The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

A Cottage Pie, that could be Veggie

As the weather had turned rainy and cold I decided to make a bit of comfort food. It was to be Cottage Pie!

I bought suppengemuse (a bunch of root vegetables consisting of a couple of large carrots, a leek, a piece of celeriac and some parsley), this is put together to form the base of a good stock. I always buy a one at the market and if doing a roast will roughly chop it and layer the base of the roasting dish.

So right lets get down to the cottage pie (the same as a shepherds pie but uses cottagers instead of Shepherds Lol, lol, lol) sorry couldn't resist.

I used Ceps in this just because they are plentiful & cheap(relatively) at the moment and are the best tasting one , but any brown cultivated mushrooms will do.


1 medium leek (about 1/4 the size of a Geordie prize leek)
1/4 of a celeriac globe
2 large carrots
2 medium or 1 large onion
100g of Ceps (or any wild or cultivated mushrooms)
3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
100g of diced smoked ham (schinken speck, this does give it a nice depth of flavour)
1/2l of good vegetable stock (either make your own or I used Marigold)
500g of lean beef mince
2 teaspoons of tomato puree
1 desert spoon of chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and rosemary)
olive oil for frying (you can use any oil you like, BUT I like olive oil)
Salt and pepper

1kg of floury potatoes (mehlig in Germany)
50g of butter
1 large egg

First cut the mushrooms, carrot, leek and celeriac into small dice.(called brunoise in cheffy circles), sweat these in a saucepan, add the tomato puree and cook out, set to one side then dice the the onions, shallots.

Put the smoked ham into the pan with a bit of oil, fry a little, now add onions, shallots and garlic and soften these until translucent (no colour), add the beef mince (or lamb mince in the case of shepherds pie), brown until it starts to give up its fats, keep stiring and add the vegetables to the mince (it was at this stage that I thought " if I ever needed to do a vegetarian dish, this would be a doddle to change, just miss out the smoked ham and add a load more mushrooms instead of the mince".

Add the stock, put the lid on, turn the heat down to a simmer and forget about.

Next put the spuds on to boil when soft and breaking, pour off the water and leave to steam dry in a collander or sieve over the warm pan. Now return to the pan and mash like billy'o add the butter and the egg and mash it all together, I have heard of some people doing this in a food processor, well you can if you like the taste of wall paper. I always use either a potatoe ricer or a good old hand masher.

When the mince and veg mixture (or just veggie mixture) is cooked, ladel it out  with a slotted spoon and into an oven proof dish (saving the stock to make extra gravy), 2/3rds fill the dish, now spoon the spuds on top starting at the outer rim working around and then filling in the middle.

(this stops the mixture from running down the sides of the bowl and then dripping onto your trousers). Run a forks prongs across the surface to make bonnie patterns (this browns and looks nice). set aside, or refridgerate  while you go and do something else useful (fill up the car, watch the footy or listen to TMS).

Reference the potato topping:

I often make a swede (turnip for us from up Narth) and potato mash and mix in a handful of strong cheese, sprinkling a bit of grated parmisan on the top.(this browns up nicely)

If you really want to make it cheffy , then filet some tomatoes (skinned, deseeded and cut into 1/8ths) and stratigically place them on top of the mash.

I served this with young carrots, string beans and roast Hokkaido pumpkin.

Pumpin segments put into a roasting dish, sprinkled with garam-masala, nutmeg and mace, a couple of turns of salt and pepper from the mill, sprinkled with olive oil and roasted in a medium oven until soft.

I know the English will be thinking "well why the hell is he telling his Grandmother how to suck eggs"!!! But this is a dish unknown in Germany, so they now know what a "cottage pie" is and how to make it.


A duel birthday party.

This was to be a duel affair (not with drawn swords) it was a celebration in BBQ form for Linda’s and Martins Birthdays.

The running wax did make a nice pattern over the top of the natural pinewood dresser

My first job on arriving at Mariannes and Maritins apartment was to get the BBQ stoked up (Mariannes hair drier came in very handy) The girls went into the kitchen to do their salads and other finery's. ME MAN, ME MAKE  FIRE AND HUNT!!!!

The amuse bouche

Linda had bought some of those very large North African dates (Moroccan I believe) had slit and stuffed them with semi-cru fois gras. Marianne had made some Devils on horse back (prunes wrapped in speck) which with the black and green olives, made a wonderful start to the evening.

Next came a wonderful chilled cucumber, dill cream soup, with marinated crayfish tails.

This was followed by Tandoori prawns; Linda had marinated some prawns in a Tandoori paste (I do believe it was from a Mamtas) and impaled them on skewers, these where first onto the pyre!

The next course was Spatchcocked Quails.

These I had done them late morning and they had been languishing in a lemon, herb, olive oil bath ever since.

six nice birds awaiting being seen to!

I first picked them over to remove any remaining feather and stubble (I do believe this is called epilation in female circles), washed them inside and out.

Next cut out the backbones with a pair of kitchen scissors. Removed any blood, pieces of lung and crop that remained.

Turned them breast uppermost and pushed them down onto the board, you should hear (and feel) a bit of a crunch.

Next push skewers through both legs and lower bodies and through the wings and the breast this keeps them in the flat position and the sticking out part of the skewers makes for easy turning on the BBQ.

I then made the marinade; this consisted of the rind of a whole lemon . The rind was chopped very fine, a desert spoon of rosemary , a desert spoon of Thai basil and a crushed clove of garlic,

this was all put into a mortar with some very course salt and pounded to release the natural oils. Next added a good slug of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.

Then added half a tea spoon of marigold vegetable stock powder and a turn of chillies from the mill. Mixed all together and then poured it over the quails and gave the girls a bit of a massage making sure they all had a slick sheen about them.

Place these onto the very hot BBQ, breast side up so that they cook through, turning for the last few minutes to crisp the skin, I find that doing them this way you get a wonderful juicy

This one is for Mamta (she wanted to see the finished article)

Lamb skewers (a bit Greek)

I now started started on the lamb skewers. (I had some lamb leg slices about 1kg) I removed the bone and any gristle (there isn't much on a leg)

cut it into rough pieces about 2cmx5cm, placed these in a bowl added some Herbs de Provence with a crushed clove of garlic, olive oil and a desert spoon of oregano, salt and pepper.

Covered and left for 5 hours. Linda the put them on skewers with small cherry red and yellow tomatoes.

The grilled lamb with grilled nectarines

The Desserts

We then finished off with a Clafoutis with creme frais from Linda and homemade passionfruit ice from Martin.

And some Dastardly person (I'll get you back for that Marianne) took a photo of me as I was listening to some music with my eyes shut

Time for Home Richard

Night Night !

And Marianne, if the lions don't get you, then the killer ants sure will!!!!!!!!

Have a good trip(off on Safari for 5 months)! and you have a good holiday Martin (off with Marianne but only for 4 weeks)

A little tour of France

Hello (or should that be, ello! ello!) dear readers.

I arrived back from France last week ,  I made quite good time,(1200km in about 10 hours including a stop for lunch at a Routier (well worth the hour,  20 minutes for a meal and 40 mins snooze).

But I started off from Home and spent a couple of nice days with my very good friends Marga and Ewald in Bonn (Ewalds Birthday). I set off for Normandy and the beaches early Sunday morning. As I crossed the border I got a Text message telling me I had left my camera in  Bonn, what ever was I going to do, I would just have to buy another one when I got to France.

Arriving mid afternoon, found a Gite on the outskirts of Bayeux and got rid of some of my gear, went down into Arromanches to take some photos of the harbour with my mobile and then along to Port-en-Bessin. Watched the fisher boats coming in to discharge their bounties of wonderful fish and seafood. Had a bite to eat at one of the many fish restaurants.

Starter: was a small mixed seafood platter (welks, crevettes, oysters and mussels) with aioli and crispy bread
Main: A nice piece of skate wing in brown butter, few green beans and sauted potatoes
Desert: A very nice crepe with fresh raspberry coulie and raspberry and a blob of vanille ice.

I actually drank a nice cold  brut Normandy Cidre with the meal.

Next morning, up early to go and do abit of fishing, went down to the harbour at about 08:00 and there where quite a few of a like mind, I walked along the harbour wall to see what they where after, Anchovies bloody anchovies, as I didn't hooks small enough I didnn't even unpack my fishing gear. I watched for a half an hour and then made tracks to do what was the real reason for my visit, the Commonwealth War Graves and Memorial in Bayeux and Pegasus Bridge Memorial  at Benouville. With my duty done and the morning advancing I set off to towards Brittany via the copper town of Villedieu-de Poeles.

I arrived at mid-day having stopped off at an ALDI to buy myself a new camera, they had a one that was reasonable (about €80) and had 10mp a 3 x zoom with a 2 GB memory card. The only problem was the Henry Ford syndrom, you could have it in any colour as long as it was pink, I ask you PINK. It was a case of hiding it and then whipping it out taking a pic and then quick as lightning concealing it, whilst nonchilantly whisteling and having a "who me" look on your face.

I popped into a few of the chaudronnier to see the cost of the pots and pans, "gulp" the prices sure have risen in the last 15 years!!!

As it was lunch time, I had lunch a nice restaurant across from the Marie. Starters was  sliced Andoulette and a small salad and gerkin, very very tasty, but then I am a great fan of those sausages made from the innards of the pig.

Next was a pigs trotter, stuffed with boudine noir, boiled and then cut in half and fried, this was accompanied with a small ratatouille, a bit of green salad leaves and chips, tut tut why?

Next was a fantastic crème brûlée with raspberries, the brûlée had a wonderful crunchy caramel topping (shouldn't have had it but!  hell I was on holiday).

After lunch set off  around the coast towards Mount St. Michael and into the tourist trap, why do I always do it????

A few of legs of salt lamb still on the hoof

And Mount St. Michael in the back ground

Parked up and into the fore

They had not started cooking the afternoon batch at Crêpes
It was so awfully busy, so I left

I headed along the coast towards St Malo,stopping off at a few small and less tourist over run places

The oyster shop (along with other seafood)
Stopped to get some sea food for a picnic along the way to my friends where I was heading the next day
brown crabs
spider crabs
I bought a fine cooked crab,  a bag of crevettes, 6 oysters and some welks, the lot came to €13,-, I then headed along the coast road passed St Marlo (been there, seen it and got the T-shirt ) crossing the barrage to find a Gite for the night at Dinard.

From Dinard to Plumeux

Next morning up and on the road by 08:15, traveled along the D786 at a leasurly pace taking in the wonderful sea and coastal views

of St Briac, St Jacut, Notre Dame stopping off for a mid morning coffee at a new Marina that was just in its final stage of completion at St Cast-de-Guildo, this has been built at what had been a small fishing harbour with drying facilities. Watched a fishing boat drying and mending nets.

From here it was down to Matignon, then I headed inland towards Jossline along the byeways passing through some wonderful villages and small towns. Stopped off  for my sea food picnic at midday.

I reached the small hamlet of Plumeux at about 5 ust in time to have a cuppa! Brian was just finishing a bit of work on his new roof to what will later be the Gite.

Betty giving directions (from afar)

Next morning, Betty and I left Brian and the roofer Julian to finish the work without our help lol, we set off to visit Vannes and the coast. arriving in vannes we discovered a small market in full flow around the covered market.

Some of the fine yatchs in the harbour

Long oysters in the market hall
Betty admiring the fruit

We had lunch at a nice street cafe, had  a nice bowl of mussels and of course frites. We then headed up the coast to St Louis and took in a few of the views.

We then set off to return home via Josselin, a wonderful small town on the Canal Nantes-Brest, we had a nice walk along the canal and viewed the wonderful Chateau.

The Chateau

The bridge over the canal
Next morning, was up and ready to rumble, Betty insisted on sausage sannies, so not wanting to upset one of my oldest friends ( was her first borns God Father and we saw the Rolling Stones LIVE together back in the 60s) I ate it with great gusto.
I headed back towards the coast and then turned off towards St -Nazaire crossing the Loir and heading along the coast in the direction of St-Jean-deMont and the campsite that some other friends had arranged for me. I arrived and had a good look around the Town, then visited a Supermarket to get a few basic provisions.
The partially erected tent and so it stayed for the rest of the visit.
I then texted Helen and she directed me to the campsite. I got my camping gear out of the boot and set about getting my tent pitched.
Helen then said she would show me the short cut to the beach, ahem short cut????? We crossed the road and there was a gate with a combination lock (I can still remember the code, but I ain't telling you)
Well we climbed up and up through the forest, circumnavigated an 18 hole golf course, climbed what must be the second highest sand-dunes in Europe if not the World, I could hear the surf in the distance by now, though it may have been the blood pounding in my head. We came to the top and there spread out in front of us was km upon km of flat fine sand and I could see the sea in the far distance (low tide, so no fishing today). We walked to the waters edge and I put my tiny pinky in and quickly extracted it, it was bloody freezing.

That evening we had a nice meal a couple of glasses!!! of wine, had a bight to eat in one of those beachside restaurants, you know the ones, flimzy contraptions, with ill fitting doors and windows made out of thin polythene, sand all over the place, Ice cream freezer just beside the till so that it is in view of the kids. But the food and the service is always excellent and all at affordable prices, this was no exception, wonderful entrecote and salad and alas frites!

Next morning I was up at the break of dawn, as I was going to vist the Ile-de-Noirmoutier, so I packed my fishing tackle and headed off along the coast in the direction of Notre-Dame-de-Monts and then over the causeway at la-Barre-de-Monts, passing those dipping net traps and through the Salines.

You can see the fleur de Sel chrystals forming on the saline surface.

Arriving at Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile. I parked my car, the town isn't very big and everywhere is managable on foot.
I started off at the fort, this is now a museum and art gallery, the moat (now laid dry is filled with the most amazing sculptures made ot of drift wood and bronze.

I thought it must be about lunch time, you always know in France when it is lunch time as all of the shops shut and the restaurants and cafes fill up. Also my stomache was rumbling, but hey, what's different.

I headed down to the harbour (Dry as it was LOW TIDE, once again)

I had a walk along the prom, how does the song go again? I perused the Menus and settled on the Cafe Noir, for no other reason than there was a free table outside. I looked down the menu and settled for the sardines, a nice salad, this time no chips (Hurray) and half a litre of ice cold cidre.
There was a fantastic young pianist tinkling on the key board, playing everything from Chopin , Gershwin to jazz, very relaxing.

I had another look around, wistfully setting of towards the salines once more, making a mental note that this is a place to visit in the future.

Stopping off along the way to collect a bag of salt with seven herbs, I have now used it in quite a few dishes and it is very well salty.LOL.

The next day I traveled to St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (they do like their long names down her), in the next town was a wonderful exhibition of art from the start of the 1900, I spent a good 2 hours wandering and staring in mesmeration.

I stopped off at the small harbour to dip my rod in the water, not a lot doing so I made my way back. We had been to a market that morning and we had bought lots of stuff for the grill, I had bought quails, these I spatchcocked and marinated in herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. for some reason I havn't got any photo's it may have something to do with the chap that was BBQing next to us, he had a Pyre going and had decided to BBQ on pure lighter fuel, WOOF wow was that hot!!! He was drinking pastis in vast quantities and was lucky he didn't turn into a WOOF as well. (Quite a bit of his food did end up on the ground)

Next day was a beach and rest day, I had seen the day before, whilst spying out the lie of the land (I had found a quicker way than Helens short cut) that there was a great number of people scraping around in the sand, they where digging up Telins, those small delicate tasting clams, I had eaten them the previous year in the Camargue, but had no idea that they where also on the Atlantic coast.

It was a very hot afternoon, and as I burrowed in the sand collecting Telins, the others, sunned and enjoyed themselves, but I think that good food is worth working for (I am a bit stupid at times).

Whilst I was digging the wind had come up and the para-waterskiers where just raising their wings. I stopped to watch and wonder

And the Bond family enjoyed the sun and the scenes, they had all one after the other come down to "give me a hand" but they quickly got bored and returned to their sun bathing and making sand castles.

So that is it for the moment I shall carry on with the evening meal and the birthday party from James tomorrow!

Well we had bought too much meat at the market for the BBQ the last evening, so I decided to cook the evening meal for the Bond family. I was doing it all in one pan and on my trusty one ring gas cooker, that has stood me in good stead for 15 years.

We started off with the telines.
washed and picked over

heated up a bit of olive oil and added a shallot and a few lardons

added the telines with a slug of Helens white wine (had to fight her for it)and a bit of stock,
Boiled them up until they just start to open, then add a pot of Bresso herb and garlic cream cheese.

Serve straight from my trusty Paella (the food Paella takes its name from the pan)
with rustical olive bread.

The next course was lamb cutlets with green beans and chorizo sausages, now here things started to go wrong. The green beans where topped and tailed and par boiled at the same time the chorizos went under the grill (this was the wrong part as I forgot and they got a little burnt).

I browned the lamb chops in a little olive oil, salt and peppered, then set aside

In the mean time de-seeded and chopped some tomatoes (they are so much tastier here as they grow outside and not under glass. Added to the sautèd a shallot and clove of garlic.

Now returned the lamb to the pan together some lardons and shallot, added the chorizo, par-boiled beans and served once again straight from the pan.

Next day was the 17th birthday of James, his friends had decided to surprise him at midnight they had filled up his tent with balloons.

A little birthday kiss for James 

Mum & Dad thinking "My you have grown into big lad James"

So that was Vendée, next morning was an early(ish) start I headed down towards the Gironde and then across to the Dordogne, stopping off along the way to have a spot of lunch and watch the birdies.


 and on to Forgés where I was spending the night with Jaquie and Ian Hores at their wonderful B&B (we had stayed there last year and it is to be recommended)

 If you wish to stay, please follow the link to his website this will give you an idea of the quality of the rooms and the meals. Ian is a wonderful cook (as is Jaquie) and the meals that he prepares, are prepared as one would expect of a professional chef using the very best of local and home produced ingredients. If that is not enough there is always wonderful wines to accompany the meals.
We started the evening off with a wonderful homemade fortified wine "Vin de Noix Corrézien" and prunes wrapped in his homecured bacon. Next we had some excellent iced summer tomato soup,
with a main of Pork Foresteriérs, Sautéd Cabbage, Baby Courgette and I do believe Pommes Dauphinois, this was followed by a very nice cheese board and finishing off with Jaquies beautiful light Alsatian bilberry tart
Ian has all of the recipes thankfully posted on his website and you can always re-make the smashing food that is served up for you.

This time I could only stay the one night, but as usual Ian and Jaquie where wonderful hosts. There where four other guests (2 very nice couples), it was a really wonderful warm summer evening evening, with lots of light chit-chat and sign  language on my part. 

Next morning was a mad dash back up to Germany and home, as I had a funeral to attend of a very old and dear friend in Berlin, a sad end to what had been a wonderful tour of the Atlantic coast of France.

And that was it cheers my dears