June 27, 2010

Happy Days

These last two weeks have been pretty busy with work, but also with happy times. The weather has been amazing, and we've tried to make the most of it: surfing, beach BBQ, coasteering, beach staff day away, summer food... Actually, we've spent quite a lot of time on the beach, enjoying the long hours of sunlight.
What I love about the beginning of summer is that it lays all ahead of you.
And now I'm on holiday for 2 weeks. We're leaving tomorrow for France. I am so excited!!! When we'll be back, I promise to post pictures of the holiday and of the nice food I'm sure we'll have had.

June 25, 2010

Cherry and Rocket Salad with Roasted Ricotta

Nothing makes me happier than eating the first cherry of the season. To me, it means one thing: summer is back. And I love summer. I have been observing the wild cherry trees not far from home for a while now, and even if the cherries are not exactly ready yet, it shouldn’t be long now. I was still delighted to find some at the shop. Of course, I cooked a cherry clafoutis because I find that’s one of the best desserts you can make with cherries, but also I prepared this salad. Cherries go really well in a savoury dish; I’ll let you make your opinion if you’ve never tried it.

And yes! Summer is back! Not only because I ate cherries and apricots and all these lovely summer fruit and vegs, but also because the weather has been amazing recently, hot and sunny. That makes me happy.

Cherry and Rocket Salad with Roasted Ricotta – Serves 2 ·150g ricotta ·½ green chilli, finely chopped ·100g rocket ·½ red pepper, cut into fine strips ·150g cherries, pitted and cut in half ·1tbsp sesame seeds ·Olive oil ·Red wine vinegar ·Salt, pepper 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Crumble the ricotta and put it in a small oven-proof dish. Season with salt, pepper, the green chilli and a good drizzle of olive oil. Pop into the oven for 20min. 2. Arrange the rocket in 2 plates or bowls, and add the pepper, cherries and sesame seeds. Prepare a dressing by mixing salt, pepper, 2tbsp olive oil and 1tbsp red wine vinegar. Drizzle over the salad. 3. Take the ricotta out of the oven and sprinkle over the salad. Tuck in!

Salade de cerises et roquette, ricotta rôtie – pour 2 personnes ·150g de ricotta ·½ piment vert, émincé finement ·100g de roquette ·½ poivron rouge coupé en fines lamelles ·150g de cerises, dénoyautées et coupées en 2 ·1cs de graines de sésame ·Huile d’olive ·Vinaigre de vin rouge ·Sel et poivre 1. Préchauffer le four à 200°C. Emietter la ricotta et la mettre dans un petit plat à four. Assaisonner avec du sel, du poivre, le piment et une bonne lampée d’huile d’olive. Mettre au four 20min. 2. Arranger la roquette dans assiettes ou bols, et ajouter le poivron, les cerises et les graines de sésame. Préparer une sauce en mélangeant du sel, du poivre, 2cs d’huile d’olive et 1cs de vinaigre de vin rouge. En arroser la salade. 3. Sortir la ricotta du four et la répartir sur la salade. Bon appétit !

June 20, 2010

Camembert and Spring Onion Tarts with Asparagus Tips and a Balsamic Dressing

I was recently reading old posts on my favourite cooking blogs and I was glad to see that quite a lot of people share my love of tarts. To me, it is a simple (though not always) dish to make, and I love the diversity of ingredients you can use, the different forms and colours you can give to your tarts, that you can eat them sweet or savoury... I usually cook a tart almost every week and often have dough leftovers. That’s when I like to be creative and imagine what tart I can make with the ingredients I have at home. This is how I got inspired for these tartelettes, I had half a camembert and some tomato sauce left and I thought about what I could do with that. I would have loved to enter the tart competition on the blog of Clea, but the main requirement is to have made the dough yourself, which was not the case in this recipe. I have to confess that I still haven’t tried to make puff pastry myself. I’m a bit afraid of having a go at it. Maybe that will be one of the next culinary challenges I will undertake this year... If anyone has got a good puff pastry recipe to share with me, you’re welcome to submit it! :)

Camembert and spring onion tarts with asparagus tips and a balsamic dressing – serves 2

  • 150g puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • ½ camembert, sliced
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 200g green asparagus tips
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Divide your puff pastry into 2 balls, and roll each out on a floured work surface to a 20cm disk. Put on a baking tray.
  3. Spread 1 tbsp tomato sauce on each circle up to 5cm on the edge. Top with the camembert slices and 3 spring onions, folding them a bit to fit n the tart. Fold the pastry edge over the filling (see picture). Finally, sprinkle with cumin seeds. Pop into the oven and leave the tarts to cook for about 30min until golden and bubbling.
  4. In the meantime, cook your asparagus tips 4min in boiling water. Prepare a dressing by mixing together salt, pepper, 2tbps olive oil and 1tbsp balsamic vinegar.
  5. Put a tart into each plate, dress the asparagus on the side and season them with the balsamic dressing.

Tartelettes au camembert et oignons nouveaux, asperges au balsamique – pour 2 personnes

  • 150g de pâte feuilletée
  • 2 cs de coulis de tomate
  • ½ camembert, coupé en tranches
  • 5 oignons nouveaux
  • 2 cs de graines de cumin
  • 200g de pointes d’asperges vertes
  • Huile d’olive
  • Vinaigre balsamique
  • Sel, poivre
  1. Préchauffer le four à 200°C.
  2. Faire 2 boules de pâte et les étaler sur 20cm au rouleau à pâtisserie sur un plan de travail fariné. Mettre sur une plaque à four.
  3. Etaler 1cs de coulis de tomate sur chaque disque de pâte, en laissant un rebord de 5cm. Ajouter les tranches de camembert et 3 oignons nouveau sur chaque tarte, en les pliants un peu de manière à ce qu’ils rentrent dans la tarte. Rabattre les bords de la tarte sur son contenu (voir photo). Enfin, saupoudrer de graines de cumin. Mettre au four pendant 30min, jusqu’à ce que les tartes soient dorées.
  4. Pendant ce temps, faire cuire les asperges dans une casserole d’eau bouillante pendant 4min. Préparer un assaisonnement en mélangeant du sel et du poivre avec 2cs d’huile d’olive et 1cs de vinaigre balsamique.
  5. Dresser une tarte dans chaque assiette, arranger les asperges sur le côté et assaisonner avec la sauce au balsamique.

June 15, 2010

Cannelés Bordelais

We’re going on holiday to France in less than two weeks! I can’t wait. Everyday I’m thinking about it. I’m so looking forward to having some time off, seeing my family and friends and eating some nice food. I’ve already made a list of all the things I’d like to cook and eat while we’ll be in France. Amongst these are the cannelés. We’ll be going to the South-West of France, and whenever we go there, we never miss the opportunity to eat this delicacy from Bordeaux. This week, I thought we needed an avant-goût of the holiday. So I cooked a good batch of cannelés and they didn’t last very long! Luke and I really love them. They are so hard to resist: you eat one and then think that you could easily go for another one…and another one…and….oups! in no time they are all gone. But fortunately we’ll soon have more to eat when we’ll be on holiday.

I found my recipe on the website Marmiton. I use silicone dishes for them as they are really easy to remove from the dish once cooked.

Cannelés bordelais – makes about 16 cannelés
  • 50cl milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs and 2 yolks
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp dark rhum
  • 100g plain flour
  • 250g sugar
  • 50g butter + extra to grease the dishes
  1. In a large saucepan, bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla seeds and butter.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and the eggs and egg yolks. Add the warm milk and mix together until you obtain a smooth dough.
  3. Leave to cool down and then add the rhum. Put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 270°C. Pour the dough into greased cannelés dishes , but only fill them to about ¾.
  5. Pop in the oven and cook for 5min, then turn the oven temperature down to 180°C and leave to cook for 1 hour.
  6. Leave to cool down for about 15min and remove from the dish.
Cannelés bordelais – pour environ 16 cannelés
  • 50cl de lait
  • 1 pincée de sel
  • 2 oeufs et 2 jaunes
  • ½ gousse de vanille
  • 1cs de rhum brun
  • 100g de farine
  • 250g de sucre en poudre
  • 50g de beurre + extra pour beurrer les moules
  1. Faire bouillir le lait avec les graines de vanille et le beurre.
  2. Mélanger la farine et le sucre dans un bol, puis incorporer les œufs. Ajouter le lait bouillant et mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention du pâte fluide.
  3. Laisser refroidir, puis ajouter le rhum. Mettre au réfrigérateur pendant au moins 1 heure.
  4. Préchauffer le four à 270°C. Verser la pâte dans des moules à cannelés beurrés, aux ¾.
  5. Mettre au four pendant 5min, puis baisser la température du four à 180°C et laisser cuire pendant 1 heure.
  6. Laisser refroidir pendant 15min avant de démouler.

June 12, 2010

So Fresh

On a hot day, I often don’t feel like cooking. The idea of staying in front of the hob or having the oven heating the kitchen even more is something I simply don’t fancy doing. And I’m also not in the mood for eating something hot. On those days, I’m usually craving for something fresh like fruits or vegetables, and a big salad seems to be the perfect dish. I think that, in the summer, I could feed myself almost only with salads.

So fresh salad – serves 2

  • 2 eggs
  • A handful of mixed salad leaves
  • A handful of baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp natural cottage cheese
  • A few sprigs of chives, chopped
  • 100g asparagus tips
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Cook the asparagus tips 3min in a pan of boiling water and then drain well.
  2. In a bowl, prepare the dressing: mix together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. In two big plates, arrange your salad, baby spinach, avocado slices, asparagus tips, lemon zest, capers, mustard seeds, and cottage cheese, and put a bit of your dressing on top.
  4. Poach your eggs: in a pan of boiling water, crack your two eggs and leave them to cook for 2-3min. Take them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and put on top of your salad.
  5. Serve with a nice slice of bread.

Salade ‘so fresh’- pour 2 personnes

  • 2 œufs
  • 1 poignée de mesclun
  • 1 poignée de pousses d’épinards
  • 1 avocat, épluché et coupé en tranches
  • Le zeste d’un citron
  • 1cs de câpres
  • 3 cs de cottage cheese nature
  • Une poignée de ciboulette, hachée
  • 100g de pointes d’asperges vertes
  • ½ cc de graines de moutarde
  • 1 cs de vinaigre balsamique
  • 2 cs d’huile d’olive
  • Sel, poivre
  1. Faire cuire les pointes d’asperges 3min dans une casserole d’eau bouillante, puis bien égoutter.
  2. Préparer l’assaisonnement dans un bol : mélanger le vinaigre balsamique avec l’huile d’olive, le sel et le poivre.
  3. Dans 2 grandes assiettes, arranger la salade : y disposer le mesclun, les pousses d’épinards, l’avocat, les pointes d’asperges, le zeste de citron, les câpres, les graines de moutarde et le cottage cheese puis répartir l’assaisonnement.
  4. Pocher les œufs : dans une casserole d’eau bouillante, casser les œufs et les faire cuire pendant 2-3min. Les sortir de la casserole avec une écumoire et les disposer sur la salade.
  5. Servir avec une belle tranche de pain.

Have you noticed that I’m into green vegs at the moment?

Today I found sugar snap peas at the market. I couldn’t wait to taste them. As soon as I got home, I washed a few and tried one… that was an explosion of flavours bursting into my mouth: juicy, crisp, sweet and crunchy ...and so beautifully green!

Sugar snap peas

I also wanted to draw your attention to a great event that happened last weekend, the food blogger connect, which is a conference/meeting for people interested in food blogging, happening in London. I unfortunately couldn’t go, but maybe next year! You can check a trailer of the weekend on the event’s website: http://www.foodbloggerconnect.com/

June 06, 2010

Risotto Love

I discovered risotto only a few years ago. It’s one of those dishes, that, I don’t know why, I had never eaten before and wasn’t particularly attracted to. Also, to me it felt like a complicated dish to make.  How wrong I was. I can’t remember how I actually started to eat risotto, but what I can say is that since then, it has become probably one of my favourite dishes. When we go to the restaurant, it is now a dish that Luke and I choose very often. And what is great is that you can have all sorts of different flavours and ingredients used, so that the dish is never the same.

And one day I finally thought that I should have a go at cooking risotto myself. And when I did it for the first time (this was around last November)...surprise! I found that it was actually pretty easy to cook. The key, I discovered, is to be patient, and stay at the pan while cooking it. 
Now not only do we enjoy risotto at the restaurant, but also at home. The other day I felt like eating one with these crunchy green vegetables you can find at this time of year. That was my green spring risotto.

Spring Green Risotto – Serves 4

  • 100g butter
  • 100ml dry vermouth
  • 1.5L hot vegetable stock
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 150g green asparagus tips, chopped
  • 150g fresh peas
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 5 spring onions, chopped
  • A bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 100g Parmesan, grated
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic gently for about 5min. Add the rice and mix well.
  2. Start by adding one ladle of vegetable stock and keep mixing until the liquid is absorbed. Add ladle after ladle each time the liquid is absorbed by the rice and mixing all the time to make sure the rice does not stick to the pan. It should take about 20-25min for the rice to be cooked.
  3. After that time, add the dry vermouth and the green vegetables and carry on cooking for another 5min, mixing all the time.
  4. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Mix well. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5min before serving into bowls. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan and the chopped mint.
Risotto vert de printemps – pour 4 personnes

  • 100g de beurre
  • 100ml de vermouth sec
  • 1,5L de bouillon de légumes chaud
  • 300g de riz Arborio
  • 1 oignon, finement émincé
  • 1 gousse d’ail, finement émincée
  • 150g de pointes d’asperges vertes, coupées en morceaux
  • 150g de petits pois frais
  • 150g de pousses d’épinards
  • 5 oignons de printemps, émincés
  • 1 poignée de menthe fraîche, hachée
  • 100g de Parmesan râpé
  • Sel et poivre
  1. Faire fondre la moitié du beurre dans une grande casserole et y faire revenir doucement l’oignon et l’ail pendant environ 5min. Ajouter le riz et bien mélanger.
  2. Ajouter une louche de bouillon et continuer à mélanger jusqu’à ce que le liquide soit absorbé. Ajouter les louches de bouillon progressivement, louche par louche, chaque fois que le riz a absorbé le liquide, et remuer tout le temps, de façon à ce que le riz n’attache pas au fond de la casserole. Cela devrait prendre 20-25min.
  3. Une fois le riz cuit, ajouter le vermouth sec et les légumes verts et faire cuire pendant encore 5min en remuant sans arrêt.
  4. Retirer du feu, assaisonner avec du sel et du poivre et ajouter le reste du beurre et le Parmesan. Bien mélanger. Couvrir avec un couvercle et laisser reposer pendant 5 min. Servir dans des bols et saupoudrer de menthe et de Parmesan.

June 03, 2010

An Adventure on the River Dart

For Luke’s birthday, I wanted to offer him something different, an experience to live the two of us that we would remember for a long time. I kept my plan secret until the last minute, and this is what we did...

I had booked a night paddle on the river Dart, in South Devon. We started from Totnes, last Friday, in the early evening. We paddle up the river in these great Canadian canoes for about an hour, before stopping on the riverbank. There we had a camp fire, ate a vegetable stew and grilled bananas with chocolate and were told a story about Dartmoor, pixies and the moon. As it was time to get back, it had gone all dark and we paddle silently on the river under a starry night, with bats flying alongside...magic :)

We stayed in a lovely B&B by the river in Totnes called the Steam Packet Inn. I would definitely recommend this place: the staff is very friendly, the rooms clean and decorated with style and the breakfast amazing (Luke went for the full English and I opted for smoked haddock with a poached egg).

Totnes is a pretty town, a bit hippy and alternative. I loved all the little independent shops you can find. We had lunch in a little gem: a veggie restaurant called Willow, where the food was natural, homemade and simply delicious. Address Book: Steam Packet Inn St Peters Quay Totnes TQ9 5EW +441803 863 880

Willow Vegetarian Restaurant 87 High Street Totnes TQ9 5LW +441803 862 605