June 18, 2021



The real name for this cake should be "Dom's mum's lemon cake".

It is one of the easiest lemon cakes to make and the recipe comes from Dominic at Bellau Kitchen.  It's his mum's recipe and he recently (two months ago already!) wrote about it as you can see here.

Once I was reminded of it I couldn't wait to make it again myself - I first made it years ago and wrote about it here.  It's a delicious cake with a lovely texture, so quick to rustle up but doesn't hang around - it's very moreish (as my mum used to say).  Highly recommended.

 You may well wonder why there is a picture here of our cat Daisy having forty winks!

Well, at long last we will soon be on our way to France!  It's been a trial getting organised as you might like to read here and there is still much to do.  The blog will be going to sleep for a while and hopefully my next post will be from our house in France!

Night, night!

June 4, 2021


Chez Grand Ma.

We have eaten at this restaurant in the village where we live in France many, many times over the years. My favourite dish on the menu is "filet mignons de porc" and it's delicious.  The pork is tender and succulent and usually served with sauté potatoes (pan fried cubes of herby potatoes), a sprig of roasted cherry tomatoes and a small portion of some kind of other veg. 

In winter we eat inside the cosy restaurant and in summer outdoors in its beautiful courtyard. There is a "menu du jour" at lunchtime and two price bands of set menus in the evening.  This is where we ate when we celebrated getting the keys to our little house in the village on a freezing cold evening in November 2007 and the filet mignon de porc is what we both had.  For me, the great thing about this little restaurant is that you can always get a nice meal all year round, regardless of the month or the weather. On a cold and dark Tuesday evening in February, when there are no tourists and the village is deserted, the restaurant's lights on Grande Rue will be drawing you in for dinner.

So, when I spotted a pork fillet on the supermarket shelf the other day, my heart skipped a beat. It's hard to explain to anyone how much I miss being in France at this time of year and as I placed the pork in my basket I was transported back in time.  It’s funny how food can bring back memories with a jolt and launch you back into a previous time.  

Moules et frites for lunch in the courtyard on a summer's day, or the local trio performing a blues session to enthusiastic diners on a warm evening, the swifts and swallows performing their aerobatics to add to the entertainment, or celebrating a birthday on a chilly December night, the clinking of the glasses adding to the merriment. 

Nick recreated the dish at home and we had ours with a small gratin of potatoes (I confess a purchase from the freezer cabinet and baked in the oven at the same time as the pork) and the usual medley of veg. It was not quite the same as Henri the chef's version but close enough. We sipped a nice red wine with it and reminisced, hoping that we'll be able to return to our house in France this summer.


1 400g pork fillet
1 large shallot, chopped
half a pack of chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
some white wine
1-2 tblsp full fat crème fraîche


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.

Heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter in a frying pan and brown the pork on all sides.  Cutting the fillet in half will help to fit it in the pan and with handling.  Transfer to a small roasting dish, add a splash of wine and roast for about 15-20 minutes depending on how well you like it to be cooked.

While the meat is in the oven, add the shallot and mushrooms to the frying pan with a little more oil if necessary and cook gently until soft but not browned.  Add a little wine and season with salt and pepper.  Then add the crème fraîche and stir in, adding a little more to thicken it as you like.

Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for five minutes.  Slice into thick medallions and serve with the sauce poured over.

Serves 2.

June 3, 2021



I used the same recipe for this cake as for the summer fruit streusal cake which I first made last year.  It's one of those endlessly adaptable recipes that never fails to please and comes from the excellent little book "The Weekend Cookbook" by Catherine Hill.

This time I used a few slim stalks of rhubarb from the garden, choosing the reddest ones in preference to the green, and a handful of strawberries.  The golden caster sugar gives it a slightly caramel flavour and the demerara sugar topping a bit of crunch.  I did wonder about adding a little vanilla extract but it didn't need it.  Rhubarb and strawberries go well together and it was a delicious cake with a nice texture.

The crunch was diminished after a couple of days as I stored the cake in the fridge because of the fresh fruit, but it was still good to eat.  It really is a lovely cake to have either with a cup of tea, a glass of chilled rosé or served warm with custard for dessert.  Highly recommended.

However, I dropped a bit of a clanger with the cake tin, having decided to use a 20cm square tin instead of a round one for a change.  My brain was obviously temporarily disengaged and when the cake came out of the oven I realised that turning it out was going to be a problem.  I had lined the bottom with baking paper but it was a solid tin, not loose bottomed and it suddenly occurred to me that having to tip it upside down to turn it out might mean that I would lose some of the crumble topping.  Rats !!
Luckily, the cake had risen more or less to the top of the tin so once it had cooled for about ten minutes (to make sure it had set and was not too fragile for some athletics) I put a large chopping board on the top, gripped them together firmly, tipped it upside down and removed the tin and the baking paper.  I now had the cake upside down on the board so pressed an oblong cooling rack onto the bottom of it.  With no mean feat of dexterity I gripped the sides of the board and rack with both hands and turned it back the right way up.  It worked and I lost only a few crumbs of the topping.  
*The moral of the story is: either use a loose bottomed tin of some kind, OR, put long strips of foil or paper in the tin so you can lift it out when cooked without inverting it!
In any case, I think it's one of those cakes that cuts more easily into squares than triangles and I would do the same again.....

For the topping
50g cold butter, cubed
75g plain flour
50g demerara sugar
50g flaked almonds
For the cake
125g cold butter, cubed
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 tblsp milk (approx.)
300g of fruit, a mixture of rhubarb and strawberries
First make the streusel topping by putting the butter and flour into the bowl of a food processor.  Blitz until the stage of large breadcrumbs with a few lumpy bits (so not too fine).  Tip the mixture into a small bowl, add the sugar and flaked almonds and stir to mix together.  Set aside.
(You can of course do the rubbing in part by hand.)
Butter and base line a 20cm loose bottomed square cake tin*.  Preheat the oven to 170C / 150 fan / gas mk 4.
Without washing the food processor bowl (or the mixing bowl if rubbing in by hand), make the cake mixture.  Put the flour and baking powder in and blitz (or stir) for a couple of seconds to mix.  Add the butter and process until the fine breadcrumbs stage.  Then add the sugar, eggs and 2 tblsp of the milk.  Process  until smooth and add a little more milk if necessary to get a dropping consistency.
Transfer the mixture to the tin and level the top.  Chop or cut in half any larger strawberries, chop the rhubarb into 1cm dice and arrange on top of the cake mixture.  Sprinkle the streusel mixture on top of that.
Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 55 minutes) until done and the cake passes the skewer test.
Leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
Cuts into 9-12 slices.
* See notes in text!