Monday, 8 May 2017

Ready Set Go!

Image result for jelly images free
This month I have gone a bit wobbly.
Or to be precise, my recipes have a wobble theme running through them.

I've featured jellies before on this blog of course- but always sweet ones, using fruit flavoured jelly crystals, rather than gelatine. Like my Muscat Jelly:

Muscat Jelly

Or my Mulled Wine Jelly - for using up leftovers at Christmas:
Mulled Wine Jelly
Or even a jelly baby jacuzzi- for children's parties:

Jelly Baby Jacuzzi- sorry about the nudity!

This time I am being much more grown up and making a savoury terrine, with salmon and lentils - all set together using gelatine.

First, cook 1 cup of Puy lentils in 5 times their volume of water with two bay leaves. Drain and cool, then season well with salt and pepper.
Then cook two shredded leeks in butter until tender and again cool and season well.
Now poach 1 salmon fillet in some white wine and a little dill if you have it.
When cool, flake into pieces and reserve the cooking liquor.

Line a small terrine dish or loaf tin with cling film. Cover this with slices of smoked salmon so they overlap the edges a bit. Make sure there are no gaps.
Line your dish with clingfilm and slices of smoked salmon

Soak 6 gelatine leaves in cold water and make up 200ml of  hot fish or vegetable stock (added to the cooking liquor from the salmon). Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and add to the hot stock, stirring to dissolve the gelatine.

Mix together your leeks and lentils, checking the seasoning as you go.

Mix together lentils and leeks
Time to begin layering up your terrine- on top of the smoked salmon, spoon on a layer of lentils and leeks, pressing down as you go.
Then a layer of flaked salmon: 

Layer on the flaked salmon
And finish with a layer of leeks and lentils.
Gently pour on the gelatine stock, allowing it to soak in. Then fold over the smoked salmon to make a parcel, do the same with the cling film, press down well and leave to refrigerate for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to unmould the terrine, turn it out onto a plate and peel off the cling film. Any excess jelly will come away with the film. 

Et voilà!
Serve sliced as an entrée
Ready for its close-up
And the leftovers make a lovely main course salad the next day.

Salmon and lentil terrine
You will probably also have leftover lentils and leeks, which again are marvellous in a salad or as a side dish with sausages or pork chops. Mix them with a little crême fraîche and Dijon mustard to enhance the flavour.

It's a short blog this month- but next month look out for an Atelier de Cuisine special as we celebrate the end of term!
Image result for happy jelly babies
Class of 2017!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sweet memories

 Cream Tea
And so, sadly, it was time to take my leave of all my new found friends in the Auvergne- but not before we had one last 'Recettes Partagées'.

This time, the theme was distinctly sweet.

It was my turn to present first of all, and so ( by popular request) I made a 'Teatime Anglais' or English cream tea. Scones, jam and cream and cups of proper Tetleys.

Well readers, they loved it. Who wouldn't?

Much more interesting though, from my point of view, was the recipe for 'Bugnes' presented by Marie-Claude.

These are little Lyonnais fried pastries- dusted with sugar- very like doughnuts but flavoured with lemon or orange. Essentially, you make a sweet pasta dough- and then deep fry it.What's not to like?

Ingredients:  Warning- this makes dozens and dozens (scale the ingredients down for a smaller batch or freeze the excess).
500g plain flour
5 eggs
150g sugar
150g butter
2 tsp baking powder
1 dessertspoon rum
grated zest of 1 lemon

All ingredients in the bowl

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well with your hands until you have a supple and smooth dough, ready for rolling. (You can use a mixer of course).
Form a smooth dough

Roll out thinly on a floured work surface, then use cookie cutters in any shape or variety that you choose to cut out the shapes. You can use the leftover pieces any way you like too- as twists, plaits ..whatever.
Heat up some flavourless oil and  deep-fry them quickly in batches.

Deep fry quickly

Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm, dusted with icing sugar. Heaven!


Other sweet treats this time included a Ginger Bread Pudding- that is to say, a bread pudding but made with pain d'épices (gingerbread).

1 lemon
300g ginger cake or pain d'épices
50g sultanas
50g mixed candied peel
150ml milk
2 tbsp rum
2 apples
4 eggs
60g butter
1 sachet vanilla sugar

1. Wash the lemon then grate its zest and squeeze it for juice
2. Break the ginger cake into large pieces in a bowl and add the sultanas, peel, milk and lemon zest. Leave to soak.
Let the mixture soak up the liquid
3. Peel the apples and cut into small dice and add to the lemon juice
4. Add this to the mixture along with the beaten eggs
5. Line a cake dish with baking paper.
6. Melt the butter and coat the paper with it

Line a cake dish with paper and melted butter
7. Sprinkle on the sugar and coat the melted butter with it.
8. Pour in the ginger cake mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes at 160 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Gingery Bread Pudding

One treat left over from my summer bottling and jamming were some Boozy Peaches. I chose some of our best pêches de vigne, slipped the skins off under hot water, took out the stones and placed them in sterilised jars with 100g of sugar, a split vanilla pod and enough alcool à fruits to cover them. (This is readily available in France, where everyone makes their own alcoholic drinks from fruit if they can. You can use brandy instead.)

Boozy Peaches
Seal up the jars and store in a cool place.
It is best to turn these regularly to allow the sugar to dissolve completely.

After a few months, you have delicious jars of Boozy Peaches- wonderful with ice cream, or placed atop stale cake and covered with creme anglaise and whipped cream to make trifles.

Top rounds of stale cake with peaches, custard and cream

Any leftover liquid makes a nice liqueur to drink too.
Can't beat a trifle!
And finally, one last dessert from Marie-Claude.
At our pot-au-feu afternoon, we all had to make an apple tart for dessert- all to the same recipe and to serve 8.
16 tarts were duly baked and served to the waiting crowds- but alas, that meant that none was left for the hungry volunteers next day who came to wash up and clean the village hall- and to eat Les Restes.

To the rescue, Marie-Claude! Up at dawn, she baked 3 more tarts for us all to enjoy.

Line a tart tin with shortcrust pastry and coat the base with 2 tbsp of apple compote. Then peel and finely slice 4-5 dessert apples (depending on size) and arrange them on top of the compote in a circular pattern.
Bake at 160 degrees until the apples are tender and the pastry golden.
Whilst warm, brush the top with a little jam ( apricot is traditional, but I used peach for mine and it was good).
Serve dusted with icing sugar if you can.

Tarte aux Pommes

Bravo Marie-Claude et à bientôt!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Image result for getafixThis weekend was our village Pot-au-Feu.

Jean-Jacques- our very own Getafix - set to work with his cauldron making a stew of epic proportions.

Beef, vegetables, herbs and seasoning all went into the pot- to simmer for hours in the traditional way.

The result was pure magic.

Pot-au-feu is a traditional Auvergnat stew made from shin of beef, cheek and other cheaper cuts of stewing beef, cooked in a bouillon of herbs and onions with carrots, potatoes, leeks, turnips, swede and celery. The whole lot is simmered in a sealed pot until the meat is tender. It can then be served either as it is, or in two courses- with the bouillon as a soup to start.

Ingredients: to make Pot-au-Feu for 8

1.5 kg shin of beef, 500g beef cheek,(marrow bone if you can get one) or 500g oxtail
We used 35 kilos!

6 carrots
Our carrot mountain
4 turnips
Tons of Turnips
4 sticks celery, 4 leeks, 4 onions,1-2 small swede, 8 potatoes..
Enough veg boxes to bury a brontosaurus!
4-5 bay leaves, bunch of thyme and parsley chopped roughly
 3 litres water
 plenty of salt and pepper
(to serve- gros sel and mustard)

1. Brown the onions to colour the bouillon, add the water to the pot along with the herbs and seasoning
2. Add the veg (peeled and washed but left whole), and bring to a simmering boil.

Simmer the veg

3. Lightly brown the  meat and add it (again left in large chunks) along with the marrow bone and close the lid.
4. Leave to cook undisturbed for 3 hours.
5. Serve in a dish with a good selection of meat and veg, with salt and mustard for guests to help themselves.
Not only were 140 people fed that afternoon, but 20 of us volunteer chefs and waiting staff sat down the next day to enjoy 'Les Restes'

Leftover lunch!
And still there was more- litres of bouillon to take home for soups:

Magic bouillon
I am going to use mine with some ravioli poached in it:

Soup with Ravioli
And Tupperware after Tupperware filling my freezer with cooked potatoes for gratins, soups and purees

Parmentier topping

And leftover meat for pies, Parmentiers and ragouts.

Individual Meat Pies
Even the fat that was skimmed from the bouillon went to good use- mixed with bird seed and put out for the hungry garden birds:

Don't forget to feed the birds!

And so, the feast comes to an end- and we feel suitably fortified and ready to face up to any adversity...

just as well as we head back to Brexit-torn and beleagured Britain next week!

Image result for ils sont fous ces anglais

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Tipsy Lady Marmalade

Seville oranges are in season (less than 2 euros per kilo in the market) and the weather is uninspiring and grey outside- so, a good time to get out the preserving pan again and brighten things up with some home made marmalade.

I am actually a novice marmalade maker- so this was a bit of an adventure.
I looked for an easy recipe- and here it is:

Easy Marmalade
Makes 2.5 kilos

7 Seville oranges (scrubbed)
2 sweet oranges (scrubbed)
1 lemon (scrubbed)
1.3 kilos sugar

1. Put the whole fruits and 1.7 litres of water into a large pan and simmer for an hour until soft.

Boiled and softened fruit
2. Allow to cool (preferably overnight), then take out the fruit and cut it in half. Squeeze out the juice and put it back into the pan and pick out the pips.
3. Put these into a square of muslin and tie with string.

Pips all bundled up
4. Put the peel and flesh into a food processor and pulse coarsely
5. Make the liquid in the pan back up to 1.4 litres
6. Dissolve the sugar slowly in the cooking liquid and add the bag of pips, tied to the side of the pan.
7. Stir in the chopped fruit and bring up to a rolling boil.
8. Boil for 25-30 minutes until the marmalade reaches setting point (105 degrees) or when a spoonful of it placed on a cold saucer wrinkles and 'sets'.

I was lucky enough to be given a jam thermometer at Christmas- which took a lot of the guesswork out of reaching setting point. However, I read that adding two tablespoons of whisky to the cooled marmalade will help with a stubborn set- and enhance the flavour somewhat too!

Ready to set and go!

Talking of whisky, I don't really drink the stuff (except on Burns Night of course)- but it can add a certain je ne sais quoi to various dishes. I use it to bring my Scottish Shortbread together and it adds a lovely smooth, toffee-like flavour to the biscuits:

Whisky Shortbread
Whisky Shortbread

The best shortbread is made with a ratio of 3:2:1 (eg. 300g flour, 200g butter, 100g sugar). I like to replace 1 tbsp of the flour with cornflour to lighten it a little.
Just put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fine. Add two caps of whisky and pulse until it comes together in a soft dough.
Turn out into a greased baking tin, press evenly to fill the space and bake at 150 degrees for 15 minutes or so until lightly golden. (Keep an eye on it, as you don't want it to overcook).
Once out of the oven, prick with a fork all over and mark into slices.

Sprinkle with vanilla sugar et voila!

I am looking forward to tasting my marmalade with fresh French bread or croissants- but it will go well in either of these dishes too. (Better still, if you want to use up leftover shop bought stuff before luxuriating in your homemade preserve.)

Sticky Marmalade Cake:

Souffled Marmalade Pud:

Cookery Club was interesting this week too, from a fruity point of view. We made 'Pommes au Four au Porto' (Baked Apples in Port Wine). Thanks to Michelle for the recipe and demonstration.

Les Pommes Au Porto de Michelle

Ingredients: (for 4)

4 dessert apples
4 dessertspoons raisins blonds or sultanas
15g butter
4 tsp golden caster sugar
white port or dry sherry

1. The day before, soak the raisins in port
2. Wash and then hollow out the apples, but don't completely core- you don't want to go all the way through
Hollow out the apples

3. Put a knob of butter in each apple

Butter in!
4. Then a spoonful of raisins

Raisins in!
5. Pour over some more port and sprinkle on the sugar

Pour on the port generously!
6. Bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the syrup.

Pommes Au Porto
They look a little like I feel after all this boozy cooking!

Time for a little siesta now.

There are a few more cooking events coming up before I set sail for England again. I don't want to spoil the surprise but here is a little hint of what is to come: