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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...

Friday, 23 August 2013

Quickjars Jam Jars - Handy at this time of year!


I used these great jars from Quickjars.  I have to say they were well packaged and so spanking new - it was lovely to pot up some compote into brand new jars rather than some hastily washed ones that I have been keeping.  So far, they have served me well and I still have masses to use.
Autumn is approaching and my veggie patch is telling me that it is now time to make jams and chutneys.  I made my first JAM of the year with some amazing plums that some visitors brought from their garden in Cheshunt. Thanks to C and S!  They were delicious just to eat but they brought me kilograms so I had to make JAM.

 Only........it didn't set.  I used the Pam Corbin recipe from the River Cottage Preserves book - I know my daughter used it last year and the jam did not set.  You need to boil it for longer than it says I think as this is not at all set.  Not even remotely, so it has now been renamed Plum Compote.  It is delicious on ice cream and last night we had roast apricots, mascarpone and a splash of the compote.  It was amazing and I wouldn't have ever thought of using runny jam.

There were still some plums left over so I made three plum cakes from a random web recipe that I can no longer find.  It contained ground almonds (but only 50g) and plenty of plums.  The large cake needed at least ten minutes longer to bake and it was still a bit gooey inside - but we really don't mind this!



I was given the jars free of charge from Quickjars but I was free to write anything I liked and use them as I wished

Friday, 16 August 2013

Southdown Farm, The Elephant Restaurant's Farm, Brixham, Devon

After touring Brixham Fish Market, we headed to Southdown Farm in Brixham where we were greeted very warmly by the owners.  They supply The Elephant with most of their raw ingredients.  Simon Hulstone from the Elephant proudly showed us around and even gave us some ideas for what he will use the ingredients for.

The gardens and poly-tunnels were in full bloom and we all had a nibble or two.  This is a multi-coloured beetroot from Dobies of Devon.  The candy stripes remain when raw but disappear upon cooking



 All of us avidly listening

 Borage - there was masses of this.  Perfect to add to a Pimms or Gin and tonic.

Southdown Farm also keep livestock and it was the day of the sheep shearing when we were there.  The well trained sheepdog was amazing at keeping them under control and it was all fascinating.


 Simon Hulstone treated us to a slap-up lunch in the beautiful and very hot courtyard of the farm


Delicious and nutritious!

I was a guest of The Elephant Restaurant and Dobies of Devon but I was free to write what I wished





Hotel Review: The Toorak Hotel, Torquay, Devon

I visited the Toorak Hotel in Torquay this week.  It is part of the TLH group.  I was at Oak House at the weekend, Bovey Castle last week and Dartington Hall a few weeks earlier so I had to look at this with new eyes as it was an entirely different experience and probably in an entirely different price range.  It was boiling hot and had no aircon (but what hotel in UK does?!)  The bedroom was OK.  It was not modern and the bright blue stripe around the ceiling was bizarre.  Why was it not white?  It was just me staying there and the room slept three people so it was spacious and ample.  The room was clean and tidy but at one point I did get a cobweb in my face so it might not have been used for a while.  I have just looked up the prices and discovered that the room costs about £133 for B and B.  I thought it would have been more reasonable.
The view from my room was pretty bad, and I was a little worried about security as there was a flat roof beneath my open windows.
I spent a few hours by the outdoor pool (included in the room price) which made me feel like I was in Europe.  I have to admit that I swam in the indoor Aztec Spa pool as the outdoor pool felt too chilly and was filled with children.  There are two very nice pools within the Aztec facility - both open for free to residents.  One was cooler, rectangular and larger, the other was warmer and not so much for doing lengths - more of a leisure pool.  There were other leisure facilities that children would love and if I had been there longer, I would have used them.
As the sun went down, the outside terrace was perfect.  Overlooking the tennis court here, safely in a chair of course!  The bed was comfortable overnight and the wake up call was efficient and on time.  The bathroom was clean.

I was a guest at The Toorak Hotel but I was allowed to write what I chose.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Devon Restaurant Review: The Elephant, Torquay


Drinks in the bar beforehand


As a guest of Dobie's of Devon Seeds and The Elephant, I enjoyed a feast from the tasting menu when I visited the restaurant in July.  The tasting menu was superb and we were seated in the new conservatory, around a private dining room that has been created.  The table is glass topped and has many of the micro herbs growing within it.  The spelt bread was homemade, served warm one loaf between two and the accompaniments were rillettes, mushroom hummous and butter served in mini flower pots - lovely!


This chilled lovage vichysoisse soup with apple and celery was refreshing yet tasty



The heritage carrots course - everyone's plate was different!

A poached egg with crunchy red quinoa
                             

The hake topped with an amazing tuile of squid ink.  Very tasty

The two types of lamb - the only meat that appeared (after the rillettes with the bread)

The amazing dessert: wild mini strawberries and a coulis plus a homemade lemon verbena panna cotta plus meringue.  The pre-dessert (not pictured) featured cherries with a green water ice made from sorrel.  Amazing and perfect for the hot summers day.

Each course was enhanced by a matching wine, I won't be discussing this as I chose water!  The standard was incredibly high and everything was so beautiful.  I seem to have omitted photos of two dishes: the beetroot dish with apple mustard and elderflower - I must have just tucked in!  It was a lovely dish that was healthy and beautiful.  Also the scallops with coconut, basil and langoustine cream.  Yum.

I was a guest of Dobies and The Elephant but I was free to write anything I wished (or nothing)  for my review

Brixham Fish Market, Devon



I had a look around the world famous market at an unearthly hour of the morning with Dobies Seeds and Simon Hulstone from The Elephant - 6am in July 2013 I think

Auction in progress
The amazing machine that analyses the type of fish, weighs it and labels it

View of Brixham harbour very early in the morning

A prize turbot that would wholesale for a lot of money