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Apple and Blackberry Oaty Muffins

Sometimes I do try to bake a little cleaner, I don’t always use tonnes of sugar and chocolate! These little Apple and Blackberry Oat Muffins are based on an a Rachel Allen recipe in which she uses apples and sugar to make a fresh apple sauce.

400 apple sauce- puréed apples in a jar!
100ml Sunflower Oil
75g Porridge Oats
225g Plain Flour (sifted)
3tsp Baking Powder
36 Blackberries

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. Pour the apple puree into a bowl and stir in the oil and oats. Sift in the flour and baking pour and fold gently.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and place three or four blackberries on top of each muffin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and lightly springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

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So they didn’t rise very much and the texture was a bit odd but otherwise they were delicious!

Melissa xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote or posted anything.

Life has been extremely busy.

The new job is taking up my time- far too much of my time, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but I seem to have abandoned everything else. That’s not ok. So, sitting at the kitchen table, with a cuppa and a pile of books… I’m back!

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August was bonkers. We had lots of visitors, so in between work I managed to do a bit of baking. I wish I had time to bake more often. I find myself commuting to work dreaming of baking. Life is so hard!!!

One of the quick, easy recipes I used this summer was from the Cooks Academy in Dublin. Their White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake has been a favourite recipe at the school for the last ten years. It’s the perfect dessert for entertaining and thanks to Tim, Vanessa and Darina I pulled it off!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:
180g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ lemon, zested, and juiced
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
300ml fresh cream, stiffly whipped
250g fresh raspberries

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Method:
Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Stir the melted butter thoroughly into the biscuits.  Press into the base of a greased 20cm tin and chill in the fridge for 10 mins until the base is slightly hardened. 

Using an electric whisk, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, until smooth.  

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the beaten ingredients, whisking as you do so.  Fold in the whipped cream. 

To assemble the cheesecake, scatter half the raspberries over the biscuit base and pour half the cream filling over.  Repeat with the remaining raspberries and filling and level the top with the back of a spoon.  Leave to chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

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If you fancy doing a short course at the Cooks Academy too, they are offering 20% off on their website until Friday 4th September.

Melissa xx

Black Garlic Seafood Pancakes

Elaine from Foodbod wrote about how she’d used black garlic in a blog post a few months ago… BLACK garlic? What?

So it turns out the black garlic is just normal white garlic that has been aged for ages! And hey presto you have sweet balsamicky garlic.
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I contacted Balsajo Black Garlic and they sent me some to try! I received a couple of bulbs of black garlic and a tub of peeled garlic. Here’s a recipe that Dr Doolittle came up with based on an idea for Korean Seafood Pancakes…

Makes 4 pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup water

1 egg

1 clove black garlic finely sliced

1 bunch spring onions finely sliced

1 sweet pepper finely sliced

1 red chilli finely sliced

Rapeseed oil

Seafood of your choice (I used prawns but this works great with any mix of seafood)

Dipping Sauce:

¼ cup soy sauce 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used apple wine vinegar on this occasion) 1 spring onion, finely chopped 2  cloves black garlic, finely chopped (or minced if you prefer) ½ tsp chili pepper flakes (optional) good dash of honey. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce and give it a really good stir to combine the flavours and set aside.
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In a large bowl, mix the flour and water together, then beat in the egg. The batter should have the same consistency as pancake batter. Add the black garlic and half of the spring onions and sweet peppers.
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Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add a thin layer of rapeseed oil to the bottom. Pour a ladle of batter into the pan in a circle and cover with the seafood, chilli and remaining spring onions and sweet pepper.
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Cook for 6 minutes or until the top stops bubbling and the bottom is browned. Flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Cut all pancakes into quaters and get dipping! These are AMAZING and so quick and easy to make. The black sqidgy, sweet garlic gives them an extra edge (the the dipping sauce was great with a omlette the following morning too).
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Melissa xx

Tribute to Selma-Ambassador Cupcakes

This is the post from December last year that was inspired by Selma. She inspired and helped me a lot. When I first joined Twitter she gave me LOADS of advice with what to do and how to get notice. She was like a blogging Mummy. I’m going to miss her. I’m posting this, along with lots of others at the special addition of this weeks Fiesta Friday and to Selma’s blog .

Back in October, Selma made ambassador cupcakes using Ferrero Rocher chocolates for her son’s birthday. They looked so luxurious and elegant, that I tucked the idea away for Christmas….

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So fast forward two months and armed with Selma’s idea, two boxes of chocolates, some gold cupcake cases and some shimmer spray, I’m ready! I’m using my trusty chocolate cake mix instead of Selma’s, but I’ll use hers next time.

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Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk
1 box of Forrero Rocher

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
Toasted Hazelnuts
1 box of Forrero Rocher

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk.

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Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full. Pop a chocolate in the middle and spoon a small amount of mixture on top. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

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Once cooled, pipe chocolate icing on top of the cake. Then, depending on how high your icing is, place a whole chocolate on top (or a half like I did). Sprinkle with hazelnuts and spray with shimmer!!!!

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I’m bringing these delights to Angie’s for a festive fiesta friday!

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Melissa xx

Cupcake Centres

A few weeks ago I can home to a lovely suprise from the people at Dr Oetker. The parcel contained their new Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres in rich, indulgent flavours of Rich Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Zingy Lemon.

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“Our innovative Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres add a delicious, gooey surprise to the inside of your baking. Simply insert the nozzle into the middle of your cupcakes just after baking and squeeze into the heart of your cake. Cut open your cupcake to reveal an indulgent centre that oozes deliciousness. ”

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The new Cupcake Centres gave me another idea, i’d use Dr Oetker popping candy as a cupcake centre too!

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I started my making lemon cupcakes, with the Zingy Lemon Cupcake Centre, topping off with Lemon Meringue sprinkles (these are sooooo tasty)…

125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
2 Dr. Oetker Baking Powder Sachets
1 pouch Dr. Oetker Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres Zingy Lemon

To decorate:
125g lightly salted butter, softened
225g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of lemon

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Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted oven, 350°F, gas mark 4). Put the cake cases into tins.

Put the butter, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk together until creamy and pale. Whisk in the eggs. Sift the flour and baking powder on top and then gently mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases. Smooth the tops and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until risen, lightly golden and just firm to the touch.

As soon as the cakes are cooked, generously inject each one with Lemon Surprise Inside Cupcake Centre, making sure the nozzle goes right to the centre of each cake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, put the butter in a bowl and beat until smooth, glossy and pale. Gradually sift and beat in the icing sugar until creamy and soft. Mix in the Lemon juice.

Spoon the butter icing onto the cake and smooth around. Decorate each cake with lemon meringue topping.

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For the Rainbow Cupcakes:

65g Butter softened
65g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract
Large Egg , beaten
75g Self-Raising Flour

To Decorate:
Dr. Oetker Rainbow Popping Candy
Dr. Oetker Vanilla Easy Swirl Cupcake Icing

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Preheat the oven to 180°C and pop some cake cases into a cake tin.

Put the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg in a bowl. Sift the flour on top and then beat all the ingredients together using an electric whisk until well blended.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases. Smooth the tops and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes until risen, lightly golden and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, using a small spoon, scoop out a piece of sponge from the centre of each cake and fill with Rainbow Popping Candy. Replace the scooped out cake on top, trimming if necessary, to snugly fit the top of the cake again.

Follow the directions on the can of Easy Swirl. Starting in the middle of a cake, pipe the icing round in an anti-clockwise direction to cover the top of the cake then continue piping round to form a swirl on top.

Just before serving, sprinkle the cakes with a few more pieces of Rainbow Popping Candy. Eat these straight away, otherwise the popping candy loses its pop!

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So tasty, so yummy!

Melissa xx

Marvellous Madeira

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I’ve been absent from my blog for a while, only managing to post every now and then. Life seems to have run away with itself, but in a good way. I have a new job and I love it! It’s not that I’m working really long hours, i’m just commuting a little longer each day.

However, it was time for a break…

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Dr Doolittle and I decided to head to the beautiful island of Madeira. This archipelago, which is part of Portugal, is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 978km southwest of Lisbon. It comprises of the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens. Only the first two islands are inhabited. The latter two are nature reserves. Thanks to its magnificent location, Madeira remains warm all year round.

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The climate really helps produce some amazing fruit and vegetables. The market in the old part of Funchal was full of the stuff. Every meal we ate was accompanied by salads.

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Tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas, avocadoes and passionfruit were used in a great variety of puddings, mousses and ice creams. Oh the ice cream! I had to try a peach melba…

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Owing to their proximity to the sea, most restaurants specialised in fish and shellfish dishes; there was octopus and shrimp dishes, tuna steaks and black scabbard fish fillets. I’d never heard of scabbard, but it tasted and looked like cod. As well as the fish, I also had one of the best ‘meat’ meals of my life (more about that next week).

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There were plenty of fresh natural fruit juices such as passionfruit, papaya, pineapple and mango, as well as the famous “poncha”, made with white rum, bee honey and lemon. I tried a fair bit of the stuff and have brought some home to experiment with!

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So to celebrate my holiday adventure I’m bringing my favourite sweet treat to Fiesta Friday. I haven’t been to the online party for a while, so I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends!

Portuguese Custard Tarts
Ingredients:

250ml double cream
150ml milk
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
115g caster sugar
150g chilled ready-made puff pastry
Flour, for dusting

Method:

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Preheat the oven to 190c.

Put the cream, milk, and lemon rind in a saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla pod into the saucepan and drop in the empty pod too.  Bring to a simmer, then take off the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl until it comes together in a paste.  Pass the milk mixture though a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl of egg paste and mix together quickly. Return it all to the saucepan and heat over a moderate heat until it thickens but don’t let it boil!

Then roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worksurface as thin as you can.  Roll it up into a long sausage shape and cut 12 discs.  Roll out each disc to about 9cm and put into greased muffin tins. Prick the bottoms with a fork androfill just over halfway.

Bake in the preheated oven for about  for 18/20 mins until browned on top.

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Melissa xx

Taste of Dublin

I went to Taste of Dublin in Iveagh Gardens yesterday. There were live bands playing as I wondered around from restaurant to food stall. There were also lots of live demonstrations and famous chefs!

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I started with cake, of course I did! Le Patissier had an amazing display of goodies. They had won both Gold and Silver at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards in 2014.

I tried the chocolate indulgence which had a beautiful chocolate mousse inside with a raspberry coulis. I wish I’d gone back to try everything.

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I visited the Glenisk stand and got a scrummy Glenisk Banana with Milk Chocolate and Caramel Yogurt Cup!

Ingredients:
4 tbsp Glenisk Organic Greek Style Natural Yogurt
½ banana, sliced
1 tbsp caramel or Dulce de Leche
1 tbsp milk chocolate, chopped

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I had a great chicken dish at Saba, how do they do their rice?

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Harvey Nichols’ restaurant Rock Lobster served up fish and chips… Shame some of the chips were hard!

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The Dumpling Pot Sticker from Soder and Ko was amazing. I’ve never been to the restaurant, but I definitely will be! They serve a creative blend of Scandinavian and Asian inspired food and drink. They partnered with Hop House 13, the latest beer from The Brewers Project at St James Gate.

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Dr Dr Doolittle really enjoyed Crean’s beer AND their little make shift pub!

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I bought a couple of packs of One-der blend by Patels 1941. It’s a versatile spice blend that can create 10 different currys. What a fantastic idea. I also love the fact that Ramen Patel Jr’s background is similar to mine; born in Ireland with an Irish Mother, and Indian Father who was born in Africia.

The company had won a competition to have a stall at the event and it seemed to be very busy. I’m so excited for them, and wish them every success!

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I bought a bottle of truffle oil from Pukara Estate…. fancy!!!

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I met The Cupcake Bloke! He gave me a garland (and a huge scone), and I bought these six stunning cupcakes. I’ll update you all on my Facebook and Twitter page as I eat them….

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I had a great time but I spent a lot; it wasn’t cheap when you consider the ticket price, the food and drink prices and then any bits and pieces you might buy, but it was fun!

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Thanks Cupcake Bloke!

Melissa xx

In My International Kitchen

Once again I find myself sipping a soya chai latte at Mumbai International Airport, waiting to board a flight to London. My visits always seem to be as manic as the country itself, so it’s nice to take a little time out to write a blog post before I leave it all behind….

In My Kitchen Garden…

… Are mango trees full of delicious sweet fruit. This time of year is terribly hot but atleast the fruit is ready for picking!

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Are hundreds of coconuts! The green coconuts have turned brown with the formation of a hard husk shell.

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Hangs these delicious bread fruits. Best eaten sliced and fried!

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Are these custard apples. I actually think they taste more like a pear!

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In My Kitchen…

… Sits this beautiful wooden juicer! It belonged to my Grandparents and is presumably very old!

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In My Irish Kitchen…

… Is a fantastic display of home baked goodies. I completed a home baking course with a good friend. We made cheese and herb scones, banana and walnut bread and berry muffins. It was great fun!

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In My Irish Kitchen…

… Are loads of goodies from Dr Oetker! I recently took part in an interview for their ‘Even Better Baking With’ series and they were kind enough to send a thank you gift.

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This great series is brought to you by Celia fromFig Jam and Lime Cordial.

Melissa xx

Ballymaloe Cookery School part 2…

Once upon a time there lived a girl who loved tea and cake. She marvelled at elegant cake plates and fancy cake forks. She was in awe of seasonal produce and local goodies. This girl had a dream….

The dream was to make beautiful cakes and scones, perfect coffees and delicious teas and sell them from a teashop. Her teashop…

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I spent two weeks at Ballymaloe Cookery School for a life changing reason- to learn about the business of food. I met some incredibly talented, smart, strong women (yes, an all women group….) who supported, nurtured and challenged me.

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We were facilitated by the wonder woman Blathnaid Bergin. The Restaurant Advisor has over 25 years experience in the catering and hospitality industry and was perfectly placed to provide us with the knowledge and skills to set up in the industry. I was sooooo inspired!

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Blathnaid Bergin and Rory O'Connel

Fionuala Lennon from The Pub Design Company joined us for a wonderfully creative day of cutting and pasting! She explained the importance of a good location and a good retail space. We explored design trends and how important a design brief is.

Then came the mood board:

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Anne and Ross from Hancock and Abberton brought Fixx Coffee to Ballymaloe to give us an introduction to coffee (and tea). As a non coffee drinker, I was fasinated by all the different coffee types and the crazy machinery that it takes to make good coffee. “Fixx is an award winning blend of Sumatran, Ethiopian and Brazilian beans that is perfectly balanced to tease and tantalise the palate with its smooth, creamy and pleasantly spicy sensations…” Not my cup of tea at all, but their Chaa tea certainly was!

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It was an exhausted two weeks, I haven’t written or read so much in a long time. I’ll be back at Ballmaloe Cookery School next year to attend the teashop course; don’t the cakes below look amazing! I’m so excited about my future…

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Teashop course

First things first though…. RESEARCH TIME! I need to drink more tea (and I need to find someone to taste test coffee). I need to eat taste more cakes, scones and breads. I need to find recipes and write a menu… Oh, and I’ll need a premises!

I’ve a busy, exciting future ahead!

Melissa xx

Ballymaloe Cookery School part 1…

Once upon a time there lived a girl who loved tea and cake. She marvelled at elegant cake plates and fancy cake forks. She was in awe of  seasonal produce and local goodies. This girl had a dream….

As I write this post, I’m mid way through a course that will undoubtedly change my life. Not only because of its content but also because of the very surroundings I find myself in. I’m currently studying at the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.

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The School sits on a 100 acre organic farm near the sea, amidst the undulating landscape of beautiful East Cork. As well as an on site farm and gardens, there is an acre wide glasshouses which yield an abundance of fruit, vegetables herbs and flowers throughout the year. Their free-range livestock include pigs, beef and dairy cows (Angus, Kerry, Dexter and Jerseys), as well as hens who keep the school in a supply of fresh, organic eggs!

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It’s utterly breath taking. Every minute of day I’m reminded of all this produce; whether it be by the fresh cut flowers next to my bed at my cottage on site, or by gazing out the class room window at the raised beds, or by the outstanding food lovingly produced.

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Never if my life have I so clearly seen the coloration between what is growing and what I’m eatting and using. I’ve picked up tips on what else I can be growing at home in our little vegetable patch. I’ll be adding some edible flowers and lots more herbs when I get home.

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I’d also like to add a shell house to the garden when I get home, but I fear Dr Doolittle might make me wait for that! There is a magnificent shell house here in the gardens. I have never seen or experienced anything like it. The beauty and the texture are quite something, it’s utterly breathtaking. To think someone painstakingly placed every individual shell is mind blowing!

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Finally, I can’t write about this magical place without talking about the food… For breakfast there is an amazing array of homemade granola, mueslis, breads and a new discovery, labneh! This middle eastern type of yogurt is sweetened slightly for breakfast and is just gorgeous with a sticky mixture of apricots, almonds and pistachios.

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Lunchtimes are also a site to behold with a beautiful selection of dishes every day. I mean the actual dishes, the style of the different vessels is gorgeous. I might just have to take a little trip to the school’s shop while I’m here… Lunch itself is yummy; salads, soups, pies, breads and even a curry have been served up.

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I’m so happy, I feel blessed to have been so warmly welcomed to this incredible place. I feel like part of the family, I feel like I belong- and that’s handy, because I’ll definitely be back!

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Melissa xx

P.S. I’ll tell you all about the course in my next post!