Posts Tagged ‘Donald Douglas’


We first had this dish at Donald Douglas’s birthday lunch. (Donald played the dourly determined Captain MacNeil in Poldark and has been a cherished friend and neighbour of ours here in France for years.) It was his step-daughter Daisy’s birthday contribution to the celebratory feast…


…together with a magnificent cream sponge with lighted candles!

It’s versatile and can be served in a number of ways–as a salad or a vegetarian main course or a side dish–it has a pleasing depth of taste.

Soaking the brown rice beforehand helps it to cook more easily in time with the lentils.

100gms basmati brown rice

175 gms puy/green/brown lentils

1 tblsp cumin seeds

1 tblsp coriander seeds

2 tblsps olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp each ground allspice and cinnamon

salt and pepper

300 ml hot water

1 large onion–peeled, halved and sliced

2 tblsps olive oil

Small bunch parsley or coriander–chopped

  • Wash the rice and soak it in a bowl of cold water for twenty minutes.


  • Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan until they begin to colour.


  • Then pop them in a mortar and pestle them to break them up a bit.


  • Wash and drain the lentils,  bring them to the boil in plenty of water and cook them until they begin to soften–about twenty minutes–they should not become mushy.
  • Drain the lentils and return them to the pan.
  • Mix all the spices with the two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Drain the rice and add it to the lentils in the pan.
  • Mix in the spices and turn over everything together.


  • Integrate the hot water and season with salt and pepper.


  • Bring up to the boil, turn the heat to low and cover the pan tightly.
  • Cook until the rice is done–allow about thirty minutes.


  • As it cooks heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and fry the sliced onion slowly until it colours and crisps a little.


  • When the lentils and rice are cooked fold in the onions–leaving some to sprinkle on top with the parsley or better still the fresh coriander.

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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.


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.


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!


Donald Douglas as Capt. McNeil


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.



Old enemies bury the past.

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Still life--salad bowl

We were invited for lunch at our friends Donald and Emma’s yesterday.

Donald Douglas of that ilk!

He who gave up chasing me over the Cornish cliffs dressed as Captain McNeil years ago (sensible fellow) and settled down a few miles from us here in France.

I’m always slightly wary of visits to Donald–never sure he hasn’t a troop of redcoats hidden in the stable–just kidding!

Donald, apart from being a fine actor, is a talented gardener and an artist–happy experimenting in any medium.

Even food.

This is chilled Red and Yellow Pepper Soup with chives.

Or is it a painting?

Three (Robin, Donald, and friend Miranda) about to eat the painting...

No–it’s lunch.

In fact–it’s an edible action painting.

He makes the two soups–being careful they are of the same consistency–and fills two jugs.

He chills them and when the guests are seated he starts to “paint”–pouring from both jugs at the same time.

He adds a swirl of cream and a large pinch of chives to each bowl and hey presto–

ART you could EAT!!

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First “post-launch” post–we’ve been busy!

Twenty-two friends (many of whom, in one way or another, had helped with the book) sat down for lunch on Friday at tables set end on end under the trees–

Ma's Gazpaccio waiting patiently

–nicely protected from the sun but rain could be a problem and it has been uncharacteristically wet this year.

The skies were scoured for signs, forecasts checked hourly and finally a prayer went up to the heavens.

We were blessed–not a drop fell the entire afternoon.

A friendly sounding hum rose early from the throng–Ma’s Gazpacho was hitting the spot; as was the mellow Tuscan red poured from a 3 litre magnum–a gift from our friends Keith and Helen.

It–“the book”–was launched.

Hope James–the book’s illustrator–was there and I read this out from our friend Eva Marie’s email, received that morning:–

“Her beautiful sketches brought me right back to your cozy home and the French countryside. I am suddenly missing you and Meredith!”

That’s what they do–they bring the book to life.

Chicken was next, with unfamiliar spices–sumac and za’atar–[see part two–tomorrow– for the recipe]

An Ottolenghi special that lends itself well  to large parties.

Marinaded overnight on Wednesday, cooked in three batches Thursday afternoon and gently reheated–stacked in its juices–an hour before we ate it.

Served with plain green beans, a garlicky yogurt sauce and toasted Moroccan bread.

Then followed two lovely surprises–for me.

Fellow Poldark actor Donald Douglas [his chilled cucumber soup features in the book] tapping a glass and rising during the cheese course, meant only  one thing–he was going to speak.

He not only spoke–he sang!

“There is nothing like a Dame” from South Pacific–adapted for the occasion.

“He played Ross the brave and bold

Now here he is grey haired and old”.

Now another surprise.

My old friend George–one of three distinguished judges present–touched me and everyone with his words on long lasting friendship.

What a day!

[A second helping promised for tomorrow…!]

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