Courgette, cheese and chickpea cake (gf)


As a follow-on to my previous recipe, I thought I would try a savoury version of the chickpea cake. The result was a protein-rich cross between a paschtida and a savoury flan or cake. In any case, it was very tasty and would make an ideal accompaniment (we ate it with spicy sausages), or could be served on its own with a green salad. This recipe is particularly for Jenna, who is currently in need of quick and easy-to-make gluten-free sustenance.

Ingredients (serves 6)

300g chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pre-cooked and rinsed (you can use tinned)

4 eggs, beaten

1 courgette, peeled and finely chopped

½ red pepper, washed and sliced

1 shallot or small onion, peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

150g hard cheese (I used Comté), grated

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and prepare a medium-sized cake tin, round or square. Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor until they reach a paste-like consistency and then mix in the other ingredients, except the cheese, one at a time, continuing to pulse. Add the cheese last and mix in by hand. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for an hour (a fork inserted into the centre should come out clean). May be served hot or cold.


Apple chickpea cake (gf) and competitive shoppers


Yesterday was one of the warmest days of the year so far and, in the afternoon, I went on an ice-cream dash to our local supermarket. I’ve never thought of myself as being the least bit competitive, but I’m now wondering if I shouldn’t reconsider following a rather random conversation with another shopper at the checkout:

Random Monsieur: ‘I’ve got two tubs of ice-cream’

Me: ‘I’ve got three’

RM: ‘I’m on a motorbike’

Me: ‘I’m in a car’

RM: ‘I haven’t got a freezer bag’

Just when I was about to boast that I, Miss Organised, did have one, I realised that he was actually angling to jump the queue in front of me. I was rather disappointed because I was beginning to quite enjoy the harmless one-upmanship; It certainly beat thinking horribly uncharitable thoughts about the basket contents of my fellow shoppers, which seems to be my mind’s default activity while waiting in line.


I’m quite addicted to this cake. It couldn’t be simpler and it’s spicy and satisfying, as well as being incredibly healthy. Chickpeas are a rich, tasty and versatile source of amino acids, fibre, manganese, iron, zinc and folates.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

300g chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pre-cooked and rinsed (you can use tinned)

3 eggs, beaten

4 tablespoons honey (preferably raw)

2 apples, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons garam masala spice (or other mixed spice to taste)

100g raisins (pre-cooked in a tablespoon of rum for about 10 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and prepare a medium-sized cake tin, round or square. Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor until they reach a paste-like consistency and then mix in the other ingredients, except the raisins, one at a time, continuing to pulse. Add the raisins last and mix by hand. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for between 50 minutes and an hour (a fork inserted into the centre should come out clean). Best served cold.


Spelt pilaf and painful toes


Yesterday, when Castaño, our Exceedingly Naughty Horse, stood heavily on my little toe, I thought my husband’s reaction, ‘don’t worry, it can’t possibly be broken – he’s not very heavy’ (translated: ‘stop moaning and get over it’), could have been a little more sympathetic. I don’t know what his point of reference is, but half a ton of gyrating horse on my little toe certainly felt heavy to me.

Today, while treating our mare’s foot (she managed to stand on the only piece of stray metal within a ten kilometre radius), Luc had his toe stamped on. Castaño, in full-blown ‘joys of Spring’ mode, saw fit to bite the mare’s rear end while she was tied up and, in reaction to the whippersnapper’s blatant audacity, she lashed out behind and stood on Luc’s toe in front.  When he yelled at me to get my ‘damned Iberian hooligan’ out of the way, my innate sense of decorum prevented me from saying: ‘it can’t have hurt that much, she’s not very heavy’. Or it almost did anyway. ;-)


Spelt grain has a robust, slightly nutty flavour and is high in fibre, B vitamins and minerals. It also contains all nine amino acids. Another considerable benefit of spelt is that it is less likely to cause allergy or intolerance than wheat.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

200g spelt grain

1 tomato, peeled and cubed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

I teaspoon curry powder

750ml chicken or vegetable stock

20g cashew nuts

fresh parsley or basil

Gently fry the shallots and garlic in olive oil in a large frying pan until softened. Add the spelt grain and continue to fry for a few minutes, mixing well so that the grain is covered in olive oil. Add the tomato, stock and seasoning, again mixing well. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes until the spelt is cooked, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Stir in the cashew nuts a few minutes before the end of cooking time and add the parsley or basil to garnish before serving.

Cheesy cornbread and downwardly mobile dogs



by Hugo,
Canine Correspondent

I’ve been chewing something over for a while now: Why are humans the only race that don’t automatically stretch when they get up? Dogs stretch, horses stretch, cats stretch and even hens who, let’s face it, aren’t the brightest, stretch. Humans like to think they rule the roost, but they’re not always very clever when it comes to basic body-maintenance. Bossy often complains (loudly and at length) about her hurt back and she sometimes goes to the bone doctor. What a lovely job that must be, specialising in bones. I must look into that – I’m sure it would be a good job for me.

Bossy has also taken to lying on a soft blue mat (which makes very satisfactory chewing material) and bending her body into most unhuman positions; she looks a bit silly actually. Apparently it’s called yoga. At first I thought it was just a phrase, but she does it quite regularly. When I have time, I show her how it should be done properly. Usually the Tall One or the Noisy One interrupts to try to talk to her and they get very short shrift indeed. I like to lie on the soft blue mat with her, but she doesn’t seem to like that either. All in all, she’s not very easy to please *desolate doggie sigh*.


Thank you Hugo, not only for writing today’s blog, but also for the invaluable ‘tips’. This cornbread is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ingredients (serves 10)

60g butter

2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained and rinsed

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

325g polenta (or cornmeal)

250ml full-fat milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons spelt flour

sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

140g hard cheese (I used Cheddar and Parmesan), grated

Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 22cm cake tin with olive oil. Gently fry the onions in melted butter for about 15 minutes until golden and sticky. Add the sweetcorn and cook for a further five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Mix the eggs, polenta, milk, baking powder, flour and seasoning in a bowl. Add most of the grated cheese and mix well. Stir in the onion and corn. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 35 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top and return to the oven for ten minutes. Delicious served still warm from the oven or cold.

Italian-style green beans and lace-chewing mini goats


Castaño, our most misbehaved horse, still attends the School for Exceedingly Naughty Horses a couple of times a week and Léo has taken to accompanying us. I’m not sure whether he comes because he’s looking for general naughtiness tips, or whether he’s fallen for the stable’s miniature goat. I suspect it’s the latter; my family and I have an immoderate fascination for mischievous animals and this little she-goat fits the bill very nicely. They spend an hour climbing trees, inspecting muddy ditches, making the horses spook and charging each other with imaginary horns. She invariably takes pleasure in undoing Léo’s shoe laces with her teeth and chewing them to bits. Is ‘chewing the lace’ a goat variation on ‘chewing the cud’ I wasn’t aware of? Anyway, as I appear to lack the foresight to buy several replacement pairs at once, I’ve spent much of the past month on a quest for flourescent green laces. Never let it be said that I don’t live life on the edge.

This dish makes a wonderful accompaniment to fish or meat, or it may be served as a light lunch or supper with a poached egg on top.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1kg green beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 tomato, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

handful of pine nuts

12 black olives

6 anchovies

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika, piment d’Espelette or chilli powder

10g Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Precook the beans until ‘al dente’, strain and set aside. Gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan adding the onions and cooking for a few minutes. Add the sliced red pepper, tomato and garlic and continue to cook until the red pepper and tomato soften. Add the green beans, pine nuts, olives, anchovies and seasoning, gently combining and cook for a few more minutes.

Flourless chocolate cake (gf) and slovenly asset management


Based on my current posts, anyone would think that we currently existed solely on a diet of chocolate cake. Last week I scored a significant hit of carrots and beets from our neighbour, Yvette. Unfortunately the carrots disappeared within the hour; our asset management leaves a lot to be desired at the moment. Yesterday my husband drove off with his wallet and ID card on the roof of the car (both were later found in the track a kilometre from the house) and I had my Visa card confiscated by a very uppity machine (don’t let’s go there). Back to the disappearing carrots: Texas, the equine retiree with a highly inflated sense of entitlement, broke into the storage grange and scoffed the whole ‘hit’! To my further shame, he also chewed Yvette’s straw basket to bits. Anyway, he was about to move on to the beetroot when I discovered him. Luckily the beets were recovered, almost slobber-free, and I was able to whip up this cake.


Beetroot has plenty of health benefits: It lowers blood pressure, boosts stamina, fights inflammation, supports detoxification and helps prevent cancer. It is also fibre-rich and a very rich source of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and manganese.

This is another adaptation from Amber Rose’s wonderful book ‘Love, Bake, Nourish’.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

300g cooked beetroot, peeled and puréed.

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

4 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon organic cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch of salt

125g ground almonds

125g min. 70% cocoa solids chocolate

1 teaspoon of rum (optional)

4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and prepare a 22cm cake tin. Mix the beetroot, eggs, honey, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, beating well. Once the ingredients are well combined, fold in the ground almonds. Melt the chocolate in the rum over a low heat and add the oil. Stir the chocolate and oil into the existing mixture, combining well. Transfer to the cake tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool before serving, lightly dusted with cocoa powder.

Chocolate and vanilla marble cake and the perils of laying at altitude


Our hens lay their eggs in hay-filled wooden boxes on shelves in my husband’s untidy toolshed workshop. Naturally, they don’t lay in any old boxes;  these are exceedingly posh vintage wine boxes. Three of our more intrepid hens are into extreme sports and like to lay altitude eggs on the higher shelves, while the more cowardly lay at ground level. Yesterday afternoon we heard an unusual and hysterically distressed screeching noise coming from the workshop, very different from the customary ‘get out of my face bitch or I’ll do you over’ squawking. Upon investigation, it appeared that two of the intrepids had been trying to lay in the same high altitude box at the same time and had ended up in a heap on the ground, imprisioned in the box that had landed on top of them. Luckily both they and their eggs were intact or I suspect we’d have been eating coq au vin omelette for dinner. ;-)



250g spelt flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

125g butter

125g extra virgin organic coconut oil

100g honey

100g cane sugar

5 medium eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together. Divide the mixture in two and add the cocoa powder to one half, combining well. Set aside. Cut the butter and coconut oil into cubes and leave to soften at room temperature. Beat the butter and coconut oil with an electric mixer for about ten minutes until fluffy and then gradually add the sugar and honey, continuing to beat. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk for another few minutes. Add and combine the vanilla extract. Half the mixture and gently fold in the plain flour mixture to one half and the cocoa powder and flour mixture to the other. Transfer the mixtures to a buttered loaf tin, alternating one spoon of plain mixture, one spoon of cocoa mixture. Bake for 80 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.