Eek – Bad Photo Warning, but Good Food!

So, you’d think I’d have learned by now that if you want a decent photo of food in a restaurant you have to eat at mid day, take a camera, not dig in first and ensure the light is good.

Oh dear, most of our best meals in Jersey were eaten at night, in dimly lit restaurants, with the photos taken on the phone and only after we had started eating and then remembered “ooh, must take a snap of this”!

But…being an honest Chica and wanting to share the experience with you, here are the photos in all their awful glory. Suspend your reaction to the bad photos and imagine the deliciousness of the actual food. Buen provecho!

Oysters featured frequently – and often at mid day with a glass of wine, so this photo is not too bad…

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Mussels in white wine and Jersey cream…

DSCF4251A beautiful carpaccio of beef

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Duck spring rolls in a home-made pastry…

DSCF4237Lamb shank…

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Blueberry creme brulee…

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There was also a wild mushroom and puff pastry tart, a bacon hock with borlotti beans, panna cotta, cheese boards, fish pie, fruits de mer, scallops…but if I tell you that the photos above are the best of a truly bad bunch…well, you get the picture.

So…I’ll leave you with a few more scenic shots and we’ll move on back to the cooking in the next post.

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Home Again – There’s No Place Like It!

When I say home, I mean our Down by the Sea home. This year has not been a great for us when it comes to holidays. We had to cancel all our plans in the summer because of ill-health and death in the family. It’s the way life goes sometimes. We understand that. But thought we’d try just one more time with a few days away for our anniversary and headed to the beautiful island of Jersey.

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Well, I think The Devil (pictured below, he turned up unexpectedly) had a hand in the proceedings.

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We did enjoy some amazing meals and our hotel was lovely…but oh the weather! Rain, wind, cold, more rain, more cold and really strong winds. It’s a teeny tiny island and mostly should be enjoyed outdoors. Luckily the sun broke through every so often for a few minutes and we leapt out of out little hire car to snap a view.

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We ate and drank amazingly well, and I’ll share some of our meals with you later. But for the moment, we’re staying put. If I mention going away on holiday for a while, please slap me round the face with a wet fish and remind me that There’s No Place Like Home.

Tarallucci – Savoury Fennel Biscuits and a little break for Chica and Big Man

I seem to be cooking to an Italian theme right now – no particular reason. Well, I did buy a new (second hand) cookery book, Two Greedy Italians by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. If you ever get a change to watch the series they made to go with the book, do give it a go – it features some good food from all around Italy and the pair of them behave like a funny old couple who have been married for years! The following recipe comes from the book.

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Here’s a bread type recipe which I made recently as they reminded me of nibbles my parents often serve at their home with olives and salted almonds with pre lunch or dinner drinks. The first batch I made came out a little chewy, more like crispy bagels. I cooked the second batch for longer and they were as I remembered – crispy, hard and deliciously aniseedy in flavour.

Ingredients (makes 40-50 but can easily be halved)

  • 200g semolina four
  • 200g plain flour plus extra for dusting (use all plain flour if you don’t have semolina flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast blend yeast (or 1 sachet of dried yeast dissolved in 150ml lukewarm water)
  • 150ml water (no need to use if you have used it to dissolve your yeast)
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil

Add the fennel seeds, salt and pepper to the flours and mix then add the liquids. Knead well for about 5 mins and then leave to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Knead again for another 5 mins and then pat the dough into a flat, rectangular shape. Cut strips about 2cms wide off and cut each strip into 10cm lengths. Wrap each strip around a finger, flattening it slightly and pressing the ends firmly together.

Preheat the oven to 180 degress C or gas Mark 4 and bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil.

Drop the dough circles into the water in batches, let then rise to the surface and let them cook for about 3 minutes.

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Life them out with a slotted spoon and leave them to drain (I did this on greaseproof paper as I found they stuck to kitchen paper).

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes until lightly browned and crispy (the original recipe calls for initial cooking for 15 mins at the higher temperature then 10 minutes at a medium temperature). Leave to cool and enjoy with a glass of something lovely.

Tomorrow we’re packing our little cases and heading over to the beautiful island of Jersey. I say beautiful because I hear it is – it will be out first visit. And we’re not worried that rain and gloomy weather are forecast as we’re going to celebrate our anniversary which also (most fortunately) coincides with a food and drink festival. Well, we might do a little sightseeing but hopefully we’ll be back a few kilos heavier and full of exciting ideas for new dishes. See you next week!