A Man With A Van...

Lot & Dordogne South West France

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Food For Thought - page 2

Gazpacho soup was invented for the summer. Refreshingly cold on hot summer days, this adaptation of the classic Spanish cold tomato soup deliciously combines the best of summer vegetables. Make sure you only use the freshest, highest quality ingredients for this soup.

Gazpacho Soup

Ingredients – Serves 4-6


- 1kg really ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

(I remove the skins first in boiling water)

- 4 spring onions or 1 red onion, chopped


- 2 stalks celery, chopped

- 2 garlic cloves

- ½ cucumber, peeled

- 75ml olive oil

- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

- 2 teaspoons sugar

- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

- 6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste

- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Put everything into a blender and whizz until you get the consistency you want. Chill in the fridge – ideally overnight to allow the flavours to blend properly. Place an ice cube in the bowl before serving and sprinkle some chopped chives on top. Dunk crusty bread with soft goats cheese!


Blackberry Breakfast Muffins



Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases and set aside. Melt the butter and set aside.


Combine the flour, ground almonds, caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and blackberries in a bowl. Measure out the milk in a jug and then whisk in the egg, jammy liquid and finally the butter.


Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and loosely combine.  It will be lumpy and there will be flour which is still dry and you’ll be tempted to keep mixing.  Don’t.  Lumpy and barely mixed is perfect.


Spoon the mixture out equally between the 12 muffin cases, sprinkle over some oats and bake for 20-25 minutes.


When baked, leave them to cool in the muffin tray and then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely – or devour warm with a cup of English Breakfast tea!

- 250g self raising flour

- 25g ground almonds

- 75g golden brown caster sugar

- 75g unsalted butter

- 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

- 100ml whole milk

- 2 tbsp blackberry jam diluted with water to make 100ml of liquid

- 1 large egg

- 300g blackberries

- Oats for sprinkling


Spicy Potiron Soup

For six


2 onions, sliced

1.5 kilo pumpkin, chopped in large pieces

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

olive oil, salt, pepper

About 75 cl water or stock to cover



This is such an easy yet tasty soup...and if you're like me your vegetable patch will be full of pumpkins.


Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until soft and transparent.


Add the garlic and spices and sauté for a minute.


Add the pieces of pumpkin, stir and cover with water or stock. Add salt and pepper


Simmer for half an hour and liquidise.


Serve with a swirl of cream and chopped parsley (and chopped garlic if you wish)

pumpkin soup

This recipe will serve 6 people. You will need:

- 6 chicken breasts

- 750 g of fresh or tinned tomatoes

- 3 medium size red onions (you can use others but the red ones are sweetest)

- 20 black olives (stoned)

- 1 large lemon

- Bunch of fresh thyme leaves

- Bunch of fresh basil

- 4 large cloves of garlic

- 1 glass of white wine

- Salt and fresh ground black pepper

- 2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil

Susie’s Provence style chicken

For more mouth-watering recipes take a look at Susie's blog . click here


1. Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice into a bowl. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil – blend together to make a paste. Cover the chicken breasts with the paste and place in a bowl in the fridge for about an hour.

2. Meanwhile skin your tomatoes and roughly chop them up and put on one side.

3. Gently fry the chopped onions in a heavy based oven -proof pan with the olive oil until soft, then add the tomatoes and torn up basil leaves. Cover and simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes (the scent will be wonderful at this stage)

4. When the chicken has marinated for an hour place in a pan with the remaining olive oil and sauté until browned, then add the wine and stir gently for a few minutes.

5. Add the chicken and all the juices to the tomato and onion mixture and cook in a preheated oven (175°C/Gas mark 4) for about an hour, until the chicken is cooked through, adding the black olives for the last few minutes.

6. Serve with a crusty loaf and green beans or green salad.

Chicken Provancal

Cake ingredients

6 oz (175g) Dark Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

4 fl oz (120ml) sunflower oil

7 oz (200g) self raising flour (French gateaux flour)

1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

3 teaspoons mixed spice (French quatre spice)

Zest of 1 orange

7 oz (200G) grated carrot

6 oz sultanas

Delia's Luxury Carrot Cake sent in by Kelly

Delia’s’ topping

9 oz quark soft cheese

¾ oz caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Instead of quark i used  1 pot of mascarpone & whip in a bit more than ½ a pot of Crème fraîche to lighten the mascarpone flavour and make it nice to spread


Syrup glaze - Juice from an orange 1 desert sp lemon juice 1oz dark brown sugar


Pre heat oven gas 3 or 170 oc

Recommended tin 10” x 6” and 1” deep with the bace lined in cooking paper.


-Whisk sugar, eggs and oil in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Add the flour, bicarb of soda and the mixed spice to the egg. Stir together.

- Add the orange zest carrot and sultanas and fold in.Cook on centre shelf for 35-40 minutes.

- Whisk all the ingredients for the topping and chill in fridge until needed

- Heat the ingredients for the syrup in a sauce pan until the sugar has melted then let cool.

- When the cake comes out leave it in the tin stab it all over and then poor over the syrup mix as the cake cools it seeps in, when the cake is completely cold remove from the tin and spread the topping.


Jamie's Italian bread & cabbage soup with sage butter

Serves 8


- 3 litres chicken stock

- 1 Savoy cabbage, stalks removed, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped

- 16 slices stale country-style or sourdough bread

- 1 clove garlic, unpeeled, cut in half

- Olive oil

- 12-14 slices pancetta or smoked streaky bacon

- 100 g tinned anchovy fillets in oil

- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked

- 150 g Gruyère or Cantal cheese, grated

- 100 g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus a little for serving

- sea salt

- freshly ground black pepper

- 2 small knobs butter

- 1 small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked


Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage. Cook for a few minutes until softened (you may have to do this in two batches). Remove the cabbage to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.


Toast all but 5 of the bread slices on a hot griddle pan or in a toaster, then rub them on one side with the garlic halves, and put to one side. Next, heat a large 10cm deep ovenproof casserole-type pan on the hob, pour in a couple of lugs of olive oil and add your pancetta and anchovies. When the pancetta's golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all the lovely flavours. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.


Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type pan, in one layer. Spread over one third of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a quarter of the grated Gruyère and Parmesan, and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat this twice, but don't stress if your pan's only big enough to take two layers – that's fine. Just pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.


Pour the stock gently over the top till it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining Gruyère and Parmesan. Add a good pinch of pepper and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.


When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they're just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burnt!). Spoon a bit of the flavoured butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan. Such a great combo!

Jamie cabbage soup

Really easy mushroom risotto


Ingredients - Serves 4


1 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

225g/8oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced

350g/12oz arborio rice

150ml/¼ pint dry white wine

1.2 litres/2 pints hot vegetable stock

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

25g/1oz butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated parmesan, to serve


Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, then take them out of the water and roughly chop.


Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Fry over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, until browned.


Stir in the rice and coat in the oil. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed.


Add a ladleful of the stock and simmer, stirring again, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock in this way, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump and tender.


Stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and some of the soaking water (being careful not to get any grit which may be at the bottom), along with the parsley, butter and salt and pepper. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.


Elerflower Cordial


20 large elderflower heads without leaves

1.8 kg granulated sugar

1 litre water

75 g acide citrique

(from Pole Vert found by the wine making things)

2 lemons



1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.


2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.


3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.


4. Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water), and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.