A beautiful early Spring February Sunday in Oxford to visit a daughter and took her out for a slap-up lunch at the George Street Social. It was buzzy, busy, a bit grubby, obviously studenty and mildly uncomfortable. However, great service and had a great big yummy dish of a white bean stew with bacon, carrots, tomato & celery topped with a generous confit duck leg with a glass of decent merlot and I was very happy. Daughter had a vast plate of linguine with smoked salmon and a pint of lager (?!?) and that made her happy too. Good value and proper tasty food.
Husband and son off to Megeve tomorrow for a few days skiing and scoffing quantities of melted cheese in many forms – raclette, tartiflette, goat’s cheese salad and even smothered over the most scrumptious lasagne at the Radaz, their favourite cozy mountain haunt. Yes, I am envious but with everyone away I get a few days at home ALONE to focus on …. STOP PRESS!! Our new Deli. This has been a long time coming but we have at last found the right premises in the right place and the lease is being signed today. That’s all I can say at the moment but definitely more to follow…..!
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food” George Bernard Shaw
Family and friends do come first but for me food really does come a close second. Here at the Kitchen we are combining love and food this weekend with our Valentine’s Hamper filled with a decadent, little over indulgent meal for two. Something to enjoy at home away from the public gaze of all the other Valentine’s Day diners! On the subject of romance, husband and I have a significant anniversary coming up in May and are contemplating where to celebrate. I think Rome will be the place for us with the perfect combination of beautiful surroundings and great food in a city I haven’t been lucky enough to visit yet. Can’t wait!
Spent a few days in the South of France last week with my mother and sister near Nice visiting old haunts and reminding myself how well the French do patisserie – tiny, light coffee eclairs and one of my favourites, Tarte Tropezienne, a delicate brioche filled with crème patissiere – a speciality native to St Tropez. They travelled back with me and we had a wonderful evening with a houseful of all the children and various aunts and uncles for an impromptu family gathering.
Our Valentine’s Hamper Menu @ £40.00 for Two
Smoked Mackerel Pate with Sweet Pickled Cucumbers & freshly baked Sourdough Loaf
Coq au Vin with Mashed Root Vegetables
Salted Caramel Brownie with fresh Raspberries & Cream
The youngest member of the family had a very exciting week, he took part in Young Voices at the O2 on Thursday. There was doubt, initially, whether they would go with the threat of snow but it held off long enough for all to get back safe and sound having had a long but fun day. Bearing in mind the length of his day, I packed some of his favourite foods. A freshly baked sausage roll and one of our gooey and intensely chocolaty brownies plus a great big bowl of Rummo* Penne Pasta with Seggiano’s Raw Basil Pesto. Needless to say he was one happy chap!
*Madeleine’s Interesting fact: Rummo have been making pasta in Benevento, Italy since 1846 and have perfected and patented an exclusive and superior method which they call “Lenta Lavorazione” using the highest quality durum wheat. This method ensures the pasta holds its shape and texture maintaining its al dente quality even if a distracted cook leaves it on the stove a little longer than necessary! And yes, we do stock in the deli.
Popped up to Guildford yesterday to purchase an early birthday present for son from the amazing Andertons Music Company. Never even knew this fantastic shop was there – packed full of shiny instruments and the most enthusiastic staff – enough to make anyone want to buy a guitar and join a band. One bass guitar later we went in search for a good coffee and after passing two well-known high street coffee shops and some searching found an independent, hipsterish café down a side street. Oh dear, sadly average, weak coffee. OK, it may be that I am particularly picky but come on, this is the time of the coffee and there is no excuse!
In celebration of my daughter’s birthday this week, I prepared one of our French Almond Cakes (her favourite!). It took me back to my childhood when I used to deliver eggs for my mother to some of the locals. I used to keep Mrs Ray till last as she always had a slice of this wonderful cake waiting for me. It was a very welcome snack at the end of an arduous round. I am glad to say the cake we had on Saturday was equally delicious so Mrs Ray’s cooking skills live on!
One of my favourite evenings of the year is Burn’s Night and we had great fun with good friends on Saturday evening at home. Cock a Leekie Soup followed of course by haggis, neeps & tatties (I added braised cabbage and a rich beef gravy because I like them) and then my version of Cranachan with Raspberries, a Honey & Whisky Cream and Toasted Oats. Mr Scottish friend in full Highland regalia addressed the Haggis with his usual gusto – every year it gets more wonderfully dramatic. The Bakehouse produced some excellent Haggis rolls on Saturday at the request of husband, next year more will be available for those who missed out.
It is threatening to be a cold, wet and miserable week but it will be OK! As I write the fire is lit and daughter is preparing from Rick Stein’s “India” recipe book a Lamb & Yoghurt Curry with Yoghurt and Sour Plums (or sour cherries in this case). Not tried this one before but looks promising. Our little deli is warm and welcoming and we have made a particularly tasty and fiery Red Thai Sweet Potato Soup to warm one’s cockles. Our Breakfast Muffins have made a return to the Cake Counter as a nod to a healthy January which are sweetened with a date puree and make a good breakfast with some thick yoghurt and blueberries. On the subject of breakfast, we have been cogitating endlessly about the perfect Granola and whether we should be making our own. There are so many out there, it is quite a challenge to come up with our own version but it’s on the cards so watch this space. I have just eaten a handful of Sour Cherries – they are amazing! What else to do with them? Dark Chocolate & Sour Cherry Cookies coming soon!
A very Happy New Year to you all from Madeleine’s Kitchen. The children have returned to Uni and schools and missing them but not the mess…. I don’t know about you but I completely over indulged this Christmas. Actually, I always do – my husband informs me I probably have the Labrador gene – I just never feel the need to stop eating. So, a conscious effort is being made at The Bakehouse to produce some healthy but delicious food not only for me but for our wonderful and discerning customers who like me may require a little care and attention in the diet department. Today we are producing two vegan dishes; a new Nut & Root Vegetable Loaf and a return of Kale & Quinoa Fritters which will be in the deli tomorrow. On the other hand we have also been baking the most unctuous and calorific Babka loaves – a glorious mix of bread, chocolate, nuts and syrup. Take your pick!