This weekend, we’ll be hosting several members of the same family who are all visiting Gillingham, Dorset in order to attend a 90th birthday party – isn’t that wonderful?
As always, my thoughts are turning towards ideas for my Special Sunday Breakfast and I think I’m going to make this lovely looking Granola and Yoghurt Fruit Tart, as created by our friends Alex and Dan at the nearby Dorset Dairy Co – doesn’t it look delicious? I’ll probably top mine with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – watch this space and look out for photos on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
The ingredients for the granola tart are:
350g granola 5 tablespoons melted butter 60 ml honey 640g of the Dorset Dairy Co’s answer to Greek yoghurt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh fruit, to top
And you can read the rest of the recipe here, as well as lots of other delicious ways to use Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt in your cooking.
One tip I picked up from cookery guru Mary Berry as an easy way to combine all the ingredients to make a crumb (or granola) crust: use a large plastic bag! So for this recipe, I plan to add the granola to a bag and then bash it around a bit with a rolling pin to get the granola “chunks” to a more uniform size. I’ll then add the butter, honey and other ingredients to the bag and get everything coated before using the crumb mix to make the tart case.
We are delighted to be able to share with you the news that we are now able to take online booking reservations through our site! Simply click the link that you’ll find on every page to see which rooms are available for your dates and how much your proposed stay will cost you. You can even choose to add on optional extras, such as a full cooked Dorset breakfast, weekday use of the hot tub or accommodation for your dog.
We also now take credit card bookings online and we guarantee that you will always get the best price by booking directly with us – as well as lots of little extras. Our reviews often refer to the “special little touches” that we love to share with our guests and you can look forward to experiencing some if not all of the following on your directly booked visit to ‘Sunflowers’:
A welcome drink upon arrival (tea, coffee etc), served with cake or biscuits (sometimes home-made – I love to bake!)
A wide choice of local teas and coffees on your in-room amenity tray
Complimentary Prosecco if you’re celebrating – plus a card
Fluffy pool towels and robes to use in the hot tub, and plastic drinkware for you to use on the legendary floating drinks tray
If you choose to eat in one evening, we’ll happily set the guest dining table for you with plates, glasses, napkins and candles: just ask
A guest fridge (stocked with fresh cow’s milk for your use – soya or almond milks also available)
A range of DVDs, toys and books for use by our mini guests (plus a stair gate, landing night light and in-room blackout blinds)
Complimentary dog treats for our canine visitors.
We try and be so much more than just somewhere to sleep and I’m always keen to think of new ways to improve and offer an even better bed and breakfast experience – so do please check out the new direct booking facility and come and see for yourselves! If you’re in the UK – we have two more long Bank Holiday weekends coming up and some availability over those dates; why not check us out and make a booking? We’d love to meet you.
Today’s very seasonal recipe share is from one of my very favourite members of the Dorset Farmers’ Market gang – Lizzie the Baking Bird. Lizzie pops up on assorted Fridays and Saturdays each month and sells her delicious food at markets in places like Sherborne, Wimborne, Dorchester and Bridport, as well as at various Dorset foodie events throughout the summer. Check out her website for details of where you can be like me and stalk her in order to buy her goodies.
So, what are Easter biscuits? They’re made all over the UK but I’d never really encountered them until I moved to Dorset. Traditionally, they are served after church on Easter Sunday, and are presented in a bundle of three biscuits to represent the Holy Trinity. They are eaten alongside hot cross buns, Simnel cake and chocolate eggs as part of British Easter festivities. Easter feasting comes at the end of Lent, so the taste of rich foods is supposed to come as a treat. Similar biscuits eaten before Lent commences are known as Lenten biscuits, and are made to use up eggs and sugar in the way that the Shrove Tuesday pancake does.
As with recipes for lardy cake and other regional delicacies, there are more country-wide variations than there are days in Lent, so perhaps this is a recipe with a central ‘theme’, but for which there are unlimited variations. The theme is spice and fruit. All Easter biscuits are spiced, either through a small addition of mixed spice or ground cinnamon. The fruit is either solely currants, or can be mixed dried fruit, as used here.
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.
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:
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
For the topping:
50g icing sugar, sifted
2tbsp limoncello (or lemon juice)
Here’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 Solutionsand 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.
Ingredients (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)
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.
Pre-heat your oven to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
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.
In a small bowl, mix the tahini paste, 120ml water, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, until smooth.
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.
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!
I recently made these cute little fruity breakfast pots and posted the picture on social media – where they very quickly became one of my most popular posts. Lots of people asked for the recipe in the comments, so here it is for you to make and enjoy at home – or to have made for you by me when you come and stay at Sunflowers!
I love to cook and really (really) enjoy making special breakfasts, either because people are celebrating or to accommodate different dietary preferences or food allergies. I have some guests booked in for February who eat a paleo diet, so I am currently researching delicious grain and dairy-free options for them; I’ve also recently catered for vegan, nut free and low carb guests. So do please just let me know what you need when you book – and I’m sure we’ll be able to create something delicious for you.
Just to whet your appetite – here’s a few photos on Facebook of previous breakfasts.
200g fresh or frozen raspberries (or your berries of choice – I think this would work beautifully with blueberries or fresh strawberries)
8 tablespoons of granola (I like to use Dorset Cereals’ version!)
250g cream cheese
100g Greek yoghurt (from the lovely Dorset Dairy Co in my case – see my blog post from last year at their launch event)
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Mint leaves, to garnish
4 ramekins or small glass dishes
Divide the granola equally between the four dishes.
Using an electric mixer, whisk together the cream cheese, yoghurt and honey. Spoon over the granola to create a lovely creamy layer, then cover each pot with cling film and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
To serve: remove the cling film and add an even layer of fresh or defrosted berries to each pot. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.
Enjoy! And feel free to request this when you book – I’d love to make it as part of your Dorset breakfast.
Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year break.
We were fully booked from December 30th and had five wonderful guests staying with us, who took advantage of our special New Year package and enjoyed complimentary cocktails in the hot tub (I made a big jug of Poinsettias – here’s the recipe), a very special New Year’s Day breakfast (pictured: triple cheese strata, local sausages and oven roasted tomatoes) and a late check out.
Both sets of guests had dinner on New Year’s Eve at our local restaurant South Street Kitchen and came home raving about their delicious food and cocktails!
Sharon was kind enough to leave us this feedback:
We spent two nights at this lovely B&B for New Year’s and it was the best experience we’ve had. Cleo and Steve were so welcoming and the rooms made us feel right at home! The beds were very comfy and the rooms had everything you need for a pleasant stay. The breakfast was delicious, as Cleo had invested the thought and time to bring in local produce for us to try and on New Year’s Day she even made us a very yummy cooked breakfast. We were very happy to discover the beautiful, quaint town of Lyme Regis and have a nice dinner at South Street Kitchen in Gillingham, which is 10 minutes walking distance away from the B&B – which was all recommended by Cleo, for which we are very grateful.
Peggy the dog is the cutest ever and we were so pleased with how well she got on with our daughter who is two. Not only that, but Cleo even thought about providing some books, DVDs and toys for Amelie (our daughter) to enjoy. The hot tub was definitely one of the highlights of our trip – we can not fault this place in any way and will definitely be returning when Amelie is older and then she can sign the guest book too. Thank you so much again for everything, Cleo, Steve and Peggy :).
And the second photo for today is the guest book review in both French and Italian from Florien and Claudia!
My goal for 2017 is to continue to host lots of lovely guests from all around the world and we are off to a flying start so far; our first visitor of the new year drove here (with his dog!) from Holland and we already have guests from Portugal and Belgium booked in. So, whoever and wherever you are as you read this – here’s to a wonderful 2017 and we look forward to hearing from you when you’re ready to make your booking!
Continuing the blog theme of cooking with fruit … I am currently in the process of making my own limoncello, both to use as an ingredient in cocktails at home and to bottle to give away as Christmas presents.
Limoncello has always been one of my favourite liqueurs – it’s a lovely, lemon infused spirit, which is Italian in origin and can be used in lots of ways. I love it as a drink and my mum uses it to make an absolutely delicious blueberry and lemon tart (I’ll post the recipe here if enough people ask me to!).
I decided to have a go at making it myself after I had trouble finding it in the supermarket – “how hard can it be?” I thought. And sure enough, it is quite straightforward; you just need time and patience.
Taking a Very Sharp Peeler, all you do is zest about a dozen lemons and then leave the peelings to marinate in vodka for as long as possible. I set mine to infuse on November 5th and the jars pictured here are now sitting peacefully in a dark cupboard, allowing alcohol and alchemy to turn them into limoncello. In about a week’s time, I will strain the liquid and then complete the process outlined here to add sugar syrup and bottle the resulting sunshiney liqueur.
So, any guests who visit us after Christmas – ask to try my home made limoncello. As we say in Ireland: slainte!
Apples are so plentiful at this time of the year that they are often given away for free! Many of my neighbours have a basket of windfall apples available at their gate, with a sign inviting passers by to help themselves.
One of our beautiful county’s most famous recipes is for Dorset Apple Cake – I often like to serve it to my guests upon arrival, accompanied (of course) by a pot of lovely Dorset Tea. It’s delicious served either cold or warm, with a dollop of whipped or clotted cream.
My friend Debbie posted this fantastic photo of her homemade Dorset Apple Cake on her @platespotsandpans Instagram feed the other day and I’m sharing it here with her permission. She used a recipe from Delicious magazineand the ingredients you will need are: