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At Lake House we grow the things we enjoy eating, and between what we all like and what grows well we have achieved a good variety of foods without abandoning our organic principles. Everyone working a Lake House is totally committed to this way of farming and it is a matter of great pride to us that we hold the Soil Association certificate of organic status. It takes a minimum of two years' conversion to be awarded this status, and the standards are extremely strict.
We do produce a lot of vegetables at Lake but, apart from the occasional surplus which is given away to visitors and neighbors, it really does all get eaten. From the day we moved in, Lake House has been host to a constant stream of visitors, to the point where it often feels as if we are running a small hotel. First there were builders, then Sting's band and crew (two albums have been conceived and recorded here), plus video crews, family, friends -- people from all walks of life. Lake House has also hosted two family weddings, our children's christenings and several birthday celebrations. When we have parties here, we really make the most of it. The house comes into its own on these occasions and we always try to include some extra element of entertainment.
Lake House is a special place and Sting and I feel very lucky to have found our own little corner of England. During summer evenings we can often be found sitting outside the front step, just as we did as children. The doorstep might be a bit more grand but basically we are the same. It is as if we have finally found our real home.
Basmati Rice with Shrimp and Exotic Fruit
2 1/2 cups Light Chicken Stock or water
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1 small onion, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 1/2 tablespoons currants
4 teaspoons sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced peeled Granny Smith apple
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced pineapple
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced mango
1 heaped tablespoon finely diced banana
1 ounce (1/4 cup) cooked baby shrimp
10 cilantro leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a small saucepan, heat the stock to a low simmer. In a flameproof casserole over a moderate heat, combine the butter and onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 minutes, until soft but not colored. Add the rice, currants, almonds, curry powder, saffron and salt and stir until the rice is toasted and well coated with the other ingredients.
Add the hot stock, stir, cover, and transfer the casserole to the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes without lifting the lid.
Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Gently fold in the pineapple, apple, mango, banana, shrimp, and cilantro leaves and serve.
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
5 1/2 to 6 cups white bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup milk powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound (4 cups) Stilton cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
MAKES 3 LOAVES
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with dough hook, combine the honey, butter and yeast with 2 cups of room-temperature water and stir until well combined. Meanwhile, combine the flour, milk powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add the flower mixture to the mixer. Beat together on medium speed until a ball of dough forms around the hook. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer to a floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth, silky dough is formed. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise at room temperature until doubled in size.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 3 equal balls, approximately 1 pound each. Roll each ball into a 10-inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly brush the dough with some of the beaten egg then, leaving a 1-inch border, cover the surface of each circle with 1 cup of the grated Stilton and grind some pepper over.
Bring the edges of each circle up into the shape of a ball, being sure to completely enclose the cheese. Place the 3 loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F.
Brush the risen loaves with the remaining egg. Divide the rest of the Stilton among the tops of each loaf, placing it in the center. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.