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Surfing the net for a bit of Poldark news this morning (I’ve become a groupie!) I chanced on a series of wonderful photos, many of which I had never seen before.

They were taken during the filming of the original series by a gifted young photographer, Ian Barnes, who was just starting out in his career.

Here’s his story and the photo slide show, published today by the Western Morning News: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Unique-record-set-original-BBC-cast-Poldark/story-26324743-detail/story.htmlEbony the Horse

The slide show reminded me that  I had written the story of two of the photos depicted in my memoir Making Poldark. [Also available on Amazon.com]

 My steed for the second series, Ebony, was supplied by the wonderful horsemaster, Ben Ford  (the back of his head is visible in the photo below).

I had more riding to do in the second series, so Ebony and I saw a lot of each other. She never threw me like Dennis (my mount in the first series, an ex-Steeple chaser), but I’m sure she knew she had a novice on board.

Our most difficult day was the first shot of the second series—Ross Poldark‘s return from Holland.

In real life, I had been in London the previous day to see my then girlfriend play Cordelia at the opening night of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear, which had transferred from Stratford to the Aldwych Theatre. After the performance I caught the overnight train to Cornwall.

So I was there, fresh as a wilted daisy, at 8am on the beach at Caerhays ready to film. It was pouring with rain.

Ebony and I waited until 3:30 in the afternoon before we could even get on the beach. Neither of us was in very good shape by then. The wind was blowing the sea into a frenzy,  and I had great difficulty in keeping my over-large hat on my head. Screenshot 2015-04-17 14.33.12 Ebony, quite sensibly, was none too keen on the conditions. She could see the waves out of the corner of her eye and thought they were coming for her.

With difficulty, trying to control my hat, my flowing cloak and the reins, I managed to get her facing the right way. The camera was mounted on the roof of a Land Rover and we were supposed to follow it at full gallop across the beach. Screenshot 2015-04-17 14.37.37 It should have been an invigorating experience. Instead it was a nightmare.

Ebony HATED the sound of the Land Rover and decided the SAFEST place was her horsebox—so that’s where we headed.

We passed the Land Rover with ease and I managed to stop her only a few feet from the end of the beach. Exhausted I fell off into a puddle!

I remounted. (Well, I was the hero!)

Ben, experienced in such things, placed a sister equine on the seaward side of the Land Rover track, hoping Ebony would run towards her. We tried again and Ebony rejoined her friend rather more quickly than the cameraman anticipated.

By this time, I was losing confidence and my fingers were losing their grip.

We tried once more. Ebony did an impromptu gavotte, crisscrossing the Land Rover, and then another mad gallop.

I decided she’d won the day and walked back to the coach.

Two days later we had a perfect sunny day and managed the shot in one take.

I think Ebony had worked in television before.

Poldark filming seems to attract characterful beasts. Aidan Turner’s steed Seamus (Darkie in the series and Irish, like Aidan) is enjoying his new found fame!

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My memoir of MAKING POLDARK–with a chapter on how I got involved in the 2015 adaptation of Winston Graham’s romantic saga, and behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of the new series–is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER on Amazon.

(The book is currently available only on Amazon USA.)

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I lost a filling last week–fell out at the breakfast table.

Initial reaction:–Oh no! dentist visit(s), hassle, painful, waste of time–damn!

Then: Ouch! Jagged bit left causing pain, hard to swallow.

So—looking for something that slips down easily—I thought to combine these two recipes for dinner.

Result: Sigh! Temporary distraction. It worked—they melded deliciously and skipped down with ease.

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 Leeks in White Wine and Butter (from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics)

Simple and delicious!

Serves 4IMG_0055

4 large leeks (or as above 10 small leeks)–mainly the white part–checked for residue, then cut into cork-like tube-shape

salt and pepper

glass of white wine

3 tbsp water

50 g/2 oz butter

  1. Place the leek pieces in a shallow pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour in the wine and water, then add the butter. Put on the lid and bring up to a simmer. Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes – the leeks should be beautifully tender.

Lemony lentils  (in Healthy Eating for Life)

Meredith tells me the first time she became aware of lentils, was at the age 35. They had not been part of her experience growing up in suburban Chicago! Much has changed–Indian restaurants are commonplace now in the US.

This recipe is hands-on for the first half hour or so, as it builds in the taste.

Then it chugs along on a low heat for 50 minutes as the lentils dissolve and the dal forms.

The finish involves sautéing a small amount of onion, garlic and dried red pepper to stir into the mix to “lift”  it.

It is adapted from a recipe in Ismail Merchant’s excellent and quirky cookbook Indian Cuisine.

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8oz red lentils–rinsed until the water runs clear

1 small onion–chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

a short stick of cinnamon

1tsp fresh ginger–grated

250ml/1/2 pint stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

250ml/1/2 pint hot water

1tsp cayenne pepper

juice and the shells of a lemon

to finish

2tbsp olive oil

1/2 small onion–sliced

garlic clove–chopped

1tsp salt

1 small dried red chili–chopped

Cook the onion over a low heat in the oil until it is opaque–about five minutes.

Add the lentils, cinnamon and the ginger and mix in.

Cook these together gently for about ten minutes, keeping the heat low and stirring from time to time to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

A nutty aroma starts to rise from the darkening lentils, as they cook.

Add the stock and hot water, cayenne and salt.

Bring to the simmer.

Cook gently for a further ten minutes, then add the lemon juice and the empty lemon halves and stir it all together.

Cover the pan and continue cooking on a very low heat–use a heat diffuser if necessary–for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

In a small frying pan heat the tablespoon of olive oil and add the sliced onion.

Let this color for five minutes over a medium heat.

Add the chili and the sliced garlic and continue cooking until the garlic begins to brown.

Add this to the lentils and mix it in.

I got to see the dentist yesterday and she rounded off the jagged bit and told me to come back for a crown fitting.

Oh no! dentist visit(s), hassle, painful, waste of time–damn!

 

 

The stage is set, the ring is built and only hours to go before the bell sounds.

Bare knuckled it maybe–this is the 18th century–but not bare chested; in tonight’s confrontation the players have agreed to keep their shirts  on–at least in the physical sense.

(One might imagine that this is both a relief and a disappointment, depending which side you’re putting your money on).

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The director trying unsuccessfully to persuade Dr Halse to take his shirt off..

The gloves are off  and Ross doesn’t pull any punches regarding his thoughts on the justice system operating in Cornwall.

And of this particular administer of “justice” he has painful memories.

The Rev. Dr. Halse was headmaster of Truro Grammar School and administered justice in the form of thrashing frequently on the person across the court from him today.

So there’s baggage and backstory to tonight’s confrontation.

There’s also a distinct feeling of deja-vu—as though somehow we’ve been through this movie before.

It all feels faintly familiar—certainly for one of the parties….

Anyway–seconds out and let the best man win

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Jim Carter looks a little too trusting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The usual story here this morning; a cauliflower lurking in the fridge.

Poor neglected things.

It’s the way they present themselves in that uptight manner–a defensive helmet of non-cooperation; if there’s something else in the fridge you are likely to choose that.

Anyway…

After a week in London there wasn’t much of an alternative, so out came the L. C. (lurking cauliflower). In my second cook book, Healthy Eating for Life, there is the perfect simple recipe (from Delia Smith), to go with the grilled lamb chops for lunch. IMG_6749 For 4 as a vegetable or 2 as a main course

1lb/450gm cauliflower–broken up into smallish florets

1 generous tsp coriander seeds—pounded in a pestle and mortar

2 tbsp olive oil 2 garlic cloves—pulped with a small teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pestle

salt and pepper

Set the oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6

Put the cauliflower florets in a large bowl. IMG_6730 Sprinkle over and mix in the crushed coriander seeds.IMG_6732 Whisk the crushed garlic and olive oil together. Mix in this little sauce, coating the florets thoroughly.

IMG_6737 Spread them on a roasting tray in a single layer. IMG_6743 Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes—checking for doneness after 20 minutes; they should be just tender and charred a little. IMG_6744 You can dry roast some sunflower seeds in a pan on the hob and sprinkle them over the transformed cauliflower if you like–I forgot to do this today!

Meredith said it didn’t matter–and gave it the thumbs up.

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To celebrate the ‘first night’ of the new Poldark on British TV this evening, here’s a roast chicken even Prudie* could cook in the kitchen at Nampara**!

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From my first cookbook,  Delicious Dishes for Diabetics:

Every cook has a version of this classic–roast chicken.

This one is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s simple, tasty and robust recipe.

Serves 4/5

1 free-range chicken

olive oil

salt and pepper

6 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic – unpeeled

a  lemon – halved
a glass white wine

Heat the oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

Rub the chicken all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper

Stuff the cavity with the bay leaves, garlic and lemon halves.

Roast the chicken for 1  1/2 hours.

Halfway through, baste it thoroughly.

When it is cooked, it should be nicely browned and the juices should run clear, not pink.

At that point, remove the pan from the oven and move the cooked bird onto a platter to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, tip the roasting pan and spoon out most of the fat/oil—leaving about a tablespoonful in the pan.

Pick up the bird carefully with a pair of oven gloves and up-end it, letting the juices run back into the pan. Add any juices that have settled in the platter too.

(A little tricky—but worth it for the taste of the gravy.)

Park the chicken and cover it with foil to keep it warm while you make the gravy.

Add the glass of white wine and scrape any residue sticking to the pan.

Gently stir over a low-ish heat for 2–3 minutes.

You could add some stock or more wine to make it go a little further.

Taste and pour into a warmed jug.

We had this for lunch today!

 * Prudie and Judd are Ross Poldark’s old retainers who have let **Nampara–the family “seat”–go to wrack and ruin, while Ross is away soldiering in vain to save the “American Colonies” for the King.
Prudie’d do well, cooking this to get back into Ross’ good books!

Tonight we’ll be raising a glass to Aidan, Eleanor

and the whole wonderful cast!

Go well and bon appetit, mes braves!

 

Fresh and a bit wild looking this soup–adapted from a recipe in The New York Times–for the first day of March.

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You build most winter vegetable soups from the inside out—i.e. making a “soffrito” of finely chopped vegetables such as onion, celery and carrot, cooked slowly in olive oil, before adding stock—the taste “engine room” for a big winter-warming blanket.

But it’s March 1st today, so I’m lightening up a little–starting with plain water, not stock, adding the ingredients in stages, building the taste and depth gradually.

The lemon zest topping—sprinkled just before serving— is a touch of Spring.

First stage:

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Bring the water to the boil and add the first eight ingredients.

  • 2 pints water
  • 3 tsp salt–more to taste
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion–(for the taste)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 1 lb tinned (canned) chickpeas
  • a small piece of parmesan rind (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves–pulped

Bring back to a simmer and cook, covered, on a low heat for 30 minutes.

 

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Second stage:

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  • 3 carrots–peeled and sliced
  • 3 sticks celery–chopped
  • 1lb/450gm–tomatoes–chopped
  • 1/2 small cabbage–sliced and roughly chopped

Add the sliced vegetables and bring back to a simmer.

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Cook, covered, for a further 30 minutes.

Third stage:

During this second half hour of simmering, prepare the parmesan mix for sprinkling.

  • 3 tbs grated parmesan
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp milled black pepperIMG_9808

 Mix the three topping ingredients and sprinkle over the soup before serving.

IMG_9777

 

 

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