May 31, 2010

Inspired By

If there is one chef that has influenced my cooking for a long time it is Jamie Oliver. I not only like all the fab recipes he comes up with, but as well all the projects he’s involved in like the campaign for good food in British schools, his restaurants, his magazine, etc, etc, etc.

My favourite book from him is ‘jamie at home’, simply because it’s about what I like: home-grown, seasonal food. In the spring section of the book, there’s a recipe called ‘hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles’. I wanted to make a meat-free meal and I decided to use tofu instead of pork. This works really well. I’m not always a big fan of tofu, but in this case, I found it had a really nice texture and flavour. I think it’s the first time I was using rhubarb in a savoury dish, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. So here is my Jamie-inspired recipe.

Hot and Sour Rhubarb and Crispy Tofu with Noodles – serves 2
  • 1 block tofu, cut into small triangles;
  • 200g fresh egg noodles;
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced;
  • ½ red chilli, finely sliced;
  • A small bunch of cress;
  • A few basil leaves;
  • Groundnut oil;
  • Salt, pepper;
  • 1 lime, halved

Rhubarb Sauce:

  • 200g rhubarb, diced;
  • 2 tbsp clear honey;
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce;
  • 2 garlic cloves;
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded;
  • ½ tsp five-spice;
  • A small piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
  1. Put all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Heat a good drizzle of groundnut oil in a large frying pan or wok, add your tofu pieces and stir-fry on a medium heat for about 20min until golden.
  3. Add the sauce to the pan, mix well and cook for a further 5 min.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp groundnut oil in another frying pan or wok, and stir-fry your noodles for about 4-5min, until heated through.
  5. Divide the noodles between plates or bowls, add the tofu pieces and a good spoon of rhubarb sauce. To finish, add a sprinkling of spring onions, chilli, cress, basil and serve with half a lime.

Rhubarbe épicée-amère et tofu croustillant et nouilles – pour 2 personnes

  • 1 bloc de tofu, découpé en petits triangles ;
  • 200g de nouilles aux œufs fraiches ;
  • 2 oignons nouveaux, finement émincés ;
  • ½ piment rouge, coupé en fines rondelles ;
  • 1 petite poignée de pousses de cresson ;
  • Quelques feuilles de basilic ;
  • Huile d’arachide ;
  • Sel, poivre ;
  • 1 citron vert, coupé en 2

Sauce à la Rhubarbe :

  • 200g de rhubarbe, coupée en dés ;
  • 2 cs de miel liquide ;
  • 2 cs de sauce soja ;
  • 2 gousses d’ail ;
  • 1 piment rouge, égrené ;
  • ½ cc de cinq-épices ;
  • Un petit morceau de gingembre frais, épluché et émincé
  1. Mettre tous les ingrédients pour la sauce dans le bol d’un mixeur et mixer jusqu’à l’obtention d’une sauce lisse.
  2. Faites chauffer une goulée d’huile d’arachide dans une grande poêle ou un wok, ajouter les morceaux de tofu et faire revenir sur feu moyen pendant environ 20min jusqu’à ce que les morceaux soient bien dorés.
  3. Ajouter la sauce dans la poêle et faire cuire encore 5min.
  4. Pendant ce temps, faire chauffer 1 cs d’huile d’arachide dans une poêle ou un wok et faire revenir les nouilles pendant 4-5min, jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient bien chaudes.
  5. Répartir les nouilles dans des assiettes ou des bols, ajouter les morceaux de tofu et une bonne cuillérée de sauce à la rhubarbe. Pour finir, parsemer de d’oignon, de piment, de pousses de cresson et de basilic, et servir avec un demi citron vert.

May 26, 2010

Apéritif

In France, we like ‘l’apéro’. You can often hear people say ‘t’as qu’à venir prendre l’apéro’ – ‘you should come for a drink’. You can have a more or less sophisticated apéritif from salted peanuts and pastis to what we call ‘un apéro dînatoire’, that is to say drinks and finger foods that are enough to make a dinner out of it. I especially like these last ones.

The other day I invited a couple of friends and we had a nice evening, eating, drinking, and talking and... eating more, drinking more and talking more. I had prepared:
  • Cottage cheese and sun-dried tomatoes spoons;
  • Hummus with cherry tomatoes, carrot and cucumber sticks;
  • Quail eggs wrapped in leek and mayo;
  • A mozzarella, avocado and mango salad;
  • Garlic bread;
  • Savoury muffins;
  • Marinated radishes;
  • Cucumber pickles;
  • Lemon and bean pâté;
  • Crackers with chilli chutney and manchego;
  • Rhubarb, banana and strawberry mini crumbles;
  • Chocolate cake with strawberries;
  • Apple jack punch

There was plenty and we were quite full after that. We even had quite a bit left for the next day which was nice as you’ve spent all this time cooking, it gives you a bit of a rest.
I think my friends were happy as they said I could invite them again to eat more of my cooking ;)

May 23, 2010

North Devon

This weekend the weather has been hot and beautiful. Yesterday felt like one of these long summer days when all you want to do is spend your day on a beach. We headed to North Devon early in the morning. I love going there, getting up very early and be amongst the first people to arrive on the beach. ..although yesterday the beach was already busy when we arrived as a surf comp was taking place.

We settled in our beach hut -number 8, home away from home as we call it – jumped in our wetsuits and spent the morning surfing. After that, we were pretty hungry and happy to eat the nice lunchbox I had prepared. We had goat’s cheese and chives muffins, lemon and bean pâté sandwiches, crunchy vegetables and a piece of chocolate cake. Once well fed, we lay in the deck chairs in the hot afternoon sun and just enjoyed :)

May 18, 2010

A Birthday

Today is my Mum’s birthday so I thought I would write a post for her. I really wanted to thank her and my Dad for giving me the taste for good food. Food is something they have never neglected. They have always encouraged us to taste new things and my Mum has, over the years, cooked hundreds of delightful dishes for us. She has as well allowed me to come in the kitchen and help her. She has passed on to me a lot of her cooking knowledge and let me try to cook my own dishes, and I am very grateful for that.

So here is a recipe I know she loves. Every time she cooks it, everyone loves it and wants to have more. Even a reluctant family member said he liked it. It’s really quick and easy to make, but the result is still impressive, and it works pretty well as a nice fresh starter for when you have guests.

And here are a few flower pictures for my Mum; I think she’ll like them. Happy birthday Mum! :)

Cucumber and yoghurt soup – serves 4

· 1 cucumber; · 1 pot natural yoghurt (500g); · 1 tsp paprika; · Juice of 1 lemon; · 1 tbsp vinegar; · 3 tbsp olive oil; · 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced; · 2 spring onions, sliced; · 2 tbsp herbs, finely chopped: parsley, mint, chives, tarragon; · Salt, pepper; · 6 ice cubes

1. Peel the cucumber and slice it finely. In a soup serving bowl, whip the yoghurt with the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper.

2. Add the cucumber, eggs, spring onions and ice cubes to the bowl. Mix well. Put in the fridge and leave it for at least 2 hours before serving.

Soupe bulgare au concombre
– pour 4 personnes

· 1 concombre ; · 5 pots de yaourt bulgare ; · 1 cc de paprika ; · Le jus d’1 citron ; · 1 cs de vinaigre ; · 3 cs d’huile d’olive ; · 2 œufs durs, coupés en rondelles ; · 2 oignons nouveaux, émincés ; · 2 cs de d’herbes, émincées finement : persil, menthe, ciboulette et estragon ; · Sel et poivre ; · 6 cubes de glace

1. Eplucher le concombre et le couper en fines tranches. Dans une soupière, délayez les yaourts avec le jus de citron, l’huile d’olive, le vinaigre, le sel, le poivre et le paprika. Bien mélanger au fouet à main.

2. Ajouter le concombre, les œufs, les oignons nouveaux, les herbes et les cubes de glace. Bien mélanger. Placer au frais au frais au moins 2 heures avant de servir.

May 14, 2010

Beautiful Rhubarb





























When I was still living at my parent’s place, my Gran was coming for lunch every Sunday and she was in charge of pudding. Most times she was making an apple tart and occasionally something a bit different like ‘île flottante’ (egg whites floating on custard). But what I liked the most was the rhubarb tart. As soon as it was in season, that was what we had every Sunday. And I loved it, probably as much as my younger brother hated it! My parents have been growing rhubarb in their garden, and over the years I have developed a real taste for it. I’m lucky enough that I can find plenty in the UK and recently I’ve been cooking all sorts of desserts with rhubarb.




























I remember being told one day that you can even do something with rhubarb leaves – not eat them as they are toxic, but on a hot day, if you place a leaf between your head and a hat, it is supposed to keep you fresh.  To me it is a fruit (is it a fruit by the way?) that is associated with my Gran. And reading here and there on other blogs and cookbooks, I have noticed that a lot of grand-mothers seem to have a special rhubarb tart recipe that you feel nostalgic about when you grow up. So the other day I decided I wanted to try to make that rhubarb tart and asked my Gran to send me the recipe, which she did. Merci Mamie!














Rhubarb Tart – Serves 6 to 8 people Dough:
  • 200g plain flour;
  • 100g butter;
  • 1 egg, beaten;
  • Water
Filling:
  • 1 big cooking apple;
  • 3 stems of rhubarb;
  • 9 tbsp sugar;
  • The zest of 1 orange;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 25cl single cream
  1. Prepare the dough. Spread the flour on a work surface and add the butter cut into small cubes. Work the flour and butter together until they form crumbs. Add the egg and bring the dough together. Add a little bit of water if needed. The dough is ready when it has come together and detaches easily from your hands. Form a nice ball, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30min.
  2. Preheat the oven to 185°C. Cut the rhubarb and apple into small cubes and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with 6 tbsp sugar and the orange zest, mix well and leave to stand for about 15min.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the rest of the sugar and the single cream.
  4. Take the dough out of the fridge, spread it with a rolling pin and place into a buttered tart dish. Spread the fruit in the pastry case and add the cream and egg mix. Pop into the oven and cook for 45min. Turn off the oven and leave the tart in it for another 15min before taking it out and leaving it to cool. Eat cold or slightly warm.
Tarte à la rhubarbe – pour 6 à 8 personnes
Pâte brisée :
  • 200g de farine ;
  • 100g de beurre ;
  • 1 œuf, battu ;
  • Un peu d’eau.
Garniture :
  • 1 grosse pomme à cuire ;
  • 3 tiges de rhubarbe ;
  • 9 cs de sucre ;
  • Le zeste d’une orange ;
  • 3 œufs ;
  • 25cl de crème liquide.
  1. Préparer la pâte. Etaler la farine sur un plan de travail et y ajouter le beurre coupé en cubes. Travailler le beurre et la farine jusqu’à obtention de miettes grossières. Incorporer l’œuf et un peu d’eau si nécessaire pour permettre à la pâte de se lier. Lorsque que la pâte ne colle plus aux doigts, former une boule, l’envelopper de papier cellophane et mettre au réfrigérateur pendant au moins 30min.
  2. Préchauffer le four sur 185°C. Couper la rhubarbe et la pomme en petits cubes et mettre dans un bol. Saupoudrer de sucre et de zeste d’orange. Mélanger bien et laisser mariner pendant 15min environ.
  3. Dans un bol, battre les œufs avec le reste du sucre et la crème liquide.
  4. Sortir la pâte du réfrigérateur. L’étaler au rouleau à pâtisserie et en garnir un moule à tarte beurré. Répartir les fruits sur la pâte et ajouter le mélange crème/œufs. Mettre au four pendant 45min. Eteindre le four et y laisser la tarte encore pendant 15min avant de la sortir du four et de la laisser refroidir. Manger froid ou légèrement tiède.

May 09, 2010

Tartines aux Radis - Radish Toasts

Each season, there is a variety of fruits and vegetables that I am looking forward to eating. For spring, radish is one of them. I love their pinky colour and the ‘crunch crunch’ they make when I bite into them. Most times I just eat them on their own or with a knob of salted butter, but sometimes I like something a bit fancier. We now have a proper herb garden on our balcony and I thought that chives would mix very well with radish. The other day, I had also made my own bread, and the thought came into my head: ‘let’s make tartines!’ – you know, just a piece of bread with a nice topping. And so, that’s what we had, radish toasts for a light spring dinner!

Radish Toasts – Serves 2

  • 4 slices of wholemeal or granary bread
  • 6 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 spring onion
  • 8 radishes
  • A bunch of chives
  • Salt, pepper
  • Green salad, to serve
  1. Chop finely the spring onion. In a bowl, mix it with the natural yoghurt, salt and pepper.
  2. Wash the radishes, cut out the green leaves and slice the radishes finely.
  3. Spread a good layer of the yoghurt and spring onion on the bread slices. Add the radish slices. Top with a few sprigs of chives and a little more black pepper. Serve with a green salad.
Tartines aux Radis – pour 2
  • 4 tranches de pain complet ou aux céréales
  • 6 cs de fromage blanc
  • 1 oignon nouveau
  • 8 radis
  • Quelques brins de ciboulette
  • Sel, poivre
  • Salade verte pour servir avec
  1. Emincer l’oignon. Dans un bol, mélanger-le avec le fromage blanc, du sel et du poivre.
  2. Laver les radis, couper les feuilles vertes et émincer finement les radis.
  3. Etaler une bonne couche du mélange au fromage blanc et oignon sur les tranches de pain. Ajouter les tranches de radis. Ajouter quelques brins de ciboulette et un peu de poivre noir. Servir avec une salade verte.

May 05, 2010

Simply Eggs

















Sometimes I forget how simple things can be so good. Take eggs. I eat quite a lot of them but hadn’t eaten a soft boil egg for at least a year. I don’t really know why, probably I just didn’t think of cooking them that way.  The other day, I went to the farmer’s market. Like every week, I went to the egg merchant’s stall to buy eggs. And there I saw these white little eggs I had never noticed before. It was written that they were Old Costwold Legbar eggs. I asked the merchant what they were. He just said “they are richer than usual eggs, but delicious”. And they were. We had them for our Sunday morning breakfast, soft boiled, with buttered bread soldiers and sea salt. Simple. Easy. Delightful.