Saturday, 28 November 2015

Rocky Times

Who knew when I was finishing off last months column what a rocky few weeks lay ahead, its almost as though I could use the first paragraph of last months column to express my views of the wonderful people of Bampton and surrounding areas again too.

Whilst some of you might know, Paul and I had headed of to Cornwall for a few days break, a bit of brain storming for new menu ideas and plans for the winter and generally a bit of ‘us time’, within 2 days Paul was staying in Truro hospital with suspected pneumonia and being tested for all sorts of other things, I returned to the Swan on the Thursday to do an interview for the Devon Life Awards, yes Paul got out of that one again!!

I returned to Cornwall on Friday in the hope that Paul might be coming home, only to find him on a ward with no signs of improvement, I returned home to check on team Swan and finish of my column. Saturday I returned to find that Paul been moved to intensive care and was in an induced coma, with machines beeping, flashing and generally keeping him alive.
With a quick phone call to his parents, who were just ready to board a plane for Turkey, we all returned to The Swan.  The following week turned into the longest of my life, with nothing that I could do for Paul I threw myself back into the kitchen, by Thursday Paul was stable and improving very slowly and I suddenly lost Tom one of our other chefs who too was hospitalized with another case of suspected pneumonia, with offers of help and overwhelming support from family, friends, customers and others in the trade, we got through.

After a week of being in a coma the hospital started to bring Paul back around, by Monday I was back in Truro and speaking with Paul who had just had a slice of toast, his first food in over a week, on the Tuesday he was back home, albeit very weak and unsteady, tired and a little confused, nearly 2 weeks on he is making a steady return to the Paul we all know, but it’s going to take sometime for normal service to resume.

Meanwhile the Swan continues, as always with our passion for good food and drink and of course a warm welcome.

Thursday 5th sees our first award ceremony at Sandy Park for Devon Life food and drink Awards, closely followed by a trip to Padstow on Monday 9th to Rick Steins for The Trenchermans Guide Awards, with The Tourism awards in Plymouth towards the end of the month, so there are plenty of things for Paul to get himself well for.

Obviously with everything going on all the changes that we had been planning have taken a bit of a back seat, we have managed to change a few dishes, the Lamb dish has had a make over, comprising of a lamb shoulder shepherds pie, lamb cutlet and winter vegetables, a pumpkin ale cake and toffee apple sorbet has made an appearance for Halloween(Pauls last crazy idea) and one of our winter warmers is back, Sticky ginger pudding with a ginger caramel sauce, which I thought I’d share with you



             175g (6oz) plain flour
             1tsp ground ginger
             1/2tsp baking powder
             1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
             2 large eggs, beaten
             75g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
             100g (4oz) dark brown sugar
             1tbsp black treacle
             240g (9oz) stem ginger, drained but syrup reserved, chopped finely in a food processor and half reserved for the sauce

For the sauce:
             100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
             75g (3oz) unsalted butter
             3tbsp reserved ginger syrup from the jar
             4tbsp Ginger wine (Stones or Crabbies)
             200ml (1/3pt) double cream

  Preheat oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4.
1.Sift the flour, ginger, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
 2.Add the eggs, butter, sugar, treacle and half the stem ginger, and mix well with an electric hand whisk until thoroughly mixed. Divide the mixture between 6 prepared moulds, we cook ours in a tray and divide in to squares when cooled.
3.Place on to a baking tray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well-risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.( These puddings can be frozen )
4.Meanwhile, to make the sauce, simply place the remaining stem ginger and all the other sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Place over a medium heat; bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until smooth.
5.When the puddings are cooked, remove from the oven. Allow to cool for five minutes before turning out, they seem to come out easier then.
 6 Either serve sauce over the puddings or in a jug, add your favorite, custard, ice cream or a large dollop of clotted cream or all????!!


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