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.