October 27, 2010

Fig Carpaccio with Goat's Cheese Balls

Figs: purple, beautiful and bursting with sunshine. That is my early autumn treat. The ones I found at the shop were coming from Turkey, but I was actually quite surprised to learn that fig trees grow well in this country too. On our recent trip to Bristol, we saw numerous fig trees all over the city, and today, as I went for a walk during my lunch break, I saw a big one getting over the wall of a garden. I had a closer look: it was covered with fruits. However, they were not ready to eat yet. I’ll go back next week for sure to have another look!

I love figs, fresh or dry and recently I have been cooking a lot with them. I’m perfectly fine eating them, but Luke found them a bit hard to digest, so I had to be careful not to serve too many of them or he would have bad stomach pain.

But it’s not only the fruit I am fond of. I like very much fig tree leaves as I find they have a beautiful shape. A few years back, I had tried to convince my dad to plant a fig tree in my parents’ garden but was unsuccessful. We planted an apricot tree instead, which is nice enough, but sometimes I wish we had a big fig tree.

This recipe works well as a starter if, like me, you like mixing sweet and savoury flavours. This is something I particularly appreciate doing with cheese. Add walnuts and this looks like a nice autumn plate.

Fig Carpaccio with Goat’s Cheese and Walnuts Balls – serves 4

  • • 6 figs, very finely sliced
  • • 200g fresh goat’s cheese
  • • 2 dry figs, very finely chopped
  • • 40g walnuts, chopped
  • • Salt, pepper
  • • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • • 3tbsp olive oil

  • 1. Arrange the fig slices in small plates, like a flower.
  • 2. In a bowl, mash the goat’s cheese with a fork, to soften it, and mix it with the dry figs and some salt and pepper.
  • 3. Put the chopped walnuts on a plate. With your hands, roll mini balls of the goat’s cheese mixture, and roll them in the walnuts. Repeat the process until you have used all of the mixture.
  • 4. Place the cheese balls on top of the figs. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top.

    Carpaccio de Figues et Billes au Fromage de Chèvre et Noix – pour 4 personnes

  • • 6 figues, coupées en fines tranches
  • • 200g de fromage de chèvre frais
  • • 2 figues sèches, coupées en petits morceaux
  • • 40g de noix, émincées
  • • Sel et poivre
  • • 2cs de vinaigre balsamique
  • • 3cs d’huile d’olive

  • 1. Répartir les figues en rosace dans des assiettes à entrée.
  • 2. Dans un bol, écraser le fromage de chèvre à la fourchette afin de le rendre souple et y ajouter les figues séchées, du sel et du poivre.
  • 3. Mettre les morceaux de noix dans une assiette. Faire des billes avec le mélange au chèvre, en en roulant un peu du mélange entre les mains, puis les rouler dans les noix. Répéter jusqu’à épuisement.
  • 4. Arranger les billes de chèvre sur les figues. Assaisonner avec du sel, du poivre, du vinaigre balsamique et de l’huile d’olive.
  • October 21, 2010

    Pepper and Sweet Potato Curry

    It is that time of year again. Days are becoming shorter, cold and grey. It is time for comfort food. My ideal comfort food is probably a good curry. All throughout autumn and winter, we usually cook a curry or chilli at least once a week. It warms up your body and your soul. I never forget to include garlic, ginger and chilli, as they are perfect to boost the immune system and make you more resistant to colds. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, this is what makes a curry special and gives it all its flavours. For this recipe, I was inspired by a curry we had a while ago in a café in Glastonbury. The final result was quite different, but nonetheless delicious.

    Sometimes autumn is however not all gloom and grey. It also offers us glorious days of sunshine, when the only thing I fancy doing is hit the road, drive through the beautiful countryside painted in shades of yellow and red, and go for a surf with friends. There, you forget all about the bad days and enjoy life simple pleasures. And nothing can beat a good curry when you come back home.

    Pepper and Sweet Potato Curry – serves 4

  • • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • • 3 or 4 sweet potatoes (depending on size), cut into small chunks
  • • 1 onion, chopped
  • • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • • 1 piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, chopped
  • • 1tsp turmeric
  • • 2tbsp ground coriander
  • • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • • Salt, pepper
  • • 3tbsp groundnut oil
  • • A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • • Brown basmati rice, to serve
  • • 2 limes, halved, to serve

  • 1. Heat the groundnut oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry for 2min on a medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin and cumin seeds and fry for another 2min.
  • 2. Add the peppers, sweet potato and chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Bring to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for 20min until the vegetables are soft. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5min.
  • 3. Prepare the rice. Dish it in big plates, top up with the curry and decorate with parsley. Serve with a halved lime.
  • Curry aux Poivrons et Patate Douce – pour 4 personnes

  • • 1 poivron rouge, coupé en fines lanières
  • • 1 poivron vert, coupé en fines lanières
  • • 3 ou 4 patates douces (en fonction de leur taille), coupées en petits morceaux
  • • 1 oignon, émincé
  • • 2 gousses d’ail, émincées
  • • 1 boîte de pois chiches, égouttée
  • • 2 boîtes de tomates concassées
  • • 1 petit morceau de racine de gingembre, émincé
  • • 1 piment scotch bonnet, émincé
  • • 1cc de curcuma
  • • 2cs de coriandre en poudre
  • • 1cs de cumin en poudre
  • • 1cc de graines de cumin
  • • Sel et poivre
  • • 3cs d’huile d’arachide
  • • 1 petite poignée de persil, haché
  • • Riz complet basmati, en accompagnement
  • • 2 citrons verts, coupés en 2

  • 1. Faire chauffer l’huile dans une large casserole. Ajouter l’oignon et faire revenir pendant 2min. Ajouter l’ail, le piment, le curcuma, la coriandre, le cumin en poudre et les graines de cumin et faire revenir pendant 2 min.
  • 2. Ajouter les poivrons, les patates douces et les boîtes de tomate. Bien mélanger. Faire frémir, couvrir et laisser cuire pendant 20min jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient tendres. Ajouter les pois chiches et faire cuire encore 5min.
  • 3. Préparer le riz. Le répartir dans des assiettes de service et ajouter le curry. Parsemer de persil et servir avec un demi citron vert dans chaque assiette.
  • October 15, 2010

    Kohlrabi, Grapes and Bulgur Salad

    This week has been all about learning to find a new balance. I have switched from a part-time job to full-time employment. Gone are my long afternoons at home when I had plenty of time for cooking and relaxing. It doesn’t mean that I want to cook less, but I have to think of dishes that will take less time to prepare in the evenings. Every night, we also prepare our lunch box for the next day. Most times it will be a sandwich, a salad, or some left over from dinner. Finding inspiration to have something different every day is not always easy. However, I like enjoying varied lunches. Here is a salad, typical from what we have for lunch and that will keep us going all the afternoon until dinner.

    Kohlrabi is a vegetable I discovered recently. I got attracted by its nice colour and shape. The name kohlrabi comes from German and means ‘German turnip’. It belongs to the cabbage family.

    Kohlrabi, Grapes and Bulgur Salad – serves 4

  • • 150 bulgur wheat
  • • 1 kohlrabi, sliced
  • • 1 red onion, sliced
  • • A handful of hazelnuts
  • • A handful of tarragon, chopped
  • • 1 aubergine, sliced and grilled
  • • A handful of green and red grapes, halved
  • • A pinch of linseeds
  • • Salt, pepper
  • • Juice of 1 lemon
  • • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1. Put the bulgur in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for 10min, then fluff up with a fork.
  • 2. Prepare the seasoning by mixing together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • 3. In a large plate, arrange the bulgur, kohlrabi, red onion and aubergine. Sprinkle with hazelnuts, grapes and linseeds. Finally, drizzle over the seasoning.

    Salade de Kohlrabi, Raisins et Boulgour – pour 4 personnes

  • • 150g de boulgour
  • • 1 kohlrabi, coupé en fines lamelles
  • • 1 oignon rouge, coupé en rondelles
  • • Une poignée de noisettes
  • • Une poignée d’estragon, haché
  • • 1 aubergine, coupée en tranches et grillée
  • • Une poignée de raisin vert et noir, chaque grain coupé en 2
  • • Une poignée de graines de lin
  • • Sel et poivre
  • • Le jus d’un citron
  • • 3cs d’huile d’olive

  • 1. Mettre le boulgour dans un bol, couvrir d’eau tiède et laisser gonfler 10min. séparer les grains à la fourchette.
  • 2. Préparer l’assaisonnement en mélangeant le jus de citron, l’huile d’olive, du sel et du poivre.
  • 3. Dans une grande assiette, répartir le boulgour, le kohlrabi, les rondelles d’oignon et l’aubergine. Parsemer de grains de raisins, de noisettes, d’estragon et de graines de lin. Enfin, répartir l’assaisonnement.
  • October 11, 2010

    White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies

    Last week, I felt a bit under the weather. I had caught Luke’s cold as a ‘nice’ welcome into autumn. All I needed was some comfort, something sweet and gentle, like an afternoon nap or...a cookie.

    I had macadamia nuts for the first time in Australia and loved them straight away. Especially with chocolate.

    These delicious cookies haven’t taken my cold away, but at least they have cheered me up :)

    White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies – makes about 20 cookies

  • • 120g Demerara sugar
  • • 225g butter, melted
  • • 280g flour
  • • 75g macadamia nuts
  • • 120g white chocolate, chopped

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • 2. Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Finally, add the macadamia nuts and chocolate pieces and mix well.
  • 3. Place little blobs of dough on a baking tray, slightly apart and bake in the oven for about 15min until lightly golden and firm on the top.
  • 4. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  • Cookies au Chocolat Blanc et Noix de Macadamia – pour environ 20 cookies

  • • 120g de sucre Demerara
  • • 225g de beurre, fondu
  • • 280g de farine
  • 75g de noix de macadamia
  • • 120g de chocolat blanc, coupé en tous petits morceaux

  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 2. Mélanger le beurre et le sucre dans un bol. Ajouter la farine et bien mélanger jusqu’à ce que le mélange soit lisse. Enfin, ajouter les noix de macadamia et les morceaux de chocolat et bien mélanger.
  • 3. Faire des petits tas de pâte sur une plaque à pâtisserie en les espaçant légèrement, et faire cuire au four pour environ 15min jusqu’à ce que les cookies soient dorés et fermes sur le dessus.
  • 4. Transférer sur une grille et laisser refroidir.
  • October 07, 2010

    Wild Blackberry and Goats’ Cheese Yoghurt Parfaits

    As promised, here is another recipe that I made with the wild blackberries we picked. When I have big batches of fruits that need using, I often make compote. It’s so easy and keeps well for a few days. I usually eat it with natural yoghurt, or, for a change, as a parfait. I found goat’s cheese yoghurt at the shop, and it actually goes very well with blackberries. I really liked its creamy texture and distinctive taste. Why not have these for breakfast?

    Wild Blackberry Compote

  • • 500g wild blackberries
  • • 5tbsp sugar

  • 1. Put the blackberries with the sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook on a medium to low heat for about 30min until the blackberries are soft and have given juices.
  • 2. Serve with natural yoghurt.

    Wild Blackberry and Goats’ Cheese Yoghurt Parfaits – serves 2

  • • 8 tbsp blackberry compote
  • • 300g goat’s cheese yoghurt
  • • 6 tbsp berry muesli
  • • A handful of wild blackberries

  • 1. In 2 tumbler glasses, put a layer of yoghurt, then a layer of blackberry compote, another layer of yoghurt, a layer of berry muesli and finish with a few blackberries on top.
  • 2. Serve straight away or keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

    Compote de Mûres Sauvages

  • • 500g de mûres sauvages
  • • 5cs de sucre

  • 1. Mettre les mûres et le sucre dans une large casserole. Faire frémir pendant environ 30min, jusqu’à ce que les mûres soient tendres et aient rendu du jus.
  • 2. Servir avec du yaourt nature.

    Parfaits à la Mûre Sauvage et au Yaourt au Lait de Chèvre – pour 2 personnes

  • • 8cs de compote de mûre
  • • 300g de yaourt au lait de chèvre
  • • 6cs de muesli aux fruits rouges
  • • Une poignée de mûres sauvages

  • 1. Dans 2 verres, étaler une couche de yaourt, puis de compote de mûre, puis encore de yaourt, puis de muesli et finir avec quelques mûres sur le dessus.
  • 2. Servir immédiatement ou garder au frais en attendant.
  • October 03, 2010

    Wild Blackberry and Lemon Tartelettes

    When we went to Cornwall a couple of weeks ago, I nearly burst with joy when I saw that, the field where we were about to pitch our tent, was surrounded by blackberry bushes. I had kept telling Luke that I wanted to go blackberry picking, and we actually didn’t have to go very far for that! We brought back home 2 full boxes of wild blackberries.

    As kids, invariably, at the end of summer, we would go my brothers, my dad and me picking blackberries. We knew where to find the best spots and we were each filling our little buckets. My mum and my grand-mother would then cook jam or compote and it would smell sooo good. We would then eat it with natural yoghurt.

    I wanted to cook different things with the blackberries we had brought back, and the first thing I did was these cute little tarts. I will share with you another idea in my next post to come.

    Wild Blackberry and Lemon Tartelettes – serves 6

  • • 1 sweet pastry (click here for the recipe – I added lemon zests to the dough)
  • • 200g mascarpone
  • • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • • 200g wild blackberries
  • • A sprig of mint

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry, cut it into circles larger than your tartelettes dishes and fill the dishes with the pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork. Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper in the pastry cases, fill them with dried beans or lentils and bake blind in the oven for about 40min until golden and crusty.
  • 2. Take the pastry cases out of the oven and leave them to cool down completely. Remove them from their molds.
  • 3. In a bowl, beat the mascarpone with a squeeze of lemon juice and the icing sugar until smooth. Spread the mixture in the pastry cases and cover it with the blackberries. Decorate with a sprig of mint.
  • Tartelettes aux Mûres Sauvages et Citron – pour 6 personnes

  • • 1 pâte sablée ou brisée (cliquer ici pour la recette – j’ai ajouté des zestes de citron à la pâte)
  • • 200g de mascarpone
  • • Un peu de jus de citron
  • • 2cs de sucre glace
  • • 200g de mûres sauvages
  • • 1 brin de menthe

  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 200°C. Etaler la pâte, la couper en cercles un plus larges que vos moules à tartelettes et en garnir les moules. Piquer les fonds de tarte à la fourchette. Garnir chaque moule de papier sulfurisé et remplir de haricots secs ou de lentilles et faire cuire à blanc dans le four pendant 40min, jusqu’à ce que la pâte soit dorée et croustillante.
  • 2. Sortir du four et laisser refroidir complètement. Démouler les fonds de tarte.
  • 3. Dans un bol, mélanger le mascarpone avec un peu de jus de citron et le sucre glace, jusqu’à ce que le mélange soit lisse. Etaler la préparation sur les fonds de tarte et couvrir de mûres. Décorer avec le brin de menthe.