It’s been a funny old week. Another rollercoaster ride through the trials and tribulations of life.

I find the best way to manage my temperament through it is to cook! and with lots of different people crossing my path this week it has been an opportunity to prepare some nice meals.


First on the menu was the builders, or renderers to be specific. Now normally my builder repertoire is tea (taken with 2 sugars) and biscuits or a cake if I have the time. But somehow the latest team, who have just completed a really great job on the house, had other ideas. The week started with their specifications on coffee (as opposed to tea), milk and which biscuits they liked and progressed through the week until the final day. Did I have bacon in the fridge? they asked. In my usual overly helpful way I said no, but I have eggs. Oh – that would be fine, they replied! Er. Are you asking me to make you egg sandwiches? …yes! But I only have a really lovely brown sourdough loaf bought at Bread Ahead this week. That’s fine, they say. And what salt do you have? they ask. What salt? Maldon – is that OK with you? Yes, Maldon will be fine, they say. Hmmm. When did the building community get to be so demanding?

This is the official pic as I didn't take a pic of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

This is the official pic as I didn’t take one of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

Thankfully my next catering experience was for my friend C. She makes cakes for a living, award winning cakes at that. And she also caters for parties, and is able to tell good from bad, so I want to do something nice. I opted for a favourite dish inspired by Ben Tish, which he made on Saturday Kitchen some time ago: chorizo stuffed squid. Waitrose serve a really good baby squid on their fish counter which is just begging to be stuffed with chorizo. The only issue is that it needs to be cooking chorizo which is not so readily available, but I had been up in London earlier on in the week and had the ideal one from Brindisa. Once stuffed, you fry off with new potatoes, peas, sage, garlic, capers, lemon and I add onion before serving with a home-made aioli. Leftovers went to the builder, who proclaimed it marvellous and asked for the recipe so it must have been good.

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At the end of the week I had my Spanish friend over and was certainly not going down the tapas route with her. So I adapted a couple of recipes that I love and had a great excuse to work with some kitchen items I love too, including my favourite Anthropologie rolling pin which is rarely aired and my Nom Living fluted quiche mould.

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Crab and saffron tart was crossed with Rose Bakery’s quiche mixture to good conclusions. I used good quality tinned crabmeat (which is always worth having in the larder), and replaced the tomato sauce base with fresh Isle of Wight tomatoes as they are so wonderful at the moment. I also infused some of the cream in my favourite copper saucepan (thanks Mum and Dad) with loads more saffron than the recipe to get that incredible Summery yellow infusion that went in the egg & cream mixture. I had wanted to make the Rose Bakery quiches ever since I saw them featured on Russell Norman’s The Restaurant Man. The show is no longer available but this clip of Kate & Alex in Paris is the bit I was inspired by.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

The outcome was an indulgent lunch but truly yummy served with a simple salad and Mum’s classic vinaigrette dressing. I made it with a dollop of the leftover aioli to add a bit of garlicky zing and it was just perfect.

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My friends are so wonderful that they come with presents for me as well. So now I am looking at the most wonderful bunch of flowers and a cluster of gifts from Barcelona. The oil pourer reminds me so much of the traditional Spain I went to as a kid and I am told I have to treat the outside base of the bowl by rubbing with garlic to seal it which is the tradition. Once done, I can discover new recipes from my Catalan cookbook, hopefully including these nuts.

Casa Gispert - a treasure trove to discover

Casa Gispert – a treasure trove to discover

They are from a tiny shop called Casa Gispert in El Born, Barcelona, which specialises in nuts and fruits. You see them come in, get roasted in the same wood oven they have used there since 1851 and then weighed and sold out the front. Such a fabulous shop that was recommended to me by my Spanish friend who is from Barcelona. These sorts of places are only known by locals so remember this one and look it up if you are ever there.

It has been a lovely food week and my house is now rendered to perfection. Bring on another week.