minutes, long enough for the water to boil. Several jars can be done at the same time. Lids of course can’t be done in the microwave, so I put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drain the jars and leave upside down on a clean cloth and wipe dry inside with some paper towel. Using a ladle fill the jars almost to the brim with the jam, and tightly seal on the lids, label and you are done !

Easy? But of course! Happy Jam Making !

However I have just had a real Flashback! Walking up the lane, there is the most wonderful rosebush full, of the most beautiful rose hips.

A lifetime ago, whilst living in Normandy, I decided that my girls needy some extra Vitamin C and what better way to give it to them than RoseHip Syrup! And yes, somehow or other I found the recipe in some old cookery / home hints book and made my own. ( I guess that despite having two small children I had plenty of time on my hands.) I seem to recall also being very fed up with Baguettes that went stale too quickly making my own bread daily with the help of my then 2 year old. I seriously doubt that she remembers that and also doubt that she would ever make her own today! But then again why would she?

Himself cooks a mean Tagliatelle Carbonara!

The other night Himself declared, that he fancied Tartiflette for Dinner, everyone else pulled a face! Maybe in the winter but not in the middle of a summer heatwave.

Heatwave finally left and here in the mountains it is definitely cooler, but still not tartiflette weather. The compromise was Tagliatelle Carbonara. He was determined to make his pasta, and actually has become quite a Dab Hand at it and can almost remember the proportions without looking it up! ( unlike our 10 year old grandson who can now make Crêpe without blinking an eyelid).

I had to quickly do some research and devised a recipe which used the ingredients we had to hand. Consequently, we made pasta using regular flour and not Pasta flour, but to be honest it turned out pretty well !

  1. 300 Grms pancetta or lardons
  2. 7 large egg yolks, plus one extra egg
  3. About a pound of pasta, Tagliatelle, spaghetti or whatever pasta takes your fancy
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Spoonful of olive oil
  6. Cup of grated pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
  7. Some freshly ground black pepper
  1. Sauté the lardons or pancetta until the fat has rendered and slightly brown, but do not over cook.
  2. Drain in a sieve but keep the drippings.
  3. .Put the egg yolks and extra egg to a bowl and beat to blend.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al Dente. Test by trying between finger nails, if it cuts then it is ready, again do not over cook!
  5. Drain and keep a cup of the cooking liquid.
  6. Add immediately the pasta to the eggs with 1/2 of the cooking liquid and drippings. Using something like salad servers, toss thoroughly , to mix well add the cheese in batches and toss well, so that it will melt. Add some black pepper toss until the sauce thickens.14. Divide between four bowls, making sure that everyone gets their fair share of bacon/ lardons. Garnish with some more cheese.

Needless to say it is fairly high in calories and normally I don’t eat any kind of Pasta, and I didn’t this time either, but I did have a taste, before I ate yet another salad!

A Clafoutis, by any other name, is it still a clafoutis?

Many years ago, our lovely Belgian Au Pair, arrived in Texas, along with a recipe book for me created by her family. Despite having lived in France and Belgium, this was the first I had heard of Clafoutis!

At the time, it was something I cooked on numerous occasions, but desserts are not something I make very often. When the kids were small, the inevitable question during dinner was ” What’s for dessert?” The reply was always the same ( and it infuriated them) a WAS ( wait and see) or a UFO ( You’ll Find Out) most of the time, it was nothing exciting, a yoghurt or if it had been cooking class day ( I gave 5 a month) then there would be, maybe some left over dessert from the class. Only at weekends would I make something special.

I had acquired a cook book back then , of which I now have two copies ( one for the UK, and one for France). I made a point of cooking something new from this book every weekend, (Simca’s cuisine, by Simone Beck, she who collaborated with Julia Child) and naturally enough there is also a recipe for Clafoutis in this book.

On reading the newspaper the other morning, I came across the recipe of the day and yes, it was Clafoutis, but however upon reading it, I realised it was nothing like the one I used to make. But, being inspired, I dug out Simcas cuisine and decided to make this dessert for dinner.

The recipe actually calls for Plums or Cherries, of which I had neither, however I had frozen raspberries and Why Not ? And funnily enough I have just found another version, which is Boozy Prune Clafoutis, so I guess anything goes !

I used

  1. 600 grams of frozen raspberries
  1. 250 grams full fat cream cheese ( Philadelphia or generic will do, at room temperature
  2. 125 mls double cream
  3. 3eggs
  4. 8 oz plain flour
  5. Here you can add some kirsch or other liquor but not necessary.
  6. 90 grams unsalted butter at room temperature

Butter a dish, pie type dish, put all of the ingredients except the raspberries into a food processor and beat until well mixed.

Put half of the batter into the bottom of the dish, add the fruit, in an even layer, then add the remainder of the batter. Bake at 440 F 205 C for about 35 mins. It should be just set and a light golden brown. Allow to cool somewhat before serving. Serve tepid with some powdered ( icing sugar) sprinkled on top.

Of course using fresh fruit is always an option, apples, plums, cherries, peaches, or anything that is in season, but stew the fruit first and if necessary add sugar to taste. For mine I did not add any sugar, and the comment from one of my younger guests was that it was a bit sour, but the young Mexicans ate it readily.