A few weeks ago, I broke a toe on a cast iron dog bowl stand. I had been rushing outside in a panic in response to a hunter friend’s urgent gesticulations outside. (It turned out he just had a few bullets left, and wanted our permission to shoot down a hornet’s nest from one of our oak trees.) I hobbled back into the house, grabbed the crutches (they are never far from reach), then skidded across the newly-varnished floor and landed up in a another heap. The second of the day.
My toe was healing quite nicely, when I somehow got it stuck down a hole and re-broke it. As if that wasn’t silly enough, later on, at a doctor’s appointment to see if he had any good tips on reoffending broken toes, I got one-sided lockjaw from a propolis gum sweet I had taken for my sore throat. While I was trying desperately to free my teeth from the persecutory gummy, my bemused-looking doctor worried I was having a stroke. Anyway, to sum up, his advice was: ‘go home and stop moving’. I think he was referring to the healing of my poor toe, but I’m now wondering if the advice wasn’t a more general ‘go home and stop being such a pain in the arse’…
We put a coat on Bijou (of drumming-in-the-night fame) the other night, as it was going to be very cold. He was quite compliant while we kitted him out, and didn’t seem to be bothered by the extra layer. This obviously wasn’t the case, however, as the next morning he was ‘sans couverture’, and not altogether displeased with himself. He had left the blanket in a heap at the end of the field and covered it with sand.
This is not a truly authentic carbonara recipe; true carbonara has no cream (or mushrooms etc.). I think the golden rule is to be careful not to overheat and scramble the eggs when you add them to the pasta.
Parsley: a natural antihistamine
I’m allergic to tree pollen, so always try to include lots of parsley at this time of year. Parsley is a natural antihistamine, as it prevents histamine from being released from mast cells in your body. It’s a rich source of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as apigenin and carotenoids, and also increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
Recipe for tagliatelle carbonara (serves 4)
- 400g tagliatelle
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 200g streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into strips
- 4 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 3 egg yolks
- 8 tablespoons crème fraîche
- Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of chopped parsley
- 60g Parmesan cheese, grated
Put the tagliatelle to cook in salted boiling water. Add the olive oil to a frying pain, then add the strips of bacon, mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the bacon is crispy. Place the egg yolks in a bowl, then add the crème fraîche, seasoning and parsley. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a little of the water for the sauce. Add the pasta to the bacon and mushroom mixture the frying, then the egg/cream mixture, turning the heat right down. Top with the grated Parmesan and serve.
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and peaceful 2024! 🥳🥂
Léo and I went to London for Christmas. We were escorted in by storm Pia, and back home again by storm Gerrit. Welcoming Pia left us circling over the airport waiting for a gust-free moment to land, and the turbulence caused my nose to start flamboyantly gushing with blood. By the time we finally arrived at the gate, I was lavishly splattered, with tissues plugging my nostrils (I’m really selling myself here, aren’t I?). The car hire desk had long-since closed for the evening, and we had to traipse around the airport at 3am looking for a hotel room. I wondered afterwards if the first three hotels had been genuinely full, or whether they had just been just intimidated by my scary, red and white halloween face.
Night and day delivery modes
I am amused by the contrasting approaches to Amazon deliveries in London and rural France. London couriers have perfected a mark and fling approach; some have such an impressive aim, they don’t even have to leave their vehicles. In stark contrast, here we receive a text message saying: ‘Your courier will be with you in five minutes. Please be sure to lock up ALL of your animals and turn on a light if it’s dark’.
A dog with zero recall, often several horses on the loose, and an untold number of deer hanging out with the other horses on the peripheries, means this can be quite a challenge. (I haven’t dared to ask any of our neighbours if they receive the same message, because I fear we’re particularly targeted!) Unable to meet the criteria for delivery, we quite often end up driving to the main road to pick up our package.
I made these lemon possets for New Year’s Day, as a foil for the rather rich starter of scallops and tagliatelle in Pernod, followed by Beef Wellington and Broccoli.
Lemons, and in particular, lemon peel have numerous health benefits. It is packed full of bioactive compounds, such as D-limonene, which helps to reduce the oxidative stress associated with tissue damage and accelerated aging. It also has anti-inflammatory, blood sugar modulating, and anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties. D-limonene may also protect against stomach ulcers by neutralising stomach acid and increasing gastric mucus production to promote gut healing.
Recipe for lemon posset (serves 4)
- 600ml double cream
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 lemons, juiced and zested (approx 75ml juice)
- 20 almonds, chopped
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan, stir in the sugar and two-thirds of the lemon zest. Bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and whisk for a couple of minutes until the sugar has melted. Divide the mixture between four individual serving dishes. Leave to cool at room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least six hours, or preferably overnight. Scatter over the remaining lemon zest and some chopped almonds, and serve!
A hunter friend presented us with a brace of pheasants and we invited him to eat them with us. He seized the opportunity to lecture Luc, at length and rather bossily I thought, on the fact that he’d cleared away too much of the undergrowth amongst the pine trees, causing the animals to flee. If they have fled, they haven’t gone very far; I found a couple of deer in the tack room last night, helping themselves to the horses’ grain.
Round and round and round again
France has the dubious honour of having the most roundabouts in the world. (And also the most famous roundabout in the world: The Arc de Triomphe in Paris.) With a total of 42,986 roundabouts (and counting), France also ranks first when it comes to number of roundabouts per capita. My apologies for sounding as though I swallowed a copy of ‘Boring Stats for Nerds’.
Roundabouts were ‘imported’ from the UK in the ’70s, because intersections were becoming too dangerous; French drivers simply didn’t stop. Although they have improved things, danger-wise, it’s not unheard at all of to see tyre marks going right through the middle. Driving around the outskirts of Bordeaux this weekend, I was suddenly struck by just how many there were; we went around a total of 16, in under six kilometres. Unfortunately my inner ear stayed in roundabout mode and I spent the afternoon veering to the right, like a haggis on flat ground.
A Landscape Gangsta and inappropriate comedy
In other news, Java has adopted full-on Landscape Gangster mode (like the insatiable roundabout builders). We have more holes in the garden than I’ve ever seen, which isn’t ideal when you’re as prone to spraining your ankle as me. I think the sodden ground has just proved too irresistible for her. I spotted Luc having an apparently amusing and in-depth chat with a post box the other day. On further inspection, I discovered he was actually talking to a security guard who was sitting beside the post box. But for a moment, from where I was standing it looked for all the world like he was in the midst of a psychotic break.
We just got back from the funeral of a friend from our town. For some reason Luc used his recently-installed Waze navigation app, to get us to the church. That is, our church in our actual town; it’s still not clear why the app was needed… Anyway, in the middle of the service, during a hush (of course), it suddenly blurted out: ‘FAITES DEMI-TOUR DES QUE POSSIBLE’ (do a u-turn as soon as possible). And this, on repeat until we were able to get it under control. Getting it under control was no mean feat as I was suffering from that shame-making, dignity-stripping, sweaty, uncontrollable silent laughter that ill-timed comedy moments cause. A poignant message for a sad afternoon nonetheless, I thought.
Recipe for pheasant with pancetta and prunes (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 300g thickly sliced pancetta, cut into strips
- 2 pheasants, gutted
- Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 400ml white wine
- 200g prunes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place a casserole dish ( large enough to take both pheasants) over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme and bay leaves and cook for about five minutes until the onions are soft and slightly golden. Add the bacon and fry for a further five minutes until golden. Add the pheasants, season and then cook for a couple of minutes, turning often, until well browned on all sides. Add the white wine and then the prunes, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook in the oven for about an hour. I think this is best served with a potato and butternut squash purée and green peas.
Following on from my previous post about Jazz, our thoroughbred Arabian horse and his water-sensitive coat, I’m pleased to report that he now fully-equipped with suitable waterproof attire, and his neuroses are calmed. He is so pleased with his new coat that he showcases it, with a little pirouette, for anyone that hasn’t already admired it. With the Jazz problem sorted, attention-starved Bijou decided to perfect turning on the taps and lights in the grange with his nose at 3am. As we hear the noisy water pump inside the house, and the lights make Java bark, he has become the cause of many an interrupted night. It’s not too surprising though; he has form as a night time pest.
Léo was speaking to a Turkish Erasmus student last week, who said that she had seen more male genitalia since arriving in France three weeks ago than in 21 years of life in Istanbul. Léo, rather taken aback, and not wishing to delve too deeply, would have left it at that, but the poor girl, bewildered — and slightly traumatized — went on to say: ‘What on earth is it with you Frenchmen and whipping it out and peeing in the street?’ She said that in Turkey, men wouldn’t think of indulging, as it’s illegal. As Léo replied, it’s illegal in France too, but it doesn’t seem to stop anyone. Just so you know, the fine for ‘pipi-sauvage’ in France is, on average 68€, but in Bordeaux, where this conversation was taking place, it’s 450€! The Bordelaise certainly like to live life on the edge.
Recipe for tagliatelle with prawns and Pernod (serves 4)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 1 fennel, trimmed, rinsed and coarsely grated
- 2 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
- 360g tagliatelle
- 300g raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
- 50ml Pernod (vermouth would work too)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Small bunch of parsley, chopped
Gently heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots, fennel, garlic and red chilli. Cook the tagliatelle (al dente) according to the instructions. Adding the prawns to the mixture in the frying pan, cook until pink. Add the Pernod, seasoning and parsley, stirring well. Toss the prawn mixture in the tagliatelle and serve immediately.
Léo mentioned our beehive issue to fellow students in Bordeaux, where he is studying. It turns out that the ‘Bordelais’ refer to the Landes, which is just to the South of Bordeaux, and where we live, as the ‘Wild West’. As such, beehivegate resulted in philosophical shrugs and ‘c’est normal pour les Landes’ comments. This seemed pretty accurate a few days later when, at the notary’s office on other business, we mentioned the problem. We explained that we had rogue beehives on our land, and that we were looking for compensation in honey. We fully expected him to refer us to page 1043 of the Beekeeper’s Code of Conduct, or some such. Instead, his advice was to make absolutely sure they gave us proper heather honey, and not ‘that disgusting sunflower crap’!
Jazz, the horse we acquired recently to accompany Bijou, another of our horses, has not dealt well with the recent rain fall. Arab horses have particularly sensitive skin and seemingly, Jazz is no exception. Despite three shelters, he got very wet on Friday, and this very nearly catapulted him into a nervous breakdown. Outwardly, he showed the signs of a horse with colic: rolling, pawing the ground, looking despairingly at his abdomen… What didn’t make sense was that he kept alternately jumping up in the air as if on springs, and then sitting on the ground like a dog. When I noticed that rubbing him with a towel seemed to bring comfort, I realised it wasn’t colic; it was a full-blown damp-coat hissy fit. As soon as I got inside, I ordered him a raincoat, thinking, trust us to end up with a horse with severe weather neurosis.
Recipe for rum raisin and almond chocolates
- 50g raisins
- 2 tablespoons of rum
- 50g almonds
- 200g good quality dark chocolate (I use this one, which is excellent for cooking)
Soak the raisins in the rum for at least four hours, overnight if possible. Toast the nuts in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, let cool, then chop coarsely.
You can just gently melt the chocolate in a bain-marie, stir in the rum-soaked raisins and almonds and then fill the silicone moulds (I use these) with the mixture and leave them to set in the fridge. Or for a really shiny, flawless finish, you will need to temper the chocolate (see below).
To temper dark chocolate
Untempered chocolate is less controlled and uneven, resulting in a duller appearance. Untempered chocolate is also more sensitive to heat and humidity, and melts more easily.
Finely chop the chocolate and place two thirds in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place a digital thermometer in the chocolate, which you should stir frequently with a rubber spatula. The temperature of the chocolate should never exceed 48°C. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Stir in the remaining third of chocolate little by little, letting it melt before adding more. Leave the chocolate to cool to about 28°C, then immediately place it over the simmering water again. Reheat to 31-32°C and remove the bowl again once you have reached the temperature. The chocolate should now be ‘in temper’ and must be used quickly before it cools and sets. If it does cool and solidify before you have finished using it, it should be re-tempered (i.e. reheated to 32°C).
There are some newcomers at our homestead, some welcome, others not so much. In August we inadvertently became hosts to five million bees. We didn’t actually count them because that would have been laborious and dangerous, we counted the hives and used a calculator. The average beehive houses between 20,000 and 80,000 bees, and there are just over 100 hives. The problem is not the hives, but the fact that the bees use our pool; seemingly for recreation as well as quenching their thirst! After a bit of research, we discovered that a beekeeper, based over 60kms away, wanted to make heather honey, and decided our land was the ideal place to do it. Apparently it didn’t occur to him to ask our permission, for the use of the heather or the pool. I’m all for bees; in fact I’m a big fan, I’m just not keen on swimming with them. We suggested they pay their rent in honey: it will be honetary compensation!
We also have two more horses. One of the horses, Bijou, we owned already, but he has been on loan to a nearby riding club, having been chased from his stable by our two grays. Whoever imagines that horses are not racist, imagines wrongly. The grays used to make life very difficult for Bijou who is chestnut, by blocking his access to hay, chasing him around the field and generally behaving like grey-supremacist hooligans. Now Bijou has his own fields and a gorgeous, newly-acquired chestnut friend called Jazz. Their contact with the greys is restricted to unpleasantries over the fencing.
Chestnuts (the nuts, not the horses) are nutrient-dense. They are vitamin and mineral-rich, and also a great source of antioxidants. Chestnuts are high in fibre, which means they are effective for both blood sugar and hunger control. The tannins and flavonoids help suppress inflammation and in-vitro studies show that extracts from chestnuts suppress the growth and spread of various types of cancer cells.
Recipe for butternut squash and chestnut soup (serves 6)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 250g of pre-cooked chestnuts
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 1.5 litres of chicken stock
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Curry powder to taste (optional)
- 200ml cream
Fry the onions in the olive oil and melted butter until golden brown. Add the chestnuts, butternut squash and carrots and then chicken stock and bring to the boil. Season and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the cream and purée until smooth.
I returned after two weeks away in August (a cruise around The Adriatic, which was very hot, but absolutely stunning. My photos are here if you’re interested), to even greater heat and forest fires far too close for comfort. Luc, who had stayed at home to look after the animals because he doesn’t really enjoy travelling anymore, had done a great job, with one exception: he had inadvertently invited a frenetic mouse into the house.
Living in the middle of the country, we see quite a few mice. But I have never seen a mouse as brazen as this one. At first, I noticed loud rustling noises in the cupboard, and holes in the pasta packaging. Then she (I’m calling the mouse ‘she’ because mice are feminine in French) started to drag and drop whole walnuts, potatoes, bits of dog food and, to my shame, enormous fluffballs across the kitchen floor at night, which means I come down to even more chaos in the kitchen than I have left the night before.
You’d think that the night-time activity might wear her out. Alas no! She spends her days playing ‘cat and mouse’ with us, peaking her nose out from under the cooker and fridge, and scuttling across the floor in front of us whenever we deign to sit down. She is upstairs, downstairs, in every nook and cranny and never seems to sleep.
I was seriously wondering where Super Mouse was sourcing her crack cocaine, when I stumbled across the reason for her hyperactivity: an enormous hole in the packet of ground Ethiopian coffee blend. Her drug of choice has now been confiscated, and she’s going to have to go cold turkey. It’s just a waiting game now… surely she’ll fall asleep at some point.
Basque Piperade originated in the Basque region, where sun-ripened tomatoes and peppers are plentiful.
Recipe for Basque Piperade (serves 6)
- 600g onions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 green peppers, seeds removed and sliced
- 6 mild red chilli peppers, seeds removed and sliced
- 1.5k tomatoes, skinned
- Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- Espelette pepper (or paprika)
Lightly fry the chopped onions and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan. Skin the tomatoes by blanching in boiling water for a minute or so and then add to the dish. Cut the peppers into thin strips and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and Espelette pepper and leave to simmer on a low heat for at least an hour, or until the mixture begins to caramelise very slightly.
Traditionally, piperade includes beaten eggs cooked in the vegetable mixture. Often a thick slice of Bayonne ham is fried and served over the top. It is also good with fried or poached eggs on top.
My iPhone reminded me of my appointment at the mairie to renew my identity card, I grabbed everything, or so I thought, and ran. Unfortunately though, I fell at the first hurdle; I’d forgotten my photos. I was dismissed, and given another appointment for the next day when I was told to ‘make absolutely sure I had everything with me’.
I found an extremely bossy photo booth and even managed, after a bit of haggling, to find the right change. Once the booth had taken my money though, it became even more obnoxious. It ordered me to sit still and remove my glasses, which I did, because its tone made me not inclined to argue. It then told me to read the small print. WTF? How on earth was I supposed to read the small print sans glasses? I bluffed my way through the tyrannical instructions, being extra careful to remove my all my earrings and especially NOT TO SMILE. There was little risk of me smiling; by this time, I was beginning to feel I would never smile again.
Luc was quite unsympathetic, saying that I turn every little thing, even the most mundane, into a Major Diplomatic Incident. At the mairie the next day, my application for a new ID card was declined, as my photos didn’t fit the bill: my hair was flying out of the frame, one of my ears wasn’t on show, and I was smirking, presumably from rapidly impending hysteria. So I now have to repeat the whole process. I actually prefer my chances of explaining my way out of an expired ID card, than taking on that photo booth again…
We have a mirabelle plum tree in our garden, and this is the first year it has borne fruit since it was planted 15 years ago. I often find plums very acidic, but ripe mirabelle plums contain hardly any acid and are very sweet, making them easy on sensitive stomachs.
Recipe for mirabelle plum tart (serves 4-6)
- 100g flour
- 50g butter, diced
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt
- 18 (roughly) mirabelle plums, cut in half, stone removed
- 30g sugar
- 40g ground almonds
- 100ml cream
- 4 tablespoons fruit alcohol (I used calvados)
To make the puff pastry:
Mix the ingredients together in a mixer, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or even overnight. Roll the pastry out (remember to sprinkle flour on your work surface), and fold and roll several times, remember to turn the pastry 90° each time. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate again. To use the pastry, just roll out again according to the shape of your pastry case.
To make the filling:
Arrange the plums in the pastry case, then mix the other ingredients together and pour over the fruit. Bake in a very hot, preheated oven (220°C) for 30 minutes. May be served hot, lukewarm, or cold.
I drove 30kms last week to have my watch battery replaced. The jeweler, who was very patient and more interested in nurturing her inner teacher than her inner profiteer, took the time to show me that the big hand was on the 10, and the little hand was on the three. She said this meant that the watch was showing 3:10, and as it really was 3:10, the watch battery was still working. She then went on to compliment my very blond hair and blue eyes; it was only once I’d left that I realised the subtle point she had been making!
Since Brexit, it has become exceedingly expensive and complicated to send packages to the UK from Europe. Also, the sender is now inundated by far too much information. I recently sent a parcel which took 10 days to arrive. Every single day, I was the delighted recipient of intricate details of its progress. For the record, I’m OK with not knowing when it leaves the post office, when it gets into the van, when it sets off, when it crosses the border, when it stops for a potty break… What next? It’ll be setting up a Tiktok account and papping the posties.
What a boar!
A few evenings ago, hearing a terrible commotion coming from the forest, Leo’s immediate reaction was to ask where Java was. I assume this was based on the premise that where there is Java, there is commotion. Java is currently going through a bit of a phase: Despite angelic airs, her leaning definitely tends more towards criminal than cherubic. As it turns out, it had nothing to do with poor Java, who was snoring on a sofa. (It used to be we blamed it on the boogie; now, apparently we blame it on Java.) The neighbours’ dog had attacked some wild boar, which caused the neighbour and her daughter to escape up a tree, out of harm’s way. When Léo arrived to rescue the damsels in distress, they were still stuck half way up the tree, yelling futile instructions at their dog to leave the boars alone. Java, meantime, was still snoring on the sofa.
Although in Texas and Mexico where chili con carne originated, it is usually served with tortilla chips, I like this variant as the courgettes cool and complement the spices beautifully.
Recipe for chili con carne courgette gratin (serves 4)
- 250g pre-cooked red kidney beans
- 500g minced beef
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 6 tomatoes, blanched and skinned
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into strips)
- 4 chilli peppers (sliced)
- 6 mushrooms, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- 2 glasses of red wine
- 250ml beef stock
- 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 1 square of 80% dark chocolate
- Seasoning to taste : sea salt, black pepper, chilli powder
- 3 courgettes, cut into rounds
- Conté (or any other hard cheese), grated
Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized casserole dish and heat. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and mince and brown well, stirring around a bit. Once browned, add the bell pepper, the chilli peppers and the tomatoes and continue to cook until gently simmering. Add the tomato purée, the kidney beans, Worcester sauce, seasoning, stock, red wine and herbs and bring back to a simmer. checking from time-to-time that there is enough liquid. Add the dark chocolate, stirring well to melt, then place the chili in an oven-proof dish and cover with the courgette rounds and finally the grated cheese. Cook in the oven, preheated to 180°C, for about 45 minutes, or until the courgettes have softened and the cheese is bubbling.
On the evening of the fifth anniversary of my father’s death in mid-June, Luc and I wandered over to the bench which bears a memorial plaque for him. I, naturally, was feeling mournful, but it was a beautiful evening and we decided to sit down for a bit. As we sat down, in perfect unison, the bench groaned and creaked, before squeaking and crying out in pain and finally disintegrating beneath us. All in slow motion. We ended up on our backs, feet in the air with looks of vague alarm on our faces. The alarm morphed quickly into hysterical laughter, and I felt as though my father and his legendary sense of humour had reappeared and were laughing with us; he would have absolutely loved it and, although unplanned and random, it was a wonderful way to remember him!
Yesterday I found a little bird perched on a bookcase upstairs; I showed him the open window, but he returned resolutely to his adoptive bookcase. When he was still there several hours later, no doubt ensconced in a gripping page-turner, I slid a baking tray under him and took him downstairs. He still seemed to lack the resolve to fly away, so I offered him a cup of coffee (in reality it was water before anyone reports me to the RSPB), and I we had a little chat, which obviously bored him enough to inspire him to take wing. It was another very sweet moment.
These coconut slices make ideal energy bar, without being too sweet. They’re very transportable so I use them when I know I might be in a situation when I need to eat a little something on the move. The almonds and coconut are good sources of protein, and also calcium, copper, iron, potassium, sodium, manganese, B vitamins, zinc, copper, and iron.
Recipe for chocolate coconut slices (makes 20)
- 2 eggs
- 75g cane sugar
- 125g coconut oil, melted
- Chopped almonds
- 100g raisins
- 125g flour (I used spelt flour)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 50g dessicated coconut
- 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
- Vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a baking tray by covering with greaseproof paper. Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale, and gradually add the coconut oil at the end. Combine the almonds, raisins, flour, salt, cocoa powder and coconut in a separate bowl and gradually add to the egg/sugar/oil mixture to obtain a thick paste. Finally stir in the rum and vanilla essence. Spread over the greaseproof paper on the baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. Cut into squares while still warm. Keeps in an airtight tin for several weeks, or may be frozen.