Recipe | Chocolate caramel brownies


 Tackling picnics…

“There is something a little unusual we would like you to do this time Philippa”
“Oh, yes?” Thought I, not entirely sure what my client was going to ask.

For the last few years I have been booked to make the journey to the boating heaven of Itchenor and prepare a post shoot dinner, arm the client with a selection of dinner party dishes they can whip out from the freezer when needed over the coming year and cook for a few casual family dinners.


“We have been invited to THE Rugby on Saturday, we would like a pre match tailgate picnic.”
“THE Rugby”? Thought I, quickly trying to remember which match that might be.


Part of the fun as a private chef is being exposed to so many different worlds. I have learnt more about the finance sector, the fashion industry, the art world, a bit on taxidermy, and a lot more on Scottish estates than I ever expected. I have found it useful and interesting to do a bit of homework on these varied matters hence my monthly diverse reading material ranges from Tatler to the FT and may include riveting reads like A Practical Guide to Algorithmic Strategies and Trading Systems and The Grouse in health and disease (ok the last two are still sitting by the bed). Rugby I am ashamed to say I know very little about.

The plan was to drive to Twickenham, find somewhere nice to dine then off they would go to the match and then later that night we would return home in a state of celebration or misery (sadly we all know how the story ends).

The picnic was a complete success despite on the way up a few anxious calls to those with local knowledge as to where we should have the picnic. There were good suggestions like a secluded little green patch they knew on the river bank by the Thames and less good ones like the local sports club car park or a friends driveway. We ended up in Bushy park , Richmond. The sun was almost ready for setting, the night was barmy warm for an October evening and the numerous stags who were rutting provided an unusual soundtrack to our al fresco dinner.

Within minutes tables, chairs, table cloths and hampers had been unloaded from the Landrover, champagne corks had been popped and the feasting had begun. The pre-rugby picnic menu read as follows:

Crab on toast with lemon, parsley and chilli
Smoked salmon pate with crudités
Cheese pastry swirls

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with cabbage, caraway, pine nut and yogurt salad, hummus, chilli sauce and flat breads.
Lobster brioche rolls

Chocolate caramel brownies
Fruit Kebabs

I wasn’t quite sure of the precedent for a pre match picnic. Would it be like the ones at Glyndebourne where everyone tries to out do each other with candelabras and gulls eggs or would it be more a case of just making sure they eat some wholesome nosh as the nights can get a little wild at such events. I opted to go on the elaborate side. Personally I think if you are going to make the effort to go on a proper picnic you might as well go all-out on the food. Choose a few dishes you can tuck into straight away with the welcoming drinks and then maybe something like a chunk of meat that can be theatrically carved at the table.

Passers by certainly were impressed with our spread and unfortunately so were their dogs with the slow cooked lamb bone, we even diverted the attention of a stag for a few moments before he spied his lady deer conquest across the park.

Picnic successfully consumed and the merriment underway the clients headed off to the match. We all now know what happened within the next few hours in the sad part of this tale but I wasn’t sure how bad they would take it and how moods would be for the journey back home.


To help cheer things up I had at the ready trays of home made sausage rolls, glasses in the side doors and wine at the ready. This coupled with an impromptu Queen’s Greatest Hits sing along and an education in Pink Floyd led to a very entertaining and fun ride home. For the record, I was driving and was stone cold sober but in full voice nevertheless!
So overall the day was a great a success and greatly enjoyed by our party. Yes we may have lost the rugby but we certainly did it in style.

This postcard recipe is for my chocolate caramel brownies, damp and with a serious chocolate kick they will theoretically keep for at least 4 days, that’s if you can resist.

This week

Every home should have : a hamper

I’m driving: a BMW X5 and a Landrover

I’m loving : Royal park picnicking

I’m learning: about Pink Floyd

Dogs who tried to join picnic: 5

Owners who tried to join picnic :3

Chocolate Caramel brownies

Makes 12 squares
line a 20 x 20 cm brownie tin with baking parchment
250g 70% dark chocolate
250g salted butter
250g soft light brown sugar
4 organic eggs
1 tbs coco powder
130g plain flour
3 packs of Rolos

pre heat the oven to 170°
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
With an electric mixer whisk the eggs and sugar together till thickened and at least doubled in volume ( 4 – 5 mins).
Fold the egg mix into the chocolate then fold in the coco powder and flour.
Poutr into the tin and scatter with the Rolos.
Bake on a low shelf for 30 – 40 mins (you want the slightest of wobbles in the centre to make sure they remain moist.
Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares.
You can take them out a little earlier from the oven then pop in the fridge for a few hours if you like your brownies to have a very fudge like texture.

Next stop, the Land of Macbeth…..

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Recipe | Spiced banana cake with maple syrup and honey


Caught between a midge and …

Within minutes of arriving at the lodge in the Highlands I was faced with a dilemma.  It reminded me of the funny quandary questions children often ask like:


Would you rather be chased by a herd of angry elephants or a pack of hungry wolves? Or would you rather have to run 100 miles carrying a bicycle or swim 100 miles wearing roller skates and a riding hat etc.


My choice was:

Would I rather be eaten alive by midges or keep the kitchen window shut and practically boil alive in my Autumn attire.

I took my chances with the midges for a bit until we had regulated the inside temperature but with them being particularly ferocious this year I wonder in hindsight maybe I should have just got back into my summer kit despite being in the Highlands in late September and it exposing more flesh to midge attack.


I used to have a sure fire way of avoiding midge bites, which was to slap on Avon Skin So Soft every morning – as recommended by the Army and anyone used to being Summer / Autumn savvy in Scotland.  I was put off however when I fairly recently lent out a bottle to have it quickly returned suggesting that it wasn’t the best thing to put on oneself, as it smelt of oil used by strippers.  I didn’t enquire further…

My week in Scotland was cooking for a party of stalkers.  Having done a fair few of these kind of jobs now, I felt I knew the drill.  Big cooked breakfasts, groaning table spread of hams and cheeses, buns and sweets to take as pieces on the hill, afternoon tea consisting of freshly baked cakes and lashings of tea served by roaring fires and a hearty evening meal to help refuel after their 7 hour day stalking up, down and across mountain and moor.


Everything was as expected, accept for the breakfasts. In the entire week I didn’t make one traditional cooked breakfast.  There were boiled eggs galore, a really delicious quinoa style porridge that I was inspired to make with almond milk, toasted nuts, grated pear and orange soaked raisons, a few American style pancakes, 2 kippers and 1 round of eggs benedict, but no requests for sausages / bacon  / mushrooms etc.  I guess this really shows that even in the most traditional of set ups peoples tastes, ideas and approach to food really are changing.


Stalking – the managed and selective shooting of deer – is generally seen as part of the essential management of a healthy and sustainable deer herd.  With no natural predators numbers must be kept in balance with what the delicate habitat can support. As deer are prolific breeders numbers can quickly grow to the point where, unchecked, they will cause significant crop, tree and flora damage as they expand their range to seek out food sources especially in the winter months when starvation sets in due to excess numbers. Maintaining the size, balance and welfare of the herd proportionate to what the hill can naturally support is the objective of any good sporting estate and this takes much effort, skill and expenditure to achieve which is partly offset by the revenues generated from stalking.


The stalkers or ghillie  (the persons accompanying the guest up the hill) job is to lead the party (generally of one or two ) to within range of the animal so it can be safely and cleanly shot.  They have to know which ones are eligible for shooting, often the older or weaker ones, and get themselves into a safe position so a clean and successful shot can be taken.   This can mean walking and crawling for hours in what may seem the wrong direction so no one is seen and the wind doesn’t carry the stalkers scent and alert the deer/stag.


With such full-on days you can see why it is so important on these weeks to be well fed.  The hills are super steep, the weather can be hot, cold, misty or raining (possibly all of them within the hour when in Scotland), and there is only one way up and down and that is by foot.


Afternoon tea is one of the best moments for me as I love it when the guests arrive back rosy cheeked, exhilarated and exhausted from the day but when they see the roaring fire, hot pots of tea and big slices of cake, massive smiles of delight break out and the stories from the day’s adventures begin.


For this postcard recipe I would like to share one of my current favorite afternoon tea treats, a spiced banana and maple syrup cake.

 This week

Stags shot : 1

I’m driving: a VW Passat estate  – favourite hire car I have had, there is a little tiger in the engine and its as smooth as a peach to drive BUT sadly their turns out o be a devil in the exhaust.

Cooked breakfasts eaten: 0 (!?!?%@**)

I’ve learnt: 1724 tonic is the cream of the crop when it comes to a perfect G and T.

Every lodge should have: at least 2 roaring fires.

The in vogue gift for your host: home grown veg.


Banana cake with maple syrup and honey

 For me this is the perfect banana cake, not too sweet, hints of spice and not too dense.

 3 ripe bananas peeled

2 tbs orange or apple juice

130g room temperature salted butter

2 free range  / organic eggs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ nutmeg – grated

2 tbs maple syrup

100g soft brown sugar

250g SR flour


Pre heat the oven to 170 ° C

Grease and line a 1 ltr loaf tin.

 In a free standing mixer beat the bananas till mushed, add the juice, butter, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, syrup and sugar and beat for a couple of minutes.

 Stop the mixer. Scrape down the sides then beat for another minute.

 Stop it again, add all the flour in one go and then beat on a low speed for 1 minute and the mixture is totally combined.

 Scoop the batter into the loaf tin and bake on the centre shelf for 40  – 50 mins or a cake skewer comes out clean.


Next stop,  I’m making a pre rugby match feast at Twickenham, Australia vs. England.


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Recipe | Grilled Goats cheese salad with beetroot, figs and mint


 Uzès charm from every door.


On the wild off-chance you didn’t spend your childhood watching My Fair Lady,             “Oozing charm from every pore” is a line from one of Professor Higgins’ numbers. I would heartily recommend the movie if you haven’t seen it in a while and enjoy a good sing along. This tune was not however what I have just spent the week listening to…


I arrived to the Languedoc region in the South of France to one of the small but very pretty villages just outside Uzés, a day before my clients. This doesn’t often happen but I have to say it was a change not having to do a mad first dash to the shops and get supper on the table for a gaggle of hungry people within 3 hours of landing (though of course those circumstances are not without their great elements of fun). The job was to cook for a group of friends that had been holidaying for a week together for the last 16 years.


With no one in the house for the first 12 hours it occurred to me I could have carte blanche on the sound system. I then discovered that there was no internet and only 3 cds to choose from. Still with Frank, Abba and Mr Morrison to keep me company while I got the prep underway and laid the table ready for the guest’s arrival the time flew by.


As the week went by it rather amused me that by the last day at some point or other all of the guests had commented on how much I must like Frank Sinatra.

I finally replied to the host that yes I do like Frank but there are only 3 cds to choose from.

“What about the big shelf of them by the cupboard?” she replied.

“@**@!!!!, I thought, I clearly missed that but on the up side I can now sing his top 20 hits off by heart.

Fortunately I was much more on the ball when it came to the food.


After morning one, I made an executive decision to change alliance from the local bakery to the one in the adjoining village due to distressingly below par croissants. I find it a slightly dream shattering reality that this is the third bad bakery I’ve come across this year in France and find it hard to believe that the locals haven’t started a riot. Actually in two of the cases the bread was still very good so perhaps locals don’t really eat croissants and only care about their daily baguette.


I have learnt that in France between the hours of 7 am – and 8 30 am, when most people do their bread run, that there are no rules on the road within 50 m each way of the boulungere -park wherever you like in which ever direction, and not to worry about blocking people in or cutting them off, as what is important is that we all get our morning fix of dough.


As for the Markets I felt totally on form as not only did I triumph in buying the most beautiful stashes of chanterllles mushrooms but I am also proud to announce I feel I have truly mastered the art of beating the elderly female French shoppers at their own game. Let me explain.


Picture the scene, a bustling charming southern French market, the sun is hopefully shooting bursts of dappled light through the plain trees onto the various tables and boxes of local goodies. I am there early with the locals (golden rule number one of market shopping) and am standing in line, probably wearing a bright summer dress and some oversized earrings. I wait till it is fairly my turn to place my order or pay and then some little old French lady behind me barges me out the way with their boney elbow, jumps the queue and has the bravado to give me a glass shattering death stare. Well not any more, I now dodge that arm, always make sure I make firm friendly yet assertive eye contact with the stallholder and stand my ground. This has totally worked out and so now all I have to put up with is the old French ladies tutting that I am buying the very item they wanted and that they don’t have all day. In response I bat them off with my perfected French style shrug.

(This is all said with true affection as I very much hope to be as canny as these feisty old ladies in years to come).


As for the cuisine, the star dish of the week may not have been the luscious chaneterlles cheese and lardon omelettes, or the chilli prawn linguini they couldn’t stop eating and possibly not even the vervaine and pistachio praline ice cream it was probably (according to the owner) his home grown grapes.


He had a point, they were perfectly ripe, very juicy and sweet, and so successful this year we all wondered about turning the land (as it happens a similar size to Petrus) into a vineyard…we shall watch that space!

In the Languedoc it is around now the farmers are harvesting their grapes for wine making and eating and at the markets I noted there were some amazing sweet and delicious varieties on offer that are well worth looking out for in your local shops back in the UK. We all noted that similar to strawberries although you can buy grapes all year round there are only certain times of year they are truly worth serving.

With several days of heavy rain we all wondered what it might do to this months harvest. After much research (well actually I just sent an email to my good friend at the amazing Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants in Mere) I learnt that,

“A little rain at harvest time isn’t a major problem in a good, ripe vintage (which this one is, by all accounts) but continued and lengthy rain at harvest time would cause the grapes to swell and even split, allowing such problems as mildew, mould and other nasty things to attack and destroy the grapes. In short rain isn’t good at “vendange” time.”
The weather did turn for the better mid week so I will await with interest what this years harvest brings.

After much feasting, festivity and a few al fresco lunches the week ended all to quickly. On my way back to Montpellier airport I reflected on the dishes I cooked and which one I would like to do for this postcard recipe. Initially tempted by the bouillabaisse which went down rather well I have finally decided on the goats cheese crostini, beetroot, fig and mint salad that I had to stand my ground for to buy the ingredients.

This week:

Home grown grapes picked and eaten: 176

I’m driving: a Fiat 500 L, it’s ok but I expected more power for this ‘super sized’ version.

Every home should have: their own vines (and more than 3 cds).

We are making the most of: the last of the summer peaches and tomatoes.

Grilled goats cheese salad with beetroot, fig and mint.

A major part of my job is knowing how to shop, by this I particularly mean being aware of the seasons and local specialties. When you see something that looks extra special at the market it is always worth buying and then deciding what you want to do with it. When I saw these goat’s cheeses and a tray of what I knew would be the last of this summers figs, that night’s starter just fell in to place.

Serves 4

1 small raw beetroot

4 slices of bagette

2 rounds of goats cheese (a tangy one works well with the sweetness of the figs but creamy is also delicious).

1 tbs olive oil

4 ripe figs (green or black) cut in half.

12 mint leaves

1 head of chicory split into leaves

2 tbs pomegranate seeds ( ours was pockled which made them extra sweet)

For the beetroot dressing

1 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tbs olive oil

For the salad dressing

1 tbs white wine vinegar

2 tbs olive oil

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To make the beetroot dressing:

Whisk the vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper

Then the honey and finally the olive oil.

To make the salad dressing

Whisk the vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then whisk in the olive oil.

Turn the grill on medium

Peel and thinly slice the beetroot, use a mandolin if you have one, then toss through the beetroot dressing. Leave this to one side while you

Smear the goats cheese on top of the sliced pieces of baguette, drizzle with a little of the extra olive oil and place under the grill for a couple of minutes till they are bubbling and golden on top.

Toss the chicory, mint and figs through the salad dressing then layer on a plate with the beetroot and goats cheese toasts, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.


Next stop, the Wyvis Estate in the Scottish Highlands…

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Recipe | Fried ceps with baked polenta and gruyere


Did I ‘over cep’ the mark?

The week was not as planned. My diary had me in the dramatic depths of wild Scotland cooking for my first grouse shoot of the season, slapping on the mosquito spray and cooking up a variety of game themed feasts. Tweed cap, puffy jacket, gloves and various layers were ready to be packed.

With a last minute change due to lack of grouse reality had me in the bucolic rural Gascony countryside cooking mostly vegetarian food, slapping on the sun cream, darting round the prettiest of French markets and swimming in a magnificent lake.


I will save the sad tale of what’s happening in the grouse world for a future postcard. As for now it’s all about the gastronomic delights of Gascony.

The job was to cook for a family and their friends just west of Toulouse. Despite the area being the home of cassoulet and famous for its duck and foie gras my brief was to focus mainly on vegetarian food. This turned out to be an extremely delightful and easy request to fulfil as the markets at this time of year in this part of the world have an impressive over lap of summer and autumn ingredients. My main joy however was that I had arrived in time for the very start of Cep season, that wonderful mushroom so abundant in these parts.


Ceps as they are called in France or Porcini as they are called in Italy ( meaning piglets) or Stienpilz as they are called in Germany (meaning stone mushroom) or to be ultra highbrow Boletus edulis in Latin are mycorrhizal. Meaning they have a symbiotic relationship with the plant roots they grow around, this in turn means they are pretty hard to cultivate so have to be wild and foraged.


Not having to do breakfasts I had the chance to go every morning to a different local market in the various medieval towns, all of which seemed more idyllic then the last. Perfectly charming covered squares, roofed with tiles and supported by large wooden beams, bustling with locals doing their weekly shop and catching up on gossip over their morning pastry and coffee.


At every market I would be drawn towards the cep seller and couldn’t help but buy a few. By the end of the week I had managed to slip them into most of the meals but as they are so special I don’t think anyone minded. My personal favourite was serving them roasted whole with butter and garlic with frites and rocket on the side although this postcard recipe of ceps with baked polenta Gruyere and butter was another triumph.


Mid way through the stint I was given the chance to take the journey back into Toulouse to shop at the famous Victor Hugo market, the city’s culinary pride. Knowing that you have to be there bright and early to get the best I set off just before the sun was casting its first light over the many sunflower fields and arrived into the city in what I thought was good time.   I dashed straight to the market to find half of the stalls still shut and the other half leisurely getting out their wares. According to the internet and guidebooks this place should have already been open for 3 hours, according to them they were still enjoying their morning coffee and paper.   When the market finally was up and running (about 10 am) it was impressive. Besides the market itself the surrounding streets are dotted with more gastronomic genius, there is Xavier – one of France’s best cheese shops and Olivier, apparently one of the oldest and best chocolatiers in France – though as they were on their two month summer vacation I am yet to form my own opinion.


The main event of the week was the client’s end of summer party. With mainly vegetarian dishes requested the menu read as follows:



Watermelon margarita


Crispy prawns with chilli and mint

Pea and feta fried pastry with garden mint yogurt

Speck, chateau honey and ricotta


Fried ceps with baked polenta, butter and parmesan

Grilled aubergine and pepper salad with garlic and Bandol vinegar dressing

Baked squash with pomegranates, tahini and tabbouleh

Green fig and tomato salad with pinenut and green herb dressing

Roast potatoes with rosemary

Roast fillet of beef


Summer pudding with vanilla cream

Chocolate roulade

Cheese board



It was a beautiful evening and from the cocktails to the obligatory cep dish and the chocolate roulade (amusingly/cheekily billed as a cousin of the artic ‘swiss roll’) to the cheese board everyone had a rather jolly time.


When not at a market or in the kitchen I was encouraged to take a swim in the beautiful pea green lake. So after lunch had been cleared away and supper prep was under control I took myself down for a cooling dip. I happily jumped in and leisurely swam out to the raft in the centre. Surrounded by the tranquil setting of weeping willows, woods, fig trees and lines of apple trees I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was until… I heard the most enormous splash from the other side of the expanse of water. After the initial surprise I rationally thought it could only be one of two things.

  • A child throwing something into the lake then hiding to tease me


  • Mr Darcy

With only one way back to shore I swam back keeping half an eye out for movements in the water not made by me. On return to the house I learnt I had in fact only being sharing the lake with otters and giant carp – harmless!


I did have to slightly force myself back in the next day and was fine until I heard again that giant splash. I turned in time to see the body of a large fish submerge into the water. Harmless or not it did wonders for improving my time in my swim back to the shore.


This week

I’ driving: Landrover and a Citroen with an impressive tardis like boot.

I’m in: Equestrian heaven

Dishes cooked with ceps: 9

Attacks by giant carp: 0

Encounters with Mr Darcy: 0

Every home should have: a lake

Job high: no Ketchup required

Job low: not knowing what lurks in the lake.


Fried ceps with wet polenta and Gruyere


This would make a great starter although I used it as part of the feast for their end of summer party.

For polenta sceptics just try it and think of it as a vehicle for butter and cheese and then make your minds up.


Serves 6 as a starter

For the baked polenta

200g Polenta

1 litre whole Milk

150g Gruyere plus extra

3 Egg yolks

150 g Butter


For the Ceps

800g Ceps approx 4 /5 large mushrooms sliced fairly thick.

50g butter

2 tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 tsb finely chopped parsley


Place the polenta in a jug (this helps with the pouring).

Heat the milk in a heavy based saucepan, just before boiling pour in the polenta in a steady stream whisking continuously.


Stirring constantly, cook on a low heat until no longer grainy in texture – the quick cook usually takes about 5 minutes and the proper stuff takes about 50 mins.

Then add 100g Gruyere, the egg yolks and 100g of the butter. Stir well.

Pour onto a tray and leave to cool and then place in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.

Pre heat the oven to 180 ° C.

In a wide frying pan melt the butter with the olive oil, when hot add the chopped ceps, fry for a minute then add the garlic. Fry till you just start to smell the garlic ( about 1 minute) then take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir through the parsley.

Cut the chilled polenta into shapes and lay slightly overlapping in a lightly buttered baking dish, top with the fried ceps, extra cheese and butter.


Bake for 15 mins.

Serve hot.


Next stop… Lisbon.



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Climb every mountain


Climb every mountain…

If one felt so inclined (or capable) the area surrounding St Remy de Provence is perfect for getting on a bike and busting up some crazily steep hills and mountains. Numerous cyclists of all ages get up early to miss the blazing sun and test their endurance to reach the tops. My week was spent in a state of perseverance, determination and effort… on the tennis court.

Though of course my main focus was the food.


Cooking here is always a pleasure and ideas come easily due to the mass of perfect produce available. There are few places I have been that can match the abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables. The peaches are always juicy and for lack of a better description ‘ peachy’, the cherries are shiny and sweet, the figs fleshy and perfect, the Provençal Rosé is famous for good reason and the olive oil is so good you sometimes need nothing else to finish a simple salad.


Having been here at various times of year I am always impressed with how seasonal the shops and markets are and noted how that one day the boxes of tumbling cherries suddenly stopped appearing. Season over. The sadness was only eased by the appearance of the next ingredient coming in – the most extraordinary green figs.


The working day started early with the bread run to the local bolangerie. It wasn’t the closest of the bakeries but my alliances had to change when we noted that the croissants at our local now lacked that flaky butteryness our morning cafes demanded. Our new bakery of choice was clearly the towns favourite as there was always an impressive queue of people by 7:30 , 95% of whom were French. There was then the food shop dash where I have started to play ‘spot the private chef’ as there seemed to be a collection of us down there (if you ever want to play look out for extensive shopping lists, speedy trolley manoeuvres, skills at catching the fishmongers eyes at 50 yards and speed packing). Lunch was long and chatty then siestas and swims were had before the evening amusements began.


With long warm evenings (I promise I’m not trying to rub it in for those of you back in Blighty where I understand you have had an abundance of wet stuff fall from the sky) dinners were served later in the evenings. This was also due to the fact that the clients and chef were battling it out on the tennis court. An improved performance was hoped by all from last year and rumour had it that one of us had taken time off work just to get in extra practice.


Culinary highlights of the week included a fig, honey and mascarpone tart and this postcard recipe of grilled aubergine and tomato salad with anchovy and lime dressing.


This Week

I’m driving: A Nissan Note – zippier than expected but easily bullied by the Mistrals.

Tennis game victories: 1

Tennis game defeats: too ashamed to say.

Every home should have: a collection French grey table linen

We are drinking: Angelina and Brads Rosé

Espressos drunk: 124 (not all be me but I had my fair share).

Skin tone: has turned from blanched almond to lightly toasted.

Mountains climbed: 0 (unless you count success in getting children to eat new vegetables).



Grilled tomato, aubergine and olive salad with anchovy and lime dressing

This has been my favourite new salad this summer, the anchovy should be very subtle and only add base notes rather than dominate the flavours. It is a perfect BBQ salad.

Serves 4 as a side

3 aubergines

4 large tomatoes

1 salted anchovy, rinsed, deboned and finely chopped

1 lime

2 tsp sherry vinegar

4 tbs pitted green olives

3 tbs olive oil

20g coriander finely chopped (stalks and leaves)

1- 3 dried chillies, crushed (depending on how hot you like it)


Light the BBQ, when the coals are grey with ash grill the whole aubergines on all sides until soft (this will take about 10 minutes and the outside will look a bit burnt and the inside will be soft). Place in a colander over a bowl to cool and drain.

Grill the whole tomatoes till just blacked all over.

In a large bowl whisk the anchovy with the zest and juice of the lime, the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add the coriander and olives. Season with salt, pepper and the dried chilli.

Peel the skin from the aubergines and tomatoes and roughly chop (adding any tomato juice in to the dressing). Mix into the dressing and leave to mingle for at least 20 mins

Serve at room temperature as part of your BBQ spread.


 Bags packed and my adieux said I am now heading west to Gascony …


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Recipe | Romesco sauce


Nobody expected the Spanish expadition  …

I double read the last minute email from my client, just in case I had misread it,

“ By the way, did we mention we are off to Ibiza? Have sorted your flights, hope that’s fine.”

‘Super fine! I thought, who doesn’t like an unexpected trip to Spain?


For those not in the know or who have preconceived ideas about Ibiza let me tell you it is an island packed full of beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, swarms of super yachts, prides of cool people and of course a club or two.


If you have ever bought an item of clothing, got it back home and then thought OMG what have I done, I’m never going to wear that!? (but then kept it lurking in your wardrobe, just in case), fear not, I have the solution.Take it for a spin in Ibiza because there, pretty much anything goes.

Ibiza has to be one of the best places for people watching. Day or night the streets, bars, clubs and cafes are filled with an extraordinary mix of beautiful, wild, daring, ostentatious,  cool, those trying to be cool and those who really don’t care sort of people.

Sequins, string gold bikini (no top just the bottom) birthday suits, lace, glitter, tight pants, non existent skirts, dresses that stop mid buttock can all be successfully pulled off here, so to speak, by the guys as well as girls.


My weeks work started pretty much straight off the plane when I was handed over the reins of the BBQ at the villa we were renting for the week (that is how chilled people get here as generally I have to pry the males off the spot next to the coals).


There were long lazy breakfasts of fresh fruit, yogurts and various patisserie, followed by long lazy lunches often consisting of grilled fish, summer salads, fruit granitas and Ibiza Rosé then finally the day was rounded of by long lazy late dinners starting with various tapas and ending in cigars. All very idyllic.


Early on in the week I managed to pretty much scour the entire island and check out which markets, specialist food shops and areas were best for provisions. Unromantically their Mercado supermarket came out on top as it had a good butchers, excellent fishmongers and vegetable supplies. Though strangely totally lacked in other areas like fresh milk and vanilla pods, but all was forgiven as there were sardines a plenty.  Though this did mean that shopping meant ping ponging myself around the island to get the best of everything and as everyone here is so super chilled even when driving/ shopping  / queueing , it  always took rather longer than expected.


I totally enjoyed my week focusing on Spanish food and it was a delight to be able to easily get hold of their delicious cured hams like the Jamón Ibérico , use the super tasty local sun drenched figs and watermelon and be a bit more liberal than usual with my sprinkles of paprika.


For this weeks postcard recipe I am going to share with you an excellent sauce to have as part of your Spanish repertoire, Romesco.

This week

Every villa should have: a view of the Mediterranean

I’m listening to: Ibiza chill out in the am and trance in the pm

We are drinking: Ibiza Rosé

Super yacht spotting is the new train spotting

We learnt : It is not cool to eat dinner before 9:30pm


 Romesco Sauce

This toasted nut with tomato, paprika and nora pepper sauce is great to have in your repertoire. It works well with grilled red meats, white fish, and vegetables.


Serves 6 as a sauce

3 nora peppers (specialist Spanish store will stock these, they are dried so you can buy in bulk and use as needed).

1 head of garlic

150g roasted and peeled hazelnuts

1- 2 tbs sherry vinegar

3 tbs olive oil


Tomato sauce

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

400g tinned tomatoes

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika


Soak the nora peppers in just boiled water for 30 mins (they will bob to the surface so place a saucer on top to fully immerse them.


Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the 2 cloves of garlic in the olive oil, when they start to colour add the tinned tomatoes and then the paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 mins or until thickened,


Pre heat oven too 180 °c , slice the garlic head in half horizontally and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Place on a dish and roast for 10 – 15 mins or until soft and lightly golden.


In a food processor blitz the nuts so there are still a few small chunks but most of it is a course meal texture. Place in a bowl. Don’t wash the food processor bowl.


Drain the nora peppers, keeping the water, and split open. Remove the seeds and green top. Roughly chop then place in food processor and start to blitz, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic and blitz till smooth.


Add the tomato/nora mix to the ground hazelnuts and stir – the sauce should be a little loose so add a couple of tbs of the nora water until you have a slightly loose constituency. Check for seasoning (you may feel you want to add a little extra paprika or vinegar to give it more of a kick).

 Serve at room temperature with grilled fish, meat or vegetables.


Next stop, Marseille …




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Recipe | Pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream with pistachio praline


Cooking for numbers

The party had already started when I arrived at the villa in Provence and so the first days of my week were spent in top gear getting up to speed with the shopping and cooking for the 23 guests. Apparently, akin to a duckling, above the surface I was calm, collected and easily floating but underneath I was paddling like hell!


I know that for some shopping for a group of 16 people and above can seem extraordinary and there is a small voice in me that occasionally goes:

“Philippa are you really going to use THAT much milk / fish / cheese” ?

Luckily I always ignore it as the answer always turns out to be ‘YES’!

There are a few tricks and rules I set myself when I am doing jobs like this and may be useful for you to bare in mind if you ever find yourself cooking for what seems a biljillion ( I have it on excellent authority from a top financial that this is indeed a number) people.


Try and shop for at least two days at a time.

Yes the fridges and store cupboards will be crammed but shopping for this many can take at least an hour plus travel time and there generally isn’t time to do it everyday.

When buying fruit buy half of it unripe and half ready to eat. This works particularly well in hot climates where it ripens quickly. We had bowls of fruit out on the tables for guests to help themselves and went through about 4 kilos of the delicious local Provencal cherries, apricots and peaches a day!


When menu planning, always have a back up plan.

Generally when catering for this many there will always be a few who cant eat certain foods weather its allergies/ intolerances / religious reasons or simple dislikes. Chicken and salmon or white fish are obvious easy non controversial standbys and I always make sure I have a good cheese that can be used into salads and a section of interesting vegetables and some good grains or pulses if I need to go vegan.


Get ahead when you can.

If there is a lull (!?) use your time to make a few puddings as its great to have a few up your sleeve and easier to make if you have the kitchen in dessert mode. Ice creams and sorbets obviously keep well and desserts like tiramisu and summer pudding not only keep well but also improve after a day or two.

Though of course the simplest solution to all this is to hire a private chef!

The villa was in full swing all week and with breakfasts, lunches, tea time treats, kids tea and adult suppers keeping me occupied the week has flown by. I have managed to shave 3 minutes off my table laying times and now know the butcher the baker and the cashiers of the local shops all by name.


I did learn this week that tomatoes really should never be stored in the fridge, as not only are they extremely sensitive to the slightest bit of cold but also the volatiles that produce the aromas are destroyed so you end up with a less tasty and more watery tomato. They are particularly amazing at this time of year in Provence so have been treated with the ultimate respect.


Menu wise I have been totally enjoying the impressive produce that is so easy to come by locally and as an outside kitchen with a charcoal BBQ has been built in my honour, I have been making the most of that. Temperatures have been dallying around the mid 30 ° ’s so various ice creams and sorbets have been making appearances and for this postcard recipe I wanted to share with you one of the ice creams I made.


On a recent visit to a very good ice cream parlour in St David’s (Wales) I realised that I go through the same process and emotions in choosing ice cream as when I’m in a cocktail bar deciding on drinks and I’m not talking about getting over excited and having one too many. No, it’s the attraction of trying something new then regretting it. Yes the quadruple chocolate marshmallow, ginger fluff with popping candy and dehydrated hibiscus flower ice cream may sound interesting but it will never beat a simple pistachio or mint (without the choc chips) in the same way a perfect dry martini can not be ousted by some over engineered cocktail with a ridiculous name.

With this is mind I will share with you my pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream that is a classic in my repertoire.

 This week:

Table places laid : 1 biljillion

Apricots consumed : 235

Olive oil used : 7 litres (no I was not bathing in it but down here it’s my butter)

Every home should have: French linen

Times surprised by Lizards: 7


Pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream with pistachio praline

Makes 12 scoops

 800 ml double cream

200 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod

4 – 6 tsp pistachio extract

small handful of powerful mint

 10 egg yolks

100 g sugar

 good splash of vodka

 Pistachio praline

 200g caster sugar

splash of cold water

175 g bright green pistachios


To make the ice cream base

Swill out a large heavy based pan with water (this is said to help stop the cream from sticking to the sides) and add the cream, milk, mint and vanilla.

Bring to a boil then turn off and leave to infuse while you separate the eggs.

Put the yolks in a large bowl (you can freeze the egg white for use at a later date) and add the 100g caster sugar. Whisk till pale (a couple of minutes).

 Strain the hot cream into the yolks, whisking immediately once combined, then pour back into the heavy based pan.

 Place the pan back on a low heat and cook till thickened. You will need to stir constantly and I have found a heat proof spatula best for this.

 Once thickened add the pistachio extract and vodka and stir (you want to be able to just taste the vodka but if you add too much the ice cream will not freeze that well) then pour into a wide dish to cool.

 Once cool you can use an ice cream machine to churn it or semi freeze ( which takes about 3 hours) then blitz in a food processor then return to the freezer – it should be ready after another 4 hours.


To make the praline coating

Line a wide tray or dish with baking paper

In a heavy based pan melt the 200 g of caster sugar with a splash of water.

The sugar will melt then start turning to caramel (its best not to stir but only give the pan an occasional jiggle) . Once darkened add the pistachios, stir and pour onto the tray.

When cool and hard blitz in a food processor – you want it mostly in small dusty bits with a few larger lumps.

To serve make balls of the ice cream and roll in the blitzed pistachio praline. Serve in chilled bowls.


Bags are now packed and I’m en-route to the next gig in …Ibiza


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Recipe |Dragons blood sauce


How to cook your dragon.

My coastal Boston to coastal Wales transition came as some what of a shock. Jet lag muddled with rain and chilly British waters was not a cocktail I was necessarily ready for. However once I had been persuaded that the best way to overcome the jet lag was indeed these chilly choppy waters I soon found myself happily immersed into my new surroundings.


The area, besides being tremendously scenic with wild ponies, wild flowers and the occasional wild wave is also home to some rather delicious potatoes. The Pembrokeshire Early Potato , harvested in  May, is protected by geographical origin, similar to Champagne orParma Ham. They have been farmed here since the 1700s and it is said the spray from the sea is what makes them taste extra special. We were lucky enough to have a field of their later crop right next to the house, some of which may or may not have made its way into my cooking pot.


With all this potato talk and my location being in Wales you may think I am missing a trick with a leek and potato style recipe for my postcard however what really caught my attention was the dragons. Local shops seemed to be selling dragon mustard, dragon jam, dragon bread and dragon cheese, which was all very impressive I thought considering I had trouble even getting hold of a local mackerel, let alone dragon.


Legend has it that many blue moons ago the red dragon was fighting an invading white dragon and the shrieks from the battle were so terrible they caused death and destruction to the living. To deal with this dragon problem the king was advised to dig a pit, fill it with mead and lay a cloth on top. The dragons, as suspected, came along, drank the mead and fell asleep. The king wrapped the dragons in the cloth and buried them at Snowdonia.


Some years later a new king tried to build a castle in the very spot where the dragons lay buried but every night unknown forces demolished any progress. The king is advised, to solve this problem, he needs to seek out a boy with no natural father and kill him. When they find such a boy and the young lad hears of his fate he tells the king the story of the two dragons. The king is persuaded to excavate the hill, release the dragons who can then finish their fight. The red dragon is eventually triumphant, and the boy, who we all know as Merlin, explains that the red dragon represents the Welsh who refused to yield to the Saxons.   For some the red dragon also marks the coming of king Arthur.


For this postcard recipe I give you Red Dragon sauce, although, as they seem to be constantly out of season these days I have substituted beetroot for dragon.


This week

Wet suits ARE my new LBD ( but literally for this week only)

Sandy sandwiches consumed : 0

Crabs caught :0

Every home should have: a fairy princess body board

Pembrokeshire potatoes scrumped : xxx


Dragons blood sauce

This sauce is great served with fish or meat and delicious with Pembrokeshire potatoes


4 small /medium red beetroots

2 tbs horseradish sauce

2 tbs Dijon mustard

3 tbs crème friache

1 tbs olive oil.


Boil the beetroots in slightly salted water till cooked, then peel.

Blitz in a food processor till smooth then add the mustard, horseradish, crème fraiche and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Blitz again and check the seasoning. Serve at room temperature with grilled chicken fish or some fine Pembrokeshire potatoes. 


 Next Stop…Provence.



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Recipe |Brioche


Gone Fishing.

This week, in order not to feel I was mindlessly cooking and gobbling lobster after lobster I have taken the time to learn a little more about this delicious crustacean.


Theoretically, a lobster can live forever. They have an enzyme called telomerase, which prevents the DNA from becoming damaged as it replicates – for us mere humans it is the shortening of the DNA strands that is thought to age us. What can however pluck the lobsters from their mortal coil are disease and various predators, including me.


In order to grow a lobster has to molt its shell. In the first year they do this about 40 times, the second year about four times, the third and forth years about two or three times and in the forth to sixth years about once a year. Once they reach age 7, which is roughly when they will be big enough to be eaten they usually molt once every two or three years. For Maine lobster it is about now in the year that they decide to do this.


The lobster sheds its shell then puffs itself up with water to stretch the new softer shell that was underneath until that too hardens. For eating purposes I think it is best to avoid these softer shell lobsters as although easier to get the meat out it can be quite watery and the yield much lower, particularly in the claws.   On a side note, a lobster who has lost one claw is called a cull and for the poor things that have lost both they are called a pistol.


When catching lobsters in your own pots there are strict rules about what you can keep and what you must release. Size is important. It must be between 3 ¼ inches and 5 inches from the extreme rear of the eye socket to the end of the carapace – which is the head section of the shell. You are forbidden to take a female if she is baring eggs or if she has a notch in her tail. The fishing area around Main have introduced a system where if you find a female that produces eggs but otherwise would have been ok to take, you put a notch in its tale to the right of the middle flipper. This will be noticeable for a couple of years and stop others from taking the egg producing lobster even if it doesn’t have any at the time of catch.


From a chefs and diners perspective it is amazing to cook and eat so many lobsters in a short time span and totally get to grip with cooking times and preferred methods of preparation. I have given you a few recipes and methods below after this postcard recipe for when you next want to indulge in a lobster fix.


Besides the luxury of having an endless supply of lobster and getting the chance to cook it in every which way, my highlight of the week was …catching my first fish.

I will try not to embellish the story and let writers’ creativity move it too far from the truth but it was far more exciting than predicted.


Our early morning start (by 5:30 am we had our backs to the shore) was soon followed by a lecture, but not in boat safety or tips on how to cast. No. I had once again made the mistake of joshing with a fisherman that I couldn’t quite see what would be fun about fishing that and that I suspected  a fishing boat was basically  a floating ‘man shed’.  Luckily the lecture was short and took mostly the form of just you just wait and see. I think this was due to the fact neither of us had had our morning coffee fix.


Traveling at a certain number of knots over a certain distance of nautical miles ( ok I clearly didn’t listen properly to that bit) we eventually stopped the boat and prepared to fish. Our aim was to catch some mackerel to use as bait to catch some striped bass – large silvery fleshsy white fish that are rather popular around the US of A’s East coast.


To catch the mackerel you dangle a line into the water dotted with bright lures and consistently sharply pull it up and then let it sink so it catches the mackerel’s eye.   I did this for about 10 minutes to no effect thinking well at least it was kind of a work out but then found myself gradually becoming transfixed by the waves, the sound of the water and continual motion of my surroundings.   I still hadn’t caught anything after 15 minutes but curiously noticed my involuntary reluctance at handing over the line.   My fishing partner caught one in about 5 minutes, which made me even more determined to take back the line and get one.

I shorty did and then riding on the high caught another two at once. Total pro I know !


The mackerel were kept alive and hooked up to a bigger rod, which we floated out to sea to try and lure a striped bass on to. I could tell you how within the first 10 minutes we both caught impressive three feet fish and which would have fed the North End of Boston but I would be lying. We watched the lines bob up and down for about an hour then as there were no takers packed up and went home. Anticlimactic? Not in the slightest, there is something incredible about being out on the sea early in the morning; very peaceful yet demanding and I can at least feel myself getting hooked.


The lobsters are now partying as my bags are packed and I am heading to Logan airport to hop back across the pond.   For this postcard recipe I give you the brioche recipe I used for making that East Coast traditional sensation: lobster sandwich.


This week;

Lobsters dispatched: 23

Mackerel caught: 3

The Field Magazine: have published my article on top shooting salads and recipes for what to do with this season’s grouse.

Top wine drunk: a delicious Peter Michael chardonnay from California


 Definitely not one of my quicker recipes but I admit I am kind of obsessed with making it now I have mastered the perfect sugar / butter ratio in the mix.

 The Sponge

ml warm whole milk (100 F approx.)

12 g dry active yeast

large free range /organic egg

500g plain white flour

The Dough

100g caster sugar

5g fine sea salt

large free range / organic eggs, lightly beaten

350g plain flour 

180g cold salted butter plus 2 tbs. approx. extra for greasing


The glaze

1 egg

1 tbs. whole milk

 I used an electric mixer fitted with a kneading attachment but you can make it

by hand if you don’t mind getting sticky and messy.

Also it was pleasantly hot in the States, so if making it somewhere cooler your

resting and rising times may be longer.



The sponge

Put the milk, yeast, egg and 250g of the flour in the mixers bowl, turn on to a

low speed and mix for a couple of minutes (you can do this stage by hand or with

a wooden spoon if it looks like it will be easier ).

Once mixed remove the bowl from the machine and sprinkle over the other 250g

of flour.

Leave at room temperature for 1 hour, it should be at least doubled in size and

the coating of flour cracked.

The Dough


Grate the butter with a cheese grater on the large side then leave out to soften.

Once ready add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 200g of the flour to the sponge.

Place the dough back in the machine with the dough hook and turn on to a low

Let it come together then add the rest of the flour.

Turn up to a medium speed and mix for 10 mins.

The machine may need stopping and the dough pushing back into place as it can

wrap itself up the dough hook.

After mixing add the butter in three stages over a couple of minutes it should

incorporate itself into the dough but again you may need to turn off the machine

and give it a helping hand.

The dough should be shiny, and feel quite moist in comparison to a basic bread dough.


Place the dough in a large buttered bowl and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours – it should double in size.


After this rise knock the dough back, form into a ball in the buttered bowl. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 6 hours.

By then it should have risen again and is now ready for its final rising and baking.


Shape the dough into loaves – you can make a regular loaf or make 6 balls placed side by side in two rows depending what you want.   It will be just over double in size when baked so choose the appropriate pan/ tin.


Leave at room temperature, covered loosely with some buttered cling film for two hours till doubled in size.


Pre heat the oven to 190°C place a baking rack near the bottom of the oven and a baking sheet at the top (this will help the loaf not take on too much color).


Mix the egg and milk for the glaze together.


When risen and ready brush the loaf with the glaze and bake for 30 mins. On the bottom rack.


Once cooked leave to cool for 5 mins then remove from tin.


Delicious warm/ cold / as is /toasted and especially good when used for a lobster sandwich.


Lobster methods,

Do NOT over cook your lobster – it becomes rubbery.

DO keep the shells it makes the most amazing stock


To boil a lobster;

Fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil and then add a good dash of fine sea salt.

Add your live lobster then place on the lid. Cook in small batches so the water comes quickly back to the boil.

A 1 ½ lb lobster needs to cook only for 10 mins, It will have turned a lovely shade of red and the meat will still be moist. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving as it will carry on cooking and be perfect.




This is my favourite way to prepare and eat them.

Plunge them live into boiling water for 3 – 4 mins – you just want to kill them.

Pre heat your smoker to 200F

Cut up the top of the lobster tail with a pair of scissors and put some cracks in the claws.

Stuff with a few spoonful’s of butter studded with chilli and coriander or garlic and parsley.

Lay some foil on the racks in the smoker and place your butter-stuffed lobsters in there. Add some wood chips to the coals (I like using apple wood for this task as it is mild enough not to mask the flavour but still adds that smoky wonder.)

Smoke for 40 mins. Serve with any buttery lobster juice caught on the foil poured back over the lobster.



The shell contains an amazing amount of flavour and should never be just chucked away. Place them in a large pot filed with cold water and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for 40 mins then strain.

Reduce this to get your intense lobster stock. NOTE if you boil the stock with the shells in for too long it becomes bitter.


To BBQ ; get your BBQ to a high to medium heat and make sure the grills are clean. Prepare a flavoured butter such as chilli and lime or garlic and parsley.

Crack the live lobster in half by cutting down through the shell head first then along the tail – they do not feel pain in the same way we do so try not to feel bad while it gives you the evil eye.

Remove the claws and place them on the BBQ for 4 – 5 mins then place the split tail on flesh side down and cook for 3 mins each side. It will go translucent each side.




Next stop


Marloes, Wales…

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Recipe | Chocolate Chip Cookies


Food fit for a …

You don’t walk in Washington DC, you power strut. Well that was my conclusion after the first couple of hours there. In all my travels I have never seen so many dashing three-piece suits, secret service police (helpfully labelled with ‘secret service’ on their jacket) and impressive museums, galleries and exhibitions. I admit my reason for power strutting was usually to make my next restaurant booking but it was fun to join in with the vibe.


The city has been home to 43 different presidents (although Obama is the 44th president, Grover Cleveland was elected on non consecutive terms so is counted twice). In-between running the free world, working on international relations and dealing with political scandal, they of course all had to eat and being president generally means you get to indulge in your peculiarities and preferences.

I can not tell a lie but George Washington, the first of them did not cut down his fathers cherry tree as was popularly believed, he did however love a cherry pie.


Thomas Jefferson was what we would call today a ‘foodie’. When he travelled he wrote intricate notes and would bring back pieces of kit like waffle irons from Amsterdam and have staff bring him back what was then exotic ingredients such as Parmesan from Italy and figs from Marseilles. He would also keep charts of what was in season and no doubt if instagram had existed would have been snapping his daily dinner.


Abraham Lincoln according to records held outrageously elaborate banquets although himself was a very plain and disinterested eater but had a soft spot for apples and large quantities of coffee.


Physicians had to be called in and the staff trained in studying Woodrow Wilson’s diet as there was great worry at his lack of weight. He did however love home made strawberry ice cream and charlotte rousse BUT bizarrely was also keen on having two raw eggs in grapefruit juice for breakfast, an idea I wont be trying on any clients soon.


Calvin Coolidge was adamant chickens were only tasty if they lived next to the kitchen door, so had them directly outside the backdoor of the White House. The meat had a rather unusual fragrant quality which was eventually explained by realising the coup had been placed directly where Teddy Roosevelt’s had had his mint garden.


Herbert Hoover and his wife were very lavish and never worried about food costs or seasonality just providing it was the best. He was keen on lobster so would have loved my recent dinners in Boston!

Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor were rather rebellious and were noted for serving hot dogs to our HRH for lunch on one visit. This is pretty cool but what I love even more is that they were so fond of doughnuts they even had them for breakfast. Not partially healthy but if you cant have what you want when you are president – when can you?


Harry Truman and wife were not fussy and staff noted very affable when it came to dining but she was keen to up the standards of cooking so bought in some new top chefs into the kitchens.

At the time Julia Child was hitting the screens, JFK was in power and America was embracing French cuisine. It is not clear if the man himself was keen in this trend but we do know he always wanted soup for lunch and inevitably had to be reminded to eat at dinnertime as was so engrossed in his work.


Nixon got the USA obsessed with Meatloaf (the food not the band) as his wife would make it once a month for the family. Peeked with curiosity the public were keen to have the recipe for themselves and so the office printed a stash of thousands to hand out on official White House paper.

George Herbert Walker Bush hated broccoli and was bold enough to publically admit this, much to the outrage of broccoli farmers who then sent 10 tons of the stuff to DC (this was then used to feed the needy).


In more recent times we have had Bill Clinton who is allergic to milk and chocolate but loves fast food, George W Bush who is not practically interested in food but has a soft spot for pretzels.

Then there is president Barack Obama who is said to be keen on burgers, hot dogs and generally American style food. He did once answer when asked what was his favourite food say broccoli but it is not clear how true this is. . Michelle Obama is heavily involved in the campaign to reduce obesity in children and has planted a vegetable garden at the white house, which I hope is nowhere near the helipad.


And the next president? Well we shall have to wait and see but I would be greatly surprised if they didn’t enjoy this postcard recipe of these very American chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies

For me a cookie should have a crunch on the outside and be chewy in the

Middle, this recipe when cooked right gives you exactly that. You can use

different flavoured chocolate like, chilli, orange or mint depending on your

 225 g room temperature salted butter

200 g granulated sugar

220 g soft brown sugar

2 large free range eggs

10 ml vanilla extract

375 g plain flour

5 g bicarbonate of soda

10 ml hot water

2 tbs cocoa powder

300 g chocolate cut into small pieces


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F /175 °C degrees

Beat the butters and sugar till smooth.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the bicarb and hot water then add to the batter.

Add the flour and coco powder and briefly mix in.

Finally add the chocolate chips

 Line a baking tray with baking parchment then drop large spoonful’s onto

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are just browned.


Next postcard is from back in Boston…

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