Saturday, 20 September 2014

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Soul Asylum ~ So Close
Styx ~ Babe
The Pretenders ~ Spiritual High
The Pretty Reckless ~ Heaven Knows
VAST ~ Thrown Away
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band ~ Get It Together
The Fratellis ~ Tell Me A Lie
Doris Day ~ Bewitched
Melissa Etheridge ~ All The Way To Heaven
James Morrison ~ How Come
Joan Jett ~ Jezebel
Alter Bridge ft Christina Scabbia ~ Watch Over You
Thunder ~ A Million Faces 
Beth Hart ~ Sky Is Falling

Hello folks...I'm back from my Scottish Road Trip. 1509 miles later and we are back home with a car that limped into the garage for repairs. lol. Ooops. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Highlands and everyone we met was so welcoming. I will always look back with great fondness at my time lost in the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye and John O'Groats. Once I have sorted through all my photos I took along the way I shall share some of them with you. But that is a job I haven't had time for as yet. 

Yesterday I managed to get some serious time in the kitchen which as some of you will know has been scarce for the last few months. I cooked a Moroccan Lablabi Soup and a Marrakesh Vegetable Tagine that is served with a lovely homemade Turkish Harissa for a meal we are hosting tonight. Yes I am exhausted now but I had my iPod cranked high and I got through the three recipes with much smiling and some gentle dancing. lol. And then I had a slight mishap and managed to cover myself and half of the walls of the kitchen/breakfast room with freshly made Blackberry Soya Milk Shake. Yes I remembered to put the lid on the blender...the shake was actually in an airtight (HA!) storage cup. I simply shook it up before I was going to drink it...and BOOM...shake everywhere. Bright purple shake...in every crevice. Urgh! lol. Anyway....

Today's recipe was a successful attempt at making a sweet rice based dessert that wasn't overloaded with sugar, heavy and rich due to the creamy element but still remained a comforting autumnal dessert. During the first couple of days in Scotland I found a berry that I had never heard of before. Aronia berries are quite common up there and are a robust tart berry that needs to be cooked before consuming. And as I was buying them I already had this recipe planned out. Thankfully I have a great memory because I had to wait until I got home until I gave it a try. lol. 

Since I sourced short grain brown rice I have been addicted to it, so use it at every opportunity. I have also been enjoying almond milk of late and the odd very small amounts of coconut blossom sugar. (Very small amounts of the latter) So the sweet rice part of the dessert was very easy. I left the rice to soak in a bath of almond milk, filtered water and coconut sugar whilst I made the Aronia berry sauce. Then I placed the mix into my trusty rice cooker although I am sure you could place it in the oven and leave to bake until the rice is soft and sweet. I was busy that day so I opted for the convenience of the rice cooker. The sauce was a very simple idea too. I cleaned them, added them to a saucepan with coconut sugar and barely covered them with filtered water. And then left them to simmer although I did have to resort to mashing them with a potato masher as the little suckers really do keep their shape. lol. When they had broken down into a thickened juice I then blitzed them until smooth. 

The results were everything I hoped they would be. The rice was slightly sweet with a good texture and combined with the berry sauce was a delight to eat. It still had a richness that wasn't heavy on the tum. The berry sauce wasn't as sweet as most berry sauces and the Aronias natural tartness really lifted the sauce to a new flavour experience. I loved this dish...another good reason to go back to Scotland..to harvest more berries. lol. It is also delicious served cold...

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert

Rocket & Roses Sweet Brown Rice and Aronia Berry Dessert     Serves 6-8
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

8 oz aronia berries, rinsed and drained well
2 tbsp coconut sugar 
filtered water, enough to just cover the berries in the pan

12 oz short grain brown rice 
2 tbsp coconut sugar
940 ml almond milk
235 ml filtered water 

Add the rice, coconut sugar, milk and water into a bowl and stir well. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Then transfer to a rice cooker/oven and cook until the liquids have been absorbed and the rice is plump and soft. 

Add the berries, coconut sugar and water to a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Using a potato mash, gently mash the berries whilst they simmer. Stir and leave to simmer until the pulp has blended with the cooking water. Approx a further 10 minutes. Then pour into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth sauce. Leave to cool. 

To assemble: Spoon the sweet brown rice into a warmed serving dish and then spoon/drizzle the sauce over the top. 

If you want the added creaminess that I don't lol. Try warming some almond milk to drizzle over before the berry sauce. Then serve...

Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping by and loyally coming back during this hiatus. I hope your weekend is a splendid one...

~Red~

NB: This is my creation and I am very happy for you to use the recipe and share it. I only ask that you give credit where it's due as I always try to. Many thanks...Namaste ~R~ 



 









 

Monday, 1 September 2014

SUMA: Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Maroon 5 ~ V Album

For me there is something beautiful about a skillet filled with summer veggies and herbs bubbling away. And every time you lift the lid to give them a stir the smell that invades your senses is a moment of bliss. Sometimes the most simple of dishes are often the best and most enjoyable. As we are drawing to the end of this years summer and there is a nip in the air...eating a bowl of a summer stew is most welcome. 

I created this recipe for my Suma Bloggers Network post. Whilst making my selection for my order this time I found some dried beans I had never heard of before...Tatar Beans. Visually the dried beans are quite stunning and I was quite taken with the deep purple bean with its white swirl. I decided to cook them off and then taste test them before I started to create the recipe around them. I soaked them overnight and they doubled in size so after a good rinse and addition of fresh water I put them on the stove to cook. Thankfully they don't have a distinctive smell when boiling however they do scum up a lot and I found myself dredging the scum off quite a lot. But it is a rather impressive purple scum..lol. My beans were perfectly cooked in just over an hour. Sadly they lost some of their distinctive pattern in the cooking process but that didn't bother me too much. I cooked off 1 cup of dried beans and that yielded enough for this recipe and a good portion to go into the freezer. They are rather like a butter/lima bean in texture and shape and quite nutty in flavour. I instantly adored them. 

I was craving a meal that was simple in both making and flavours and a light stew came to mind. Not a heavy, rich in sauce based stew but a light, herby and savoury stew crammed with fresh veggies and beans. Selecting the veggies was easy and having my friend there to help me chop was a blessing as I'm not back up to full kitchen duties just yet. Both of our mouths watered at the intense aroma at every stir. When the stew was cooked and we taste tested a small sample I knew this was a winner. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and individually bursting with flavour. The herbs lifted the natural flavours and the light sauce to another level and the added texture and flavour from the Tatar beans made this stew for me...comforting, satisfying and foodie heaven. Yes, you do need to cook off the beans first but it's not hard work...just have them simmering away whilst you do something else. Believe me..they are worth it. 

Thank you to Suma for asking me to be part of the Suma Bloggers Network and I hope you take some time to check out their website. I hope you enjoy this recipe...we did! lol. 


Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew


Rocket & Roses Tatar Bean and Vegetable Summer Stew       Serves 2-3
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 tsp sunflower oil
1 med onion, sliced
3 small carrots, peeled and chunked
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup swede, small dice
1 small fennel, trimmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 fl oz low sodium veggie stock
1/2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup cashew pieces
6 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces, tips separated from stems
1 1/2 cups of cooked Tatar beans 
Freshly cracked black pepper
Himalayan salt to season to taste (optional)

Over a gentle heat, saute the onions, celery, carrots, swede in the oil until beginning to soften. Add in the fennel and garlic and stir well. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add in the tom paste and dried herbs and stir well. Cover and leave to cook for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the asparagus stems and cashew nuts and cook, covered, until the stems are tender crisp. Stir in the Tatar beans and asparagus tips and cook until the beans are heated through..approx 3-4 minutes. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt. Serve...

Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week is a great one. We are preparing to set off on our road trip around Scotland..woo! Cannot wait..

~Red~

NB: This is my creation and I have no problem with you using this recipe or sharing it. I just ask that you give credit where it's due as I always try to...Thanks. Namaste ~R~  

Friday, 29 August 2014

Rocket & Roses Plumingranate Tart (Vegan and Gluten Free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Melissa Etheridge ~ Enough Of Me
Chely Wright ~ Object Of Your Rejection
Natalie Imbrugia ~ Butterflies
Bing Crosby ~ Please
Joan Jett ~ Back It Up
Fun Lovin' Criminals ~ Swashbucklin' In Brooklyn
Missy Higgins ~ Katie
Skin ~ Don't Call It Love 
The Puppini Sisters ~ Jave Jive
Roy Orbison ~ It's Over
Alannah Myles ~ Rock This Joint
Dolly Parton ~ Heartbreaker
The Gossip ~ Dark Lines
Boccherini: Cello Concerto in B Flat - 1 Moderato 

I'm back folks! I thank you for all your emails of concern and well wishes you have sent me over the last month. My little procedure took a lot out of me and I'd not stepped near my kitchen until yesterday. Thank you for coming back to my humble blog and visiting old posts that I have written. Although I'm not back on two stable legs just yet...yesterday I managed to come up with three new dishes with the help of a great friend, Ann. She kept me going yesterday afternoon and I wouldn't be back today without her. I can't promise to post new recipes every day like before, especially as we are heading off on a road trip around Scotland very soon...but on Monday I will be back with my Suma Sponsored recipe which Ann and I enjoyed for our evening meal last night. Right...back to today's recipe...

Plumigranates! Have you ever heard of them? Nope, neither had I until a couple of weeks ago and now I am addicted. They look like a regular plum but when you cut into them they ooze the beautiful deep purple juice of a pomingranate along with its sweetness. Everyone who has stepped over my doorstep since has been given one to try and so far everyone has loved them. Somehow I ended up with a stash of them and decided to try and use the natural sweetness of the flesh in a tart. I wanted to use as little unrefined sugar as possible and use only healthy fats too. 

We stood at the kitchen worktop with just the plumigranates in front of us and from there I just threw things into a bowl and Ann got busy chopping the fruit. I decided to use some recently purchased buckwheat flakes and ground almond meal as the base for my tart crust. My sweetener of choice was a very small amount of coconut blossom sugar and to provide some extra sweetness and the oil for the base, I used a small amount of melted coconut oil. I didn't want a pastry crust but a 'oaty' wholesome one. The star of this tart was always going to be the Plumigranates and so I cooked down some with 1/2 tsp coconut blossom sugar and a little water. I was left with a delicious little saucepan of jam. As I wanted simple slices of the fruit to cover the tart I decided against making a horribly sweet creamy layer. I decided to make a very basic cashew cream...no added sugar but just a little fresh lemon juice. 

After the brief baking of the crust and cooling time..the layers were added and then the tart was stored in the fridge to chill. I would like to say the next part was a chore but it would be a lie. A slice was cut and then Ann and I attacked it with our dessert forks..lol. Thankfully I can report everything worked even better than I had hoped it would. The crust was wholesome, the fruit layers deliciously sweet and the cashew cream balanced it all out perfectly. Phew..I was worried I may have lost my mojo...lol Well it's been a while...

I now look forward to Plumigranate season with great excitement and hope to try out the many other recipes I have floating around my noggin. Food of the goddess..for sure..

Rocket & Roses Plumingranate Tart ( vegan and gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Plumingranate Tart                    Makes 1 8" tart
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

For the crust:
1 cup buckwheat flakes 
1 cup of ground almonds (almond meal)
1 tbsp psyllium husks
1 1/2 tbsp coconut blossom sugar
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp water

For the jammy layer;
3 Plumigranates, finely chopped
1/2 tsp coconut blossom sugar
1 tbsp water

For the creamy layer:
3/4 cup soaked (for 1 hour) cashew pieces
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water

For the topping:
3 Plumingranates, washed, stoned and thinly sliced

Line the bottom of an 8" tart pan with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 325'F/170'C/GM 3. 

In a medium sized bowl place the buckwheat flakes, ground almonds, husks, sugar and stir well to combine. Pour in the melted oil and rub together until they begin to lump together. Pour in the water and keep kneading until the base is one large dough. Press into the lined pan and make sure the edge is even all round. Flatten out the base until its as smooth as possible. Place in the middle of the heated oven and bake until the very edges are beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and set to one side to cool. 

In a very small pan add the chopped Plumingranates, sugar and water and over a gentle heat cook until they are an almost smooth sauce. Stirring frequently to avoid scorching or burning. Remove from the heat and cool quickly in a cold area of your kitchen (or in front of a fan..ahem. lol) 

Drain off the liquid that the cashews have been soaking in and add the cashews to a mini blender. Add in the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of fresh water and blitz until thick and smooth. Set to one side. 

To assemble: 

Smooth the cooled jam evenly over the cooled tart crust. Then dollop the cashew cream on top and then spread it out over the jam. Decorate the top with the sliced plumingranates in whatever design you desire. Place in the fridge to chill for a minimum of an hour. Then devour..lol 

Gratuitous foodie shot...look at that slice. We enjoyed every mouthful...lol


Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your weekend is a very splendid one...

~Red~ 

NB: This is my creation and I have no problem with you using the recipe or sharing it. I simply ask that you give credit where its due. As I always try to...~R~

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Quick update and I'll be back soon...



Hello folks...just quickly stopping by to apologise for not being here as much as I would like in the past week. Sadly this week is going to be worse as I am at the hosptial tomorrow *vagueness alert* for a thing and then will need a week to recover if all goes well. I hope your week is amazing and filled with smiles and laughter....and great vegan food! 

Thanks for stopping by...

~Red~

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Rocket & Roses Smokey White Aubergine/Eggpant Stacks (vegan and gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Cyndi Lauper ~ All Through The Night
The Kinks ~ All Day And All Through The Night
Nirvana ~ Polly (MTV Unplugged Session)
Keaton Heston ~ You
Buckcherry ~ Highway Star
Bryan Adams ~ There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Vivaldi: Flute Concerto "La Tempesta Di Mare"
VAST ~ Pretty When You Cry
Rob Thomas ~ Falling To Pieces
Chris Cornell ~ Disappearing One
Thunder ~ It Could Be Tonight
Bach: Cello Suite #6 in D
REM ~ Everybody Hurts
Jack Johnson ~ Staple It Together 

It has certainly been a very busy week so far...how about you? Mine has been predominantly medical based and therefore it has been a little stressful at times. It also means I haven't been able to spend much time, if any, in the kitchen. I find this frustrating especially when I have fresh ingredients sat waiting to be used. During a recent market shopping trip I found white aubergines...I know, right? I thought these little beauties were a foodie myth..but no! I bought three of the little devils and had great plans for them. However it has taken me far longer to get some time to use them...such is life for me right now. 

I wanted a strong flavour to go with my white aubergines and I needed a smokey hit too. I had some leftover thai red cargo rice from a previous meal and a bag of cooked Beluga lentils. My time in the kitchen needed to be brief so I was happy to cut corners where I needed to. I enjoyed making these stacks and I served them on a bed of lightly steamed finely cut runner beans. The finished dish was a delight...succulent aubergine that melted into the layer of smokey rice and lentils and the runner beans added a fresh green layer. And they looked great too...phew! 

Rocket & Roses Smokey White Aubergine/Eggplant Stacks on Runnerbean Bed
 

Rocket & Roses Smokey White Aubergine/Eggplant Stacks   Serves 4
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

3 white aubergines, trimmed and sliced into 1.5" slices 
small bowl of garlic infused olive oil

1 tsp olive oil
1 lg red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lg red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste 
6 fl oz boiling water
250g cooked Beluga black lentils
1 heaped tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped 
3/4 tsp smoked paprika 
6 tbsp cooked Thai red cargo rice (or rice of your choice)
freshly ground black pepper and Himaylanian salt to season

fresh runner beans, finely sliced 

Brush each slice of aubergine with the garlic oil on both sides. Heat a griddle pan and then place the aubergine slices onto it. Press down to score each side and cook, flipping occasionally, until the slices are succulent and cooked through. 

Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the red onions for 4 minutes or until softened. Add in the garlic and red pepper. Stir well, cover and cook over a low heat until the red pepper has mulched into the onion and garlic. Dissolve the tomato paste into the boiling water and add that to the pan along with the lentils. Stir in the fresh thyme and paprika and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. 

Steam the finely cut runner beans and ready the serving plate. 

Add the cooked rice into the lentil mix, heat through and cook until the rice is heated thoroughly. Season with generous amounts of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Spread the runner beans over the serving dish and place the bottom layer of aubergine over the top. Spoon a layer of the lentil mix over each aubergine slice. Press on a second layer of aubergine and repeat with a second layer of the lentils mix. Top each stack with a final layer of aubergine and then top each stack with a little bundle of runner beans. And serve...

Gratuitous foodie close up...check out those scorches...

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you are having a great week...I'll be back as and when I can...

~Red~ 

NB: This is my creation. I have no problem with you using the recipe or sharing it. I simply ask that you give credit where it is due as I always try to. Many thanks...Namaste ~R~    

 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Robin's Fettuccine and Broccoli with Almond-Herb Sauce (vegan and gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Orianthi ~ Shut Up And Kiss Me 
Texas ~ Guitar Song
VAST ~ Candle
The Rolling Stones ~ Miss You
Jack Johnson ~ Drink The Water
Sound City Sessions ~ You Can't Fix This
Susan Tedeschi ~ It Hurt So Bad
Buble ~ The Dock Of The Bay
Maroon 5 ~ Through With You
Rival Sons ~ Pressure And Time
Train ~ Feels Good At First
Buckcherry ~ King Of Kings (acoustic)
Republica ~ Drop Dead Gorgeous
Lissie ~ Pursuit Of Happiness

I finally got around to making another dish from my holiday cook book. Usually I pick up a new cookbook and take it away with me and spend the week testing and devouring a few of the recipes from it. But the holiday I bought it for, really wasn't that kind of a holiday. There simply wasn't the kitchen time required and more people with a higher priority for using the kitchen. For some people cooking is a chore...and not a holiday activity. But for me it's exactly the opposite...I relax when in the kitchen. I can switch off the pain and focus on the prep, cooking and then eating of the food cooked. Cooking for me is so much more than daily chore...it's a form of meditation and without I get cranky. lol. I should be resting right now but the hour I spent in the kitchen this morning with my little niece Layla to 'help'...maybe was exhausting but mentally it was uplifting and just a pure but tiring joy! 

The cook book of choice was a copy of Robin Robertson's One Dish Vegan. I had been reading several reviews of Robin's cookbook for a while and decided to give it a go. I made the Provencal Vegetables with Israeli Cous Cous (using maize cous, cous) which I enjoyed very much with all the natural flavours of the veggies used but I had a lasting thought that it needed a little something extra and I plan to play around with it at a later date. I also made a batch of the Chickpea Noodle Soup (using brown rice noodles) and I devoured a bowl of it each day. Yum! The reason I chose today's recipe was because I had recently purchased some mung bean fettuccine which is gluten-free. In all honesty I couldn't wait to try it..I love mung beans and fettuccine so what was there to lose? Robin's recipe for the sauce intrigued me and the use of all those fresh herbs sealed the deal. A pasta sauce that wasn't cheese or tomato based...marvellous. 

There was only one thing I would do differently next time...I would steam my broccoli florets and not boil them in with my pasta. But I do realise this would be using more than one dish therefore making Robin's recipe a two dish meal! I simply don't enjoy boiled veggies. The making of the sauce was simple and I loved the use of beans, fresh herbs, white wine, and broth. I really wasn't sure if I would like the almond butter element though but I did. The mung bean fettuccine cooked to perfection in 7 minutes. The entire cooking time was 15 minutes...from chopping board to placemat. The bowl of pasta looked spectacular and the comfort from eating a bowl of fettuccine with a rich, creamy sauce was a pleasure indeed. The sauce clings perfectly to the pasta and is rich in it's creaminess but delicate in flavour. The beans and almonds sit in the background whilst the herbs combine to give your tastebuds a treat. It makes a large amount of sauce so I have enough to have some for meal later in the week and to try freezing some for much later days. A fabulous meal and chock full of goodness too.

Robin's Fettuccine and Broccoli with Almond-Herb Sauce

Fettuccine and Broccoli with Almond-Herb Sauce   Makes 1 3/4 cups of sauce
(Recipe from One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson)

8 - 12 oz unccoked fettuccine of your choice
2-3 cups small broccoli florets

1 tbsp olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 sm onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans or 1 15oz tin cannellini beans, 
rinsed and drained
2-3 tbsp almond butter (I used 2)
2 tbsp dry white wine (optional)
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of hot vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbsp chopped fresh italian parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or savour
2 tbsp sliced toasted almonds, for garnish

Cook the fettuccine in a large pan of salted boiling water, stirring occassionally, until it is tender. At about 5 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, add the broccoli. Drain the cooked pasta and broccoli well and return to the pan. 

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil or water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occassionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans, almond butter, wine (if using), salt, and pepper to taste, and stir to blend the flavours. Transfer the the mixture to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add the hot broth and HALF of the herbs, and puree until smooth and creamy. 

Add the sauce to the pot with the pasta and broccoli. Add the remaining fresh herbs and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with the almonds and while basil leaves. 

Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week has started well...

~Red~ 

NB: This is not my recipe and therefore take no credit for its creation. It is the hard work and creation of Robin Robertson's and Robin's alone. I send thanks for a great cook book. ~R~

 

 
 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

I'm back and with olives dishes....

Rocket & Roses HQ Play List:

Wilko Johnson/Roger Daltrey ~ Going Back Home album

Hello folks..wow what a beautifully long weekend away, so good that I am struggling to get back into the swing of things here. Windsor was just as you would expect...packed with international and national tourists. But we were staying at a hotel close by, so we were able to get there very early and thankfully miss most of the busy, busy moments. The castle really is like something lifted straight out of a fairytale. Strange to visit a castle that isn't a ruin. We did do the double decker bus tour of Windsor. We sat at the back of the bus...big mistake..although a very funny one. It had rained the night before and so every tree we passed...and there were many...we got showered with water, leaves, seeds and bugs. However we just went with it and were collasped in laughter almost all of the way round the tour. A treasured memory made. 

Our accomodation, The Grovefield House Hotel, was really nice despite having no air-conditioning...we had to resort to having all windows wide open and two fans blowing all the time because we had ridiculously hot humid weather day and night. I know those of you who live with this kind of heat all the time will be shaking your heads at this...but we Brits just ain't up to it! lol. Oh hush! The hotel was part of a small chain of hotels and for that, it thankfully hadn't lost its character. We even had a very Manuel/Fawlty Towers waiter at breakfast...well if Manuel had been 20 years older and Italian. He rocked. We took trips out to Henley-on-Thames, Marlow and Upper Wycombe and tried to spend as much time near the water. But before we knew it we were slinging our bags back into the car and heading home. The only downside to the break was eating...it was a nightmare to find good vegan and gluten-free food. I mainly lived on salad sandwiches...not great. It was a relief to get back home and start plotting foods that I had missed whilst gone. All in all though it was a really relaxing and visually satifsying weekend. 

On our way back to the hotel on one of the days we saw a sign for a cafe that was part of Dorney Court Tudor Mansion. Our interest was piqued and we made our way down the dusty and very bumpy trail...to find an oasis of lush greenage in a plant nursery that surrounded the most wholesome and unpretentious cafe ever. It had many vegan offerings on its menu boards but I had already eaten so had to make do with a pot of green tea. They had a little shop attached to it and in there I found the most beautiful pottery olive bowls. My holiday treasure was purchased and stashed in the boot of our car along with some rather stinky aromatic smoked garlic bulbs. Mental note: no matter how well wrapped smoked garlic bulbs are...do not leave them in your car overnight!

How could I not buy these? For an olive addict it was was impossible to resist.

Sadly I have come back to overwhelming hosptial stuff so it's going to be an intense couple of weeks ahead. But I will be back as often as I can with recipes for you all. I also found some elusive white aubergine/eggplants yesterday so I can't wait to get creative with them. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope this week is being kind to you all...

~Red~