Whether we are at home in our fancy kitchen or in the motorhome at the side of the road in Europe we still like to eat well. Opening a can of beans to heat up for dinner was never going to be an option for me, all be it some of the recipes were a little trickier to make in the motorhome, lack of space, equipment and knowing that we had to use the gas sparingly at times, all had to using your imagination. And if we are at a house sit I would make some of the recipes and freeze them use at a later date. So here are some of the delicious recipes I hope you enjoy them.

Tomato soup

Ingredients 

  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 chilli (red)
  • 8 cups of halved tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 cups veg stock 

Method

  • Roast veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper. 
  • When cooked transfer to a blender and add one cup of veg stock and blend. 
  • Add more stock until you reach desired consistency. 
  • Season with salt and pepper

Popcorn panna cotta 

Ingredients 

  • 400ml double cream
  • 200ml milk 
  • 140g toffee popcorn, plus a little to serve
  • 2 gelatine leaves
  • 4 tbsp caramel
     

Method

  • Pour the cream and milk into a large pan, add the popcorn and bring to a gentle simmer, pushing the popcorn under the liquid and squashing gently on the bottom of the pan. 
  • Bubble for 1 min, then remove from the heat, transfer to a jug and chill for at least 6 hrs, or preferably overnight.
  • Strain the popcorn cream back into a clean pan and gently reheat, discarding the remaining bits of popcorn. 
  • Meanwhile, place the gelatine leaves in cold water to soften for 3-5 mins. When the popcorn cream is steaming and the gelatine is soft, remove it from the water and squeeze out any excess drops. Place in the hot popcorn cream and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool a little.
  • Mix the caramel with the sea salt – start with 1/4 tsp, taste, then add more if you think it needs it. Divide the salted caramel between 2 glasses or pots. Pour the popcorn cream on top and chill for at least 2 hrs, or overnight.
  • Serve each pot topped with a few pieces of toffee popcorn and enjoy!

Oaty crumble mix

Oaty crumble and ice cream
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g rolled oats 
  • 100g butter 
  • 50g Demerara sugar
  • Fruit of your choice

Method 

  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 
  • Put the flour, oats, butter and sugar in a bowl, rub together with your fingers into a crumble texture.
  • Meanwhile prepare chosen fruit 
  • Sprinkle crumble mix over the fruit, and place in the oven until golden and  bubbling. 
  • Leave for 5 mins before serving with ice cream or custard.

Damson Brandy

Damson Brandy and Vodka

Ingredients 

  • 500g damsons 
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1l bottle brandy or Vodka

Method

  • Rinse and pick over the damsons to remove any leaves and stalks, then pat dry.
  • Pour the damsons into a sterilised  2-litre Kilner jar, or divide between 2 smaller jars.
  • Pour in the sugar then add either brandy or vodka and put the lid on. Shake well. Each day for a week, give the jar a good shake until all the sugar has dissolved, then put it in a cool, dark place and leave for 2-3 months.
  • Strain the Damson brandy then decant into clean, dry bottles, seal and label. The brandy is now ready to drink but will mature with time.

Cycling flapjacks 

Ingredients 

  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g rolled jumbo oats
  • 40g dried fruit or nuts

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas Mark 4 / 350ºF. 
  • In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until butter and sugar have melted. Stir in the oats, dried fruit and nuts of your choice 
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden in colour
  • Remove from oven cut into squares then leave to cool before removing from tin. 
  • Will store in a tin for about a week

These flapjacks are great at providing quick, easy energy during a long bike ride or delicious with a cup of tea. 

Italian Capricciosa salad (Insalata capricciosa) 

This is a classic Italian salad that contains crispy salad leaves with cubed bell peppers, celery, ham and cheese and everything is dressed with a creamy mayo-yogurt dressing. Legend has it that this salad was designed in medieval times to please even the pickiest of noble ladies (the name capricciosa means picky lady).

Ingredients (serves 1-2)

• 2 handfuls of lettuce 

• 50 g celery 

• 50 g bell peppers

• 25 g cheese

• 25 g ham

• 3 tablespoons yogurt

• 2 tablespoons mayo

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put the salad leaves in the serving bowl. Dice the celery and bell peppers into small cubes. Then cube the ham and cheese placing them on top of the salad.

In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing on just before serving. 

I think this freshly home-made version is the best. 

Earl Grey Tea loaf

  • 175g currants
  • 175g sultanas 
  • 300m hot Earl Grey tea
  • 275g self raising flour
  • 225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • butter, for greasing, plus extra to serve

Method

  • Put the currants and sultanas in a bowl and pour over the hot tea. Stir, cover and leave to soak overnight for the liquid to absorb.
  • Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 3½. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Add the flour, sugar and egg to the bowl of soaked fruit (if there is a little excess liquid this is fine) and mix thoroughly. 
  • Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 1¾ hours, or until the cake is risen and just firm to the touch, but check it after 1¼ hours to see how it is doing. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. 
  • Turn out the cake and remove the paper. To serve, cut into slices and spread with butter

I like this recipe because the dried fruit that has 

been soaked overnight in Earl the Grey tea is nice a plump and full of flavour. After that it’s a quick stir-together job and a couple of hours later, Voila , the perfect tea loaf. A fruity tea also makes a great alternative to Earl grey. 

Chicken Marengo Serves 4

Ingredients 

1 tbsp olive oil

300g  mushrooms, halved

4 chicken legs or breast with the skin removed

500g of either homemade or shop bought passata

Herbs and garlic (optional)

1 chicken stock cube

100g pitted black kalamata olive

chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and stir-fry the mushrooms until they start to soften. Add the chicken legs and cook briefly on each side to brown them a little.
  • Pour in the passata, crumble in the stock cube and stir in the olives. Season with black pepper – you shouldn’t need salt. Cover and simmer for 40 mins until the chicken is tender. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with pasta and a salad, or mash and green veg.

Damson Jam

Ingredients 

  • 2.75kg damsons
  • 2.25kg jam sugar

Method

  • Place a saucer or small plate in the freezer and sterilise your jars and lids.
  • To sterilise jars and lids, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well, then dry in a low oven and leave to cool. Alternatively, use the hottest cycle in a recently cleaned dishwasher
  • Depending on size of jars you should roughly have enough Jam for 2-3 jars
  • You can either Stone the damsons before by slicing with a knife or remove after
  • Put the damsons in a preserving pan or large saucepan with 300ml of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes until soft.
  • Stir in the jam sugar and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil and boil for about 15 minutes, then take off the heat.
  • To test for the setting point, spoon a little jam the chilled saucer, then freeze for 2 minutes. Push your finger through it. If it wrinkles and isn’t runny, it’s ready. If it doesn’t wrinkle, return to the heat and boil for 2-3 minutes more, then re-test. Repeat the test until ready.
  • Take off the heat and cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile remove as many of the stones as you can with a teaspoon
  • Give the Jam a good stir then ladle into warm sterilised jars. Cover immediately with waxed discs and lids, label and date. The Jam should keep in a cool dry place for months,

When we arrive in the Dordogne we are lucky to find a Damson tree just along the road from where we are house sitting. Normally in season during the months of August and September they can be eaten off the tree when they are fully ripe and sweet. Damsons are fantastic in jams but can also be used in sauces to accompany sweet and savoury dishes.

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