Not the outdoor type

What if something's on t.v. and its never shown again?*

So that's it. Summer's almost gone. Any warm weather from now on is a bonus, not an Indian summer. As far as I'm concerned, it's autumn and time to light even more candles and draw the blinds and curtains shut, delighting at the dying of the light.We have just ended the summer holidays with a week in a field. And although we had a spacious yurt to stay in, it was still in a field. This meant a four hour walk with a wheelbarrow to do some bad washing up and a full blown existential crisis while even contemplating washing of bodies.Not keen on walking to the loo in the middle of the night, which to be honest was little more than a sawdust-filled hole surrounded by a fence, I may or may not have gone really back to nature. And it was a lovely way to check on the stars, which were out of this world, even if half naked and glasses-less may have made me rush my normally contemplative astronomical gazing.But there really is something wonderful about sausage, egg and bacon eaten with your bare feet in the mid-morning dew. The warmth of the gas barbecue ring for the kettle defrosting all of us like mammoths found beneath the ice. I honestly can't remember ever having been so cold, and I've been to Newcastle.A fire each night kept us warm for a while, we toasted marshmallows. No-one but me liked them, which I don't understand. They are like really trashy creme brulées on a stick. Sort of. And obviously the heat is enough to remove fingerprints. Still, you need your kicks when sleeping in a field.When the rest of the family left me to go inside, complaining, I stared at the sky for some time, thinking big thoughts, watching the moon slowly move through the night and the three constellations I can recognise slowly appear. Then, when I could no longer feel my limbs and face, I went inside and we listened to the episodes of The Archers we managed to download in the nearby town.Food had to be simple. One night we had steaks, cooked directly on the flames (which, in a huge chest beating moment of manliness I had managed to get going by using dried corn husks as kindling thanks very much). An onion tossed fully skinned into the embers came out soft, sweet and smoky and the mushrooms, cooked quickly with sage went down very well with Noah. Maya had chopped them all for us, but refused to eat them.We stewed some rhubarb too, for pudding. Noah chopped it and loaded it into one of the big cast-iron pans. How I love them. (The pans. Quite fond of the children too I suppose). Apart from the stringy fibres, which I forgot to remove, it was delicious. I used an indecent amount of sugar, but you have to really.We made mint and sage tea while the children learned to build shelters and light fires. Noah didn't think much of it, but at least he tried it. Maya looked at me from under suspicious eyebrows and backed silently away. And I kept thinking "these are the good old days."But, there is a certain relief of a whole night spent in your own bed, once back home. Even if there are no hooting owls. And to be honest, I can do without the moos in the middle of the night too. Perhaps it was the cows getting their own backs for the steaks we had eaten.*Evan DandoThis week:Watched: Despicable Me 3. I liked it. It was ok. I didn't like it. The children did though, and to be honest, a rainy day in Norfolk needs some diversions.Read: Halfway through A Tale of Two Cities. Each page is an exercise in perseverance, but on I go...Eaten: Steaks on a fire, marshmallows, lots of crisps and shortbread, a screaming drive down to our favourite Indian restaurant the moment we arrived home...Listened to: The Beatles 1967-70 that Noah found in a record shop and Miles Davis while I drank coffee and read the New Yorker on our sofa marvelling at electricity and having a sink inside.

Springing a Leek

IMG_5791 On Thursday night we went out for my birthday supper at Olivio Carne, the sister to what is pretty much my favourite restaurant in London (Olivio near Victoria station) and I had pasta for the first time in nearly two months. My new rule is that food like that has to be worth it. And it was. A beautiful wild boar pappardelle. I also had plenty of Kate's duck ragù just to help her out.I've been wondering how to recreate one of my favourite dishes, ravioli con burro e salvia without pasta while I've been avoiding carbs. My new rules are that it's fine to occasionally eat what you want, and to not make sugar and wheat part of my daily diet. There seemed, after thinking about it, little point in trying to recreate ravioli, so here's a new dish based on those flavours.Leek is nature's cannelloni. And with this, instead of the traditional sage infused butter, a creamy sauce seemed a good idea. And to keep it dairy and wheat free meant almond milk and tapioca starch, so it's also gluten free. And vegan. And paleo. And Whole 30. It also dances the can-can for you while singing the Nessun Dorma. This should win awards for the most inclusive dish in the world. Unless you are allergic to nuts. Leave them out if you are. Unless you like risk.It's quite straightforward to make, once you get everything together. Just try not to spill double the amount of tapioca you need into the saucepan. This is very upsetting and can lead to a bit of a strop.Ingredients for two people as a starterFor the filling:420g roast butternut squash or pumpkin, diced40g almonds, skin on, chopped a little1 large clove of garlic, smashedA few young thyme sprigs1tbsp shiitake mushroom powder (optional)Pinch of chilli flakesA big squeeze of lemon juicesalt and pepperOlive oilFor the sauce:1 leek, light green part, pushed into tubesA large handful of sage leaves, shredded3tbsp Olive oilThin bits of middle of the leek, finely sliced300ml Almond milk1 1/2tbsp Tapioca starchSaltShredded sage leaves, chopped toasted almonds and dried borage flowers to serve, if you have them on the shelf in a jar and keep wondering what to do with them.MethodRoast the filling ingredients (apart from the lemon juice) at 200c for  25-30 mins, until soft and golden then leave to cool before adding the lemon juice and blitzing  until smooth (but not too smooth) in a food processor then put in a bowl. Taste it and adjust the lemon juice and seasoning if necessary.Cut the dark green and white parts off the leek and use for stock. Or, do what I did and forget about them in the back of the fridge then throw them away.Push out the inner tubes of the leek, leaving you with about six of the large outer tubes. Slice the inner ones then sauté them until soft in good olive oil, with sage and then season and transfer to a bowl. Add the almond milk and tapioca to the pan, heat and whisk until you have an emulsion as thick as double cream. Add the leek and sage mixture and leave to infuse for ten minutes before removing the sage stalks and blitzing the sauce in the food processor. If you prefer, you can leave it unblitzed, but I prefer it smooth.Stuff the leek tubes with the filling and cook gently in a little olive oil until soft. Turning occasionally and carefully. Chop some toasted almonds and get the sauce warmed.Put the sauce on plates, top with the leek then sprinkle over the almonds, sage leaves and borage flowers if using. Blowtorch the leek if you're feeling fancy. Finish with a drizzle of excellent olive oil and serve.