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Archive for the ‘Poldark’ Category

The second group of Bravehearts (participants in my cooking workshops here) are enjoying an aperitif in the sunshine, on the terrace of the magnificent and aptly named B & B, La Terrace de Lautrec.

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We are about to sit down to a well deserved final meal (prepared by us of course).

Lunch, al fresco, overlooking the historic parterre–newly-clipped and  immaculate.

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Suddenly we hear a ruckus from inside the house. The sound of a voice that has a familiar and unwelcome ring to me–is of a particular timbre.

Loud, angry and Scots! 

It triggers unpleasant memories and I find my overall sense of well being and satisfaction at completing a second workshop is swiftly turning into a feeling of anxiety–as I realise I am about to be nabbed!

Like the dour Scot he was back in the days of Poldark, dear old Captain McNeil never gave up the chase, it appears! His persistence (some would say his obsession) has finally paid off for him and I am cornered by a red faced redcoat on horseback!

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Donald Douglas as Capt. McNeil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IevZBj6Yisw

Happily for all concerned, the redoubtable Captain (aka Donald Douglas), after agreeing to hang up his musket–sits down, at the head of the table and charms us all with his highland banter.

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Old enemies bury the past.

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When I woke up this morning Pippa–mother of all cats–was there on the bed as she has been for the last two days. She was at her toilet–conscientiously licking her paw, then wiping her cheeks and ear with it–a built-in flannel [washcloth] so to speak.

It reminded me I hadn’t shaved for two days–I’d been laid up with a “gastro“, which had started at roughly 1.30am on the morning after my birthday.

The only other time I remember being as sick (literally) was the day I was filming the dénouement scene in an episode of Sherlock Holmes. I had a long speech of explanation to deliver to a solemn, suspicious and silent Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke and a very young  Jude Law. I managed the first take without interruption–but had to RUN on the word CUT –and it was a bumpy ride ’til we finished.

Two nights ago at least I had no lines to remember. My timing was better on this occasion! The birthday was over and had been much enjoyed. Meredith gave me an album–cataloguing the story of an eventful year–superb photos mostly taken by her.

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Pippa looking for a photo of herself.

Looking back on my birthday though, there were signs of trouble ahead.

I remember feeling relieved I had planned ahead and prepared the Lamb Tagine (see recipe below) the day before. That left the broccoli starter and the bulgar wheat–simple!

We were eight round the table–old friends–including my old adversary from Poldark days, Donald Douglas (aka Captain McNeil). It was convivial. I was enjoying the occasion.

It was only late the next day that I realised I had forgotten an essential step in the preparation of the starter–grilling the broccoli (see below). As I served up the dish, I had a nagging feeling something was not quite right! (We have a tradition of forgetting key ingrediants when entertaining for crowds!).

PLUS I forgot to prepare the bulgar wheat, so the table had to wait while it fluffed up.

The recipes:

This dish also served as the starter for the special Saturday dinner on my October Cooking Workshop:

It is adapted from a recipe in Ottolenghi’s eponymous first cookbook.

On that night it tumbled over a small pile of salad leaves–radiccio, rocket, lettuce–dressed with olive oil lemon juice and salt.

Here it is on a bed of Sam Talbot’s Quinoa.

1lb broccoli–broken into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

garlic cloves–sliced as thin as you can

2 fresh red chilis, medium hot–de-seeded and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

lemon sliced very thin

  • Steam the broccoli–more than blanched less than tender–still crunchy in other words.
  • Remove to a bowl and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt.
  • Heat a grill to hot.
  • Scatter the broccoli over it and colour lightly. [Don’t FORGET this step!]

  • Return to the serving bowl.
  • Heat the second batch of oil.
  • When hot cook the garlic slices and the chili until the garlic takes on some color.

  • Pour this mixture over the broccoli.
  • Add the lemon slices and mix in carefully.
  • Serve on a bed of salad leaves dressed with  olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Lamb Tagine with dried apricots & flageolet beans

(Reproduced from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics p 138)

This superb dish for company is adapted from one in Frances Bissell’s exceptional book The Pleasures of Cookery.

for 6/8

2 kg/41⁄2 lb boned shoulder of lamb–cut away as much fat as possible, ending up with about 1.5 kg/31⁄2 lb lean lamb, cut into 2 cm/1 inch cubes

3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions–sliced
4 cloves of garlic–chopped
11⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
11⁄2 tsp coriander seeds
850 ml/11⁄2 pints/31⁄2 cups stock--I use organic vegetable stock cubes
24 dried apricots–halved (use the yellow ones as they show up better in the sauce later)
salt and pepper
parsley, or even better coriander–chopped
1 large tin flageolet beans–drained and rinsed

  1. Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Seal the meat in hot oil, using a large frying pan; when nicely browned, remove it to the ovenproof casserole you will serve it from.
  3. Gently fry the onions and garlic in the fat and oil left in the pan without browning them.
  4. Fold in the whole spices and let them cook a little.
  5. Add almost all the stock, leaving just enough in which to heat up the beans, and let it reduce a bit.
  6. Add the apricots. Season this mixture and pour it into the casserole.
  7. Add a handful of parsley or coriander.
  8. Heat the beans in a little stock and when hot add to the casserole. Turn everything over carefully.
  9. Bring it all to a simmer and place it on a low shelf in the preheated oven.
  10. Cook for 2 hours, checking after an hour to see if it needs topping up with stock – being careful not to lose the intensity of the sauce.
  11. Serve over bulgar wheat [Which you’ve remember to prepare!]

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Making Poldark has been Nooked at last!

Nick it on NOOK–it’s a steal!

It’s available now on NOOK.

Making Poldark: Memoir of a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre Actor
Making Poldark: Memoir of a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre Actor
by Robin Ellis
This revised version came out in April 2012 and is greatly expanded–including new photos from Winston Graham’s personal Poldark photo album.
And while we are at it…
Delicious Dishes for Diabetics
Delicious Dishes for Diabetics 

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I have been commissioned to write another cookbook!

Publisher Constable and Robinson proposes the title:  Healthy Eating for Life–and  I like it.

It widens the remit of Delicious Dishes for Diabetics a little–and straightforwardly tells you what its’s about.

Hope Jameswho did the wonderfully atmospheric illustrations for DDD–has agreed to a repeat.

It is due out in January 2014.

Head down!

P.S.   Poldarke be out!

  My expanded and revised memoir of the Poldark series–Making Poldark–released earlier this yearis now available as an eBook for Kindle via Amazon.com ($10.29). It will be out for Nook and other platforms soon!

 

 

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As I came out of the new organic supermarket this morning, the dry heat hit me–transporting me directly to California.

That would be nice.

Enter the shop in France and exit six thousand miles away and close to the ocean–all stocked up!

Dream on–though they did put a robot on Mars this week–not in my lifetime.

Good weather for a stressful day–a double clinic visit and the results of a blood test.

On second thoughts, maybe California and the land of perpetual sun is not such a good idea….

My first clinic visit is to a skin surgeon for him to look at a small cancer on the left side of my nose.

Stop PressPoldark’s scar becomes a reality!

Pas de soucis–the dermatologist assured me, providing a referral to Docteur Mylonas, the plastic surgeon–nothing to worry about!

He confirmed what she’d told me–that the culprit was the sun.

I had spent all my sun capital!, she’d said, charmingly.

Docteur Mylonas picked a date at the end of August for the small operation.

Just after lunch on the 28th suit you?

It’s this easy? Seems so. 

That’ll be forty euros for today, says the receptionist, all reimbursable barring 2 euros.

Quel système!

The blood sample was taken–here in the kitchen–at 8 am Tuesday by our friend, Sylvie, one of the local team of nurses.

Just the quarterly A1C  (measuring the glucose levels in my blood).

Sometimes the result comes in the post from the lab the next day.

Nothing yesterday.

I listen anxiously for the postal van’s vibrations on my return from the clinique.

Just before 1pm–a tad early–I hear it and go out to the box.

The envelope is there and the moment of truth–eek!

Worryguts in my head, it’s bound to be bad…

I unfold the paper and…

6.4% is clearly written–0.1% less than 3 months ago. In the range of normal–just!

A silent whoopee is followed by a moment of self-satisfaction as the anxiety recedes.

But there is no room for complacency, Robin, I quickly remind myself.

The 6pm appointment with the cardiologist will round off the day!

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A week nearly since Angharad died. The response on the blog has been extraordinary.

Over twelve thousand hits and an outpouring of emotion that has astonished me.

She touched so many hearts with her performance and–for those that met her–with her charm and zest for life.

Her early death at 63 is shocking and promotes a feeling of disbelief–how can this be?

Many people are watching Poldark again on the newly-reissued DVDs or on Netflix in the USA  and there she is in her prime–fiery and proud–in full flood, giving as good as she gets and eventually winning through.

It seems impossible that she’s gone.

Karen H in her comment recalled Demelza’s words in the final scene of the series.

“The last sentence Angharad says as Demelza rings so true,There is no tomorrow. All we have is now.”

Carpe diem–Karen adds.

Life goes on.

Il faut l’accepter.

The hay is in and the sunflowers are beginning to bow to the inevitable.

The tomatoes–better tended than last year–are ripening.

Even the two courgette plants are surviving.

Meredith and Alice collected five kilos of honey from the hive this week in the second harvest. It has a deeper hue this time due to the different plants the bees are working on.

The chicks are no longer chicks and are roaming wider each day on bug patrol.

The garlic is drying in the barns as the Lautrecois, (us locals!), look forward to the annual Fete de L’Ail Rose–held always on the first Friday of August–in a week’s time.

If the weather holds we can expect over 10 thousand people to mill through the narrow streets of the village.

Sawle Feast was a more modest affair back then but surely no less anticipated and prepared for by the Nampara household!

It has touched me deeply to read the many comments and learn how moved people are by Angharad’s passing.

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I have just heard that Angharad Rees has died aged 63 from pancreatic cancer.

It is devastating news.

Angharad was a wonderful friend and talented professional colleague.

Her portrayal of Demelza in Poldark was definitive and the series could not have enjoyed the success it had without her unique spirit informing the role.

We shared a very special time.

I will always remember her with enormous affection and respect.

She was a person who took pains to care for others.

She spread her magic where ever she went.

Her sense of humour was a joy and often for me a morale booster.

It was a privilege to know her.

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