The Musette: Ribollita

Ribollita is a beautifully thick Tuscan soup made with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil and it’s thickened with day-old bread. One of my winter favourites. It is hearty, filling, infinitely nourishing, and flat-out, the sort of food I crave when the temperatures dip.  It’s a soup I make constantly this time of year.

I should mention ribollita is one of those dishes where there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks.  As far as guidelines go? Your ribollita should be thick – eventually; a sloppy sounding, bread stew. Use day old bread, preferably a rustic loaf cut (or torn) into big chunks. The bread absorbs the broth and simmers into beautifully plump zones of pillowy dumplings.

As for choosing beans, I usually opt for canned cannellini. On the bread front, I often use a loaf of day-old whole wheat sourdough, but have at times opted for ciabatta.  As far as the kale goes, l look for cavolo nero – a craggy evergreen-hued kale that might also be labeled Tuscan kale. The ribollita pictured here is drizzled with a simple herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple of fat garlic cloves, parsley and marjoram together.

Ingredients (serves 8)

    • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • 4 celery stalks, chopped
    • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
    • 1 medium red onion, chopped
    • 400ml (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 450g (1lb) cavolo nero  or kale, stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
    • 620g (22 oz /4 cups)  cooked white beans
    • 225g (1/2lb) crustless loaf of bread
    • 1 1/2  tsp fine grain sea salt
    • zest organic lemon
    • parmesan cheese, finely grated


    1.In a large thick-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot and red onion. Cook for 20-25 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning.

    The Best Bolognese Sauce Recipe - Pinch and Swirl

    2. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the cavolo nero, 3/4s of the beans, and 2 lts (8 cups) vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

    Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

    3. In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water – until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 minutes or so. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest and parmesan cheese.

    Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

    4. Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or “ribollita” meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan and/or some chopped olives.

    Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

    Sheree’s Handy Hints

    1. In addition to the tweaks I mentioned up above, you can make it gluten free by leaving out the bread or using gluten-free bread.

    2. If you leave out the bread, use more beans, both whole and mashed.

    3. I like to add extra lemon zest to each bowl for a bit of brightness, and because I can’t help myself. And I also like the saltiness of a few olives alongside the kale, so that’s a little bonus as well. I’ll also drizzle a little thinned out pesto on top if I have it on hand, or, an herb oil made by pureeing olive oil, a couple of fat garlic cloves, parsley and marjoram together.

    Ribollita, a beautifully thick Tuscan stew with dark greens, lots of beans, vegetables, olive oil, and thickened with day-old bread

    4. This is a freezer friendly soup. I like to make an extra-large pot of it, let it cool, and transfer it to freezer-safe containers. It’s good for a month or so frozen. If it’s a pot primarily bound for the freezer, I sometimes hold off on adding the bread. I’ll add it when I reheat later. But really, you can do it either way.

Friday’s Tall Tales #10

Whenever I photograph a door or gate I wonder about its provenance, who and what has happened across said door or gate. I thought I might pick one from #Thursdaydoors and tell you a bit more about it or……maybe even weave a story about it.

Today’s doors are both from the Grand Mosque of Paris, located in the 5th arrondissement, which is the oldest and largest mosque in France. There are prayer rooms, an outdoor garden, a small library, a gift shop, along with a cafe and restaurant. The mosque plays an important role in promoting the visibility of Islam and Muslims in France. 

How it all began

The history of the Paris mosque is inextricably linked to France’s colonisation of large parts of the Muslim world over the course of 19th and 20th centuries. An early, if not the first, project for a mosque in Paris is recorded as desired to be in the Baujon district in 1842, followed by a revival of similar intentions at the Moroccan embassy in 1878 and 1885.

In 1846, the Société orientale proposed the construction in Paris, then in Marseilles, of a cemetery, mosque and a Muslim school.  The negative reaction of the Ministry of Justice and Religions, which debated the matter with the National Assembly, shelved the project for ten years.

A French Prefectorial decree of 29 November 1856 permitted the Ottoman Embassy in Paris to construct a special enclosure that was reserved for the burial of Muslims in Père-Lachaise.  It was thus the first mosque constructed on Parisian territory.  Little used, in 1883 it was cut down in size, but soon the building fell into disrepair, so the Ottoman government decided to finance its reconstruction and extension.

In 1914, an architectural design was put forward for a more prominent building with a dome and clear “Islamic” characteristics evident, but the First World War blocked the implementation of the project.

The Great Mosque of Paris was funded by the French state as per the law of 19 August 1920, which accorded a subvention of 500,000 francs for the construction of a Muslim Institute composed of a mosque, a library, and a meeting and study room.  It was built on the site of the former Charity Hospital (Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital) and adjacent to the Jardin des plantes. The first stone was laid in 1922. The work was completed by Robert Fournez, Maurice Mantout and Charles Heubès based on plans by Maurice Tranchant de Lunel. The mosque was built following the Moorish style, and its minaret is 33 metres high.

It was inaugurated on 16 July 1926, in the presence of French President Gaston Doumergue and Sultan Yusef of Morocco. Doumergue celebrated the Franco-Muslim friendship sealed by the bloodshed on the Western Front in World War I and affirmed that the Republic protected all beliefs. The Sufi Sheikh Ahmad al-Alawi led the first communal prayer to inaugurate the newly built mosque.

Inspired by the el-Qaraouyyîn Mosque in Fez, Morocco, one of the most important mosques in Morocco and one of the oldest in the world, all of the decorative programme of the Paris Mosque, including the courtyards, horseshoe arches, and in particular the zelliges, was entrusted to specialist craftsmen from North Africa using traditional materials. 

The great entrance door to the Paris Mosque is ornamented with stylized floral motifs in the most pure Islamic style.

The Mosque, along with the Islamic Center, are listed in the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments by the decree of 9 December 1983. The edifice is filed under the label of “Twentieth Century Patrimony” (Patrimoine du XXe siècle).

Flowering Friday #10

My mother was blessed with very green fingers, sadly I am not. Buy me flowers or indeed a potted plant and no bookie would give you odds on how long it’ll last. Now, I may be tempting fate here,  but I’m currently still nursing a couple of plants that friends bought me over three months ago – a record! Sadly a couple of recent bouquets barely saw out the week!

However, I absolutely adore tress, plants and flowers in situ and that’s what I’m going to be featuring over the next few months or so.

Thursday doors #190

Here are a few more doors from my most recent trip to Paris. TBH I could photograph pretty much every door in Paris but sadly some are obscured by vehicles, others are adorned with dustbins and many I need to dice with death by taking their image from the middle of a busy road. This is probably just as well, otherwise………..I’d still be there taking photos!


Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Trip to l’Hôtel de la Marine: Part II

Yesterday’s post explains the building’s history and today’s the big reveal of the full restoration in all its glory. The tour of the building is interactive, with room-connected headsets, we enjoyed an immersive visit that plunged us into 250 years of the monument’s history.

In 18th century, European architecture tended above all towards the Baroque style. This was characterised by opulence, multiple forms, play of light and shadow, and colour. In contrast, the monument’s facade stands out largely for its striking symmetry in line with the classical standards defined by the Académie royale d’architecture.

The Hôtel de la Marine and its twin on its western side, which today houses the Hôtel de Crillon, the Automobile Club de France and the Hôtel de Coislin, both underline the French trend in rigour and geometric lines, and the 18th-century taste for antiquity.

The Intendant’s apartments

At the helm of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne was an Intendant. As an officer of the king’s court, he was provided with accommodation on site in lavish apartments that reflected the prestige of his job.

Developed in 1765 by Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu, the Intendant’s apartments were redesigned from 1786 by Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray. They exemplify what was perceived as the ideal apartment at the end of the century of Enlightenment, including at least an antechamber, a bedroom and a small private room.

The Intendant’s apartments are located on the eastern side of the first floor, the ‘noble floor’, today with a view over Place de la Concorde and Rue Saint-Florentin.

As the years have gone by, these apartments have changed in accordance with their occupants, but today they include:

● On the north side, the apartments of Thierry de Ville d’Avray: an antichamber, a bedroom, a small private meeting room and a bathroom.

● On the south side, the bedroom of Madame Thierry de Ville d’Avray.

● The two apartments are linked by the reception rooms: the salon and dining room.

● On the court side, the bedroom of Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu, as well as the mirrors room and the golden room installed by the Intendant.

Cabinet des glaces, appartements de l’intendant

The reception rooms

18th century life in aristocratic society was largely based on receptions held daily in all reputable houses. The house mistress would host the gathering, welcoming leading Parisian figures and intellectuals. Hosting was an art form. This can be seen in the way the apartment rooms were arranged and in the splendour of the reception rooms.

A vertical line formed the basis for getting around the different apartments of an 18th century town mansion. This gave a central role to the monumental staircase serving the entire building.

Hôtel de la Marine

In addition to the apartments, the staircase also provided a route to the exhibition galleries on the first floor of the facade overlooking the Place de la Concorde : the arms room, the gallery of large items of furniture (fabrics and wall hangings), the jewels room and the bronze works gallery.

These rooms were originally used to present the royal collections to French and foreign visitors. They were intended for displaying the excellence of French decorative arts and the monarchy’s power. In 19th century, the navy converted these areas into stately reception rooms.

The grand gallery was divided into two parts and hosted many lavish receptions throughout 19th and 20th centuries. Balls for the coronations of Napoleon and King Charles X were held here.

Salon d'honneur, décor du plafond au-dessus de la glace sans fond

These are the rooms that have kept the most traces of the navy’s time in the building. There is sumptuous decor relating to the navy in the salon of honour, in the former arms room of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, which was transformed into a dining room of honour, and in the diplomatic room.

The decoration of the salons of honour and the reception rooms from 1843 heralded the navy’s takeover of the building. On the walls are portraits of admirals under the Ancien Régime: Tourville, vice admiral of Louis XIV, Jean Bart, privateer from a family of renowned sailors, Duguay-Trouin, Saint-Malo privateer of 80 battles and boardings, and Duquesne, lieutenant general of the navies of Louis XIV.

The office of the navy’s chief of staff symbolises the navy’s use of the building as their headquarters. For over two centuries, it was here that the French navy’s most important decisions were made over different eras and political regimes. If walls could speak, what tales would these ones tell?

When France’s navy ministry left the building in 2015, responsibility for the Hôtel de la Marine was given to the Centre des monuments nationaux. The CMN was in charge of promoting this outstanding piece of cultural heritage, so it oversaw the large-scale restoration of the entire monument from 2017 to 2020. Its architecture, painted decor, furniture and artworks from 18th and 19th centuries present to the public the close relationship between decorative arts, the art of hosting, craftsmanship, French excellence and the expression of power – well worth a visit!


Trip to l’Hôtel de la Marine: Part I

I’ve already written about our visit to one of the two matching properties on Place de la Concorde, the Hôtel de Crillon, now I’m going to tell you about our visit to the other.

How it all began

Once the plans had been drawn up and development work at Place de la Concorde had got under way, it was time to find a role for the two palaces on the north side of the square.

L'Hôtel de la Marine - Frammenti di Parigi

In 1765, the decision was made to house the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the institution in charge of the king’s furniture, in the eastern palace (between today’s Rue Royale and Rue Saint-Florentin), the future Hôtel de la Marine. At first, the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne was supposed to occupy only part of the building, but it ended up filling the entire edifice in 1767.

Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu, the first Intendant to head the Garde-Meuble, made the most of this to develop the building so that it fully met the needs of his administration by including storage areas, workshops, lodges, exhibition galleries and more.

For around 25 years, the Garde-Meuble and its Intendant, Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu then Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray, lived in the palace – not a bad billet!

A forebear of today’s public body Mobilier national, this institution was in charge of supplying and maintaining the furniture of royal residences: Versailles, as well as Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Marly, Choisy, Trianon, Rambouillet, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Montreuil.

The institution was responsible for choosing, purchasing and maintaining the king’s furniture, from beds to everyday chairs. It was also in charge of conserving the royal collections of weapons, armour, fabrics, wall hangings, hardstone vases, bronze works and Crown diamonds.

Because it symbolised the country’s government and royal ostentation, the days of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne were numbered.

Two events marked the palace’s history. On 13 July 1789, the revolutionaries seized the weapons on display in the arms room. The next day, they went looking for ammunition at Bastille prison. And that heralded the start of the revolution.

It is thought that the first shots against Bastille prison were fired by canons fitted on gun carriages with silver inlays that the King of Siam gave as gifts to Louis XIV in 1684. They had been seized the previous day in the royal collections of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.

On 16 September 1792, the Crown Jewels were stolen at the Hôtel de la Marine. At night, around forty people got inside the reception room where the jewels were displayed and stole goods worth around 30 million French francs.

When the revolution got under way, King Louis XVI left Versailles for Paris.
All state institutions in Versailles had to therefore move to the capital.
But a considerable challenge emerged where in Paris could they be housed? The navy ministry, with Count de la Luzerne and Jean-Baptiste Berthier at its helm, got permission from the Intendant of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray, to settle in the palace housing the Garde-Meuble in 1789.

To begin with, the navy ministry occupied the rooms on the second floor and in the western part of the first floor. Less than ten years later, it occupied the entire building. This marked the start of two centuries of France’s navy ministry being based in this palace, which henceforth bore the name Hôtel de la Marine. It was not until 2015 that the navy ministry left the building.


Because Garde-Meuble de la Couronne symbolised the Ancien Régime, the institution was simply abolished in the revolution. Some of the furniture and artworks were then auctioned or burned, often to salvage precious metals. In 1800, it was refounded with the name Garde-Meuble des Consuls. Later, it became the Mobilier impérial before ending up as the Mobilier national in 1870. The Mobilier national is still in charge of the furniture belonging to the country’s different national institutions, such as the Elysée Palace.

From the office of the chief of staff to the gallery of great French navy prefectures, the navy reshaped the building to meet its needs. Rooms were divided up to make offices larger and areas were redeveloped in relation to new technology in 19th and 20th centuries (including electricity, telephone and lifts) and decor like portraits of illustrious sailors of the royal navy.

La restauration de l'Hôtel de la Marine

When the navy left the building, the Centre des monuments nationaux was put in charge of managing the edifice. A large-scale restoration was undertaken to open the monument to the public and bring back 18th century splendour of the apartments of the Intendants of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.

Façade de l'Hôtel de la marine en chantier

Part II, the grand reveal follows tomorrow.

Musical Monday: Cover songs #10

I’ve started 2023 with a series of my favourite cover songs. It’s quite amazing how many artists cover one another’s songs. Sometimes they’re not artists you might expect, sometimes they are.

My beloved is a fan of Sir Elton John, I don’t share his enthusiasm but do agree that Elton composes great tunes. Consequently, my favourite album of his is Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin, a 1991 tribute album consisting of interpretations of 16 songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The title refers to a song on John’s album 21 at 33, Two Rooms at the End of the World, and to the duo’s unusual collaborative style; it is also the title of a 1991 film documenting their long-term collaboration.

Most of the songs on Two Rooms are drawn from Elton and Bernie’s A-list and some of them really illustrate the depth of their songwriting abilities. Sinéad O’Connor finds the tortured soul of the 1989 divorce song Sacrifice in a way that the original recording never did.

The record succeeds in conveying the enormous influence and productivity of the collaboration between John and Taupin. But it sometimes makes you think they’ve been just a bit too prolific and that their influence might not always be a good one.

Which version do you prefer? Let me know below.

French Fancies: Beaumier

I’m going to continue with the hospitality sector until the end of March though I could probably post a year’s worth of companies without breaking sweat. Today’s hotel group does not (as yet) have any Parisian properties but it does have some in rather gorgeous spots, including one not far from where I live.

After generating serious buzz (and Instagram adoration) for its striking riviera property, Les Roches Rouges, Les Hotels D’en Haut group changed hands and visions and, in 2021, became Beaumier. Named for 19th century French writer-geographer Auguste Beaumier and aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, the collection emphasises hyper-local experiences, well-crafted design and superb natural surroundings at each of its properties.

How it all began

The hotels were initially acquired by Parisian entrepreneur Valéry Grégo who after a number of years working in finance set up the Perseus Group in London specifically to invest in the hotel sector.

Le Val Thorens a Beaumier hotel (Val Thorens) : prices, photos and reviews

Les Hôtels d’en Haut adventure began with the acquisition of the Le Val Thorens hotel in 2011. Initially a 3* hotel with 81 rooms, Perseus reopened it as a 4* after six months of renovation. In 2012 Perseus added to its portfolio the Fitz Roy in Val Thorens and the Hotel des 3 Vallées in Courchevel 1850. The Fitz Roy reopened the following season as a 5* hotel while the Hotel des 3 Vallées remained one of the most popular boutique hotels in Courchevel.

Les Hôtels d’en Haut completed their mountain portfolio with L’Alpaga, a 5-star mountain hamlet located in Megève, whose restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star. In 2017, Perseus travelled from the ski slopes to the seaside with the opening of the Hotel les Roches Rouges – after an extensive renovation programme – probably the brand’s best-known hotel. Its rooftop restaurant was also awarded a Michelin star in 2109.

L'Alpaga, a Beaumier Hotel, Megève - Hotels by Tourist Journey

Stay And Relax In Pristine Environment At Beaumier Hotels In France

After developing Les Hôtels d’en Haut, Valéry Grégo’s Perseus sold it in August 2019 to KSL Capital Partners, an investment fund specialising in the travel and leisure industry.

Croissance | Entretien avec Eric Dardé, CEO de Beaumier - LA TRIBUNE DE L'HOTELLERIE • Actualités hôtelières

While the group [of hotels] may have lost its founder, it succeeded in keeping its president and CEO, Eric Dardé, former Accor executive,  who’d been with Grégo from the start. Dardé said of KSL::

They have an entrepreneurial mindset, and they know about leisure and tourism. They are really open minded. So, it makes my life very easy. And then, they have a lot of capital.

With the change in ownership, came a change of name. KSL wanted to find a name still committed to France, to show its connection to the country, but also to make it a more universally recognisable one – 70% of its guests are non-French so it just wanted something easier for them to use – hence Beaumier.

Le Moulin, a Beaumier hotel - Lourmarin - the MICHELIN Guide

In October 2020, the company bought three hotels in Provence, which have since been renovated and upgraded. In fact, by the end of last year all of the group’s original hotels had been refurbished.

Next up is measured expansion within Europe, including Switzerland, where the group has most recently acquired three family-run mountain hotels in Wengen. The three are located in the centre of the village with ski-in, ski-out capabilities and incredible views to the Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen-valley and should re-open in winter 2023. Though its latest is the Petunia located in the southwest of Ibiza. These acquisitions mark the intended internationalisation of the group.

These deals were the first purchases for Beaumier outside of France and reflect the group’s desire to acquire high-quality assets to add to its pre-existing portfolio across premier seasonal European leisure destinations. The mission is to first grow to 15 to 20 hotels by extending into into Italy, Spain, Portugal and United Kingdom through acquisition and refurbishment of existing hotels.

Dardé said Beaumier would like to find a few new deals a year and having KSL as an owner gives his group an edge because it can move more quickly and has the funds to acquire and renovate turning 3* into 5* properties.

Like many in hospitality, Dardé’s biggest challenge is labour related. He says:

We have a duty to rethink how we make our industry attractive because in 30 year I’ve been working I don’t think the industry has looked after people very well. Our people are looking at life differently than people like me 10-20 years ago… Money is not just the answer. People want a better lifestyle, flexibility and to be better appreciated… They want to share our values and share the way we look at the world.

Dadé said the company would continue to look for future hotels of around 30-80 rooms, to maintain the sense of hospitality it has developed over the years and would probably have 15 hotels in the group within the next couple of years. He added sustainability would remain a key focus of how the company operates, saying:

The pandemic has reinforced the desire among people to come back to what’s important: reinforcing nature, wellbeing, good local produce and cuisine and spending time with family and friends.

All images courtesy of Beaumier


Postscript: What about Valéry Grégo?

05 MBO Valery Grego Office

Meanwhile Perseus’ vision of transforming the way people travel, live and work is now also expanding across Europe, focusing on exclusive and strategic destinations, capital or city getaways and international leisure destinations, propelling its aspirations to challenge and transform the hospitality industry. Starting with transforming a 16th century convent into a 5-star luxury property in Nice which should be ready in 2024, passing through several projects in Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands.

The Musette: [More] Baked Caramel Pears

I’m always looking for new ways to turn fresh fruit into dessert for my beloved. For example, I frequently poach pears in “vin chaud.” But seriously these baked pears are the best – but then I would day that wouldn’t I? These pears are baked with simple ingredients, just butter, sugar, lemon juice, and spices, until soft and tender and full of caramel goodness.

If you’re looking for gluten-free dessert options then look no further, these caramel pears are glorious!  Translucent, speckled with vanilla seeds, and covered in delicious caramel that was created from the pear juices, brown sugar and butter. My other half loves them.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 4 large firm pears
  • 55g (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • organic lemon, juice only
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C /fan 160°C/gas mark 4/350°F. Carefully peel the pears to retain their shape. Remove the cores but, if possible,  leave the stems on. Arrange the pear in a buttered and lined baking dish, cut side up. They should fit snugly into the dish.

2. Drizzle with lemon juice (to prevent them turning brown) and vanilla extract, then sprinkle with sugar, spices, and a pinch of salt, then dot with the cubed butter.

3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, turn the pears cut side down, spoon the caramel over the top and bake for another 30 minutes or so, until soft.

4. Serve the caramel pears with a drizzle of the sauce hat has pooled around them. pears. Or with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of toasted chopped walnuts or sliced almonds.

5. My beloved also likes to eat them with his morning porridge (oatmeal).

Caramelized pears in a baking dish, with edges browned from the caramel.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.Use a baking dish that is just big enough to fit the pears. If the pears are spread too far apart from each other, the juices will evaporate quicker and there will not be enough liquid to form the unctious caramel.

2. The longer the pears are baked the thicker the caramel. For a thinner caramel sauce, bake for a total of 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a thicker caramel, bake up to 1 hour 30 minutes – your choice!

3. If using softer varieties of pears baking them too long will turn them mushy. To avoid this, bake only until the pears are soft. Then, remove the pears and continue cooking the caramel down until thickened.

4. For a vegan version, use vegan butter.

Well-thumbed cookery books – Mar 2023

Once a month I’m going to write a short piece about one of my favourite cookery books from my extensive collection and why I’ve cooked so many recipes from it. After a quick browse among my many books, I’ve selected John Tovey’s Feast of Vegetables for today.

John Tovey (1933 – 8 2018) was an English restaurateur and one of the first celebrity chefs in Britain in the 1970s. He was known for the Miller Howe hotel and restaurant in Windermere, which he owned from 1971 to 1998. I bought this particular cookery book after my parents had eaten in his restaurant.

Tributes paid to popular restaurateur who was one the first TV celebrity chefs | The Mail

Thanks to Tovey, Miller Howe became a fashionable destination throughout the 70s and 80s, one of the first gastronomic country house hotels in the region. Tovey, who had taught himself to cook, was not celebrated for any particular dish, but for the slightly camp drama experienced by guests at Miller Howe.

Tovey believed that dining at his hotel was a theatrical event. The gong summoned you to dinner and you ambled into the candle-lit dining room where the lights were dimmed to emphasise the weather-dependent Lake Poets’ views from the big windows.

Offers sought for Miller Howe | North West Property News

He served a prix-fixe five-course menu which always started with soup and finished with a choice of puddings. The main dish was always accompanied by six vegetables.

Tovey achieved a degree of national celebrity with five television series, including John Tovey’s Entertaining on a Plate (1991). He was a natural on screen, where his over-the-top enthusiasm served him well. He wrote several books, including five TV spin-offs.

The book covers the cooking of vegetables in alphabetical order giving three to four recipes for each vegetable, one of which was usually a soup. As someone who loves nothing more than a bowl of vegetable soup or indeed a platter of vegetables, this book was manna from heaven.

I’ve probably not used the book for over 30 years but leafing through it I see recipes that I cook time and time again such as carrot and coriander soup, the spiced red cabbage and green tomato chutney. It’s like meeting up with an old friend for a catch up.