Project Food Blog

Autumn is upon us!

Just been watching Saturday Kitchen, bit of a ritual in our house, and I was really taken with Valentine Warner's What to Eat Now... he'd visited a farm in Oxfordshire called Forge Farm, and I was really impressed with the American owners' philosophy... The Klaes family built the farm from reclaimed materials, and have farmed there for over 20 years. It is a family run business, holding true to the ethics of organic farming in all aspects of farming life.
Their speciality is organic pumpkins, squash and maize corn.
They really came across as a family run farm where every seed mattered... just lovely. One variety of pumpkin was a little bluish one, which the owner suggested you cut the top off, scoop out the seeds, stick in a knob of butter and some seasoning and microwave for 5 minutes..... I shall try that as it looked delicious!
We have a great farm shop near us, and it is piled high at the moment with seasonal Autumn vegetables and fruit. The most striking thing as you approach is the huge mountain of pumpkins...ranging from tiny little ones to ones so enormous they don't seem real. I'm on the search for a pumpkin big enough to carve, with enough flesh to make Pumpkin Soup for everyone at the Halloween party we're going to later.

PS Just googled Forge Farm and it is only about a twenty minute drive from here.... I'm going to track myself down a little blue pumpkin for my lunch next week!

Mission Accomplished!

This is a very quick post as I have just got back from visiting my parents up North, and it is very late. . . I mentioned in an earlier post that I was planning on pilfering (with permission of course) my Mum Nancy's recipe collection. They lived abroad in the 60s, both in The States and in New Zealand. Mum has amassed a huge collection of tried and tested recipes. I know Kath will be doing the same with her parents, as her folks lived abroad too, spending quite a while in India. Anyway... I'll cut to the chase, I have got hold of the Tortoni recipe, it is delicious although not for anyone who cannot eat raw eggs... as we have chickens we know ours are fresh but please do be careful.

Hope you enjoy it, it conjures up so many memories of parties as a kid, and eating the left overs the next day... trouble was there never was any of this left over so we would have to sneak in with a spoon and hope no one noticed!!

Sunshine Soya Bean Stew


1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tin pomodori d'oro plum tomatoes
1 tin or carton cooked soya beans (or substitute any cooked beans or pulses)
1/2 vegetable stock cube
2 springs fresh marjoram, finely chopped
Dash white wine (I freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and keep in freezer bags)
Dash white wine vinegar
Seasoning to taste, plus a pinch of sugar to balance the tomato's acidity if needed
Heat the oil over a medium heat, add the onions and fry for five minutes, then add the garlic and chilli.
Add the beans, the tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for 40 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.

All the Fun of the Fair!

This week, for 3 days only, the Fair comes to town. I love it as it is a chance to catch up with some families from our school who are Showmen. It was great walking round and bumping into people who had been away for the Summer Season, and are now heading back to their Winter bases. There was a real community atmosphere which is something to be celebrated these days!
I stopped at Lauren's stall and hooked myself a prize, then headed to her Mum and Dad's van as we were feeling hungry! They have recently been awarded 3 stars by the local council for their superior quality food, using only the best ingredients and applying the highest standards of hygiene. It's quite hard to get 3 stars I'm told!
I pumped Sharon for her secrets, and even tried to persuade her to let me join her behind the cookers...She declined my offer but I'll keep working on her!
The burger was delicious, Ruby (my youngest daughter) had a Hotdog and we both agreed that they were definitely the best at the fair! Other things we sampled were Candyfloss (of course) Toffee Apples, Donuts and Crepes. All in the name of research of course, and as I was lucky enough to catch everyone in a good mood they let me have a couple of other recipes! Thanks so much!!

Family History

Ask anyone to name a favourite meal or item of food, and they will always connect that food with a memory or family tradition. My Mum and Dad always used to throw big New Year's Eve parties, and my Mum would make special things for the guests that we didn't tend to have the rest of the year, making them all the more special.

One of my favourite things is Tiramisu, readily available practically anywhere, but really what I want to have when I choose Tiramisu is my Mum's Sherry Tortoni. The most sublime frozen creamy sherry dessert. I'm not exactly sure where her recipe came from, apart from that it was passed on to her by a friend while Mum and Dad were living in New Zealand in the 60's. My mother has the most fabulous cook book, and I am planning to raid it the next time I visit. I shall also pump her for more info about how she happened upon this particular recipe.

I did a bit of research on the internet and was surprised to discover that although the recipe is of Italian origin, it was actually developed by Giuseppe Tortoni in his own Cafe on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris in the 18th century.

From there, the recipe traveled onwards to America. On 20th February 1798, Thomas Jefferson arrived at Mount Vernon, along with several other people, to celebrate George Washington's 66th birthday. While they had all brought gifts of food, Jefferson brought as well an ice cream dessert recipe he had obtained on a recent trip to Paris from Giuseppe Tortoni. In writing about the party later to a friend, Jefferson noted that Washington "had heard about the little Italian ice cream maker who was the rage of Paris and was delighted to receive the recipe ... and arranged to have the dessert prepared for our pleasure."

So there we have it, my Mum Nancy's Sherry Tortoni recipe all the way from Italy, via Paris, Wellington and finally now the Internet. Enjoy.

The Party Season is upon us!!

I was a guest at a friend's 40th over the weekend. Great fun and as it had been catered for I was able to do a bit of R&D at the same time. I had a lovely chat with the ladies doing the food, and told them about the blog. Very cheekily, I also asked if they would like to contribute their recipes from Saturday to these pages... the food was absolutely delicious, especially the little cakes and petit fours which aren't terribly easy to do in someone else's kitchen especially when packed full of guests having a good time. Gillian kindly gave me a business card and she said I could ring her so watch this space for a menu and recipes for canapes for 100!! She had some lovely photos too which I hope she will let us use!

Caribbean Wedding

It was my lovely friends Tanya and Stuart's wedding reception a couple of weeks ago, and as they had blown the budget on their wedding in The Dominican Republic (see cocktail recipe below), they asked friends to contribute towards a bring and share buffet, a fabulous idea I thought. I'd planned to prepare a whole poached salmon, as I have very happy memories of our wedding day, when my Mum, bless her, did the same for us.
Readers of my chicken blog will know that we have been having major building work going on at our house, and when I agreed to cook something, I'd (foolishly, I came to realise) assumed my kitchen would be fully functioning! (I only had running water connected last Tuesday, and have been washing up in the back garden for the last seven months... seriously!!)

Luckily, I had a Eureka moment, when I remembered the old adage, If you can't do it yourself, ask someone else!

Thanks goodness for The Regency Fish Company, who supplied me with a huge 12 pound salmon, beautifully presented and with only 2 day's notice. It fed 60 people and I'm not ashamed to say I took all the credit!

Fiesta in The Cotswolds

A few weekends ago, a group of longstanding friends made a daring trek into the wilds of the Cotwolds to celebrate my 40th birthday. 'Can we bring anything?' I was asked.... 'No, just yourselves... I'll take care of the shopping!'

We stayed in a beautiful place named The Old Mill, which had a huge dining room, perfect for the weekend ahead of us.

Everyone was arriving at different times... and as it turned out this seemed to be governed by how lost we got!.. so I'd planned a simple supper of soup, breads, cold meats and cheeses... This went down very well! I'll share my shopping list with you later on.

Breakfast the next day was cooked by friends. Bacon, eggs, field mushrooms with flat leaf parsley, deliciously simple and made from top quality local ingredients... including eggs both from our own chickens and some from Simon and Joss's.

Lunch was a pub job, as the main event of the day was my birthday dinner... a Mexican fiesta! Recipes listed on the right.

Perfect Margaritas from the Cocktail Queen!

INGREDIENTS (for 4 so you will need to round up!)
2 limes
50 g white sugar
45 ml water
235 ml premium tequila
30 ml brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®)
1 lime, sliced into rounds
coarse salt

Grate the zest of 2 limes into a small bowl. Cut the zested limes in half, and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup to get 1/2 cup. Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar and water. Cover, and refrigerate for approximately 24 hours.(Although we didn't!!)

Before serving, stir in the tequila and Grand Marnier. Rub rim of 4 glasses with sliced lime, and dip into salt. Take another slice of lime, cut in half, slice under skin of lime to halfway point, and place on glass for garnish.

Easy Chili for 20

2kg ground beef
1-1/4 onion, chopped
5 g ground black pepper
7 g garlic salt
4 x 400g tinned tomatoes
5 x 420g  Taco Mix Beans and Mex Sauce
2-1/2 (15 ounce) cans light red kidney beans
Squeeze of tomato puree
Teaspoon of brown sugar


In a large saucepan over medium heat, fry off the onion until translucent.

Add the mince and fry for about 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off excess fat if necessary.

Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tinned tomatoes, and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Serve with taco shells, Nachos, guacamole, grated cheese, salsa, green salad, rice, tortillas and sour cream.