Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cherry and Apple Frangipane Tart (Gluten Free!)

This was inspired by an apple frangipane tart I had in a restaurant a while ago. Almonds are almost the main ingredient – so this almost counts as a high protein treat – perfect for recovery after a long cycle! At least that is how I justified eating a quarter of the cake on Sunday! 🙂

It is actually really easy to make, but is easily the kind of thing you could serve at a dinner party…

Ingredients

  • 200g gluten free shortcrust pastry
  • gluten free plain flour (for dusting)
  • 85g butter and extra for greasing (unsalted, softened)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 400g sliced fresh mixed apples (I used one braeburn, one pink lady and one granny smith)
  • 200g cherries and extra to be served on the side
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C  and grease a 20cm tin
  2. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface (I like to get it as thin as possible)  then lightly press the pastry into the tin, trimming the edges.
  3. Prick the base of the tart in several areas with a fork and then line with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and cook in the oven for ten minutes.
  4. Remove the paper and beans, brush the pastry with a little of the beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 7-8 minutes, taking care that the pastry doesn’t burn – the idea is that it is cooked (so it will become crispy) but not too browned.
  5. Cream together the butter and sugar and then mix in the ground almonds, beaten eggs, vanilla essence and lemon zest.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the pastry shell and then cover with the sliced apples and halved cherries.
  7. Brush the whole tart with the apricot jam (this is easier if the jam is slightly melted either in a microwave or on the hob)
  8. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes that it isn’t getting too brown.
  9. Leave in the tin to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack before serving with the remaining halved cherries and cream or ice-cream and… ENJOY 🙂

    Tea time :)

    Tea time 🙂

Tea and cake in the garden was just what we wanted after our morning cycle and within a matter of minutes, very little was left!

 

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All Clipped-In and ready to Go :)

It was a day of firsts… Our first clipped-in cycle, our first mechanical issue, and our first cycle through a thunderstorm!

Having heard that they increase your efficiency by as much as 30%, last weekend Alice and I finally decided to ‘upgrade’ to clipless pedals. It has taken us several months to muster the courage for this. For someone who isn’t all that stable on their bike, the thought of being literally clipped into it was rather terrifying!

So it was with some fear and trepidation we set off on our first ‘clipped’in’ cycle heading for the beautiful cotswold countryside.

It turned out to be rather an eventful 70 miles…

The clipless pedals  were actually much easier than we had expected, although neither of us escaped the inevitable “slow-car-crash” type fall where we forgot to ‘un-clip’ in time at a junction. Fortunately falling in slow-motion was actually painless and we were happy that we had survived the traditional initiation into clip-in pedals and hopefully won’t need to repeat the experience!

About 25 miles in Mummy’s chain came off (ironically as they had been serviced the day before). This was a very minor deal and within minutes Alice had sorted the problem and we were off again.

We had set out knowing that Thunder storms were forecast, but felt it would be good practice as who knows what weather we’ll get in Scotland. We were amazingly lucky with out timings. The storms hit hard while we were having lunch, and we certainly took the opportunity to stock up on calories which seemed more and more necessary as the rain pelted down… This was our second cycle to the Feathered Nest and the food just gets better every time 🙂

We are so happy that they have donated a stay at the wonderful establishment for our Charity Auction in November as their food is amongst the best we’ve ever had and know that Daddy would be so touched! Whenever we are planning a cycle we are always pulled in their direction partly because the food is so yummy, but also because we have such happy memories of meals there with Daddy. He raved about their delicious tomato tart for years! The owners were so sweet and seemed very concerned that we were seriously intending to cycle over thirty miles home through the storm, they were so concerned the kept producing more and more free chocolates to sustain us through the rain:)

but miraculously the clouds parted just as we set off again…

We even encountered some Morris Dancers on the way home. It felt rather surreal; “surreal but nice” as Hugh Grant so famously said in Notting Hill and Daddy would often quote 😉

The rain only returned in force when we were less than a mile from home. Alice was thrilled that we had the experience of riding in a storm and I was very happy that the experience only had to last a few minutes.

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A Croatian Adventure with Strel-Swimming

A few months ago (as panic began to set in) I persuaded Alice that we ought to dedicate a week to full on swimming training. A week with Strel Swimming Adventures in Croatia seemed like a pretty appealing option, but it surpassed our expectations in every aspect!

It was quite possibly the best holiday we have ever had!

The organization, the location, the scenery, the water and the food were all fantastic. Borut had thought of everything, from the vibrant swimming hats and comfy T-shirts, to the pre-swim Vaseline sessions and delicious tea-breaks… dried fruit, nuts and chocolate are just what you want when you are coming out of the water feeling a little chilly!

Hotel Spongolia on the Island of Krapanj was the perfect base, with very few tourists, but absolutely everything you needed, including (most importantly) a gelateria and a local bar/restaurant serving the best Seabass I have ever had!!

Even the water bottles came with motivational messages…

Bottle QuotesIt was amazing how much we were able to fit into our days, without ever feeling rushed or having to worry about organizing anything… the guides had phenomenal knowledge of the area and plans were always flexible to allow for changes in weather, tide and the energy levels of the group, which meant even on the day when conditions weren’t optimal we still had a fantastic swim.

Every day included at least one new Island to explore on foot, two new swims – always with plenty of training tips and stories thrown in. It really was the ultimate adventure where each day was new and exciting, but everything seemed to fall effortlessly into place 🙂  It was just what we needed: a proper workout for our bodies and a complete break for our minds!

We racked up quite a few firsts:

  • Island to Island crossing (3km)

    The Islands we swam between

    The Islands we swam between

  • Island circumnavigation (3.5km around the Island of Krapanj)
  • River Swim (2.5km)
  • Tunnel Swim – to see Hitler’s submarine hideaway
  • Waterfall swim – at the Krka National Park
  • Blue Lagoon swim at Kornati National Park

Borut even filmed us underwater and gave an analysis of our swimming technique, which was really useful (I had no idea I was actually only using half my arm power!

More than anything it was the people who made the trip so special! Clearly a ‘swimming adventure holiday’ attracts an eccentric crowd – we had an artist, a playwright, journalists, a sports engineer and an Egyptologist amongst our group.

Everyone had a story to tell and they were all pretty inspiring! The local spirits made from herbs and walnuts certainly helped us learn more about the quieter members of the group on our night out in Sibenik. I’m not much of a drinker, but no trip to Croatia would be complete without sampling Grahovac and Pelinkovac!

We were also joined by Tori Gorman – the 22nd Australian woman ever to swim the English Channel and swimming with her was completely unreal! (especially as we couldn’t begin to keep up, even when we were wearing flippers…) She radiated passion, enthusiasm and boundless energy – a total inspiration and so generous with her advice and encouragement! We just hope some of her positivity and drive rubbed off on us!

You can really tell that Strel Swimming is a family run business… Borut Strel, founded the business a few years ago, having spent years supporting his father on his record breaking swims around the world. Amazingly it has grown organically from just 4 swimmers in Croatia four years ago to over 140 this year. Over 50% of customers return within 2 years and it is easy to understand why – Alice and I can’t wait for our next Strel Swimming Adventure – we just can’t decide whether we should do Slovenia or Lake Powell, Arizona first!

We are so grateful to everyone at Strel Swimming for making this adventure possible and for all the help, advice and encouragement for our Windermere Swim – we are now more excited and determined than ever! Here is a video Borut made with us at the end of the trip… As you can imagine – we can’t recommend them highly enough!

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