- Spinach and shitake quinoa risotto

My Italian people, please forgive me.

I know what you think, risotto is made with rice and not with barley, quinoa or not even with faro (commonly used in Italy), I know. But we can sometimes, slightly change the original recipe and see how it goes.

I agree that we won’t have the same texture as the real risotto but more nutrients yes, more fibers, yes.

We can add a touch of cream in your spinach in case we want a creamier texture.  I didn’t this time, but trust me, added to the shitake mushrooms, it’s a delish.

 

Spinach and shitake quinoa risotto

serves 4 

Ingredients : 

– 1 cup of quinoa
– 12 cups of water (added progressively during the cooking)
– 1 bunch of spinach
– 1/2 cup of olive oil +,1/2 cup of water
– 8 ounces of shitake mushrooms
– 2 shallots peeled and diced finely
– 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
– 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
– Cheese like parmesan or even cheddar
– salt and pepper

Method

Bring some water with salt to the boil then add the spinach for around 30 seconds to ‘blanch’ them. Drain and plunge them in a bowwl with ice cubes to stop the heat and keep a beautiful color.
Meanwhile, in a shallow frying pan put the quinoa, with 2 cups of water, the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Let it simmer on low heat till it gets dry, then add again one or two cup of water. 

Prehaet the oven at 400°F/200°C.

Squeeze your spinach to take off the excess of water, then put them in a blender with the olive oil and half a cup of water and blend till obtaining a puree. Pour through a fine sieve in case there is still some water. You can keep the water and drink it, it’s full of nutrients.  Set your puree aside while still keeping and eye on your quinoa. 

Cut the mushrooms in medium chunks, place them on a baking tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and bake them till they are crispy on the edges (around 20min). When ready,  add the lemon juice and toss while they are still hot. 

When the quinoa is ready, add the spinach puree, reheat in the same pan if it’s not warm enough, serve with mushrooms on the top and some cheese grated. 

 

 

 

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- Peach cobbler

So I had my first peach cobbler last week…. It was dry, tasted yeast and the peaches were tasteless. Knowing that, you can be sure that I ‘m not going to give you the restaurant name. 

My friends all agreed that it was not a real peach cobbler while I couldn’t really say anything except that I didn’t like it as I’d never had any before so I couldn’t compare.

Frustrated as I can be when I end up dinner with a so so-so dessert, I thought that first, peaches desserved a better treatment and that I should give it a try and make my own cobbler. 

It was sweet but not too much, with fresh white peaches, crunchy on the top and soft and warm at the bottom. 
My friend who is a dessert fanatic told me that it was a very very good one. 

And you know what, it took 10min !

 

Peach cobbler

 

serves 6

  • 1 big white peach
  • 1 tbsp of sugar + 1 cup 
  • 113g/4 oz / 1/2 cup of butter
  • 128g /1 cup / 4.5 oz of flour
  • 1tsp of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp of vanila extract

 

Preheat your oven at 350°F/180°C, wash the peach, slice it and spread the slices on the bottom of the baking tray on a single layer. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar.
In a bowl, combine the sugar and butter, add the flour and baking powder, mix. Then add the egg and vanilla. 
Spread the batter carefully on the peaches (it must have the consistency of a cookie dough).

Put it in the oven for 30min, till the crust is golden brown. 

To serve with crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream. 

 

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- Tomato tart Tatin

What’s more beautiful than heirloom tomatoes ? The season is coming to an end….

I’ve already made tarte tatin with beetroot, mangoes…. but never with tomatoes.

My sister who is a goddess in her kitchen and a tomato lover, posted a picture of her cherry tomato tart tatin, it was so cute that I thought I should try. 

She makes her tart with balsamic vinegar and sugar for the caramel.  I didn’t have any balsamic anymore but I had honey, I buttered my moulds, spreaded a bit of honey and added a bit of mustard on the dough, that reminds me of my mum’s ‘tarte à la tomate’ that she used to make in summer when we were younger. 

The name Tatin is coming from 1880 when in a village in France called Lamotte-Beuvron one of the Tatin sister (Stephanie Tatin) accidentally left some apples in the oven for too long. They owned a restaurant (her sister Caroline and her) and on a very busy day, Stephanie doing most of the cooking, left the apples in the oven for too long. Trying to cover the overcooked apples, she put a dough on the top and flipped it before serving. This upside down tart was such a success, greater than the usual apple tart they used to make that their name became famous. 

Let’s celebrate the tomatoes with cherry tomato tart tatin, and heirloom tomato tart.

The result is definitely approved, fresh, beautiful, divine…..

 

Cherry tomato tart Tatin

For 2 little tart of around 12cm/4 inches diameter

Ingredients :

– A few heirloom tomatoes + around 20 cherry tomatoes
– 1 tsp of honey
– 2 tsp of mustard
– 1 roll of puff pastry
– Salt, pepper
– Olive oil
– Fresh thyme and/or rosemary
– Fresh basil
– 2 little moulds of 12cm/4 inches

Method :

Preheat the oven at 350°F/180°C.
Wash the tomatoes, start with the tatin. 
Cut 2 circles of dough with the edges of your little moulds, butter your moulds, add the honey at the bottom then place the cherry tomatoes. 
Spread the mustard on one side of the dough circles, add salt and pepper to your tomatoes. 
Cover with the dough, mustard side down and tuck the dough inside your mould to kind of seal it. 
Put in the oven for around 15min, till the dough on the top is golden. 
Allow to rest for 5min (you will have some water coming out of your moulds), and flip them over.

For the heirloom tomato tarts, slice your tomatoes, cut a circle of the size of the mould you want to use (I re-kneaded my dough, spreaded it with a rolling pin and flour to be able to have the size I wanted).
Spread some mustard on one side of your dough.
Place your tomato slices nicely with salt pepper, thyme and olive oil. 
Put them in the oven for 15min, till your kitchen smells paradise. 

 

 

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- A pretty way to present melon and prosciutto

I couldn’t be a vegetarian, just because of that : prosciutto. 

I’ve always loved it and had the chance to taste some of the most delicious in the world, from Parma, from Corsica, the famous patta negra from Spain…. It’s just divine.

The name prosciutto is Italian and regions have different variety and can take from 9 month to 2 years to cure and requires a lot of experience to make it at it’s best. The climate matters, if it’s hot the aging process will never begins and the meat will be spoiled, if it’s too dry the meat will be ruined too. 
The process evolved and nowadays the meat is cleaned, salted and left that way for at least two months, meanwhile the meat is pressed gradually not to break the bone and eliminate excess of blood, then washed several times and hung in the dark. 
It’s then, left to dry, the time will vary depending on the size of the leg and the local climate. 

You can learn more about the aging process and find different recipe about the San Daniele checking this post, when I had the chance to be invited to a cooking class a few years ago http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2013/08/grana-padano-and-san-daniele-prosciutto-the-taste-of-tradition/

We are ending the melon season  and it’ always a bit sad to know that we’ll have to wait till next year but it’s also a good news as other fruits are coming, we are starting the rhubarb soon, so there is always a lot of excitment to come. To celebrate the end of the season I prepared this melon-prosciutto salad presented a bit differentely.

There are different type of melon :

Benincasa (winter melon) : the mature melon is widely used in Asia and India as a cooking vegetable, when the immature one is used as a culinary fruit. 

Citrullus : one similar to watermelon with inedible flesh but very valuable seeds which is a source of food in different countries like Africa. 
The other one is the watermelon that we all know.

Cucumis : genus of culinary fruits in which most culinary melons are included, amongst them the most known, galia, cantaloupe canary and honeydrew. It also includes some less popular like the Korean melons, Japanese melons, Argos (grown in Greece), sugar melon….

Melon and prosciutto cups

Serves 2

Ingredients :

– 1 melon (I bought 1 cantaloupe)
– 2 slices of prosciutto
– A few leaves of fresh basil
– Niçoice black olives

Method

Cut the melon in half, take off the seeds with a teaspoon, make sure that both parts are stable, if not, cut the extremity of each part. 

Using a Parisian spoon make some balls with all the flesh, keep the juice to drink it or to make a dressing adding olive oil, salt and pepper to it. When the balls are done, put them back in the rind add some pieces of the prosciutto, olives, basil and either a dressing and black pepper that oges so well with melon. 

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- Chai masala latte

It was one of those days…. Cold, grey…. The kind of day that makes you want to stay at home and do nothing… So that’s what I did, kind of nothing, a bit of cooking, reading, eating, learning Spanish and looking after myself.
Looking after myself also means to drink a chai latte.

The best I’ve ever had is at Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, California, since then, the mix is very often pre-made, sometimes makes your milk taste sour, some are tasteless, bland and boring.

I have Indian friends and all of them told me that there are so many ways of making a chai latte, you can mix water and milk, you can crush your spices yourself or buy them in powder. 
Regarding the tea it’s the same, some people use tea bags while others use loose leaves or powder. 

Chai means tea in numerous languages (derived for the Chinese) and Masala is mix in Hindi.
I crushed my peppercorns, used cardamom powder as I had a lot and it needed to be used and fresh ginger and did half/half with the milk and water. For my vegan or intolerant friends, soy milk or almond is perfect.

Please, my friends, don’t be offended if I don’t do it exactely the same way as your mum (I’m saying that as I can be offended when someone is not making Niçoise salad the right way), I checked with a few people, read…. By mixing different recipes, advices, I made this one and waiting for your advices, comments…. As I know that I have followers in India 🙂

 

Chai masala latte,

for 2 cups

Ingredients : 

  • 1 cup of milk of your choice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 18 black peppercorn
  • 1 Tsp of cinnamon powder or 1 sick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 8 cardamom pods or 1/2 tsp of powder
  • 2 tsp of black tea powder or 2 tea bags

Method :

Bring the cup of water to the boil with all the spices crushed with a mortar and pilar or with a coffee grinder and the tea. Let it simmer for 2 min, add the milk,  let it simmer for 2min and turn off the heat. Cover with a lid and let it set for 15min. Filter the liquid et c’est tout !
If you wish to, you can obain some foam by using a blender or a purée/soup maker just beofre serving and enjoying it.

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- New York ! New York !

It was a dream come true, a real one, something I wanted to do for years…. New York !

Now that I am close (not that much in fact as it’s the same flight time from London, but let’s say that I feel closer) I couldn’t not do it. Business is always quiet for me in July/August, I was supposed to go there with someone so I booked the same week and at the end we didn’t go together. Still I should thank this person as thanks to him I finally made it. 

People knowing me and knowing New York’s always told me that if I love London (and God knows that I do!) I would love NY.  Difficult to compare a city where I spent 5 days on holiday and another one where I lived for years, but, yes, I LOVED it.
I felt the same energy that I felt in London, the same crazyness, feeling its vibration always. London is busy, loud, tiring…. New York is worse. 
Manahttan is contantly moving, cars, taxis honk, builders everywhere who make a bit more noise…. But, yes, as London it’s a city that makes you want to wake up in the morning, makes you want to do things, realize yourself, feel alive. 

Wanting to go for so long, I was making researches from time to time and for years. Where to go, what to do and how, I read, watched documentaries, asked people who went there and people who are from there… So I arrived with a plan : make the most of it like everytime I travel, without feeling being rushed, it’s a city I wanted to visit by myself, at least the first time, I wanted to breath it at my rythm (which was a fast pace) with no constraints except my own and go with the people flow, walk, look at them living and ending up exhausted but so happy.

Manhattan is quiete small (oui oui) the New York county is the US second smallest county and also the most densely populated county and one of the most densely populated area in the world with 1.6 millions people, reaching nearly 4 millions on businees day with commuters etc…. In other words, it’s small and very, very crowded.

I wanted to do it all knowing that I wouldn’t because I couldn’t, I wanted to eat bagel, flat pizza, pastrami sandwich like New Yorkers, go to ‘Les Halles’ where Anthony Bourdain (one of my hero) worked before he bacame famous and at Katz Deli. I had heard a lot about Katz Deli and also from Anhony Bourdain which I follow and check his episodes before travelling, always.  

Katz deli is 129 years old. In Lower East Side, the world but also the real New Yorkers are passing by Katz deli.  To me, it’s the real New York, the old one like in old times. Lower East side was home of freshly arrived immigrant families and Katz became the spot where the community gathered due to the lack of transports and choice around.  During the peak of the Yiddish theater (pieces written and played by Jewish immigrant, Yiddish was the language talked by the Ashkenazi jews (Jewish from Eastern Europe)) it was filled with actors and singers. It’s still the case nowaday as they shot scenes of various films, amongst them, the very famous one of ‘When Harry met Sally’ when Meg Ryan simulates sex in a cafe  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdJm3DVg3EM Watching this scene still make me laugh,
It’s very meaty (they have vegetarian options still) very salami, pastrami so I had a huge delicious pastramily omelet, with bagel, coffee and orange juice, so good.

Katz deli is just one of the numerous highights of my NY escapade as there are so many. 

Take the Central line, a boat,  for a 3 hours tour all round the island of Manhattan, it worth it. Have a drink at 230 5th avenue rooftop with a royal view on the Empire State building, I also did the Sex and the city tour which was funny, girly and where I learnt a lot about the NY and not only about where to find a rabbit 😉
Dance class at Alvin Ailey as they do drop-in classes, Grand Central really deserves to be seen, East Harlem for a very cheap hair braiding at Fanny’s, Ground Zero to never forget, Ellis Island, Kitchen Hell’s neighbourhood, Perry street in the Meat Packing district which is so quiet and pretty, then Magnolia Bakery one block away for a cupcake, Brooklyn Bridge to cross on foot and especially by night, Bryant park for an ice cream, Harlem for the mass on  Sunday and its eclectic restaurants, Central Park, Little Italy for a romantic dinner, Soho and Greewich village of course, Time Square by night and by day to feel overwhelmed and the Central Library, the Flat iron, Union Square, Madison square park….
For this time I had to put the indoors activities on the side as the weather was warm I wanted to stay out as much as I could. 

So no museum that time, not MET, no Broadway show, I think that’s the only things I missed on my to do list because I made the choice to sit down nearly everyday in the afternoon at a terrace for a glass of rosé for an hour before carrying on with my wandering, picture taking, stranger talking, little moments of life enjoying….

Museum and shows will be next time for my birthday, end of November, I want to go to see the Christmas lights, be cold and have a hot chocolate while wandering, taking pictures, talking to strangers and enjoying those little moments of life……

 

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- Coconut prawns fritters with mango chutney

You’re taking me just back from New York City.
I came back yesterday morning, just enough time to unpack have a shower and lunch and go to work.
It was hard… the return, this week in NY went so fast, too fast, and I did so much that I still haven’t had the time to process really. 
Process what I saw, what I did, because it was so great, NY was a dream come true and I am preparing you a post ‘special New York’. 

I am now back to the real life and it’s not bad at all. I am lucky, I do what I  love and can make a living with it and on the top of that, my job gives me a lot freedom. I am working now from my favourite café around the corner, drinking my coffee with Mozart in my ears. What more can I wish for ? 

So back to my first love : cooking, I still had coconut that I used on  my previous post : http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2017/07/my-homemade-bounty-bars/ and I really felt like having prawns so I made those coconut prawns fritters. 

The idea is to have some sweet and savoury tastes, or sweet and spicy/hot taste, to serve for aperitif or as proper dish with an Asian salad : http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2012/04/thai-salad/ for a bit of exotism. 

Coconut prawns fritters with mango chutney

Serves 4

Ingredients :

Chutney :

  • 2 small mangoes 
  • 1 cup / 60g of shredded coconut
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 cup / 230g of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup/110g of sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 125g of water
  • 1 small red hot chili

 

Prawns fritters :

  • 20 prawns
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Some flour
  • 100g of shredded coconut
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Juice of lemon and/or lime

 

Method :

Prepare the chutney first by peeling and chopping the mangoes roughly, put them in a food processor with the chili to obtain a puree. Bring the water, vinegar and sugar to the boil till the sugar dissolves. 

Set 3 bowls, one with the 2 cracked eggs and salt, pepper and chili, one with flour and the last one with coconut. 

When the sugar is dissolved, add the liquid mix to the mangoes and whisk. Check the seasoning, it really depends on your taste, see if it needs a bit more sugar or a bit more vinegar or water. If you like it very hot add a bit more chili. For me, those proportions are perfect. Let it to cool down in the fridge. 

Heat up some oil in a frying pan, when it’s hot, roll the prawns one by one, first in flour, then in eggs, then in coconut and plunge them in the oil till they are crispy and golden brown on each sides. 

You can sprinkle them with lemon or lime if you like while they are still hot before dipping them, still warm, in the cold chutney. The warm/cold – sweet/spicy contrast is striking, it’s just divine, I am drooling, just thinking about it. 

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- My homemade bounty bars

All it take is 3 ingredients and 5min. Yes, that’s all it takes to make these delicious, exotic Bounty bars. 

The first coconut/dark chocolate bars called ‘Mounds’ were made in 1920 and sold only in the US. 
Mars created a similar candy in the 50′ and marketed it internationnally first with milk chocolate then with dark chocolate with the red and white packaging. 

I’ve never tried the Mounds but it’s supposed to be moister and sweeter than the Bounty. 

Knowing the Bounty only, it’s the one I love and the one I made. I was so surprised by the result knowing the time I spent on it. 
It’s so easy to make, sweet but not too much and of course in addition to the pleasure I had to eat my own, I felt even less guilty as it’s more natural. It’s a great way to treat yourself now and then. 

For my vegan friends, you can replace the condensed milk by coconut milk and add some powdered sugar to your taste or even agave syrup to make your base more solid. 

Only 3 ingredients, and I made 8 bars with those quantites. 

 

Homemade Bounty bars

Ingredients

  • 425g/15 oz of milk or dark dessert chocolate
  • 360g/3 cups of shredded coconut
  • 340g/1 cup of sweet condensed milk


Method
:

In a bowl, mix the coconut and condensed milk to obtain a thick paste. It’s sticky, it’s normal. With your hands, form some rectangles, press to keep the shape and put them on a baking tray with baking parchment. If you rinse your hands in between each bar, don’t dry them completely as it wll help to shape your Bounty (a bit like making sushi when you shape the rice, if you ever made some). When you used all the paste, put your baking tray in the freezer for 15/20min it will make the bars easier to coat with chocolate. 

Meanwhile melt your chocolate by boiling some water in a pan and putting your chocolate in pieces in a bowl on the top of the boiling water. Stir the chocolate and reduce the heat till the chocolate is melted. 

After the 15min spent in the freezer, coat your bars, dip them one by one in the choclate and roll them using 2 forks. 
Arrange them on a rack, if you don’t have one, a baking parchment will do after removing the excess of chocolate. 
If you are using a rack, don’t do like me and take your Bounty out of the rack as soon as the chocolate is dry otherwise it will stick to it. 

Once the chocolate is dry allow to cool down in the fridge for at least 30min before enjoying.

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- Justina’s cookies

I wanted again, to start this post with : ‘once upon a time’ as you know that I love to start my stories that way, but I don’t want to sound boring but really… this story deserves a ‘once upon a time’… so…

Once upon a time, a girl coming from Lithuania freshly arrived in London became my flatmate.  

We lived together for a few months and this girl became one of my closest friend.

While living together she was making the effort to cook for me, it’s just so nice when you are used to live on your own, to have someone who cooks for you sometimes.
I remember her in our small kitchen, cooking her tomato soup when I was coming back from work.
When I say that she was making the effort is because when arrived in London she didn’t cook at all and was just eating a toast with an egg and a sausage on a regular basis. 

Just a few years after her new fresh start in London, she’s still the same but even better. 

She is still pretty, soft spoken with a few slang/rude words sometimes which makes me laugh, she’s still strong and focused and now, also can cook like a chef and very recently, graduated in India and became who she wanted to be : a yoga teacher. 

She told me once that I was her inspiration when it comes to cooking,  it makes me so proud and happy also that she gave up those bad sausages 🙂
Over the years, she also became my inspiration and is now my favorite yogini, so thinking about her this morning I woke up at 6.30am especially to attend my very first group meditation session. Oui ! oui !

She is also the one who gives me recipes.  Yogi/vegan recipes to the I-am-French-I-eat-everything girl that I am and I wanted to share it with you as it’s been tested, and it’s delicious. 

Here is her facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/rajayoginis/

 

Justina’s cookies

For around 8 cookies

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup-170g of tahini
  • 1/4 cup- 85g of maple sirup
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup- 63g of oats
  • 1/2 cup-43g of chopped cashew nuts
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 fresh apricots

Method :

Mix the tahini, maple syrup, cinnamon well and add the other ingredients. Stir well and scoop 1 or 2 tbsp of the mix and shape it as a cookies. 
Place them on a baking tray with baking parchment and cook at 350°F/180°C for around 10 min. Et c’est tout !

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- Chicken paupiettes, lemon and thyme sauce

After cooking for 65 people, 2 appetizers + 4 courses meal , after needing 2 days to recover before going back to the real life still sore, I am back on my beloved blog. 

My problem is that , I always buy far too much food. I shared the left overs with the staff helping me, with my client, a guest who wanted some more to take away for her boyfriend …… Still my freezer is about to explode as I don’t want to waste, I ate some left overs for more than a week, polenta and green beans EVERYDAY ! I froze everything that could fit in my freezer on the top of what I already had. 

I wanted to share this paupiettes recipe. No need to precise that it took me ages to roll 70 paupiettes for my event but if it’s just for a few people it worth rolling a bit as the result is great. 

Paupiettes are a typical French dish, made of veal or beef fine slice (it can also be chicken if you want to stay on a budget) that you roll and bundle with a string after garnishing it. Very often made in Normandy and  cooked with butter of course, we also make paupiettes in the south of France, giving them another name : ‘Alouette sans tête’.

The stuffing is usually made of pork  and veal or pork and beef with prunes, apricots, herbs and seasoning.
I adapted mine as my client wanted a provençal/Italian meal. 

I tried with sundried tomatoes, tapenade, bacon and parmesan cheese.  Then I made a sauce with lemon and thyme. The result was divine and the cicadas started singing. 

 

Chicken paupiettes and lemon/thyme sauce 

serves 4

Ingredients

Paupiettes :

  • 4 chicken breast
  • 100g/3.52oz of black olives paste
  • 50g/1.76oz of sundried tomatoes
  • 50g/1.76oz of bacon slices, diced
  • 50g/1.76oz of parmesan cheese grated
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce :

  • 100g/3.52oz of butter
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A few sprigs of thyme

 

Method :

If your chicken breasts are a bit thick, flatten them with a mortar (a rolling pin will do too), I didn’t flatten mine but it’s easier to roll if they are thin. Salt and pepper on each sides.
Spread your tapenade, add a few sundried tomatoes and bacon and parmesan cheese. I didn’t add any salt on my garnish as bacon is already salty, just a bit of black pepper.

Roll your breast and bundle it with a string special roast, if not string you can use wooden skewers soaked in water a few minutes before to avoid the burning in the pan. 

If you don’t tie up properly, it’s ok, if it’s not perfectly closed on each sides it’s ok too as parmesan cheese doesn’t really melt. I tried once with mozarella cheese and those who were not bundled properly lost the mozarella during the cooking process and the paupiettes were a bit dry.
With those ones, no risk. 

Once they are all bundled, put a pan on medium heat with oil and a bit of butter and brown your paupiettes on each sides, adding a bit of salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven at 180°C/350°F.

When they are golden brown but still not cooked inside, put them in the oven for around 15min. While your paupiettes are finishing cooking, make the sauce by melting the butter with the thyme sprigs, then add the lemon juice with salt and pepper. 

Pour your sauce on the paupiettes and serve hot with polenta and or ratatouille. 

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- Pickled sardines rillettes

So, my client was organizing an event at hers and asked me if I could make pickled sardines. 
She had different infused vodka and as we know, in Russia they eat pickled fish while drinking vodka that’s why I went for that dish. 

I love sardines, in a can, fresh, with vinegar as my mum does, raw marinated, grilled that you eat with your hands straight out of the barbecue…

I bought some at my fishmonger who didn’t empty and fillet them (obviously not, too small) so I did it myself. Took off the scales with a little knife, emptied and washed them. And then, pickle them. The cleaning and filleting may sound difficult but it’s not.
There are different ways of making filets of sardines, the easiest way is with scissors. Cut the head, the fins, open the belly with your scissors all the way through and with your thumb, all at once, take off the insides. Then, belly on the chopping board, press your fingers slightly throughout the spine to unstick the spine from the meat, turn your sardine over and you should be able to separate the spine and bones from the flesh easily, holding it by the tail and pulling slowly. 
Wash your fillets keep them aside on an absorbant paper. 

The sardines can be eaten as it is, pickled or you can make a rillettes/pâté. If you want to make a pâté, you should count 1 sardine per person, it’s more than enough knowing that you will serve them on toast or crackers. If you eat the pâté with a spoon, that’s another story, you will need more sardines. 🙂
The good news is that sardines are cheap. 

 

Sardines rillettes

serves 12

Ingredients :

  • 12 sardines 
  • 12 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


Method
:

In a bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic. Pour the marinade onto the sardines placed on a baking tray. Cover with a film and put in the fridge for a few hours, ideally overnight. Turn the fish occasionally if you can.

When ready, eating the sardines just like that on bread with butter is a treat, if you would like to make the rillettes, once the sardines are cooked with the marinade, put everything except the oil in a blender. Mix for a few minutes, if it’s too dry and you can’t obtain a paste, add some of the oil from the marinade till obtaining a spreadable paste. 

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- Vegan burgers after an overindulgence of meat at the farm

I am at my office, a café that I really like around the corner of my  house. 

After 2 intense weeks with my mum who was visitng and as always a lot of drinking and overdose of meat, I am going green for a few days/weeks.

Before giving you the recipe of my vegan burgers I wanted to let you know a bit more about my last week-end at the farm. 
We spent 2 days in the country side or to be more specific, in the forest, in the middle of nowhere, where we had a tight schedule.

Go horse riding, wine tasting, lunch, feeding the lamb, eat massive breakfast, milk a cow… amongst other things.

We managed to do it all without having the feeling of rushing.  

If you are in California and want to go rustic, wild and raw, here is the link of the farm :

http://willowcreeknatural.com/

For sure it’s rustic, but you will have the great pleasure of eating fresh eggs, homemade sausages from the pork who happily ran in the field, fresh strawberries to go with your crêpes, go for a nice meal and a wine tasting in the cute and only one main street small town of Murphys and drink a glass of wine by the campfire at night.

Because of that overindulgence of meat, I made some burgers… vegan… and delicious. 

 

Vegan and gluten free burger

Serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 1 small can of beans (439g/15 oz)
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp of bread crumb
  • 1/4 onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Method :

As simple as that, mix all ingredients except the rice in a food processor. 
When obtaining a paste, add the rice, form the burger with your hands and cook it for a few minutes on each sides with a bit of oil till golden brown.

Can be frozen (before the cooking part). 

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Bon appétit !

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- Ginger and turmeric confits, natural bonbons

I love ginger. 

I so love it that I have some every single day, first thing in the morning with my hot lemon juice. I grate it, also add some turmeric and then after that, I can start my day, have breakfast etc…

I researched about it trying to find out if I could find some grown in California. Yes, there are some very ambitious people who managed to grow some even though the climate here is not the best for that kind of harvest. Some even managed to grow some indoors !

The ginger produces custers of white flowers, the rhizome (stems found underground) are harvested when the annual stalk withers and immediately scraped and washed to prevent sprouting in order to allow the root to grow.

Mostly cultivated in China and India as the ginger likes humid climate very much. 

You can make your ginger confit in a few days. Boil and drain it a few times to get rid of the heat, then simmered a few times with sugar, made that way, religiously will give your ginger this wonderful golden, translucent color.

I couldn’t wait for that long, I wanted my ‘bonbons’ very quickly so this is great for impatient people like me. As I always have turmeric too, i tried with turmeric also, i love the result !
Confit in maple syrup s’il vous plait !

 

Ginger and turmeric confit in maple syrup

Ingredients :

  • 200g (7 oz) of ginger and turmeric washed in hot water, skin on
  • 100ml (3 oz)of maple syrup
  • 200ml (6 oz) of water


Method
:

Scratch roughly the skin of the turmeric with a knife and wash the ginger and turmeric with hot water. 
You can peel them if you want, I didn’t. 

Slice them very finely, put them in a sauce pan and cover with 100ml (3 oz) of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30min. 
Drain them and once again, cover with 100ml (3oz) of water,bring to the boil and simmer for 30min. 
Drain and cover with the maple syrup, put the lid on and simmer very very slowly for 30min and uncovered for another 30min. 

While still warm, you can roll them in icing sugar for the look. 

To nibble without moderation

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- The magic rhubarb biscuit

For someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, I realize that lately, I baked quiet a lot.  I am a bit late on my blogging schedule, it’s because I was waiting for the rhubarb to come 🙂 That’s one good thing done as the rhubarb is here, the season has started and it doesn’t last very long so let’s take advantage of it. 

Rhubarb is a vegetable but used mostly as a fruit in cooking. The stalks only as the leaves and roots are poison which makes rhubarb even more attractive.

Every year I make a lot of compote, crumble… Poached rhubarb, chutney…Today it was a biscuit. It’s called biscuit but it’s better than that.   It’s soft and a bit sweet on the top, nearly gooey in the center with a bitter sweet taste and again soft and a bit crunchy at the bottom. It’s magic !

I can’t wait you to check that and let me know how you feel after the first mouthful. 

 

Magic rhubarb biscuit 

Serves 4 

Ingredients :

  • 100 g (3.52 oz) of butter
  • 100 g (3 oz) of white sugar 
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g (5.29 oz) of flour
  • 50 g (1.7 oz)  of cornflour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder 
  • 400 g (14 oz) of diced rhubarb
  • 90g (3.17 oz) of white sugar for the meringue

 

Method :

Mix the butter in cubes with sugar and egg yolk till foamy. Add to it the mix of flour, cornflour and baking powder. Work on the dough gently.

Grease a baking tray of 26cm (10 inches), spread the dough (it’s thick, it’s normal). Put the rhubarb on the dough. 

Whisk the 3 egg whites very firm, adding the 90g (3.17 oz) of sugar little by little and spread the meringue on the rhubarb. 

Cook in the oven on medium heat 160-180°C/330-350°F for 60-70 min. The meringue has to be brown and the cake wet inside.

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- The 10 minutes killer cake

What I love is when I make up my own recipe and that turns out delicious. 

Late for a picnic last week (yes in San Francisco we can sometimes do picnics in March, sorry guys) as It was a last minute picnic kind of, I made a farro salad and this delicious cake. 

The original recipe was not the same at all, I did with what I had (last minute so no time to run to the shop) and it was one of the most yummy, soft, moist 10min cake I’ve ever had. 

I had chocolate in my cupboard, so I added chocolate as well as a rest of almonds flakes. Apples, a bit of sugar, butter and flour and that’s it. 

Make this cake first thing as it really takes 10 min put it in the oven then while it’s baking get ready and you will be on time at your improvised picnic with a warm and yummy sweet loaf. 

 

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Apple and chocolate cake 


Ingredients

  • 1 apple (but you can put 2 if you want)
  • 200g of flour
  • 100g of melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 100g of dark good chocolate
  • A pinch or 2 of almonds or walnuts or both (why not)

 

Method :

Sift flour and baking powder, 
Mix the butter with eggs and suger till obtaining a thick and nearly white mix.
Put the flour into the eggs/butter and stir with the vanilla extract. Divide your batter in 2, and pour the melted chocolate in 1 and stir. Pour either the chocolate part first or the plain one first (I did chocolate first) then the second half in a greased baking tin loaf.
Peel, take of the seeds and cut the apple in quarters and/or little cubes (I did quarters and cubes) and drop them into your batter.

Cook for around 1 hour (depends on the size of your baking tin) at 160°C/350°F therm 5/6 till the knife comes out of the cake clean. 

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- Full of colour farro salad

On my precedent post, I was talking about the fact that I don’t eat enough cereals and grains, and a few days later, I was in this French kind San Francisco restaurant, I tried farro. I won’t give you the name of that restaurant as I don’t remember it, simply because the overall experience was not great.

My farro vegetarian dish was soggy, heavy and tasteless.

The exact opposite of the al dente and sexy Italian cuisine.

I am talking about Italian cuisine as farro is widely used in Italy. 

The farro is trendy but not a new trend, the kind of trend that lasts for 10 000 years. First domesticated in the fertile crescent (that crescent-shaped part of land who saw some of the earliest human civilizations which is also a very moist and fertile land comparitively to the arid climate of the rest of Western Asia). 
Very popular in Egypt before spreading to Italy and the whole world, farro is a great source of magnesium and vitamin A,B, C and E and contains more fiber than rice or quinoa. 

Soups, mains and even desserts (maybe soon a farro cake recipe will come on this blog, who knows?)

For now I made this salad with A LOT  of vegetables and a few blackberries. With this salad I didn’t have my 5 a day but my 10 a day at least 🙂

Just boil 1 cup of farro with 2 cups of water with salt for around 25min till the grains are still a bit crunchy. Add a bit of water if necessary while cooking. 

The usual farro salad in Italy is with mozzerella, tomato and basil. 

In this one, I put yellow zucchini, yellow French beans, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantain, red cabbage, raddishes, yellow beetroot, a few quarters of grapefruit, garlic, ginger, blackberries, celery root and clover sprouts. 

It’s the best way to start Spring 😉

 

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- Raw and vegan mini cheesecakes on the way to Los Angeles

I am on my way to Los Angeles, at least in my head, I am leaving tomorrow… To be in the LA mood and share a bit of that with you, I  made this cute and delicious vegan cheesecake.  LA, where everybody is beautiful, beach hair down and perfect skin, eating seaweed and grains while drinking a camel milk latte, my cheesecakes had to be perfect too. No sugar, no dairy, it’s also raw and purple to match with my nail vernish special LA. 

Vegan and raw mini cheesecakes for around 10 little muffin moulds


Ingrédients
: Crust

  • 1 cup (200 g) pitted dates
  • 1 cup (120 g) walnuts

 
Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) raw cashews, soaked
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (150 ml) full fat coconut milk 
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml)  maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) blueberries (fresh or frozen)

 
Method : Add dates to a food processor and blend until small bits remain and it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside. Blend the walnuts till it’s powdery and add them to the dates.  The dough should be sticky.. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add more walnuts.  Grease the moulds with coconut oil, Scoop the dough and pack it down with your fingers or the bottom of a glass. Set them in freezer. Meanwhile, add all filling ingredients to a blender and mix until very smooth.  Divide filling evenly among the muffin moulds. Tap to release any air bubbles, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours. You can either take them out the freezer 10min before eating or eating them straight out, frozen.

Bon appétit !

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- Lemon jam with poppy seeds

I am doing pretty good with my daily routine. For those who follow me, you probably heard (read) about the experiments i’m doing on me, for you. 

I still do my weekly, once a day homemade facemask (this week is tomato paste week) oil pulling,  lemon toner…. I still pack my plate with healthy, super food everyday, drink red wine (good for my heart), sleep without pillow (good for my back)…..

The only thing I don’t really do is to eat grains and cereals.
Breakfast is very important for me, a great part of the day. I love the smell of coffee, the smell of bread toasted and the butter that melts on the hot bread…. My friend who is originally from Africa always says that I probably was African in my previous life as what i love for breakfast is instant coffee with a bit of milk, bread toasted with butter that i dip in my coffee. That’s all, that’s my favourite breakfast, which is the kind of breakfast they apparently have in Togo. The simpliest is very often the best. 

That’s why I don’t really get the chance to add cereals to my daily routine so i try to get a bowl of oat meal when i want to snack.. 

One thing i also love on my toasted bread is jam, I always have, always make jam. 
This morning…. no more. Bad vibe to start the day. So I decided to make this quick and so good lemon jam while I was getting ready.

 

 

Lemon jam, for 1 small jar

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water


Method
:

Grate the zest of three of the lemons into a small pot. Slice the fourth lemon into thin rings and add them to the pot.

Add 1 cup of water to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the water off the lemons and zest. Add the lemons and zest back to the pot and cover with another fresh cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes and strain again. By doing that, you remove the bitterness of the lemons.  

Put the lemons and zest back into the pot once again. Add sugar, lemon juice, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to medium/low. Simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, about 30-45 minutes. Pour the jam into a jar and put it in the fridge to cool or not, you can just have it warm on your warm bread and butter. No need to sterelize the jar, I just wash it as my jams never last for too long in the fridge. To add a bit of colour, you can mix a tsp a poppy seeds last minute. 

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- Sweet potato pie from Abby Fisher, 1881

 I was planning on giving you the recipe of my sweet potato cake but in between, i heard about Abby Fisher. 

Abby Fisher was the first African-American known to have published a cook book. That makes ‘ What Mrs Abby knows about Southern cuisine, soups, pickles…’ the oldest book known written by a former slave.
Born in 1832, Abby Fisher worked as a cook in a plantation. Years later when she got freed with her husband and their 11 children they settled in San Francisco where her talents were recognized very quickly and enquiries from the San Francsican uper class were high. 
Her reputation and catering company growing allowed her to earn a lot of money and open her own business ‘Mrs Abby Fisher pickle manufacturer’.  Combining African and American cultures and the spices of both continents, and in order to have all her recipes listed somewhere she published a book that she had to dictacte as she couldn’t read nor write. 

Very little is known about Abby Fisher after the publication of her book, not even the date of her death. 

In 1984, 100 years later exactely, one of her book was rediscovered and put in auction at Sotheby’s in NewYork and in 1985 an editor published it for the second time making the recipes available for the new generation of chefs.

I attended a conference hold by Mr Robert W. Brower who is an independant culinary historian. It was fascinating. The book is scarce since most copies were destroyed in the fire following the earthquake of 1906 and so 2 scanned original books can be found online… Not very exciting… Reading a cook book online…

After Abby, I heard about Celia (actually, it was not the first time i heard about Celia) who has the chance to own one of those so rare piece, ‘the book’. Celia at ‘Omnivore’ bookshop in San Francisco had the extreme kindness to bring me ‘the book’ from her home. It was very moving, the size, the smell, the color of the paper… I looked throught the book imagining Abby giving me directoin on how to make her sweet potoato pie. 
Another lucky one is Whoopie Goldberg to whom Celia sold her second volume of Abby Fisher’s book. 

I made one of her recipe, the traditionnal sweet potato pie evolved since then but this one is the original, that proves that nowaday her recipes are still doable and it was airy, fluffy, delicious and beautiful, like this story.

1 2 3 4 Abby Fisher’s sweet potato pie, for 1 pie Ingredients : 

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 5 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
  • 120ml  (4 oz) of milk 
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 orange juice + the zest
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 short crust pastry

  Method : Boil the sweet potaotes inn water with the salt. Prehaet the oven to 350°F/180°C Meanwhile, zest the orange and juice it.  When the potatoes are ready,  mash them with the butter, set aside.  Whisk the whites till firm.  Add the sugar, milk, orange juice and zests, egg yolks to the sweet potatoes. Mix and gently add the whites.   Pour your mix on the dough and put it in the oven for 35min, till the pie is golden brown.   5   Omnivore Books http://omnivorebooks.com/  

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- Callysthé, the flowered tea from the maquis

Once upon a time, (I love to start my posts by ‘once upon a time’) a Mediterranean island famous for its beauty, wildness, own dialect, goats and saucisson… Corsica. 
Countless plants grow in the ‘maquis’ this wild forest that in addition to its beaches make Corsica so unique. It’s said that there is something like 2500 different species.
Thanks to its lush vegetation, Corsica will also be known for its teas very soon.

People who know me, know that I love the homemade, the local, seasonal, that’s why I am so keen on talking about Callysthé.
I am also very keen on talking about it as I know the guy behind the idea. I had the chance to meet Anthony in London, 2 years ago, who already had an entrepreneurial mind set and so, after learning English wanted to open his own business. 
Well, it’s done since last December.   

Why Callysté ? Kallisté is a greek name which means ‘the most beautiful’ often given to one of their island ‘Santorini’ but also to Corsica during Antiquity.

A whole collection of flowered teas, pure, delicate, carefully chosen, not to mention the pretty design of their boxes.

Made with rooibos, the tea without caffeine, mixed with the subtle flavors of the island. Chestnuts, figues, almonds for one, Nepita, fennel and mint for another… The immortelle, myrtle and Damascus roses are part of the collection too.

The teas are already sold everywhere in Corsica, in delies, restaurants and also in Paris ! oui ! oui !

https://callysthe.com/

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- Butternut squash, apple and cardamom soup

Butternut squash is a winter fruit that grows on a vine…
A bit boring…. And Brian Mcknight in my ears is teasing me…. Difficult  to concentrate…
It’s not boring and I love learning about ingredients and told you about the very little I know, but not now. 
Right now I prefer to tell you about my experiments on myself (for those who read my previous post) also because I need to confess. tell you how i feel. 

I hadn’t touched any alcohol since the 2nd of January till yesterday evening, why yesterday evening ? By reflex, seriously, I don’t see any other reason… I had in my hand a stupid bottle of Chablis with only something like 0.50 cm of wine left and as I always did before this diet, I thought I wouldn’t waste so it was better to drink it.  And I don’t even like Chablis, seriously, I felt so ashamed after that to crack and be so weak so close to the end of the month, I felt stupid, if at least it was a wine i loved…. That’s ridiculous.
You will say that it was just a sip and yes it was but still, if it’s to cheat, I should have really cheated and had a whole bottle….

Apart from my guiltiness i really feel great even if my hair looks terrible because of this no-poo method. It’s been more than 2 weeks now that I haven’t washed my hair, i rince it with warm water and sometimes with apple cider vinegar which is supposed to help the hair to be smoother and lighter. Well, not yet… My hair is heavy, gummy and dry on the tips. Not very glamourous, but it’s to be naturally glamourous in a few weeks. I’ll wait 2 more weeks and see. One month should be enough. 

Cooking wise, I made this delicious butternut squash and apple soup. 

So, butternut squash is a winter fruit that grows on a vine…It is known to have been cultivated by the Incas in the fifteenth century and remains a very important source of food throughout much of central and south America.
Sweet and nutty, it belongs to the zucchini, cucumber and pumpkin family and is an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, C and E, fiber….
When chosing a butternut squash, if you can push a finger nail in the rind, it’s immature and will lack of flavour and sweetness. The  rind has to be hard with a beautiful orange/beige colour. 


Butternut squash, apple and cardamom soup
, serves 6 pers. 

  • 1 whole butternut suqash
  • 2 apples
  • 1 onion
  • 2 vegetables cube bouillon
  • Salt, pepper
  • Cardamom powder
  • Olive oil

Method : 

Peel and remove the seeds of the butternut squash, peel and chop the onion finely.  Cut the butternut in little cubes and cook them in a frying pan with olive oil and onion. Meanwhile bring 1 liter of water to the boil, when it’s boiling add the 2 cubes bouillon. 

Peel, deseed and cut in small cubes the apples and add them to the pan with butternut and onion. 

When butternut, onion and apples are tender put them in a blender with a bit of the bouillon. Make your soup more or less thick according to your taste by adding more bouillon. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and cardamom powder.

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- Paprika and cayenne pepper pumpkin seeds

I hope that you are starting this new year the nicest way. 

If you were wondering, my people, I am starting 2017 the best way, full of energy, a lot of work, a beautiful skin and zero alcohol !

Yes zero wine, zero alcohol for exactely 12 days… I am doing good… Well, it’s hard but seing the result on my skin, is very rewarding and you realize that drinking has always an excuse : when you are done with work, with a cigarette, when you are working, when you cannot sleep…. I found myself a lot of excuses especially in December (Christmas parties, birthdays, bottle already open, bottle closed that you want to open anyway, watching a movie with a glass of wine is nicer than with tea or it’s full moon, we have to celebrate etc etc….)  so enough is enough. 
It’s easy you just have to stop going out completly and become dissociable. 

Without any joke at all, it’s hard but I thought it would be harder than that so I added a bit more difficulty to my life and im going through a lot of test on myself. For whom ? For you my people !

I am trying natural remedies to look better, better skin, better hair with no chemicals but only fresh ingredients that i have in my kitchen. 
So at the moment, I am experimenting paprika homemade mask,  no-poo method (that one is hard)  and oil pulling every morning for a few days, followed by my morning lemon juice that i cannot skip but with turmeric and ginger, oui oui !
I know that’s a lot for the little person I am 🙂 and so much better too. After a quiet long period taking antibiotics for a little problem I still have by the way, I’ve decided to stop everything, put my body at rest and go for a more holistic solution.
That’s how I healed a flu in December, without any medication at all. It was a big flu, the one that hurts your whole body, legs, arms, hands and even my gums… 
Garlic like crazy, raw and cooked, thyme infusion like crazy, lemon juice, eucalyptus essential oil and less than 3 days to fully recover.

Since then,  I study macrobiotics and use me as a guinea pig. 

A lot to come for you, beauty talking and a lot less s..t in our life. 

2017 for me is to move forward, go deeper in my believes and knowing what i really want to change, to improve in my life, be more centered and learn from my mistakes as always and it also includes my daily beauty routine. Seriously, 2016 has been crappy, for the world and for a lot of people so it’s with my arms widely open that I welcome this new year…. And with homemade roasted pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack. 


Paprika and cayenne pepper pumpkin seeds

When you make a soup, gratin or pumpkin pie (here is a great recipe : http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2017/01/2017-wishes-and-late-pumpkin-pie/), keep the seeds and wash them. 
Dry them on a baking tray or baking parchment for a few hours. In a bowl, mix olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper add the seeds and mix before spreading them on a tray or plate that goes in the oven with parchment baking paper and roast for around 15min at 350°F/180°C till they are golden.
The paprika and cayenne pepper can be replaced by any spice you like.

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- 2017 wishes and late pumpkin pie

I made my very first and tasted my very first pumpkin pie (my own) late November. 

I couldn’t really compare with any other as it was my first one. 
It was made with fresh pumpkin as it is something more normal for me, then I fund out that most people make it with pumplin in a can. Well… I woud say… why not ? Still I bought a fresh one.

I then,  tried more for Christmas, same old thing, fresh pumpkin , the first one with the same dough and the second, I tried another variant, a dough with more butter…. It turned out that the second one was quiet amazing and I wanted to share that recipe with you. It’s a late pumpkin pie, as traditionnally it’s made between Halloween and Christmas. Let’s call it a ‘Post Christmas pie’ or ‘A good resolution pie’ It takes 15min to make, and it’s delicious, so Christmas or not, who cares ? We need a little treat after the Christmas treats. 

Before giving you this recipe I wanted to wish you all a wonderful 2017. Thank you for being there and reading me for a few year as you are more and more numerous. After thoses years, I hope that my Frenglish is less worse, but you seem to understand me still and that’s the most important. 

May this new year be better, let’s make it better with good energies, love and why not, a bit of wine… Happy New Year !!!

 

‘Late pumpkin pie’

Ingredients :
For the crust:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

 

For the pie:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie mix)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Whipped Cream,for serving 

 

Method :

Start preparing the crust :

1. Stir the butter, oil, sugar, and salt together in a bowl until combined. Add the flour and stir until a soft dough forms.

2.Mix with your hands (add a bit of flour occasionnally if needed to prevent sticking) till obtaining a ball that you will wrap in film and chill in the fridge for 30min at least.

For the pie: 

1. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C 

2. Place all of the ingredients except the whipped cream in a bowl and whisk until smooth and combined.
Spread your dough with your finger directly on the baking tray starting in the center toward the edges of the mould.
Pour your mix into the pie crust.

3. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and bake until the top starts to brown and the filling is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, about 50 minutes. 
Cool completely before serving. 
It can be prepared the day before. 

Bon appetit and Happy New Year again !

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- Vits and Kicks

We are the 10th of December and so, I declare the festive season open. 

Christmas parties, cocktail hours, wine o’clock that starts lunch time, sweets and alcohol consumed in too big quantity… 

With that, comes the guilt. Guilt about not even have started the pre-Christmas diet planned to give your body a good makeover before the damage will start.
Guilt about not going to the gym often enough and finally stop trying to convince yourself that you can do it, gym+a lot of parties, as we all know what the result will be,  we won’t go, always postpone to finally go back in January when you will seriously start this strict diet. Really seriously. 
I know the feeling.
Guiltiness forgotten after a few drinks that comes back the next morning with the usual :  ‘Vodka? No more ! Never ever !’ Let’s face it, it’s hard to resist, we just have to accept it as guilt is not healthy either anyway. 

I was born on the 24th of November and for so many years, my mum has always made the Christmas tree for my birthday and so started Christmas celebration one month before. That’s how I grew up, in a family where any kind of little, insignificant event for some, has to be celebrated. 
That’s what life is all about, no ? To go with the flow sometimes, let yourself go and appreciate what we have withtout any guilt. 

Still if guilt there is, I have a solution for you, my people : Vits and Kicks 

Vits and kicks is based in London, The founder is Matt, an amazing bartender who made his classes in some of the most famous bars, members clubs, restaurants…

Bespoke cocktails for your bispkoke private, corporate events, festivals…  Fresh juice with a kick : alcohol.
It’s a mobile bar that will also bring the cocktails and the staff.
And for those who already had too much rum and can’t stand just the odour, for those who are more (as Matt says) about the Vits than the Kick, they also serve a selection of non-alcoholic drinks. 

See ? Fresh juice/vitamins problem sorted. So let’s forget about guiltiness, just enjoy, we have a solution, call Matt and his team !

http://vitsandkicks.co.uk/

 

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- Automnal salad and Pocahontas

So 2 days ago was Thankgiving and so was my birthday. 

So let’s talk about history.  Not history about myself as I am old, but not old enough yet, but history about Thanksgiving. 

It all began on the shores of Cape Henry in Virginia. In 1607, the first English colonists arrived : 105 English, amongst them the Reverend Robert Hunt who was instrumental in establishing the protestant faith in the new world.

Reverend Hunt would have had the Book of Common Prayer as well as the Bible and this would be a general prayer of thanksgiving that would have been read at that period of time to thank God about the love and kindness shared in the world. 

The Indian native American wanted to declare a war to those invaders and that’s when the famous Pocahontas intervened. 
Thanks to her the Powhatan Indians and the colonists made peace. She would bring the colonists food, and some historical accounts say she even saved Captain John Smith’s life from her own people. Eventually, Pocahontas was held hostage by the colonists. It was then that she converted to Christianity and married one of the Jamestown leaders, John Rolfe and was baptized into the Christian name, Rebecca.
Through Pocahontas, they saw an opportunity of spreading the protestant faith. Years later she returned to England with her husband, and at just 22 years old, she died. It was two years after Pocahontas’ death that another group of English colonists landed in Virginia at the Berkeley Plantation. Virginia Historians say that this is where the real first Thanksgiving took place. The Virginia Company had directives given to the settlers and the directives were that after their arrival, they were to be thankful and then, every year make it an annual celebration in thanks to the Lord to be alive from a journey that led to the loss of half of the crew.

My Thanksgiving was a lot quieter, no war, no conversation with God but just made of sharing food and beautiful moments. I am lucky.

A few hours after the traditional turkey, celebration again with other people for dinner and of course, my very first pumpkin pie. The recipe will be soon on this blog as the pie tradition starts for Thanksgiving till Christmas.

After those 2 days of feast, a hearty, seasonal salad was very much needed

Respect the season is very important according to where you are on the globe.

I mixed seasonal fruits and veg, cut them in pieces or sticks with a bit of olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper and in the oven (180°C/350°F) till they are tender 

In my case, I used apples, pears, yellow and normal beetroots, chard (that can be purple here) butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, purple potatoes and a few bunches of rosemary. We find here some Boursin (French cream cheese with herbs and garlic) so I succumbed, forgot about my lactose intolerance and made those little quenelles with the Boursin. You can use goat cheese, blue cheese……

It’s beautiful, warm and delicious….

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- Mamie Foodie

If we all agree on something is that the best food memories, the best dishes are always made by our grand-parents.

I have a lot of food memories with my grand- parents, a lot of smells, tastes memories and this image of my Italian grandpa making ravioli… He spent hours making his ravioli for the family reunions, then put them in the bedroom on 2 single beds that he brought closer, put a bed sheet on the top and spread the ravioli onto them, ready to be cooked and sprinkled with a homemade tomato sauce which is still, for me, the best in the world. My cousin and I secretely stole some and ate them raw, just like that. 

La mamie, la nonna, the gran knows best. That can’t be explained. We all try to replicate the exact same recipe and it’s never the same. Never.

So when I heard  about ‘Mamie foodie’ it was an obligation for me to talk about it. 

It’s a beautiful, innovative and super great idea.

It was in Paris 2 years ago when 5 students, freshly graduated put together what they had in common, a passion for cooking and created Mamie Foodie. 

The grannies and grandpa of all origins can feel usefull, they can socialize, please people and supplement their income while doing what they love and they do better than anyone else : cooking. 

Brunch, street food, cooking classes, catering… The grand-parents team is getting bigger and the requests are coming.

On the news lately, they are looking for a venue to open a restaurant to put the nans behind the stove and then develop the same concept in other cities in France.  

So my friends in Paris, let’s place orders ! http://www.mamiefoodie.com/ 

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- Chocolate cream pots

It’s been a while that I haven’t talked about chocolate. It has to stop.
Actually I don’t talk about chocolate much as, as I said in a few of my post I am a cheater, I love tampered chocolate, the milk one and above all, the white chocolate. The most fatted one, the less natural one…. Bad…. I know….

Well that white chocolate love leads to great recipes sometimes, like the blondies I made :  

http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2013/05/chocolate-derivative-and-brownie/ 

Anyway, I still cook chocolate for my private dinners and cooking classes, like those little chocolate cream pots we made last time at one of my class. Delicious, simple, those pots bring you back to your childhood. 

 

Chocolate cream pots  for around 8 little pots

Ingredients

-1 liter of milk or almond milk
-200g of dark chocolate (1.69 cup)
– 100g of sugar (0.84 cup)
– 50g of butter (0.42 cup)
-40g of flour (0.33 cup)

 

Method :

Mix flour and butter, add the milk. Mix well, add the sugar and mix. Add the chocolate cut in little pieces, let it heat up for 5/10 minutes. Mix well till it gets thicker. 

Transfer in little jars, I don’t think that sterilizing them is needed because they will go straight away as they are so good. Up to 3 days is perfecly fine to keep them in the fridge anyway.

 

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- Fruits croquettes with leftover pulp

In my  new flat, there is my new kitchen and in this new kitchen, my new kitchen tools. 

So happy to have a juicer and go back to a routine left in London 1 year ago, so happy to think that my greyish complexion will make place to a pinky-healthy skin color thanks to the ton of fruits I will drink for breakfast.

After figuring out how to make work what looks like more than a tank to me than a juicer (anybody allergic to anything with more than a on/off button like me would’ve had a hard time to find out how to make the machine works) and enjoying my first 5-a-day juice of the year, I  was left with a lot of waste : the fibres that the juicer sent on the opposite side of the juice, the non liquid sutff but still the essential for my body, for my flawless-to- be-skin.

I ended up having a lot of fruit pulp after 10 days and felt guiltiness to waste that much food especially after my latest post about Regina Tchelly and her zero waste recipes. . 

http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2016/09/the-favelas-fairy/

I wanted to find a way to reuse this big blend of papaya, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, strawberries, oranges..

I know that we can make some smoothies with the carrots pulp, some masks with the orange added to yogurt… My mum used to bake chocolate cakes with zucchini to make them moist and I remember 30 years ago to find that so weird. I am myself now make cakes with beetroot and it’s delicious. You can also make a jam with lemon pulp, or compote with apple, peach or pear pulp, ice cube with cucumber.
But when they are all blended ?
Who wants to separate them ?
Should we make a single fruit juice per day, a green one one day, and orange one the following day etc… ? But what if you want your rainbow each morning ?And if like me,  it takes you ages to assemble the bloody blender before going to work ? We need something practical when your blender is not and your time precious.  We need a new way to use those fruits and veg pulp, we need croquettes for example ? No ? Why not ? You know I love croquettes. I make croquettes often so why not to make them sweet for once ? 

If unlike me, you don’t feel like making and/or eating croquettes right now, freeze the pulp, in small portions so that you can reuse them little by little and make soups, make a filling for your crêpes, tarts, add it to a chocolate cake, it will be very moist, muffin, smothies, sweet spring rolls with a chocolate sauce…..

Me ? I made croquettes and a jam.  
I still have 12 croquettes that i didn’t cook, they are made and frozen for next time. 

For around 20 small croquettes : 

Ingredients :

-450g or 3 cups of fruits reduced in puree with a mixer
-340g or 1 cup of buckwheat flour
-340g or 1 cup of coconut four
-45g or a bit less than 1/4 of cup of sunflower seeds or any seed you like
-85g or 1/4 of cup of honey
– zests of 1 orange
-2 pinches of cinnamon powder
-2 eggs
-breadcrumbs
-Vegetables oil

 

Method :

Mix all the ingredients and make some balls, galettes, or any shape you want. 

Take 2 flat plates and 1 soup bowl put a bit of cocunut flour or wheat flour in one flat, the breadcrumbs on the other and the 2 eggs beaten in the soup bowl. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan, roll your croquettes first in the flour, then eggs and breadcrumbs. Fry them till they are golden brown on each sides and set them aside on absorbant paper. 

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- The favelas’ fairy

Her name is Regina Tchelly. 

Born in Nordeste, north east Brazil.

There, poor and rich eat what mother earth give them. There is only very little waste in the state of Paraiba.  Farmers put their waste back on earth as fertilizer or use them to feed their animals. 

When Regina arrived in Rio de Janeiro to work as a maid, she was shocked by what she saw on markets. Fruits, vegetables and even meat and fish thrown away when they were not sold !

She worked for 11 years, 5 days a week and developed her association on her 2 days off. Secretely she’s always wanted to be a cook. 

Living in the favelas, she then was eligible to apply at a youth assistance program for a grant of 10000 reals (around 3000 euros). 

Judged too complex, her program had not been selected, but still, with just 140 reals donated by friends she created ‘Favela Organica’.

The aim ? Stop such waste. Use the what we think like not usable or not edible like banana skin, broccoli stems…. and make delicious dishes, cakes…
At the time (3 years ago) she started with the help of 6 others maids who had a day time job and helped her at night. Those 6 became 10 the second week, then 15 and a few weeks later, 40.

She now works with seven markets and 18 restaurants, cooks for buffets, coffee breaks, events, inform chefs on how to reduce waste, gives lectures to inspire people to change their behavior, she even gave a TED talk in Sao Paulo. She thinks organic and for the time being nothing’s defeated her as what she cannot use at all, ends up being composted. The future of the food must be in Brazil, let’s get inspired, 100% leftover.

http://favelaorganica.com/pt/

Regina

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- The cutest cuties

It’s something I didn’t want to do….

But…. I said I would do it so I am keeping my words…

I will give you the trick on how to get pinky, girly quail eggs. 

I am a bit jealous now as those eggs are so easy to make that they will be on a lot of tables very soon for the apero.

I read a lot before making those eggs for one of my client.  I am telling you, there is no need my people. 

No need for  pickling (I tried and the eggs get a not-that–nice vinegar taste), no need for ingredients, kitchen tools, spices or anything like that. Let’s avoid the fuss. 

I tried the fuss for you, it doesn’t work well, my recipe would be just longer, that’s it.  

It’s summertime, in Nice it’s 30°C, a lot of time spent at the beach, no time to prepare a long apero. 

In London, summer is here too (oui, oui), while it’s here, let’s not spend too much preparing and enjoy the weather. 

You will just need some quail eggs, some water, a breetroot and 2 pots. Voilà, c’est tout 🙂

Peel and cut your beet in quarter while bringing some water to the boil. When it’s boiling, plunge the beetroot till it’s soft. Meanwhile,  boil the quail eggs in water for 4 minutes. 

Put the beetroot aside  for a future salad, a hummous, soup… and keep the water which should be pinky/purple. 

When your eggs are cooked, peel them gently and plunge them in the pinky/purple water for a few hours. Ideally in the fridge for 12 hours. 

It will work with only a few hours, trust me,  the color won’t be as marked as if you live them for 12 hours but it will still be pink and very pretty. You will obtain the cutest, little pretty eggs for apero, to eat just like that like a candy or with mayonnaise for a girly version of ‘oeuf mayonnaise’.

 

Bon apéro mes amis !

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- Gluten free pizzette, lentils fritters for a summary apero

Doing some catering and having had a lot of events lately, I obviously have some left overs….

Little things like half of a red onion, 1 jalapeno,  lentils, some mascarpone cheese, polenta, bacon…

I usually make a soup with vegetable and other stuff I have left but this time I didn’t feel like having a soup which is quiet rare, so I had to be a bit more creative…

I made little pizza with a polenta dough and some croquettes with the lentils.  You know I love croquettes 🙂

 

Polenta pizzette for around 6/8 mini pizza :

Ingredients :

 

  • Polenta
  • Parma ham
  • 1/2 red onion
  • A half of a quarter of red pepper
  • 6/8 black olives
  • A few sprigs of oregano
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • Half of a jalapeno chili
  • 2 tbsp of mascarpone cheese
  • A few spoons of tomato sauce or peeled tomatoes

 

Method :

Bring half a liter of salted water to the boil.

Put 400g of polenta, whisk and see how the mix is. It has to have the consistency of a thick custard. If it’s too liquid after a few minutes of boiling, add a bit more polenta slowy, and check…. Keep in mind that the polenta will thicken a bit while cooling down. 

When it’s done drop the polenta paste in muffins or tartlets molds, flatten them and let it to cool down.

When it’s cold, unmold them and top them with tomato sauce, then mascarpone cheese, salt, pepper, a bit of onion, bel peppers, cherry tomatoes, jalapenos, parma ham, olives  and oregano.

Put it in the oven for around 15 min at  180°C/350°F till the cheese is melting and it smells like paradise in your ktichen. 

 

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Lentils fritters 


Ingredients :

  • Lentils
  • Bacon
  • Curry
  • Paprika
  • Jalapeno
  • Red onion
  • 1 or 2 eggs (depends on the quantity of lentils)
  • A few spoons of flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt, pepper

 
Method :

Easy if your lentils are already cooked, if not, cook some green lentils in salted boiling water. 
Drain them and wait till they are cold. 
Add salt and pepper, 1 or 2 eggs, some flour and all the ingredients.
Form some balls with your hands, the size you want. It’s going to be a bit difficult so you will have to press the lentils in order to form those croquettes. If it’s still too wet add a little bit of flour. 

When you have your croquettes done, roll them in flour one by one, heat up some oil and fry the croquettes on each sides. 

Enjoy your lentils croquettes with the same mascarpone cheese that you used for the mini pizza or it can be ricotta cheese, yogurt… something you have in your fridge. I topped my mascarpone with a rest of herbs pesto 

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- Asian style meat balls

 Let’s talk about meat balls…

First of all, I’ve always loved meat balls, they are small enough to be enjoyed just like that at a cocktail party  and big enough, added to spaghetti to be one of my comfort food.

Second, it’s a bit like the croquettes, the whole world is making meat balls, different ways, if you want to see one of my previous post about delicious croquettes, here it is :  http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2016/04/croquettes-of-the-world/

And lastly, my mum ones are the best, no discussion about that, but mine are not too bad 😉

I made my own today, not the Italian way I use to do but this time, with an Asian twist.  No spaghetti, but soba. 

The meat balls will caramelized, just enough and the contrast with the hot sauce is amazing. 

 

Asian style meat balls, for 12 meat balls

Ingredients :

  • 400g of minced pork
  • 120g (1/2 cup) of panko
  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • A few stalks of coriander roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil
  • 300g of soba (buckwheat noodles)

For the sauce : 

  • 60g of brown sugar (1/4 of cup)
  • Half glass of white wine
  • 60g of soy sauce (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of sriracha or any hot sauce

 

Method :

In a saucepan, put the sugar, white wine and soy sauce. Stir and cook until the sugar melts (around 2 min). 
Then add the sriracha and ginger, simmer for 10min and set aside. 

In a bowl, add all the meat balls ingredients except the oil and soba. With your hands, mix well and form some balls, around 8/10cm diameter.

In a pan, put some oil and fry the meat balls until they are golden on each sides. Put them in the sauce and cook slowly for 15min making sure that they are all coverred with the sauce. 

At the last minute, boil some water and cook the noodles. Toss the noodles gently into the meat balls and sauce and eat straight away. 

 

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- I had a craving for ‘pâté’

It was 2 days ago while I was running like crazy, in the middle of a 5 days events where I had to deliver breakfast and dinner everyday for 38 vegetarian people. Running errands, I stopped to grab an egg and ham sandwich on the go. I love eggs sandwich. 

Then something happened, the girl behind the counter asked me if i wanted my eggs white or yellow….  

At first, I thought that it must  had been her accent (or my not good enough English) as I didn’t really understand her question. But she insisted, asking which color I wanted my eggs ! 
Was it a joke ? She didn’t seem to want to have fun or talk about the fact that an egg usually has 2 colours.  Still,  I am stubborn, I tried and told her that I wanted a normal egg, yellow AND white, and again, my joke, didn’t even make her smile.  
Annoyed, she told me again that i had the choice between the 2 colours and I ended up chosing the white not to upset the girl too much. And why would I bother her at 8.30am ? Who cares if the egg usually has 2 colours ? 

Because, yes, on this part of the world, God help us, you can chose the color of your eggs.  

I didn’t know how to take it, and I still don’t. Well, I know but I am just trying to be polite.

In a world where fruits are packed in plastic, in a world where the bacon is degreased, the milk  is without lactose and the cakes without sugar, you know what, I sooo wanted something real, homemade and meaty, like… some pâté. A pâté made with good quality porc, chicken liver, salt, pepper and herbs and c’est tout !

It was my very first one and I have to say that it was a success !

Not even and egg or flour to hold it 🙂 That pâté will make everybody agree, at least the gluten-free people and myself. I cannot please everyone at the same time, sorry. 

 

Pâté for 2 loaves

Ingredients :

  • 1kg of porc
  • 500g of duck, chicken or rabbit liver
  • 3 big shallots peeled and finely chopped
  • 20g of salt
  • 2g of black pepper
  • 3 tbsp of thyme
  • 3 tbsp of rosemary finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

 

Method :

Fry the shallots in olive oil and butter on slow heat. 

Mince the porc and liver together, put the mix in a bowl add the salt, pepper and both herbs little by little, mixing the meat in between. When the shallots are ready add them to the bowl. 

Put the mixture into a baking loaf tray to be able to make nice slices. Cover with a lid of even with some cling film.

And in the oven at 150°C/300°F for 3 hours. 

 

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- The Whole30 program and the art of frustration, still my avocado stuffed jalapenos are allowed

I heard about the Whole30 program, the one that is supposed to revolutionize your food habits and so, your life. 
It says that going green and essentially vegetarian, addind fish and meat here and there is the solution to our bloated belly, fat excess and infammation we all have in our bodies.

Avoiding grains, legumes, dairy and alcohol, ok, but for 30 days, no sorry it’s beyond my strength, I know it, i am not gonna lie. 
I could go greener, I am a kind of green person… ish… I’ve always eaten a lot of vegetables and went vegetarian when I was 16 as I had acne. My doctor (who was a vegetarian) told me to stop meat for at least 6 months to get a clearer skin. And I did it. My skin’s aspect didn’t change by the way but I did it. 
So, I could go without meat for months (it would be very difficult for my parma ham craving though) but then stop legumes, grains, alcohol and dairy, sorry but no…. and for 30 days ? NO WAY ! Or kill me now and finish me please ! 
I know it’s good for the body, a friend of mine who became vegan a few years ago told me that she has a lot more energy than before and everybody says the same, it’s hard the first week as your body needs to adapt, but from the second week, you are flying !
I also know that if there is one thing that we can control, is the food we put in our body. Non processed food is the key.  I am the first one to say it.

Some say : ‘My body is a temple’ I understand that. But as one of my hero says : ‘My body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park’. As a chef, I taste, I feed my clients who are not necessarily vegetarian or on detox. 

And I have Crohn desease, that means when your bowel is inflamed, you have to stop eating raw vegetables to put your belly at rest.  It is not my case at the moment as my belly leaves me in peace for a few years, but still…

So? You see ? I have enough excuses not to do it.
 Seriously my people, try to do it, and let me know the effects on your temple. I am just not strong enough to go through that for one month.  It’s like making a promise, knowing in advance that you won’t be able to keep.   

Lucky you and I, the recipe I wanted to share with you is allowed with any kind of diet : Whole30, vegetarian, vegan, paleo etc     

 

Japalenos stuffed with avocado : serves 4 for aperitif or with a nice mixed salad

Ingredients :

  • 6 jalapenos
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 of red onion
  • salt and pepper

 Method

Cut the jalapenos in half lenghtwise but without opening it completely (see pictures), remove seeds gently without, again, opening them entirely. Set aside, peel and mash the avocado like a guacaomle, add salt and pepper and the onion cut in very very little pieces. Mix onion and avocado and fill in the jalapenos with it. Put it in the oven for around 20 min till the jalapenos skin is soft and become nearly sweet. Oven at 200°C/392°F

 

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- One of the healthiest food on the planet

Endorsed by the hottest stars, packed with nutrients, source of protein and calcium (4 x more than milk) the chia seeds are one of the healthest food on the planet. 

Native of Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds are coming from a plant, categorized under the mint family, the name derived from the Aztecs Nahuatl chian that means oily, because also, chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated oil, and omega 3-fatty acid, antioxidants and are gluten free… yes chia seeds are the perfect super food, so perfect that Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle McPherson only swear by them. 

You are vegan ? No problem, chia seeds can replace eggs : 1 tbsp of ground chia seeds, 3 of water, is the equvalent of 1 egg, if you let it settle for 10min it formes a thick gel that has the consistency of an egg.

Football players include them in their diet as chia seeds is the preferred food of the Tarahumara Indians who are able to run hundreds of miles, barefoot, without resting or eating much. 

You understand that as a professionnal taster, I needed to make my own opinion

Chia seeds bowl : serves 4 or 1 person for 2 or 3 days as you can easily keep it refrigerated. 

  • 40g of oats
  • 3 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 200 ml of coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • 100g of frozen raspberries and/or strawberries
  • 1 kiwi

 

Soak the chia seeds with the coconut water overnight or at least for 3/4 hours (they can absorb water 27 times their dry mass). Check, if it’s too thick, add some more coconut water or water. 

Blend all the other ingredients together and add them to the chia seeds. It’s delicious and fullfilling for your soul and body. 

 

 

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- ‘Vancouverites brewer and baker, ‘The Black Kettle’ and ‘Gretchen’s -Here and now’

After trying to find, in vain,  the famous signature dish in Vancouver,  I went to ‘The Black Kettle’ brewery to drown my sorrow in alcohol.

It’s in North Vancouver, 45 min by bus from the center, great way to see a bit more of the city.  

Victor, my great host, gave me the whole lot to taste, 5 in total, at 2pm on en empty stomach it can be dangerous for me, so I asked if they spit like we do on wine tasting and he simply replied : ‘I don’t know but I don’t do it’. 

Not to be too demanding I didn’t ask for a bucket and like them.. didn’t spit…

I learnt a lot about hop and different aromas, alcohol helping, I met people at the counter, had a chat with Brian, the owner, who told me the story about the Black Kettle, growing small batches for local people, his family growing apples that he will use to make the ‘Snake Bite’ a brew to come soon, made of 60% cider and blond brew. 
Between the IPA (Indian Pale Ale), the Pale, Blond,  my favourite was the Tropic Thunder with pineapple hop.

 

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I left this friendly atmosphere, how can I say, a bit disheveled, and I  managed somehow to reach the cute bakery next door  that I spotted on my arrival :  ‘Gretchen’s -Here and now’. 

Gretchen is super friendly, she cooks organic sweet and savoury pasties, pies, cakes while telling me that she’s use to have people like me, starving after leaving ‘The Black Kettle’. 

Everything is organic, she doesn’t even provide the coffee cups for a take away, you have to bring your own, no waste. 

It smells good and it tastes good. 

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http://www.blackkettlebrewing.com/

http://hereandnowbaking.com/

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- Vancouver the bucolic

After spending 32 hours on a train, and surviving the  restaurant car food, I finally arrived in Vancouver in Canada. 

The trip was supposed to last ‘only’ 24 hours but we’ve been badly delayed because of a truck stopped on the track while its driver attempted to steal the railroad… lovely. 

Apart from this incident that occurred while we were sleeping anyway, it was a great journey. 

I really recommend to travel by train in the US. You need to have time but it worth it. It’s cheap, the landscapes are very beautiful and it’s far more comfortable than the plane (unless you travel 1st class which is not my case).  You have a lot of space and can lenghten your seat nearly completely. And you know what, they screen films and even organize wine tasting oui ! oui !

https://www.amtrak.com/

Vancouver, Canada, I feel the need to specify hoping that some of you are like me and ignored that there is also a Vancouver in the US, and not too far from Vancouver Canada by the way. 

So, Vancouver, Canada, urban and bucolic at the same time, situated on the north west of the corner of the British Colombia, stucks between forest and sea is the perfect spot to go green for a few days.

It’s also the most densely populated city in Canada, multicultural,  where 52% of the population have a first language other than English.   

I tried, in vain, to find a signature dish, an ingredient from here, a specialty… I heard and been introduced to the Poutine (not the same as the one we have in Nice), which is made of French fries , topped with grated cheese and gravy (eek!), and originated from Quebec. I  also found maple syrup and yes, Namaimo bars,  a non baked dessert. That’s all. 

Difficult to define the Canadian cuisine that’s why, on the food scene, you will find a lot of Asian fusion, a lot of sushi, some fish tacos which according to a guy I was talking to is the signature dish of the city (am I wrong or tacos are Mexican?) and of course, Italian.

Talking about Italy,  pass by ‘Ask for Luigi’ who makes his own fresh pasta, mixes polenta with anchovies… The real Italy for this cute restaurant. http://www.askforluigi.com/

On the fusion side, let’s go to Bao Bei in China town. Forget about your motto ‘I want to go green’ at least for one night as cocktails are killers and so is the food. This Chinese brasserie is making modern Chinese cuisine and do it very well. The ‘Shan tofu’ is just genius and God knows how much I find tofu so boring but definitely not this one. http://bao-bei.ca/

If it was hard to find a Vancouverite specialty,  for sure, it was easy to find beer and a lot of breweries. I have to dash, I have an appointment at the Black Kettle brewery for my next post 🙂

See you soon x 

 

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- Croquettes of the world

The whole world is making croquettes.

The croquettes, croquetas, aloo-tiki, korokke, crocchette, made with the same main ingredient, the potato, usually shaped in oval, round, cylindrical, then deep fried. The croquettes put everyone agrees., in Cuba, Russia, Japan, Ecuador, Ireland, India… 

Whatever the skin color is, regardless the religion, the country, food brings people together, as do the croquettes.

As you might guess, I made my own, with my pronounced taste for exotic cuisine, for sweet and savoury flavours, and my love for the sweet potato, it was obvious. 

 

Sweet potatoes and chili croquettes, serves 4
Ingredients :

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 or 2 hot chili according to your taste
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter

 

Method

Bring some water with salt to the boil, peel and cut in big chunck the sweet potatoes.  Plunge them in the water till tender.

While it’s boiling, chop the onion, the chili deseeded, the coriander. When the sweet potatoes are ready, let them to cool down. 

Prepare 1 bowl and 2 plates. Break the eggs into the bowl, add salt and pepper and whisk. Put some flour in 1 plate and the breadcrumbs in the other. 

Mix  the chopped ingredients with the potatoes mahsed with a bit of butter, take a handfull of potato and shape it the way you like, round, oval, more or less flat… I made mine cylindrical. Repeat the process till you used all the potatoes. 

Heat a frying pan with oil. 

One by one roll the croquettes first in flour, then in eggs and to finish in breadcrumbs and in the oil till they are golden brown, beautiful and crispy.  It’s warm, a bit spicy and a bit sweet at the same time, it’s beautiful. 

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- Antipasti Italiani : baked artichokes with herbs and almonds

Italian cuisine is one of my favourite…with the Mexican one, the Caribbean one and of course, the French one 🙂

Italian cuisine is all about the ingredients, their freshness, the origin (Italian are too vain to buy a non-Italian products, anyway). Italy is all about the respect of the season, the use of natural and beautiful ingredients and as a chef (and a human being) cooking Italian food is just to enhance the beauty of it. 

No sophistication needed, no fuss, just purity, beauty. 

Like very often, I need a regular dose of dolce vita in my life. 

From where I am at the moment on the globe, artichokes’ season has just began. For London and France it will be a bit later, June, so keep this recipe till then.  

As simple as that, anti pasti came to my mind. Artichokes and a glass of Barolo, the one I tried in London with my friends Stéphanie and Carlos (wine experts) at this Italian wine fair in a church. That same Barolo that smells strawberry jam. 

 

Baked artichokes with herbs and almonds, serves 4.

Ingredients :

  • 8 medium sized globe artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 handful of whole almonds, finely chopped
  • 2 handful of breadcrumbs
  • 1 handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of flat parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt, pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 glass of white wine

 

Method :

Bring some water and salt to the boil.
Trim 5cm below and above the base of the artichokes. Trim back your artichokes leaves one by one, clicking them off until you get to the lovely paler yellow and more tender leaves. Depends on the size of your artichokes cut them either in 4 or 6 pieces. Remove what we call the beard, those yellow hair in the heart of artichokes.  When the water is boiling, plunge the artichokes in it for 15 min. 

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

Toss the garlic, almonds, breadcrumbs and herbs into a bowl, season, and loosen with a little olive oil.
When the artichokes are blanched, draine and spread them on a baking tray.
Scrunch together with your hands and put this mixture on the top of each artichoke, really packing it in. You want to fit these perfectly side by side in an appropriately-sized baking dish. Cut the lemon and tuck some slices in between. Sprinkle any excess filling over the top, drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and pour in your wine.

Wet and scrunch some baking parchment under a tap, then tuck it over the artichokes and round the edges of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and cook them for a final 10 min.

To serve just like that with a glass of wine or with seafood or any white meat and of course, a glass of wine. 

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- Canelés s’il vous plait !

When I think about canelés, I think about the smell first.  Divine smell of vanilla, caramel… the kind of smell that brings you straight back to your childhood and when I was coming back from school, my mum always behind the stove, enchanted the kitchen with beautiful smells…

Canelés are those little cute things, brown and glossy, delicate and not too sweet, elegant, puffy, fluffy, soft in the middle with a crispy-caramelized crust. Not only the smell is divine. 

Those pretty things are originally from Bordeaux in the south west of France but are also made in different region. 

I met Caroline from Yvonne et Guite who makes canelés ‘the way it should be’ she humbly says. They are definitely the way it should be, delicious. 

Like a lot of food stories, it started 20 years ago in her family home’s kitchen where Caroline and her sister started to experiment using the cookbooks and recipes of their grandmothers, Yvonne and Guite.

She turned her passion into a business one year ago.

They come in two different sizes, the one bite or the two bites. Baked to order, I love them all.   

Events, birthday, wedding… The good news is that Yvonne et Guite deliver in all UK !

http://www.yvonneguite.com/

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Photos credit, Yolene Dabreteau

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- Olive oil and chocolate gâteau

I am in a sweet period which is not very often. 

I also felt the need to cook something and the laziness of not going further than my kitchen. 

So I made this chocolate and olive oil cake with almonds and pine nuts. Why olive oil ? Because I don’t have butter anymore.

You know what ? It’s delicious, a bit salty and olivy cake, not too sweet, not greasy. And it takes 10min to make which is perfect when you crave for sugar and feel lazy to go out to buy some stuff to indulge yourself with junk food or too lazy to make a very fancy cake.   

 

Olive oil and chocolate cake, serves 8

Ingredients :

  • 200g of plain dark chocolate
  • 125ml strong flavored olive oil
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp of ground almond or any kind of nuts
  • 5 large eggs separated
  • 1 pinch a flaked sea salt

 

Method :

Preheat the oven 180°C/356°F/Gas mark 5

Melt the chocolate broken in little pieces put in a heat proof bowl set on over a pan of simmering water.

When it’s completely melted,, pour in the oil, then 2 third of the sugar, whisk and remove from the heat. Add the sea salt, nuts and egg yolks. 
Whisk the whites (with electrical whisk it’s easier), when they incresed volume, add the rest of the sugar and carry on whisking till firm.
Using a large spoon, add the chocolate into the whites,  spoon by spoon and mix in between each spoon. Don’t whisk, just stir slowly in order not to loose the air in the whites (that’s what makes your cake fluffy).

Oil a baking tray (yes, still with olive oil), scrape the batter in the tray and put in the oven for 40min.

 

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- Filo pastry lasagna

It takes a lot of time and practise to make a filo (or phyllo) pastry. Clearly, mine is a ready-to-roll one. Who knows, one day I might go to central Asia or Greece and learn how to do it…. It’s actually on my bucket list. 

The practise is coming from the Ottoman empire. Made with flour, water and white winegar or oil, the most famous and oldest dish known to be made with filo is the Baklava. Here is my own and fast version of it : http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2015/04/baklavas-my-way/

For now, I bought 2 for my clients, made some rolls filled with butternut squash and sage. Because it was a party of 15 and I cooked for an army, I have some dough and filling left but I don’t want to roll right now. So, I made some lasagna kind of.

 

Filo pastry lasagna, serves 6.  
Ingredients :

  • 2  butternut squash
  • 200g of chestnuts
  • 400g of ricotta cheese
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 bunch of sage
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

 

Method :

Peel and remove the seeds of the butternut squashes.  Cook them in salted boiling water till it gets tender. 

While it’s cooking, peel and cut the onion finely, fry it slowly in olive oil. 

Chop the sage and mix it with the ricotta cheese, add salt and pepper.

When the squashes are ready, mash them, add the onion, the ricotta cheese and finally the chestnuts that you will cut with your fingers in big chunks.  Salt and pepper again. 

In a big baking tray, put first one or two filo sheet, then the mix, then the filo etc… to the top.  Brush the last sheet with a bit of olive oil to get a golden effect. 

Put in the oven at 200°c / gas 6 for around 30 min till the first sheet is crispy and golden.  

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- To make apples more exciting

I’ve always found apple a bit boring… I’ve tried different ways to eat them.

In winter I always have to push myself to eat fruit because apart from the usual banana, orange and pear, there’s nothing very exciting. 

I found a recipe called ‘March jam’.
The name doesn’t really matter as, as you know me,  I changed the recipe anyway, and instead of making a jam we are going to make a compote. Why a compote ? Because we can 🙂

A compote, just because, it’s gonna push me to eat more apple everyday and because I don’t have any jam jars where I’m staying now and want to avoid the hassle of buying and sterilized jars. (it’s not a hassle really, I am just finding excuses).


The exciting apples
, serves 2

  • 3 apples
  • half of a butternut squash
  • 200g of sugar
  • a pinch or 2 or cinnamon


Method
:

Peel the butternut squash and apples, cut them in little cubes, put them in a pot with the sugar and cinnamon. 

Let simmer for 1 hour and add a bit of water if needed.

Compote

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- Let’s be self-centered in 2016

My people, I wanted to wish you an incredibly good 2016 !!!

I wish you to have everything you wish !

I am planning to be very self-centered to avoid the usual January depression. Let’s love January, it’s time to look back on the past year but also to look after ourselves. Let’s take it that way. 

I am a bit dropped as I’ve just learnt about the veganuary… Without going crazy and go vegan the whole month (don’t forget I am French) I was planning to go very green for 2 weeks, start mid-jaunuary, that’s good, no ? Very green to me doesn’t mean to graze grass for 15 days. It means no more alcohol and a even-more-than-usually balanced diet. 

See ? Self-centered I told you, going alcohol free and maybe cigarette free (yes just maybe as the excesses were not on cigarette but on red wine) is the maximum I can do… still self-centered… Do you remember my detox experience last year ? Hard ! And it was one day only. Now I can say it, I slipped up and ate half a avocado, I needed to chew and it was only avocado !!!

So, this January I will not inflict myself anything like that, it’s hard enough to start a new year, make stock of your life and try to improve it all and hard enough to stop red wine for 2 weeks…

Till then, I’m making a ‘crème de marron’ or chestnut cream so popular in my country, to indulge myself and spread it on toast, on crêpe… with a hot chocolate.

 

Crème de marron, for 1 small jar

Ingredients :

  • 400g of chestnuts in a can or jar
  • 5 tbsp of double cream
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp of Cognac
  • Water


Method
:

Put everything without the Cognac in a saucepan with a bit of water and simmer for 10 min, blend without the vanilla pod, add the Cognac and more water if needed till obtain the right consistency. 

Happy New Year again and thank you to be here, always, reading me, as you are more and more numerous, so thank you. 

 

Crème de marrons

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- New Orleans Love

Once upon a tme.. A very long time, when I was a little girl… I was dreaming about going to Louisiana…

The Mississipi with those white boats,  the colonial houses, Lincoln,  the jazz and Tom Sawyer… 

Sooo many years later, I realized one of my dream…. It’s done, I made it !

So ?… Happy ?… Was it the way I expected ? What to say abut New Orleans ? 

That it’s the birth place of jazz, capital of cooking in the US, colorful houses….

Everybody knows that… But New Orleans is a lot more than that. 

Called ‘The Big Easy’ or ‘Nola’ for those who know her intimately,  New Orleans is above all,  a big mix. A cultural mix, American, Spanish, French, African… and those mixes make beautiful people. 

People are genuine and say hello when you pass them in the street, the food is a feast, messy, the kind of food that you eat with your fingers and makes you wanting some more. No fuss, just pleasure. 

I stayed at ‘Madame Isabelle’s house’ which is a charming hostel with the architectural characteristics of the New Orleans’ houses. The name made me think about …. yes,  a whorehouse… Actually there was a lot in New Orleans till 1917 in Storyville  (the red-light district), nowadays only a few remnants remains. 
I don’t really know what it was before and it’s not important, it’s old and pretty, from 1831, with a garden at the back, a rococo living room and this family atmosphere that  makes you feel at home. https://www.facebook.com/misabellenola/ 

New Orleans is also known for  its Mardi Gras and the ‘Southern Decadence festival’ on the first week-end of September.  

If you want to party hard, no need to wait for the festivals, they party 24/7, all year long,  some bars never close and it can be wild. 

Jazz is absolutely everywhere, in the streets, in shops… It’s like the soul of Louis Armstrong hangs above your head all the time.
The best bands I saw, perform on Jackson square and Bourbon street, no need to go in bars, spend money and get drunk to be transported. In New Orleans, heartbeats and goosebumps are free. 

I learnt more about their voodoo beliefs while there and on tour with a guide from ‘Le Monde Creole’ which I chose carefully according to their price and what they could offer. For 25 dollars i had a 3 hours tour with a fascinating lady who lives in New Orleans for 50 years.  Locked doors opened, we went through history about white, black people, free, enslaved, while walking on hidden courtyard.  http://www.mondecreole.com/

Go to the church on Sunday morning and cry when they sing, go to ‘Coops place’ on Sunday afternoon when they watch the game and eat at the counter some creole prawns, eat beignet full of icing sugar at the famous ‘Cafe du Monde’, try the gumbo, pô boy and drink a hot buttered rum, or a few… Difficult to get the recipe, but it’s something like a butter paste with spices (cinnamon, cloves, orange zests..) that they add to hot water, brown sugar and rum. It’s a delightfull delight.

History is long, complicated and heavy in Louisiana that’s probably why people are so happy. They dance, they eat and drink, but that’s what life is all about, no ? That’s why New Orelans and I get on so well.

 

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- Banana/Cashew ice-cream without machine

I know it’s not the season but… it depends on where you are my people… me being in San Francisco now and haven’t worn a coat yet, it’s still time for an ice-cream.  Also, I have friends and followers in Brazil for example, where they can eat ice-cream all year long. My London people, you can keep this recipe for next summer, it’s something you do and eat straight away.

No fuss, just three ingredients, no ice-cream maker is needed and it’s creamy, delicous, on the top of that it’s healthy. 

Banana cashew ice-cream, serves 2.

Ingredients :

  • 50g of cashew nuts
  • 1 banana sliced and frozen
  • 150ml of milk or almond milk


Method

In a blender mix the 3 ingredients together, you can add a few ice cubes. Et c’est tout, that’s it 🙂

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- Swan Oyster Depot

Everything is a question of doing it or not.

Waiting ‘to have time to do it’ or just do it, now.

So as always, I did, except that I was not emotionally ready ! And I had to to go to the Swan Oyster Depot as it was at the first place on my ‘things to do’ list.

It was as unexpected as it was great.

Crabs, oysters, salmon, sea orcin… You are going to queue at the door but it worth it !

It’s old (since 1912), old fashion and I loved it, nothing to do with those trendy, pretentious places where you pay for the decoration. Swan Oyster Depot is authentic, real. You pay for what you have, the freshest seafood ever, a divine cocktail sauce and a nice talk with your neighbor at the counter. 

Life should always be like that, like sharing lunch with your fishmonger, simple and delicious.

Swan Oyster Depot : 15-17 Polk Street 94109 San Francisco; CA

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- The Tonga room and Hurricane bar

Just the name is already so exotic…

I didn’t know that Mr Anthony Bourdain was such a star in the US… He is one of my hero and to me, he is not famous enough in Europe… Anyway, as everytime I travel somewhere I check his program and so I arrived in San Francisco with a list of things to do and restaurants to go ‘made in Anthony Bourdain’ amongst them : The Tonga room.

This tropical, cheesy and a bit surreal bar is really the place to see at least once and then you will have to go back a few times for their magical cocktails.

The Tonga room has been built around the swimming pool of the Fairmont hotel in the 40′.  Mel Melvin, the Metro Goldwin Mayer’s director had been hired to transform the pool of this so formal and elegant hotel in a rum and Hawaian shirts temple.

Killers cocktails to share and a band in the middle of the lagoon, bamboo and orange tribal walls will transport you to a remote island. 

I haven’t tried the food but you will travel, just with the cocktails.

http://www.tongaroom.com/

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- Sophisticated left overs for lazy

After a beautiful late lunch in Sausalito, having an orgy of crab, fish stew and meat, only one idea crossed my mind, crawl to my bed and have a nap…

I decided  that this evening I wouldn’t be able to cook much (because I didn’t have this nap) and because of the left overs we had in the fridge, I could possibly do something nice with little efforts.


Chicken and avocado pâté

Ingredients

  • 1/2 chicken breast
  • 1 avocado
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lime
  • Olive oil
  • Sand pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves


Method
:

In a bowl, crush the avocado and add all the ingredients except the chicken, mix well and add the chicken shredded.

You can also add some orange and/or orange juice that goes very well with avocado and chicken.

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I also made a sauce that I normally make with duck but it goes well with chicken too.  It’s a sauce my friend Cyril taught me many years ago when I was sneaking in the kitchen where he worked.

Cannot be more simple, you need grain mustard and honey.

I put 2 tsp of each in a sauce pan, leave it to simmer for a few minutes and that’s it, if you like it sweeter just add a bit a honey.

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And after that, I am gonna go to bed…. 

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- A coffee and a rant to start the week-end

So here I am…. stranded between the piano and the jukebox at ‘Caffe Trieste’ …. why between the jukebox and piano? Because that’s where I can plug my computer. Regulars apparently know where the sockets are, there are only two in the whole bar.  So the computerists/working-from-home people are clustered around. Now I know. 

The reason why there are only 2 sockets is because this bar in North Beach is nearly 60 years old and nothing has moved since then. The only thing that is new here is the food and the coffee sold by cup or by grain.  
Locals young and less young know the staff, come for their everyday brew, and to listen to the gossips, old fashion Italian music or even opera.  
At ‘Caffe Trieste’ they also have Saturday afternoon/evening concert when celebrities join the crowd, like Luciano Pavarotti and Bill Crosby…

I  love that kind of place, where the walls, the table and even the sockets tell a story, have a soul and I am so glad that such places have survived the Starbucks invasion but again it’s our job to boycott chains if we want to preserve cafes, locals shops etc who are the lifeblood of our neighborhood, in London,  San Francisco or anywhere else in the world ! Oups, sorry, I digress topic… But I can’t stress enough how important it is to care and not just say that ‘it’s a shame that local shops are disappearing’ blah blah blah… without doing nothing !  What we can do ? Boycott ! It’s our responsability, boycott is the only way so let’s try not to forget that, it’s no one else’s fault, it’s ours ! It’s not more expensive, the coffee and food are better (have you tried a Starbucks cookie for example? because I did and they don’t master in baking !) and you will help your area to preserve its soul, it’s just a question of walking sometimes one block more to avoid the  impersonal, ugly string of what they call cafés. 

We have the choice, we have to cherish that, not everybody has choices in the world, we do so let’s stop complaining without doing nothing !

Well after this little ‘coup de gueule’ I  let you to appreciate the venue, the vibe…

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 http://coffee.caffetrieste.com/

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- The ‘B-boy Festival’ and my French toast rolls

Live in from ‘Cafe Greco’ in North Beach, I wanted to share my recipe of my french toasts rolls.

‘Cafe Greco’ which is definitely an Italian cafe despite its name has different coffées (‘L’Americano’ but also ‘Il Greco’ and ‘L’Africano’), playing Italian songs, old fashion that some would find cheesy, but that makes me feel romantic (or even more romantic).
And VERY important, ‘Cafe Greco’ has a free wifi which is not the case everywhere.
In San-Francisco, this geek’s world, they don’t really think about tourists as they probably suppose that everybody is like them, having a world wide connection or I don’t know what…  but I don’t and I have no internet connection outside the house so finding a cafe where the waiter doesn’t look at you like you’re coming from another planet when you ask for a wifi is a luxe. 

I continue my journey, so happy to wear short in the middle of October when in London the heater is already at the maximum and I would have wear wool tights under my pants (no very sexy I know but that’s the case).

I spent my Sunday in the Mission district for the ‘Bboy festival’. Bboy but still very hippie, where you could execute some breakdance steps by the DJ’s booth, relax  in camping chairs and enjoy the vibe while eating some cakes made by the locals…. bboy1

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Hungry after getting lost again on my way back home, I felt like something sweet, sweet but not too much, soft and easy to make… like French toasts.

 

French toast roll-ups serves 1

Ingredients :

  • 2 slices of brown bread
  • Milk
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Berries, or any fresh fruits 


Method
:

Cut the crust of your bread and flatten it with a rolling pin (a glass will do) and you will be surprised how it can become so thin. 

I spread that strange thing that you can find here, cream cheese with strawberries (just want to specify that I didn’t buy that…)  ‘Normal’ cream cheese will be perfect or just butter. Add the fruits and roll tightly. 

Prepare in a soup bowl, the milk, sugar and the egg. Mix and roll in each roll-up  gently and put them sealed side down in a frying pan with butter.  Let it brown slowly on each sides and serve with whipping cream, or yogurt, ice-cream or just like that.
You can also add or replace nuts, desiccated coconut….

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I hope that you will enjoy the roll-ups while I am enjoying my Italian coffee with Eros Ramazzotti singing ‘totalmente in amore’….

 

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- Half moon bay, a lobster sandwich and a pumpkin field, followed by some red peppers stuffed with ricotta cheese

After the Filoli house in the south of San Francisco, we headed to the half moon bay to have a lobster brioche roll and coleslaw at ‘Sam’s chowder house’, insanely good with the amount of 3 or 4 whole lobsters in my sandwich and a coleslaw to die for.

And we finished the afternoon in a pumpkin field as Halloween is coming and it’s supposed to be big in SF.

Filoli House :
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Half moon bay
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Back home, not very hungry for once I just went for thoses peppers stuffed with ricotta, ham and sage.

 
Red peppers stuffed with ricotta cheese, serves 4 

Ingredients :

  • 4 red pepper, washed cut in half, seeds removed
  • 200g of ham
  • 400g of ricotta cheese
  • 10 leaves of sage
  • Salt and pepper

Method :

In a blender, mix the ham with the ricotta and sage, add salt and pepper. Put the stuffing in peppers and put in the oven at 200°/Gas mark 6 for around 45 min (till the peppers are soft).

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- The ‘Fleet Week’ and the marines, San Francisco #2

San Francisco, where everybody says ‘absolutely’ or ‘of course’ in reply to your ‘thank you very much’, where everybody has the greatest white teeth I’ve ever seen, where everything is so well packed and gluten free but more importantly  where everybody is very very friendly.

Peregrinations, cooking, getting lost are my everyday program. Meeting people too. 

I had the chance to be in town during the ‘Fleet Week’.
Since 1981, SF celebrates America’s sea services. Parade of ships, million of visitors, lots of roads closed in North Beach and Italian restaurants who put tables in the middle of the street, customers could eat while looking at the planes parading and twirl above their head. I ended up in a bar in the middle of the afternoon, an intitution in this Italian area, the bar packed with people drinking beer with the marines. 
So yes, ladies, they really come to town and celebrate, take pictures and share beers with the girls, and so I did too 🙂 

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And in between I went to the ‘Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival’ in the Golden Gate park. 

Massive park and very ‘peace and love’ festival…  Bluegrass is a subgenre of country music having its roots in Irish, Scottish and traditionnal English music. Flowers in girls’ hair, no alcohol, smell of marijuana and very happy people.

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 I’ll be back very soon with a recipe and probably a few pics of SF 😉 x

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- Life is full of surprises ! San Francisco #1

I have this great memory about London, when I arrived there on my own, 9 years ago and this amazing feeling of freedom I had.

It was in June and it was hot,  London was on heatwave alert (always the case when the thermotmeter rises above 25°C), but for me, it was perfect.
I had 2 massive luggages, heavier than me, a velvet trousers, pull over, socks and trainers just in case it would be very cold as everybody in the South warned me.
So my big surprise was those 27°C, all this green everywhere, people playing criket in Kew Bridge park (yes I had the chance to be in this beautiful area straight when I arrived, it helps, I know)… It was so lovely, and I had this feeling of complete freedom, it was soft and delicate, light, something still alive in me, still palpable when I think about it…. And I fell in love with London, it was love at first sight, the longest love affair I’ve had so far…

I thought I would feel the same when I landed to San Francisco a few days ago…. The sea, the sun, beautiful people running on the marina, those cute little colorful houses….

Well, not exactely…

Very jet lagged, welcomed by lovely people, well looked after,  still, I felt like I had been parachuted from the plane without being, I don’t know, prepared maybe ? Well, it was difficult to explain, I didn’t plan to go to the US so fast, I had the opportunity to go there whenever I wanted and the fate did the rest. Everything happened so quick, no more flat, no more boyfriend…. So I took the opporunity to go to San Francisco for a while. 
For 2 days, I wondered why people liked San Francisco so much, why we say it’s the French people’ US’ favourite city etc. Houses are definitely very cute, the cable buses or muni as they call it are very typical, like those toboggan streets but no excitment whatsoever, no sign of love.

2 days later, I kind of woke up, realized where I was and why, understood the meaning of it, accepted that everything happens for a reason and so, everything started to be easier and I began to like this city very much. 

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China town , the oldest in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia, where I had lunch for 6 dollars in a family style canteen where I shared my table with this pretty girl and her grandfather.

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‘Blue Bottle’ cafe, good coffee, alembics and new way to make your morning brew, the Italian’s way but more Californian, same system, different machine. A few in SF, also serve breakfast sandwiches, toast with butter,  poached eggs…

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I wanted to carry on and tell you about the ‘Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival’ and the ‘Fort Mason’ market but I am now off to the Napa Valley so I’ll be back soon. x

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- Grapefruit soufflés while preparing San Francisco

I was preparing a list on this sunny balcony in King’s Cross (yes, for those who missed the last few posts, I am not in Ladbroke Grove anymore, I mean, for the time being as it’s still MY area, but in King’s Cross after being obliged to leave my flat from one day to another) for me to prepare my trip in San Francisco. Like this, you can think that I am a very organized person and, at the same time, maybe I’ll manage to convinced myself that as I grow older, I tend to be a bit more predictable, correlated, standardized… well in one word, boring…

I was just pushing myself to make a list as my brain was kind of boiling. I am leaving for San Francisco in 2 days and in between I have to move out the stuff of my previous flat  (I am not there anymore but ALL my stuff are, still) go to the hospital, buy gifts for people I am meeting in SF, print my tickets, go to the Spanish film Festival and make those grapefruits soufflés.

My little voice told me to make a list, so let’s start by the latter of my ‘things to do’:


Grapefruits soufflés
, serves 4. 

Ingredients :

  • 4 big grapefruits
  • 90g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • A pinch of salt


Method
:

Take off one side of the grapefruits but not half/half, take off the 2 third of it. Empty it with a spoon (you can do it on the top of a salad bowl for example not to loose the juice). Put the flesh and the juice on a sieve and  press with a table spoon in order to collect all the juice of your fruits.
In this juice, spin out the flour and set aside.
Separate the eggs white to the  yolks, keep the 3 yolks but ony 2 whites.
In a pan, put the egg yolks , the sugar and the grapefruit juice and whisk it non stop on a medium heat till it thickens.
Take it off the heat and let it cool down.
30 min before serving preheat the oven at 210° / Gas 6, whisk the egg whites ferm with the salt and incorporate them to the cream, fill in the empty grapefruits shells, cook for 25 min and serve straight, hot and yummy with a Montbazillac.

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- Sake tasting and umami

I was invited to a sake and tapas tasting… What’s the heck was that ? Sake and sushis, sake and chocolate all right but sake and Spanish tapas ? 

I went to the restaurant ‘Toro Gordo’ in Hammersmith wondering why I accepted to go to mix a rice alcohol with tortilla while I could have stayed in Southbank with my friend and enjoy the end of this sunny day…

Greeted by my smily host and directed inside where numerous sake producers freshly arrived from Japan were waiting for us… with chorizo !

Mr Takeshi Nakamura who is the Chief executive of  ‘Japan UK’ kindly gave me a lesson about umami and why they married the sake with Spanish tapas on that day. 

Umami is our fifth basic taste (sweet, savoury, bitter, sour and umami). Umami is a loanword from the Japanese meaning ‘umai’ : delicous and ‘mi’ : taste.

We can taste umami through specialized receptors cells of glutamate present in humans and animals tongues. Glutamate is the salt of glutamic acid, the wow fact when our taste buds meet savoury food.

Described as a meaty/brothy taste, glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate nervous system, Basically, we produce it and our brain needs it to function properly.  

The glutamate acts as enhancer and lenghtener taste and is overly used in Chinese food (that’s where the ‘Chinese restaurant headache’ comes from) as its excessive consumption can be a pain neurotransmitter too. 

So why sake and tapas ? Simply because the sake enhance the umami wow fact. Meaning : sake can be paired with any kind of food. Spanish but also Indian, French etc… While a certain wine won’t pair with a certain type of food, when we have this tendency to drink white wine with fish and go to wine tasting to learn more about the ingredients story and origins and that’s why it goes so well with that kind of meat but very rare and only with a chili mayonaise and not mustard because mustard would spoilt the long lasting taste of blueberry of this fabulous red wine blah blah blah…, Japanese people don’t make such a fuss and enjoy their sake with absolutely everything. 

 It was a very nice experience with very nice people where I learnt about sake but not only. I tasted a Mikan wine for the first time and it was beautiful. From Hiroshima, the Mikan is a Japanese tangerine fermented, lovely light citrusy taste, very fresh and grassy aromas. 

kitatani-cc.com or contact Akimutsi Takata at ‘Japan at UK’ (as the website is in Japanese) 0044 (0) 203 642 6958

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- Back on track, I miss cooking…

This post has been started in  July, I was freshly arrived in this stunning region of Luberon, and between lunch and dinner, one day,  I had a bit of time to write as I wanted to share this exprience with you. 
But it was just the beginning when I only had 6 people to feed… Quickly they became 8 and then, 14. ..

Feeding 14 people everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner is not an easy one but it was fantastic at the same time. Having the chance to cook in this so beautiful house from 1700, surrounded by nature, olive trees, fig trees, boars, bats and scorpios made my days so happy (except when the scorpio was on the steps leading to my bedroom).

So yes, no time to write anymore.

But I keep a great memory of heat, sun, farmer market, smells, colors and a lot of cooking.

I am back to London for 3 weeks and since then,  I went trough a break up and find out that I had to move both on the same day.
Still, life is good,  I am back on track and I really miss cooking.

The programm is :  experimenting again and again, share my experiments with you guys, going to San Francisco in October and maybe in Jersey end of October, with France in between, why not ?

For now, I let you read the post started in the Luberon and I’ll speak to you very soon. x

 

I thought that it would be nice and fair for you if i would spend a bit of time writing after one month of a no post land. i didnt write for one month as i am in the south of France…. working.

After feeding a couple of Kasakhs on diet in Cap d Ail, 10 greedy New-Yorkers in Villefranche sur mer, i am now in the famous Luberon, very close to Gordes where i can enjoy the country side part of the south of France. It’s a real back to the roots.

No recipe today, i just wanted to let you know where i am, and share with you a few pictures of this wonderful region.

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- Abricots 4 façons : Tatin, compote, vinaigre et barres de céréales

Aller faire son marché à Londres ou tout du moins mon marché (Portobello raod) est juste pour le plaisir d’aller faire son marché. Juste pour dire fièrement que j’achète mes légumes et fruits sur le marché, évite les supermarchés, alors que pour certains, acheter sur le marché veut dire acheter plus sain. Eh bien… Malheureusement non. Si vous vérifiez les boites, la plupart des fruits viennent de Holland et Espagne. Je n’insisterai jamais assez, essayons de ne pas acheter de fruits qui viennent d’Espagne, s’il vous plait. Lisez, ou re-re-lisez mon post sur les fraises d’Espagne !

http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2013/03/why-we-must-not-buy-spanish-strawberries/

Regardons les choses en face, à moins que vous alliez dans un marché fermier (faites aussi attention à ça car souvent ils n’ont de fermier que le nom) à Brook Green ou Queens Park, ce sont ceux que je connais dans l’Ouest de Londres, les fruits et légumes sont la même me..e qu’en supermarchés. C’est juste un fait.

La même pour les abricots ! On est en plein dans la saison et la plupart du temps ils ont le goût de rien. Durs, secs et ennuyeux. Un abricot peut être tellement délicieux. Donc, ce que je fais, j’en achète un (pour ne pas me faire engueuler par le vendeur si je goute sans payer) je teste et en achète plus s’ils sont sucrés et murs.

Et j’en ai trouvé. Délicieusement délicieux, rose-orangé avec de petites taches de rousseurs, juteux et doux.

Pour célébrer, j’ai cuisiné ces abricots de 4 façons, j’ai donc fait des barres de céréales, saines, pas trop sucrées et complètement naturelles, une tarte tatin, appelée vulgairement une ‘tarte retournée’ par les jaloux qui ne veulent pas admettre qu’ils utilisent la recette Française. Une compote d’abricots et un vinaigre d’abricots.

C’était une première tentative pour la tarte Tatin et les barres de céréales et le vinaigre. Vous me connaissez, j’adore faire des expériences. Je suis votre cobaye, j’essaie tout avant et quand c’est sur et super bon, vous pouvez le faire, elle est pas belle la vie ? Juste pour le vinaigre, vous devrez attendre car la maturation est supposée prendre au moins un mois. On verra le résultat dans un mois, vous en entendrez parler… ou pas.

Barres de céréales avec abricots frais, pour environ 10 barres

Ingrédients :

  • 5 cuil à café d’huile (celle que vous voulez, j’ai choisi de l’huile de sésame que j’avais)
  • 5 cuil à soupe de miel liquide (ou glucose ou sirop d’hérable)
  • 1 œuf
  • 2 grand mugs de céréales de votre choix et/ou des graines, des fruits (j’ai mis environ 1 mug et demi d’avoine, un peu de pistaches qu’il me restait, des graines de tournesol, et de la noix de coco séchée)
  • 5 abricots frais

Dans un bol, battre l’œuf, ajouter l’huile, le miel et y verser votre mix de céréales.

Mélanger avec les mains, ça colle, c’est normal. Si c’est trop sec, rajouter du miel, si c’est trop mouillé, rajouter des céréales, mais la pâte doit être assez mouillée.

Mettre le mix dans un moule à tarte ou à gratin recouvert de papier sulfurisé et bien tasser avec une fourhcette.

Mettre au four pendant 15min, four à 210°/Gaz 7.

Couper les barres pendant que c’est encore chaud et à conserver dans une boite métallique jusqu’à 1 mois.

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Tarte Tatin abricots et lavande, pour 4 pers;

Pour la pâte brisée 3min

  • 300g de farine
  • 150g de beurre pommade
  • ½ cuil à café de sel
  • 3 cuil à soupe de sucre (si vous voulez une pâte sucrée)
  • 8cl d’eau ou de lait tiède

Dans ce cas là j’ai utilisé de l’eau et n’ai pas mis de sucre car mes abricots était déjà très sucrés

Mélanger la farine et le sel dans un bol, ajouter le beurre (il faut qu’il soit pommade, pas fondu, vous devriez donc le sortir de votre frigo au moins une heure avant) et pétrir pendant quelques minutes, vous devriez obtenir un genre de semoule à gros grains en 2/3 min.

Ajouter l’eau rapidement et petrir encore pour obtenir une pâte.

Pour les abricots et lavande

  • 10 petits abricots
  • 20g de beurre
  • 50g de sucre
  • 1 pincée de fleurs de lavande

Comme les abricots font pas mal d’eau, c’est mieux de les faire cuire et les caraméliser avant pour éviter que votre pâte ne soit mouillée.

Mettre le beurre et le sucre dans une poêle et ajouter les abricots, lavés et coupés en deux pendant environ 10min (jusqu’à ce que l’eau disparaisse et que le sucre devienne caramel). Disposer les abricots serrés dans un petit moule ou plat à gratin et recouvrir avec le caramel restant.

Etaler votre pâte et la poser au dessus de vos abricots, couper les bords et les rentrer à l’intérieur du moule de façon à fermer hermétiquement la tarte.

Mettre au four pendant 30min à 180°/Gaz 6, laisser refroidir un peu, démouler et parsemer de fleurs de lavande..

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Pour la compote c’est une autre histoire. Pour être honnête, je voulais faire une confiture. Beaucoup disent que pour faire une confiture, il faut mettre moitié fruits moitié sucre. Je ne fais jamais ça, c’est trop sucré pour moi. En revanche, je mets un quart de sucre. Ce que j’ai fait pour mes abricots mais vu qu’ils étaient très juteux, c’est maintenant plus une compote, ça tient sur un toast mais selon les fruits, la confiture fini plus ou moins liquide

J’avais 800g d’abricots (sans les noyaux) que j’ai lavé et coupé en gros morceaux, mis dans une casserole avec 400g de sucre et laissé mijoter jusqu’à ce que les abricots donnent du jus. Ne les laissez pas pendant trop longtemps, comme ça, ils garderont mieux leurs vitamines et c’est tellement délicieux.

Pour l’expérience du vinaigre :

  • 400ml de vinaigre de vin blanc
  • 4 abricots

Dans un bocal mettre le vinaigre et les abricots lavés et coupés en deux sans les noyaux. Laissez les pendant au moins un mois.

Et dites-moi le résultat. On pourra alors comparer le votre et le mien 😉

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- Apricots 4 ways : Tatin, compote, vinegar and cereal bars

Going to the market in London or at least to my market (Portobello road) is just for the sake of it. Just to say proudly that I buy my vegetables and fruits on the market and avoid supermarkets, while for some, buying on the market means buying healthier. Well… Unfortunately it’s not. If you check the boxes most veg are coming from Holland and Spain. I will not stress enough, let’s try not to buy fruits coming from Spain, please. Just read, or re-re-read my post about the Spanish strawberries ! 

http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2013/03/why-we-must-not-buy-spanish-strawberries/

Let’s face it, unless you are going to a farmer market (be careful as sometimes the market has ‘farmer’ just the name) in Brook Green or Queens Park, that’s the ones I know in West London, fruit and veg are same sh.t as in supermarkets. That’s just a fact.

And so are the apricots ! We are in the full apricot season and most of the time they taste nothing. Hard, dry and boring. An apricot can be so delicious. So, what I do, I buy one (not to be told off by the trader if I try one without paying) taste it and buy some more only if they are sweet and ripe.

Here we are, I found some. Deliciously, utterly pinky-orange with little frickles, juicy and soft.

To celebrate, I tried apricots four ways, I made cereal bars, healthy and not too sweet and completely natural, a tarte tatin, vulgarly called ‘upside down tart’ by the jealous people who don’t want to admit that they copy the French recipe. An apricot compote and an apricot vinegar.

It was a first attempt for the tarte tatin and cereal bars and the vinegar. You know me, I love to experiment. I am your guinea pig, try everything before and when it’s safe and very nice, you can do it, elle est pas belle la vie ? Just for the vinegar, you will have to wait as the maturation is supposed to last for one month at least. Let’s see the result in one month, you will hear about it… or not.

 Cereals bars with fresh apricots , for around 10 bars,

Ingredients :

  • 5 tsp of oil (the one you want, I chose sesame seeds oil)
  • 5 tbsp of runny honey (or glucose or maple syrup)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 big mugs of cereals of your choice and/or grains, seeds, fruits (I put around one mug and a half of oat, a bit of pistachios I had left, sunflower seeds and desiccated coconut)
  • 5 fresh apricots


Method

In a bowl, whisk the egg, add the oil, honey and drop the mix of cereals/fruits etc

Mix it with your hands, it’s sticky and it’s normal, if it’s too dry add a bit more honey as the ‘dough’ has to be quiet wet. If it’s too wet, add some cereals.

Put the mix on a baking tray covered with baking parchment, tamp well with a fork.

Put it in the oven for 15min at 210°C/Gas mark 7.

Cut the bars while it’s still hot and preserve them in a metallic box for up to one month.

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Apricot and lavender tarte tatin
, for 4 people

For the 3 min homemade shortcrust pastry

Ingredients :

  • 300g of flour
  • 150g of butter pommade
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of sugar (if you want a sweet pastry)
  • 8cl of water or warm milk

In that case I used water instead of milk and didn’t put any sugar in my dough as my apricots were very sweet.

Method :

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, add the butter (it has to be pommade, not melted, so you should take your butter out of the fridge at least one hour in advance) and knead for a few minutes, you should obtain a kind of big grain semolina in 2/3 min

Add the water quickly and knead to have a dough.

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For the apricot and lavender

  • 10 small apricots
  • 20g of butter
  • 50g of sugar
  • 1 pinch of lavender flower

 
Method :

As the apricots make a lot of water, it’s better to cook them and caramelise them before, not to have your pastry waterlogged.

Put the butter and sugar in a pan and add your apricots, washed and cut in half for around 10min (till the water from apricots disappear and the sugar start to become caramel. Dispose your apricot tightly in a baking tray and cover them with the caramel.

Spread you shortcrust pastry and put it on the top of your baking tray, cut the edges and slide them to the inside to close the tart in an hermetical way.  Put in the oven for 30min at 180°C/Gas 6, let it cool down, unmold and sprinkle with a bit of lavender flowers.

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For the compote, it’s another story. To be honest with you I wanted to make a jam. A lot say that to make a jam you have to put half fruit half sugar. I never do that as it’s too sweet. Instead I do a quarter of sugar which I did for my apricot but because they made quite a lot of juice, it is now more like a compote, it stays still on a toast but it depends on the fruits the jam ends up more or less liquid.

I had 800g of apricots (without the stones) that I washed and cut in big chunk, put them in a saucepan with 400g of sugar and let it simmer until the apricots give their juice. Don’t let them for too long, like that they will keep the most of their vitamins and it tastes sooo good.

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For the vinegar experiment :

Ingredients :

  • 400ml of white wine vinegar
  • 4 apricots

Method :

In a jar put the vinegar and the apricots washed and cut in half without the stone. Leave them for at least one month.

And let me know if you like the result. We can then compare yours and mine 😉 

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- Cucumber pickles

Cucumber’s season is at its peak, on those first days of July we have to think about preparing…winter..

Depressing I know but now that we have those beauties on the market stalls we have to think about preserving, freezing… etc.. to extend summer. Are you feeling better now ? Well, I do. I can definitely imagine myself next November having aperitif with my friends eating some of my pickles with a glass of bellini for example.

Pickling began 4000 years ago by using cucumbers. It was a way to preserve perishable food (vegetables but also beef and pork) that became a delicacy as people enjoyed the resulting taste.

The whole world is pickling, most of the time vegetables called in different names.

Let’s prepare ours.

Cucumber pickles

Ingredients :

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 tbsp of coarse salt
  • Jars, 1 of 500ml or a few small
  • 300ml cider vinegar
  • 300ml of water
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • ½ tsp of fennel seeds
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 star anis
  • 6 dill sprigs

Method :

Wash the cucumbers and slice them in 1cm-wide pieces and sprinkle with the coarse salt and leave it in the fridge for at least one hour.

Wash your jars and sterilize them, 2 ways : bring some water to the boil and take off the lid and rubber if there is one and plunge everything in the boiling water for a least half an hour. The other way is to wash your jars with soapy water, dry them and put them in the over for half an hour at 140°/Gas mark 1. The lid and rubber will have to be boiled.

While you are sterilizing your jars, prepare the hot pickle.

Put all the ingredients together in a pan (except the dill) and boil until the sugar has dissolved.

Rinse the cucumber slices and pack them into your jars with the dill. Cover with the hot pickle. Tap the jar to remove any air bubbles and close the jar while still hot.

Put it in the fridge for at least one week before opening, or do like me, open it the following day, just to taste, and put it back in the fridge. The longest it stays in vinegar, the softest the cucumber will be.

For an even more colorful touch, you can add some lemon slices.

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- Causa croquettes

I have been invited recently to taste some cold water prawns….

I couldn’t attend the tasting but since then I read a lot about prawns and the famous cold water ones.

They live in a natural cold water habitat like Norway, Greenland, Canada…They are initially all males and become females after 3 years. They are caught in clean, deep water and those species supply only about 15% of the world market for prawns, the rest are tropical prawns, farmed and not fed the way it should be.

For the majority of the water prawns stock, the assessment indicates the harvest is on a sustainable basis. There are something like 8 different species, some might be at risk soon but legal fisheries remain and is still open with reduces catches.

I heard about the causa croquettes, (first time, never heard before).

I am a croquette fan so I checked, it sounded very South American to me as per its ingredients : prawns, potatoes, lime, red onion…

It is actually from Peru, as always I am in need of travel, these croquetas transported me. It’s made with prawns and crab meat which I don’t really like from a tin. A crab should be eaten fresh, should have its shell broken with a small hammer and its flesh sucked up while wearing my napkin around my neck. For me, crab in a tin doesn’t really worth the price, so I put sardines instead, tasty, cheap and from sustainable fishing.

Causa croquettes, for around 15 croquettes :

Ingredients :

  • 750g of potatoes
  • Butter
  • 1 red onion
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 200g of small cooked cold water prawns
  • 100g of sardines from a tin
  • 100g of flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 100g of breadcrumbs
  • 500ml of vegetable oil

Avocado dressing

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • Extra virgin olive oil

 

Method :

1. Boil the peeled potatoes in salted water till they are tender. Then mash with a big knob of butter, season well.

2. For the avocado dressing, make a guacamole by mashing the avocados, grate in the red onion and cut the tomato without the pips very finely, add the juice of the limes, chop the coriander and add it to the mix with a lot of olive oil. Put some salt and leave it aside.

3. For the prawns and sardines, cut them very finely, toss together the red onion and the juice of the lime and mix it with the fishes. Leave behind the excess juice if there is.

4. Line up 3 bowls : 1 with the 2 eggs beaten, 1 with the flour and 1 with the breadcrumbs.

5. Place a scoop of mash potato in your hand and roll it into a ball (roughly 4cm in diameter). Press a hole in the middle with your thumb and spoon in some prawns and sardines mixture. Don’t be shy and put quiet a lot, close the hole gently to conceal the filling. Repeat the operation until you’ve used all your mash. (if you have a bit of filling left like me, you can use it in a salad).

6. Pour the vegetable oil in a large pan on medium heat until the oil is very hot then put the heat a bit down. Roll each croquette on flour, then eggs and to finish breadcrumbs. Plunge gently the croquettes into the oil till they get golden. If you don’t want to deep fry the croquettes and not use that much oil, just put around 2 cm oil in your pan and you can turn them slowly when one side is golden.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did and be transported to Peru for a little while 🙂 

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- Strawberry and pine nuts mix, Morrocan style

As a chef, I always travel in order to discover food, ingredients, recipes…

I had cooking lesson in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, made Feijoada in Maceo, Brazil, learnt how to make a tajine in a tent in the Moroccan desert a few years ago with 3 berbers, one making tea and playing drums, the other one rolling joints and the third one with me in the kitchen (meaning : in the corner of the tent) on the floor showing me how to make tajine at its simplest, Zagora style.

This time again it’s Moroccan, what I ate in Tangier, 2 weeks ago. It was at ‘Saveurs de poissons’, the dessert, a mix of strawberries, raspberries, honey, pine nuts and walnuts. Again, like its menu, it’s fresh, simple, efficient and delicious, the strawberries are in season so let’s go !

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- Tangier trip and food

Tangier, crossroad between Spain and Morocco.

In the 50’, Tangier was the interzone were nothing was forbidden. Prior to independence, Tangier was administered by several European countries, without any rigid law. Homosexuals came to Tangier where it was more relaxed and Westerners could indulge themselves in cannabis and young males in need of money. Tangier was called ‘the city of sin’. People with a past, those who wanted to change life or escape from it, artists wanting to live an affordable life in an exotic place and also Matisse and Paul Bowles who lived in Tangier for 50 years.

Like Barnaby Rogerson (author of several historical novels, travel books in North Africa) said : ‘Morocco has always been a nation where tolerance is practiced but not preached’

Still, Tangier is very Moroccan, rough, beautiful and a bit brutal.

I managed to do and to eat everything I wanted. Long days and very short nights helped to get the great feeling that I stayed 10 days at least when it was only 2.

Get lost is always the best way, narrow colorful street in the medina, smells, good and bad, a mix of seared meat, urine and sewage. Shanty called ‘Andalus’, Spanish influences and tortillas, tajine, a lot of fish, pastillas and nuts… The sweetest sweets I have ever had, made with honey, honey and honey, where the trader said to me : ‘Stay with me one week and you’ll get fat’, well… Thank you, I’ll think about it.

People who follow you in the street, want to sell you something, give you information without you asked for it or ‘provide’ you a boy for the week-end or a kiss as a souvenir (souvenir for him or for me?). But they are nice, they don’t bite, I guess they are in need of a bit of exoticism too.

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Artist, expat or just tourist, whoever you are, soon or later, you will end up at Café Tingis, in le Petit Soco. Historical café that already existed in the Roman time, in the Portuguese time. Sitting down at the terrace drinking ‘thé à la menthe’ is the local sport… Oh no, they play Pakshee too, a lot, while freely smoking weed.

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For lunch let’s go to ‘Saveurs de poissons’, recommended by a foodie friend. No menu, just the fishes of the day, 4 courses with nuts, harissa, a juice of fresh strawberry, raisin and fig, Moroccan style, delicious delish, simple, fresh and efficient for 200 dirham (a bit less than 20 euros).

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Café Baba to follow, is heavy… Heavy heat, heavy smell of weed. The Rolling Stones sipped their tea while passing by Tangier but who cares? Since 1943 café Baba is an institution that I wanted to try. Girls smoking hashish, playing Pakshee again, boys trying to fix the tv on the wall as the football match was about to start, and me, reading’The Sheltering sky’ with a thé à la menthe, happy.

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Tangier was a bit emotional for me, as my dad was born there and the coincidence was that I was there on the day of his birthday. I looked for the church ‘El Corazon de Jesus’ where he did his first communion and never found it but there was that nice and sweet atmosphere, the ocean, the white heavy sky and the time that seems to pass horizontally.

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- Moong beans, purple artichokes and broad beans salad

It was when I decided to behave, just before a week-end which was supposed to be wild. Before my trip to Tangier I wanted to go green, at least for a day.

I bought those moong beans (or mung beans) a while ago and hadn’t tried it till now. My friend Kim who took me for this Indian gallivanting in London (visiting an Hindi temple and food shopping) told me about those beans, how to cook and eat them.

Native of the Indian subcontinent, it’s cultivated today in India and China, and used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Multiple ways of using it : germinated (bean sprouts), as salad, stew, starch to make transparent noodles, as pancakes, falafel kind of…

Packed with vitamins and carbohydrates, it’s delicious and a bit sweeter than lentils. Broad beans are in season now and if you cannot find those little beauties of purple artichokes that we eat raw in Italy and South of France, you can still buy artichokes in a tin, that will do.

Moong beans, purple artichokes and broad beans salad, serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 250g of moong beans
  • 4 little purple artichokes raw
  • 200g of broad beans
  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper

Method :

Rince the moong beans, boil them in salted water till they are soft (around 30min)

While it’s boiling, take the broad beans off the pod, for the artichokes, take off the first leaves leaving the most tender part still attached to the heart, cut the leaves to 2 thirds and then cut the heart in half and remove the beard.

When the moong beans are cooked, rince them with cold water to cool them and mix them with all the ingredients.

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- Clafoutis mango-coco

Voilà, voilà…. Here we are… The cherry season has just started… But not in UK yet.

Clafoutis is one of my favourite cake, while I am waiting for the cherries to be fully in season, bordeaux, chubby and juicy to make a classical French clafoutis, I made an exotic one with mango and coconut milk.

I am back from Prague and so ashamed that I didn’t find the inspiration to write about Czech food. Every city, every country has something to tell, a story behind a dish, a speciality, even if it’s more known for its classical music composers than its food, I am sure that they have good stuff, I just didn’t really find them… But don’t get me wrong, I loved my trip to Prague,

I am going to Tangier next week-end so there will be a post special Morocco soon, an exotic one after being at Café Baba, eating pastillas with a ‘thé à la menthe’, I can’t wait !!

A bit more of exoticism for now. Again it takes 5 min to do, it’s the kind of cake that can transport you to Caribbean straight after the first bite and it’s the perfect feast for lactose intolerant like me.

It’s my cherry clafoutis recipe but with mango and coconut milk.


Clafoutis mango-coco
, serves 6

Ingredients :

  • 300g of fresh mango (2 big mangoes)
  • 40g butter (+5g for the baking tin)
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g flour
  • 250ml of coconut milk

Method :

In a big bowl mix the eggs with sugar. Add the butter melted, the flour and coconut milk.

Butter a baking tin, put your mangoes cut in little cubes and pour in the preparation, you can also add desiccated coconut if you have some.

Preheat your oven at 180° and cook for 40min till your kitchen smells like paradise.

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- Avocado tarts

Because normal people are on a long bank holiday week-end, doesn’t mean that others like me, the abnormal,are.

It doesn’t matter, I will have my revenge as I will be off when you will be at the office.

So while you are gallivanting in London, France or somewhere else in the world I made this sumptuous and so easy avocado tartlets.

It can sound a bit weird for European but in Thailand they do eat avocado with sugar.

In Philippines, avocado is offered as an ice cream flavor. In Indonesia, the dessert/juice ‘Alpukat’ is a popular dessert combined with condensed milk and chocolate, and in Ethiopia ‘Spris’, layers papayas, avocados and mango puree. That make me think that this ‘Spris’ will be on my blog very soon as it combines 3 of my favourite fruits. So watch out my people, exoticism is coming.

So, European people, let’s forget about the avocado prawns salad, as delicious as it is with a cocktail sauce, and let’s go for sweet and international.

I don’t know where this recipe is coming from, I adapted it a bit anyway, it takes 5 min and it tastes gorgeous.

For a big tart or 6 small (20cm of diameter) you will need

Ingredients :

  • 2 big ripe avocados
  • 200g of digestive biscuit (for gluten free you can use gluten fruit dry biscuits)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 50ml of agave sugar
  • 50g of unsalted butter

Method :

Mash the avocados well to obtain a smooth purée, add the agave syrup in it.

Crush the biscuits while melting the butter in a pan.

When the biscuits are powder and the butter liquid mix them together and put the mixture in your tart mould. Press it with a fork to get a compact base, add the lime zest in the avocado cream and drop it on the top of you base. C’est tout ! Put your tart in the freezer for at least 3 hours and take it out 30min before serving for the biscuit not to be too hard.

It’s the perfect healthy summer dessert that will whaou your guests and you stomach.

 

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- Asparagus and filo tartlets

Let’s face it, I live in London and Spring is acting like a diva again, it’s not here as yet and will come whenever it will be ready.

For now we have to be happy as it’s asparagus season. Little green beauties, British and healthy.

Known in Egypt 3000BC but also in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter.

Low in calories and sodium. Vitamine B, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and is a very good diuretic.. Protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K… the list is very long so let’s do it. The season lasts only 2 to 3 months.

As I am in a ‘filo’ mood for a few weeks I tried those tartlets, it takes 5 min , it’s delicious, it’s perfect now and will also be in the garden when Madam Spring will deign coming out.

Asparagus and filo tartlets (for 6 tartlets of 6/7cm diameter)

Ingredients:

  • 3 sheets of filo pastry
  • 6 aspargus quickly boiled in salted water
  • 300g of plain Yogurt
  • Salt and pepper

Method :

Take the 3 sheets of filo and cut them in half widthwise. Fold each piece in 4 and put them in their mould. Drop the yogurt in each tartlet, put salt and pepper and add the asparagus cut in a few sections on the top. If you want to be a bit naughty you can drop a few pieces of cheese on the top (any kind of nice cheese will do).

Put your tartlet in a pre-heated oven at 200°/Gas 6 for half an hour. Leave them to cool down a little bit before unmolding them.

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- Baklavas my way

Last Saturday, I went to the Borough market in London. I hadn’t been for a while and I stopped to a middle-east restaurant, Arabica, where I wouldn’t go if I were you. So disappointing. I had to resend the uncooked chicken, the waiter explained that it’s because they are corn-fed that we can eat it their chicken pink. I just know that eating a not well done chicken can be dangerous, that, I know. The rice was very nice still, with cardamom, crispy onions…. On the top of that it was expensive for what it was.

Very frustrated as I love that kind of food and was looking forward to eat my chicken skewers with spices, Turkish sweets, tea with rose petals etc so I decided to make my own baklavas.

Baklavas, serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 1 pack of filo pastry
  • 100ml of water
  • 200g of sugar
  • 150g of butter
  • 1 tbsp of rose water
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 50g of pistachio
  • 50g of peanuts

Method :

Put the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil till the syrup gets thicker, put the heat down and add the rose water and lemon, bring it back to the boil and set it aside.

Put the butter in cubes in a pan and melt it.

Unfold the filo pastry, with a brush, smear the first one with butter, be generous.

Roll it from one corner to form a long tube. Then shape it as a snail.

Repeat this operation for the whole pack of filo pastry.

Put them in a pre-heated oven at 200°/Gas 5 for 20/25 min till they are golden and a beautiful smell comes out of the oven.

Crush the pistachio and peanuts.

When they are ready, pour the syrup on them while they are still warm, add the crushed peanuts and pistachios and on the top, the rest of syrup which will help to stick the nuts on each snail.

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- Courgettes with vanilla

They are everywhere on market stalls… The green vegetables.

Courgettes, asparagus, cabbage, cress, spring onion, spinach…

Young and tender vegetables, with or without cooking.

There is this Italian atmosphere in London in April, everybody smiles, the sun is out, the temperature is higher…We just need good quality and simple food with a lot of olive oil and a glass of Barolo to live the dolce vita.

Here is another way to eat courgette, with vanilla and lemon.

 

Courgettes and vanilla, serves 4

Ingredients :

  • 4 courgettes
  • 8 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • The juice of half lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Method

In a baking tray put the olive oil, open the vanilla pod lengthwise and scratch the little black grain inside with a knife and put the grains in the oil.

Wash and cut the courgettes in sections of 4/5 cm and place them in the baking tray. Imbibe the courgettes with oil and vanilla. Add the open vanilla pod for more flavor and add the seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour the juice of lemon, cover with foil and put in the oven for 30min at 180°/Gas 4.

The courgettes have to be crunchy, season again if needed, you can also add some red onion and enjoy.

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- Afternoon tea with Alice

After weeks of negotiaton and organization with my girlfriends, I finally saved the date to go and celebrate Alice’s 150’ birthday.

Alice in wonderland is my big, very close friend. My manager used to call me Alice saying that I follow rabbit in the hole too often and my sister always tells me that I live in my own world.

I like that, why wouldn’t I create my own world in my head when the real one is not colorful enough, sometimes hard to bear?

Sauderson hotel, Monday lunch.

So happy as it was my very first real afternoon tea since I have been in London.

Cakes and drinks, plates and tea cups are made to illustrate the famous mad hatters non-birthday celebration.

Outside in the heated garden, the traditional savoury and sweet afternoon tea was served.

The crowd ? Girls only and a few lost men in the wonderful magical Alice’s world.

It was sweet, very sweet, a bit too sweet for me as my taste buds prefer savoury. But it was nice.

Top-up are allowed but you won’t need it as after the little colorful sandwiches and the creamy cakes and edible teacups made with dark chocolate to go with liters of tea, all you will need is a nap under a tree before waking up to run after the white rabbit.

 

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Everyone wants some magical solution to their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic’ The Mad Hatter

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- Gâteau à la polenta

On peut le dire, le Printemps est là ! On ne met plus le chauffage, les fenêtres restent ouvertes, le soleil entre et brille sur ma table où je prends mon petit-déjeuner… Le Printemps c’est ça aussi, ces petites choses de la vie de tous les jours qui nous font sourire et apprécier ce que l’on a.

Avant les fraises dans mon jardin et une pile de tartes d’été faites de fruits frais dans ma cuisine, j’ai fait ce gâteau à la polenta avec de l’eau de rose dont je ne pouvais pas ne pas vous parler…

C’est une copie de gâteau à la polenta dans mon post du 5 Juin 2013, mais un peu moins sophistiqué, plus rapide et sans le glaçage.

 

Ingrédients :

  • 220g de beurre à température ambiante
  • 220g de sucre
  • 150g d’amandes sans leur peau (j’ai utilisé des cacahuètes à la place)
  • 125g de poudre d’amande
  • 3 œufs
  • 150g de polenta
  • 1 cuil à café de levure chimique
  • Le zeste et jus d’une orange
  • 12 cosses de cardamome

 

Pour le sirop :

  • Le jus d’un citron
  • 5 cuil à soupe de miel
  • 5 cosses de cardamome
  • 1 cuil à soupe d’eau de rose

 

Préchauffer le four à 180°/Gaz 4

Battre les œufs et le sucre jusqu’à un mélange léger. Mixer les amandes (ou les cacahuètes dans ce cas-là) jusqu’à obtenir une poudre grossière, y ajouter la poudre d’amande et les verser dans le mélange oeufs/sucre.

Battre les œufs avec une fourchette et les mettre dans la mixture. Dans un autre bol, mélanger la polenta avec la levure et les mélanger dans le mix avec le jus et zestes de l’orange.

Ecraser les cosses de cardamomes et récupérer les petites graines noires, les écraser finement et les ajouter à la préparation.

Verser le mélange dans un moule à cake beurré ou dans plusieurs petits et égaliser le dessus.

Cuire pendant 30min et baisser la chaleur du four à 160°/Gaz 3 pour encore 20/25min. Le gâteau doit être ferme sur le dessus et si vous le piquez avec un couteau, il doit en ressortir propre.

 Faire le sirop : Presser le citron et le faire bouillir dans une casserole, ajouter le miel et les grains de 5 cosses de cardamoms un peu écrasées. Le garder à ébullition jusqu’à former un sirop (environ 5min). Enlever du feu, verser l’eau de rose et le laisser un peu refroidir. Faire des petites trous dans le gâteau, toujours tiède et dans son moule, avec une fourchette ou une brochette et ensuite y verser le sirop tiède avec une cuillère à soupe.

Laisser le gâteau refroidir et l’enlever du moule.

A servir avec du yogurt Grec ou de la crème fraiche.

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- Polenta cake

We can tell now that Spring is here ! We don’t put the heating on anymore, the windows stay open, the sun come through and shine on my table where I have breakfast. Spring is also that, little things of everyday life that make us smile and be thankful for what we have.

Before strawberries in my garden and piles of summary tarts made with fresh fruits in my kitchen, I baked this polenta cake that I couldn’t not to tell you about…

It’s a copy of my polenta cake with rose water of the 5th of June 2013, but a bit less sophisticated, quicker and without the icing.

Ingredients :

  • 220g of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 220g urefined caster suger
  • 150g of almonds with no skin (I put peanuts instead)
  • 125g of ground almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g of polenta
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 12 green cardamom pods

 

For the syrup :

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 tbsp of honey
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp of rosewater

 

Method :

Preheat the oven at 180°/Gas 4

Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer till light and fluffy. Blitz the almonds (or peanuts in that case) till they become very finely chopped, almost like powder, then add with the ground almonds in the butter/sugar mix.

Beat the eggs with the fork and pour them in the mixture. In another bowl, mix the polenta and baking powder then fold it in the mix with the juice and zest of orange.

Crush the cardamom pods and extract the little black seeds, grind or crush them a little and add to the cake preparation.

Transfer the cake mixture in a buttered baking tin or a few little ones and smooth the top of each.

Bake for 30min then put the heat down to 160°/Gas 3 for a further 20/25min. The cake has to be firm on the top and if you pick it with a knife, it has to come out clean.

 Make the syrup : Squeeze the lemon and bring it to the boil in a sauce pan, add the honey and the cardamom seeds lightly squashed. Keep the lemon boiling until it forms a syrup (around 5 min). Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water and leave it to cool down a little. Make some little holes in your cake (still warm and in the baking tray), with a fork or a skewer and spoon the syrup over the warm cake.

Leave the cake to cool down and lift it out of the tin.

To be served with greek yogurt or cream.

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- Brèves de Comptoir #4 April 2015

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistro. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

– A winemaker in Tuscany is about to release the first vegan wine. In the process the grapes are filtered through a number of substances called ‘the fining agent’ (crustacean shells, gelatin) The way it works : agents are either positively or negatively charged, and will then bind to the particles of opposite charge, resulting in an extraction of those unwanted particles from the wine. All of the unwanted elements from the wine can then be discarded. Complicated, I know… Because those wines are not suitable for vegan, some producers near Siena made the perfect vegan wine. They can trace the grape from vineyard to the bottle. To follow, this Spring : Fattoria Casabianca. http://www.fattoriacasabianca.it/en/

– The new stupidity in London is the owl bar, ‘Annie the owl’. People don’t know what to invent to be noticed. This one week pop-up is about to open and already a long petition about animal welfare has been signed, of course. The aim : the education about owls and their way of life. The profit from the ticket sales will go to the sanctuary working for the species conservation. I don’t know a lot about owls but what I know is that they should be in the country side, in a tree, not in a bar in Soho. There are a lot of ways to educate people on different subject, even to collect money and it doesn’t necessarily involve a cocktail.

This month’s ‘Brèves de comptoir’ are the must of the must on the category ‘the stupid news’ like the Yuzu egg. Japanese invented the egg that smells Yuzu to avoid the fishy smell that eggs can have. I would be worried having eggs that smell fish but as they affectionate Yuzu and use it a lot in their cuisine, they fed their chicken with it and corn and sesame seeds. The whole point (in addition to reduce the fishy smell) is to entice appetite. They have just created the onion that doesn’t make you cry, so whatever, when you have time to waste.

– The Clove Club will be the first restaurant making people to pay their food in advance. Ticketing is the way of avoiding no shows and so, empty tables. Not very classy and delicate for a first price at £65 a 5 courses menu. http://thecloveclub.com/

– The most expensive tea in the world is now on the menu at the Royal China Club in London. It will cost you a £180 for a pot that furnishes 4 small cups. Its leaves can reach £650000 a kilo. They are coming from the legendary bushes in Fujian province. The legend says that this tea cured the illness of a Ming dynasty emperor. The leaves are wiped with goat milk then picked and baked over charcoal, left for up to 80 years to gain flavours.

– Opening this summer the Adam Holcroft’s insect restaurant. In Pembrokeshire where you will be able to eat bug burritos and bamboo worm fudge ice-cream.

– ‘The Curious Canine Kitchen’ is a 2 days pop-up…. For dogs ! The 11th and 12th April you will be able to go to feed your dog with a 5 courses lunch including some 3 Michelin stars dishes kind of : blueberry chia pudding with gluten-free cinnamon quinoa. £20 for dogs, £8 for humans… Shoreditch. http://www.londonpopups.com/2015/04/the-curious-canine-kitchen-pop-up.html

– Not maple syrup but maple water. 46 vitamins and minerals, it contains more manganese than a cup of kale and half the sugar of coconut water. Seva. http://www.drinkseva.com/en/

– ‘Hop Theory’ bags are the new ‘tea bags’ to infuse in your beer. Orange peel and coriander seeds give more flavour to your light beer which is cheaper and less caloric than the craft beer but also a bit dull. Not on sale for now, it will be if they manage to raise enough money to start the project. If you want to donate : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/915128700/hop-theory

– Disney world is about to put on its menu a steak at 115 dollars. The dry aged tomahawks are the ultimate bone-in ribeye, with an extra long bone for extraordinary presentation. Boasting a mellow taste that only comes from the longstanding dry aging process, these Tomahawk ribeyes are abundant in marbling and rich in flavor. The boathouse, Disney World.

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- Detox day

Today is the D day, the detox day.

Everything was organized, all good, I am kind of off today so I decided to have a pajama day. That kind of day when I don’t even have a shower… I might brush my teeth, eventually.

As a pajama day happens once every few month, it has to be well organized to make the most of it. All the conditions were met : I am off, I haven’t had a pajama day for month so it’s gonna be great, I have a lot of paper work to do and it was supposed to rain (actually it’s shinny but I am hoping it’s gonna rain, I cannot be inside if the sun in shinning).

As my friend asked me: why now ? Because today was the perfect day, I can stay home in case I would faint and so I can crawl to my bed.

I thought about that detox for a long time. One year. I would prefer to stay home and eat chocolate cookies dipped in my coffee for breakfast and end-up the day in bed in front of a girly movie while eating a cassoulet. That’s a real pajama day for me !

It’s not going to happen today, as I will do my first detox ever… And maybe the last one too.

Marie Claire (my bible) that I read for 20 years gave the ‘one day detox menu’ in an issue one year ago.

You will just need a blender, vegetables and fruits.

 

Breakfast:
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 banana

Add 2 cups of mineral water and agave sugar if you want it sweeter.

 The taste is nice but it’s far too much, I finished my ‘breakfast’ at 3pm as those quantities gives you 2 full blenders so I decided to skip the lunch menu and go straight to the ‘afternoon snack’ menu.

I give you the lunch one in case you manage do drink it all on time.

Lunch :

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 bunch of celery

 

Afternoon snack’ menu:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 small box of raspberries
  • 1 small box of blueberries
  • 1 glass of almond milk

 

Dinner

  • 1 apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bouquet of parsley
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 full hand of hemp seeds
  • 2 glasses of mineral water

This one is interesting… very green, so green, but you can finally happily chew for the first time of the day. So much parsley!!! The taste was good even if you feel like a cow grazing.

 
So basically, it was a bit hard for me, I didn’t feel hungry but I felt the need to chew, to crunch and indulge myself with something I really like on my day off.

I follow their menu scrupulously, even if I didn’t like the idea of buying blue berries and raspberries now, it’s not the season at all. I eliminated the strawberries in the ‘afternoon snack menu’ as it was above my strength to buy some in March!

They advise to do this detox with seasonal fruits and veg( Marie-Claire is good). The menu they give is far too big anyway.I still have some green dinner concoction left.

So let’s privilege the seasonal fruits, we can put a bit less or have a detox for 3 days with the quantities they give. It will not be my case, I am back to routine from today on, breakfast with coffee, butter and jam… I am happy that I did and stick to it the whole day. Regarding my physical state, I haven’t seen any difference, not on my skin nor on my energy, knowing that in one day I wouldn’t be transformed. To do it once in a while is still good to absorb the vitamins better than when our stomach is full and being able to tell yourself : ‘yes!!! I did it!’ is a very good feeling.

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- Cardamom cookies

As it was (for me at least) difficult to make speculoos, after three attempts I decided to make cardamom speculoos.

It’s silly how you sometimes manage to cook something elaborated and miss a so simple recipe like speculoos, anyway, it will be the topic of one of my future post cause I won’t give up so easily !

 It’s the carnival period, I wish I would be in Brazil again, drinking Cachaça, jumping on samba rhythm by 35 degres… It was 3 years ago.. This year I am listening to classical music while dipping my ‘ganse’ in my coffee. Quiet different but still nice. We make ‘ganses’ in Provence for carnival, my grand-mother was making the best. Spinkled with icing sugar they are also great the following day dipped in tea or coffee. I bought my ganses at ‘Aux pains de papy’ in King’s Cross which is a French bakery who follows the seasons and the traditions : http://www.auxpainsdepapy.co.uk/

While I am imagining that I am in Maceo in Brazil, my dough is chilling in the fridge.


Cardamom cookies for 15 small biscuits


Ingredients
:

  • 150g of self raising flour
  • 75g of butter
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar and water for the icing 


Method
:

Rub the butter and flour together until it forms small breadcrumbs. Then add the caster sugar and ground cardamom. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add it ot the dry mix little by little.

Mix the ingredients until they form adough a bit sticky. Set aside in bowl covered with cling film and in the fridge for 30min

Then roll out on a floured surface of half a centimeter thick and cut the biscuit with a pastry circle, you should have around 15 biscuits.

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- Pink pancake, Valentine’s day and why some are an ‘ex’

I woke up very tired this morning, the cold outside didn’t help to pull me out of my bed but I thought about my today’s recipe to try, it helped me to put my feet on the floor. I also thought about love and Valentine’s day. Love for people but also love for cooking, the love to share a meal, a moment, a glass of wine…Whatever our love is directed to, love is all we need, no? To give and receive.

Valentine’s day is of course commercial, pushing people to buy things they don’t need. I have to admit that a rose or a meal or a bottle of champagne is nice and for those who don’t have that during the year, at least they have Valentine’s day to get a treat, eventually. I remember my friend’s ex boyfriend was saying that we don’t need Valentine’s day to offer roses or drink champagne with our loved ones. So true, but did he do it the rest of the year? No. I guess that’s why he is an ex. So the 14th of February is at least here to remind to non-gentlemen men that they have duties and one of them is to please their wife, girlfriend.

Try to avoid restaurant on that day, I work in restaurant, I know what I’m talking about. Tables rnoved, replaced by tables of two or tables of 4 or 6 converted in canteen tables where couples sit elbow against elbow with other couples. Menus more expensive, wine and champagne more expensive. 1h30min return time instead of 2h, no possibility to have a drink before as time is running, menus only (again time is running so no possibility to waste time on reading the menu) and so on… Really, let’s stay at home, curled in a blanket with champagne or hot chocolate (why not) or half naked in front of fire place if you have one and very important,food, like pink pancakes.

I found a recipe which I twisted my way as I wanted to try savoury ones, with goat cheese.


Beetroot pancake
, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium cooked beets
  • 500gr of flour
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 375ml of milk
  • 125g of plain yogurt
  • 50g of unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • Half of a small onion finely chopped

For the filling :

  • 125g of soft goat cheese
  • 125g of double cream

 

Method :

Blend the beetroot till obtain a puree. Fry the onion in a pan.

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl, in another bowl mix the milk, yogurt, butter, egg, beetroot puree and onion.

Fold the wet ingredients in the dry ones and whisk until you have the consistency of a heavy cream.

Mix the goat cheese and cream for the filling and reserve.

Put a bit of olive oil in a very hot pan, drop in a ladle of your batter, the size you want, cook for 2 min on each side. Enjoy them hot with the goat cheese filling and a green salad.

Let’s paint our life in pink, happy Valentine’s day lovers !

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- Breves de comptoir #1 January 2015

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistro. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

 

– In the serie ‘I love gadgets’ here is the ‘Foodini’ ! The first 3D food printer. They call it the natural machine and will be, according to them, THE innovation, as big as the microwave years ago. The aim ? Cook fresh ingredients and manage time-consuming parts of food preparation that often discourage people from cooking. I don’t think that preparing and cooking ingredients then put them in pipettes is a gain of time to make a pizza which normally take 15min for a homemade one, anyway… www.naturalmachine.com

– The Real Junk Food Project is fighting against food waste. Over the past 12 months, the project have intercepted 50 tonnes of ‘unwanted’ but perfectly edible food from supermarkets etc and fed thousand of people in their cafés around UK. therealjunkfoodproject.co.uk

Mercer’s dairy is making wine ice-cream, made with real wine (up to 5% alcohol by ice cream). Try the Cherry Merlot, Chocolate Cabernet or Red raspberry Chardonnay. They have distributors all around the world, not in Europe, not yet. www.mercersdairy.com

– The new trend is snorting…cocoa. A Belgian chocolatier, Dominique Persoone created the sniffable chocolate powder. It’s calorie free and the taste lingers for hours. He created a shooter and catered for the Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood birthday party. www.chocolateshooter.be

– To support actively local farmers in North West London, ‘Field to Fork’ is the solution. They supply fresh organic veg bags from farmers to your community. From £8.50 a week. fieldtoforkorganics.coop

– The ramen spoon is going to solve our problems when eating noodles. It’s a 2 in 1, fork and spoon, to roll up your noodles and slurp your soup at once. www.uncommongoods.com/product/ramen-spoon-and-fork

– Jamie Oliver talked about it in 2006 and like very often he was taken for a fool, but nowadays, eating squirrel is becoming more and more common. At the Jugged Hare, a gastro pub they can sell 40 to 50 portions a week. The idea is to protect other species in extinction. There are millions of squirrels in UK, what was in the 19th century a delicacy in United-States is coming back in force. If you want an hormone-free, non GMO and free range meat, go for squirrels, the flesh is nutty and sweet. You will also eat very local food, even though they are not coming from Hyde Park, they are not from far from there in UK.

– It’s still difficult to prove the origin of fries, so Belgians have launched a petition to get the fries recognized as one of mankind’s cultural treasures. It’s always been a bone of contention between Belgians and French. Even if we call them French fries, the Belgian ones are, I have to admit, the best.

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- Home made almond milk

I was reading this morning that milk is now cheaper than bottle of water.

The problem is always the same, produce more and cheaper. Cows produce 18% more milk than in 2001. How ? Well, everybody knows that, hormones, antibiotics etc… Produce more unhealthy cows that produce more unhealthy milk to produce more waste in supermarkets for more farmers without jobs and more food allergy as 80% of food allergy are coming from cow milk.

I am not vegetarian but I tend to eat less and less meat and I am nearly dairy free (I still do little extra with cheese sometimes) but apart from that, no more yogurt (and I used to love it), no more crème fraiche (I am drooling over my computer just thinking about it) and no more milk which I miss sometimes as well, I used to drink a lot of hot chocolate and cold milk and mint syrup (love it).

So now, I do soya and I do a lot of almond milk, and I also make my own, so making my own is simple and if not completely organic (the farmer puts fertilizer when growing almond tree, to have more almonds, faster, and so, produce more milk …..etc…) but at least I like to think that it’s a better option.

 

Homemade almond milk

Basically you will need almonds and water.

Soak 250g of raw almonds without skin, overnight.

Rinse them a few times, blend them with a bit of water, add some more water little by little till you obtain the consistency you want.

Then, you will have to strain the milk with a nut bag, or cheese cloth or even a coffee machine filter.

Once your milk is done, you can keep the pressed almonds, bake them on a parchment in the oven till it’s golden, you can keep it in a dry place for a few weeks and sprinkle your cakes, and even mix it with flour when baking.

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- Let’s be better in 2015

First of all I wanted to wish a wonderful new year. May 2015 brings you health, love and happiness.

I had a long and lazy break in Nice where the sun was out and the sky so blue that it was nearly disturbing. The Christmas decorations in the street didn’t match with the palm trees and the fact that we spent a lot of lunches eating at a terrace was not really normal.

As everybody knows, France and the world are upset because of what happened to the caricaturists in Paris. It’s very sad, upsetting and also amazing to see that in New-York neon messages ‘Je suis Charlie’ are blinking on buildings frontage. Amazing yes, to see such a support from all over the world.

Seeing all that explosion on social media, seeing people so concerned, solidary and supportive… I couldn’t help thinking : ‘Are we always that supportive, understanding and friendly ? I mean, all year long ? Do we give enough? Are we considerate enough? Social media are very good, they are here for people to denounce things but apart from denouncing, what do we do for others, concretely in our everyday life?

As a good resolution for the new year that would be great, no ? Helping more each other and be more considerate, not only with the boyfriend but also with your neighbor who struggle to carry his shopping bags for example ….. I didn’t have any resolution really, not because Im perfect (at all), I smoke and I don’t want to stop (sorry) I drink wine and I don’t want to stop (again…sorry) but more because my life is good the way it is, I just want to carry on working on my company, improve myself, improve my cooking skills and please my clients and the rest will follow, according to me.

So trying to improve ourselves in a way that we would improve other’s life, stop thinking about ourselves first for once, would be a good idea. 

It’s like, food talking, buying responsibly, cooking and eating responsibly. Meaning : being conscious (at least being conscious is already a big step for some, trust me) about what we buy, what we eat, where the food we buy is coming from, eat more vegetables and less meat for the reason we all know and try not to forget those reasons when it’s time for shopping. It’s always easier to go for a more simple solution, not being worried and find an excuse to everything we do.

 Reuse, recycle, make things with our hands and don’t waste, good behavior starts at home, everyday.

To finish, no recipe, no picture but a little cute movie that explains that sadly human being is responsible for the bad health of earth. Again, we all know that and I don’t want you to be depressed for this new year so let’s take it from another angle, in a positive way. We already made enough damages so from now on we have to cherish the good things we have left for a better world, at least we can try.

Happy New year !


https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=639094899494760&set=vb.215206155216972&type=2&theater

 

 

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- Kale, the trendy curly cabbage

I think the storm has passed…. At least for me… People who work in hospitality started feeling the hurricane from October. The wave is almost gone and after cooking lunches for hundreds of people, made thousands of canapés, helping friends in their restaurants as they were took in the storm too, it all calmed down, just a few things to adjust, think about and of course cook and I’m off to the south of France for another round of far too much wine and food.

Before that, I really try to be as healthier as possible, drink a lot of water and herbal tea, stay away from wine and eat kale.

Kale is the trendy curly cabbage. High in beta carotene, vitamin K (to help keeping strong bones and for blood clotting), vitamin C …etc. That’s why all the stars are crazy with kale, beautiful people swear by kale only. Steamed, juiced, pan-fried, transformed as beauty mask, serum and even nail polish.

I know I still haven’t done my detox planned for 2014 but it’s a big step for a French girl as as you know, in France we eat everything and don’t do detox, is that an excuse good enough ? No, you are right, but for now I eat kale and will do my detox in January, English way.

I realized that a Portuguese soup I do and love (Caldo Verde) can be made with kale too but this time I cooked it the way my mum used to do spinach for us. Simple and delicious.


Kale with eggs and pancetta
, serves 4

  •  1 bunch of kale
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 250g of pancetta
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

 
Wash the kale properly (with one bunch you will be able to feed 4 people and still have some to make soup…).

Fry the peeled and chopped onion in a pan with a bit of olive oil, add the garlic cut finely and the kale in big chunks with a bit of salt. While the kale is cooking, boil the eggs.

Then add the pancetta, a bit of black pepper, check the seasoning. After 15 min when the kale is cooked and still crunchy, it’s ready ! Bon appétit !

 

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- Green pancakes

What to say about my long absence on my blog ? Well…nothing really except that I took it a bit more easy, blog talking at least.

Apart from that it was actually busy for the last few months. New customers I cooked for, I made a lot of canapés, started to make breakfast and lunches for corporate and still working at the restaurant.

August was awful, I had the chance to escape to Holland and South of France to see a bit of sun and avoid depression. Notting Hill carnival has been spoilt by the rain and cold, and as always, every time I start to be upset with London and like it a bit less, something nice happens, like if London wanted to be forgiven. So September was very nice and sunny. London is so forgiven as I love it so much, still. Autumn is here, it’s freezing already, I am back to normal and preparing Christmas.


Green pancakes
serves 4

Easy, quick, no food coloring or other fake things, no butter either.

  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 150ml of milk
  • 300g of baby spinach
  • Olive oil, for frying

For the batter, put the flour, baking powder, egg and salt together in a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. Set it aside while you blend the spinach.

Add the spinach to the batter et c’est tout !

Pour a little oil into a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. For each pancake, ladle two to or three tablespoons of batter depends on how big you want them.

They are thick, hearty, so green and delicious, perfect for the season and perfect for a pre Christmas period.

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- Brèves de Comptoir #11 November 2014

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

 

–  Check out this website  http://fatandfuriousburger.com/ for great graphic design of greasy burgers

– The urban farm ‘The Severn Project’ founded by Steve Glover in 2010 is making babies and offers  jobs to ex drug and alcohol addicts and also people with poor mental health. Offering a social integration to those with offending backgrounds, they are growing salad leaves on disused lands and also worrying on reducing carbon emissions by delivering their salad by bicycle. ‘The Severn Project’ in Bristol  http://thesevernproject.org/

– It’s written again on newspapers : the benefits of red wine.  I tell you in every single ‘Brèves de Comptoir’. So now scientists discovered that antioxidant in red wine could help reduce acne.

– Los Angeles and San Francisco have a new addiction : seaweed snacks, still difficult to find in Europe but I am keeping my eyes open and will keep you updated as apparently, in addition to be packed with vitamins, it’s delicous.

– The new trend, the must-have in hospitality is the low sugar champagne. They call it a fizz, for the French I am it’s already a bad beginning, an insult for our heritage. http://www.thomsonandscott.com/

– Hundred of thousand of free meals will be served in over 300 Sikh Gurdwaras (temples) across London this week. The institution of the Sikh ‘langar’ (or free kitchen) was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. It was designed to maintain the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, colour, age, gender or social status…

– It’s official, the best whisky in the world has been elected and it’s…. Japanese ! Our Scottish friends are still in shock as it’s the first year that they are not even on the top 5 in 12 years whisky bible’s history. The ‘Yamazaki’ single malt sherry cask is described as an exquisite boldness, with a finish of light and teasing spices.

– ‘Cereals killer café’ is about to open in December on Brick lane, London. With over 100 kind of cereal and more than 13 different milk. Let’s hope they have camel milk to drop on my coco pops as I’ve always wanted to try it, the camel milk.

– After the edible burger wrapping paper, here is the coffee cup that you can eat. It costs a fortune but still is very successful, it’s Melrose place in LA s’il vous plait ! http://www.alfredcoffee.com/

– Hortus cuisine is a blog written by Valentina a young Italian from Via Fratta (Northeastern Italy). From her garden she uses seasonal ingredients and her pictures are from another era, just beauty ! http://hortuscuisine.com/

 

 

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- Pedlars’ World

Pedlars’ World has stories to tell… Busy networking with art dealers all around the globe, Pedlars team is looking for the vintage, the rare piece to make your house unique.

History and character are the best to define this shop in Notting Hill. Close to local people, fostering exchanges, the second hand art, the retro rather than mass production.

Of course they have vintage kitchen tools and decoration like the 60’s Therma Jug Thermos (love it), iced bucket, 1950’ French measuring jars and those nearly forgotten sweets I loved, the flying saucer sweets !

I have already had the chance to work with them as they kindly lent me some of their articles for a photoshoot, now to my favorite list is added their café opened one month ago, cosy and original where I will spend my lazy I-don’t-want-to-be-bothered-to-cook-breakfast from now on.

Pedlar’s World, 128 Talbot Road W11 1JA
http://www.pedlars.co.uk

 

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- Ajo Blanco

It’s been a perfect day…

Sunny, hot but not too much, market for my vegetables, bakery for my bread and cooking at home trying a few things for my event tomorrow.

Nina Simone is playing ‘Good Bait’ (one of my favorite), a glass of red wine, ‘le chéri’ is not with me today and it’s good otherwise it would have been too perfect, a bit surreal.

After this piling of perfection, too boring, I tried this ‘Ajo Blanco’ I made and it’s not perfect at all, now life is back to normal.  Ajo Blanco, originating in Andalousia is supposed to be a cold soup, and even though I’ve added a lot more liquid than indicated in the recipe, it was nice, a bit weird and even after a few hours spent in the fridge, so very cold,  it’s nice… a bit weird. It’s not a soup Mrs-I-wrote-the-Spanish-recipes-book, according to your proportions, it’s a paste. And I divided the bread’s proportion by 2 !

What am I gonna do with a few bowls of bready/garlicky paste ? Arancini kind of ?

Anyway I have a new recipe for the ‘Ajo Blanco’, more liquid, yes a soup, delicious and not weird.

Not having anymore whole almonds, I tried with almond powder and it was delicious.


Ajo Blanco
, serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 200g almond powder
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 180ml of water
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil


Method
:

Bring to the boil the 180ml of water then add the almond powder, whisk.

Peel the garlic clove and put it in a blender with the mix water and almond and adding a splash of olive oil.

Blend till very smooth add salt and pepper to the taste, ladle the soup into chilled bowls and set into the fridge for a few hours. If you don’t have enough time you can add an ice cube per bowl just before serving and a few grapes for decoration. Et c’est tout !

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- Brèves de comptoir #7 July 2014

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

  • 80 % of orange juices are made in Brasil. 42000 oranges are pressed per minute.
  • Coca cola formula, when a journalist is trying to find the real coke’s formula in Atlanta and find so much more behind the American giant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owl59XeknxU

  • South African flooding left some farmers with up to 28 per cent of crop loss earlier this year. In addition to help them Waitrose gives the opportunity to members of the Waitrose foundation worldwide to sell their weather-blemished fruits and vegetables at a cheaper price…
  • The Indonesian food newly available in UK is the Tempeh. From the island of Java, made from local variety of soybeans.Eaten for hundreds of years it’s nutritious and vegan. Tempeh is a mushroom-fermented soyfood which shelf life is only one day as it’s live food. Available from Planet Organic the Tempeh Curry has been made under scrupulous hygiene conditions and captured in a can at the right time to stop the fermentation. For the real Javanese Tempeh is added a Javanese sauce. £3.10 for 300g. http://www.doctortempeh.com/nutrition/nutrition.htmlhttp://www.doctortempeh.com/nutrition/nutrition.html

  • The new restaurant 100% no waste in UK will be opening in Brighton. Flour will be mild on site, food delivered with zero packaging and toilets flushed with used water from the coffee machine. All of us should find such a great inspiration on that. As what, with a bit of effort, it’s possible. A full post will be coming soon. Silo Restaurant. http://silobrighton.com

  • China is the world largest producer of tomatoes. It’s confusing as tomato is not a common ingredient in Chinese cuisine. They actually make a lot of tomato paste for exportation.
  • Wonderful and terrifying at the same time is the first restaurant entirely runs by children. Supervised by adults, the little ones who wear chef’s white and hat use easy to follow picture-recipes. It’s so successful that, a bit like Nobu, you have to make reservation way ahead to be able to get a table. Kinderkookafe (translated as Kids’Kitchen Café), Amsterdam. http://www.kinderkookkafe.nl/

  • If you refuse to chose between cheese and pudding the new Paul A Young’s creation is just for you. The star chocolatier invented the chocolate and Stilton truffle. Not for the shock of it as he doesn’t need it for people to talk about him but apparently, really for the combination of flavours. I know… I am skeptical too. http://www.paulayoung.co.uk/

  • Cheese talking, US produce Parmesan, Feta, Gorgonzola… The EU wants to protect some of their 145 names for food invented in Europe. They argue that feta cannot be feta if not coming from Greece.
  • ‘Big appetite’ is the work of a Seattle born food photographer. It’s sweet. See Christopher Boffoli’s exhibition in ‘Pop of Color’ in Seattle or online http://bigappetites.net/
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- Cherries, cherry tomatoes and thyme clafoutis

I heard deep fried… It can’t be that… It must be a professional deformation and the lack of sleep.The commentator in Wimbledon was talking about Venus Williams who was moaning so loud after one hour game. So no it can’t be deep fried, I doubt that Venus Williams has a calamari and aioli diet for now. Or maybe… and that’s why she is moaning so hard when she taps the ball…

I was already cooking at 6 this morning then went to the market to buy veg and then cooking again. I washed something like 2 tons of salad, made canapés, roast aubergines, fried peppers, baked salmon, made sauce reduction… And now back home, I am making sushis, clafoutis and fish cakes with tuna. Hence my professional deformation sometimes.

This week, for you is a recipe from my very dear friend, Nadine. She made last time the best cherry clafoutis I have ever had. Here is one of the recipe she so cutely took time to write by hand, put a ribbon on each paper and that’s also why I love her.

As I didn’t have any black olives I modified her recipe (just a bit) and made the same without olives but added cherry tomatoes.


Clafoutis with cherries, cherry tomatoes and thyme
, serves 4-6 pers

Ingredients
:

  • 250g of cherries
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 3eggs
  • 250ml of milk
  • 50ml of olive oil
  • 10g of butter for the baking tray
  • Black pepper


Method

Preheat the oven at 280°.

Butter and flour the mold. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the thyme, add the flour little by little and pepper.

Then add the milk and olive oil.

Wash the cherries and cherry tomatoes, spread them in the mould and drop the preparation on the top et put in the oven for 25-30min.

It’s not sweet, not savoury, tastes summer and olive oil, great to serve with a salad.

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- Matcha tea panna cotta

I was thinking about smells today.

I hope that if not all my senses are overdeveloped, at least my taste and smell are.

And Spring, oh Spring… the best season for smells… Trees are in bloom, smell of jasmine, lawn freshly cut…

My strawberries are also out in my garden in their most beautiful red dress… Just one black dot to my Spring story : snails !

I should be happy but I am a French who doesn’t like snails and especially now that they eat my strawberries ! And I am not talking about my courgette seedling which disappear and it’s the second one. I don’t know, I thought about my flatmate who is sometimes too enthusiastic and pulls up the wrong weeds (she snatched the beetroot last year!)

After asking her gently if she saw my courgette seedling she told me that her Asian basil disappeared too. So 2 conclusions, foxes love gardening and making organic farming is difficult. If anyone knows an organic way to make foxes and snails run away, please post me !

Talking about Spring, sun (not in London I know) and smell of green grass, I can’t help thinking of matcha tea.

I am on green tea diet for a few days now and planning a detox soon. Why ? Because I spent 5 days in Nice eating and drinking rosé wine and because with my job as a cook and food writer I need to experiment on myself as well. It will be my first detox ever, just for one day, only fruit and vegetables from breakfast to dinner and I am supposed to be able to exercise, feel lighter, have a clearer skin etc… Before talking about it, I have to try.

Before my Spring detox, I carry on with my green tea, even as a dessert

Matcha tea panna cotta 

Ingredients :

  • 100 ml milk
  • 250 ml cream
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 big tsp of matcha tea powder
  • 2 gelatin leaves


Method
:

Mix the sugar and tea powder in a pan, pour the milk and cream on the top, put on the heat and stir till it nearly boiled. Before boiling take it out of the heat and let it infuse for a few minute. Meanwhile put the gelatin leaves in a bowl with cold water.

If the milk is not very hot, put it back on the heat, drain the gelatin leaves and plunge them in the milk. It has to be very hot if you want the gelatin to melt. Mix until the gelatin dissolves.

While still hot, pour the mix into bols or ramequins, let it cool down and put them in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

It’s creamy, with a pastel green color and a real taste of green herb, the taste of Spring !

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- Brèves de Comptoir #5 May 2014

 

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

  • The new ‘tendance’ is the raspberry ketone (aroma compound of raspberry, cranberry and blackberry) Marketed for weight loss, the slogan is ‘eat this and never be on diet ever again’… Apparentely it’s not proven yet so one advice, eat raspberry and if you add crème fraiche to it, go running or cycling, that’s the best kept secret that everybody knows.
  • Joël Robuchon launched his sushi collection 2014 for the sushi shop.
  • Found across Africa, Brazil and Asia, the jack fruit and its strange smell (smell of decay, yes) can provide so many nutrients and calories that could be a wheat and corn replacement. It survive pests, high temperature and drought and it’s underexploited compared to what it can bring. That makes the subject of a study for the fight against world hunger.
  • Finished the wasabi paste, let’s buy some fresh one made in UK ! The wasabi company is the first of that kind in Europe. Chefs are mad about it. http://www.thewasabicompany.co.uk/
  • Boiling, baking or mashing a truffle would make every chef and myself burst in tears as we respect that treasure so much. Not in Namibia… In Namibia, the Kalahari truffle or truffle of the dessert is smooth like a potato and cheap. Distant from its French kin, it was also used by the Bedouin as remedies and is now a delicacy for chefs and considered as the best thing that earth can make by locals.
  • Soylent is the new food substitute created by an American engineer. Avoid the cost and the time spent on cooking everyday was the aim, skipping over everything enjoyable food can bring to our life. With all the nutriments the body needs to live, the powder is to mix with water and would have a cake taste. A journalist made the experience, spent one week on Soylent only. After verifications, he didn’t put on weight at all but said that he felt miserable, stressed and depressed for the whole week.
  • After the cronuts and doffins (crossbreeding between muffin, croissant and doughnuts) the waffogato is born. From the Italian ‘affogato’ (flooded) the waffogato is a mini waffle, dropped in coffee and covered with maple syrup.
  • Both celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Marco-Pierre White have been given a very bad food hygiene rating in their restaurant. 1 for Jamie and 0 for Marco, O this is unheard of !
  • What a surprise for me when I heard that ‘Nutella’ had been created by a man and furthermore Italian ! I’ve always thought it was by a woman….French. Nutella celebrates its 5O’ this year and makes Mr Michele Ferrero (yes the one from the Rocher as well) the Italy’s richest man. One jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 second worldwide.
  • A Cambridge firm has created a device that uses a culinary technique known as spherification to build pieces of fruit using flavoured gel. Droplets of gel are dropped into a dish of solution, pictured, and positioned in such a way to mimic the shape and colour of various fruits Intended to enhance our dinner party and also to make what God Ferran Adria is already making by hand for years.
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- ‘Apéro’ dips

So, why not to talk about the weather again ? As I said last year at the same period, we are all waiting for summer, at least Spring. Picnics have started for one week-end and already the weather is awful.

This little vicious everyday rain, a bit, a few minutes a day, just to spoil your blow dry and make you upset as in the morning it was sunny and you left home with sandals…

When I need a bit of sun and spring in my life, I cook Summer dishes, organize ‘apero’ and nibbles, like they already do for a long time this year in the south of France.

3 different dips… I am obviously thinking about my sister as she is the queen of ‘apero’ and known throughout the city of Nice as it.

 

Parmesan cheese and with wine :

  • 150g of grated parmesan cheese
  • 50ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100ml of dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp of dry oregano


Method
:

Put all the ingredient in a bowl and mix.

 

Beans and chili spread :

  • 1 small can of barlotti beans
  • 1 small can of kidney beans
  • 1 dry chili soaked in water (like pasilla or guajillo) or 1 tsp of harissa paste
  • Olive oil


Method
:

Put the 2 cans of beans in a food processor with the chili, blend and add a bit of olive oil to make a smooth paste.

 

Tahini

  • 2 cups of sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil


Method
:

Preheat the oven at 180°, put the sesame on a baking parchment and bake for 8/10 min, don’t let brown. Add the oil slowly by slowly till obtain the consistency of peanut butter.

 

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- Caribbean soup

When I follow Alice’s rabbit in the hole, I can see myself cooking for my event and finishing so early that I still have time to sit down, eat and start a new post for my blog.

Feeling fresh after a nice shower… no stress while waiting for my chauffeur….

That’s in my dream… The reality is that my chauffeur is a most-of-the-time-grumpy cab driver, I have never had any shower before leaving for an event as the cooking time doesn’t allow me, and I never sit down and I’ve never had time to start a new post, that’s my real life…

After long hours working in the kitchen, there is the stress on site and… the reward, this excitement from my clients when they see and try my canapés, their face, their words to describe their happiness and then, I remember why I am doing that, forgetting about the stress and the no time and no shower, and I am happy.

When I am not cooking for an event, still…. I am cooking, in a restaurant,

At the moment I learn Caribbean cuisine, new dishes, spices, coconut, happy colorful mix, good vibe and Jamaican people.

I know it’s Spring but the weather is so unpredictable in London that we can even eat soup in summer and I love it.
I also love sweet potatoes , I made this soup last time at the restaurant, and at home. As I still have a cargo of different dried chilies from my Mexican adventures I used them, if you don’t have any, you can use chili flakes…. Simple and delicious.

Sweet potatoes soup serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 2 big sweet potatoes
  • 4 red peppers
  • 2 teaspoons of chili flakes or 2 dried red chilies (Guajillo, Pasilla or Morita)
  • 250ml of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Avocado and sweet corn for decoration

Method

Preheat the oven at 180°, put the peppers on a baking tray and roast them for 15/20min till they are soft.

If you use dried chilies, deseed them using gloves and soak them  in warm water.

In the mean time, peel and cut the sweet potato, bring some water with salt to the boil and plunge the potatoes for around 15 min until very soft.

When the peppers are ready let them to cool down a bit and take the skin and seeds off.

In a food processor, put the sweet potatoes, the peppers, a bit of vegetable stock and blend. Add the chilies, salt and pepper. Depends on how you like your soup (more or less thick) you can add more stock. Sprinkle some sweet corn and avocado cubes on the top.

Bon appetit !

 

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- ‘The Road to Hell and Sweetness’

You know my admiration and respect for chefs so I wanted to introduce you someone I really admire… Jurgen. He’s a chef, a pastry chef to be more precise. So basically he’s the kind of guy who mixes ingredients until reaching the perfection (pastry is all about perfection).

We met at the Arts Club where I spent a lot of time in the kitchen talking with chefs and I had the chance to try a few of his desserts, just before he left to open ‘Oblix’ restaurant 1 year ago.
Jurgen is not a pastry chef only, he also writes a blog, a perfect blog, well written, clean, organized with very beautiful pictures. His world must be all about perfection, perfect desserts, perfect blog, perfect chef’s white, perfect, perfect, perfect… but that’s how we reach excellence, no ? And that’s why his desserts are pure masterpieces.

He also has a wonderful project, he wants to organize an evening to raise money for brain tumor research. Please read and be involved, it’s a massive project and the more we are in the more money we will raise.

http://theroadtohellandsweetness.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/a-dessert-state-of-mind.htmln

He also challenged me one year ago, asking me to make a French dessert that he could then customize and make it more ‘Jurgen’s way’… I didn’t forget and still waiting for you Mister ! And don’t think I will be nice with you, I have in mind a recipe of my grand-mother, a cake I had all my childhood which, maybe, will give you some hard time… maybe…

Here is one of his post :

’50 Shades of Pavlova’

 ‘Oblix has finally opened it’s doors to the public, so I’m a free man again when it comes to my blogging. There are hundreds of pictures I’d like to show and plenty of stories I want to tell, but I want to start of with a very special one in particular…the pavlova.

During my time in the test kitchen the pavlova became my Achilles heel. In other words “the pavlova” became my weakness, my vulnerable point in spite of my overall strength as a pastry chef. Not because I didn’t know how to make one, but because I couldn’t get it right according to the ground rules that were set out for me.

The game plan was simple…Create desserts that are rustic, look bold, are easy to execute and fit within the style of the restaurant that we are creating. And first and foremost in the words of Rainer Becker himself “keep it simple”. That’s it!
Well, in all honesty that’s not it. With costumer expectations higher then ever before, Creating something which is simple, bold, rustic and blows people’s mind away when they see and eat it, is not simple at all. Especially when the restaurant is not even properly build yet but your boss has a clear view about how everything has to look and you don’t!

Basically a pavlova is not really a sexy dessert to start with. Look it up and you only find pictures of big crumbly meringue bases with chantilly and exotic fruits on it and when its served, everybody just digs in, it’s a real messy affair and that’s fine cause it’s tradition. But I was quite excited to break the tradition and make it a bit more individual and different at the same time. And what would life be without challenges, so I ended up making hundreds of different pavlovas before I ended up with the “one” my boss liked and loved. It’s on the menu now and everybody’s happy. I have put pictures of some of the different pavlovas on here so you can imagine how different everybody’s vision and interpretation of a pavlova is.

Lucky for me that the development of the other desserts went more smooth, but I have to say this pavlova was a good learning curve on how to adept to other peoples vision and put aside your own to get where you want to be all together. I’m sure there’s gonna be more bumpy rides in Oblix but after these fifty shades of pavlova I’m ready for anything that comes my way’.

Jurgen 1

Jurgen 2

Jurgen 3

Jurgen 4

 

 

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- Brèves de comptoir #4 April 2014

Here are my ‘Brèves de Comptoir’, new monthly for 2014.

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

  • He calls himself the edible inventor, Charlie Harry Françis is the creator of the viagra-laced ice-cream. He made the naughty delight for one of his A-list client’s party.
  • 4 millions of chocolate bars are sold every day in France
  • Drinking over a bottle of wine a day would not harm to your health, Dr Poikolainen said. He also believes that drinking more than the recommended daily (1 glass) may be healthier than being a teetolaler. I’ve always told you that !
  • After its poop meat balls scandal, Ikea goes greener. Launching an eco-friendly alternative to their famous meat dishes, the vegetarian balls.
  • ‘Ohoo’ water is the edible water bottle. Using a technique called spherification which is the same to create bubble tea pearl. http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2013/02/bubble-tea/  Created by London based students, to put an end to the waste of billions of plastic containers each year.
  • Beef agriculture has a very bad impact on the eco-system. Candra Kolodziej found a meat alternative. For one week she ate mice and pet store beast. She lost 3 pounds and felt more energized, she said. She gave her recipe of the ‘mouse pie’, the hardest for me would be to skinned and boil the mice !
  • ‘Noma’ is back at the first place again ! The election of the 50 best restaurants in the world was a few days ago. Pushing the Spanish ‘El Cellar de Can Roca’. Advice : book a table first (if you manage) and then book your flight to Copenhagen. Easier than the other way around. www.noma.dk

  • Cherry juice is confirmed to be a sleep time booster according to a new study. 2 glasses of juice a day can ensure a better night sleep. The very good news is that’s cherry season very soon !
  • The woman best chef in the world is Brazilian. Succeeding an Italian, Spanish and French the last few years, Helena Rizzo from Sao Paulo reconcilies tradition and modern cuisines. Her speciality ? Cassava baked and served with a tucupi mousse (sauce also made of manioc), coconut milk and white truffle oil.
  • Do you know Mochi ice-cream ? Those little frosted bomblets will squatter our freezer this summer. Mochi is a mini Japanese pastry made of sticky rice and, also stuffed with sexy sorbet (green tea, mango, litchi…). Available in Japanese supermarkets and Japanese restaurants.

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- Post pop-up

As a big friend of Alice in Wonderland, i am more like her friend the rabbit… always late.

I started a series of pop-up restaurant in Notting Hill, the first one was late March and it was a big success. Because of that, or thanks to that, I am doing now a pop-up once a month.

56 people attended the Mexican fiesta. Why Mexican ? Because I love this culture, this country, those people and I have an experience in a Mexican restaurant. I did the opening, worked for the ‘dia de los muertos’, I learned how to make tacos from scratch, ceviche, tostadas, tres leches, chilaquiles and I had of course, this 2 weeks training with the cooking encyclopedia, ‘Eduardo from Mexico’ himself, a real bliss to learn from him.

This pop-up event was a mix of cumbia, mariachi, tacos, salsa verde, sombreros, tequila and a few drunk people, it was just perfect.

Here is a video made by one of my friend late in the evening (meaning lots of mezcal) so bad quality movie but you can still feel the vibe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJC_YcUfqo8

The next pop-up is on the 25th of this month. After a first success, weeks of excitement and stress, I want some more.

It will be French this time with a 4 courses menu, canapés, champagne and frogs legs, of course. Same place in Notting Hill from 7.30pm till midnight.

While I am adding more stress and joy to my life, I am still cooking of course as I feel the need to grab a knife as soon as I desert the kitchen just for a few days. The more I cook, the more I want to cook and the more I eat, the more I want to eat, that’s also why I applied for a new membership at the gym.

Simple is this recipe, vegetarian and so good.

Tomato, spinach and halloumi cheese casserole, serves 2.

Ingredients :

  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin of tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tin of chick peas
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 250g of halloumi cheese
  • 1 tsp of harissa or finely chopped hot chilies
  • 1 lemon
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pita bread


Method
:

Chop the onion finely and fry it in olive oil, when it’s brown, add the tomato and chickpeas tins. Let it simmer for a few minutes, add the harissa spoon, salt and pepper. Add the whole bag of spinach as it will reduce a lot. In the mean time cut the halloumi in little pieces.

When the spinach have reduced it’s ready !

Serve with a bit of lemon juice, parmesan cheese on top and pita bread.

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If you want to join the froggies vibe on the 25th, here is the link : http://1nightinparis.eventbrite.co.uk

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- Brèves de comptoir #3 March 2014

Here are my ‘Brèves de Comptoir’, new monthly for 2014.
‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

  • Vatican city drinks more wine per person than anywhere else in the world.
  • ‘Moo Cantina’ has just opened on Brick Lane, this Argentinian restaurant is opened Monday till Saturday from 11am to 11pm, Sun 11:00-22:30, Argentinian meat and street food for £10-£20 per head, I haven’t tried it yet, but I will !
  • I fell in love with this food blog : 196 Flavors. As someone who always liked geography at school, who loves to travel and eat, this blog is the perfect concentrate of everything I love. Very well made, clear, intelligent, well written in English and French, with great recipes from all over the world. Uzbekistan, Kowait or Sierra Leone, the whole world explained through its richness which reunite people : food. Origin of ingredients, history of the country and easy to understand recipes, 196 flavors has  become my favorite. http://www.196flavors.com
  • Maor Zabar is an Israeli artist who makes incredible costumes for cinema, theatre, ballet… and also makes food hats. Check his website in Hebrew and English to find out more about his work and if you want to buy one of his hat, it’s possible on Etsy. http://www.maorzabar.com/
  • The Kopi luwak or civet coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world. Why ? Because the coffee berries have been eaten and ingested by the Asian palm civet. The coffee beans are subjected to ingestion and fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract of the Luwak (civet in Indonesia). The Caffeine content in both Arabica and Robusta Luwak coffee is lower than in unfermented coffee. Kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kg.
  • I don’t know if waking up with the smell of bacon can be a motivation or a torture especially when there is no one in the kitchen cooking breakfast but just the smell from you phone alarm. Oscar Mayer a meat supplier in the US created the most odorant alarm. He is not the only one to be able to generate foodie smells using an iPhone device and app. An app called Scentee created by a Japanese claims to be able to change the taste of food with its mini air-freshener-like cartridges that clip into a phone. The aim ? By sniffing your phone scent of steak or curry it would help broke students or girls on diet to enjoy a pot of bland rice. Pathetic.
  • Believe it or not, I found out that they sell cheeseburger in a can in Sweden (thanks God only in Sweden for now). You just have to heat the can in boiling water, open and eat. Yes of course… On the picture the burger is appetizing even though at the wrong place (in a tin!) but we all know that it’s the great work of a food stylist ! I read a lot of comments about the thing and it’s just soggy and tasteless.
  • According to Foodwise, Australians throw away a mindboggling $7.8 billion worth of food each year. Leftovers play a big part in that so let’s follow their tips. They give information on composting, stop wasting, reusing… http://www.foodwise.com.au/
  • The best whisky in the world award 2014 is assigned not to Scotland or Japan like in the past but to Tasmania, an Australian island. The winning bottle, is aged from 11 to 12 years and described by Sullivans Cove as ‘a big, fat, chewy whisky full of rich toffee and molasses notes’.
  • To close up those ‘Brèves de comptoir’ here is the question of the month : ‘What has more germ, your toilet or your own mouth?’ Yes !!! Your mouth !!! Not appetizing at all, our mouth has the exact temperature, damp and is the perfect spot to grow and feed bacterias while a toilet seat is cold and sanitized. Bon appetit !
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- Spring is the perfect time to go to ‘Carré Llorca’

It’s officially official, Spring is here !!! We have to celebrate !

Today in London, like a lot of days in London, it was raining, then sunny and rainy again…

When I think Spring, I automatically think about the south of France and the sea and the food we have in summer.

Food wise I think Alain Llorca.

Native son, his cuisine looks, smells and tastes the south of France.

After graduating and a first experience at the restaurant ‘Les Peintres’ in Cagnes sur mer, he stayed for 8 years in the palace the ‘Negresco’ where he won 2 Michelin stars. His ascension brought him to take the reins of the ‘Moulin de Mougins’ for 4 years before starting his own ‘Carré Llorca’ in Vallauris in 2007 and recently opened one in Nice.

Elegant and informal, the kitchen is open and behind the stoves, Mr Alain Llorca himself, tall and impressive cooking a delicate, sunny, fresh and perfect cuisine.

The service is attentive but not ponderous and the price is just fine, normal, average for that kind of haute and precise cuisine.

It was just a bliss !

http://www.carrellorca.com/

RESTAU

CAVE

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- Savory crumble, to wind-up winter !

Days are getting longer and I feel lighter. Lighter in my mind but physically lighter as well.

Like each year, I have my March crisis. I can’t stand my coat anymore, can’t stand the cold and just want to run naked in my garden !
Slowly it’s coming… Spring !
It’s always something we wait with impatience in London. Blossom trees, jonquils, more smiley people and the cries of children playing football in the street are harbingers of Spring.

I wanted to wind up winter (finally) but in a nice way, it’s the end of butternut squash season so let’s take advantage of it one last time.

Butternut squash and courgette crumble, serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 1 courgette
  • ½ butternut squash
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 small onion
  • 300ml of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100g of pancetta
  • 200g of grounded walnuts
  • 20g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried herbs like rosemary or thyme


Method
:

While preheating the oven at 180°C-Gas mark 4, cut the butternut squash and courgette in little cubes, chop the onion and a few sprigs parsley finely and grind the walnuts in a blender or with a pestle and mortar. Fry the courgette, butternut and onion with a bit oil, salt and pepper and herbs for 10min on low heat.

When it’s golden, add the pancetta and parsley, put everything in a baking tray, cover in half with the stock, sprinkle with a lot of walnuts powder and add a few cubes of butter on the top and put it in the oven for around 15min until there is no remaining stock and golden.

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- Brèves de comptoir #2 February 2014

Here are my ‘Brèves deComptoir’, new monthly for 2014, every end of the month.

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

– One of the cutest kitchen tool is the ‘Yolkfish’ from Peleg Design, to separate yolk and white egg, it’s easy and pretty so no need to struggle anymore or to do it Nigella’s way with both hands, long nail full of yolks, whites dripping on your hands… there is now more elegant and pretty.
http://www.peleg-design.com/     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR0ZESjh0lE

– Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on bug bites are said to relieve itching and inflammation.

– The restaurant guru Alan Yau is about to open a new empire : ‘Duck and Rice’, ‘Park Chinois’ and an unanamed yet Turkish restaurant in 2014. All in Mayfair and Soho of course !

– The SRA Awards (Sustainable Restaurant Association) took place last week and amongst the list of Scottish sustainable restaurant’s winner, SRA Award for sourcing etc… The international sustainable restaurant of the year is French (I have to stop to be chauvinist) in a little town in West central France. Check out the winner list in full :
http://www.thesra.org/some-good-thing/sustainable-restaurant-awards-2014/

– The ART14 at Olympia Grand hosts 4 chefs who will oversea the food at the fair. One different chef every day will cook their signature dishes. Yesterday was Florence Knght from Polpetto, today and the last two days will be Reiner Becker from Zuma, Jason Atherton from Pollen Street Social and Richard Corrigan from Bentley’s and Corrigan’s. This global art fair is a lovely mix with another art : cooking.
http://www.artfairslondon.com/

– Opened 3 weeks ago ‘La Patisserie des Rêves’ is the temple of French gâteaux and viennoiseries. On Marylbone High Street between posh French shops, LPDR, to try absolument !
http://www.lapatisseriedesreves.com/uk/

– Hoxton Street’s new Monster Supplies are the ‘Human preserves’ in line with the ‘Creeping Dread’ and the ‘Milk Tooth’ chocolate you can now eat the ‘Organ Marmalade’ or ‘Thickest Human Snot’, ideal fun gift. Gift from £1.5 at the Ministry of Stories and Liberty.
http://www.monstersupplies.org/

– The meat scandal has reached Sweden. The last scandal reveals that 2,9 tonnes of horsemeat imported last year, could have come from France with falsified papers (not chauvinist anymore).

– In Hong-Kong, the most popular street snack is egg’s waffle. Also called eggette, it’s made from eggs, sugar, flour and evaporated milk. Cooked on a hot griddle with small ‘wells’ it’s consumed in the street and very often plain.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HK_Lower_Wong_Tai_Sin_Eatate_Tung_Tau_Tsuen_Road_n_Ching_Tak_Street_%E9%9B%9E%E8%9B%8B%E4%BB%94.JPG

– The first cat bar in London is opening tomorrow the 1st of March ! Very famous in Japan, it will be tea time while listening to cats purring around. The felines are known to have a soothing effect. Rescued cats only at Cat Emporium in Shoreditch. If I understood well, you have a lot of advantages if you are a member, the tables are for 2 hours only… I feel like I am in the middle of Mayfair in a trendy-pretentious member’s club but this time it’s for a good cause !
http://ladydinahs.com/

 

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- The explosion of the Mexican cuisine

Mexican cuisine is a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican and European cooking , especially Spanish. It’s colorful, vibrant, influenced by different migrants over the centuries. It is tied closely to the culture and traditions.

Mexico is a giant picnic, on every corner people are eating, on every corner there is a stall, a merchant who sells tacos, nopales or tostadas. Mexico City is absolutely, amazingly buzzing and for foodie people, it’s a paradise.

Mexican and South American cuisine are at the front scene for a few years, and the new ‘en vogue’ chefs are proving that they can do a lot more than quesadillas.

Enrique Olvera for example in Mexico City has reinvented the haute cuisine adapting the classic to the modern with local ingredients.

Enrique says that ‘Mexican are getting more professional, there’s also a growing interest from the younger generation — to become chefs who will open high quality restaurants. ‘We have more culinary schools opening up in Mexico now and they are teaching Mexican cuisine, instead of classical French cuisine like they used to do’.

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Women talking, there are a few. From Veracruz, Patricia Quintana is a key figure in contemporary Mexican cuisine and if you go a little higher on the map, there is San Miguel de Allende and Gabriella Green.

Gaby started cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen, growing up in Mexico City. She opened her first ‘fonda’ (family restaurant) in San Miguel de Allende, in 1998. For the next 12 years, Gaby continued operating three different restaurants and a cooking school. That’s where I met her. In her own house, on a sunny morning, I attended one of her class. Very informal, relax, Gaby is one of them, happy and smiley Mexican person, proud of her country, eager to tell us history and stories, and history is so rich in Mexico… When the 3 courses meal was ready, we had a special lesson on how to make the perfect Margarita, the best I have ever had so far.

In 2011 she yearned to make something a bit different.

You can now find ‘La Hierba Buena’ truck in the streets of San Miguel de Allende where Gaby serves anything from Mediterranean to Asian and Jewish dishes, along with her preferred Mexican specialities.

Mexico has a wide range of natural and cultural resources to help ensure a bright future to its cuisine which is at the dawn of its glory and not the future young chef or myself would complain about it.

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- World’s soups

The difference between French and English people is that when English are on strike, they are. Tube lines closures make London a mess. In France, every month there is something to moan about, they definitely do moan and organize a strike which doesn’t mean anything really. French can make arrangements to arrive at work on time anyway, they always have a plan B as they are so use to it, nobody’s shocked anymore.
But in London, a strike is a strike !
I spent 3 hours on the bus yesterday evening without being able to reach my destination on time. I took 3 different buses, walked, waited for a fourth bus which never arrived… I was so late that I decided to go back home as the event I wanted to attend was nearly over when I was only half way.

So happy I was to have comfort food in my fridge. 3 different soups which just needed to be heated and follow me in bed.

3 different soups from 3 different countries :
Pho’: is a popular street food in Vietnam, it’s primarily served with either beef or chicken. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of Pho differ by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs. ‘Borscht’ : is a soup of Ukrainian origin that is popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. Beetroot is the main ingredient in most of those countries. ‘Sopa de frijoles‘ is a Mexican soup, I just put all the main ingredients used in Mexican cuisine.

I would advise you to prepare a big beef or vegetables broth in advance, just double the proportion of water given for the Pho and it will be enough to use for the 3 soups.


Phô
: serves 2,

Ingrédients :

  • 1 marrowbone
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger
  • 100g of rice noodle
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • Fish sauce
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 bunch of spring onion


Method
:

Prepare the broth with 1 liter of water, the marrowbone, ginger and star anise. Bring it slowly to the boil and add some more water when the level is going down, repeat the operation a few times.
Meanwhile, soak the noodles in cold water till they get soft. Cut the meat in little slices, chop 2 branches of spring onion and the white onion. Cut the chili and the coriander.
When your broth is ready and has a lovely smell and a brownish color, prepare 2 bowls.
Put first in, the noodles, then onion, beef, coriander, spring onion. Cover with the broth to the top, add again a bit of coriander, spring onion, chili, lemon squeezed and fish sauce.

 

Borscht serves 2,

Ingrédients :

  • 150g of cooked beetroot
  •  50g butter
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 branch of celery
  • 1/4 of white cabbage shredded
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 75ml of vegetable or beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • Grounded black pepper


Method
:

While you bring your stock to the boil, cut the beetroot in little pieces, the celery and the carrot peeled.
Melt the butter in a pan and soften the onions finely chopped in it, slowly.
Add the celery, carrot, beetroot, bay leaves and stir well. Cook for 10 min adding stock if necessary.
Pour in the rest of the stock and the potato, simmer for 15 min.
Add the vinegar, the garlic cloves crushed, the sugar and black pepper.
At the last minute sprinkle with cabbage shreds .


Sopa de frijoles
, serves 2.

Ingredients :

  • 1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small tin of black ‘frijoles’ beans
  • ½ tin of sweet corn
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ lime
  • ½ small red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • Coriander


Method
:

Put the tomatoes, beans, sweet corn in a pan, add some broth, salt and pepper. When it’s hot, serve and add the chili, coriander, avocado cut in cubes and corn tortilla sliced on the top and sprinkle with lemon juice.

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Bowls and plate : ‘Ceramica Blue‘ – 10 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN – 020 7727 0288
http://www.ceramicablue.co.uk/

Blanket and tray : ‘Pedlars’ 128 Talbot Rd, London W11 1JA – 020 7727 7799
http://www.pedlars.co.uk/

 

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- ‘Brèves de Comptoir’ #1 January 2014

Well, well well… Here are my ‘Brèves de Comptoir’, new monthly for 2014, every end of the month. ‘Brèves de comptoir’ are authentic quotations collected from everyday life and particularly gossips at the bistrot. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. Mine are of course food oriented, a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste… In London and the world…

– We are expecting the new burger in London, the ramen burger . Created by the Japanese-American ramen chef, Keizo Shimamoto. Ramen noodles buns, beef embellished with rocket salad and shallot is a huge success in Brooklyn (NY). Let’s hope I will try one in London soon.

– Farmers can’t cope with the growing demand for snails. Production in the UK is estimated to have increased from around 30 000 snails per year in 2000 to 750 000 this year. No more disgust for the mollusc my British friends ? You will see, very soon you will love frog legs !

– A Mac Donald’s worker has been arrested after heroin was found being sold in a children’s Happy Meal in Pittsburg. After saying ‘ I’d like to order a toy’ and paying the police found 10 bags of heroin in the meal bag they bought and Ms Dennis who denies selling drug was in possession of 50 others.

– There are trends in cuisine too. The charred cuisine. In La Madelaine-sous-Montrueil (Pas de Calais, France), the chef Alexandre Gauthier owner of ‘La Grenouillère’ dares burning something so delicate like scallops. ‘Shame on you’ would say most people. ‘The aim is not to bring fibers to saturation which is unhealthy but to play with raw and cooked report. A brutal cook without altering the taste is a come back to an ancestral French cuisine like smoking or curing’ said Gauthier.

– The Portugese Artist Victor Nunes, brings his illustration to life utilizing everyday objects and food, creating very playfull scenes. http://www.journal-du-design.fr/art/faces-par-victor-nunes-40368/

– The Drawing Center in New-York welcome God’s (Ferran Adria) exhibition ‘Notes on Creativity’. This exhibition focuses on the visualization and drawing practices of the master chef. Hundreds of notebooks have been filled with concepts, ideas, collaged photographs, and loose sketches for new dishes for ElBulli. It charts the origins of this innovator’s intellectual and philosophical ideas about gastronomy that have forever changed how we understand food. ‘Notes on Creativity’, The Drawing Center, New-York City. 25.01 to 28.02.2014.

– In a design studio in Sweden a group of inventor claims to have created a revolutionary (and probably weird) ‘self-cleaning plate’. The team is keeping quiet about the material used but they’ve revealed that the plate is made from a cellulose pulp with a ‘super-hydrophobic’ coating’. Meaning : it’s extremely difficult to get wet and repeals dirt and liquid. Lovely. ‘It’s all based on how nature cleans itself’. Swedish people are very close to nature… They know how nature cleans itself, I don’t… And what if I like my plate to be dirty, flooded with a very juicy, greasy gravy ?

– American mother and son believe they have found the perfect way to reseal a bottle of wine : with a specially designed condom. They attempt to raise money as they need $7,500 (around £4,515) Zero leaks, no adding height, so the bottles are a convenient size for the fridge, easy to carry around in a bag or purse. Potential buyers will be reassured to know that the “condoms” are actually produced by a rubber manufacturer in the food industry. As they say : ‘The perfect protection for wine lover’, romantic no ?

– France consumed 150 million wine cases, while Italy consumed 141 million last year. Chinese, the equivalent of 1.865 billion bottles ! China has surpassed Italy ! And France !!! Pinch me please, I am dreaming ! We are not talking about dim sum but wine ! I thought that we were the best ! Ok they are a lot, but still… The International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR) attribute interest in red wine in China not only to the health benefits of wine, but also to the color. In China, the color red represents good fortune, strength and luck. Pinch me please, I’m dreaming !

– Some people in United States can say that they’ve seen Jesus… A mysterious wealthy man tips restaurant’s staff up to 10 000 dollars! The last time he’s been seen, he ordered 2 drinks, 2 mains and left 1000$ tips for the waiter for a 111.05 dollars bill ! The rumour says that he would be the Paypal former vice-president Jack Selby. Jesus is generous, has now 71 000 followers on Instagram, his tagline ‘’Doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time’, snaps pic of the waiter with the check in hand and post it. Please Jesus if you wander in London one day, I am in Cork Street. God bless !

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- Mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese

There are some days, or week-ends when we don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen but still wow our guests. This week-end (as I am off for 2 days like normal people) is one of them…

This recipe is just what we need this week-end, no fuss, no complication and a whaou! result for a starter, and can be a main if you add for example some lentils.


Mushroom and Gorgonzola cheese
, serves 2

Ingredients :

  • – 2 portobello mushrooms
  • – Watercress
  • – Gorgonzola cheese or Stilton
  • – 1 pear


Method
:

Wash the mushrooms and cut the foots.

Put them in the oven upside down with cheese on top for 15min, high temperature, it’s ready when the cheese is melted and mushrooms had little wrinkles. Et c’est tout ! Serve it on a watercress, rocket or spinash bed and add the pear at the last minute, with a light dressing with olive oil, better if you have, truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Enjoy your week-end !

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- Paris and its Parisians

What to say about Paris ? Paris will always be Paris, there is this inexplicable romantic atmosphere in Paris that makes you want to fall in love.

The Parisians ? I don’t know really, they have this reputation of being arrogant, pretentious… I know a few, met a few and apart from a rude taxi driver and a waiter who seemed desperate or sorry for us as he sells a vulgar beer 7 euros (yes 7), I have been surprised to meet a lot of people who don’t confirm this rule..

Apart from that, just a few dog poops, not that much, I even saw two old ladies to pick up after their dog’s droppings… so where that reputation is coming from ? It’s true that there is no smoke without fire and when we say that Spanish people are loud, Portugese are short, German girls don’t shave their legs and French are dirty it must be based on something, meanwhile, me, I shower everyday and prefer to think that Parisians are like everybody and can have bad days.

I had a long list of ‘to do’ things, we ate a lot and discovered great places.

‘L’Atelier de l’Eclair’, my first stop in Paris, they do savory éclairs. Suitcase still in hand I passed by and grabbed the chicken-curry one and the ‘caramel au beurre salé’ for dessert. I love choux pastry so I will try to be objective, it was delicious !

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You can also personalize your éclair (the shape, the taste and even the message on it), don’t miss it if you go to Paris.

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‘L’Atelier de l’Eclair’, 16 rue Bachaumont Paris 2eme or 66 Ave des Champs Elysées, 8eme.

Then, rue des Martyrs, I FINALLY went to ‘Rose Bakery’. For years (since the opening) I wanted to visit that place. No need to introduce this ‘English kind’ of café. In a city like Paris, full of patisseries, lemon tart and other delightful choux à la crème, it was not a very original idea from someone like me who lives in London, to go to eat scones or carrot cake, but it’s something I wanted to do and it’s now done and I loved it !

Rose who is English cooks home made soups, buttery quiches, pistachio sponges… So it doesn’t matter if it’s French or English !

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‘Rose Bakery, 46 Rue des Martyrs, Paris 6ème, a few other addresses in Paris and one in London on Dover Street.

While I carried on building my ‘to do’ list, a few people told us to go to the ‘Canal St Martin’. A few adjacent streets are in expansion and a lot of eateries and cool places are growing there.

First ‘Rue de la Grange aux Belles’ (such a cute name for a street), ‘AOI Creations’. They do clothing a lot, tableware a bit. They reuse ‘obi’ (massive traditional Japanese belt) to create amazing dresses, kimonos, jackets… (please remind me to go to Paris with more money next time as I wanted to buy the whole shop).

So pretty handmade painted tea cups, bento boxes… You will be warmly welcomed by a charming samourai, eager to talk, explain, give informations about what they do.

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Aoi Creations” 6 Rue de la Grange aux Belles, Paris 10ème, they are present every year at the ‘Animcon’ exhibition in London on 7th and 8th of February.

Lunch break at ‘Sol Semilla’ where I turned vegan for a few hours. Vegan, superfood café selling and cooking with plant from an amerindien heritage and particularly from Peru. Their adventure started in 1992 when they began to sell their herbs on a bio market (you can still find them there every end of the week). They import, process and distribute, they also cook in Sol Semilla. The lovely staff and the Colombian cook Carolina are happy to explain you the process and the recipes, they give yoga class and organize yoga week (the next one in Normandie) and creative cuisine class at the café. As a French, eating frog legs and pig trotters I was actually so surprised as those people are so creative. They make so cute and yummy dishes. You can buy herbs at the café or online, I bought my first Urucum seeds, full of antioxydants and beta caroten. I have started today, half a bottle of water a day, with seeds inside. It has an earthy taste but with a bit of lemon it’s ok and it’s for a good cause, the youth of my skin. Peace and love !

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‘Sol Semilla’, 23 rue des Vinaigriers, Paris 10ème.

A friend talked about a crazy, strange place in Canal St Martin, obviously I wanted to find out more… Behind a house gate surrounded by tags is the ‘Comptoir Général’ – Museum Ghetto, genialissime, just crazy, African, Alice in Wonderland home with an exotic touch and I want to live in Paris just to go to work there ! A snack with African food, exhibitions, concerts, children activities on Sundays, library, garden and ‘office’ to rent daily in an open space with a no-style-at-all-but-great decoration. This magic-abandoned looking house promotes arts from poor countries all over the world and especially Africa. All the benefits are reinvested into financing more artistic projects.

The bushcinema, ‘secousse’ their radio-record shop, the cabinet of curiosities, a music label, a sooo African hair dresser… I can’t tell how much I loved this kitschissime place, me fan of Alice, lover of African people. Just go.

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‘Le Comptoir Général’-Museum Ghetto, 80 Quai de Jemmapes, Paris 10ème.

Also a place not to miss is ‘Le Petit Marcel’ bistrot (4ème) very nice typical French food like ‘Blanquette de veau’, ‘Bavette à l’échalotte’ home made and affordable food as bistrot are expensive in Paris.

So regarding Parisians, I think it’s like every city, every country, we have to adapt ourselves to them and not the opposite, people told me the same for Tunisia and Caribbean and I met there charming people only. We have to be open, smile and be polite and there is no reason for us not to be warmly welcomed. I know I am a dreamer but that’s the way I feel it and remember I am a friend of Alice in wonderland… I had such a good time that Parisian can be pretentious and haughty for true, it doesn’t make any difference for me, I don’t mind, I still want to go back to Paris and fall in love again and again.

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- Bar Italia !

I just wanted to write a few lines about a place I love : Bar Italia.

The whole London knows this little piece of Italy born in 1949. It’s been passed on through three generations and is open 22 hours a day, 7 days a week.

That’s where I used to go for aperitif, sometimes on my own after work, that’s where I met a few ‘habitués’ or where I go at 3am, drunk or not, for a pizza and a cappuccino.

A lot of memories in this cute place decorated with Parma ham and panettone. Me, for an after party dancing rock’n roll by the counter while waiting for food. Me, having a glass of wine at the terrace in freezing winter because it was soooo romantic, me, passing from Bar Italia to Little Italy next door for a boogie on the dance floor after the pizza and after the cappuccino and vice versa.

The food is good, we feel like in Milan while having their famous ‘ristretto’, clients and staff are friendly and they close only from 5am to 7am to do the cleaning.

Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, London W1D 4RF.

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- Poached pear, cheese and Parma ham… and Paris very soon !

 

I am so excited that I find difficult to focus on work. My Paris’ trip is coming soon…. OMG Paris…

Me, French from the south always so excited when it’s about Paris.

Paris is definitely a woman. Beautiful, elegant, generous… Paris and her bistros, Paris and her dogs’ poop on the pavement, Paris and her grumpy people, Paris and her lights and her lovers kissing on benches… I have a long ‘to do’ and ‘to go’ list, I can’t wait ! Of course a Paris’post will follow.

Well, let’s try to concentrate on this new dish.

I tried to elegantly present the version of something I love, the mix cheese, pear and parma ham.

 

Poached pear, parma ham and Roquefort cheese,  serves 4

Ingredients :

– 4 pears

– 12 Parma ham slices

– 25 cl of sweet white wine

– 25cl of water

– 100g of Roquefort cheese

Method :

Peel the pears, cut them in half and empty them. Cut the bottom of the pear, it will be easier to wrap them ‘standing’ with a flat bottom.

Bring the water and wine to the boil. Poached the pears for around 10min. Leave it to cool down a bit and pre-heat the oven on 200°C – Gas 6

Mash the Roquefort and fill the inside of the pear with it.

Close the pears and wrap them gently with Parma ham without forgetting to wrap the bottom of the pear to close it and keep the cheese inside when melting.

Put it in the oven for 10min ‘standing’ the ham has to be a bit grilled.

If you don’t like Roquefort cheese you can use Stilton or even Cheddar. To serve with baby spinach leaves and walnuts to impress your guests.

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- Human cheese !

Happy 2014 !!!

I wish you an amazing new year, let’s forget about the boring false courtesies, so I wish you to run naked in fields, to swim on Trafalgar Square fountain at night (one of my fantasy), drink champagne for breakfast at 6am and of course a lot of love, sex, wine, food and money !

I wanted to start the year in a stinking way. Why not after all ?

The Norwegian scientist Sissel Tolaas is a nose, a smeller, a sniffer…

Her extensive odor archive exceeds 7,000 distinct scents (the perspiration of David Beckham is rumored to live among them—thanks in part to a collaboration with Adidas). I so envy her.

In France, the more the cheese is strong and stinky, the more we like it. For others, the association of pungent odor with those of an un-showered armpit or perhaps feet stayed for too long in trainers can repel.

Tolaas in association with Christina Agapakis, chemist, wanted to celebrate the bacterial link between body and cheese and the possibilities this relationship possesses are at the core of “Selfmade”. They cooked up some fresh human cheese… yes that’s exactly what you think….

Tears, belly button junk and nose scrapings.

Yummy, no ? I feel sick now…

Each cheese was crafted from the starter cultures of the human donor’s skin, which was swiped from the source with a sterile cotton swab. These unique bacteria then shape a unique odor.

The great cheese experiment was part of “Grow Your Own”, an exhibition at the Dublin Science Gallery.

‘Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies?’ was the big question.

The cheese was not made to be eaten (thanks God).

Wine and cheese party ? This time I will have wine only, thank you.

Cheese

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- Food News and Gossips Journal, the last for 2013 !

My ‘Food news and gossips Journal’ is a monthly concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste…in London and the world…

– ‘Sofrito’ (sauce used as a base in Spanish cuisine) can reduce the risk of health disease and cancer. The antioxidant substances in Sofrito (tomato, olive oil, onion…) are known to be effective in preventing prostate and lung cancer. Researchers in Barcelona show how it’s packed with carotenoids and polyphenols. Yes, we all know for a long time that a southern diet is very healthy. What else my Spanish friends? Anything new ?

– Queen Margaret university offers the first UK masters in gastronomy for £8200 a year, cheap no? The teachers, are they all Scottish ?

 – If like me, you don’t like the food on flight, don’t blame airline companies anymore ! Our senses are scrambled at high altitude, the Manchester university said. Sweet and salty sensors might be off as much as 30% while on flight. What do they do with the 70% left ? Are they off too in order not to detect their overcooked pasta ?

– A daily glass of wine could be beneficial to health after scientists discovered moderate alcohol consumption boosts the immune system and could help fight infections (I could have told them that !). That’s what I always say to you and for a long time now, let’s drink red wine !

– If you want to do a good deed in 2014, buy your crockery online at  http://boutique.survivalfrance.org/collections/maison who support tribal people worldwide.

– There are over 1000 kind of sausage in Germany

– After the baobab, the new super food is Amaranth. Typically consumed in West Africa, Amaranth is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and essential minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Just that ! You can find some at : http://www.realfoods.co.uk/product/770/real-foods-organic-amaranth-seeds-gluten-free-vegan-bulk-wholesale it can be cooked, ground, popped, sprouted, or toasted.

– http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25449219 The restaurant Rub & Stub in Copenhagen is fighting against waste and serves food that supermarket don’t sell. Let’s hope a lot will follow.

– What is a known as a method drug-smugglers used to bypass border checks cost a man‘s life after he accidentally drank a pear juice laced with cocaine in the warehouse where he worked in Southhampton.

After those happy and less happy news I wish you a very Happy New Year ! See you in 2014 !

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- Pancakes’ puddings ! Merry Christmas !

First, I would like to apologize for my non presence on the blogosphere for a few weeks.

It’s been hectic, like for everyone who work in hospitality I guess.

My full time job as a chef, my cocktails parties for my clients and on the top of that the organization of a pop up in one month. Four nights of Mexican food and drinks to prepare. It’s done and it was a great success, everybody was happy and they loved the food, we couldn’t expect more.

It’s Christmas in a few days so I wanted to make something Christmassy…. But with leftovers. I hate wasting food and I had the edges of at least 20 pancakes as I made little pancakes bundles, cut with pastry circle, for my client.

I added some cream, egg, cinnamon, it was a pure experiment and it worked very well, but I didn’t dare calling it Christmas pudding as I leave in England and I know that English people don’t joke with traditions and especially with their Christmas pudding !

It’s quick, very easy and yummy.

Just chose a good quality chocolate as white chocolate is tampered chocolate made with a lot of butter so if you don’t buy a good quality one you will end up only with butter in your pan when it will melt.

 

Pancake puddings, serves 6

Ingredients :

– 2 big handfuls of pancakes leftover

– 300ml of double cream

– 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp of ground ginger

– 1 tsp of ground nutmeg

– 4 cloves

– 1 tbsp of dried cranberries or raisins

– 1 egg

– 2 tbsp of sugar

– 250g of good quality white chocolate

– 250g of desiccated coconut

Method :

Mix in a big bowl the cream with the sugar, add the pancakes cut in small pieces then the egg, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg cloves and dried cranberries.

Preheat your oven on gas mark 4 – 180°, grease 6 muffin molds and drop in the preparation after taking off  the cloves if don’t want to bite one and feel like you are at the dentist!

Cook for 30min and leave it to cool down while you are melting the chocolate slowly with a bit of water.

Cover the puddings with the chocolate and straight away gently roll the puddings in coconut.

I was very happy with the result.

To come soon a lot of news and food gossips, recipes and tips on how to cook easy and yummy dishes…

For now, I wish you a very beautiful Christmas with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas !

 

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- Winter salad

Once upon a time in my world….

‘Guys, if anyone tells me again that there is no more coriander in the fridge, I hang you by the balls above the grill’… Lovely… Welcome to my world people… In that particular moment, I am so happy not to be a man and cannot be hanged…

The sous chef, a few days ago at 8am, was a bit upset but still calm when he threaten his brigade full of men and me.

My world is masculine and Mexican for a few weeks.

I learn Spanish for a few month so it’s a very good thing that I work with Spanish speaking people and I am very proud to announce that from a level 1, I am now a level 1.5 !

I obviously learn Mexican cuisine : ceviche, quesadillas, frijoles, chicken ‘al Pastor’… And my ‘delicate French tastebuds’ as they say, are becoming Mexican.

Chili, coriander and lime… But Mexican cuisine is not about chili only. It’s vibrant, so colorful, a mix of sweet and savoury, a warm blanket that envelops you to survive the winter sometimes too arsh, I just love it. My trip to Mexico was just before I started my blog but still I will post some of the pictures very soon to share the beauty of this country and of course Mexico city which is a giant picnic.

For now, I am off today and I am cooking just for a change, my catering menu will change soon, I made some tests this afternoon, like some ‘crunchy Bloody Mary’, ‘ham, chicory and Roquefort cheese rolls’, some black puffs with chocolate which I am not completely happy with…

And here is the picture of this fabulous salad I also made with the same ingredients that I made my ham and chicory rolls. You just need some cooked ham, chicory, orange quarters, Roquefort cheese, walnuts, beetroot and a few celery sticks for the color.

Bon appétit ! Don’t go out, it’s too cold, stay home with comfort food !

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- Pommes boulangères

There is something delicious, so easy, buttery and pretty that my mum used to make a lot  is ‘pommes boulangères’.

I have made the same in small little flan molds. It can be done in loaf baking tin, baking tray…

Pommes boulangères’ serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 100ml of chicken or vegetables stock
  • A lot of butter
  • Salt

 

Method

Peel and wash the potatoes, peel the onions and slice everything very finely, ideally with a mandolin.

Fry the onion on very low heat with butter and a little bit of oil not to burn the butter and brown the onions prettily.

When onions are ready, butter the tins and spread the potatoes slice by slice starting with one layer from the bottom to the edge in order to cover both, a bit of onions slices, add little cubes of butter and salt. Carry on the same way till the tin is full. Pour the chicken stock almost to the top of the mold.

Preheat the oven to 180° and bake for around 30 min.

Pick you knife in the potatoes to find out if they are cooked.

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- Pall Mall Fine Wine

As Christmas displays are on for nearly two months, we can’t forget that Christmas is just around the corner even if we wanted to.

I refuse to think about Christmas yet ! Before Christmas there is Halloween, my birthday and of course, of course, Le Beaujolais !

Beaujolais considered as a bad young wine by sommeliers and experts, still, French people celebrate it happily with saucisson and fromage.

This year again, I will be at La Cave de L’Opera, my favourite wine shop in London.

Number 1

The oldest existing arcade in the world (from 1818) shelter La Cave de L’Opera where I spent, let’s say a few romantic evenings as well as very long ‘apero’….

Number 2

Number 3

An old piano and a record player for a cosy and intimate evening, a lot of tastings, art exhibition and delicacies to pair with your drink lovingly chosen by Monsieur Aurelien.

He is the character of the place, the one who tells the stories behind the wine’s name (my favourite is the story of ‘Padre Pio’), the one who buys some ‘perles rares’ like wines from Georgia and Croatia and the one we just like to have a chat with about what make his eyes sparkle…wine.

Number 4

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NUmber 9

Number 012

Numero 8

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Number 12

The next event is the 5th of November for the exclusive launch of Amber Glen Scotch whisky from 6pm, see you then !

Pall Mall Fine Wine

6-7-8 royal Opera Arcade

Pall Mall, London

SW1Y  4UY

00 44(0) 207 321 2529

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- Food news and gossips journal

My ‘Food news and gossips Journal’ is a concentrate of what feed my life, what I swallow every day, what I read, hear, try, taste…

-Event of the month : ‘Triple hop’. A combination of beer tasting, street art and illustration exhibition. Live brewing, live drawing while you enjoy your beer. www.columnartsagency.co.uk

-12% of airplane water on plane tested positive for coliform in the US.

-‘Jo&Seph’s’ make an impressive and very original range of pop-corn : salted caramel, cheddar and smoked paprika and gin and tonic !!! You can order online, go to stockists in London or venues like Quaglino’s new private club ‘Hutch’. www.joeandsephs.co.uk.

-Avocado leaves have an aniseed flavor and are used to make a sparkling alcoholic drink in Africa called Babine.

-Central London’s first winery is in Earl’s Court, owned by Australians who make wines from grapes grown in France and trucked to London. It is the first London cru.

-The new fruity trend is the baobab pulp. This ancient plant is hailed as the next big thing. Baobab fruit powder is packed with nutritional goodness. It is low in sugar and fat yet high in fibre, have six times more vitamin C than an orange, twice as much calcium as a glass of milk and more iron than a steak. You can support the ‘Baobab project’ in Madagascar : www.pinkforest.org and buy some baobab pulp on www.aduna.com

-The foodies’ buckets list : a study reveals six in 10 people said they would choose a great food experience over any other ‘life’ experience.

 -A girl called Jack’s book will be out in February 2014, the girl who can make a £10 a week budget for food happens, writes a blog and can make a chili for 39p per person.

-Tesco in Covent Garden closed down after a health inspector discovered giant mice wandering in a filthy shop, feeding themselves with proteins (the meat for customers) and leaving droppings everywhere.

-To finish with an exotic touch, ‘Peyote’ is about to open. Mexican restaurant where I will be behind the stove ! Opening end of this month. Buen provecho !

‘Peyote’, Cork Street W1.

Peyote

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- Homemade face pampering

When I was 16 and started clubbing, I went out every Saturday night till Sunday morning 11am. I had to wait for the bus as I lived outside the city where only two buses a day were going.

We waited in a café with my girlfriends till I went back to my country side for a huge breakfast, a homemade hair mask and a long sleep till Monday morning.

My mum who called me at the time ‘ratapignata’ (the bat in Niçois) laughed at me while I prepared my hair mixture : honey, egg yolk and lemon juice that I applied on my hair and went to bed with a wool hat and a towel not to stain my pillow.

Years later (just a few) I don’t look after my hair so much but I do with my skin.

As we grow old the skin doesn’t get better (at least mine) so I organized a spa at home last night.

Natural ingredients for a scrub, mask and turmeric tea (while the mask is posing) as I read that turmeric is fabulously healthy.

We all know that we can put all the cream we want if we don’t scrub regularly and deadly moisturize every day, the skin won’t be better. And the advantage with those natural cares is that you could leek both the scrub and mask without risking being intoxicated with chemicals.

 

Facial scrub (for 1 bowl, enough for you and a few girlfriends for a few applications)

Ingredients :

  • 6 tbsp of brown sugar
  • ½ bol of pure coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice

 

Method :

Liquefy the coconut oil by heating it, add the sugar, lemon juice and mix.

To preserve, put it in a jar with a lid or even in a covered bowl in the fridge. You will just have to take a little bit when needed, heat it in microwave or even in a pan as the coconut oil will be frozen.

 

Last minute making facial mask

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp of honey
  • A zest of lemon juice

 

Method :

Mix both of them in a bowl and apply after your scrubbing. Honey is a very good moisturizer. Leave it to pause for 10min while you are drinking the famous turmeric tea.

 

Just for our own culture, turmeric is a plant of ginger family. India and Pakistan are the main producers and use it in curries. It was first used as a dye (that’s why I didn’t try when I read that it was great as mask but could leave stains) and then later for its possible medicinal properties.

In India, turmeric has been used traditionally for thousands of years as a remedy for stomach and liver ailments, as well as to heal sores, basically for its supposed antimicrobial property. A fresh juice or a tea is commonly used in many skin conditions, including eczema, chicken pox, shingles, allergy, and scabies. My colleagues from Nepal confirmed that’s used as body cleanser.

Its saffron color is very beautiful but my very first sip was a bit disappointing as it tasted like sand or clay or something from the soil. If you add a bit of lemon and honey and let it to cool down just for a few minutes, it’s magical, the taste of ginger appears and it’s so much nicer.

 

Turmeric tea

Ingredients :

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • Lemon and honey

 

Method :

Bring the water to the boil and add the turmeric, stir for a few minutes and drain it in an old clean clothes (be aware that you are going to dye your cloth in a wonderful orange color), add the lemon and honey. It can be kept a few days in the fridge.

 

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- Beetroot tarte tatin

I have to confess, I have never done any puff pastry and probably never will.

I know, I know, a lot of you are now so disappointed as you think that I am perfect and can do anything…. You are wrong.

Puff pastry is too fussy to make, only a pastry chef will say that’s easy, and I am not a pastry chef, sorry.

I am also sorry for not being perfect, there are a lot of things I have never made, like a pavlova or that amazing sauce that my father makes every time we organize a barbecue in Nice with harissa, spring onion and a few spices… I have never made waffles nor prawn curry and God knows how much I love both !!!

Regarding my non-perfection I also needed to say that I can be lazy sometimes, yes, yes.

I haven’t written anything for a few weeks now.

I watched a movie one evening and I met my friends for drinks, and spent a whole evening reading in my bed.

Confessing it on my blog oblige me to take my own responsibilities, see the reality and tell myself that I should work harder. Cooking for my clients, working part time in a members club days or evening shifts, going to wine tasting and food safety training is not enough !

Voilà, it’s said, I feel better now.

On my ‘back to school’ (I know I am one month late but I told you, I am not perfect) program there’s also a beetroot tarte tatin. Again something I had never done before, even less with beetroot.

With these proportions you can make one big or two small. I opted for the small ones.

Beetroot tarte tatin’ serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 1 ready to roll puff pastry
  • 4 little beetroot cooked
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 75 g of caster sugar
  • 40g of butter
  • A few thyme sprigs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Goat cheese or creamy cheese

 

Method :

1.Put the sugar in a frying pan and over a medium heat, stir until it dissolves. Add a pinch of salt, butter and balsamic vinegar, and keep stirring. The mixture will turn foamy, but keep stirring on the heat until it has gone a dark brown colour – but don’t let the sugar burn.

2. Add honey and thyme leaves, take off the heat and stir.

3. Cut the beetroots either in large slices or very thin with a mandolin, it will give you a different effect, I chose the very thin slices. Place them in the pan with the sugar and vinegar. Leave them for a few minutes. Put the beetroot slices on a round pie baking tin or the two small, one by one and working in a spiral into the centre. Use all of them to the top of the tin and add salt and pepper on each layer.

4. Preheat the oven at 160/180°C, gas mark 4.

5. Put your puff pastry on the top and cut your dough around 5 cm larger than your tin. Tuck the edges down and put it in the oven for around 30min or till the pastry is golden.

6. With a plate that is larger than the baking tin, upturn the plate over it and holding the two together, flip the lot over. Leave it for 30 seconds for the caramel to mostly fall from the pan onto the plate, then remove the plate.

7. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Serve hot.

 

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- Biscuits and praline cream verrines

I am back to my first love : sea, cicadas and rosé wine. I am in Nice as my brother is getting married. I heard that I would be the cook … A lot of pressure.

The menu is done, we’ll start the shopping today. Just a bit of time to give you one of my sister’s verrine recipe. My sister also called ‘miss apero’ is a queen in that perview.

Biscuit and praline cream verrine’ serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 4 tbsp of strong coffee with no sugar
  • 4 biscuits (cookies, digestive)
  • 1 tin of praline or vanilla cream

Method :

Pour the warm coffee in a soup plate and deep rapidly one biscuit in it, break it into big chuncks and place it in the verrine. Cover with a small layer of cream, add again a biscuit soaked in coffee and finish with cream and crumble with some dry biscuit.

Verrines

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- Grana Padano and San Daniele prosciutto, the taste of tradition

I attended the Grana Padano and Proscuitto di San Daniele master class a few weeks ago.

 Meeting with Carlo, Daniela and Giancarlo at Cafè Caldesi, Marylbone, 8.30am.

With croissants and ‘cafè ristretto’ we had an introduction with the PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin).

PDO guarantees the reliability, traceability etc… People like you and I can now check the typicality of Prociutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano cheese.

The San Daniele ham is an air-cured ham produced in San Daniele Del Friuli in Northern Italy. Made from fresh pig thighs, born and reared in Italy, fed according to the standards and sea salt, that’s it, no preservatives, nothing.

After a minimum of 13 months ageing period in the perfect region of Udine (between Alps and Adriatic sea) a series of code are marked on the pigs’ rind to assure its origin.

What’s next ? Eating ! To glory Prociutto di San Daniele at its best, just eat it by itself or with a stick of bread and a white dry wine or cooked in a pasta dishes.

The story of Grana Padana cheese is a bit the same, respect of the traditions (back to 1100AD), production in North Italy in the Padano Valley.

The 24-40 kg wheels shaped cheese are matured slowly from 9 to 24 months, are not made by the monks anymore but the taste is intact, divine, and… divine.

The difference between parmesan cheese and Grana Padano ? First, Parmesan cheese is a nickname to call that range of dry and granular Italian cheese. Parmigianno Regiano is its real name. They are both matured and aged in Northern Italy, Grana Padano is a bit more granular, more nutty, less salty and less fat than Parmigiano which is made with a mix of whole and skimmed milk while the Grana Padano’s process uses only skimmed milk.

We had a practical session at ‘La cucina Caldesi’ with Giancarlo the owner.

It was very Italian, lively, enjoyable and delicious.

A few recipes and glasses of wine later I am so planning to visit Daniela and her ‘Prociutto crudo’ world in October

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Grana Padano and prosciutto fritters (makes approximately 25 balls)

 

For the fritters :

  •  100g of Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 100g prosciutto di San Daniele thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of black pepper

 

For frying :

  • Sunflower oil
  • 100g flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g bread crumbs

Method :

Put all the fritters ingredients in a bowl and mix well to form a dough. The mixture should be soft but not wet. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more egg, if too soft, add extra Grana Padano cheese.

Form the mixture into small balls approximately 2cm in size.

Heat the oil in a large pan or a deep fat fryer to 160°C

To test if it’s hot enough, drop a small piece of bread into the oil, if it quickly becomes golden and bubbles then the oil is at the correct temperature.

Beat the egg in a bowl. Put the flour into another bowl and breadcrumbs in a third bowl. Dip each ball first into flour and then in the egg. Finally roll them in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Deep fry the balls until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minute. Drain them on kitchen paper. Serve hot or at room temperature, with a spicy tomato sauce for dipping.

 

For the spicy tomato sauce :

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies (depends on your taste) seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2x400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and black pepper

 

Method :

Heat the olive oil in pan and fry the onion over a medium heat until soft. Add the chili and fry for 1 minute.

Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the tomatoes and garlic.

Simmer for 30-40 min uncovered, until the sauce is reduced. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

 

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- Aubergines fritters

Aubergines are at their best from July to September.

Native to India, aubergine has been cultivated there since the prehistory. The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century.

It’s sometimes recommended salting aubergines to make them ‘sweat’ before cooking to eliminate the excess of water. I don’t do it. I think it’s hassle for nothing.

I prepared a batter to make fritters as I used to eat them since I was a kid but wanting something more sophisticated I added parma ham and cream cheese.

 

Aubergines and parma ham fritters, serves 4.

Ingredients :

  • 2 small aubergines washed and cut into stripes lengthwise.
  • 2 slices of parma ham
  • A few spoons of cream cheese

 

Ingredients for the Batter :

  • 100g of flour
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • Half of tsp of baking powder

Method :

Dilute the flour in warm water, add the egg, baking powder and salt.

The batter can be made a few hours in advance.

Place half of a Parma ham slice on each aubergines stripes, spread some cream cheese, roll the aubergines and close them with a wooden stick.

Heat a large amount of oil in a frying pan, plunge the aubergines in the batter and in the oil.

Fry them evenly until golden everywhere, when they are cooked, set them on an absorbent paper, remove the wooden stick and serve with a salad.

If I were you, I would double the recipe as one fritter per person is not enough as it’s so delicious.

 

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- Baked peaches and ricotta cheese

Let’s talk about peach. Vitamine C and A, tarts, soups, baked and of course one my soft spot, Bellini.

I make this dessert often and it’s always a great success.

Count one peach or two per person, some ricotta cheese, honey and almond flakes.

Wash and halve the peaches, preheat the oven on a low heat, put a little honey on the peaches and put them in the oven on a grease proof paper for around half an hour.

When they become soft and a bit wrinkled take them out, put a tea spoon of ricotta cheese on each peach, a bit more honey and almonds.

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- Cherries and food’s gossips

Jamie Oliver is very upset with people who buy ready to eat fruits (already peeled and cut), the rumors are saying that Nigella Lawson is getting divorced and Bruno Loubet has vegetables which are not in season on his new restaurant’s menu (Bruno we need to talk),the food industry keeps moving, which is a good thing, a lot of news and gossips…

Gays club in London and in a few cities in the world banned Russian Vodka after Vladimir Putin’s government human rights abuses. Restaurants disputes with Trip Advisor keep on going, can we trust web-users? People like you and me who review restaurants and hotels?

UK produces 186400 tonnes of broccoli a year, it’s the season, British growers produced three times more in 2013 due to the cold Spring (or better, the Spring we didn’t have) so if we fancy salad because of the heat, broccoli are delicious boiled with a little vinaigrette and tomatoes.

Brown trouts can survive in contaminated water in a river in Cornwall. They are able to tolerate extreme metal concentrations which would have killed fish from unpolluted water.

Animals and human beings have to adapt themselves to climate, pollution, the world and the food industry are changing …

Thanks God, Matt Tebbutt is not changing, still very cute even when he’s cooking tripes on a TV show.

The Wilderness festival is the following week-end (8th to 11th of August) damn, I can’t make it ! I have to cook for my client. Yotam Ottolenghi will be cooking with Mark Hix, damn I can’t make it !!!! St John restaurant organizes the ‘Grand aioli Feast’ DAMN ! I CAN’T MAKE IT !!!! Plus music, theatre, art exhibitions…. Enjoy for me.

To finish our foodie news, sign-up now to show your support to Sustainable Fish City http://http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/  to help London to become the first Sustainable Fish City. The application is free on I-Phone. Schools, restaurants owners, food industry’s people or not, it gives great tips on how to buy and eat sustainable fish and how we can push people and restaurateurs to do so… It’s a great idea ! While you have a look, I am heading to my kitchen where cherries are waiting for me.

 

Quinoa, cherries and cream cheese salad – serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 200g of quinoa
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • ½ small onion
  • 10 cherries pitted and halved
  • 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt
  • Little chunks of creamy or feta cheese
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprouting cress

 

Method :

Boil 250ml of water in a pan, add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. While the quinoa is cooking, put olive oil in a little pan and roast the hazelnuts with a pinch of cinnamon for a few minutes and set aside. Chop the onion very finely and fry it in olive oil and mix it with hazelnuts.

After 15min when the quinoa becomes dry, taste it, if still uncooked add a bit of water and keep on cooking it till the grains are soft.

Let the quinoa to cool down and set-up your plates, quinoa first then, yogurt, half of the hazelnuts-onions mix, salad leaves, cream cheese, the rest of hazelnuts-onions mix and sprouting cress.

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- Onion confit

If your mum is like mine, if she comes back from the market with two kilos of onions when you send her to buy only one for your recipe, when she doesn’t understand that you don’t have 5 children and you don’t want to waste food by buying too much at the same time, when you stopped fighting, you just have to find a solution.

‘You can freeze, you have a freezer now’ she always tells me. In case of a war, I am ready, as yes, I have a freezer.

My advice : make a ‘confit’.

We call it confit, purée or onion jam, it doesn’t really matter, the result counts, it’s delicious with meat, on a toast, with foie gras, and a glass of Sauternes.

In a sterilized jam jar you can keep it for months if you don’t eat it before. There are a lot of different recipes, with herbs, honey, tomato… This one cannot be more simple, onions, sugar, balsamic vinegar. Nothing more.

Ingredients – for a little jar

  • 500g of onions
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar

Method :

Chop the onions finely, and put them in a pan with 4 tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat.

When they are transparent, add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and finish to cook slowly for again 20min.

Et c’est tout !

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- Potato-mango mash

After several events cooking for my clients, I can, at least today, come back to my very first love, eating !

I am reading a book which I won’t mention the name as it’s a bit boring, but that book is about food of course and the author was talking about pureed watercress. Lunch time, craving for that watercress purée, I realized that we are not in season, but not at all.

Still obsessed (strange as it’s the salad trend at the moment with that heat) I remembered one of my colleague telling me what she cooked for her boyfriend a few weeks ago. A kind of potatoes-mango mash, with coriander, lime…

 

Potato-mango purée – serves 2

Ingredients :

  • 2 medium potaoes
  • 1 small mango
  • 1 quarter of a red or white onion
  • Coriander leaves
  • Half of a lime or lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Chilli sauce

 

Method :

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water. While they are boiling, peel the mango and cut it in big chunks.

When the potatoes are ready, mash them with the mango, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, onion, coriander and olive oil. Et c’est tout ! It’s a summary purée that you can enjoy warm or cold. With a grilled fish it’s just heaven.

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- The day I met God

It’s all right, I can die now. I’ve seen God…

‘Ferran Adria and the art of food’ exhibition booked months ago finally arrived, it was yesterday.

Somerset House, little exhibition talking about Ferran Adria’s life and of course his nearly 30 years of work at El Bulli. That’s what I thought…

So, Somerset House, little exhibition, I was right and a bit disappointed thinking that we finished after half an hour as I didn’t see that the first floor was dedicated to him as well.

Busy reading the story of El Bulli and how it all started… My friend called me, I turned my head and behind my friend, Ferran himself was smiling at us. It was like you are in a long dark tunnel and then you see the light, God smiling at you… I still can’t believe what I saw, was it a mirage? Hallucination maybe?

I am not a groupie kind and don’t get excited at all when I see someone famous, I don’t ask for picture or autograph…. But people, please, we are talking about God !

Eyes and mouth wide open, goose bumps, he blessed us with his smile, his broken French, his strong Spanish accent and his contagious energy.

How can he be so humble ? How come is he here ? Talking to people who were just expecting to go to a food exhibition, not to see him in person.

He asked if we work in hospitality, explained us what’s going on on the first floor, advising that we should come back to spend a few hours to take the time to understand, look… Again that little flame in his eyes when he talks about his work.

We spend a good three hours in there looking at his creations, recipes, process and on little screens how he brings his creativity to life.

My friend was telling me that at this stage it’s neurosis, alienation… Of course it is, how can you reach that level without being immersed so deeply in your art that other things are secondary?

In Harvard they study the El Bulli’s case, “creativity comes first; then comes the customer,” Ferran Adria said. So what can students learn about marketing from a business owner who says he doesn’t care whether or not customers like his product?

Harvard professor’s interest in what motivates seemingly irrational consumer behavior has found a perfect subject in Adrià. To eat at El Bulli, customers had to book at least one year in advance. If they were lucky enough to be one of the 8,000 people who get a booking that year, they were then given a date and time to show up. Reaching El Bulli’s coastal perch involved traveling to Barcelona, then driving two hours of narrow mountain roads and then enjoy a five hours meal of whimsical dishes prepared by Adrià and his army of cooks.

The once-in-life-time meal represents hours of laborious research, testing, and preparation and to create those experiences, you can’t listen to the customer, he said.

“Adrià’s idea is that if you listen to customers, what they tell they want will be based on something they already know.”

Opened only 6 months a year, 30 to 40 cooks for 50 customers a day, Adria said that he should have charged 600 euros for a meal, “but I do not cook for millionaires. I cook for sensitive people.”

If he doesn’t listen to customers but yet his customers are some of the most satisfied in the world it’s definitely a marketing subject to study. He is taken as an example, as the best chef in the world and God for some… If you remember my post from the 3rd of May 2012 called ‘I missed God’ http://www.marlenefoodstyling.com/2012/05/i-missed-god/

One year later, I can tell that I’ve seen him, so close, he even hugged me.!

El Bulli closed in 2011, God is now flying to other celestial spheres with his El Bulli foundation and hundreds of other projects, still immersed in his own world, a world in which normal people don’t have any access, genius only have the key.

 

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Ferran Adria and the art of Food’

5th of July to 29th of September

Somerset House

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/elbulli-ferran-adria-and-the-art-of-food

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- Rachel’s sushi class

Summer is here and it’s raining, still… My strawberries in my garden are pushing very hard to get red but poor them, without sun what can they do ? If I could eat a few before October, that would be great as in October it will be raining again.

Having a rain break would make my year.

While I am talking about the weather I am preparing a big event for next week. 150 people to feed with Spanish way canapés, I am over the moon.

Another client asked if I can do sushi, and proudly I said yes, because it’s true, I had a cooking class a few weeks ago  at Rachel’s kitchen.

She organizes private and corporate cooking classes. My friend bought me a ticket for my birthday… Back in November.

I really enjoyed the class with my glass of wine in a nice and relax atmosphere, Rachel taught us from where to buy the best ingredients to the art of rolling.

Sushis, sashimis and makis have no secret for me anymore, I was very proud as I found mine very pretty and delicious. To celebrate this success, we enjoyed our sushis followed by Rachel’s mango and rum sorbet and a wasabi ice-cream coming straight from heaven.

Thank you Rachel, thank you Stéphanie for this obvious but my first one of a kind gift and thank you Virginie for allowing me to fully enjoy my class while you were taking great pictures.

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www.rachels-kitchen.com

Tel: + 44 (0)20 3308 2911

Email: hello@rachels-kitchen.com

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- Chicken, mango and cashew nuts

Sunday morning. Before going to work, after making some baked potatoes, a strawberry jam, after calling my friend, doing my hair and my nails, here we go a ‘Mango chicken with cashew nuts’ :

Ingrédients : serves 2

  • 2 chicken brests
  • 2 mangoes
  • 1 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 5cl of pineapple juice
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of starch
  • ¼ of tsp of ginger (fresh or powder)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 75g of almonds in sliver
  • 75g of cashew nuts

 

Method :

Cut the chicken in medium pieces and fry them with oil or butter (if possible in a wok).

Add the peppers sliced, almonds and cashew nuts.

In a bowl, mix the soya sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, starch, sugar and ginger.

When the chicken and peppers are cooked, add the sauce. Once the sauce gets thicker, reduce the heat and add the mangoes sliced. Let is cook for 3 min and serve it with rice.

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- The confusion of being a responsible eater

I will never stress enough on how important it is to read a recipe till the end before starting. Actually I should apply that to myself first.

Read the ingredients of course but also the method till the end. Not like me, ready, happy to plunge my hands in a heap of flour, almond powder, egg… and realize that the dough has to rest for 4 hours in the fridge… ‘this stage is essential’ the recipe said. Well I still have to improve my organization skills, it’s all a question about organization unless you have the whole evening to cook while sipping a glass of red with Charles Aznavour (I love Charles Aznavour when I cook).

I went to the market this morning, to buy my vegetables on Golborne road where Mister the trader tries to talk to me in Spanish for 3 years as he still think that I am, where the cash and carry owner asks what I am cooking today and gives me advices. And then my butcher who nearly choked while drinking his tea when I told him that I was thinking of becoming vegetarian.

I had this thought yes… It doesn’t mean I will do it but with everything I read about meat scandals, it’s getting very difficult not to be lost between my beliefs, an ethical conscience I hope to have, responsible healthy eating, seasons, human beings… The more I read papers, articles, the more I wonder, who do we have to trust?

A study shows that seven in every ten people think that it’s important to buy sustainable fish but only 30% do so because they are confused by labeling. We buy food which is supposed to be organic, but it’s not. Because of our consumerism’s habits, normality is to have summer fruits in winter on supermarket, so market traders are following.

More than two thirds of people consider buying British produce important and almost three quarters look to buy British fruits and vegetables, more than three quarters of people think animal welfare is important but only two thirds seek out free range eggs and only half try to buy free range chicken.

My butcher was telling me that a customer bought a free range chicken and came back unhappy because it was too hard and dry. People don’t know the taste of a real chicken anymore and prefer the ones who spend their 6 or 9 months life in a cage instead of the one who runs in fields and so has muscles.

Almost two thirds of people say that buying ethical products is important, and 30 % seek out Fairtrade tea and coffee.

It’s encouraging as people show good will and concerns but on the other hand, British asparagus cost £3 a bunch and the Spanish one £1.50, why would we buy the British when I can have 2 Spanish for the same price. It’s a commitment but a non–sense too.

Why does Tesco sell Dutsch strawberries and Sainsbury spring onions from Kenya and Mexico when I have myself spring onions and strawberries now in my garden? Strawberry are full in season now and they grow in UK so what ?

According to another recent study, UK is the only place in the world that a fall for organic food has happened, in the rest of the world there is strong growth.

Even though confusion is here, the topic is important enough for us to think about and care, at least.

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- Black olives shortbreads

Same time, seven years ago, I landed in London with a suitcase heavier than me, two huge bags and three words of English. Despite its ups and downs my life is still a journey in London and that’s one of the reason why I am still in love with her.

To celebrate my seven’s birthday and a lot of eating, I made some shortbreads, South of France way, with black olives and olive oil, recipe from Mister Pierre Hermé, the God who revolutionized the macaron, the one called ‘The Picasso of pastry’.

Ingrédients :

For around 60 little shorbreads

  • 1 egg
  • 400 of butter at room temperature
  • 15cl of olive oil
  • 220g of icing sugar
  • 3g of ‘fleur de sel’
  • 500g of flour
  • 100g of starch
  • 140g of black olives (with stones is better as they are tastier)

Method :

Cook the egg in boiling water for 10min, shell it, cut it in half and keep the yolk.

Pit the olives, chop them coarsely.

In that order, put in a bowl : butter, olive oil, icing sugar, salt, egg yolk, flour, starch and olives. Mix quickly with your hands between each ingredient without waiting to obtain a ball.

Put the dough in the fridge for 2 hours.

After those 2 hours, you can froze it if you need. If so, take it out of the freezer the day before you want to use it and leave it to defrost slowly in the fridge.

Preheat the oven at 165°/Gas 3

Divide the dough on four pieces, spread one of them on a floured space to have a 6mm thick disc.

With 55mm circle cut the dough in little rounds and with a spatula, put them on a baking tray covered with baking paper.

Put it in the oven for 18/20min. Leave them to cool down outside the oven on the tray (they are very friable when they are hot) and set them in an airtight container where they can be kept for several weeks.

Have a great week-end everyone, I will be back next week with strawberries !

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- Chocolate pasta and prawns

So, I think we can say it now, Spring is here !!!!

Everything is more beautiful with the sun, people are more beautiful and smily, gardens are more beautiful, we walk barefoot and don’t worry about what to wear really…

After a routine check earlier this week at the hospital, they told me that I lack of vitamine D… I told you! I should have gone sun bedding ! For people from the south it was too much ! Too much rain, too much cold and too much grey (I don’t like grey it’s a sad color).

Presciption from my doctor? A lot of sun. I love that!

Like every year when she sun shows up, I try to spend most of my time outside, I work, eat and drink in my garden, don’t want to go in the house, don’t want to go to bed.

On that wonderful day yesterday, I finally cooked my chocolate pasta bought a few months ago, mixed with my most urgent yesterday’s envy : prawns, Mediterranean way (meaning : with what I had left in the fridge).

Well, the prawns were great with chopped fresh tomatoes, hot cucumber, lemon juice, soy sauce and a lot of salt and pepper, but mixed with the chocolate pasta (that’s all I had) I am still not convinced.

The same way but with fresh normal pasta would have been so much better. So make it simple, simple pasta with olive oil, a few prawns on the top and a lot of sun.

Happiness can be as simple as that.

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- ‘Maison d’étre’ café

How to be objective when talking about your friend’s coffee shop?

It’s like when I ask my mum’s opinion about what I do or the way I look… Everything is great for her when it comes from me. Love is blind.

But because I am not a food critic and write about places I love only, I am sure you will believe my objectivity.

‘Maison d’être’ would be my canteen, my every-morning-coffee coffee shop, my internet café if it was in my area… Happy are people who live in Highbury/Islington as it’s one of the cutest café in London.

Antique decoration on white walls where local artists exhibit, nice cakes and beautiful coffee (and I am objective).

Their coffee is coming from a London roastery and is chosen scrupulously, giving, I quote : ‘Rich chocolate aroma with hints of sweet summer fruits ripeness and smooth buttery texture’ poetic, no ? Coffee lovers will be delighted.

The cherry on the cake, the conservatory at the back where it’s good to have a pause.

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Miss the owner, besides being pretty, can bake! Here is one of her recipe :

Pistacchio, rose water and cardamome cake’

Cake

Ingredients :

  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 150g pistachios
  • 100g almonds
  • 170g semolina flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 300g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 30ml rose water
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

Method :

Pre-heat the oven to 175°c/gas mark 4.

Combine the cardamom, pistachios & almonds in a food processor and blend until it becomes a fine powder. Add in the semolina & baking powder and mix.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until light.

Beat in the eggs and then the lemon juice, rose water & vanilla.

Poor the eggs mixture in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Grease your mould very generously with butter. Pour in your preparation up to two third to prevent it overflows while cooking.

 Bake for approx. 50 minutes

Syrup:

Ingredients :

  • 120ml lemon juice
  • 100ml rose water (or 1 tbs rose jam)
  • 120g sugar

Method :

Combine together the ingredients in a large saucepan & bring to a boil (medium heat)

Pour the syrup over the cake when it’s still hot.

Icing:

Ingredients :

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 10ml rose water
  • 1 lemon juice

Method :

Mix  lemon juice, icing sugar and rose water until smooth.

Wait until the cake is completely cold to unmold and add the icing on the top.

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‘Maison d’être’

154 Canonbury Road

London

N1 2UP

 

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- Papaya salad

I am not going to start talking about the weather again, to avoid you my moans.

The good news is that my brother is getting married, I spent one week in Nice and obviously the main conversations were about the big day.

I love staying to one of my sister’s in her little cute flat. I lie down heavily on her sofa to watch TV (it’s a luxury for me as I don’t have any in London), while she is cooking for me. The only thing that moves is my thumb on the remote control.

My sister is a great cook, actually she cooks more than me. Together we watched cooking programs with a glass of wine talking about the menu for that big day. I love those privileged moments.

So yes, good guess, the other good news is that we are going to cook for our brother’s wedding, the three sisters behind the stove. Happy bro?

I started to experiment. We saw a chef on a program making a papaya salad ‘carottes râpées’ way. It was beautiful, the only thing is, it’s unrealizable unless your papaya is not ripe, meaning tasteless. I tried, yesterday…and today with new and less ripe ones, same thing, I grated them softly and all I obtain was a puree, it’s good if you want a smoothie.

I chopped all of them very finely by hand but still, it’s too juicy to obtain the dry ‘carottes râpées’ effect.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in your kitchen, just slice the papaya, add some fresh peas and strawberries (both are in season now), the mix is great. No need to boil the peas, just marinate them half an hour before with a lemon-lime and olive oil dressing. Even without the ‘carottes râpées’ effect, the result is the same, pretty and delicious.

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- 9am ? Perfect timing for a smoked salmon tasting !

What’s more refreshing than a smoked salmon tasting at 9am on Saturday?

One month ago, Tom, a food critic, invited me to a tasting at H. Forman and Son… In Hackney Wick… Never been before… Hackney yes, Hackney Wick, never heard… Well, it’s a very arty area, loads of factories transformed in flats or cafes, dead on that morning as the whole London was. It was again bloody snowing (excuse my French) so everybody was grumpy (I was at least), fed up and thought that because of a big lack of vitamin D, sun bedding would be the only way not to fall in depression.

So that morning I was not very objective, I just tried, coming from West, to reach the place on time and brave the snow after a long night shift and 4 hours sleep.

Pleasantly surprised when I arrived to see that a warm tea and salmon were waiting for us.

Lance Forman himself was here to tell us his story. He is the great grand-son of Harry Forman, founder of the company when just arrived from Russia and stopped imported salmon form the Baltic when he found some much closer, in Scotland. That’s how it’s all started…

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During the tasting we heard the little anecdotes about the family and a lot about salmon. From the way they put down the fish (a less traumatic way than the one used in Norway for example) till the very end, packing for their clients, the whole process is made by hand.

After its arrival (within 24 hours with being caught) the fish is cleaned, cut, sprinkled with rock salt, and filleted by hand.

While some producers don’t have any ethical problem by using machines which damage the flesh if it’s too fresh, H. Forman and Son care and aim for respect and freshness first.

Some less scrupulous inject brine and leave the pellicle intact (the chewy one formed by smoking) to increase salmon’s weight then add sugar to hide the saltiness. What a complicated process to raise margins!

We had 8 different salmons to taste from H. Forman and Son and their competitors followed by a tour of the factory and the kitchen.

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Salmon is what they are famous for, for more than 100 years, they created a wide range of aromatic gravlax, wasabi and ginger (my favorite), sweet beetroot, Thai-spiced, Vodka, chilli and lime, tequila and parsley, and because they expanded during this century they deliver to your door complete picnic hampers, all sort of delicatessen and ready to eat dishes.

As you understood, H.Forman and Son don’t laugh with the respect of the tradition and fight very hard to keep that level of quality.

Thanks to them, we now know how to chose the perfect smoked salmon, no sugar at all and a little bit of salt.

They serve supermarkets and if like me you don’t do supermarket, they provide the Whole Food Market and fishmongers around London, so no more excuses.

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H. Forman & Son

Stour Road, Fish Island, London E3 2NT

 

Telephone: 0208 5252 399

Facsimile: 0208 5252 398

www.formans.co.uk

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- Chocolate derivative and brownie

I am not a real chocolate amateur, I like dark chocolate, I love milk chocolate and I adore the tamper one, white chocolate. White chocolate is the less natural one, they even call it chocolate derivative…oups!

It’s full of butter and milk and doesn’t contain any antioxidant (the one I glorified on my post on the 11.10.12 ‘Ménage à trois’, yes).

But you know what, it haunts me for a few days and life’s too short so let’s do it!

After all, it’s just a bit of white chocolate, a bit more butter, sugar and eggs…

White chocolate brownie

Ingredients :

– 180g of white chocolate

– 2 eggs

– 100g of butter

– 50g of caster sugar

– 100g of plain flour

Method :

Break the chocolate in little pieces.

In a pan, melt the butter then remove from heat.

Pour in the chocolate and stir till melted.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/180C.

Mix the eggs and sugar and add them to the chocolate preparation then the flour.

Grease a square baking tin with a little oil.

Pour the mixture into the tin to bake for around 20 minutes.

After leaving to cool, cut into squares.

And you know what, real chocolate or not, it’s delicious !

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- Lunch at Viking Land

Last week I went to the hospital for a MRI of my bowel, I left with no pain in my belly, but with the vision completely blurred… It happens to some, and I was definitely one of them.

So frustrating no to be able to check the map on my phone. I knew I was not far from the Viking land and I was soooo hungry ! I had a big great plan, a very late lunch with myself at the Scandinavian kitchen.

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Cosy and welcoming, all in red and wood, a bit like an Ikea show room (I know, this one was easy), full of tall and blond people… The king of Sweden on the wall and a poster of ‘Blabus’ very 70’ in the toilets (love it).

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As my vision was still not clear the waitress gave me advices after listening to me moaning that I was starving.

Full combo hot dog (ketchup, mustard, fried onions on the top) a sweet potatoes salad with tarragon and seeds and smoked salmon and cream on toast, not to forget dessert, a sticky chocolate cake.

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Belly full, vision recovered, all fine.

The staff and clients communicate in a strange language (the Viking maybe?) and seem to understand each other.

They hang their tube of sauce (or paste) on a rack like smoked salmon and even the chef is Scandinavian ! God ! Sounds that the Nordic world is all reunited on Great Titchfield Street ! Lovely !

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‘The Scandinavian kitchen’

61 Great Titchfield Street

London W1W 7PP

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- Spring time, joy and grenadine

Spring makes me so dizzy with joy, it is the end of the pomegranate season but the beginning of loads of colorful, deliciously beautiful fruits.

Spying at work again but this time behind the bar while the bartender was making its own grenadine syrup. OMG! Grenadine ? The real one? The one I miss since I live in London? Yes, that one. Time for me to make one before pomegranate disappear from the market’s stalls. They would disappear in my dreams…. In reality they won’t but we will stop buying them for a few months, won’t we ?

In France we drink a lot of syrup, mint, strawberry, orgeat, grenadine… With still or sparkling water, milk or alcohol.

Grenadine reminds me my grand-father so much… He used to make those very old fashion grenadine syrup popsicles with wooden stick that he would collect back to make some new ones.

There are always a few dishes that our grand-parents always make better than anyone else in the world. For me it was fresh ravioli, ‘gratin de viande’, ‘pâtes au pistou’, ‘escaloppes panées’, ‘choux à la crème’ and ‘sucette glacées’.

I made my own syrup today and by adding some water I can then make my popsicles for the hot coming days (if one day they are coming).

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With one pomegranate you can make around 100ml of syrup.

Put the seeds in a pan with 50g of granulated sugar and 1cm of grated fresh ginger, 1 star anise, a tiny trickle of water and bring them slowly to the boil. Let it simmer for 10min, take the star anise off the pan then crush the seeds on a sieve to collect the juice. Pour it in a jar or bottle and store it in the fridge, it will last for a few months.

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Joy oh Joy !!!

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- The best sommelier of the world

I hate being late but always I am.

That’s why I run all the time… not to be late. People often tell me that it’s not fair because I have a very good appetite, I work with food and I am a size 8.

I don’t really agree with that, I am definitely a size 8 and eat a lot yes, but I run a lot too, that’s why I don’t put on weight, there’s no secret…

I remember when my mum came to visit me for the first time a few years ago, she tried to follow me and kind of live my life, running from early in the morning, working, running again, going out…. She lost 3 kilos in one week! She was tired but happy.

I should maybe organize workshops called for example ‘Live my life, eat a lot and lose weight’ something like that… It could be an idea.

So to be faithful to myself, I arrived breathless, at the ‘Best sommelier of the world competition’ 2013.

It started 6 months ago with the first shortlisting online, 100 people, 31 countries represented, 40 questions, all in 10min not to leave enough time to the candidates to cheat.

Jonathan Fillion a French sommelier working at ‘Murano’ with the famous Angela Hartnett finished at the third position, meaning he was selected to attend the big day.

So one week ago on that big day at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel the 30 people left worked very hard on 100 tricky questions, 2 blind tasting, talks about 2 wines according to their labels and an essay from a picture.

And in an impressive room full of people from the wine’s world, Jonathan again, on stage passing the final test. Stressful :

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6 judges and two tables with pretended customers.

30min and 6 tests :

1. Wine Tasting

2. Aperitif serving and pairing to table A (the lady on that table actually played the annoying customer very well)

3.  Pairing to table B

4. Decanting

5. Communication Test

6. Wine List

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I am very proud and without any chauvinism at all (ok, just a bit) to announce that Jonathan finished second, so yes my people, the 2nd best sommelier of the world is French !

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What about the 1st one? All right, he’s Italian, his name is Luca Martini, and yes, for him as well, respect and applauso !!!

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- Brick Lane wanderings

Brick Lane, an East London street, runs from the northern part of Bethnal Green, passes through Spitalfields and linked to Whitechapel High Street is the heart of the Bengalis community.

Successive waves of immigrants, in the 17th century, French weavers were based on Spitalfields so it became the area for weaving, tailoring and clothing industry.

Then in the 19th century came Irish and Jewish from Germany. The Sunday market on Petticoat Lane and Columbian road dates from the early 19th century and has been developed by the Jewish community.

Later in the 20th century, Bengladeshis was the predominant group of immigrants.

Brick Lane is colorful, rough, lively with street art all over its walls, people with piercing, underground pop-up museums and an incredible energy.

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Thanks to the Bengladeshi community, Brick Lane is now the curry houses area, but it’s also famous for its bagel and will be for the fish and chips very soon with Fins and Trotters Kitchen.

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You will say that a fish and chips is a fish and chips right ? But no, absolutely not.

Fins and Trotters Kitchen don’t laugh with food, they make a very serious fish and chips. They give a lot of importance to the quality and freshness of their ingredients, nothing to do with a heavy fish made in the morning, dragging on a window, waiting to be warmed.

A fish and chips is like a burger, it can be a real bloody good fish and chips. The cherry on the cake, their tartar sauce is a killer.

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Go to see Andrea and Kasia on their stall.

 

Fins and Trotters Kitchen

Fridays : St Katharine Docks Good Food market, E1W 1UH London

Sundays : Brick lane, E1 6RU

www.finsandtrotterskitchen.co.uk

 

 

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- Rhubarb time ! Finally !!!

Rhubarb looks like celery a bit, but pink…cuter.

Originally from North Asia known as a medicinal plant, the rhubarb has been introduced in Europe by Marco Polo.

Considered as a vegetable we consume the stalk only as the leaves are toxic.

Raw, cooked, with salt or sugar to palliate its acidity. It’s commonly cooked for dessert : tart, syrup, crumble… But can be cooked as a vegetable.

The harvest is from April to September.

You can make a sexy tart so fast and easily, it was my very first time I cooked rhubarb (very exciting!) and I was very very happy with the result (I made everything with soya milk).

So happy that I made a compote as well.

Full in vitamine C, potassium calcium it is also a very good laxative (less glamorous I know).

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The dough :

Ingredients :

-300g of flour

-150g of softened butter

-1/2 tsp of salt

-3tbsp of sugar

-8cl of warm milk or soya milk

Method :

The butter has to be out of the fridge 3 hours before starting baking, if not put it in the microwave at maximum power for 1min. It has to be softened but not melted.

Mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the butter and knead quickly with your fingertips. You will obtain a coarse semolina within 2 or 3 min.

Incorporate quickly the milk while kneading to form a ball. Roll the dough on a baking paper, it’s easier. Phe-heat you oven at 180°, grease your mould then spread your dough, prick it with a fork and put it in the oven for 30min.

While your dough is in the oven, prepare the ‘crème patissière’ :

Ingredients :

-500 ml of milk or soya milk

-100g of sugar

-50g of flour

-1 tsp of vanillia sugar

-2 egg yolks

Method :

Heat the milk with the vanilla sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till it whitens. Mix well.

Pour the eggs and sugar mixture in the milk and add the flour last.

Mix it on a low heat until the cream become thicker.

Then, when your dough is ready, don’t stop your oven but put it down to 130°.

Wash and cut the leaves and extremities of 1 kilo of rhubarb. Cut them in little slices, put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with sugar and put it in the oven for 30min. Taste it during the cooking, if it is too acid add some more sugar and do it again until it’s the way you like it.

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Spread the ‘crème pâtissière’ on the dough, sprinkle with the rhubarb and c’est tout !

 

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For the compote, I put ¼ of sugar of the weight of the rhubarb with a trickle of water. During the cooking, taste it and add some more sugar if it is too acid. Cooking is also a question of feeling. Cook it slowly till the rhubarb melt completely, you can savor it straight away or keep it in the fridge for a few days or even for a few months in a sterilized jam pot.

 

 

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- Cocktails in Alice’s wonderland

One of my manager used to call me Alice, simply because according to him, I follow rabbits in their holes a bit too often… Well, ok, maybe… The thing is that I have always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland so when I heard about ‘Calloh Callay’ in Shoreditch and the fact that we go to the toilet through a wardrobe door, I straight wanted to see this world.

Calloh Callay in my friend Alice’s world means something like ‘Oooh joy!!!’

Here are a few verses from her wonderland :

And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

He chortled in his joy.

Even me, good friend of her, I couldn’t get it so I thought that maybe a few cocktails would help…

Design a bit crazy, no style really, waitresses all wearing a sparkling mask with feathers, paper garlands Venezuelan kind everywhere… Is there any special occasion? No, the staff dress up very often, they represented that day a Venezuelan alcohol brand, hence the garland, but that’s all, nothing more really, it was like a normal Sunday…

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But tomorrow or next week it will change, it depends on their mood, the occasion, the alcohol they promote…

The cocktails and snacks menu changes as well for the same reasons.

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I was very excited to go to the loo through the wardrobe door which also lead to another cocktail room, crazier, still with no style at all, mixing antique furniture with modern lamps and weird wall-paper.

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Yummy spicy snacks, short cocktails list and I was right, after a few of them you can understand more Alice’s poetry verses, have a long conversation with the Cheshire cat and celebrate your unbirthday!

Thank you Alice and Calloh Callay !

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‘Calloh Callay’

65 Rivington St London EC2A 3AY

020 7739 4781

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- ‘Buen Ayre’ Argentinian way

There are some places like ‘Buen Ayre’ which deserve to be named.

Nested on the pretty Broadway market in Hackney, people who haven’t tried this restaurant yet, you definitely should.

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Argentinian meat cooked ‘parrilada’ way, Argentinian chef, welcoming and still smiling staff after I harassed them with questions. Unpretentious, small and always full.

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Empanadas to share, beautiful meat serve directly on the grill minimum for two people (we were 3 and it was more than enough), green salad, chips, homemade sauce with herbs, 2 glasses of Argentinian Malbec, coke and sparkling water, £32 per person.

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Wonderful smells, nice crowd and the ‘Ché’ on the window. Don’t think more, just book and go.

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‘Buen Ayre’ 50 Broadway Market, London E8 4QJ      00 44 (0) 20 7 275  9900

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- Churros and Carribean hot chocolate

As promised here is a recipe for churros and Caribbean hot chocolate, we need comfort food still now in Spring, because London and most part of Europe are still freezing. Let’s be patient and drink hot chocolate with rum, we have an excuse it’s so cold !

Churros (for 20 small)

Ingredients :

-250 ml of water

-60g of butter

-1 pinch of salt

-60g of granulated sugar

-225g of flour

-2 eggs

-sunflower oil

 

Method :

1. Bring the water, butter, salt and 2 pinches of sugar to the boil.

2. Put the flour in a big bowl, make a little volcano, pour in the boiling water while whisking with a wooden spoon. You will obtain a thick but homogeneous dough. Incorporate the eggs beaten, mix and set in the fridge for an hour.

3. Heat up the oil (ideally to 180°), if you don’t have any thermometer, when the oil is very hot, put the heat a bit down and wait 2 min. the fact that the dough is cold and contain water could make projections of oil when you will put the dough inside, just be careful not to put your face on the top of the frying pan).

4. Put the dough in a piping bag fluted. Drop some little bands of around 10cm in the oil, cut with some scissors between two because the dough can be a bit sticky and cook them for 2 min on each side. Drain on an absorbent paper, and sprinkle with sugar while they are still warm.

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Caribbean hot chocolate serves 4-6

Ingrédients :

-800ml of milk

-200ml of double cream

-100g of dark chocolate, broken into pieces

-3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

-1 cinnamon stick

– 1 vanilla pod

– About ¼ tsp of grated nutmeg

-3tbsp of dark rum

To serve :

-400ml of double cream

-2tbsp of dark brown sugar

Method :

1. Put 200ml of milk into a saucepan with the cream, chocolate, sugar and cinnamon stick. Slit the vanilla pod open in lengthways with a sharp knife and scrape the little black seeds into the milk mixture using the handle of a teaspoon or the tip of the knife.

2. Heat the milk mixture gently, stirring to help the sugar to dissolve and the chocolate to melt, until completely smooth. Add the remaining milk and bring to just under the boil. Turn the heat off, add the nutmeg and leave for 15 minutes or so to allow the flavors to melt.

3. Whip the cream for serving very lightly and then mix in the sugar with a large metal spoon

4. Heat the chocolate milk again, right up to the boil then add the rum. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Pour into cups and swirl the cream on top. Serve immediately.

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French people have that typical (and shocking according to English people) mania, we deep our croissant, bread, biscuits in our coffee. English always look at me probably thinking ‘what the hell is she doing? it’s disgusting!’

Actually it’s delicious, just try once to deep your churros in your hot chocolate and you will think about me, I am sure !

Plate, cups and spoons from ‘Ceramica Blue’ 10 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 1NN.

 

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- Trip to Seville

Andalusia is flamenco, gazpacho and shady narrow streets…

I was hoping for a little 30°C instead of the 17°C we had but we can’t have it all, at least it was warmer than in London and the food was beautiful.

In between our 5 stops a day for tapas, we also stopped for beer, hot chocolate and sandwich with fried chorizo. It was definitely a foodie trip.

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The original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry.

The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

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It was not Sherry for me but ‘Tinto de Verano’, bad red wine mixed with lemonade and sometimes slices of lemon. I love it!

Andalusia also means ‘pata negra’…One of the world’s most expensive ham.

Immediately after weaning, the piglets are fattened on barley and maize for several weeks. The pigs are then allowed to roam in pasture and oak groves to feed naturally on grass, herbs, acorns, and roots, until the slaughtering time approaches.

At that point, the diet may be strictly limited to olives or acorns for the best quality ‘jamón ibérico’, or may be a mix of acorns and commercial feed for lesser qualities.

The hams from the slaughtered pigs are salted and left to begin drying for two weeks, after which they are rinsed and left to dry for another four to six weeks. The curing process then takes at least twelve months, although some producers cure their ‘jamones ibéricos’ for up to 48 months.

The one I had was the’ jamón ibérico de Bellota’, 159 euros per kilo. We had the choice between 3 with different prices, I bought the most expensive (it is not every day that I go to Seville after all).

When I put a slice in my mouth for the very first time I could imagine my pig eating acorns, happily wandering in fields, having a great life. It is pure beauty. Salty, greasy but not too much, heaven.

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As a dessert I would talk about churros, but it will come in my next post. Churros with Caribbean hot chocolate… Because I love mixes.

 

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- Billingsgate Market at 4am

After a long night shift, we left work and went straight to Billingsgate market. Sophie who used to go there with her dad, really wanted to show me the place as I ‘needed to go with a real East Londoner’ she said.

3.45am we arrived. Not fresh but very happy. We caught the attention of the 98 stands and 30 shops as we were the only two women on site (very nice feeling actually). Very man world, cold, noisy and fishy.

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The market was known as before the name settled into its present form. The origin of the name (Blynesgate and Byllynsgate) is unclear and could refer to a watergate at the south side of the City where goods were landed – perhaps owned by a man named ‘Biling’ – or it may have originated with Belin (400BC) an ancient King of the period.

Billingsgate was originally a general market for corn, coal, iron, wine, salt, pottery, fish and miscellaneous goods and have become associated exclusively with the fish trade in the sixteenth century.

As the amount of fish handled increased, a purpose-built market became essential. In 1850 the first Billingsgate Market building was constructed on Lower Thames Street but it was demolished in 1873 to make way for the building which still stands in Lower Thames Street today. It was opened in 1876 and is now a listed building. In 1982 the Market relocated to Docklands.

Billingsgate is the United Kingdom’s largest inland fish market. 25,000 tons of fish are sold each year. It is served by almost every port in the United Kingdom. Most of the fish is transported by road directly from the coast and arrives at the market in the early hours of the morning

13 acres, where fishmongers, fish-and-chip shop proprietors, delicatessens, restaurant and cafe owners, world renowned chefs and Sophie and I come to find the best bargain. Fresh, frozen and jelly fish and a few exotic species like blue crabs from the Indian Ocean, sharks and yellowtails…

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Sophie managed to buy 5 prawns (hard work as they are normally sold by boxes) and at 5am as the crowd became mixed, we were not the center of the attention anymore, a bit disappointed but ready for a real East London fisherman breakfast: the haddock breakfast.

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I was hoping for a glass of white wine with my fish but we had a tea like the traders around. No choice anyway, and let’s stop being a sophisticated French girl. Tea pairs very well with smoked haddock, it’s known.

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We listened to the figure of Billingsgate who trades there for more than 30 years, has his picture on the walls all around in the caf’ and was very proud of telling us the Billingsgate’s gossips.

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Sated, tired and charmed by the place and the people we left our new friends after an improvised photo shoot in the café promising ourselves to come back very soon.

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Billingsgate Market

Trafalgar Way

Poplar

London

E14 5ST

Billingsgate Seafood Training School : 020 7517 3548/9

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- Why we must not buy Spanish strawberries !

I had to write, now, straight away, about a topic very important to my heart : the strawberry.

I will try to explain ‘Marlène’s way’, same way I explained to one of my colleague while she was eating melon in December !

God created seasons, we have to respect that.

December is definitely not the melon’s season, strawberry either by the way. I should have said the same thing to that young woman next to me on the market buying melon two days ago (frankly there are too many species like that!). It was nearly itchy not to tell her,  even if I was taking the risk to have the same answer as from my colleague : ‘I don’t care about seasons, I am enjoying my melon’…

Oh well, at least I tried and want to convince myself that no, not everybody doesn’t care about seasons. We can prepare great desserts and fruits salads with winter fruits even though it is less exciting for some. The advantage is that they will be more excited (like me) when Spring will come because they would have waited for those strawberries, cherries and other summer delights for one year.

I try to prepare my little trip to Sevilla and of course I wander a lot at the ‘food department’. Again I came across an article about the Spanish strawberries which irritated, but really irritated me, to the point that I needed to talk about it right now, to remind and remind me in what world we live.

Since our consumer society took the habit to offer any fresh fruits and vegetables in its supermarket, Andalusia specialized in intensive gardening in greenhouse, especially in Almeria and Huelva regions. Since 1980, they are  devoted to intensive strawberry cultivation. In 2011 in those 2 regions, 6000 hectares had been reserved for the fruit cultivation for a production of 240 000 and 270 000 tons, 85% being intended for export. What make Spain the first exporting country of strawberries in the world.

This extensive use creates problems of course, environmental as well as on public health and social.

That kind of production needs the massive uses of fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides (not ot mention the water needs), it is not surprising that several analyses revealed the presence of those unhealthy substances in strawberries trays imported from the Huelva region.

Then, the plastic tunnels which allow strawberries to grow have to be replaced regularly. Those plastics impregnated with pesticides are then stored in open air rubbish tip and then burnt, like by accident… Combustion smokes generate contamination by dioxin and heavy metals.

More, in that region, plastics fires are not the only cause of pollution. In the Huelva zone, fields stop at the factories door. Out of the strawberry, the other economical activity of the region is concentrated in one of the densest industrial area in Europe. A few kilometers further to the factories, are situated a refinery, a thermal power station, cellulose and fertilizer factories. That make more understandable that none of the producers have even attempted to get the organic label.

This production also needs a huge seasonal labor, the majority being migrant workers, women essentially (in 2009, 80% of the production of around sixty Andalusian companies were from Morocco), a labor fragile and little aware of its right, which some employers take advantage of.

Regarding the environmental, this region gets one of the biggest pine forest of the European Atlantic coast. A part of this forest is protected (the Donana park). Those entrepreneurs unprincipled the forest into agricultural land and, after 3 years, according to the policy of ‘fait accompli’, obtain the operating license. The responsables have rarely been condemned and in the strawberry business, fines are part of the investment cost. Not to mention the wealth which allow to effectively influence the economic and political power.

All that is only corruption, profit… to the detriment of our richness, moral and seasons.

So I would say that instead of telling ourselves that there is no point to buy our food according to the season as nobody cares and it won’t change anything, we should be more responsible and honest with ourselves, if there are so many unseasonal products on our market it’s because we buy them.

I am not talking about mangos or bananas which need a tropical climate to grow but about that little fruit so beautiful and fragile the strawberry is which grows beautifully in UK’s dull climate. Japan, United- States, France and of course UK produce wonderful ones. No need to go very far.

Just be patient and wait for the right season. And yes it is only a little drop but this drop will make a pond then a lake and an ocean.

What’s the point to carry on if we don’t believe in anything…

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Picture taken last spring, no need to specify ! x

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- Bubble tea !

‘Lakwatsa’ ( meaning ‘to chill’) is a welcoming little cute place in Bleinheim Crescent W11.

Opened last December, I finally tried a Filipino bubble tea this afternoon. Made with green or black tea, flavored with fruits and/or milk and black tapioca pearls.

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I sat down on one of their double swing seats with flashy cushions and have been greeted by a lovely young man, whom in addition to prepare drinks behind the bar, welcome people, take order, serve food, sell take away drinks… Managed to explain me the menu with a smile. For the time spent over there I was the only non-asian person, which is a good sign. School girls and Notting Hill fashonistas who seemed to be regulars were here for the famous afternoon snack the ‘merienda’.

Merienda is a light meal in Southern Europe (particularly Spain), Italy but also in Croatia, Latin America and the Philippines. Usually taken in the afternoon or for brunch, it fills in the meal gap between lunch and dinner, or between breakfast and lunch. In the Philippines, merienda (Filipino: meryenda or minandál) refers to the light meals as brunch and afternoon tea.

The merienda menu (ranges from £3 to £6) includes vegetable or pork and prawn lumpia (spring rolls served with sweet chilli sauce or vinegar) and adobo rice balls, which are marinated pieces of chicken wrapped in sticky rice served with adobo sauce, both based on traditional Filipino recipes. And to put water in your mouth : Halo-halo (from Tagalog word halò, “mix”), a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans and fruits, and served in a tall glass or bowl. Yummy !!!

A wide range of bubble teas, mango, kumquat, ube (this one deserves a post just for itself), popping boba (fruit juice balls) and a huge straw to suck up the tapioca. Healthy supplements including aloe vera jelly, aiyu jelly, Vietnamese coffee and herbal teas make this place a great one to hang around and ‘Lakwatsa’.

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Lakwatsa

7 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EE

07900 266 080

www.lakwatsa.co.uk

 

 

 

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- Floating island with Carambar

Nice, where time goes slowly, where ‘apero’ is a religion and where elderly walk their dog on the ‘Promenade des Anglais’

I am writing from my second office, my sister’s terrace. I am here for a very quick sun blush and for the carnival. Yes, in Nice we have a carnival. All right, it is not Rio but we do have a carnival.

At this time of the year Nice is definitely better than London (and I don’t say that very often!). I have this little winter crisis every year when I can’t take anymore cold, coat and running nose.

So, in Nice among other things, a cooking session with my niece.

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Floating island with Carambar‘ serves 4-6.

Ingrédients :

– 25 cl of milk

– 10cl of single cream

– 65g of granulated sugar

– 1 vanilla pod

– 6 Carambar

– 4 Egg yolk

– 3 Egg white

– 1l of water

Method :

Heat up the milk, cream, vanilla pod split into two lengthwise and the Carambar.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs yolk with 15g of sugar till the mix whitens. Mix it in the milk with Carambar without stopping whisking. The cream should never boil, when it’s thicken, let it cool down and preserve.

Boil the water in a large sauce pan. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites stiff and add the rest of sugar (50g) slowly by slowly when they start firming.

With a table spoon soaked in cold water, sample some egg whites to poach them in simmering water. After boiling them for 1min on each side place them on absorbent paper.

Pour the custard in cups and add one or two poach egg. Serve chilled

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- Heart to share

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. The legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her…

Well, well… That’s how it started apparently… Now it is more commercial than anything else but we have another excuse to buy lingerie and eat chocolate !

I prefer not to do anything and eat fried eggs or pizza at home with a good bottle of wine rather than going out just because ‘we have to’, pay a bit too much for the food, drink a bad champagne and be asked to leave as the 9 to 11pm second seating is waiting for its table !

I missed pancake day so I had to do something for Valentine’s day. I didn’t want to make anything quirky but just a simple chocolate genoise. I could have done it with spices and chocolate. Healthy, aphrodisiac… Sounds promising with champagne. Chocolate cake without spices can be promising as well.

It goes perfectly with pears and champagne or with mandarines but without the champagne. And please no strawberries! I know it is very sexy to eat strawberries in bed and it’s a great match with champagne but it is not the season at all! Strawberries now taste like nothing so that could spoil your champagne-strawberries pairing trust me! Try mandarines or pears in bed, it can be as sexy as strawberries and nobody will stop you (your Valentine even less) to organize that kind of night in May with strawberries in season.

‘Chocolate genoise’, serves 6

Ingredients

– 4 eggs

– 125g of flour

– 100g of sugar

– 50g of cocoa powder

– ½ tsp of baking powder

Method 

Preheat the oven on 200°, T6/7

Mix the egg yolks with sugar till it blanch. Add the chocolate powder. Then the flour and baking powder.

Slowly with a wooden spoon add the eggs white beaten stiff.

Pour the preparation in a buttered mould and put it in the oven for 12 to 15min.

Wait that the genoise cool down before turning it out. You can then fill it with cream and pears or have it just like that with champagne.

 

Happy Valentine’s day lovers !

 

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- Made with love and a lot of cream

My latest event was last Saturday. 35 people, 210 canapes, 140 choux and 8 quiches…

Sounds a lot for a little person like me and it is. But I enjoyed it so much…. I am the kind of person who loves that stress, short (just a few hours) but so intense. You have to be quick as you do everything on your own, no time to mess up something and do it again, you have to have a list (my brain doesn’t help me enough in that case) not to forget anything and arrive on site, fresh, smiling… Not at all like someone who has just cooked for 12 hours in a raw…

The part I enjoy much is the last minute ‘dressage’ of plates, the design side of it. I strain myself , check from the top, from the bottom, and make sure that all is neat and pretty.

From all of that I have a big satisfaction left, the impatience of doing the next one and a bit of dough and mushrooms.

Mushrooms’ mini quiches (for 8 minis or one normal)

Ingredients

– 1 puff or short crust pastry

– 300g of mushrooms

– 4 garlic cloves

– 200ml of single cream

– Grated cheese like cheddar

– Parsley and/or coriander, salt and pepper

Method

Wash and chop the mushrooms very finely, fry them in a pan with a bit of oil, the parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Preheat the oven at 180°. Spread the dough, prick it with a fork and put on the mushrooms and cream on the top. Add salt and pepper one more time, sprinkle with the grated cheese and put it in the oven for around 20min till the cheese is nicely golden.

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- Lentils and chorizo soup

Especially for Justina…

We all have food memories…

I lived in the country side in the south of France from the age of 8 to 16 and I have my greatest food memories from that period. Climbing on trees and stay up there for hours with friends eating cherries, going with my dad to pick wild asparagus. In Autumn in the garden, opening the chestnuts shells with our feet and grill them in the fireplace on a special pan made by my father, twisted with little holes. Me, moaning when my dad asked me to help to water the kitchen garden and then being so amazed when I ate tomatoes directly from the plant, the smell enhanced by the summer heat, the taste… Also, coming back from school, the smell of fried onions, homemade soups and lasagnes in the oven when you open the house door. It is something I can’t forget.

When I think soup I always think about my mum. We have been raised with homemade dishes every day and when I feel down or tired, I think about my mum and wish she would live closer to make me a soup….

Growing up with my dad who is Spanish, I have also been educated to Spanish food very early. My father in addition of being Spanish is also a mental-fool-obsessed with food. His fridge and freezer are always full as if he is waiting for an army for supper, he calls me when he is cooking something he knows I love, and has never told anyone (not even me!) where he picks those huge porcini mushrooms. When you ask him, he replies ‘I find them in the forest’ but never gives his tips or places.

I laugh and respect that as I know that mushrooms are sacred for him, as long as he cooks some for me, makes me preserved mushrooms and amazing tomato sauce (the best in the world) or when porcini are big enough, coated with breading , like veal. Beautiful.

So I have been raised with ‘vino de verano’ and chorizo.

Last time I was craving for a soup with chorizo. Didn’t know what kind of soup exactly but the kind of soup that kicks and warm you up at the same time, not a bland soup but something with character.

I went to buy chorizo, I had lentils and a few vegetables in the fridge so became my ‘Lentils and chorizo soup’.

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Lentils and chorizo soup’ serves 4.

Ingredients :

– 200g lentils (soaked overnight or at least for 4 hours)

– 1 beef cube

– 2 potatoes

– 2 carrots

– 2 bunches of celery

– 2 little chorizo rosario 1 ‘picante’ 1 ‘dulce

– Salt and pepper

 

Method :

Bring to the boil 2 liters of water with the beef cube. Peel the potatoes, carrots, wash the celery. Cut  the vegetables  in big chunks and put everything in the water for around 20 min, add salt and pepper. Remove the chorizos’ skin, slice them and add them to the soup for 10 more min.

It is delicious, warm and a little bit spicy-hot, the perfect comfort food… Good news as February promises to be very cold in London !

 

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- Irish apple and whisky cake

One of my client is ‘Pall Mall Fine Wine’. I make cakes, sweets and other little treats for their events. Tonight is whisky tasting… My mission is to make cakes and chocolate mousse with whisky. It is perfect timing as I am in my ‘I am craving for sugar’ period. Strange as I normally don’t have a sweet tooth. It must be the cold, winter, January, the sun I am missing… We had – 6°C at night recently in London! So that’s enough excuses to eat candies and chocolate cookies every day and not feeling too guilty! Here is the recipe of my ‘Irish apple and whisky cake’.

Irish apple and whisky cake’ serves 6;

Ingredients :

– 200g of sugar

– 200g of flour

– 100g of butter

– 2 eggs

– 2 apples

– Zest and juice of half a lemon

– 25g of baking powder

– 8 tbsp of milk

– 7 or 8 tbsp of whisky (can be replaced by rum or brandy)

 

Method :

Melt the butter and mix it with the sugar, eggs, zest and lemon juice. Add the flour, baking powder and then whisky and milk.

Peel and slice the apples. Preheat your oven at 180° (gas 6). Grease a baking loaf tin. Taste your preparation, please be generous with whisky as it depends on which one you have you will have to add one or two tbsp. Pour in the preparation first then slices of apple, then preparation and finish with apples. Put it in the oven for 45min.

This is a delicious cake, easy to make and don’t forget to be generous with whisky, it’s winter we need to warm-up !

Pommes whisky cake

 

 

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- ‘Brèves de comptoir’ to come in 2013

Hello everyone, I hope that you have started 2013 happy, fresh and ‘detoxed’ (for some). One thing I want to do this new year is post you once a month or twice a week (it doesn’t really matter) some ‘Brèves de comptoir’.

‘Brèves de comptoir’ are little stories, authentic quotations collected from everyday life but especially in bistrots. Absurd borders on humour or poetry, news and sometimes philosophy. ‘Brèves de comptoir’ also reminds me France and especially Paris, where I love to go, to sit at the counter in a bistrot next to old ‘habitués’ who are there every mornings drinking their ‘p’tit blanc’ while I enjoy my café-noisette.

I have the chance to collaborate with PRs who keep me updated on what happens on the gastronomy scene, and I read, check… a lot, too much sometimes. Because I can’t talk about everything I hear, I will make this new post to let you know the last gossips about this crazy and beautiful world…

To stay true to myself, I am changing subject right away, quick, with no introduction at all. I will tell you a bit about mackerel. Big transition, from brèves de comptoir to mackerel I know, but my friends say that I am a bit divided and voluble and because a blog has to reflect my personality, let’s be authentic.

Mackerel papillotte with fenel and mandarins salad’

Go to your fishmonger and buy 2 mackerel fillets, it is a cheap fish, very tasty and like the others oily fish, have oil in their tissues and in the belly cavity around the gut. Their fillets contain up to 30 percent oil, although this figure varies both within and between species. Examples include small forage fish, such as sardines, herring and anchovies, and other larger pelagic fish, such as salmon, trout, ilish and mackerel.

In 1994, the UK Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) recommended that people eat at least two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily fish.

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‘Mackerel papillotte with fennel and mandarins salad’ serves 2.

Ingredients :

– 2 big mackerel fillets

– 2 fennels

– 2 mandarins

– Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper

– Dry herbs like ‘herbes de Provence’ or a mix of thym and rosemary

Method :

Preheat your oven 180°. Set your mackerel fillet in a foil or grease proof baking paper. Put herbs, salt, pepper, mandarin slices for taste and prettiness. Drizzle with olive oil, close the papillotte and put it in the oven for 20min.

Prepare your salad by slicing the fennel very finely (ideally with a mandolin), squeeze a mandarin and keep the pulp. For the dressing, mix olive oil, mandarin juice with a splash of lemon, salt, pepper and mandarin pulp.

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- Pink Panties

Everybody knows that London can be tiring, everything goes fast, people, bus drivers, days, nights… January can be depressing for some, look back on the past year, new aims, good resolutions… Still, on the top of that, some people inflict on themselves another struggle : detox.

If there is one thing I don’t do is detox, I heard that name first when I arrived in London… In France we don’t do detox. I remember one of my clients last year, suffering as he cut alcohol and cigarettes for one month, telling me how difficult it was for him to eat greens only and follow the impossible diet.

I don’t want to suffer, not even for one month. I tried once, by sake of integration and I gave up after 2 days. I was starving and grumpy so I decided then that detox is not for me.

Still, I have a few good resolutions (I am not perfect after all), like start saving for my trip to Bali, read other things than food stuff, go running to use my brand new trainers which haven’t left my wardrobe since last July, try to like oysters (again) as I would love to love oysters…

So, while London is on detox I am organizing a girly Christmas dinner. December was crazy so we will do it in January while Santa Claus is resting, far from the December- Christmas-foolishness.

Pink cocktail, canapés, turkey and cakes… My Christmas tree looks depressed now but I am sure it can handle it for a few more days.

‘Pink Panties’ cocktail :

There are different recipes, some with rum, some with gin or vodka. The only ingredient which never changes is pink lemonade but I found out that pink lemonade is made with lemonade and grape fruit juice, or cranberry juice or frozen strawberries. You can mix it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I made my ‘Pink Panties’ with Cachaça, lemonade and grapefruit juice and for a puffy result, I didn’t mix the cream, I put it on the top ! Let’s not talk about ml and annoying measurements, make your own the way you like, it just has to be pink !

 

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- To start the year nicely

2012 was again a really fast one….

Last year at the same time, I was starting my blog…

One year later I am writing from another kitchen,

a bigger one where I can happily spread myself.

I still enjoy so much working on my blog, still working hard to improve it and still so much to do… And still this strong French accent I can’t hide when I talk and write.

On the way for 2013 : Venture new places and revisit the ones I love, meetings with chefs, collaborate with people I like, shop on markets as always, trips to south America and Bali, and cook, and eat. That’s sounds like a plan.

A lovely smell’s emanating from my kitchen –‘Chicken, sweet potatoes and black rice noodles soup’.

To all my readers, I wish you a tasty, spicy and wonderful new year. Santé everyone !

Chicken, sweet potato and black rice noodles soup’ serves 4.

Ingredients :

– 2 liters of chicken or vegetables stock

– 600 g of chicken brest

– 1 big sweet potato

– 250g of black rice noodles or normal rice noodles

– 1 tbsp of green curry paste

– 400ml of coconut milk

Method

Bring the stock to the boil then put the chicken and sweet potato cut in big chunks. Leave it on medium heat for 10min. When the sweet potato is tender add the coconut milk and the curry paste. Put some salt if needed. At the last minute put the rice noodles in, stop the heat and cover the soup with a lid for a few minutes. You can definitely prepare this soup the day before, reheat it and put the noodles always at the last minute.

 

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- Christmas treat

One of my greatest pleasures in life is to spend hours at a table, eating with friends and family… That’s why I am always so excited when Christmas is coming. There will be serious cooking this year, my sister and I wi

ll put the apron on. She is passionate and meticulous so I know we will have long and great time in the kitchen and at the table as well.

For now here is my ‘Mini sticky orange and almonds cakes’recipe. Makes 25.

Ingredients :

– 2 whole oranges, unpeeled

– 6 eggs, beaten

– 250g granulated sugar

– 250g ground almonds

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 4 tbsp pomegranate kernels to garnish

– 150ml Greek-style yoghurt

Method :

Cook the whole oranges in boiling water until soft (1 ½ hours). Cool completely. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas 5.

For the cake: Cut orange in half and remove any pips. Place in a food processor, process to a smooth puree. Add eggs, sugar, almonds and baking powder, pulse until well combined. Pour batter into the line tray. Bake until firm to the touch, for 40min. Cool completely.

Release pomegranate kernels by pulling stem ends of each quarter towards each other. Cut the pastry in 20 rounds with a pastry circle cutter. Spoon ½ tsp of yoghurt on to each little cake and garnish with pomegranate kernels. Serve at room temperature.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas full of joy and good food shared with your loved ones.

 

 

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- Raw foodists

So…. After 10 days (ok, more than 10 days) away from what I like to do most, my blog, I am back. My sister came to London for my birthday. A few parties, a lot of food and far too much wine and champagne, I am back to

normal, healthy food, sport and still a bit of red wine.

Back to a healthy leaving made me think about my colleague’s wife who is a raw food person and gave me the recipe of the ‘Vegan strawberry cheese cake, organic and gluten free’… Wow ! All that stuff in one recipe? How can you do a cheese cake without cheese? A ‘look like’ cheese cake then?

I have to tell that I have always been skeptical about the subject. Do raw foodists eat seaweeds and roots only? Why do they ban what makes life so enjoyable : cheese, fish, greasy doughnuts and fat burgers ?

To have an opinion, I had to learn more about it:

Most raw foodists are raw food vegans, who eat no animal products, but some do eat raw eggs and cheese made from raw or unpasteurized milk.

They don’t cook using a traditional stove or oven. They use food dehydrators that lend crunch to vegetables and cookies. Food dehydrators also dry out fruits for fruit leather and other raw food recipes.

But raw foodists, along with vegans, need to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, most of which are found naturally in animal products.

In a raw diet, we favour high-fibre not to feel hungry and so to avoid snacking. Salt is used in moderate quantity not to stimulate appetite.

On the other hand it’s quiet difficult to vary dishes’combinations and the monotony felt can be dissuasive. Also for people who are used to have a diet rich in meat and sugar, the transition to a raw food diet can cause headaches and nauseas, at least at the beginning.

Partisans of that diet highlight the advantages linked to a non cooked ingredients : according to them, it’s the best way to preserve mineral salts, vitamins and enzymes. If you eat raw you avoid the toxic residues of cooking.

However, specialists emphasize that a lot of food’s nutritional properties increase when they are cooked, which is the case for tomato for example.

But some go further by telling that live food or living food can be the solution to deseases called ‘desease of civilization’ like cancers for example. The aim would be to return to the sources of food and favour natural products, without any transformation. Like so, in the most extreme cases, they go back to prehistoric diet.

The raw food diet also requires a lot of processing that can strip foods of their nutrients. Straining pulp from cashews to make cashew milk, for example, removes healthy fiber. Dehydrating and chopping can destroy valuable nutrients, too, as can exposure to air.

Then, we have now that bunch of young tattooed and pierced chefs. They are not vegan, their slogan is ‘Cook it raw, cook it less to cook it better’ to exalt the ingredients’ taste differently. Replace the absence of heat and limitation of cooking –braising, roasting and frying- by a new particular attention to primal flavor. Not more than 40°. A visionary work that a few imagine like the new epicurean anthropology.

I haven’t found a lot of articles or studies about the raw world in French. Strange…. And normal. That wave is reaching France slowly, but it’s a very small wave. I was surprised to find so many vegetarian restaurants and even vegan options when I arrived in London.

Vegan kiwi cheese cake, organic and gluten free’ serves 6.

Ingredients :

– 1 cup of raw pecan

– 1 cup of walnuts

– ¼ tsp seasalt

– ¼ cup of dates seeded and soaked for 2 hours

– 4 cups of raw cashew (not roasted) soaked over night

– 1 tbsp of water

– 1 tsp of vanilla extract

– 2 tbsp of lemon juice

– 1/3 cup of liquid sweetener

– Half a cup of raw coconut oil

– 8 kiwis

I don’t want to drive my friend Dimitri crazy, he’s a pastry chef and told me to stop measuring with cups as it is not precise. Chefs are very sensitive… In my defense, the recipe has been given to me that way. But I have tested it and we can say that a cup is 200g. I know he reads me so I have to be good.

Method :

Chop the pecan and walnuts very finely with a mixer, add the salt and dates, mix together and set in a dish with edges. For the ‘cheese’ layer, chop finely the cashew, add the water, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sweetener. The preparation has to be creamy. Put the coconut oil and mix it with the preparation. Pour the preparation on the top of the crust.

Set in the freezer for 30min or in the fridge for 4 hours. Add a coulis of a seasonal fruit on the top.

Thanks a lot Anna, the ‘Vegan kiwi cheese cake, organic and gluten free’ (I made it with kiwis as strawberry are not in season at all) is delicious really, a bit heavy and one piece is enough to fill you in. But the frenchie I am could ban meat, maybe, but will always love creamy, stinking cheese. In a perfect raw foodists’ world, alcohol and caffeine are taboo. What about my coffee in the morning? And my glass of red wine to go with my stinking cheese? Definitely too hard to bear for a Gallic.

 

 

 

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- Churchill Arms

Built in 1750 the ‘Churchill Arms’ is one of my favorite pub in London.

Once frequented by Winston Churchill’s grandparents the pub is always full and serves a wide range of ales

. All kind of things hanging from the ceiling, dim light and chamber pot above your head you can perceive from the bar, a door opening onto an indoor garden… On the walls and above your head again, a happy jumble of plants, flowers and butterflies. It’s the Thaï restaurant, called the ‘butterfly conservatory’.

It is green and girly, even the toilets are nearly romantic with plants and butterflies everywhere!

The food is very nice for the price, it is always a lovely evening spent there, just in case you’d like to go, don’t forget to book!

Churchill Arms, 119 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LN London. 00 44(0)207 727 4242

 

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- Breizh !

Last week-end was my very first time in Brittany…

Brittany, in Breton: Breizh, is a cultural region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain). Brittany is considered as one of the six Celtic nations.

Brittany is home to many megalithic monuments which are scattered across the peninsula. The largest alignments are near Karnag/Carnac. The purpose of these monuments is still unknown, and many local people are reluctant to entertain speculation on the subject.

Brittany is also known for its calvary sculptures, elaborately carved crucifixion scenes found at crossroads in villages and small towns, especially in Western Brittany. Besides its numerous intact manors and châteaux, Brittany also has several old fortified towns.

Several festivals are of course maritime themed while others reflect Brittany’s lively music heritage or the region’s diverse culture. Traditional Breton festivals, ‘fest noz’ in Breton, regularly take place in towns and villages throughout Brittany and include local music and dancing. Brittany also hosts some of France’s biggest contemporary music festivals.

Historically Brittany was a beer-producing region. However, as wine was increasingly imported from other regions of France, beer drinking and production slowly came to an end in the early to mid-20th century. In the 1970s, due to a regional comeback, new breweries started to open and there are now about 20 of them. Whisky is also produced by a handful of distilleries with excellent results, such as Eddu distillery at Plomelin near Quimper, which elaborates a real and successful creation using buckwheat, Glann ar Mor distillery which makes an un-peated Single Malt, as well as a peated expression named Kornog. Another recent drink is kir Breton (crème de cassis and cider) which may be served as an apéritif.

Surrounded by the sea, Brittany offers a wide range of fresh seafood and fish, especially mussels and oysters. Among the seafood specialities is a fish stew called ‘Cotriade’.

Two days were far too short but enough to know that it is beautiful, it smells iodine and crêpes at the same time, lovely !

I went to visit my friend Vikki who opened a restaurant 3 years ago with her chef and Breton boyfriend. ‘L’Auberge des Rochers’ in Lanrelas (1 hour from Dinar airport) brings life and gastro food to the village. I couldn’t resist to go to spy on the chefs again…

I visited the Mont St Michel and St Malo with, in between, crêpes, cider and the famous omelette from ‘La mère Poulard’ restaurant. I knew it would be a very expensive omelette but I wanted to do that once thinking that I would have the most amazing omelette of my life… No, not at all. We paid 25 euros for a foamy and tasteless omelette. No herbs, no cream not even salt and pepper! Mine with smoked salmon came with a poor and dry piece of salmon on the side, same for my friend with her parma ham. I guess that we pay for the show, the two ladies whisking the eggs by hands for hours before cooking them on wooden fire in little cute frying pans. That’s it. Nothing more to say except that we went straight after that to a crêperie as we were still hungry !

‘Far Breton’ serves 6/8.

Ingredients :

– 200g of flour

– 170g of sugar

– 4 eggs

– 1 liter of milk

– 10g of vanilia sugar

– 300g of prunes pitted

Method :

Mix all the ingredients without the prunes in a pan. Put on low heat and stir until the mix thicken a bit.

Grease a baking tray with oil or butter and pour half of the preparation. Put the prunes and pour the other half on it.

Put it in the oven for around 50min at 180°. Kalon digor ! (Bon appétit!)

Auberge des Rochers, 22250 Lanrelas, Le Bourg, France. 0033(0)2 96 86 50 82

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- Fortnum and Mason, pumpkin carving competition

I attended the pumpkin carving competition at Fortnum and Mason last week for Halloween. I love Fortnum and Mason, it is just so British that I couldn’t think about another place to celebrate Halloween with elegance and respect of tradition.

Elegance and refinement till the competition started… In the demonstration kitchen from 3pm to 5pm, children up to 10 years old were helped by their parents, all taking the competition very seriously… Half an hour later, children were running around, drinking very pinky and acid fizzy water with marshmallows soaking on it, eating pancakes and far too sweet candies while their parents were still carving hard.

At four o’clock, after far too many sweets, it was time for judging. The winner of the competitions was selected by an esteemed panel of judges including Simon Burdess, Trading Director at Fortnum & Mason, food writer, Xanthe Clay, Sophie Goodwin from Tatler magazine… A little girl won the competition (pumpkin on left hand side), her mum was very happy and in addition to get a crate of sweets, her pumpkin will feature in Fortnum’s famous Piccadilly windows for all the world to see.

Then the adults competition was between 6pm and 8pm and the winner receiving a £1000 Fortnum & Mason hamper. I didn’t attend, too serious and probably no sweets.

If you want to take part of the competition next year, it is free for children, please contact :

Caroline Lay, Jess Armstrong

Bell Pottinger Consumer

020 7861 2465

clay@bpconsumer.co.uk

jarmstrong@bpconsumer.co.uk

 

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- Delicious Nippon

Still in Japan (at least in my head) after my post about the Kobe beef, I was strolling on the web and found an awesome Japanese cooking program called ‘Delicious Nippon’.

The presenter, Judy Ongg and the culinary specialist Naoyuki Yanagihora in tradional clothes are talking about an ingredient, its origin, where and how it’s produced. I love it. In addition of making me smile it is also very instructive. Amongst their ‘authentic Japanese mothers cooking’, I choose two recipes.

That reminds me that my friend Claudine is supposed to cook me a Japanese dish since she came back from Japan…When was it ? 1 year ago ? Something like that. Oh ! And it reminds me that my friend Justina wanted to cook me a speciality from her Lithuanian land but also burritos (she’s the kind of girl who is Lithuanian and can make perfect burritos!). And to finish, Kim who is Vietnamese and was supposed to make me a Pho ages ago…. Voila, voila, this is done. I know they will read me so it was just a quick reminder…

While I am waiting for my friends to cook for me, here is the ‘Beef and aubergine with miso spread’ serves 4.

It is normally Wagyu but my butcher doesn’t have any Japanese beef ! They said in the program that we can use rump or even chicken or pork.

Ingredients :

-400g of rump, cut in small cubes

-2 aubergines

-1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

-100g of miso paste

-50g of sugar

-30ml of sake

-½ clove of garlic chopped

-The white of a leek, very finely chopped

Method :

1. Remove the stems and cut the aubergines in half lengthwise. Cut some of the roundness away in order to make the aubergines stable. For easier cooking, round a knife around the inside of the skin and make a grid pattern in the fleshy part.

2. Heat some oil in a pan, check the temperature and when it’s very hot, plunge the aubergines. Fry the skin side first for 30 seconds and then the other side until nicely golden. When it is done remove the excess of oil by placing them on a tray with paper towel. Then with the same oil, fry the green pepper a few seconds and place it on the tray with the aubergines.

3. Put the miso paste in a pan and add the sugar, half of the sake, mix it out of the heat. Then put the pan on a strong heat, add the garlic and simmer while stirring till having a sheen appearance and add the rest of sake.

4. Cook the beef last. Season the cubes with salt and pepper, heat a frying pan with a bit of oil and cook very quickly on a strong heat.

5. When serving, place the aubergines on a plate, with the miso paste. Deep some of the meat cubes in the miso and place on the top of the aubergine. Garnish with green peppers, leek and serve straight away.


 

To go with your beef and aubergines dish, why not having a ‘Steamed rice freshly cooked’, Japanese style ? serves 4.

 

Take 500g of Japanese sushi rice and wash it in sieve a few times. Grind the rice to get rid of dust and any brown remaining on it. Rubbing would also make it more delicious. Do it around 30 times with the palm of your hand like kneading some dough. Rince the rice and repeat it 2 or 3 times till the water is no longer cloudy.

Put the rice in a heavy cooking pot with a heavy lid. Add 600ml of water and leave the rice to absorb it for around 30min. You can still skip this stage by buying ‘Musen-Mai’ rice which is an already washed rice.

Bring everything to the boil on a high heat. When it starts boiling turn the heat to medium and cook for 10-15min. Then check, if the water level is lower than the rice, turn the heat on low. When you hear a popping noise, turn it up again to high for 10 last seconds. Turn off the heat and let it steam with the lid on for 2min. The rice is sticky and yummy. Sparkle your rice with condiment rice, my friend brought me back a packet from Japan (yes Claudine still), don’t ask me what it is made with, it tastes nothing really but gives a nice blush to your rice.

 

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- The most pampered cow in the world

After having a conversation with one of my close friend, I decided to listen to her and take a day a week doing nothing… sometimes. I had a Thursday doing nothing last week. Nothing except cooking’ Jasmine shortbread’.

But because I was not happy with it, I also tried ‘Sablé Breton’, actually they turned up worse.

A part from that, nothing. No writing, no photography, no cooking.

So, I am having a lazy Monday today doing nearly nothing… I can send e-mail I was supposed to send ages ago. I can also listen to the news while eating chocolate and tell you more about the conversation I had with one of our chef yesterday night at work about the Kobe beef. I made some researches.

The Tajima cattle that produce this highly prized meat were introduced into Japan in the second century as work animals, used in rice cultivation.

Wagyu (litterally Japanese beef) refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from Wagyu cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics. In several areas of Japan, beef is shipped with area names. Some examples are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef.

Much like how sparkling wine may not be labeled “Champagne” unless it is produced in the Champagne region of France, the same is true in regards to “genuine” Kobe beef. Kobe beef comes from a specific breed and genetic lineage of cattle raised in the Hyogo prefecture according to the standards set by Kobe Beef Distribution and Promotion Council. This council also sets the rules regarding foreign exportation of Kobe beef and has tightly restricted trade with the exception of export to Macau and Hong Kong.

The prized cattle are valued not for their fat content, but the way fat is distributed through its muscle. That distribution is judged as degree of marbling, where higher grades mean better fat distribution, better flavour, and more tenderness.

The cattle are fed on a grain diet for 500 days which helps the marbling process and contributes to the very high cost of this fantastic beef. All Wagyu is graded on the intensity of the marble content within the meat. In the U.K. it ranges from marble score 2 -8. Marble score 8 is pretty much the highest and most expensive in the U.K. To give you an idea, the price is around £200 a kilo !

That kind of price has given rise to all sorts of myths – like the fact that Wagyu cattle drink premium lager or buttermilk and enjoy daily massages with sake to make their flesh more tender.

I put a few pictures (not from me as I have never had the chance to meet a Kobe cow) so we can admire the beauty and I will let you know my thoughts as soon as I will try it, for now I am going back to my lazy Monday !

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- Ménage à trois

I have just read a very serious and interesting study : women who drink red wine would like sex more than the others… Fantastic news, I will feel less guilty then. We already knew the beneficial effects of red wine like a reduction of cardiovascular risks, we now have one more reason to drink red wine, always with moderation, not to fall into the : ‘Temporary loss of inhibition caused by an outside stimulus’ (disinhibition’s definition). It reminds you of memories ?

A very serious study leaded by the University of Florence asserts : one to two glasses of wine a day are enough to increase women’s sexual desire. But not only, they selected 798 women (from 18 to 50 years old) without, according to them, any sexual problem. They were all Italian, Tuscan and healthy. They have been divided in 3 groups: the first one are women drinking 1 to 2 glasses of red wine a day. The second one, women who don’t drink at all and the third one, are occasional alcohol drinkers in general.

They all completed a questionnaire about their sexuality before and after the study.

The results show that group 1 has a higher score on responses related specifically to desire and lubrification.

We call it the ‘French Paradox’. Red wine plays an important role in blood circulation and would kindle the women’s key places, the lubrification of the vagina as well. It would also involved an oestrogens receptor which has much to do with the female desire… Peak of oestrogens just before ovulation, makes you wanting physical contacts… Sex in fact ! But let’s be a bit romantic, let’s call it the hormone of love.

So let’s forget the Tantra’s guide which doesn’t consider our frenzied life rhythm at all and explain that we will have to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, before sex, called ‘maithuna’…

……‘During the days and hours ahead the corporal fusion, man and woman will have to devote themselves to a few minute of meditation, mornings and evenings. Walks in the countryside will help to prepare the union of bodies. Be sensitive to the nature, to the smells it gives off. Yoga practice could promote this psychological preparation’……

No time to go picking poppies everyday and I don’t like yoga so I have a very simple and efficient solution : have a drink !

Dark chocolate has the same benefits, as well as exercise… So, a woman who prefers red wine, likes dark chocolate and goes to the gym, ‘Oh mon Dieu!’, it is fireworks in bed for sure !

As you could guess, to celebrate that, I organized, especially for you, a full menu, all with red wine !

‘Oeufs en Meurette’ followed by ‘Daube Provençale’ and to finish, a chocolate-red wine cake called ‘Rotweinkuchen’.

Oeufs en Meurette’, serves 4.

Typical Burgundy sauce, the Meurette is a red wine sauce made with pancetta, onions and/or shallots and spices.

Ingredients :

-1 or 2 eggs per person

-100g of pancetta

-100g of white mushrooms

-1 onion

-1 garlic clove

-1 tbsp of flour

-50cl of a good red wine

-1 bouquet garni

-1 tsp of sugar

-Butter

-Salt and pepper

-Stale bread to make some croutons

Method :

Cut the pancetta in little cubes, chopped the onion, garlic and mushrooms.

Fry the mushrooms in a bit of butter.

In another pan, cook the pancetta and onion with butter if necessary. Sprinkle the onion and pancetta with flour and stir until golden.

Add the wine, the bouquet garni, mushrooms, garlic and sugar, salt and pepper.

Reduce to very low heat and simmer for around 20min until the sauce get thicker and smooth.

Before serving, fry the croutons in butter (for a lighter version, you can toast them in the oven) and scratch them with garlic. Poached the eggs in boiled water with a few drops of white vinegar.

In a plate, set the croutons first, the eggs on the top and coat with the sauce.

 

To follow, here comes something so dear to my heart, ‘Daube à la Provençale’. I ate tens in my life, the one from my grand-mother, the one from my mum… But I have to confess that I had never cooked it before. My friend Nadine offered me a book last year ‘A table avec Marcel Pagnol’, she knows my love for Marcel Pagnol, his works, his scents and his accent…So I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go to page 123 et copy the recipe that in addition to having been tested and approved, will make you hearing the cicadas’ song.

Vé la Daube!

Serves 6, a Sunday at ‘Les Baux’

Ingrédients :

– 1.5kg of beef chuck

– 3 big onions

– 3 carottes

– 75cl of red wine

– 1 bouquet garni

– 3 cloves

– 4 garlic cloves

– Peel of a half orange

– 200g of pancetta

– Vegetables stock

– Olive oil

-Salt and pepper

– Parsley for the presentation

Method :

The day before, while everyone is still having a nap, cut the meat in pieces. Peel and cut the vegetables : onions into quarters, carrots into chunks. Marinate everything in the fridge for one day with the wine, the bouquet garni, cloves, 2 garlic cloves and orange peel.

The following day, drain the meat, wipe it with a clean ‘estrasse’ (kitchen cloth). Fry the meat in an oiled pan with the rest of garlic. Sprinkle with flower and let it brown with pleasure.

Garnish the bottom of the ‘daubière’ with pancetta with the rind, add the meat, pour the marinade and vegetables. Salt and pepper and cook without the lid on a low heat till it reduced by half, then fill up with hot water –best with the vegetables stock-up to height of meat. Put the lid on and simmer on a low heat for at least 3 hours. Serve it sprinkled with parsley with boiled potatoes, fresh pasta or ricotta ravioli.

 

Let’s be a bit more naughty for dessert…

Rotweinkuchen – Red Wine Cake

A traditional German recipe

Ingredients

– 300g of plain flour

– 1 tsp of baking powder

– 2 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder

– 250g of softened butter

– 250g of sugar

– 1 tsp vanilla sugar

– 5 eggs

– 125ml of red wine

– 100g of chocolate nuggets or grated dark chocolate

Glaze :

– 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

– 200ml of red wine

– Enough icing sugar to make a glaze thick enough to coat the cake (around 350g)

Preheat the oven to 175C, and grease a 22cm bundt tin.

Method :

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar together until the sugars are dissolved and the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now, using a spatula or a wooden spoon, fold in the dry ingredients a third at a time, alternately with the red wine. Finally, fold in the chocolate nuggets. Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt tin, and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cover with foil if it is browning too quickly.

Let it cool for 15 minutes in the tin before turning it out on a wire rack to cool further. Glaze the cake while it is still warm, but no longer piping-hot.

To make the glaze, whisk together the cocoa powder and red wine, and gradually whisk in enough icing sugar to make a smooth glaze. Spoon the glaze over the cake – you can either let it run in little rivulets down the lines of the cake, or spread it around the cake to make a thin, all-encompassing covering. Let the icing set for 20 minutes or so before eating.

It is a an easy cake to make, to transport and it will remain soft for a few days.

 

Eros and Bacchus can be delighted and have a toast together !

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- Eat the seasons !

I remember going to the market with my mum… And seeing her buying broad beans in Spring, watermelon in July-August and pears, oranges…in winter.

A lot of years later I still go to the market with my mum but seeing strawberries or melon on stalls in winter just make me upset. We have great vegetables and fruits in autumn and winter so let’s let the nature goes, she is doing a great job.

Food eaten in season is at the peak of its flavor and nutrient value. Buying English seasonal food is more environmentally friendly too, as it hasen’t been shipped in from other parts of the world.

You can discover what’s in season by visiting eattheseason.co.uk.

Another good reason is, if you like your area and don’t want it to look alike a central London High Street very soon : buy locally… And it is not more expensive.

Beetroots, parsnips, carrots, squashes, mushrooms…

I made this delicious Bramley apple and potatoes rösti and a goat cheese mousse to go with my seasonal vegetables.

 

Bramley apple and potatoes rösti‘, serves 4.

Ingredients :

– 2 potatoes, peeled, washed and grated

– ½ Bramley apple (the original recipe was one potato for one apple but I found it too acid)

– ½ onion finely chopped

– 1 tbsp unsalted butter

– 1 tbsp olive oil

Method :

1. Place the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Tip into a bowl and mix with apple and onion. Season well.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Divide the mixture into 4, then place heaps in a pan, pressing down with the back of a spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until golden.

For the goat cheese mousse : around 150g of soft goat cheese with 2 or 3 tbsp of single cream, salt and pepper.

I remember going to the market with my mum… And seeing her buying broad beans in Spring, watermelon in July-August and pears, oranges…in winter.
A lot of years later I still go to the market with my mum but seeing strawberries or melon on stalls in winter just make me upset. We have great vegetables and fruits in autumn and winter so let’s let the nature goes, she is doing a great job.
Food eaten in season is at the peak of its flavor and nutrient value. Buying English seasonal food is more environmentally friendly too, as it hasen’t been shipped in from other parts of the world.
You can discover what’s in season by visiting eattheseason.co.uk.
Another good reason is, if you like your area and don’t want it to look alike a central London High Street very soon : buy locally… And it is not more expensive.
Beetroots, parsnips, carrots, squashes, mushrooms…
I made this delicious Bramley apple and potatoes rösti and a goat cheese mousse to go with my seasonal vegetables.

‘Bramley apple and potatoes rösti’, serves 4.
Ingredients :
– 2 potatoes, peeled, washed and grated
– ½ Bramley apple (the original recipe was one potato for one apple but I found it too acid)
– ½ onion finely chopped
– 1 tbsp unsalted butter
– 1 tbsp olive oil
Method :
1. Place the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Tip into a bowl and mix with apple and onion. Season well.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Divide the mixture into 4, then place heaps in a pan, pressing down with the back of a spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until golden.
For the goat cheese mousse : around 150g of soft goat cheese with 2 or 3 tbsp of single cream, salt and pepper.
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- Blueberry clafoutis

It is Autumn today… Are coming seasonal fruits and vegetables as baies, figs and the whole squashes family…

One of my favorite dessert is clafoutis and I think that I found the

perfect blueberry clafoutis recipe. Bon appétit !

Serves 6

-300g blueberries

– 40g butter (+5g for the baking tin)

-4 eggs

– 100g sugar (+according to your taste)

– 100g flower

– 25cl milk

– 15g of vanilla-flavoured sugar or normal sugar

– Whipped cream (optional)

Method :

In a big bowl mix the eggs with sugar. Add the butter melted, the flower and milk.

Butter a baking tin, pour in the preparation and add the blueberries on the top.

Preheat your oven at 180° and cook for 40min.

While it is still hot, sprinkle with the vanilla-flavoured sugar and serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

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- Jamaican side

Those who know me well know that I have a very pronounced taste for exoticism. Exotic countries, exotic dishes, music and exotic people… Sweet and savory mixes, fish with coconut sauce…

My friend Nicolette offered me the Levi Root’s book ‘Spice it up’. I love this book, pictures are very beautiful, colorful and make my stomach grumble… I had the chance to meet him for the Notting-Hill carnival last year where he has a stall and sell his famous ‘Reggae, Reggae sauce’.

I like his Jamaïcan nonchalance and his ‘Quinoa, sweet potatoes and avocado’ vegetarian recipe transmitted by his grand-mother is a bliss.

Quinoa, sweet potatoes and avocado puree’ serves 6.

Ingredients

– 2 red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 4cm squares

– 500g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 4com chunks

– 3 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tbsp Cayenne pepper

– Salt and black pepper

– 2 tbsp of groundnut or sunflower oil

– 1 small onion, finely chopped

– 3 tsp ground cinnamon

– 3 tsp ground ginger

– 3cm piece of fresh root ginger, grated

– 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

– 300g quinoa

– 675ml chicken or vegetables stock or water

– About 8 spring onions, chopped

– Extra virgin olive oil to serve

For the avocado puree :

– 2 avocados, chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, crushed

– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tbsp lime juice

– 1 tbsp sherry vinegar

– 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, plus extra leaves for the final garnish

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan) / 190°C / Gas mark 5. Put the pepper squares and sweet potatoes chunks in a roasting tin and toss with the olive oil, Cayenne and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25min or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat the groundnut oil in a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stiring occasionally until soft and slightly golden.

3. Add the cinnamon, ground and fresh ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stiring for 2min. Add the quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Cover with the stock, stir and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat , cover and cook the quinoa for about 15min until it has absorbed all the stock and is quite dry and nutty. Leave the quinoa in the pan.

4. For the avocado puree, put all the ingredients into a blender or in a large bowl if you want to do it with a fork and mix together until smooth.

5. Stir the spring onion through the quinoa and put the roasted vegetables on the top. Serve with avocado puree, drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

 

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- Summer in a jar

Summer is nearly over… To extend it, let’s put our summer fruits in a jar… Peaches, apricots, cherry tomatoes burst with sunshine…

Just for fun, I also made pickled radishes, per

fect for aperitif or to go with meat.

For the tomatoes :

It can be ‘normal’ tomatoes, cherry tomatoes… Wash the tomatoes, cut them in half or quarter, place them on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven for a few minutes and cook the tomatoes for 15-20min according to their size. They just have to be a bit sear on the top (no need to leave them in the oven for too long as they would lose their flavour).

Sterilize your jars by boiling them in water for 10 min (make sure that they are all well submerged). This stage is not essential as tomatoes will be covered with olive to avoid mould.

In a bol, mix the tomatoes with garlic, herbe de Provence (if you can’t find any herbes de Provence, thyme will be perfect too) salt, pepper and fresh basil. Put everything in the pot without waiting and cover with olive oil to the top.

For the pickled radishes :

– 1 bunch of radishes

– 3cm of fresh ginger

– ½ tsp of coriander seeds

– 1 star anis

– 1 little hot chili, seeded and finely chopped

– 2 tsp of sugar

– 4 tbsp of white vinegar

– ½ tsp of salt

Wash and chop finely the radishes (ideally with a mandolin being very careful to your fingers !) in the lengthwise and cut the ginger in little sticks. Mix them both together.

Put the spices in a pan on medium heat for one minute and add the chili, sugar, vinegar and salt. Simmer slowly till the sugar dissolve. Pour your preparation on radishes, cover and put it in the fridge if you want to eat them straight away. To keep them longer, follow the same sterilization process as the tomatoes and put them in a jar. If there is not enough liquid, double the proportions when you make your sauce in order to cover the radishes. They will last then for a few weeks in the fridge.

 

Peaches or nectarines :

Make a syrup by boiling some water (around 800ml) with 100g sugar till the sugar dissolve. Leave it for 2 min on low heat. Sterilize your jars with the same process and pour the syrup on peaches peeled and placed beforehand in your pot, the cavity down. Cover the peaches completely to avoid the ones on the top to get dark.

The syrup can be made more or less sweet according to your taste. The recipe has been tested to obtain a very light syrup to keep the fruits’s flavor.

 

 

 

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- Nicoise salad

We are the 30th of August and I realise that summer is almost finished, and I haven’t seen it really, once again… In the same time, it’s been very short, it started mid-July ! Before that, rain again and again…

My mum told me that if we really

like our life, the weather became ‘accessorize’. I thing that she is right, and London is not that terrible. I surprise myself saying that in London it doesn’t rain a lot ! I am still in love with London and it’s well known that love is blind.

We still have a few sunny days left and if we are very lucky we’ll have Indian summer. Notting-Hill Carribean carnival is over. Always exotic and colorful, it’s always a beautiful way to end-up summer every year.

Let’s enjoy the sunny days we have left by eating a Nicoise salad. A real one. I mean, no french beans, and please but please, no potatoes ! It reminds me a friend who said that she’s always thought that Nicoise salad is a rice salad ! She’s got an excuse, she is from Paris… But still ! In that case, we have to step in and right now !

The bad news is that my laptop decided to break down just before the long week-end and when I got back to pick it up after the carnival i realized that I lost some pictures !!! The ones of my Nicoise salad as well taken in my garden on a sunny day… Apart from being angry with myself (I should have done a back-up) and wanting to throw my computer away, there is nothing more to do except to confess that I will have to cheat and ‘steal’ a picture. It is for a good cause.

So I am honest, it’s been my first cheating but this Nicoise salad is close to my heart so I didn’t want to skip this subject.

I tried to find a cute one, with no green leaves, no french beans no potatoes… I found one but the article’s title was ‘What to do with your vegetables left over ? A Nicoise salad’, it is really disrespectful ! The Nicoise salad is not a vulgar vegetables salad !

Having seen everything, the Greek one with feta cheese, the oriental version with spices… I found that one which is very lifelike except one thing : the olives… They are quiet difficult to find it’s true so I also ‘stole’ a pictures of the olives.

The photography’s format is not the usual one as my computer hasen’t recovered completely yet, but it’s coming, it’s from the South, it’s a bit slow !

Ingredients (serve 6)

– 6 big tomatoes

– 4 bunches of celery

– 1 half cucumber

– 7-8 broad beans

– 4 hard boiled eggs

– 1 red pepper

– 6 anchovies filets in olive oil

– A few olives from Nice (small, black and very tasty)

– Olive oil, vinaigre, salt and pepper

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- Nice holidays

Here are a few pictures of my little week in Nice (little as holiday are always too short). After a long and cold winter and no spring in London it was nearly vital to go to see the sun, the sea, feel the heat and listen to the cicadas sing. It was a short but very good break, I hope that reading this will make you to travel, at least for a few minutes.

These pictures are a concentrate of the old town of Nice. Places I like to go, where you have to go, like ‘l’Estrilha’ and the ‘Bar des Oiseaux’, institutions in Nice. Obviously going to the ‘Marché aux Fleurs’ and drink a macchiato at the ‘Café des Fleurs’ ‘s terrace. Buy some courgettes ‘from Nice’ et courgettes flower to make some fritters.

Also watch Térésa selling her socca. She doesn’t make the best in town but you have to go at least for the show. The socca is a mix of cheek peas flour, water and olive oil, cooked in a wooden oven. We eat it in paper with salt and peper. Nothing has changed for 50 years (neither she has by the way), her employee still brings the big plate of socca when it is ready, with his moped. My mum knows Térésa since she is a child, as well as her employee who still has the same moped.

Get lost in the alleys and at night, eat my father’s fish soup… The best in the world… He doesn’t have any restaurant unfortunately but if he wants to give me all his secrets, it may that one day I will give you the recipe…

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- Jamie Oliver and I

Back from Nice (where I took a lot of pictures for my next post) I had an appointment with Jamie… In my dreams, we would have cooked together or just shared a ham sandwich with a glass of bad wine and talk about food.

Because Jamie is like a friend, someone we know well.

That was in my dreams… In reality, he gave a conference for the Olympics called ‘London on a plate, an audience with Jamie Oliver’.

I have to admit that I was very excited to see him, but seeing him so close, made me feel like being at a concert, the rock star arriving on the stage (not very rock star as he wore a bermuda shorts and beach shoes!). Excitement was at its height and to be honest I had to stop myself not to play the groupie. The fact that I was, me Marlène, in a press conference room, surrounded by real journalists from all around the world made me stay still and not run on the stage to jump on him !

It’s my sad destiny, I am perfectly aware that I will never be able to interview a chef… Being in front of a chef, so impressed that I would pass for a stupid-idiot, unable to align 3 words.

So our Jamie (let’s call him ‘our Jamie’ cause it is nearly a friend), nature, shaggy hair, talks with his hands, swears a bit and is passionate a lot.

More than 10 years now that his restaurant ‘The Fifteen’ opened. Very young, he started what he calls the biggest challenge of his life. The aim was to train young people in difficulty to rebuild, have respect for themselves and others. His restaurant became a big success and his goal reached. A lot of teenagers went from drug dealers, young without future very often having their whole lives in a bag, to chefs, restaurateurs… thanks to ‘The Fifteen’.

He shot to fame when he was 24 and talks openly about being embarrassed to have, so young, 1 million pounds on his account.

10 years, a wife and 4 children later, he is not sure that he would do it now, he has a family to look after and can’t work nights and days anymore. But no doubt, passion is still there, after the opening of a few restaurants in the world and a dozen of cookery books, he now let himself goes and helps young chefs to start their own business, lend them some money…

So no, Jamie has never had any training really, he was dyslexic, grew up and learnt on the job in his father’s pub lost in the middle of nowhere. No, he is not liked very much by most of the chefs who had a ‘classic route’ but somehow, that’s why we love him. He is real, likes everyday food, doesn’t pretend to save the planet but really cares about its health, conveys, educates…

His most beautiful words, according to me: ‘Food is that wonderful thing where there is no borders, no color, no language, no religion…’

To meditate… If only the world would think like Jamie…

 

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- Watermelon, feta cheese and rocket salad

I am going toward the South today… I am going to Nice for a week.

I can’t to wait to be on the beach a glass of rosé wine in one hand, a pan-bagnat on the other…

London is still beautiful and hot as well for one week now, that make us fancy salads only. I made one with what I had left in my fridge. The result is fresh and pretty : rocket and watercress salad, watermelon and feta cheese. A good way to start my holiday… I’ll keep you posted !

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- Pizza Napoletana

Last week, I was invited to a pizza making class in Chiswick… I have to be honest, I was a bit sceptical. I thought that it would be again the kind of class runs by an anything-but-italian chef willing to fill in his

restaurant on Monday and Tuesday when it is quieter… Sorry for having those prejudices but that’s what we are use to now. Food world is expanding so much that everybody has a sudden special gift and organize cooking class, write cookery book…

Let’s not forget that, chef is a proper job, something that you learn over the years. And you know my fascination for chefs, so please people, let’s let them do their job as they do it wonderfully and let’s not talk about people who are pretending.

At ‘Franco Manca’ they don’t pretend, they are…

They are passionate about what they do…Pizza. Yes, it is just pizza, I know, but when was the last time you had a great pizza?…

On that Monday, we were 3 girls to attend (one came from Bath especially for the class!)

The manager, a happy guy originally from Italy, welcomed us with a glass of wine, home- made bread and olive oil.

The chef is from the Naples’ region, knows what is talking about and can make an amazing sourdough pizza in exactly 10 seconds (cooking time is 4 seconds).