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Devon Apple Cake - Award Winning Recipe

This is a regular autumnal warmer in our house that is dead simple to make and uses up at least one or two of your surplus cooking apples at...

Monday, 31 October 2011

Seville's Top Three Tapas Bars - How to Munch through the Credit Crunch


To celebrate my 40th birthday, I have just been treated to an amazing week of feasting on tapas and Rioja in Seville in the South of Spain.  We took the children despite our 14 year old preachy guidebook telling us that 'although Spaniards are very welcoming to children, you may want to consider whether Seville would be a more relaxing and romantic experience if you left the children behind.'  Made me laugh, and I was tempted for a while, but we brought the sprogs along regardless.


Eating in Seville is 90% tapas bars.  There are a couple of linen tablecloth-ed restaurants, but they look so starchy (and expensive) in comparison to the vibrancy of the bars.  Dining out in Seville proved to be surprisingly cheap.  Coffees were about 1.4 Euros and a glass of decent red wine about 2.5 Euros.  I was expecting the anchovies, tortilla, red peppers, patatas bravas, slices of ham and deep-fried croquettes of 14 years ago, and indeed there were plenty of these to be had in places like the wonderful Dos de Mayo.  

This is the 'racion' (medium sized) portion of the alternative Spanish Omelette , this one contained red, green peppers and ham.



Marinaded chargrilled peppers


Marinaded slices of tender calves liver with spring onion



After a few days we discovered the joys of 'modern tapas' at Eslava and Lumbreras e.g. a barely set egg yolk quivering on top of a 'mushroom cake' or a meltingly tender solomillo fillet steak atop a smear of fresh mushroom cream - these were exquisite high-end restaurant standard dishes - and no photos as they were snaffled so quickly.  The fillet steak was the most expensive dish we had at 6 Euros, oh yes, and a huge dish of garlic butter clams for 8 Euros, but for the most part, they came in at 2-3 Euros a plateful.  As a family of four, we lived like kings and ate and drank to our hearts' content, and the bill was often a remarkable 25 - 35 Euros.

Here's a picture of the wonderful Dos de Mayo tapas bar, just behind the main Il Corte Ingles department store on the Plaza de Duque de Victoria.  It was a frenetic den of activity - I have no idea how the barmen kept track of everyone's pint-size tapas orders.  They did call me 'Casey' which we found amusing.



This was the children's favourite, churros with hot chocolate at a corner breakfast cafe.  Cheap, calorific, filling and delicious.  NB, there is a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in the top right hand corner in a vain attempt to make the meal have a nutritional value.



Our favourite tapas bars in Seville were:

Eslava (lots more photos of their food on this website)
Lumbreras (they don't have their own website - so this is a link to Tripadvisor)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Teas Me - Sweet Chai of Mine - Review


I received these sample packs of tea in the post.  I was actually expecting them to be from local Devon tea blender, Tea's Me (I have long been a fan of their wonderful lavender-scented Tottea that claims to 'restore your inner angel'), but these turned out  to be from Squeeze Me, based in Northamptonshire, under the brand name Teas Me (with no apostrophe).  Confused?  I was a bit.


I'm a big fan of 'Chai' teas so I was very keen to try this one as my local supply of Dragonfly Cape Malay Chai Roibos has dried up (anyone know why?).  The see-through pouch was very snazzy - lovely to see all the colourful components of the tea and have a resealable pouch too.  Sometimes my tea gets stashed away in some tin at the back of the cupboard and I only find it months later.  The brew is exactly as described 'warm and comforting' with a big cinnamon kick.  I really liked it.
I tried the Earl Grey flavour today in my brand new ForLife kermit green teapot that A and D bought me.  It wasn't as 'in your face' and powerfully bergamoty or floral as some Earl Greys, but that's no bad thing.  Liked the fact it was blended with bright yellow sunflower petals. Oh, and loved my new teapot.

The Tea sachets cost £3.99 each for 100g loose leaf tea.  I almost forgot the pun! Guns 'n' Roses, I never thought I'd reference you on my food blog, you are so far off my radar but I just can't help it...Oh-ohhhh, sweet chai-aii of miii-iiine....

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Guardian: Exeter and Topsham's 10 Best Budget Eats


Well this saved me a lot of hard work - this is a fantastic guide to budget eats in the Exeter area, published today in The Guardian.

I agree wholeheartedly with what the article says about Boston Tea Party, The Real Food Store, The Georgian Tea Rooms and Avocet Cafe (I love their 'savoury' cream tea with South Devon chilli jam).  All the other places look like great places to try - thanks for bringing the Exploding Bakery to my attention 'stellar baking at bargain prices'. And I really like the sound of Petit Mange in Magdalen Rd (hopefully avoiding the knife -wielder that was running amok this week)

Thanks to the Guardian for doing such a well-researched piece on my home turf!

And what's even better is that they've produced an interactive map for budget eats for the whole of the UK.  Very kind.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Penge Punch, First of the Month

It's true: I rarely leave Devon and Cornwall.  But for the hottest day of the year, with everyone heading for a bonus day on the beach, I ended up travelling to South London. Craziness.  What a good time I had .  A superb party held to celebrate my dear friends, J and L's 40ths.  J had invented two new cocktails, Penge Punch (in honour of the venue) which was lethal - a stronger version of Long Island Iced Tea (including laminated instruction sheets for novices on how to concoct the tipple - he is so anal organised).

There was also a totally delicious Southern Sangria (Spanish red, lemonade, a healthy dash of fresh lemon and lime juice and tons of ice and fruit).



Needless to say, a good time was had by all.  Hawaiian shirts, fairy lights, paper flowers, cocktail dresses, posh kebab canapes.  I spent a manic hour in the kitchen assisting these two strapping lads and generally dropping things on the floor.


A really great idea.  Wraps containing pre-bbqed meat, veges and condiments had been prepped the day before and our job was to bake them for 15 minutes and then slice them into 2cm slices and serve on trays as kebab canapes.  They were hungrily snapped up.


Later we moved on to genuine live opera singing (M and L were astonishing), a put-together-at-last-minute-band and then dancing, Shisha pipes with apple tobacco and fire baskets in the garden.

And after just a couple of hours sleep (there were about eight kids in the house) we were up and at 'em again.  I'd bought long some fab bacon from Borough Market (my first time at BM - WOW, what a change from Devon farmers' markets) from Sillfield Farm and we cooked up bagels,bacon and more pitchers of Southern Sangria in the sun.  




Finished off with some perfect hangover food made by the resident starlet, H, chocolate dipped peppermint creams.


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Penge Punch Yeehah


Like a cross between long island iced tea and mojito.  Kicks a fair punch


Quanitity makes a large pitcher

300 ml  cointreau
300ml vodka, 
300ml tequila
300ml dark rum and 
300ml white rum
125ml sugar syrup infused with mint
1 litre of Coca Cola
125ml freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
Loads of ice

TASTE AND ADJUST TIL YUMMY!