Pigeon breasts with mustard sauce

Pigeon breasts, seasoned, then pan-fried in butter until browned outside but very rare in the middle.  Rested for two minutes, then sliced and served on a bed of chopped spring cabbage cooked with tarragon and lime juice.  Brown rice and wild rice cooked in salted water and glazed with a splash of olive oil.  Sauce of shallots fried in olive oil until browned, then mixed with chopped oregano, ground mustard and paprika, a drip of wine and a good glug of soya cream and cooked until thickened.

Walnut and lentil Wellington

Green lentils, simmered in vegetable, stock drained and cooled.  Mixed with chopped walnuts, chopped parsley and marjoram, black onion seeds, ground coriander, chopped root ginger and a double-yolk egg.  Seasoned then wrapped in puff pastry, seams glued with beaten egg, crimed and folded underneath. Marked the pastry with diagonal slashes, then glazed with more egg-wash and baked for 35 minutes at 180C.

Slow-roast belly pork

Belly pork, rubbed with salt, roasted at 230C for ten mins, then covered and turned down to 120C for three hours.  Seasoned with fresh black pepper, ground cumin and nutmeg and laid on a bed of rosemary. Roasted under cover for another hour and a half at 130C, then uncovered and chacked up to 230C for a fifteen minute sizzle.  Rested for fifteen minutes under a bit of foil before carving.  Served with carrots, mashed with tarragon butter, peas and creamed potatoes with chopped parsley.

French beans with tomatoes

French beans from the garden (well, the freezer…)  boiled for a few minutes in salted water, then tossed in a little butter to glaze.  Chopped onions and chilli (still using the crop from three years ago), fried in olive oil until browned.  Added chopped garlic and a good handful of thyme and marjoram fresh from the garden.  Lots of cherry tomatoes from the freezer, a dollop of tomato puree, salt and pepper, plus a little bit of a vegetable stockpot.  Simmered in a covered pan until the tomato mix was gooey.

Caroline wanted chips.  Ever willing to oblige, I provided chips…

Pork and ginger

Pork medallions, cut into batons, fried hot for a few minutes until browned. Onions and sweet peppers sauteed in a little olive oil, with lots of shredded chopped ginger root and chopped mushrooms.  Added the pork, some green olives, paprika, black pepper and a little pork stock, cooked in a covered pan for 15 minutes.  Served with arborio risotto rice, simmered until sticky. Added a splash of cream and some butter to the rice to make it velvery and rich

Leek and potato soup

Fried a diced onion and some nice fresh sliced leeks in a mix of olive oil and butter.  Parboiled some new potatoes, then chopped them roughly and added to the onions/leeks with some fresh thyme, sage and seasoning.  Fried for a minute or two then added chicken stock and simmered gently until the potatoes were falling apart.  Whizzed with a stick blender until smooth, then added chopped parsley and a good glug of soya cream.  Served with fresh chopped chives

Caramelised bananas with blackcurrant compote

Bananas, halved lengthways and across, fried gently in butter until golden on the round side, sprinkled with brown sugar on the cut side, then fried fast for a minute or so until the sugar caramelised and went crunchy.  Blackcurrants simmered with strawberry jam, ground ginger and a little honey.  Served with a smear of honey sprinkled with confectioners sugar, shredded garden mint and a drizzle of cream

Daube Provençal

We were in a hurry to eat this so the photo shows the aftermath….

Onions, sliced vertically and fried with crushed garlic and a little olive oil until browned.  Deglazed with a glass and a half of red wine, added frozen cherry tomatoes, lots of fresh thyme and rosemary.

Chunks of braising steak, seasoned then seared in a very hot pan with a little oil, heated to smoking point.  Browned for a minute or so each side then added to the main pan, along with the frying juices.

Reduced for a few minutes to drive off the alcohol.  Added thickly-sliced carrots and topped up with beef stock.  Simmered for 20 minutes then cooked in the oven at 120C for three hours until the meat was tender and on the verge of falling apart but the carrots were still intact.

Butternut squash, cubed and tossed in olive oil, then seasoned and sprinkled with caraway seeds, then roasted until soft in the middle and golden outside.

Served with buttered new potatoes, wilted spinach with lemon juice and fresh purple sprouting broccoli