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
> 2 or 3 garlic cloves
> Lemon grass paste
> Olive oil
> Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and sesame grains, cook in a hot oven
Stuffed chicken with blueberry sauce againI’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
Bangers and mash recipeThis is a variation on my famous mashed potato and sausage “spider”. The mash is topped with cheese and leeks.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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).
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.
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
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
Guinea Fowl with autumn fruit
We have a lot of fruit in the orchard and it’s been a bumper year for figs.
– melt some butter in a small pan and skim off the white impurities that come to the surface, these are the bits that can burn. The result is “clarified butter” but you can also use Ghee from India, which is the same thing.
– Mix the melted clarified butter with some honey and baste a guinea fowl all over. Season well. Place is a roasting pan. You can also use a small chicken.
– Cook in the oven at 180°. For a guinea fowl the total cooking time will be about 45 minutes, you will need longer for a chicken.
– 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the following mixture to the pan:
– peeled and chopped pears
– peeled and chopped apples
– roughly chopped walnuts
– quartered fresh figs
– some raisons and sultanas
– the bird should be golden brown when ready, with delicious crispy skin. You can serve as is, or carve the meat and serve with the fruit and couscous (photo right)
This year’s chillie harvest
It’s that time of year again. There are plenty more in the garden and we’ve got a bumper crop of figs this year.
Moules marinières (mussels in creamy sauce)
Traditional Flemish Carbonnade
(Marinated beef cooked in Belgian beer)
(as many fried potatoes as you can eat
– served with mayonnaise – all home-made)
Desserts with Belgian chocolate
Pirojkis (top right)
Stuffed with carrots/cabbage
Red cabbage salad
Beef Stroganoff (bottom right)
Potato and dill mash
Mustard sour cream
Compote of apple and red fruit and Lemon mousse
Entertainment by aZey the Magician
Chinese New Year
– Tofu and black mushroom soup
– Peking duck with pancakes and Hoisin sauce
– Sweet and sour pork
– Chicken with cashew nuts
– Stir fried vegetables with noodles
– Coconut flan with lychees and mango syrup
– Sesamé crackers and fortune cookies
– Chinese tea, Tsingtao