The Task

Though I’m love, love, loving my new home, there are some things I’m missing about my old place.  My neighbours for one thing (they were lovely),  my gas stove (electric sucks) and my herb/vegetable garden.  There’s nothing I can do about the first two but the latter is definitely something I can sort out reasonably quickly.

Over the next few weeks I will be turning the area in the photo below into a herb/veggie patch.

It’s not perfect by any means.  For starters the lower level is currently covered in chuckies.  Also, the upper-level is weed central at the moment and I won’t be able to plant right next to that light blocking hedge.  It’s the only possible area, however, so – along with some containers in more open areas –  I’m going to make the best of it. 

Watch this space for progress.  🙂

Chocolate Chip and Walnut Bit Cake

Whilst packing up my kitchen a few weeks ago I came across a newspaper cutting with a recipe on it.  Nothing unusual in this, except that the recipe was for a chocolate cake and I’m not that fond of chocolate cake.  In fact, as I’ve said before, I’m not that bothered about cake at all. 

As it happened, friends were coming for tea the very night I discovered the cutting and being in need of a dessert anyway I decided to give the recipe a go using what was already in my cupboards.  Milk chocolate was swapped for dark, hazlenuts for walnuts and self raising flour for plain plus baking powder.    

The result was quite remarkable.  Rich and moist and not too sweet, I utterly adored this cake and proudly served it up with a slick of double cream for dessert that evening.

Turned out, however, that my friends had both given up chocolate for Lent and could do no more than look at the cake.  Ate the whole thing myself.    Blush.

Chocolate Chip and Walnut Bit Cake – Adapted from an unknown source. 

250g butter

250g caster sugar

4 eggs

100g walnuts, gently roasted in a dry pan then chopped finely

100g dark chocolate, chopped into 5mm pieces

125g SR flour

20ml strong coffee

  • Cream together the butter and sugar.
  • Whisk the eggs briefly then stir gradually into the sugar and egg mixture until combined.
  • Add half the flour, chocolate and nuts and stir to combine.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the coffee.  Stir again briefly until just combined.
  • Pour mixture into a lined 20cm cake tin and bake in a 180 oC oven for 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before turning out of tin, slicing and serving with cream.

An Almost Elegant Soup

 I’ve always found the following Red Pepper and Tomato Soup to be a very elegant way to start a meal.  It’s richly flavoured and it’s beautifully coloured.  The contrast between the scarlet liquid and white bowls is really quite lovely.  And if you take the time (which you really, really should even though it’s horribly tedious) to push the soup through a sieve, the texture is positively velvety. 

What is less elegant, however, is my insistance on creating little cream love hearts on the surface of the soup. 

Cute?  Yes. 

Elegant?  Perhaps not. 

Bovered?  Not in the slightest

Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (based on Lindsay Bareham’s version in the remarkable A Celebration of Soup)

Serves 4 as a starter

5 red peppers,

1 onion, chopped

400ml tomato juice

2 tblspn tomato puree

400ml stock (chicken or vegetable)

1/2 lemon


  • Roast and peel the red peppers in which ever way you please.  I do it this way.
  • Saute the onion in a little olive oil until softened. 
  • Add the pepper and olive oil to a food processor and whizz for a few seconds.
  • Add the tomato juice, tomato puree and stock to the blender and whizz again, this time for longer.  Whizz until you can no longer see whole onion pieces flying by.
  • Push the soup through a sieve into a pan.  I like to use rubber gloves to do this.  You won’t get it all through, by the by.  It’s fine to be left with a few tablespoons of pinky oniony stuff in the sieve.
  • Heat the soup over a medium low heat until almost simmering.  Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste. 
  • Serve topped with  a little cream in the shape of a love heart.  🙂

P.S.  Didn’t think there would be any food blogging these few weeks.  As always though, this blog is a welcome escape.

P.P.S.  If you’re confused by the word “bovered” watch this.  Hillarious.

Toad Rescue

Warning: due to moving house, blog posts in the coming weeks may be random/erratic/few and far between/all of the above.

Today, for example, I’m posting a toad.  We rescued him from the middle of a busy path at the weekend and seemed to quite enjoy having his photo taken.  He’s rather handsome, don’t you think?