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The END!

Full circle.

East coast to West coast and back–three weeks “on the road” and here we are in Washington DC about to fly back home.

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It has ended brilliantly with two memorable meals–both cooked by others.

For three weeks I’ve stayed out of the kitchen–apart from making four omelets in Palo Alto.

JOY!

We have relied on the kindness of friends for places to stay–without their generosity this trip would not have been affordable.

New York City was the US launch and a lively pop-up event at a Scottish bar and restaurant called St. Andrews in the heart of the theatre district.

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Enthusiastic POLDARK fans in the pub snug

 

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An American version of Demelza!

Our friends Melanie and Bruce kindly lent us an apartment on West 22nd Street–a long stone’s throw from where the bomb went off last week.

Melanie sent us photos of the Malibu Diner where we had lunch together–now a crime scene.

Then on to Dallas–hosted by our friends Cindi and Jay.

It’s hot in Dallas–every day! Close to 100F–we duck in and out of air-conditioned buildings and cars.

Screening of the first episode of season two of POLDARK at a local cinema–over 200 in the audience and it looked fabulous up there on the BIG SCREEN.

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Q & A afterwards with Bill Young–the Vice President in charge of programming at KERA, Dallas’ excellent PBS station.

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Thanks, Bill, for your creativity, perseverance and organization.

Some of the Dallas folks had scrapbooks of my FIRST visit to Dallas with Angharad 39 years ago!

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Poignant visit to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas Book Depository, kindly hosted by the museum’s British executive director, Nicola Longford.

With Nicola Longford

With Nicola Longford

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The Texas School Book Depository on Dealey Plaza. The museum inside is the second most-visited site in Texas after the Alamo.

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Brilliant audio tour helps bring some understanding to the tragedy.

Breathless we fly to Los Angeles and arrive late at the lovely little house in Los Feliz of Christy, widow of TV director brother Peter–who died suddenly ten years ago of a heart attack.

Christy helped make the original contact with the flourishing bookstore in Larchmont Village, Chevaliers, where LA Times TV critic Robert Lloyd moderates beautifully the next evening.

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times

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Sold out of books!

The following day a visit SoCal (KOCE), the PBS station for Los Angeles to record some pledge material with Maura Phinney.

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A short flight to San Francisco and on to Palo Alto I visit the Gates of Hell (!) in the Rodin Sculpture Garden on the Stanford University campus with our local host, Holly Brady.

The Gates of Hell do not dampen our enjoyment of the beautiful California day.

Big turn-out at Books Inc— our third visit to this remarkable bookstore opposite the Stanford campus.

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They’ve hosted us for all three cookbook tours.

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I demonstrate that a diagnosis of Diabetes is not the end of convivial eating and drinking–in moderation, of course!

We sell out of books again.

We fit in a private tour of LucasFilms HQ in the Presidio quarter of San Francisco, close to the Golden Gate Bridge, thanks to Hilary and Yves.

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It’s here that cutting edge special effects in films and animation are created. The halls are lined with artifacts at every turn.

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We head back east for the final event at Arlington Library last Sunday.

We stay with our friends, Irv and Iris. Irv, retired Washington correspondent for The New York Times, agreed to moderate the event at Arlington’s Central Library. A double act is born!

The sell-out audience (over 180) enjoyed it enough to buy us out of cookbooks.

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A good finish to a whistle-stop, heads down, no-time-for-shopping tour.

We spend a blessed 24 hours with our friends Ray and Ann in their waterside house on Chesapeake Bay–where I learn to breathe again.

Ray cooks a delicious meal of crab cakes with the local catch and pork fillet with clams–bliss it is.

Back in the D.C. last night Iris cooks up a storm for us.

Salmon marinated in soy, ginger and garlic preceded by an intriguing cantaloupe melon soup served chilled.

First day of autumn passes.

The prospect of walnuts and wood fires.

A bientôt, America and thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The lovely green spears were in Realmont market today at reasonable prices.

I bought a kilo of straight ones for Friday dinner with our guests, arriving from the USA.

A second of less than perfect (less expensive too) specimens–asperges tordues (twisted)–to make this very simple frittata for lunch.

I have five eggs left in the pantry and a red onion. Add some cheese and seasoning–and there you have the ingredients!

Something different to do with this vegetable with a relatively short-lived season and a use for the cheaper spears with the less than perfect appearance.

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  • 450gms/80z asparagus spears–prepared weight–ie tough ends removed and sliced on the diagonal into smallish pieces
  • 1 red onion–peeled and halved and sliced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 5 eggs–beaten

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  • 2oz grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Serves 2 to 4 people 

Soften the onion in the olive oil until it begins to caramelize a little–10 to 15 minutes

Add the asparagus pieces and mix in adding some salt and a twist or two of pepper.

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Cook the mix over a gentle heat until the asparagus begins to soften. I like them to retain a little bite–about 10 minutes.

Let this cool.

Then ease into the beaten egg mix.

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Fold in the cheese and check the seasoning.

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Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 10 inch pan to hot–and fold in the egg mix and spread it evenly.

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Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest and cook for 30 minutes.

There should be just a small pool of liquid left on top.

Finish it under a grill for 30 seconds.

 

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Be careful taking the pan out of the oven–it is very hot, as I was reminded when the pan touched the side of my hand by accident–ouch!

Loosen the frittata round the edges of the pan with a fish slice or spatula and ease it out onto a favorite platter.

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“High on the DING scale!” said Meredith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We returned last night from London.

Out of the car and into the kitchen to turn on the oven–180 C.

Lightly wash and brush the dust off a sweet potato.

Prick with a fork to avoid it bursting.

Then pop the potato into the pre-heated oven. It’ll take about an hour, depending on its size.

Sit down and have a cup of tea!

When revived a little make the simple Red bean chili, below from my new book Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics.

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Adapted from Rose Elliott’s The Bean Book this is a simple solution for people who don’t eat meat but like the look of chili–leave out the carne!

(Not just for vegetarians either–just as my cook book is not just for diabetics!) 

This recipe is my kind of fast food. Quickly done– tastes even better the next day (except we had no leftovers!).

Don’t forget the lemon!

For two weary home comers:

About 8 oz (a jar or tin [can]) of red beans–rinsed and drained

onion–chopped

1 clove of garlic–chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

8oz of tinned [canned] tomatoes–chopped, with the juice

1/2 tsp chili/cayenne powder (more if you like it really spicy)

juice of half a lemon–or more to taste

salt and pepper

  • Soften the onions and garlic gently in the oil–stirring often for about five minutes.
  • Add the chilli powder and the chopped tomatoes with their juice.
  • Mix together, blending in the tomatoes.
  • Add the beans.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring gently to the simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.
  • Pour over the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

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Halve the sweet potato (orange!)on the plate.

Spoon over the beans (red!).

It needed some greenbut couldn’t be bothered to make the Interesting Cabbage from Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics

Found three crisp little gem lettuces in the fridge–halved and quartered just one and shared it between the two plates.

Drizzled olive oil and balsamic on each quarter with a pinch of salt.

Orange, red and green–on the plate.

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Different colors, but back in the land of the Tricolour!

 

 

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Described as a Catalan omelette by Patience Gray in her beautiful cookbook Honey from a Weed, I am making this for lunch:

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It’s the morning after we return from the launch fortnight in the UK for my new cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics.

A predictably slow morning–I’m heavy-lidded and creaky.

It will thus be the lazy version–made with artichoke hearts from an Italian jar (bounty from a trip to Tuscany)–surprisingly good!

Patience Gray’s version uses fresh artichokes (a lot more work!).

It reminds me of lunches eaten over 40 years at la Sostanza in Florence–discovered by chance on a trip in 1978.

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I always order artichoke omelette–served flat–and a plate of white beans with olive oil.

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In a beauty contest, Sostanza’s omelette (tortino) wins…

Patience says the Catalan version is served folded.

Chose where you are having lunch–in Florence at Sostanza or a little restaurant on the Spanish Costa Brava (Wild Coast)–folded or flat–it is delicious.

I’m choosing Sostanza and making it as a single omelette to be divided in two.

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For the Look, I might try Patience’s version next time–i.e. folded!

Tasted good like this, though.

 

Serves 2

1 tin/jar cooked artichokes–drained and sliced on the vertical

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs parmesan cheese–grated

4 eggs

salt and pepper

Gently fry the artichoke slices in the oil.

Season the egg mixture.

When the artichokes are nicely browned, turn up the heat and add the egg mixture.

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Push back the liquid from the rim of the pan, letting the liquid mixture run into the spaces.

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Sprinkle over the parmesan and slip the omelette out of the pan and onto a plate.

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MEDITERRANEAN COOKING for DIABETICS–Delicious dishes to control or avoid diabetes.

Published today in the UK–available from bookstores and on-line and as an ebook.

Here’s a visual tour of some of the recipes you’ll find to cook in the book.

All photos by Meredith Wheeler–(bar one, which she’s in—only fair!)

To know how to eat is to know enough….

~ Old Basque saying

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Robin Ellis Med Cooking 01

 

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VeganPlate

 

SeafoodStew

SpinachTort

Spinach&RiceTorte

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Chicken

 

Gazpacho

 

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Bon appétit!

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“Big Ears” with Molly and Trike on the Heath Extension

It’s the summer of 1946, approaching 4pm one afternoon, in the kitchen of a house in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London.

Molly Ellis (age 31) is coming to terms with life as a full-time housewife in post-war Britain, looking after her young son in a bigger house than she’s ever known.

She’s coping– but this afternoon her friend Rita, “Auntie Rita,” is coming to tea–and Molly is not happy about it.

“Just one more thing–the day isn’t long enough; wish Rita wasn’t coming today!”

The front door bell rang and four-year-old Big Ears, goes to open it while Molly takes the scones from the oven.

“Mummy doesn’t want YOU to come to tea today….”

We never saw Auntie Rita again!

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It’s stressful cooking for a family–however much you enjoy it–and my mother enjoyed it.

She did this for a lifetime–for a family that grew to five.

With younger brother Peter and Jack (a babe in arms).

With younger brother Peter and Jack (a babe in arms).

No sign of pressure, no complaining–regular as clockwork.

(The Auntie Rita episode is the only time I can remember the pressure getting to her.  Maybe she really didn’t like Rita!)

Ma had staying power–the stamina of a professional.

Her duty is how she might have characterized it. Christmas cakes started in September, a little brandy added every month. Home-made marmalade with the bitter oranges from Seville bottled every February. The weekly roast on Sunday stretched ’til Wednesday–cold on Monday, minced on Tuesday. Good home husbandry! I was the admiring sous-chef, specializing in licking out the bowl.

I’m not cooking for a family–but I do cook twice a day.

Of course, I have the time–well usually–and the inclination (usually).

Many people have neither–or maybe one, but not the other.

Shame–they are missing out!

(Not how they might see it, perhaps–“better things to do….”)

As a Type 2 diabetic (my mother was Type 1 and had to inject insulin), cooking puts me in control of what I eat which is a huge advantage.

I like the “day-to-dayness” of it–the regularity.

Perhaps I thrive under the pressure.

Early days as an actor, usually on my way to the unemployment office known as the Labour Exchange, I often thought how much happier I’d be sitting behind a desk, answering the odd phone call–a rosy view of a 9-to-5 job! Or maybe gardening in the fresh air–honest toil.

Then the phone would ring–a job!

Now, I cook twice a day–lunch and dinner.

There’s my pressure.

Enough of this idle musing…

From my about-to-be-published third cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for DiabeticsDelicious dishes to control or avoid diabetes. (Launching TOMORROW, March 3rd)

Smoky cauliflower soup

Cauliflower is not everyone’s first choice as a vegetable–let alone as a soup.

But this soup usual wins over even the most doubtful….

We love it– and marvel that something SO delicious comes from such simple ingredients:

The key ingredient is smoky bacon.

1 large cauliflower--broken into florets

2 cloves of garlic–chopped

1 medium onion–chopped

2 oz smoked bacon–chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

bay leaves

1 litre/2 pints stock

salt and pepper

  • Gently heat the oil in a pan and sauté the bacon bits until they colour a bit.
  • Add the garlic and onion.
  • Cook the mix on for five minutes until the onion has softened.
  • While this happens break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a large saucepan.
  • When ready add the onion and bacon mix to the cauliflower pan with the bay leaves and the stock.
  • Cover and bring this mix up to the simmer and cook until the cauliflower is tender.
  • Lift a couple of tablespoons of the mix out of the pan and into a bowl with a slotted spoon letting the liquid fall back in the pan
  • Liquidise the contents of the pan and test the seasoning.
  • Use the set-aside florets to garnish the soup and serve hot.

 

Meredith asked, What is this? It’s so creamy? Does it have potatoes in it?”

Cauliflower soup,  I replied, somewhat sheepishly.

(Somehow cauliflower is not a vegetable that’s easy to own….)

It’s delicious!

 

 

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