From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982


It's impossible to be in France and not be "into" food, so here are some of our favourite recipes.  We'll add to these as we go along.  Bon Appetit!

This was cooked by Chloe over Christmas and was delicious

Slow Roasted Spicey Strawberries:

For 3-4 people

- 2 summer sized punnets of strawberries (more like 3-4 if they are small winter punnets)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar 
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick (more or less to taste)
- 1 pinch of chilli flakes (optional, to taste)
- A good few cracks of a black pepper grinder

Preheat oven to 275F or 135 Celcius.

Cut the strawberries in half or quarters if they're really big. They should all be approx the same size.

Slice vanilla pod, scrap out the seeds and pop into bowl with the strawbs. Chuck the whole pod in too. 

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, red wine, cinnamon stick, black pepper and chilli flakes. Toss gently to mix.

Roast in the oven for 2- 2.5 hours, stirring gently every half hour. 

Serve with vanilla icecream and enjoy!

This was my very simple but very nice starter
Cheese Dip

Take one ripe Coulommier cheese 

slice in half horizontally so you have 2 discs of cheese

Thinly slice a clove of garlic and distribute evenly over one disc, then replace the other disc

Wrap in foil and bake at 180C for 20 minutes or until the cheese starts to run.

You can add herbs as well as or instead of garlic, thyme is nice.

Serve with French bread for dipping

Serves 2 or 3

Best Risotto Ever (Vegetarian)

Serves two

140g Arborio rice

1 med onion, finely chopped

15g Dried Mushrooms (mixed, the most varied you can get)

1 glass white wine

½ litre Vegetable stock

Parmesan Cheese, grated, a good handful

15ml Olive oil
butter, 2 good wodges for frying
small bowl of milk and water to soak mushrooms.

Prepare mushrooms:
Soak in lukewarm water for 1-2 minutes, then rinse well.  Then soak for at least 30 minutes in a 50/50 mix of water and milk, just enough to cover them.
Strain, reserving liquid to add to stock.  Cut them up if they’re big.  Fry them gently in butter for 5 mins or so.
If you can get fresh wild mushrooms, lucky you!  Chop ‘em up and fry them, and add them to risotto as described below

Prepare Stock:
At this point I have to confess I’ve been using Knorr StockPots and they’re brilliant, if a little salty.  Whatever you’re using, follow the instructions (if necessary) bring it to the boil and then simmer at boiling point the whole time you’re cooking the risotto.  Add the mushroom soaking liquid at this point, it adds to the flavour.

Start Cooking!
Heat Olive oil & butter in a pot (pref non-stick) until butter is melted.  Add chopped onion and cook over med heat, until it’s ALMOST beginning to brown.  Add rice and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring all the time.
Add the glass of white wine, and keep stirring until the pot is starting to look a little dry.  Then add 1 or 2 ladles of stock.  Keep an eye on it and stir  every so often.  Add another 1 or 2 ladles of stock whenever it begins to dry out.

You don’t have to stand over it, but you need to check it every 3 – 5 minutes, depending on how enthusiastic your stove is.  After 20 mins, add in the mushrooms, they will benefit from cooking with the rice for a while.  It normally takes about 25 - 30 mins to cook the rice fully.  If you start to run out of stock, boil up some water in the kettle and top up the "stock" pot as you go along.

Taste one grain of rice to see if it’s cooked.  If there’s any hint of crunchiness in the middle, add another ladle of stock and cook for another few minutes.  Keep it a little on the wet side at the end, otherwise you run the risk of serving a dry gloopy risotto.

Just before serving, add the parmesan and stir.

Bon App!

Roast Quail with Carmargue rice and broad beans

 Serves one

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Quail
1 Tbsp honey (Provencal Lavender of course!)
Small glass of white wine
2oz Carmargue rice
Salt & pepper to taste
Provencal herbs to taste
1 kilo broad beans in shells

Heat oven to 160C
Bring 1 pint of lightly salted water to the boil in a saucepan meanwhile.... 

Heat the olive oil in thick bottomed casserole and brown the quail all over and remove.
Add honey and white wine to pan and stir till honey has dissolved
Return the quail and season with salt pepper and Provencal herbs
Cook in oven for 40 minutes basting every 10 minutes or so and adding more wine if the pan is drying out
Add rice to boiling water and cook for 40 minutes at a simmer(or whatever it says on the pack)
Meanwhile shuck the broadbeans, I usually add them to lightly salted water for 5 minutes, but you might like them cooked for longer.

Drain rice.
Remove quail from the casserole and mix rice with the juices in the casserole.
Serve Quail on  bed of the rice with some drizzled over the top, and the beans on the side.

Lamb Casserole

Four pieces of neck of lamb, sliced off by the butcher
8 shallots
6 carrots
3 cloves garlic
1/2litre stock
1 glass red wine
2 tbl Herbes de Provence
3 sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil

Serves four

Heat Olive oil in a flame-proof casserole over med heat and brown lamb on both sides.  Add shallots, carrots, wine and stock.  Season liberally with Herbes de Provence, add salt to taste.  Lay Rosemary sprigs on top, cover and place in oven for two hours.

Serve with rice or potatoes.

Pot Roasted Guinea Fowl

1 tbs olive oil

4 oz smoked lardons

4 young turnips (the ones with the purple tops)

½ pint white wine

Preheat oven to 160/170 oC

Peel and quarter the turnips, then boil in lightly salted water for 5  minutes, drain and set aside

Use a cast iron casserole pot with a close fitting lid that is just large enough to take the fowl.

Heat the oil in the casserole, then add the lardons and cook until mid brown and slightly crispy. Set aside.

Brown the guinea fowl in the juices from the lardons, turning every few minutes so the whole bird gets browned. Remove from the casserole.

Return the lardons to the casserole with the turnips, toss over a low heat until the turnips are lightly browned, about a minute.

Push the turnips and lardons to the edges of the casserole and fit the fowl into the centre. Pour the white wine over the fowl then season with freshly ground black pepper. Place the lid on the casserole and place in the oven for 1½ hours.


Biscuit Base

8oz Digestive Biscuits

2oz Soft Brown Sugar

3oz butter/margarine

3oz Caster Sugar
2 eggs separated
3tsp gelatine dissolved in a little hot water
Rind & juice of 1 lemon
1/2 pint cream
8oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese or St Moret
Fruit of your choice to decorate

Mix crushed biscuits, brown sugar and melted sugar
Line the base of an 8inch loose bottomed tin with the mixture and pack it down evenly
Beat egg yolks and sugar
Add in cream cheese and rind & juice of the lemon and beat
Add dissolved gelatine
Beat in whipped cream and whipped egg whites
Add half of mixture to tin with biscuit mixture
Decorate with half the fruit
Add rest of mixture
Decorate with other half of the fruit
Decorate with extra whipped cream if required

Fennel au Gratin
This was taken from Leah Larkin's excellent blog,
We've both made it a couple of times & it's an excellent starter

Serves 4
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and halved lengthwise
30g butter, cubed
2 cloves garlic, halved
350ml hot stock, chicken or vegetable
30ml creme fraiche or sour cream
Pinch of nutmeg
4 tbl freshly grated Parmesan (or more!)

Preheat oven to 180C
Arrange fennel in baking dish, scatter garlic and butter around it
Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Add hot stock and bake until tender and browned, about1.5 hours

Preheat grill.  Spoon creme fraiche over the fennel, sprinkle with nutmeg and then Parmesan.  Slide under the grill until golden, it'll take 1 or 2 minutes

Aubergine Parmigiani
I worked in an Italian restaurant in New Jersey in my dim and distant past.  I got the recipe for this from the owner.  It's my all-time favourite veggie dinner.  The tomato sauce is the basic Italian tomato sauce that you can use with everything : on pasta on it's own, with mincemeat and veg to make spaghetti Bolognese, or reduce it right down and use it as Pizza topping.

Serves 4

2 medium sized aubergines
Plenty of olive oil for frying
Three balls of fresh Mozarella, sliced
A good sprinkle of Parmesan - the original recipe uses the cheap packet parmesan, but if you want to be posh, use the fresh stuff

For the sauce:
2 tins of tomatoes, preferably chopped
1 clove of garlic (or more if you like)
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbl each dried basil & oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot.  Add the garlic, stir once or twice, then add the tomatoes.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir well, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.  Towards the end of its cooking time, mash it up with a potato masher - it gives the sauce a better texture.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan - the bottom of the pan should be well covered.
Trim the ends off the aubergines and slice them lengthways into roughly 1/4 inch slices.
Start frying the slices, 3 or four at a time, until they are golden on both sides.  You will need to keep adding more oil, the aubergine really soaks it up.
Lay the first batch of cooked slices in bottom of the baking pan.  Cover with sauce.  Continue frying the aubergine and layering them with sauce in the baking pan.  You should end up with at least three layers, depending on the shape of the pan, but it's not the end of the world of you only have a big pan with only two layers (you might need extra cheese though!)
Your last layer of sauce should be fairly thin.  Arrange the sliced Mozarella on top of this and sprinkle generously with Parmesan.  Cover with foil and put in the oven for forty minutes.  After forty minutes, remove the foil to allow the top to go goldeny brown, anywhere between ten and twenty minutes.  Watch closely, it would be a shame to burn it at this stage!

Serve with fresh linguine.

What to do with Truffles

During Le Big Trek we met this lovely French lady who gave us truffled wild boar pate in our picnic lunch, she gave us these recommendations for using truffles.

Truffles are best served with oil, eggs or dairy products as these extract the flavour from the truffle. They should only ever be warmed never heated to high temperatures.

To Make Truffle Oil

First wash and scrub the truffle and leave to dry for a few days until it looks slightly shriveled, then add to a 1/2 litre of oil. Use a light oil with not too much flavour, or the flavours will fight each other. Only leave the truffle in the oil for 3 to 4 days, then use it in stuffing or mashed potato.

Truffled butter

Grate 1 or 2 small truffles and add to 250gms of soft unsalted butter. Leave to infuse for up to 24 hours. Spread on cold toasts, or use in mashed potato.

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