• cooking

    Salmon Lasagne

    – use a back of salmon, extract all the bones
    – make a light b├ęchamel sauce using half-milk half-water
    – season the sauce with nutmeg
    – cut the salmon into thin slices crosswise, add a lot of pepper
    – make layers of salmon, fresh spinach leaves, b├ęchamel sauce and lasagne
    – I also add some chopped chives
    – make three of four layers and finish with some grated parmesan
    – bake in a hot oven for 25 minutes

  • cooking

    Polenta, Veal stew with carrots

    I know I promised the blanquette de veau recipe accompanied by mixed roast vegetables but first I must divulge this wonderful polenta invention.

    – cook some polenta
    – mix it (use a fork) with some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and spices (cumin, chilli, coriander, cinnamon, etc. etc. – whatever takes your fancy)
    – place in an overproof dish and grill in a hot oven until cooked through and lightly browned on top

    Blanquette de Veau method:
    – fry some chopped onions in a little oil
    – add bite sized chunks of veal and brown
    – add chopped carrots, garlic and a little flour
    – add white wine (or dry cider) and stock to cover, salt, pepper
    – place in a casserole dish and cook in a cool oven (160 degrees) for a couple of hours until the meat is tender and the sauce thick.
    – Serve with slices of grilled polenta (see above)

  • cooking

    Authentic Italian Theme Evening at Bruno Raja’s Restaurant

    Next Theme Evening

    November 30th 2013, 8:30pm

    Gourmet Italian Menu

    • One
    • Two
    • Three
    • Four
    • Four
    • Four
  • cooking

    Mushroom and prawn salad

    Well this is turning into a real Mushroom Month.

    We went for a lovely dinner with our friends Alan Cook (ex-manager of the famous GothRock band “Sauerkraut” as featured elsewhere on this website, click here for more details if you are really interested) and Elisabeth Guinness.

    Elisabeth runs the Guinness Gallery in Dublin and she is an excellent cook.

    The spicy pork stew was fantastic but it was the starter of raw mushrooms and prawns which inspired me for this recipe. I have only slightly modified Elisabeth’s original recipe by adding some spinach leaves and a slightly sweeter dressing to counteract their bitterness.

    – thinly slice some mushrooms
    – place on a bed of baby spinach leaves
    – add some peeled prawns
    – make a dressing with honey, lime juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and mild red paprika powder
    – drizzle dressing on the salad

  • cooking

    Second Theme Evening at Bruno Raja’s Restaurant

    The second of our Special Around The World Cuisine theme evenings

    This month: Texan menu

    – Southern cocktail with nachos and salsa


    – Halloween pumpkin soup
    with cream and smoky bacon


    – Barbecued spare ribs
    Marinated ribs cooked in the wood stove and served with an authentic American barbecue sauce (26 ingredients)

    – Served with potato and sweet potato fries, bean and corn salad and extra barbecue sauce


    – Selection of American desserts
    Lemon cheesecake, brownie, iced carrot cake, blueberry sauce

  • cooking

    Mushroom time again

    It’s that time of year when we have mushrooms in abundance. The “cepe” mushrooms are the most sought after and people can actually be seen fighting in the woods to defend their “patch”.

    A few years ago someone set up a mushroom canning business in a camper van parked in the woods herby. They were actually sterilizing and preserving the ceps in cans and jars on site and then selling them for a fortune in the city. A pitch battle broke out between these “intruders” and a gang of locals and the police had to intervene. Sadly no-one had really broken any laws, so they all got off with the most expensive illegal parking fine the police could conjure up.

    As I have said here in the past, we love the black trompette mushrooms. I made a pizza with them.

    – Make a pizza base, let it rest for a while to make it elastic
    – Roll out the dough very thin
    – Put on some tomato sauce (home-made of course)
    – Put of some mozzarella cheese (buffalo of course)
    – Put on three rashers of bacon (smoky of course)
    – Put on some “trompette” Horn of Plenty mushrooms (fresh of course, if you are using dried ones, which is okay, first let them soak for a while in warm water)
    – Cook in a hot oven until ready

  • cooking

    Theme Evenings at Bruno Raja’s Restaurant

    I’m cooking in Bruno’s Restaurant once a month for Special Around The World Cuisine evenings

    This month: Thai/Indonesian menu:

    – Sweet and Sour Soup with shrimp, lemon grass and coriander


    – Kaeng Khieu Wan Kai (Green Curry)
    Chicken and vegetables cooked in coconut milk with Thai spices, served with basil

    – Satay Babi Manis (Pork Satay)
    Pork fillet marinated in lime and fish sauce served with peanut sauce

    – Gado Gado
    Cucumber and vegetable salad with spicy peanut dressing

    – Fried banana
    – Thai rice
    – Fresh chutneys and hot sauce


    Banana cake, passion fruit ice-cream and mango coulis

  • cooking


    We have a very strange fig tree. It gives bland, tasteless figs in the early summer and delicious fruit in October. Maybe it’s something to do with it growing on top of the filter bed for the septic tank, it must be well fed.

    Anyway, we have figs coming out of our ears.

    Most of them get made into jam but here are some of the other things I have done with them this week:
    – chopped and cooked in the pan with duck breast. Put them in the pan when the duck is nearly cooked, add a little madeira (or similar), and finish cooking until there is a thick sauce.
    – in a tart, with some ground almonds.
    – with a little cheese on toast, see photo with camembert.
    – for breakfast with yoghurt, or even better, fromage blanc made from goats milk.

  • cooking

    Jamie Oliver inspired chicken salad

    All credit has to go to Jamie Oliver for this recipe. It’s not so much Jamies recipes in themselves, but the methods he sometimes uses are inventive and time-saving.
    In this easy recipe, you toss a chicken breast in spices and fry it until it’s dark and crispy on the outside and soft in the centre. For the spice mixture and coating I used ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and polenta (for added crispiness). Before frying, toss the chicken in this mixture, cover with greaseproof paper or aluminum foil and bash flat with a rolling pin so that the spices and polenta penetrate the chicken.

    Once cooked, slice the chicken breast and serve on a bed of salad. I use mâche (corn leaf salad, Valerianella locust), Italian red chicory (Trevise), and celery. Served with a wrap or tortilla.
    There are endless variations of this method, use your imagination.

  • cooking

    Stuffed Chicken Rolls

    I have already posted my signature dish of chicken rolls stuffed with black Horn of Plenty mushrooms. You can find the recipe here.
    These little black mushrooms are plentiful in our part of the world in the Autumn and they dry out very easily and can be kept all year. In French we call them “Trompettes de la Mort” which literally translates as “deathly trumpets”
    I usually serve these chicken rolls with a blueberry and Madeira sauce.
    In this photo I have accompanied the chicken with:
    – a stuffed garlic mushroom: fry some chopped bacon and the mushroom stalks, mix with some garlic and parsley, stuff your mushrooms and top with breadcrumbs, bake in a hot oven until browned on top
    – mashed vegetables: the purple colored mash is from our homegrown black potatoes, also shown is yellow turnip mash and carrot/cumin mash.

  • cooking

    Stuffed peppers

    I am surprised I haven’t already posted this recipe here as I make it quite often. The peppers that come from Navarre in Spain, just over the Pyrenees from us, are the best for this dish? Called “Pimiento del piquillo” or Piquillo pepper, they are sometimes quite hot and spicy. You can probably find them ready-peeled in jars or tins available in shops that sell Spanish produce.

    – Soak some salted codfish in water overnight or longer, change the water a few times so that the salt is eliminated.
    – Make some potatoes in a lot of unsalted water (the salty codfish provides enough saltiness)

    – Halfway through cooking the potatoes, add the rinsed cod to the pan (make sure there are no bones in the fish beforehand)
    – Gently boil for another 10 minutes, drain.
    – Mash the potatoes and fish, add some olive oil (quite a lot), a crushed garlic clove and some chopped parsley
    – Stuff the peppers with the potato, codfish mixture (this is a bit messy I’m afraid)
    – Cook in a hot oven for 15 minutes

  • cooking

    Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork

    This is a classic Chinese dish. When I was a boy, my mother used to make this with crispy fried noodles on top. In this version I use pork but you can also make it with chicken breast (recipe somewhere else on this site).

    – Fry some chopped onions in a wok.
    – Toss small pieces of chicken breast in cornflour and add to the wok. Add some chopped carrots and green pepper. Fry until the chicken starts to colour.
    – Add
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- pineapple chunks
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- pineapple juice
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- soy sauce
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- tomato purée
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- vinegar
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- a little sherry
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp- honey (or sugar)
    – Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce thickens
    – Service with rice or noodles.

  • cooking

    Pepper beef with Mediterranean vegetable gratin

    Further to my previous post, the Garonne burst it’s banks and Bossòst is flooded. Incredible photos and images on the news, 400 people or more evacuated and some dead. If we had gone through there one day later, we would have been underwater.

    The “merlan” is a long piece of tender beef from the top of the rump. It is called “merlan” because it looks like the fish of the same name (in French).

    First the vegetables:
    – grill thin slices of potato on the griddle, spray with a little oil
    – grill thin slices of aubergine and courgette on the griddle, spray with a little oil
    – make layers of cooked aubergine, potato, courgette and sliced tomato in an oven proof dish
    – add plenty of parsley, garlic and salt at each layer
    – cover with a mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese
    – cook in a hot (210°) oven for 40 minutes.

    Now the beef:
    – Coat beef “merlan” in freshly ground pepper (lots)
    – Place on a very hot griddle, keep turning until cooked.
    – Slice thinly and place on dish.
    – Serve with vegetable gratin.

  • cooking

    El Portalet (yes, again)

    At last a photo of the best restaurant in the world, le Portalet in Bossòst, Catalunya.

    Sadly the restaurant was closed for a short but well deserved break before the summer rush.
    The weather has been fantastic and it has been so hot that the mountain glaciers are melting quickly and the rivers are almost flooding.
    More torrential rain is coming, so the situation will surely worsen later this week.
    The photo is a Catalan meatball with asparagus tempura. Mixed meat meatballs are a Catalan speciality – (see here).

  • cooking

    Crispy pork chops with oven chips

    This is a variation on my mother’s crispy pork chops recipe.
    I’ve actually tried this with both pork and lamb chops. Enjoy!

    – Heat some duck fat in an oven proof tray. When sizzling put in some potatoes cut into chip size pieces
    – Brush the chops with plenty of mild mustard
    – Grind a mixture of walnuts and a little breadcrumbs, add a little salt
    – Coat the mustardy chops with the nut mixture
    – When the oven chips are just starting to become golden you may need to turn them over from time to time), place the chops next to them in the oven tray or separately in a lightly greased oven proof dish
    – Cook in a hot oven until the chops become a nice golden color and the chips and nicely brown.

    I suppose you could call this recipe chips and chops!

  • cooking

    Hot goat cheese and tomato starter

    This is a really simple goat’s cheese starter.

    – Use North African brick pastry sheets. If you can’t find them, filo pastry should also work.
    – Cut each round brick sheet in half and fold each half lengthwise to obtain a long strip. If you are using rectangular sheets of pastry, cut into strips.
    – There are many many techniques of folding samosa shaped triangles. The best technique I know of can be seen here on the right (thanks to youtube)
    – Place a thin slice of tomato and a slice of goats cheese into your pastry packet

    – Seal well with melted butter
    – Brush all over with more melted butter
    – Brown in a hot oven for ten minutes or fry with some oil in a pan. You can also deep fry these samosas, they only need a few minutes before turning a lovely golden brown colour.
    – Serve on top of a salad (I use roquette or young spinach leaves)
    – Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinaigrette

  • cooking

    Chilli Pie

    I obtained some chilli powder from Bolivia. I used it in this very interesting variation on Chilli Con Carne:
    – Fry a chopped onion
    – Brown some freshly minced beef
    – Add some chilli powder, some garlic and a little ground coriander
    – Add a large tin of peeled tomatoes (or some fresh chopped tomatoes) and one or two little squares of dark chocolate
    – Simmer until the sauce thickens
    – Add a tin of red beans
    – Boil some potatoes, carrots and sweet potato
    – When soft, drain and make a mash, add a little butter and some grated cheese
    – Place the chilli in an ovenproof dish
    – Place a sliced tomato on top
    – Cover with the mash and make some pretty patterns on top with a fork
    – Cook in a hot oven until nicely browned on top
    For those who are frightened of making a chilli that is too hot and spicy, you can substitute the chilli powder with sweet mild paprika. When serving put some tabasco or hot sauce on the table for those who like it “hot”, and some do…

  • cooking

    Thai Green Curry

    I’m sure I have posted this recipe somewhere here already. This version was especially tasty:
    – Fry a chopped onion
    – Make green curry paste in a blender using the following ingredients:
    – a large bunch on fresh coriander (leaves and stalks)
    – one or two fresh chillies (depending on how hot they are)
    – one clove of garlic
    – about 2cms of fresh ginger
    – a teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste (sometimes called Trassi or Kapi – you can buy it in most oriental stores)
    – A little oil, sesame oil is good for a nutty flavour
    – Add the curry paste to the onions
    – Add coconut milk
    – Add a tin of peas, or fresh peas, or even frozen ones
    – Cook on a gentle heat
    – Add fresh peeled shrimp and cook through (if you are using cooked shrimps do not cook for so long, just heat them sufficiently)
    I serve this with rice and fresh basil.