• humour

    My book is published

    cover.jpegMy book is out and available here: https://sexandducksandbnbs.com

    Since Brexit shipping anything to the UK has become a nightmare so UK residents can order on Amazon UK here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/2959466608/

    When an English TV crew turn up in a sleepy Gascon town to film an episode of “Brits B&B abroad”, they find themselves in the midst of the World Duck Quack Imitation contest. The local English Theatre Company’s rendition of a Monty Python sketch on stage at this event sparks off a sequence of events with far reaching consequences involving small island communities in the Caribbean sea and the Pacific Ocean as well as incurring the wrath of the town’s evil Mayoress.

    An hilarious romp through South West France involving competing B&Bs, duck quacking, sex toys, the storm of the Century and the reunion concert of a heavy cult rock band from the 1980s.

  • cooking

    A sort of oriental pizza snack

    This week I made some flatbread pittas with chick pea flour to eat with a curry. There was some dough left over so the next day (after overnight in the fridge) I rolled it thin and coated it with a pesto made from:
    > Roasted walnuts
    > Big bunch of fresh coriander
    > Parmesan
    > 2 or 3 garlic cloves
    > Lemon grass paste
    > Olive oil
    > Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and sesame grains, cook in a hot oven
  • cooking

    Stuffed chicken with blueberry sauce again

    I’m still doing this recipe. This time with spaghettini with a turnip and fennel fricassée.
    Original recipe here and also below:
    Chicken rolls stuffed with trompettes
    – soak the dried Trompette (black Horn of Plenty) mushrooms in a little warm water for 20 minutes (same for fresh ones as this eliminates the grit and the strained water is used for the sauce)
    – cut a pouch in the chicken breasts and stuff with the mushrooms
    – roll in a very thin slice of smoked ham which holds everything together
    – sprinkle with flour, brush with a beaten egg, and then coat with breadcrumbs
    – place on a greased dish in a hot oven until browned and cooked through (about 25 minutes)
    – reduce a little stock with some of the water from the soaked Trompettes (strain to remove any dirt and grit), some Madiera (or Port), some blueberry jam and fruit (in France you can buy these fresh in season and all year round in a jar or tin, other names include myrtilles, Vaccinium myrtillus, whortleberry), salt and pepper, thicken with a little fresh cream
    – pour the sauce over the chicken rolls and serve with fresh pasta
  • cooking

    Bangers and mash recipe

    This is a variation on my famous mashed potato and sausage “spider”. The mash is topped with cheese and leeks.{CAPTION}
    The original idea came from sticking sausages into a large dollop of mashed potato to make them looks like spiders legs and antennas, it looks like the kids are keeping on the family tradition.
  • cooking


    Sauerkraut or “choucroute” in French is a wonderful winter speciality (well actually I sometimes make it in the summer too but with fish and seafood instead of meats).
    This is the (fairly classic) way I make it but there are endless variations and you should experiment using different kinds of sausages and pork cuts.

    – place a knuckle of pork (smoked is best) in some stock with peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves and bay leaves. Simmer for 2 hours.
    – in the bottom of a large earthenware pot or (better) a slow cooker, place a layer of sauerkraut. If using cooked cabbage, try to find it cooked in white wine (champagne is even better) but the uncooked cabbage is fine, you just need a longer cooking time.
    – cover the sauerkraut cabbage with white wine and some of the stock from the knuckle, just enough liquid to cover.
    – add a few crushed juniper berries and a red onion spiked with cloves.
    – now place some small potatoes, the knuckle, some thick chunks of bacon, and different kinds of sausages (chunks of mortadelle, garlic sausage, even large herby sausages, but not the frankfurters, these go in later), .
    – cover tightly and cook/simmer on a very low heat (100∞) for two hours. Check seasoning but usually there is no need to add extra salt because the cured knuckle stock should be very salty. Check from time to time to make sure there is enough liquid, you may need to add a little more stock or white wine.
    – 20-25 minutes before the end, add the frankfurters. If the cabbage in the bottom still seems very moist you can leave the lid off for the final few minutes to steam off any excess liquid.
    – serve with mustard

  • cooking

    Steamed Pork fillet with leeks

    I found this in a book of idiot-proof – only a few ingredients – incredibly healthy – lose-weight recipes. It’s remarkably tasty and simple.
    – wash leeks, slice lengthwise and blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water until soft.
    – trim a pork fillet of any excess fat and spread all over with a mixture of grain and smooth mustard.
    – wrap the mustardy pork in the leeks (see photo left, click on it to zoom).
    – steam it for 40 minutes.
    – serve with a cold mustard sauce made from two or three different types of mustard mixed with “Petit Suisse” cheese (or fromage blanc) and a little lemon juice.

  • cooking

    Indian curry again

    I haven’t cooked an Indian meal for ages. We recently went to an Indian restaurant in Toulouse that we had enjoyed on a previous visit. Sadly we found ourselves in the midst of an office party, the service was awful and the food very disappointing.
    So the next day I decided to do an Indian.
    The secret to a good curry is, as we all know, ONLY USE FRESHLY GROUND SPICES. Once all the dried seeds are ground up, make it into a paste by adding garlic, ginger, fresh chillies and, if necessary, a drop or two of water.
    Also use ghee (you can make your own clarified butter by heating a slab of butter and skimming off the froth on the top when it separates).
    In the photo there is:
    – sag gosht, lamb and spinach curry cooked in yoghurt and thickened with ground nuts
    – dahl, green lentil curry cooked in coconut milk
    – chicken tikka, marinated in paprika, lime juice and yoghurt
    – chilli and coriander rice
    – home-made chapatis, flat breads made from a mix of plain flour and chick pea flour with a little yeast and yoghurt.

  • cooking

    El Portalet again

    Duck roll with mushrooms, foie-gras, crispy nuts and maple syrup Raspberries and pistachios with hibiscus, vanilla and yoghurt cream Soft and crispy chocolate with coconut and cereals, salty praline and apricot sorbet Peach fritter with almonds, passion fruit, and maize-curry ice cream
  • cooking

    Wrap Snack

    I have invented a new snack or fast-food. Someone should do a food-truck or themed restaurant around this concept.

    The idea came from:
    – an obsession with using up left-overs and little bits of this and that in the fridge (from where the Sunday night pizza tradition comes)
    – my local supermarket selling good quality wraps

    You need a non-stick frying pan with a tight fitting lid just the right size.

    – Put your wrap into the (cold) frying pan.
    – Add your topping (see below)
    – Cover and heat for a minute on a high heat then put the heat right down, do not open the lid and do not heat on a high heat for too long or your wrap will burn underneath.
    – Cook for two or three minutes

    The secret is not to put too much topping, the wrap crust underneath has to get crispy not burnt and the ingredients on top should be cooked so if you are really hungry make two – too much topping won’t work.
    For a more substantial snack, you can add an egg. In this case put your ingredients around in a circle and break the egg in the middle so it doesn’t go walkies.
    Suggested toppings (which I have tried) but you can invent your own, which is the whole point of this concept:
    – Ham and blue cheese
    – Smoked salmon, horseradish, sour cream and lemon wedges
    – Cooked spinach leaves and feta cheese
    – left-over Chili con Carne with parmesan
    – just a little tomato sauce, mozzarella and anchovies (classic pizza)
    – chopped tomato, goats cheese with a dribble of runny honey
    – cooked chicken bits with smokey barbecue sauce or (better) Caribbean Jerk sauce


  • cooking

    Home Made Cheese

    We went to a car boot sale and purchased, for 5€, a SEB (c’est bien) cheesemaker machine dating from the 1960s by the look of it.
    Really cheesy orange and white plastic design, I don’t think it had ever actually been used.
    Anyway, after experimenting with a delicious goats milk cream cheese, we have just made a wonderful cheese with fresh milk from the Pyrenees (see photo). Half of this is “maturing” with a view to making a sort of camembert while the other half is getting eaten very quickly.

  • cooking


    We’ve had some hot spells this summer and I’ve been doing a lot of Mediterranean food. This is a designer variation on the classic Greek dish inspired by a travel programme I saw on TV.
    – Mince beef and lamb (50/50) and fry in olive oil with some onions
    – Once the meat is browned add crushed garlic, a chopped chilli and some ground cinnamon, mix well for a few minutes and then add crushed tomatoes and a little red wine. Cook on a low heat.
    – Heat a cast iron griddle (I use the ribbed side so as to obtain a pretty criss cross pattern on the vegetables but the flat “plancha” side will work also)
    – Peel and chop a large round potato into 7mm (1/4in) slices. Brush with olive oil and place on the griddle. Once they are browned on one side turn them over
    – Chop a large aubergine into similar slices (keep the skin on), brush with oil and place on the griddle with the potatoes. Depending on the size of your griddle, you may have to do all this in batches. Finely chop any left-over aubergines bits and add to the meat mixture.
    – Make a bechamel sauce with salty butter and flour, add a little white wine and when it starts to thicken add some milk. Sprinkle ground nutmeg. Once the sauce is cooked through and quite thick, crumble in some feta cheese and parmesan, mix well until the cheese is melted. Let the sauce cool a little and add an egg, mix well.
    – Heat the grill in your oven. As the moussakas are finished off under the grill in a hot oven, you can even cook the vegetables and meat in advance and allow them to cool, which makes the next step a lot easier
    – On an oven proof plate you now assemble the individual moussakas. I use stainless steel ring moulds to keep the shape but this is not absolutely necessary providing you take care when adding the different layers. Start with the bottom layer of potato then add a little meat mixture then a slice of grilled aubergine then a little more meat and repeat the whole process.
    – Pour over a little cheesy sauce and place under the hot grill until the cheese topping is browned.
    – Serve with a salad (Greek obviously)

    I have also done a vegetarian version of this recipe replacing the meat with cooked green lentils, delicious.

  • music

    David Bowie

    Great loss of a real gentleman today and a great artist who, like me in the kitchen, never liked doing the same thing and re-invented himself permanently.

    In the mid 70’s I was working in an art house cinema in Wardour Street, one day we were showing Jean-Luc Godard’s “One Plus One Sympathy for the Devil” when this angel came into the cinema. Her name was Jeanette, she said she was a dancer and she lived in a squat in Regent’s Park.

    I saw David Bowie for the first time that year, it was the time he was really playing up the bisexual thing, hanging on Mick Ronson’s arms most of the time.

    One night I’m at the Speakeasy with Ted Baker, Phil Lynott, Katy Vaughan and others and I see Jeanette on the dance floor erotically dancing with another girl. I catch up to her at the bar and ask if she remembers me, she says “Oh you just saw me in the papers, I’m going out with David Bowie”, I say “No, the Godard movie in Wardour Street last year…”. She was stunned and became suddenly humble. We talked a long while, then she was gone.
    I think Leo Sayer wrote a song about her. (Read more about the encounter with Jeanette by clicking here)

    I met David Bowie at the EuroRock Festival in Belfort France in the 1990’s. We had a cup of green tea together and he complained about awful English tea with milk in it, “must be even worse with French milk”, and he was wearing a dressing gown. It was pouring with rain and the stage was slowing sinking into the mud and sliding backwards towards a lake. Bowie went on stage nevertheless and gave a great performance, some songs were included in the TV show I did, it was shown all over the world.

    Back then I would pay in the cinema takings to Barclays Bank Regent’s Street every morning where there was also an angel behind the cashier’s desk, Fuzanna Wakhani, I wonder what became of her, and Jeanette of course. Then I met another angel in the cinema….but that’s another ongoing story.

  • cooking


    It’s been ages since I made this classic dip, I’d forgotten how simple to make and tasty it is. The secret is having the right size blender: not too big as you end up pushing the ingredients back down in the bowl to get properly blitzed; and not to small or you end up overflowing.
    – put a tin of (cooked) chick peas and some garlic cloves (the number depends upon how garlicky you like your hummus) in the blender
    – Add the juice of a lemon and some tahini (ground sesame paste, it can be found in most oriental markets)
    – Start blending and add olive oil slowly until you obtain a smooth consistency
    – Season with plenty of pepper
    – Add a little cream or, better, fromage blank to lighten
    – Decorate with sweet paprika and olive oil and serve as a dip with pitta bread

  • cooking

    Cold almond soup

    This is a really interesting soup, deliciously surprising.
    – soak some white bread in a little water (cut the crusts off first)
    – Take a similar amount of almonds (ie: equal amounts of bread and almonds) and grind in the blender
    – Add two or three cloves of garlic and the soaked bread, grind a bit more until you get a paste
    – Add a little sherry vinegar
    – Slowly drizzle with olive oil and keep blending in the mixer until the resulting “paste” become smooth
    – Add water slowly until you obtain the required consistency: the soup should be slightly thick but not too watery
    – Season with plenty salt and pepper and place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours or more
    – This soup need to be served very cool, you can add a couple of ice cubes before serving if necessary
    – Decorate with roasted almonds and deseeded grapes (black and white)

  • cooking

    Grilled Chicken Salad

    This is a quick and dead-easy salad, an oriental version of a Ceasar’s Salad I guess.

    – Coat some chopped chicken breast in sesame seeds and some spices, I use ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, chilli. Cover with some greaseproof paper and back with a rolling pin so the spicy coating penetrates the chicken pieces.
    – Grill on a hot griddle, turning once
    – For the sauce, blend honey, lime juice, garlic and a bunch of fresh coriander in the blender. Fold in some greek style yoghurt.
    – When cooked, add a little honey and some lemon juice to the griddle pan to coat the chicken.
    – Serve on a bed of lettuce with some garlic croutons (optional).

    Serving suggestion:
    In the photo (right) I cooked a whole chicken breast and sliced it before serving it with a grated carrot salad placed in some chicory (endive) leaves.

  • cooking

    Polenta with sour cherries

    Our friend Balazs brought us a jar of sour cherries from Hungary so I used them in this starter, inspired by the Tables des Cordeliers restaurant in Condom (see here)
    – make some polenta according to the instructions on the packet, add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a little grated parmesan. Press down into a square or rectangular dish and put in the fridge to set.
    – Reduce some sour cherries in their juice with a little red wine vinegar and some sugar. Crush the cherries into a pulp and boil until the sauce starts to thicken.
    – Remove the pips from a few fresh cherries (I have a de-pipper designed for olives but it works for cherries too)
    – Add the fresh cherries to the sauce for just one minute so they heat through
    – slice “fingers” of polenta and place them under a hot grill until they are heated through and starting to “toast” on top
    – decorate the polenta slices with small squares of feta cheese and the fresh cherries
    – garnish with the hot cherry sauce

  • cooking

    Baked Turbot

    I came across this beast at the fishmongers, absolutely divine.
    – make some diagonal incisions in the fish.
    – Rub some salt, pepper and herbs (thyme is good, oregano or rosemary too) into the flesh
    – Place the fish, dar side up, in a roasting pan
    – Drizzle with olive oil and a little white wine
    – Place some lemon slices on top
    – Bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes or more for a big fish