Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Where to eat? "The Secret Teacup", nr Clapham, North Yorks

 I absolutely love the idea of supper clubs and secret restaurants. Eating tasty food for a reasonable price and the social side of it makes me really excited. Therefore I just could not wait to go to one of them and my first choice was actually a secret tearoom, mainly because it was in reasonable driving distance but also because I loved the pictures of this place when I first discovered it on-line. 

Last Sunday we went to The Secret Teacup situated in one of the farms nr Clapham in Yorkshire Dales National Park. It offers traditional afternoon tea in beautiful surroundings. The hostess of this place is also an author of the beautiful blog Tales of Ted and Agnes.
She makes sure everyone feels welcomed; selection of tea she offers is very interesting, the food she serves it mouth watering. If you love real fire in the stove, good food, warm, homely atmosphere and want to see incredible collection of mismatched china this is the right address.

I love spending time with people who have such a passion for baking, dreaming up menus, and dressing up the tables so I definately went to the right place. It was very tasty afternoon indeed! Here is the menu and I will let the photos speak for themselves.


Potted salmon with Rocket
Egg Mayonnaise & Red Cress
Cheese & Homemade Pickle

Goats Cheese & Onion tartlets
3 Cheese twists
Lemon & Lime Drizzle Cake
Jammie Dodgers
Sticky Maple Buns
Hedgerow Tea Loaf 
Scones with Cream & Jam

P.S. On the social side it was a little bit let down - 5 people calcelled their bookings just before the meeting, (naughty!) however I still managed to meet very nice bloger, an author of Kat got the cream blog. 

Typical Yorkshire traffic on our way back!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Lemon spaghettini with courgettes & spinach

Not every long pasta is spaghetti, and the one you can see on the photographs today is slighlty thinner version of this most pupular Italian pasta - spaghettini. Thinner it is, quicker it cooks, and therefore tasty  and very satisfying dinner is on your table within few minutes. This is simply wonderful - you do not spend much time in the kitchen, the preparation is down to an absolute minimum and bowl of delicious pasta is very comforting. You can show off!

Have a lovely weekend my Dear Readers and cook more courgettes - season for this veg is slowly getting to an end.

serves 2

about 200g spaghettini
generous splash of olive oil
1 medium courgette, coarsly grated
large handful of fresh baby spinach
1  peperoncino pepper, smashed 
juice of half lemon
few leaves of fresh mint, roughly torn
freshly ground black pepper
some pecorino or parmesan (or vegetarian parmesan) shavings

Boil plenty of water for a pasta in a big pan and slowly reheat the frying pan. When pasta needs to be cooked for last 4 minutes, add olive oil to the hot pan, next add peperoncino and cougette and fry for about 2 minutes. Next add the spinach, fry for about one minute and add the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, add the mint, mix well and remove from a heat.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with vegetables. Mix well and if it seems bit dry add some extra olive oil. Divide between two serving bowls, sprinkle wirth some more pepper if you like to and finish off with cheese shavings. Serve immidiately.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cinnamon & Sultana Swirl Bread

To fight first signs of autumn depression it is good to have something tasty for breakfast on really wet and dull morning. I have made this bread for a first time and it turned out to be too much for two if us, therefore I decided to share this little ray of sunshine with David and his wife who live nearby. They appreciate good food and I thought it would be nice to have a slice of this bread with hot tea when he gets back from a shooting day. I love to share these little nice things with other people.

I found this recipe on The Kitchn website and I have changed it slightly. I used brown sugar instead of the white, sultanas instead of raisins and soaked them in the dessert wine instead of water.

Makes 2 loaves


1 cup sultanas
some dessert wine, enough to cover the sultanas 
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups all-purpose flour


3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons warm water

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with warm wine (or water if you follow the original recipe). Let the raisins plump for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to dry.

Pour a cup of water into the bowl of a standing mixer or large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top. Give it a few minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast into the water. Stir the milk, melted butter, and salt into the water. Gradually add the flour, one tablspoon at time and mi to form a dough. Knead in your mixer on low speed with a dough hook or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes to form a smooth, slightly tacky dough. The dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and quickly springs back when poked.

Toss the raisins with a few tablespoons of flour to absorb any residual moisture from when they were plumped. With the mixer on gradually add them to the bowl and continue kneading until they are evenly distributed.

Next cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and beat together the egg and water in a second bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each part of the dough out on the working surface. It should be slightly less wide than your baking pan and as long as you can make it. The thinner the dough, the more layers of cinnamon swirl you'll end up with.

Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash, leaving about two inches clear at the top. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar and save little bit for later. Starting at the end closest to you, roll up the dough. When you get to the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer the loaf to your loaf pan seam-side down.

Let the loaves rise 30-40 minutes, I left mine for 30 minutes and it was slighlty too short, the bread cracked on one side during the baking.

Brush the top with some of the remaining egg wash and sprinkle some of your remaining cinnamon sugar over the tops of the loaves as well. Bake in 180 C (fan) for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool completely before slicing. I love to toast it and spred some butter over the bread. Baked loaves can also be frozen for up to three months.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spicy aubergines

I tried to avoid the thought that the autumn is coming. In my memories I still go back to sunny and warm Italy. For the last two days we had really strong wind in Dales, it was quite cold and wet and also the nights are coming in so therefore more than usually I drink hot tea with lemon and Polish honey I brought back from home. 

Even when I got over the first signs of autumns depression it was not that easy to write another post. It is not easy to type when you have cats walking across the keyboard. No, it is not good (or shall I say bad) old Buka going mad and Mimi doesn’t change her preferences too. It is our new kitten that we hope is a boy. For a time being we have two names under consideration: Marlon or Marla. 

We chose those names to pay the tribute to some film characters and they both were truly distinctive, charismatic people, and looking at our new cat and his (her?) behavior we could not choose more appropriate names.  Seven weeks old hyperactive kitten is very demanding and looking after him is very time consuming, so I am little bit tired recently. As much as I am bitten, scratched, sleepy and I make uncontrolled cries when he decides to climb my leg. I am also very, very happy. Eating, cooking at the moment is little bit less important. I cook mostly dishes that I know well, preferably one-pot. This is one of those, my favourite from "The Food of India: a journey for food lovers". I did not stick to the exact quantities.  

Serves 2-4 

2 medium aubergines, halved lengthways and then sliced into about 7mm slices  
5 tbsp of sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter) 
400ml skinned, chopped fresh tomatoes (or tinned)  
5 garlic cloves, peeled  
about 2,5cm fresh ginger root, peeled
1 tsp black onion seeds (nigella seeds, kalonji)  
1 tsp fennel seeds  
1 tsp ground coriander  
1/4 tsp of turmeric  
1/4 tsp cayenne 

Blend half of the tomatoes with garlic and ginger until smooth. 

In a large pan heat one tbsp butter at time and fry the aubergines in one layer, on both sides until slightly browned. Place fried aubergines in a bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining butter in the same pan. 

Add black onion seeds, fennel seeds, cover and leave it to pop for about minute. Next add the turmeric, coriander, cayenne, mixed tomatoes and the remaining ones. Be careful as it will spit. Add the aubergines, some salt and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. 

They are great on their own, but will go nicely with naan bread, some mango chutney on the side. I also serve them as one of many dishes along curries and others when I host Indian dinner. 

And please, let me introduce new remember of our crew: 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Fresh tomato soup with bread, salami and pecorino

Once I read about a tomato soup made with fresh tomatoes on one of the Polish foodies blog. One of the comments was quite rough stating that the soup looks disgusting. Well, thought to myself, it is time to teach young generation who probably seen tomato soup out of a tin only that this is how real tomato soup looks like.   

According to my taste there is no better tomato soup than the one made with fresh, ripe, sweet tomatoes, therefore I had to make one when I was in Ginestra. Especially I gave Anna Maria a piece of the Wensleydale Cheddar in colourful wax and to say thank you she brought me full bag of her home grown tomatoes. Besides we had some old bread and some sausages to utilise, so I decide to experiment little bit.

This soup was beautiful cold or hot. I am really sorry for not giving the exact quantities, but the general idea only. You have to work it out accordingly to your taste.


Makes big pan

few small sausages, salami like, sliced
generous splash of olive oil from Gina  
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 peperoncino peppers, crushed
one big colander filled with ripe, sweet tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped  
about 1.2l vegetable stock (I cooked mine with carrots, celeriac, onion, garlic, whole peppercorns, little olive oil salt and pepper)
stale bread, diced
freshly ground black pepper 
freshly grated pecorino cheese  

In a big pan fry the bread in the olive oil until crispy, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add the sausages to the pan and fry until the fat is released. Add garlic, peperoncino, fry for a minute or so and add the tomatoes. After few minutes add the vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. 

Serve with bread croutons, drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with pecorino cheese.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Where to eat? "Lolli", Piglio

There are some places that you will not find in the holiday guides, luckily somebody you know have been there already and recommended it to you. There is one very good and unbeatable reason to go to Piglio (except from a fact that this is very nice town, with streets 1.5m wide in the old town overlooking the valley) – it is great place for wine shopping. You have to go to one of cantina sociale and get some Cesanese del Piglio that perhaps is not as famous as Tuscan Chianti but definitely worth trying. It is tasty and if you think about price- taste relation, I would say it is very tasty. None of those we bought for 3.5 – 8.5 euros would put me in a shame when served to my guests with some good food. Even I am not a big fan of white wines I found Passerina del Frusinate very tasty.

If you like simple, homemade dishes served in not particularly smart or posh surroundings you have another reason to go to Piglio. There is one place just off the road, that looks like it was built just temporarily, it is called “Lolli” and it should be your destination if you like good quality food with no fuss. If you do not mind sitting at the table with plastic, colorful covering, drink wine from a decanter under a watchful eyes of the Holy Family from a picture this is right place for you. All you need is time, plenty of time – at least 2 hours.

This is how much time out feast took. We had the following: 

- 1l white wine
- 1.5l water
- two plates full of antipasti – various hams, salami, something made from offal and pig’s head – very similar to brawn (we call it salceson in Poland), cold roast pork, artichokes, olives, cheese and some sausage, also some pickles.  
- two generous slices of bread, grilled over the open fire, generously drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt
- a basket full of lovely bread  
- two large portions of tagliatelle alla ragu – and some cheese to finish off, of our choice: pecorino or  parmesan 
- one huge beef steak, grilled over the real fire, served with lemon
- cicoria fried in olive oil  
- some biscuits  
- two lemon sorbets
- two coffees  
- three shots (each one of us) of different liqueurs (good for the digestion)

Are you still surprised that you need at leas two hours? I have to admit that my partner and I can eat a lot, and this time we were completely full. (Remember restaurant scene from “The Meaning of Life”? This is how we probably felt). Obviously everything was extremely tasty.  For this feast, service of very pleasant waiter and fire keeper and lovely view from a window we paid 69 euros. 

I recommend this place!

Trattoria Lolli 
via Prenestina km. 43,700. 
Tel. 0775/501115, mobile 3395029036

Card does not mention what time this place is open, however is says: closed on Thursdays.

* Frosinone, Lazio region

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Plum & ginger swirl cheesecake

Today I will take a break from my holiday Italian theme and show you something that I am extremely proud of.  A cheesecake that I have made for Julie's birthday.

First of all I am proud of this cheesecake because I am not the best baker and not all of my desserts, especially cakes turn out as nice and tasty. Secondly I did not use any particular recipe and I based this cheesecake upon recipes that I already tried and this time added an extra twist - the plum sauce. I have seen many recipes for swirl cheesecakes using raspberry preserve, but this time of the year I was really keen to use plums instead. So I made my own plum sauce, spiced by adding little bit of ginger. So here it is - my late summer, delicious, creamy, little bit sharp yet sweet enough (drums!): plum & ginger swirl cheesecake!

Serves 8-10, makes round 25cm springform tin

For the base:

200g dark chocolate Digestive biscuits
80g unsalted butter

For the cheese filing:

600g cream cheese (800g if you prefer higher cake)
170g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tbps custard powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
200ml creme fraiche

For the plum & ginger sauce*:

4 large plums
100ml of mead (honey wine)
2 tbsp of brown soft dark sugar
4 cubes of crystallised ginger

First prepare the sauce.Quarter and stone plums and place in a small pan with mead, sugar and ginger, then bring to the boil and simmer until the plums are very soft and juices reduced. Next blend with a hand blender until smooth and place on the small heat to reduce little bit more. Set aside. 

Line a springform tin with some kitchen foil, making sure the bottom is protected from water. I bake this cheesecake in bain-marie, which is a type of preparation used for protecting dishes requiring gentle heat from the fierce heat of the oven.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor (or put in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin). Mix with the melted butter. Press into springform tin and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 180C and put a kettle on. 

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy. Next add eggs – one egg at the time, mix and add next egg when previous is mixed well with the cheese mixture.

Next add lemon juice, custard powder and mix, but make sure you do not overwork it – stop when custard is mixed into the cheese. Add the creme fraiche, mix and pour the mixture into the tin.

Now using a teaspoon dot the top of the cake with the plum sauce and working with a toothpick make movements in eight shape to create swirls, like lady in this film, however I do not recommend using a knife, toothpick makes much nicer effect. 

Place the tin into an ovenproof dish and fill with hot water (about half of the size of the tin), cover with kitchen foil and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes.  The middle will be a bit wobbly.

Take it out of the oven and let it to cool down in  and then transfer to the fridge and leave it overnight.

To cut this cheesecake use knife previously kept in the hot water - it will make the whole process easier.

* it makes a whole about 250ml jar, and really you need few teaspoons only. This was an experimental recipe, and I did not expect that much of the sauce. However I placed the remaining hot sauce in the sterylised jar, sealed and kept it for winter - it will be lovely with the pancakes.