• Breakfast,  Gluten-free,  Hugo blogs,  Nutritional information,  Sweet

    Fig and almond muffins and Hugo makes a point

    Fig and almond muffins
    Dog journalist

    Just a few words from me today because I’m busy proving a point. If you saw Bossy’s last post, you’ll know that she’s gone all hippy dippy on the animal communciation front. I was sceptical about Bossy’s insect repellent story and asked Jojo whether her claims were true. It turns out he had just played along so she would shut up; insect repellent was, it seems, the lesser of two evils and far preferable to listening to her jabber on.

    So I set out to prove to Bossy that her new-found ‘talents’ are but a figment (see what I did there?) of her overactive imagination: I block access to cupboard doors in the kitchen, stay out late into the night, steal food from the worktop, growl at Java and sleep on the sofa. Bossy can dog whisper explanations as to why she isn’t loving my behaviour all she likes, I won’t be influenced. I just hope she doesn’t discover my invaluable new tool: industrial-strength ear plugs.

    Figs are in abundance at the moment. We are giving them out to everyone we know, but they are still getting the better of us. Figs are rich in fibre and vital vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B1, B2 and K, manganese, potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron and phosphorus. They also contain antioxidants.

    Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

    125g coconut oil, softened

    150g buckwheat flour (normal flour will work fine too)

    2 large eggs

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    150g cane sugar

    60g ground almonds

    50ml milk

    6 fresh figs, chopped

    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the coconut oil in the mixer until well softened. Add a spoonful of flour, beat again, then add the eggs, beating further until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add a little more flour to prevent curdling. Gently fold in the rest of the flour, baking powder, sugar, ground almonds and milk. Lastly, fold the chopped figs into the mix. Spoon the mixture into muffin trays and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

  • Gluten-free,  Hugo blogs,  Sweet

    Apricot buckwheat cake (gf) and Hugo sorts things out

    As is too often the case, I feel compelled to tell my side of the story following  Bossy’s latest piece of intelligence (I use the term with a generous helping of irony). I was so annoyed that I had intended to ‘forget’ to include her silly recipe in this post, but Bossy can be very insistent. Obviously my ‘forgetting’ would have been a pedagogical measure and not out of pettiness. Between ourselves though, I consider Bossy to be a lost cause so I didn’t press the issue.
    As I mentioned before, in my spare time (sadly lacking because I’m so exploited), I am studying for a degree in psychology. This is quite a challenge as it’s very hard to find peace and quiet to study in this house. Also, I have to be careful not to leave my books lying around because Java chews them to pieces, Bossy drops them in the bath (she falls asleep while reading), the Noisy One makes aeroplanes from them and the Tall One uses them to light fires. The upshot is that there is hardly any room left for me to lie in my basket as, once I’ve finished studying I have to hide all my books under the blankets. I don’t think Bossy takes my degree very seriously, which would explain why she doesn’t understand my need for time on the couch to contemplate. The couch plays a very important part in a psychology degree.
    Bossy is in denial about just how annoying Java is. She thinks she’s ‘adorable and perhaps a tiny bit dizzy’, whereas in reality she’s an unrelenting and unspeakable pest. Actually, they both are. For the record, Java is also in denial about just how annoying she is. Or maybe she isn’t, which is even worse. Sigmund (I think we would have been on first name terms if he had ever been lucky enough to meet me) believed that when people explain their behaviour they rarely give a true account – not necessarily because they are deliberately lying, but because they are great deceivers of others and, to an even greater degree, themselves. Bossy meet Java, Java meet Bossy. I rest my case.
    Ingredients (serves 8-10)
    170g dried apricots (preferably organic), chopped
    100ml olive oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    4 eggs, separated
    100g cane sugar
    100ml plain yoghurt
    70g ground almonds (you could substitute ground hazelnuts)
    40g buckwheat flour
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
    Preheat the oven to 180ºC and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, olive oil and yogurt until light and smooth. Mix the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together and then combine well with the wet mixture. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently but thoroughly fold into the mixture. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin and leave to cool. Delicious served alone or with Greek yoghurt or ice cream.

  • Breakfast,  Hugo blogs,  Sweet

    Coconut cake and Hugo’s scuppered plans

    cococakestrawcoulis HugojournoandJava
    I would like to set the record straight about my recent excavation venture, because I thought that Bossy portrayed me as a bit of a halfwit by suggesting that I was stuck down my magnificent hole. I admit that I did let her haul me out with a rope (there was lots of swearing on her part), but only to shut her up. The plan was, once I’d finished what I’d set out to do (we won’t go into details to spare any squeamish readers), I was going to create a tunnel back to the top at a gradient of about 30%. Of course, this would have taken quite a long time and I’m not sure where I would have ended up, but anything that gets me away from Bossy’s incessant blabbering and Java’s stubborn insubordination can only be a good thing. As an aside, are you impressed at how my vocabulary is becoming more and more sophisticated? Bossy says that I must be careful to avoid becoming too verbose, although she’s a fine one to talk. Anyway, the upside was, she was so convinced that I had been traumatised by my adventure, when we got home she gave me an extra-large piece of camembert. Sometimes it pays to just go with the flow…
    Thank you Hugo for telling your side of the story, although I think we could have done without the reference to my ‘blabbering’! This wonderfully light cake is inspired by ‘Love, bake, nourish’.
    Ingredients (serves 8-10)
    175g spelt flour
    120g desiccated coconut
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    75g cane sugar
    1 egg, beaten
    200ml coconut milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin. Combine the flour, coconut, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a  large bowl and then add the egg, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly and transfer into the prepared tin. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool and serve with strawberry coulis or Greek yoghurt (or both!).

  • Hugo blogs,  Nutritional information,  Soup

    Cream of mushroom and spinach soup and Hugo’s take on sterilisation

    Java spent all day yesterday at the vet. Although I had a nice peaceful day, I did miss her, which is a bit like missing a sore paw really. I heard Bossy tell someone that she was being sterilised. I know that she’s inclined to be dirty (Java, not Bossy), because she’s often covered in mud (and sometimes worse), but I didn’t realise that it was that bad. And anyway, once she’s been sterilised, surely she’ll just jump into the river and roll in the mud and be dirty all over again. When she came back last night she was in a very sorry state; I think that the sterilising machine must have slipped or something because she had a big bandage on her tummy. Also, she cried all evening and couldn’t walk properly and had to be carried to bed. I’m not allowed to practise my judo on her or chew her ears for two whole weeks, which makes me wonder what the point of her is. I hope they don’t take me to the vet to be dry-cleaned because I don’t want to end up like that. She seems to be better today, but I’m not: I’m quite exhausted because I had to comfort her all night while everyone else was asleep *exploited doggy sigh*.
    Thank you Hugo. I’m sorry that you’re feeling exploited, but it was very kind of you to take care of Java. This soup is packed full of nourishment. The mushrooms provide vitamins D and B complex, as well as minerals such as selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. The spinach contains high levels of iron, folic acid and calcium as well as vitamins A, C and K. The butter and cream aid absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
    Ingredients (serves 6)
    10g butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large onion, finely sliced
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    125g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (I used button mushrooms but you could use any sort)
    225g baby spinach leaves
    1 litre organic vegetable or chicken stock
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon paprika
    100ml pouring cream
    Gently heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes before adding the spinach, stock and seasoning. Simmer for about 15 minutes and purée until smooth. Add the cream, stirring well and serve.

  • Gluten-free,  Hugo blogs,  Nutritional information,  Savoury

    Celeriac gratin and Hugo the sage

    I’m thinking about leaving home. Bossy would obviously try to stop me  because I’m quite a catch as dogs go. It’s not that I don’t like it here; the food’s not bad most of the time, the scenery is pretty enough, I’m more or less allowed to do whatever I like (except kill hens, which is very frustrating for me – to the point that I may even be psychologically damaged). I’m just getting a bit fed up of all the baby animals that keep popping up. There have been rabbits, kittens, hedgehogs, birds, foals and now a damned puppy of all things! I suppose I must have been a puppy once, but I’m sure that I would have been an extremely well-behaved one. It stands to reason. Secretly I have to admit that Java’s really rather sweet, but her shenanigans are beyond me. For example, why would you plunge into a ditch that you know you have absolutely no hope of getting out of on your own? It’s just silly of her to try to copy me because I have a magnificently muscular male physique and she is, frankly, just a silly slip of a girl. Maybe I’m going to have to stay after all because someone’s going to have to show her the ropes and I can just imagine the chaos if I leave it to Bossy. One thing is certain: Java’s not going to be helping me to write my column anytime soon because she doesn’t even know how to read and write yet!
    java1 copy
    Thank you Hugo! I very much hope you decide to stay.
    Just as I make use of a large variety of grains, I also try to vary the root vegetables we eat as much as possible. We eat potatoes, for example, quite rarely as there are so many other things to chose from – sweet potatoes, swedes, turnips, parsnips and one of my favourites: celeriac.
    Celeriac is very rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin K. It also provides essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper and manganese, as well as B-complex vitamins.
    This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver.
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    1 large celeriac, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
    2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1 chilli pepper, finely sliced
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon paprika
    400ml cream
    200ml vegetable stock
    4 anchovy filets
    75g hard cheese (I used Comté), grated
    Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the celeriac, potatoes, garlic and chilli pepper in a large ovenproof dish and season. Add the cream, stock, anchovies and most of the cheese. Mix everything well and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top.

  • Hugo blogs,  Savoury,  Soup

    Pea and mint soup and Hugo’s new byline

    I recently joined the NUDJ (National Union of Dog Journalists) because Bossy can be inclined to take advantage of my good nature. I also decided that I needed a proper byline and my favourite artist submitted a few pwoofs that you can see above and below. I quite like them, although I do wonder whether they properly portray the fact that I am a sophisticated dog of great intellectual gravitas… I would appreciate your opinions.
    I’ve been rushed off my paws even more than usual this week; we are in the throes of a baby deer boom. These baby deer have no sense of territory or propriety, which is quite exhausting. And as if this isn’t taxing enough, a family of ducks has moved in without so much as a by-your-leave. They quack very loudly all night and stop me from sleeping. As I work until at least midnight every night, I need all the rest I can get *bone-tired doggie sigh*. When I get time, I shall write to my union about all this noise and overtime.
    To be honest, this pea soup is as dull as ditchwater. I’ve never been keen on green-coloured food because, in my world, green means that it’s gone bad. Still, they all seemed to like it, although the Noisy One appears to share my suspicion of anything green.
    I’m sorry this soup doesn’t meet with your approval Hugo, although, as this is a healthy eating blog, you might want to dilute your opinion on green things a little bit for next time? I thought it was a particularly delicious Spring soup and will certainly make it again. Peas are sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s multivitamin’, as they contain no fewer than eight vitamins and seven minerals. They are also a good source of fibre and protein and lower the overall glycemic index of any dish to which they are added.
    This soup is adapted from a recipe in Anthony Worrall Thompson’s excellent book, ‘GI Diet’.
    Ingredients (serves 4 – 6)
    10g salted butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, peeled and chopped
    2 leeks, washed and chopped
    1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    275g peas, fresh or frozen
    1 large courgette, washed and chopped
    1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
    Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the olive oil. Add the onion, leeks and garlic and gently soften. Add the peas, courgette and stock and bring to the boil. Add the seasoning and cook until the peas and courgette are tender (about 20 minutes). Add the mint and purée until smooth.

  • Hugo blogs,  Savoury

    Leek crumble and Hugo’s story


    by Hugo, 
    Canine Correspondent

    I’m not a naughty dog. I do have my limits though and when Bossy and Noisy recently loaded their bags into the car and made it clear that I wasn’t going to accompany them, I reached mine. I dragged my rug out to the car and made myself a little nest amongst the suitcases, but they ended up leaving without me all the same. The trouble is this: no Bossy, no proper meals! (He gets invited to eat with the neighbour). Worse still, no camembert at lunchtime (I have my own special supply). So I ran away. Actually I ran further than I meant to and ended up getting lost. Apparently I was about 6 kms away. A very nice lady found me and made me a big bowl of pasta — I must have looked very thin, sad and hungry, which was almost certainly due to ACD (acute cheese deprivation). 🙁 The kind lady also took lots and lots of photos of me and kept stroking me and saying how handsome I was. It took her quite a long time to track down Bossy’s husband, because I’d also lost my collar with my ‘phone number on it. Anyway, Bossy and Noisy reappeared quite soon after I had arrived back home and, going by the look on Bossy’s face, she’ll think twice before heartlessly abandoning me in a camembert-free environment again *manipulative snigger*.
    This savoury crumble is an adaptation of a Marcus Wareing recipe. It’s a meal in itself really, although it could also be served as an accompaniment.
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    2 red onions, quartered
    1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
    4 leeks, washed and sliced into 2 cm rounds
    4 mushrooms, peeled and sliced
    50g butter
    50g spelt flour
    200 ml chicken or vegetable stock
    200ml milk
    50g roquefort cheese, crumbled (any blue cheese will work)
    1 tablespoon French mustard
    Sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    For the crumble topping:
    100g spelt flour
    75g chickpea flour
    25g butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    100g comté cheese, grated (or another hard cheese)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Gently fry the onions, garlic, leeks and mushrooms until lightly cooked (about 5 minutes). Place in an ovenproof dish and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and then add the flour, combining well to form a paste. Gradually add the stock and then the milk, whisking well all then time to prevent lumps from forming. Continue to cook until,the sauce is quite thick and then add the mustard, seasoning and cheese. Mix well until the cheese has melted and pour over the vegetables.
    To make the crumble topping, mix the flour and seasoning together and rub in the butter and then stir in the olive oil. Add the grated cheese, mixing well and spread over the leeks and sauce. Bake for about 25 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

  • French,  Hugo blogs,  Sweet

    Spelt flour crêpes and the chaos theory according to Hugo


    by Hugo, 
    Canine Correspondent


    In the interests of transparency (have you noticed the trendy lingo I’m picking up?), I asked to write today’s blog because I don’t think that the Bossy One is always very honest with you.
    The way she presents her recipes would have you believe that she’s a domestic goddess (I heard that on the television), when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The havoc she creates in the kitchen is quite something. Not that I’m not complaining because the more the food ends up on the floor, the happier I am. 🙂
    Today’s recipe, for example,  should really read something like this:
    Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl, use a large shovel to scoop up the ingredients that somehow landed outside the bowl, whilst simultaneously trying to recover from violent coughing and sneezing fit caused by inhaled flour. Make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it, mutter obscenities and pick the broken bits of eggshell out with your fingernails. Whisk the eggs, little by little incorporating the surrounding flour. If you use an electric whisk, you can be sure that a substantial amount of mixture will end up on the surrounding walls, sometimes even the ceiling. Combine the almond milk and water and add little by little to the flour/egg mixture. Turn the whisk to SLOW before pouring in liquid, otherwise it will ricochet alarmingly which isn’t good because it causes more mad muttering (I can also do alliteration :-)). Once all the liquid has been added, continue to whisk until you obtain a smooth batter, the consistency of thin cream  (yeah right; in her dreams!). Push back messy hair, smothering small amount of  ‘smooth’ ( 😆 ) batter over face.
    I won’t go on because she can be a bit sensitive when it comes to criticism, even if it is constructive, and I’d like to continue this writing lark.  I will leave you with this thought though:  this is a simple recipe – just imagine the scenario with a complicated one 😉
    Thank you for your kind words Hugo, I think I’ll take over now. This is based on Delia Smith’s recipe for ‘basic pancakes’, which I have adapted to use with spelt flour and almond milk.
    Ingredients (makes about 10 crêpes)
    110g spelt flour
    pinch of salt
    pinch of bicarbonate of soda
    2 large eggs
    200ml almond milk
    75ml water
    butter or coconut oil for cooking
    Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Whisk the eggs, little by little incorporating the surrounding flour. Combine the almond milk and water and add little by little to the flour/egg mixture. Once all the liquid has been added, continue to whisk until you obtain a smooth batter, the consistency of thin cream.
    To cook the crêpes you will need a shallow frying, or preferably a crêpe pan. Melt the butter or coconut oil making sure that the base of the frying pan is coated. Pour a small amount of batter into hot fat in the pan, tipping from side to side to distribute evenly. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

  • Savoury

    Barbecue pork marinade and internal mutterings

    Marinated barbecue pork

    I like to listen to audio books while I walk with Java and her assorted boyfriends, mostly because it takes my mind off the fact that Java’s obedience training has, once again, taken a turn for the worse. I’m just beginning to appreciate the extent to which Hugo kept our house in order. (One of the many charms of English Setters is that they are predisposed to ‘willfulness’; a pompous way to say they do exactly as they please.) Back to Audible: What should be a relaxing pastime has given me internal punctuation Tourettes, and as I listen, my mind randomly screams: ‘full stop, comma, semi-colon — no wait, that should be a colon — pause for a new paragraph…’ I sometimes even rewind a bit to revise and refine my work. I’m nothing if not a perfectionist, so I think I’ll attack pronunciation next ;-).

    Luckily, my disobedient dog keeps both me and her friends on our toes. There’s very little time for punctuation, imaginary or otherwise, when you’re battling canine insanity. Canine insanity trumps human insanity by its sheer chaos potential.

    I used this recipe quite a number of times over the summer. Pork has a tendency to be a bit tough, but this marinade, in particular the apple cider vinegar, helps to tenderise the meat. The acid in the vinegar breaks down protein, leaving the meat extra tender, and the longer the meat is left in the marinade, the better.

    Recipe for barbecue pork marinade (serves 4-6)

    • 2 cloves garlic
    • Paprika
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Olive oil
    • Mustard
    • Worcestershire sauce

    Combine the ingredients, mixing well to form a homogenous, liquid paste. Coat the pork pieces and leave to marinate, overnight if possible. These are best cooked on a wood barbecue, but any kind of grill would work.

  • Nutritional information,  Savoury

    Cajun-style tuna steaks and raves on the terrace

    Plate with marinated Cajun tuna steaks and vegetables
    Cajun marinated tuna steaks, rich in Omega 3

    Welcome to my updated blog. Apparently the original blog, which was over ten years old, was ‘fine on the outside, but chaotic on the inside!’ Sounded horribly familiar!

    We’ve been cooking outside a lot; I haven’t wanted to use the oven because of the stifling heat. Unfortunately this is now no longer an option due to the fire risk. This recipe is easy and versatile, as the steaks may be cooked on a proper barbecue, a gas barbecue, or even in a hot frying pan.

    In my last blog, I mentioned that a deer had been snacking on the terrace at night. He is still a nightly visitor, and in view of the noise, I suspect he now invites friends. I know when they have been ‘partying’ because I do an inventory of the geranium flowers in bloom every evening, and again in the morning. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that in general, all hell has broken loose since our black labrador, Hugo’s demise.

    In just the past week a deer availed himself of the open terrace door to come into the house one night, no doubt in search of more geraniums, and a weasel woke our guests sleeping in the grange by rapping, very loudly, on the glass door. Then I knocked a man flying with a shopping caddy (which become lethal weapons in my hands) and Luc chucked our cleaning lady’s shoes in the bin.

    Also, I can’t remember how many people, or which people for that matter, I have invited to Luc’s birthday party next week; it could be 15 guests, or it could be 25. I have literally no idea. It should be interesting, particularly as some much-needed rain is forecast for that day.

    Tuna’s multiple health benefits (and a word of warning)

    Tuna is a very rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties as well as aiding mental, heart, bone, eye, and skin health. A lesser-known benefit of Omega 3 is that it can help sleep quality.

    Tuna is a good source of good-quality protein and also contains generous amounts of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, selenium, and choline.

    Despite the many benefits, consumption of tuna, and other big fish, should probably be limited to a maximum of once a week due to its mercury content.

    Recipe for Cajun-style marinated tuna steaks (serves 4)

    • 50ml orange juice
    • 50ml coconut aminos (or soya sauce
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 4 tuna steaks

    Mix the marinade ingredients together and generously coat the tuna steaks. Leave in the fridge overnight, if possible, or at least for a couple of hours. Best seared for a couple of minutes on each side on a BBQ, protected by aluminum foil. Otherwise they can be fried in a hot frying pan.