Thursday, 4 December 2014

Gluten Free Cake

After surviving our 8th Bampton Fair at the end of a glorious October, we launched straight into a coffee morning on the Saturday, well done to Bampton Afc for the hundreds of cakes and the boys doing the washing up, very impressive, with over £300 raised. Morris men and folk entertainers surrounded us; the music continued into the early hours, so a massive welcome back to ‘After the fair- folk festival’ you were missed last year.

The following Sunday was Remembrance Sunday and is always a well attended event at the war memorial followed by a service in the church, its nice to see the little ones from the cubs and scouts get involved.

The next weekend sees a practice run of the Christmas menu, one of the local cricket clubs hosts their end of season do and awards ceremony, they get a set menu minus the Christmas pudding and we get the practice. I’m glad to say it was a success all round, nothing was to stressful in the kitchen and they all had a great time.

The next day is the Third Sunday in the month when we hold a quiz night, for a local group or charity, this months was arranged by Katrina from Bampton Business Group and The Toucan in aid of festive decorations for the town, with such a fantastic turn out we had to borrow the chairs from The Bridge House (a great place for something really tasty) thank you Nigel and Caroline, also a BIG thank you to Les who stepped in at the last minute as quiz master, he did a brilliant job. All in all with a group holding a fundraiser of there own upstairs a massive total of £800 pounds was raised.

With all this talk of Christmas, Paul and I feel a little like all our Christmases have come at once, it started out on the 6th at Sandy Park with The Devon Life Awards; it was like the Oscars the tinkle of glasses and the ring of laughter as we awaited to be seated for our meal, everything was supplied and sourced locally, including the wine, bubbly and soft drinks. As the time approached for the awards the only thought on my mind was how terrible was I going to look and sound on the big screen of the previously recorded clips all the finalists had had to make. So when the golden envelope was opened and the immortal words were uttered “and the winner is “… best Devon Gastro Pub is The Swan, I didn’t even hear it, to say we were shocked is an understatement.

You will find us about 12 mins in 

On the 17th  we were invited to The Trenchermans awards at The Watergate Bay Hotel Newquay as finalists in the Dine and Stay category all courses were cooked by chefs from the guide, Mark from the Masons Arms Knowstone presented the fish course, which was simply stunning. We came runners up which we find truly amazing.

We think this is amazing to watch.

The 19th saw us at High Bullen Golf and Country Club, as finalists in Devon Tourism Pub of the Year, with over 140 entrants we were excited to walk away with a bronze.

Mixing it up with the cream of Devon

So for The Swan and all its team and customers it has been one truly exciting month, now we look forward to the Christmas festivities, which brings me to this weeks recipe and with new laws being introduced regarding allergens one of which is high on the list is gluten

GLUTEN FREE CHRISTMAS DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TORTE  (looks like a brownie and tastes lush)

225g dark chocolate
5 eggs
175g caster sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
140g ground almonds
2 tbsp cornflour
50g white chocolate

1.  Melt dark chocolate over a pan of hot water or gently micro wave, leave to cool slightly
2.  Meanwhile whip the egg whites to soft peaks, add half the sugar a spoon at a time to form a soft meringue
3.  Whisk the egg yolks, mixed spice and the rest of the sugar until doubled in volume.
4.  Fold half the white into yolk mix
5.  Then add the remaining ingredients, gently folding in, firstly the melted chocolate, then the remaining egg whites, ground almonds cornflour and finally the roughly chopped white chocolate
6.  Place in a greased and lined 21cm cake tin. Cook for 30mins  at 170 oC gas mark 3, then turn off the oven and leave for another 15 mins
7.  Leave to cool
8.  Serve with any of your favourite Christmas treats, rum soaked fruits, liqueur cherries, brandy cream or butter, or even whip up your own liqueur cream using 3-4 tbsp of your favourite tipple, 225 ml double or whipping cream and 2 tbsp of icing sugar (just Whisk together)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Simply not Christmas

Simply not Christmas

Christmas Eve Evening 
A Three course menu thats a surprise on the night 

You wrapped the presents stuffed your turkey nows the time to give your feet a rest and let someone else do the cooking. We promise that there be no turkey or sprouts in sight.  

A choice from 5 starters 6 mains and 5 puddings
and coffee £24.95 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Mark Twain

Mark Twain once said, “Truth is stranger than fiction” my opinion is that fiction is loosely based on the truth. With the likes of “Chef “with Lenny Henry, the world renowned Faulty Towers and even “Psycho’s Bates Motel” believe you me, most of this came from hearsay or personal experience. So with only 2 days to go to Bampton Fair I was reminded of some of the disasters that have happened to me over the years within the catering industry.

The reason for the reminiscing …Tuesday lunch, just starting to get busy and the dish washer decides to be over taken by gremlins, water is cascading all over the place, there’s plates and pans every where with orders to be taken out too, so to sum things up it took twice as long to clear up as usual with a bit of water aerobics thrown in, thank you nice man from Western Refrigeration for sorting us out.

In the past I’ve had fridges, freezers, cookers, etc blow up on me, but only on important days of the catering calendar, Easter, Fathers day, a ceiling collapsed just as I was taking the roast out on a Mothers Day, a New Year and Christmas are the times for the ice machines and glass wash and I’ve seen a pied piper effect of rats gamboling over bins just as a large party were due to arrive (all because a new property were installing their sewage system 3 doors away and disturbed them) and an unfortunate body having to be moved, because the coach had arrived early before the funeral directors had turned up. But the customer never knew. These are but a few stories there are so many more.

Along with these memories you have memories of people that felt like your family at the time. Its probably the only industry that you could possible work in that you spend more time with your work mates than you do your own family. You know more about them than anyone, you hear about family, friends, plans or surprises long before the intended ever does, you share the highs and lows, the births, deaths and marriages, plus you gel together through the tough and manic services, take the knocks from both customers and staff, but manage to come out the other side, truly there is nothing like it, with a strange language and a sort of code, this is really the best or worse industry to be in. So in saying goodbye to 2 long serving family members this month, we start again with some new additions, so good luck to you all.

Next month sees me learning more about taking on an apprentice and looking into the goings on at Petroc with the help and advise of Hospitality Lecturer Karen Rivers, learning what the students get up to now as to opposed to my days at college many years ago.

Paul and I also have 3 awards ceremonies to attend, of which are very excited, surprised and very grateful to all of you that voted for us, it feels like the Oscars, we have been nominated in “The Devon Life Awards” “SW Tourism Awards ” and “The Trenchermans Awards”

This week’s recipe is for Moist Carrot Cake, the reason for this recipe is that The Ladies Of Bampton run a Tea Room on Fair day, for charity, this year for the OAP Christmas lunch and with the intention of holding a Christmas party for the children, and this is my usual donation

MOIST CARROT CAKE (adapted over the years)

¼ pt sunflower oil
4oz dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3oz black treacle
6oz SR flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp bicarb
7oz-grated carrot
3oz sultanas
1oz coconut

1.Really easy, mix all ingredients in order of list
2. Place into a greased and floured tin
3. Cook for 20/25 mins on gas mark 4 or 180oc

Serve with a frosting or cream as a whole cake or slightly warm with ice cream or custard


We Just attended The Devon Life Food and Drink Awards at Sandy Park and what a night it was. We cant believe that we won Best Gastro Pub its still sinking in.
This award can only be down to you the customer for voting for us .

Thank you so much

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Proud Moments

Just a quick bee update from last months column, I’ve been reliably informed from Humphrey himself that the bees I saw actually have a colony in the church and swarm every year, so I apologize to Humphreys well behaved bees and have learnt something new in the process.

I’ve been reminded these last few weeks of things you miss when you’re children grow up, ‘the teenage years” and actually it’s a bit sad. The end of term, sees a flurry of activities, school reports, fetes and fairs, discos and sports days, do you remember beaming with pride as your little ones ”take there marks” for the first time? There are always some major disasters; the egg falls off the spoon, falling over or the sacks to big, in the sack race and that’s just the parents, who always seem to be so much more competitive than the children! I’ve been lucky enough to witness two of Bampton Schools leaver’s assemblies which are notoriously emotional, the children are given a brilliant send off to there new schools with a mixture of heartiest praise and lists of achievements, both good and bad in there years at primary school. The well-planned event by the amazing staff and teachers is full of giggles and roars of laughter, well that way some dads and us mums can disguise the tears as tears from laughing too much. The children are always made to feel good about themselves and some how seem to stand taller when they leave to a huge round of applause. Of course you end up with the obligatory shirts scrawled with well wishes that you must promise to never wash. So even though these are hectic times and you’re not sure how you’ll ever manage to fit it all in, enjoy.

Its strange the things you do as a parent, but what we all want is the best for our children, as a group of parents demonstrated this week as they took matters into there own hands and spruced up the children’s play park, maybe a bit of an understatement as 10 bin bags later they were still going strong, but what an amazing transformation, you should all be very proud that your little one can now play safe. So LITTER BUGS BEWARE!

Another group of people that should also feel proud are the residents of Bampton themselves and the team from Bampton In Bloom, as judging commenced this week there seemed to be a flurry of activity in the pruning and watering department, not that a few last minute tweaks can detract from all the hard work that has been going on for months. Which I’m sure the judges could see for themselves. We often hear or have comments made to us in the pub about how beautiful and cared for Bampton looks, with the wonderful array of baskets, pots, planters and troughs through out the village. Our baskets and pots are at their prime at the moment and our small outside terrace is looking stunning, it really does add a touch of cheer and a wonderful splash of color. Honestly whether you win anything or not all your hard work has definitely been noticed so you can all pat yourselves on the back.

These last two weeks we’ve been playing with our Chocolate Brownie recipe, week one saw the addition of Oreos and this week had Jaffa Cake and orange, strange my kids hung around for the tasting of these mmmmm


400g plain chocolate
300g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

1.   Set oven to 180o/ gas mark 4. Lightly butter a 20cm baking tray and line with greaseproof paper
2.   Melt 175g of chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan (or microwave) Chop the remaining chocolate into chunks and leave to one side
3.   Once melted and the butter and stir till blended
4.   Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the beaten eggs and mix well
5.   Mix the sieved flour and baking powder until all combined
6.   Stir in the reserved chocolate chunks
7.   Pour mixture into the prepared tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm
8.   Leave to cool a little, then turn out on to a cooling rack
9.   Cut into squares and serve, approx 12 portions

We replaced the chunks of chocolate with the oreos/jaffa cakes, but instead of mixing in we placed them on the top. I recon you could try almost any of your favorite sweets, suggestions have been, smarties, peanut m&ms and rolo, what will you try?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bees, balls, birthdays and bananas

As I turned the corner into the churchyard, on a quick dash to the launderette, I noticed The Heritage Center A board had been moved from the gate to under a tree. Strange I thought, until I read the sign “Bees escaped” with an arrow pointing upwards, as I looked up I realized Humphrey’s bees had left their hive and taken up residence in the tree, WOW what a sight. This is a reasonably regular occurrence, but they normally cling to the church walls, so to see them all hanging in a mass formation was quite a sight. By the time I returned only a few minuets later, quite a crowd had gathered and some gent had already set up his tri-pod and was merrily snapping away. A touch of country life.

 World Cup fever has grabbed the majority of the nation, but obviously not everyone is a fan, so what does a country pub do?  With over 7 years of being in Bampton, we have learnt that the summer and sunshine is not always good for business, with weddings, music festivals and the opportunity to have mates around for a bar-b-que, the pub can sometimes feel a little deserted.

Paul and myself both enjoy football, so we decided to show every game, mainly in our upstairs room, which is normally used for dinning, meetings or private parties of up to 20 and show the England games downstairs in the bar. Oh how the tabloids get the picture so wrong, we had no topless men, big flags or drunken yobs, but a great bunch of male, female, young and old supporting their nation. Some people elected to eat upstairs but the majority elected to eat in the bar and soak up the atmosphere, which was great if sometimes a little loud.

We supplied food at half time on the first England game, well it was late and some were starting to flag. The next game saw us up against Uruguay, Paul tracked this down, Chivito is the name of a sandwich-style national dish in Uruguay, and consists primarily of a thin slice of steak with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black or green olives, and commonly also bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs and ham. We sold a fare few of them at half time and what a sandwich it was. For the last tea time game we offered fish and chips at £5 we had at least 20 takers and even though the squad was on its way home we had a good crowd in, who says we’re not patriotic?

The Monday saw a “zero” birthday for me and Paul whisked me off to Dublin for 2 nights, the pubs there were packed and lively, well it would have been rude not to have looked. We did invite everyone to a disco the following Sunday to help me celebrate, so thank you all and a big thank you to our understanding neighbours, we did warn them.

With the hot weather arriving, food doesn’t keep so well and this is an old favorite I put together this week to use up those black squishy bananas (honest for this recipe its best that they are like that)

4oz butter
6oz sugar
2 eggs
2 well mashed bananas
1-teaspoon bicarb
2 tablespoons boiling milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
8oz plain flour

Set oven at 350 F  (gas mark 4)
 Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs 1 at a time, add bananas, followed by the bicarb dissolved in the milk. Sift in flour and baking powder. Bake in 2 greased sandwich tins for 20 minutes, or add a touch more baking powder and bake in a deeper tin for about 50 minutes.
The smell is delicious, we served ours with homemade pistachio nut ice cream, and you could serve it with any of your favourites, cream, custard or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy, I promise you won’t be disappointed.