Apart from long walks (some sunny, some rainy), a spectacular Sunday Roast at The Potting Shed Pub in Wiltshire and lazy evenings by the fire in a charming Landmark Trust house near Tetbury, we managed to fit in a masterclass and sign many, many books.
...and to all of you (and others) who were brave enough to come and see us cooking scallops at 9am on a Bank Holiday weekend, here are the recipes (all serving 4):
Tiger prawns, scallops and clams with tomato and feta
250ml white wine
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
600g tinned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
200g tiger prawns, peeled and de-vained
200g large scallops, cleaned
120g feta, broken into chunks
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper
Place the wine in a medium saucepan and reduce to 1 quarter. Add the clams, cover immediately with a lid, and cook for about 2 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the clams open. Transfer to a fine sieve to drain, keeping the cooking juices. Remove the clams out of their shells, keeping just a few in the shells to finish the dish.
Set the oven to 220ºC.
Cook the garlic in the oil for about a minute, until golden. Carefully add the tomatoes, clam liquids, sugar, oregano and some salt and pepper. Shave off 3 lemon skin strips, add them and simmer gently until the sauce thickens well, about 20-25 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.
Add the prawns and scallops, stir gently and cook for just a minute or two. Fold in the shelled clams and transfer everything to an ovenproof dish. Sink feta pieces inside the sauce and sprinkle with spring onion. Top with some clams in their shells and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the top colours a little and prawns and scallops are just cooked.
Remove the dish from the oven, squeeze a little lemon juice on top and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
140g wholemeal flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
140g Greek yoghurt
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp clarified butter (or a mixture of melted butter and vegetable oil)
Combine all the ingredients, apart from the butter, in a bowl and use your hands to mix them together to a dry dough; add more flour if needed. Knead the dough for a minute or so, until it is smooth and uniform. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
When ready to make the flatbreads, divide your dough into six pieces. Roll into balls, then flatten them with a rolling pin into round discs about 2mm thick. Heat some clarified butter in a non-stick pan and fry the flatbreads, one at a time, on a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Add more butter as you need it and keep the flatbreads warm as they are cooked.
Burnt aubergine with tahini and pomegranate
2 large aubergines
140g tahini paste
1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
30g chopped parsley
6 mini cucumbers (360g in total)
180g cherry tomatoes
Seeds from 1 large pomegranate (180g)
Olive oil to finish
Salt and black pepper
To cook the aubergines on a gas hob, which is the most effective way, start by lining the area around the hob heads with foil to protect them. Put the aubergines directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12–15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don’t catch fire. For an electric cooker, pierce the aubergines with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot grill for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The aubergines need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break.
When cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the blackened skin. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.
Chop the aubergine flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper; mix well with a whisk. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice or molasses if needed. You want the salad to have a robust sour/slightly sweet flavour.
Cut the cucumbers lengthways in half and then each half lengthways in two. Cut each quarter into 1cm long pieces. Halve the tomatoes. Stir them and the cucumber into the aubergine mix.
To serve, spread over a shallow dish, scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and drizzle with oil.
Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio and mixed herbs
35g unsalted butter
350g basmati rice
550ml boiling water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp saffron threads
40g dry barberries
2 tsp caster sugar
30g chopped dill
20g chopped chervil
10g chopped tarragon
60g slivered pistachios, lightly toasted
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the rice, making sure the grains are well coated in butter. Add the boiling water, salt and white pepper, mix well, cover with a tight lid and leave to cook on minimum heat for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the saffron in 3 tablespoons of boiling water and set aside. Throw the barberries and sugar into a small saucepan of boiling water, remove from the heat and leave on the side.
Next, remove the rice pan from the heat and pour the saffron water over the surface of the rice. Cover the pan immediately with a tea towel and place the lid tightly over the towel. Leave for 5 minutes.
Finally, transfer the rice into a mixing bowl, fluff it up with a fork and let it cool down a bit. Drain the barberries and stir them into the rice along with the herbs and most of the pistachios, reserving some to scatter on top when serving. The rice is delicious warm or at room temperature.