July 27, 2010

Wild Cherry and Fromage Blanc Verrines















As we returned from holiday, I was excited about finding out if the wild cherries I had seen on trees before we went away were finally ripe. On an evening we set out for our cherry picking quest. How glad I was to see that the trees were covered with hundreds of ripe little cherries. Fortunately, nobody seemed to have had the same idea as us, so there were plenty. We had the shadow of a doubt, wondering if these fruits were indeed cherries, but after careful observation, we were able to confirm that they were. Back home, with a box full of wild cherries, I started thinking about what I could do with them. I thought I’d better cook them as they were quite acid. My brothers had offered me verrines for my birthday and I wanted to test them. I thought about making compote with the cherries and to see how I could use it in the verrines. The compote was still fairly acid, but that’s something you should expect with wild cherries. The fromage blanc was then good to go with as it made it sweeter. All that brought back to me memories of the wild cherry tree we had at my parent’s place when we were kids. I was sad when one day, my dad and my grand-father cut it down.
 















Wild Cherry and Fromage Blanc Verrines – makes 6 verrines
  • 250g wild cherries, stoned
  • 50g sugar
  • 200g fromage blanc
  • 1tbsp honey
  • A handful of shelled pistachios 1. Put the cherries and sugar in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat for about 20min until soft. Leave to cool. 2. In a bowl, mix the fromage blanc with the honey. 3. Prepare the verrines: in each, put a layer of cherry compote, a layer of fromage blanc, and finally sprinkle with pistachios. Serve straight away.
Verrines aux Cerises Sauvages et Fromage Blanc – pour 6 verrines
  • 250g de cerises sauvages, dénoyautées
  • 50g de sucre
  • 200g de fromage blanc
  • 1cs de miel
  • 1 poignée de pistaches émondées non salées
  1. Mettre les cerises et le sucre dans une casserole et faire cuire à feu moyen pendant environ 20min jusqu’à ce que les cerises soient tendres. Laisser refroidir.
  2. Dans un bol, mélanger le fromage blanc et le miel.
  3. Préparer les verrines : y déposer une couche de compote de cerise, puis une couche de fromage blanc puis quelques pistaches sur le dessus. Servir de suite.

July 25, 2010

Glastonbury

Yesterday, we went on a day away to Glastonbury, Somerset. The town is not only famous for its music festival but also for its historical sites. Several myths are associated with Glastonbury and King Arthur. The tor is said to be the Isle of Avalon where King Arthur was taken after being mortally wounded by his nephew Mordred. In the medieval abbey, that was one of the largest and most powerful in Somerset, a tomb was discovered in the 13th century with the legend ‘here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon’.

Glastonbury has also been a New Age centre for a long time. My guidebook describes it as ‘hippie central’. Strolling through town gave the impression of being in a world apart, out of time. We visited the Chalice Well, an iron water spring, where people were meditating and paddling in the water that is said to have healing properties.

We had a lovely curry and Somerset cider for lunch, in a café called Hundred Monkeys. There, I was reflecting on food in this country. In France, English food is often regarded as bad food. It’s true that I remember staying in host families during school trips when I was younger, and the food was sometimes barely eatable. But I think things have changed. That’s the feeling I’ve had since I’ve settled in the UK. Lots of people seem to be really interested in good food. I’ve eaten in lots of so nice restaurants and cafés, went to food festivals or ate at some friend’s place, and I have to admit that this is totally different from what I experienced as a teenager on school trips.

I’m not giving you a recipe today, but I would definitely recommend you to travel to Glastonbury if you fancy a day like no other, with legends, witches, peace and love.

Hundred Monkeys Café
52 High Street, Glastonbury
Somerset, BA6 9DY
01458 833 386

July 21, 2010

Summer Fruits Minestrone

When I return to my parent’s home, I never miss an opportunity to wander in the garden. I observe the plants, flowers, herbs and fruits, see if there is anything new. I contemplate insects, living their peaceful life. In recent times, I had my camera with me and I took shots of the garden life. My Mum then asked: ‘is that really our garden?!’ ... wonderful how pictures can give a very different vision of a place you know.

The last time we went, a few weeks ago, flowers were blooming, fruits were hanging from trees, and there was a summer feeling in the air. I was dreaming of eating fresh summery fruits and remembered that minestrone dish. My Mum dug the recipe out, and we had it for pudding, on a warm summer evening.

Summer Fruit Minestrone – Serves 4
  • 1 melon, deseeded
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 apricots
  • 125g wild strawberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 80g sugar
  • A few sprigs of mint
  1. Bring to the boil 400ml water with the sugar and the vanilla seeds, scrapped from the pods. Simmer on a low heat for 5min. Add the mint and the lemon zest. Leave to cool.
  2. Cut the fruits and pour a little lemon juice over them. Add the fruits to the vanilla syrup. Leave in the fridge for at least 1h.
  3. Just before serving, add the wild strawberries. Serve into bowls with a little more mint on top.

Minestrone de fruits d’été – pour 4 personnes

  • 1 melon, dont on aura retiré les graines
  • 2 pêches
  • 2 abricots
  • 125g de fraises des bois
  • 1 citron
  • 2 gousses de vanille
  • 80g de sucre
  • Quelques brins de menthe
  1. Porter 400ml d’eau à ébullition avec le sucre et les graines de vanille. Faire frémir 5min à feu doux. Ajouter la menthe et le zeste de citron. Laisser refroidir.
  2. Couper les fruits en morceaux et les arroser de jus de citron. Ajouter les fruits au sirop à la vanille. Laisser au frais pendant au moins 1h.
  3. Au dernier moment, ajouter les fraises des bois. Servir dans des bols avec un peu de menthe pour décorer.

July 18, 2010

Ratatouille

This is my favourite dish. Yes, I know I often say ‘this is one of my favourite dishes’, but that one really is my favourite one. It comes at the top of the list (closely followed by that fantastic roasted peppers with mozzarella and ciabatta recipe I have). A typical French recipe I am very attached to. Ratatouille smells like Provence, sunshine and summer. The vegetables are full of flavours, colours and goodness. What else can you ask for?

I saw the Disney movie Ratatouille in the UK a few years ago, and I found very funny the way they pronounced ‘ratatouille’ in the film :D

My little add-on to the traditional ratatouille recipe is an egg cracked in the middle. Now close your eyes, take a mouthful and enjoy! Yes, it’s summer!

Ratatouille – serves 2 hungry people or ratatouille lovers

· 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced · 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthways · 1 pepper, red, green or yellow, deseeded and cut into fine strips · 1 aubergine, cut into cubes · 2 courgettes, sliced · 3 tomatoes, cut into big chunks · 4tbsp olive oil · Salt, pepper · 2 eggs

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onion, and fry for a few minutes until soft. Add the pepper and fry for a more minutes. Add the aubergines and then the courgettes, tomatoes and garlic. Mix well. Cover and leave to cook on a low to medium heat for about 25-30min until the vegetables are cooked through.

2. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Make 2 holes in the centre of the pan. Crack an egg in each. Cover with the lid and leave for 5min until the eggs are cooked. Serve hot.

Ratatouille – pour 2 personnes affamées ou amoureuses de la ratatouille · 1 oignon, épluché et finement tranche · 2 gousses d’ail, épluchées et coupées en 2 dans le sens de la longueur · 1 poivron rouge, vert ou jaune, épépiné et coupé en fines lanières · 1 aubergine, en cubes · 2 courgettes, coupées en tranches · 3 tomates coupées en morceaux · 4cs d’huile d’olive · Sel et poivre · 2 œufs

1. Faire chauffer l’huile d’olive dans une sauteuse sur feu moyen. Ajouter l’oignon et faire revenir pendant quelques minutes. Ajouter le poivron t faire revenir encore quelques minutes. Ajouter l’aubergine, les courgettes, les tomates et l’ail. Bien mélanger. Couvrir la sauteuse et laisser cuire à feu doux pendant environ 25-30min, jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient bien cuits.

2. Assaisonner avec du sel et du poivre et bien mélanger.

3. Faire 2 trous au centre de la ratatouille. Casser un œuf dans chaque trou. Couvrir et laisser cuire pendant encore 5min, jusqu’à ce que les œufs soient bien cuits. Servir bien chaud.

July 14, 2010

2 Variations on Chorizo

These two dishes come from childhood memories. I’m sure my brothers will recognise them as they were amongst our favourites – the type of dish we were never tired of eating. When on holiday, I love to discover local ingredients and specialities, but I also like easy cooking. Both these recipes are perfect no fuss, simple cooking for summer holidays. I like chorizo when it’s hot even if it makes me sweat a lot when eating it, but of course you can use mild chorizo if that’s what you prefer. In any case, it gives lovely flavours to the other ingredients you’re cooking with it.

Rice and chorizo – serves 2

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ chorizo sausage, sliced
  • 150g rice
  • Water
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes on a medium heat until soft and golden. Add the rice and fry for 2min, stirring all the time, to coat the grains with oil.
  2. Add water, one glass at a time, cover and let the rice absorb the water. When the water has been absorbed, add another glass of water, and cover. Repeat for about 25min, until the rice is cooked through.
  3. When you add the last glass of water, add the chorizo slices and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.

Riz au chorizo – pour 2 personnes
  • 1 oignon, finement émincé
  • ½ chorizo, coupé en rondelles
  • 150g de riz
  • De l’eau
  • 3cs d’huile d’olive
  • Sel, poivre
  1. Faire chauffer l’huile d’olive dans une sauteuse. Ajouter l’oignon et faire revenir quelques minutes à feu moyen, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit légèrement doré. Ajouter le riz and faire revenir pendant 2min, en remuant tout le temps, pour enrober les grains d’huile.
  2. Ajouter de l’eau, un verre à la fois, couvrir et laisser le riz absorber l’eau. Une fois que l’eau est absorbée, ajouter un autre verre d’eau et couvrir. Répéter l’opération jusqu’à ce que le riz soit cuit, ce qui devrait prendre environ 25min.
  3. En même temps que le dernier verre d’eau, ajouter les rondelles de chorizo et bien mélanger. Assaisonner avec du sel et du poivre. Servir bien chaud.

Courgettes and chorizo – serves 2

  • 3 courgettes, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthways
  • ½ chorizo sausage, sliced
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the courgettes and garlic. Cover and leave to cook for 20-25min until the courgettes are tender. Stir occasionally, so that the courgettes do not stick to the pan.
  2. Add the chorizo, a pinch of salt and pepper, stir well and leave to cook for another 5min. Serve warm.

Courgettes au chorizo – pour 2 personnes
  • 3 courgettes, coupées en dés
  • 2 gousses d’ail, pelée et coupées en 2 dans le sens de la longueur
  • ½ chorizo, coupé en rondelles
  • 3cs d’huile d’olive
  • Sel et poivre
  1. Faire chauffer l’huile d’olive dans une sauteuse. Ajouter les courgettes et l’ail. Couvrir et faire cuire pendant 20-25min jusqu’à ce que les courgettes soient tendres. Remuer de temps en temps pour que les courgettes n’attachent pas.
  2. Ajouter le chorizo, une pincée de sel et de poivre, mélanger et laisser cuire encore 5min. Servir chaud.

July 12, 2010

Holidays

Lying in the sun . Swimming in the Ocean . Having a nap in the hammock . Closing my eyes and smelling the pine trees . Eating lovely French food . Wandering around the market . Enjoying an ice cream . Surfing . Spending time with my love . Do nothing . Read a good book . Meet with friends . Visit a lighthouse . Go to the restaurant . Wake up early to catch the first light of the day ...
These are some of the things we've done during the holiday. My head is full of these good times we had. I will share with you very soon recipes we cooked while in France.