Although I live in London, I wasn't brought up here, and am a country girl at heart. So I jump at any opportunity for a weekend away, and we quite often head to either Tetbury in Gloucestershire or East Somerset to see parents. I kind of take it for granted how beautiful both of those areas are, but thought I would do a little blog post on each of the local towns, Tetbury and Castle Cary, in case you're ever looking for somewhere pretty and quaint to visit for a weekend away. Both towns are small, set down one main street, and are full of gorgeous little independent shops and businesses. So this post is about Tetbury, and an excellent local pub, and I will blog about Castle Cary in the not so distant future.

We last went to Tetbury a few weekends ago, when it was gloriously sunny, and felt like Spring had arrived. Fields were full of sheep with lambs, the sky was blue, and we wandered into town without even taking our coats.

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I've been eating out a lot more than normal recently, which I've been really loving (it's always nice to be cooked for!) Last Tuesday I was very kindly invited to go and check out a new pop up - HOP Vietnamese. The lovely Liv from Grub Club was due to go, but after not being able to rearrange a meeting that clashed she asked if I wanted to go along instead. Which I did!

This was HOP's second pop up, at House of Wolf, a cool cocktail bar set over several floors on Upper Street, near Highbury and Islington. We were greeted at the door and taken to the 1st floor, where a man resembling Ludo Lefebvre from The Taste was serving up delicious cocktails. Sadly, as it was a Tuesday evening and the middle of an already busy week for me, I had decided to not drink, so I stuck to the non-alcoholic versions, which were still really good - refreshing and tasty. I had a raspberry mint fizz, but could've had a chilli and lemongrass Collins or a coconut crush.

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Last week I was invited to the Underground Cookery School, near Old Street, for a cookery class with 20 other food bloggers, hosted by CurrysPCWorld, for #currysinthekitchen. All week I was wondering what the correlation between a computer shop and a cookery class was (bar the obvious fact that we food bloggers use computers to blog - which I didn't think was the link) but all became obvious when we arrived - CurrysPCWorld now stock kitchen gadgets! Ta-da - the reason we were there!!

Despite my best efforts to arrive cool, calm, collected and on time, I arrived half an hour late, flustered and in my normal state of everything at a million miles an hour. I was greeted by the CurrysPCWorld team, their PRs and the guys who run the cookery school, who had an apron waiting for me, ready to don for our cookery class. Camera out, apron on, I was given a glass of bubbles and told to help myself to trays of arancini, sausage rolls and smoked salmon on biscuits to nibble on before we got busy in the kitchen.

I have to say at this point, that although I had a super fun evening, I was a little disappointed at the level of cookery class we were given - it was all a bit... basic. I didn't learn anything. We were cooking a chicken curry, and a pear soufflĂ©, but lots of the ingredients were pre prepared, due to time constraints, and it was more like a cooking demo than what I'd imagined the cookery class would be like.

We started with the chicken curry, for which we boned and chopped chicken drumsticks, then added various ingredients to the pan, most of which were chopped, mixed and ready made for us. Onion, garlic, ginger and chilli went in, followed by the curry sauce the chefs had made earlier for us, coconut milk, our chopped chicken, and some pre-chopped carrot and potatoes. A quick stir, and we poured it into mini Le Creusets, which went into the oven while we moved onto pudding.

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I wasn't actually going to post this recipe up on my blog - it was just something I threw together for a weekday supper for me and the boy, and the title of it's a bit long winded. But the photo I posted on Instagram of our meal went down a treat, so I thought I'd put the recipe up here in case any of you want to make it.

You can substitute any ingredients you don't have for what you do have - my recipe was influenced by the contents of my fridge!

Serves 2:

150g squid ink spaghetti
50g spinach pasta

Handful frozen peas
2 tbsp pesto - I used Pisco pesto (I think that's what it's called, although can't find any info online about them), which was a homemade brand I picked up at Battersea car boot sale at the weekend
Packet of spinach
Lemon juice
Black pepper

2 fillets of sea bass

Get 2 pans of water on to boil - 1 large for the pasta, one smaller for the peas. 

Add salt to the larger pan once boiling and add your pasta. This needs to boil for 10 minutes. In the meantime, add the peas to the small pan, and boil for 1 minute, then drain and leave to one side. 

Heat a frying pan until hot, rub the sea bass fillets with olive oil and season. Place in the frying pan, skin side down and cook for a couple of minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy, and the fish is cooking through. Flip the fillets and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from the pan and leave to one side.

When the pasta is cooked (taste to check it's to your liking), drain, leaving a tiny amount of the cooking water, and return to the heat. Turn the heat right down and add the bag of spinach, stirring it through the pasta until it has wilted. Add 2 tablespoons of pesto and the peas and continue to stir. I drizzled some really nice olive oil through the pasta at this point as well; just to loosen the whole thing up a bit.

Put the pasta in shallow bowls and the fillet of fish on top. Squeeze a nice amount of lemon juice over the whole thing, and serve. A perfect, quick weekday dinner for 2!

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Last night I ventured into Central London for some dinner with my brother and his wife. We had plans to go and check out the new DubJam restaurant in Covent Garden, but unfortunately Lucy wasn't able to make it in the end, so we didn't want to go there without her. We popped into Flatiron, Polpo and Burger and Lobster, but they all had waits of over an hour, and by that point neither of us could wait that long for food! Luckily though Ducksoup had room for the 2 of us, and I'm so glad we ended up eating there, as neither of us had been before and we absolutely loved the food! Sadly, as we were sitting downstairs, it was quite dark, lit mostly by candle light, so the photos I took are terrible!! But bear with me, I'm sure you'll get the gist, and you should go check it out yourselves anyway as I think their menu is really original and utterly yummy.

Ducksoup's menu consists of small bar menu plates, and larger plates from the kitchen. We decided to share a few things so we could get to try as much as possible.

We started with a plate of capocollo, which is cured pork shoulder, and tasted like it was seasoned with black pepper and juniper. It had the perfect balance of meat and fat, and just melted in the mouth, leaving it's wonderful flavour lingering:

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Easy Bean, a Somerset based bean product company, have just launched a new range of chickpea crispbreads, following the success of their one-pot bean dishes, which are the only Fairtrade ready meals in the UK.

The crispbreads are all handmade at the new bakery that the Easy Bean MD, Christina Baskerville, has created in Somerset and are made with chickpea flour rather than wheat flour, so are gluten and wheat free, full of fibre and veggie friendly. The chickpea flour is mixed with buttermilk sourced from local farms, and then the biscuits are generously spiced, and topped with toasted seeds. The crispbreads come in 3 delicious flavours: seeds and black pepper, mung bean and chive, and moroccan spice.

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Despite my attempts at vaguely healthy and responsible eating, there may have been occasions, after a few pints at the pub, that I've ducked into the local kebab shop for a lamb shish on the way home, normally at around 2am! I don't do this often, in fact probably only about once a year, but I've still done it. The alcohol normally fuels the hunger, but I do actually really like the taste of lamb shish! So here's my recipe for those naughty kebabs, which you can now make at home (although maybe not at 2am after the pub!)

I can't promise that this version is massively healthier than the kebab shop's, but at least you know exactly what's gone into this one! The thing that makes homemade kebabs super tasty is the marinade, so you'll want to get your lamb out of the fridge, ready to marinate a couple of hours before cooking.

Serves 2

For the lamb:
250g diced leg of lamb (I get mine from the excellent Wyndham House butcher in Chiswick)
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ezapote (Mexican herb)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander leaf
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (I didn't use these in mine, but would've done if I wasn't sharing with the chilli-allergy one!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Large glug of olive oil
Black pepper

For the hummus:
130g tinned chickpeas (one of the mini tins)
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water, more if needed
Pinch of sea salt
Black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder

For the garlic sauce:
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp mayonnaise (I cheated and used shop bought, which I don't normally do, but it actually works best in this sauce)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
Half tsp salt

Everything else:
Flour wraps
Salad leaves
Pickled red cabbage
Sliced tomatoes

Get things started by getting your lamb in the marinade. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and add the coriander and cumin seeds, toasting for a minute or so until you can smell the aromas - be careful not to burn them though as they turn very fast. Tip the toasted spices into a pestle and mortar and grind into a powder. Add the paprika, ezapote, oregano, coriander leaf, chilli flakes, crushed garlic and black pepper. Pour this into a dish with the olive oil and lemon juice, and mix it all together. Toss the lamb pieces in the marinade and put the bowl back in the fridge until you're nearly ready to cook.

Ideally you want to leave your lamb to marinate for at least 2 hours, so give it the time it needs to absorb all those delicious flavours. After a couple of hours, remove the lamb from the fridge and leave it on the side, to allow it to come to room temperature. Whilst that's happening you can make your hummus, and garlic sauce.

You do really need some sort of blender to make the hummus. I use my magimix, but anything with a blade and motor will be fine. Stick the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and cumin into the blender and whizz for a couple of minutes, until it's really quite smooth. Taste the mixture at this point, and adjust the lemon/salt/cumin ratios to your liking. If it's a bit gluey, add some more water, a little at a time. Put to one side.

To make the garlic sauce, simply combine the mayo and yoghurt, crush the garlic into the mix and stir in the lemon and salt. Taste, and add more garlic/lemon/salt if needed.

I like to layer up the wraps at this point, before the lamb is cooked, so that once the lamb's ready you can just add that, and eat the kebab nice and warm. A stripe of hummus and a stripe of garlic sauce, with salad leaves, tomatoes, pickled cabbage and some jalapenos.

Then on with the lamb. Heat a large, wide frying pan over a medium to high heat, and once hot, add the lamb pieces. I start at the edges and place in a circle so that once all the lamb is in the pan I can start turning the cooked pieces over. My chunks were around 2.5cm square, and I cooked them for a couple of minutes each side, to leave them tender and a little pink in the middle.

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