QUIRCA d’ORCA AND FRESH PESTO PASTA WITH GREEN BEANS AND POTATO

As a homage to the wonderful recent post by cookingwithoutlimits on 10 great countires for food. I am reposting this Italian recipe. The wild boar pasta is a coupl of posts before if you scroll down, hope you enjoy it

A Taste of two Cities

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To bring my little Italian detour sadly to an end. I hesitate before revealing the name of this veritable little ‘Brigadoon’ of a village…..the added bonus being the journey to get there took us through some of the most stunning countryside in Tuscany

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My daughter, Kate, bought us a book about the loveliest ‘secret’ villages in Tuscany for Christmas last year and it is in this book that I stumbled across ‘Quirca d’Orca’ I must add that I am not too worried that I am going to introduce it mass tourism, as it took us three attempts to actually find it and that was with the GPS. It obviously evaded others also, as we spent about four hours in this lovely little hamlet, and only saw two other non residents’  (an American couple)

imgp3645 The almost hidden entrance to the village

Sleepy little back streets, a plethora of medieval buildings (many…

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Chicken and Mushroom pie and Woolton Picture House

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Continuing in the vein of ‘leftovers’ this is a little chicken and mushroom pie that was born out of some puff pastry left over from some mince pies, which in turn were knocked together with some leftover mincemeat, padded out with various other bits and pieces (to feature in a future post). Added to that some mushrooms left over from a boeuf Bourgignon and some chicken from a raclette along with a handful of frozen peas and half a can of condensed soup (don’t worry, the other half went into a chicken and tarragon bake !) and I have worked out that I have made 11 meals for a total of £12 over the last week. So, healthy, and economical and fun……….my good friend Jacqui commented that I should be teaching ‘home economics’ classes in schools, but sadly they don’t exist anymore – maybe we should start a campaign on here to bring them back…………seems we’re all living in La la land……

No apologies for the tenuous link (I have been known to do worse….) but to work my little cultural sojourn into the post I have chosen a recent trip to the cinema. No I am not going to review ‘La la land’ but tell you a little about the wonderful, historic ‘Woolton Picture House’ in Liverpool.

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‘Woolton Picture House’ is the oldest, and only remaining ‘single screen’ cinema in the city of Liverpool. Dating back to 1927 it still retains its 1920’s charm with plush armchairs, more than ample leg room, and dramatic red drapes that sweep aside to reveal the majestic wide screen.

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Being privately owned it charges much less than the cinema complexes in the city (£6.50 for an adult ticket as opposed to £11.50 in town) and the old cinema tradition of ‘The Interval’ is still upheld, with ‘usherettes selling ice-cream from little trays, and the small bar in the foyer selling mini bottles of wine and beer and even cups of tea!

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It’s just feels so much more of an ‘experience’ with the unique atmosphere of a bygone, more glamorous era enhanced by the soothing ‘strings’ of Mantovani playing before the film and during the interval – sheer nostalgia…………..

So let’s ‘Make a feature’ out of the recipe……

Ingredients

Strips of chicken left over from a raclette

Baby sweetcorn also left over from a raclette

Mushrooms left over from my Beef and Bacon hotpot / Boeuf Bourgignon (see previous post for hotpot and A Taste of Two Cities archives for Boeuf Bourgignon)

A handful of frozen peas

1/2 a tin of condensed chicken soup left over from my Chicken Tarragon bake (see my recipe on A Taste of Two Cities)

Ready made puff pastry left over from my final batch of mince pies (recipe not published)

Method

Sauté the chicken, corn and mushroom in a little oil until just about to brown

Add the frozen peas and continue to gently cook until defrosted

Add the 1/2 tin of condensed soup plus 1/2 a tin of water

Season to taste with salt and white pepper

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Pour into an oven proof dish

Roll our the puff pastry to fit the top and bake at 200 degrees / gas mark 6 for 30 -40 minutes until pasty is cooked and golden

I served this with some steamed new potatoes

Bon appetit!

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Beef and Bacon Hotpot and Street Statues of Liverpool

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As many of you know, I am temporarily back in the UK until summer 2017.
Whilst here I have been fascinated by the amount of television airtime given over to cookery programmes (not that I am complaining as I love anything to do with cooking and food – especially when it is linked to travel as many of them are)
A lot of them have taken up the stance of promoting home cooking (again something which I am all for) and particularly using ‘leftovers’. Now this, as many of you also know, is a subject very close to my heart and I am often ‘making something out of nothing’, but now every celebrity chef is banging on about it as if he / she has invented the wheel…….
So my next four posts are going to involve leftover ingredients that I had in my fridge over the weekend.
I usually tie in a little cultural feature, so, taking advantage of what my lovely ‘birth city’ has to offer, here is a little look around some of the statues, celebrating Liverpool life………

These two iconic figures, the sadly recently passed away ‘Cilla Black’ (born Pricilla White), Liverpool’s favourite daughter, who began working as a cloakroom attendant in the famous ‘Cavern Club’ on Mathew street, where she was discovered by the Beatles and shot to stardom with her powerful voice belting out such songs as ‘Anyone who had a heart’ and ‘You’re my World’ amongst many, many others; and the tragically taken from us too soon ‘John Lennon’ Liverpool’s favourite son, who has the city’s international airport named after him.
Another interesting feature of Mathew street is the Cavern’s ‘Wall of Fame’, where the names of all the acts who have performed there over the years are represented by a brick.

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Quite a few famous names dotted about in there, many would have been before they were actually famous

The Cavern club links in nicely with my ‘Taste of Two Cities’ theme as the idea for the club, and indeed it’s very name, came directly from the founder, Alan Sytner, visiting ‘Le Caveau de la Huchette’ a jazz club in the cellar of a former fruit warehouse in’my home town for the last nine years’, Paris, and he opened the Liverpool equivalent as a jazz club in 1957.
I am too young to have been part of the Cavern scene, but the site was turned into ‘The Revolution’ in the mid seventies, then became ‘Eric’s’ in the late seventies / early eighties, which gave rise to the ‘punk rock’ era in the city, a scene that I was very much part of, but that’s another story………

Mathew street is still a hub of activity in the city and I was amused to see tourists and natives queueing in an orderly manner to have their photos taken with ‘Out Cilla’

No mention of Liverpool’s street statues would be complete without a mention of the ‘Fab Four’ gracing the Pier Head’ waterfront, but I couldn’t manage to get a photo without a tourist making up a fab fifth member…………

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A little lesser known one though is that of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ from the song of the same name, tucked away on a bench on Stanley street………‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from. All the lonely people, where do they all belong’ has a sad resonance today walking around the city and seeing the amount of homeless people sleeping rough on the streets and another sad similarity with Paris.

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Another interesting fact that I discovered yesterday, is that this statue is actually singer / performer and made by the Tommy Steel for the princely fee of 3p – plenty of ‘pub quiz’ trivia to keep you going in this post and I hope it has inspired some of you to come and see these statues for yourselves…..

Now, back to the recipe………

Ingredients

½ a packet of leftover bacon Lardons from a previous ‘Beouf Bourgignon’

Some ‘scraps’ of fillet steak that were too small to put on the raclette

½ a leftover Red Onion, finely chopped

½ 1 left over Red pepper, finely cubed

1 small Carrot (I always have a good supply of carrots on ‘stand-by’ to make soup or ‘carrot rapé’ or just throw in a casserole or veggie curry), finely cubed

½ a left over Celery stick, finely sliced

1 clove Garlic, crushed

A little left over fresh Chilli, finely chopped

4 or 5 left over Chestnut mushrooms, quartered

Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

A splash of Red wine vinegar

½ pint of Beef stock

A good pinch of Mustard seeds

4 small left over potatoes, finely sliced

Method

Sauté the lardons in their own fat until beginning to brown

Add the red onion, carrot, celery and pepper a little at a time so not to create steam and continue to sauté Add the garlic, chilli, steak and mushrooms and sauté until beef and mushrooms begin to brown Add the mustard seeds, salt and pepper

Add the red wine vinegar and beef stock

Pour into a casserole dish and top with the finely sliced potatoes and bake at 200 degrees / gas mark 6 for 45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and crisp

I served with some (left over) steamed Kale, but I think some warm crusty bread would go very well with this dish, if you were of a carb eating nature

So get into your kitchens and get creative with your leftovers……..

 

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Another City Statue, ‘Case History’ on ‘Hope street, by John King, with the names on the labels belonging to many of the streets illustrious names and organisations

 

 

 

PUMPKIN CURRY AND THE CATACOMBS

In response to a request, here is my popular post on The Catacombs of Paris – plus a nice little curry for these cold winter days…..

A Taste of two Cities

Chick pea curry Perfect Halloween supper!

Halloween is approaching and soon we are going to be flooded with recipes for pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie, so I thought that I would get in early with a pumpkin curry – well actually it is ‘Butternut squash and chickpea curry’, but a pumpkin would do just as well.

Halloween conjures up images of witches and ghouls, (though in France ‘Toussaint’s’ is a little different and I will talk about this closer to the time) so what better place to go ghost hunting than in the Paris Catacombs………….

The Catacombs, or to give them their official name ‘The Municipal Ossuary’ date back to the end of the 18th century, when the ‘Cemetery of the Innocents’ near the present day ‘Les Halles’, became overcrowded (not surprising as it had been in existence for around 1,000 years!) and a health hazard.
All burials…

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Traditional Christmas Cake

By popular demand!

A Taste of two Cities

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As it is time to start thinking about what you have in your store cupboards in preparation for making a Christmas cake, here by popular demand, here is my traditional British Christmas cake recipe reposted from last year for those of you who missed it and the many of you who have contacted me asking me to post it again…..
There are no hard and fast rules when making a ‘traditional’ British Christmas cake, some use treacle, others syrup, some dark soft brown sugar and others light, some add ground almonds or walnuts and some use glacé cherries and candied peel.
I prefer a lighter fruitier, less sweet cake, so I do not include syrup or treacle, or glacé cherries or candy peel, and as my daughter is allergic to almonds I leave them out also, and only put marzipan on the top of the cake, so it is easier for…

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A Big Impact

More,words of wisdom from a very old head on ypung shoulders. Loving this blog

The Bible in a Year

We don’t always realise the impact that we can have on others. Sometimes we can leave a lasting impression on someone for all the right reasons, and sometimes, unfortunately, for the wrong.

As I have delved into Exodus, the stories in the Old Testament again have been pieced together. I feel ignorant for not realising the chains and links between the stories, and only knowing the single tales on their own. They are all linked, of course they are!
This piecing together reminds me of when I first moved to Liverpool from North Wales. I knew pockets of areas such as town, the airport, Sefton Park, but I did not know the linking roads to get me from one to another without travelling home and touching base in the middle.
Liverpool has now linked itself up and I know how to get from A to B, and also when to…

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Big Shoes to Fill…

This is a wonderful new blog that I have begun following, check it out

The Bible in a Year

Big shoes to fill?

Taking on a new position at work is difficult. Taking on someone else’s position who has been doing that job for 15 years is even more difficult.

I like to think of myself as a team player but I am also a leader. Having worked freelance and essentially working on my own, and my own terms, for the past 5 years to be put into someone else’s set job has been an interesting experience. I have discovered a lot about myself, or reaffirmed things at least!
I don’t like being told what to do, or even worse being told how someone else used to do what I am being told to do.

Which got me thinking about the phrase ‘big shoes to fill,’ which is a phrase which has been said to me this week. That I had big shoes to fill. Interesting.

Sorry, this is…

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