A Minimoon at The Pig in the Forest, Brockenhurst

We really dithered about where to go on our minimoon after the wedding: we got engaged in Cornwall and while it would have been lovely to go back down to reminisce by the sea, over six hours of driving didn’t really scream relaxing break to either of us.

What we did want was to be somewhere beautiful, with great food, and to be totally looked after, which is how we ended up at The Pig. I always always going to be keen on their emphasis on food sourced from within 25 miles of the hotel, and it looked like a totally blissful place to relax in (those sofas and fires everywhere!). I was a little nervous after reading some of the tripadvisor reviews as it does seem like their service can be a little off at times, and it definitely hurts to be charged another £15 per head for breakfast when the room rate is over £200 per night, but all in all it was the perfect spot to celebrate – and recover from – the wedding.

We got the train down on the Monday afternoon and were delighted to discover that booking ourselves into one of their hideaways had been well worth the spluge – we had our own wood burning stove in the room, the comfiest bed, and a huge rolltop bath…. plus J’s parents had ordered us a bottle of champagne which was the nicest way to kick off our two nights away.

Champagne at the Pig in Brockenhurst

We ate in the main restaurant both nights and the food was great- beautifully cooked and presented, although unfortunately we had to wait so long on the first night for someone to take our dessert ordered that in the end we just abandoned it in the end in favour of a cocktail in front of the fire. The food was spot on though: beautifully presented piggy bits, fresh bread, perfectly cooked fish and the most incredible cheese board to finish our second evening.

You can book spa treatments while you’re down there but we opted to take advantages of the bikes for hire on site and cycle up to Lyndhurst for lunch. It might sound energetic but it really wasn’t. The ride is about half an hour each way if you don’t get lost or distracted by pony selfies, and it means the pub lunch half way round is marginally more justified.

minimoon9

Overall we couldn’t have picked a better spot for our minimoon. It was definitely a splurge but we both came back feeling so well rested (and well fed) that it was worth every penny.

Caramelised Onion and Cheese Mini Scones

Apart from all the general cheer, mulled wine and curling up beside a fire, one of the best bits of Christmas has to be the bite sized snacking food for all occasions. Smoked salmon blinis, cheese straws, sausage rolls, anything and everything from the M&S canape selection: I love them all.

I haven’t been baking much at all recently, but when I acquired some of my favourite comte cheese earlier this week, putting these caramelised onion and cheese mini scones together seemed like a great use for the cheese. Comte is definitely far more interesting as a scone filling than cheddar: if you get one that’s around 18 months old it’s slightly nutty which works beautifully alongside the sweet caramelised onions. Serve these beauties up alongside some prosecco and you’ll have some very happy Christmas guests indeed.

Caramelised Onion and Cheese Mini Scones

Caramelised Onion and Cheese Mini Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 450g self raising flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g grated comte cheese
  • 120ml milk
  • 120ml water

Instructions

  • Take the onions and gently fry them until they start to soften. Turn the heat down and let them start to caramelise and go brown around the edges. Ideally you'd leave them for two hours or so, but you can get away with 45 minutes if you need to. Once they are done, take off the heat and let cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 220C and in a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Rub in the butter until you have a sandy mixture, before adding in most of the cheese and all of the onions. Then pour in the milk and water, bringing everything into a heavy dough. Tip out onto a worksurface and roll out to around 2.5cm thick. Cut out the scones and place on a baking tray. Beat the egg with a little extra milk and brush over the scones before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minute until golden brown on top.
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    Nigel Slater’s Lentil Soup

    Things I did not expect to happen after getting married: to wake up at 05.57am the next morning still on a wedding high; to collapse into bed post-Planet-Earth at just after 9pm, barely able to keep my eyes open; STILL being so tired the next evening that we barely made it through dinner; and not actually cooking anything in our kitchen for the best part of a week.

    So while we’ve been fighting through a fog of tiredness, post-wedding errands and just generally catching up, it’s been good to get back into the kitchen and feed ourselves comfort food. Which is exactly where this bowl of lentil soup came in. As with most simple things, your ingredients needs to be good – good quality stock (still love this stuff), lentils that haven’t been in your cupboard for over a year, fresh greens and then some lemon and mint at the end to brighten the whole thing up.

    Since there was some cavolo nero languishing in the fridge (definitely dating from pre-wedding, fortunately just about still edible) that’s what I added, but spinach is in the original recipe. No doubt spring greens or even pak choi would work just fine. Not the most exciting way to come back down to planet earth after the wedding excitement, but certainly one of the nicest.

    Nigel Slater’s Lentil Soup

    Nigel Slater’s Lentil Soup

    Ingredients

    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 150g bacon lardons
    • 300g green lentils
    • 1 litre beef stock
    • Handful of cavolo nero, shredded
    • Lemon & mint leaves, to finish

    Instructions

  • Fry the onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften, then add in the garlic and bacon. Let the bacon start to brown before pouring in the lentils, mixing them well with the onion mixture. Pour in the stock, bring up to the oil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cavolo nero into the pan, stir well, and simmer for another 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, before serving in bowls with shredded mint leaves on top.
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