Recipe share: Lorraine Pascale’s blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake

British Summer Time 2017 has now arrived in Gillingham, Dorset – hurrah for longer days and lots of delicious, fresh, local produce, including berries, asparagus and new potatoes.

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Home made limoncello

I’m always on the look out for new-to-me cake recipes and so I was delighted to see this recipe by TV cook Lorraine Pascale shared in local paper the Dorset Echo; I love to cook with fruit and I am still working my way through what feels like gallons of home made limoncello as made and bottled by me before Christmas!

The ingredients for the blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake are:

For the sponge:
Spray oil
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
100g ‘Greek’ yogurt (I’ll be using the Dorset version from my friends at The Dorset Dairy Company)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour
4 egg whites
2tsp baking powder
½tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of two unwaxed lemons
200g blueberries

For the topping:
50g icing sugar, sifted
2tbsp limoncello (or lemon juice)

And the remainder of the recipe is available on the Dorset Echo’s site.

Let me know if you like the sound of the cake and I promise to bake it for you when you come and stay at ‘Sunflowers’!

Celebrating the arrival of Spring at Stourhead House and Gardens, Wiltshire

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Stourhead’s lake

It will soon be time to change the clocks in the UK and “spring forward” by one hour, welcoming in longer, brighter days.  Here at ‘Sunflowers’,  we may be based in Gillingham in north Dorset but we are so close to the counties of Somerset and Wiltshire that it’s no wonder that so many local businesses have the words ‘Three Counties’ in their name.  And one of our very favourite places to visit is just over the county line in Wiltshire – the magnificent National Trust property of Stourhead house and gardens.

The grounds are absolutely stunning all year round but never  more so than in spring – what could be more glorious than a walk around the lake or a hike through the woods to admire the bluebells?  Based just a few miles from Gillingham,  it’s one of the most  popular places for our guests to visit and in fact we have a visitor booked in with us for later this summer who is specifically coming to stay here just so that she can visit Stourhead.

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Stourhead gardens, spring 2016

The photos accompanying this article were taken by me at Stourhead in spring 2016 and I’m looking forward to going back there again soon to take some more shots.  Take a look at the National Trust website to plan your trip to wonderful Stourhead and contact us to book your bed and breakfast stay.

PS: if you come around Easter time,  you can join in the Stourhead Easter egg hunt – see our calendar for details.

Looking for a dog friendly bed and breakfast in North Dorset? Look no further!

Aura the Barbet
Aura the Barbet

Aura was our very first guest of 2017 – she checked in on New Year’s Day with her human Simen,  who had kindly driven her to Gillingham, Dorset all the way from their home in Holland.  Aura is an extremely rare breed of dog called a Barbet (a French Water Dog) and she travelled here in order to mate with a local Barbet gentleman called Hector.  There are fewer than one hundred Barbets in the UK and so breeders such as Hector’s owner need to find dogs from further afield in order to protect and enhance the gene pool. Luckily, the long distance stud visit worked and last week Simen kindly emailed me video footage and photos of Aura and her TEN puppies!

Aura might be the rarest breed of dog who we’ve had to stay here at ‘Sunflowers’ but she’s not the furthest travelled – I think that honour may belong to Merrona the Chihuahua, who also visited us in January,  along with her owners from Portugal. Since we decided to become a dog friendly bed and breakfast,  we’ve hosted over thirty dogs, of breeds ranging from an American Bulldog to a Weimaraner plus lots of cross breeds (like our own lovely Peggy, who’s a spaniel cross collie).

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Woof-licious!

As of April 2017,  we’ll be offering all of our canine guests a little gift in the form of a free packet of treats made especially for us by Julie at Dorset Dog Delights.  Julie sells her delicious goodies at shows and markets all over the south west, as well as online and we now have a joint venture going  – here’s a sneak peek at the label – where we’re collaborating on these packets of dog treats in assorted flavours (like her owner, Peggy is partial to the cheese flavoured ones). They will also be available to buy here and all profits from the sale of the treats bought here will go to our local dog rescue charity, Pound Puppy Animal Rescue, through whom we re-homed Peggy in 2014.

We love to meet new dogs and look forward to welcoming, amongst others, Custard, Eddie, Jessie and Trigger who have already booked in with us. Please contact us to enquire about dates and rates if you’re planning a trip to North Dorset with your dog.

Are you running in the 2017 North Dorset Village Marathon and Relay and need somewhere to stay?

north-dorset-village-marathon-2017The North Dorset Village Marathon and Relay takes place on Sunday 30th April 2017 and starts very close to Gillingham, Dorset; runners leave the Sturminster Newton High School at 8.30am.

It’s part of the Dorset Road Race League, is run under UKA rules and is organised by Runners for Runners.  

Described by a commentator on the Runner’s World site as “the best organised, most friendly marathon of the 150 [the writer] has completed so far – outstanding on every front. ANY runner should do this event”, the route is a picturesque race along country lanes through the villages of Hinton St Mary, Marnhull, Stalbridge, Todber, Stour Row, Margaret Marsh, West Orchard, Farrington, Child Okeford and Hammoon.

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Glorious hot tub in Gillingham, Dorset

Please contact us if you’re taking part in the race and need a place to stay – we can guarantee a friendly welcome, an early (and running appropriate) breakfast on the day of the race and,  if you decide to stay with us on the Sunday night too,  a complimentary post-race dip in the hot tub to soothe your muscles!

Recipe share: A Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas (vegan)

welcome-to-sunflowers-dorsetHere’s our new leaflet, which sums up in one handy piece of A5 exactly what you can expect to see and find when you stay here at ‘Sunflowers’ – what do you think?  It was designed and printed for me by graphic designer wizard Kevin of Wyke Print Solutions and I am really pleased with it!  Please feel free to right click on the image and save a copy.

In other news, we recently hosted a charming gentleman who stayed with us for one night – a Sunday – and arrived so late (and in horrible winter weather) that he wasn’t readily able to source a vegan evening meal. I settled him into the guest dining room with a glass of wine and made him this warm salad of roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. When I posted the photo on my Facebook page,  lots of people asked for the recipe, so here it is.

wp-1488373921719.jpgIngredients (makes 2/3 servings)

1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into even sized florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus  more for serving
Coarse salt, to taste
80g tahini paste
Juice of a lemon

Chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Add the cauliflower florets and a pinch of the salt to a large saucepan of boiling water and cook on a high heat for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange on the baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 25 minutes, or until parts of the cauliflower have turned golden brown.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the tahini paste, 120ml water, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, until smooth.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, cut the florets into 2 cm thick slices and place in a large serving bowl. Gently mix together the drained chickpeas, cauliflower pieces and half the tahini sauce. Serve with the rest of the sauce and a further tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Enjoy!

I love to make and serve warm salads – let me know in the comments if you try this one out and if you can suggest other recipes!