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winter salads: roasted pear and parma ham salad with goats cheese


as you’ll know, i’m a sucker for pears in a salad. this salad combines the traditional flavours of sweet pears with salty parma ham and creamy goats cheese.

it was a lovely starter for our new year’s eve meal and is definitely something worth trying if you’re not already familiar with these flavours. it was also the perfect homage to last year’s italian holiday – ham from parma and aged aceto balsamico from modena (balsamic vinegar aged over 20 years to create a rich, sweet but slightly acidic syrup – apparently it’s also good with vanilla ice cream…).

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daring bakers: lemon meringue pie


jen, the canadian baker chose this month’s daring bakers challenge – lemon meringue pie. this is not a dish i’ve ever made although it is something i remember eating when i was growing up.

as ever, the rules meant that we had to stick to the recipe we were given and very little variation was allowed, which wasn’t a problem as i love both lemons and meringue, and my memories of the combination of the two in a pie were pretty good. i decided mini pies would be one variation.

so, how did i get on?

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eating out with abby

strangely enough, i spend quite a lot of time thinking about food. increasingly this includes thinking about this blog and different things i’d like to write about.

i do try and make sure that i only write about things which excite or interest me which means that inevitably there are a reasonable number of meals which are never going to be featured. the same is true of restaurants which, for whatever reason, just didn’t wow or inspire me. or where there’s simply nothing particularly interesting to share.

but the fact that i only write about some of the places i eat is only part of the picture and increasingly it feels that i should be sharing more, including the bad, the ugly and the mediocre. it also appeals to my general nosiness – i like reading the minutiae of what people eat.

so, as a trial i’ve been keeping a diary of the different places where i eat when i’m not eating home-made (by me or friends) food. this is what it is looking like, with a few comments.

if people find this interesting i’ll try and do a quarterly update as i'm intrigued to see what patterns emerge . let me know if there is any extra info you’d like. apart from financial that is - i'm not feeling brave enough to add up how much money i spend on eating out!

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persian chicken and squash filo parcels


every new year david and i try to make the time to sit back and remember what we did in each and every month of the past year. films watched, friends visited, places explored, music heard and meals eaten. last year (a whole 3 weeks ago!) we did this on new year’s eve over supper.

inevitably, if you’re remembering special times you want to be eating a delicious meal and luckily the menu was very definitely up to scratch.

i’ll come back to our starter and pudding another day because, for me, the star of the show was these persian chicken and squash filo parcels. the spice flavours are quite complex but also gentle and comforting. as you’ll see, we ate this with roasted vine tomatoes and crunchy beans in fennel dressing which was a great combination. not least as it left enough space for pudding!

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crunchy beans with fennel


fennel is a favourite of mine. i love the vegetable, either raw or cooked, but i also love the dried seeds as a flavouring. i’m always happy to let this spice be the star of the show.

this recipe for crunchy beans with fennel dressing was pulled out of a magazine many moons ago and has become a real favourite. it’s delicious served hot as a light and slightly unusual side dish, particularly with fish or chicken. i also like to eat it cold, as a salad.

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