Category Archives: French

Mini pizzas

I haven’t blogged for a while and was keen to get one out there before the year end!  So this one is a recipe/recipes that I have used a lot over recent months.  Partly because they are so quick, partly because they are relatively healthy, as you control the ingredients, and mainly because I have never been disappointed whatever combination of ingredients I have decided upon!

The main ingredient in this dish is the Buitoni mini pizza bases.  You get 8 in a pack so good for 4 people (2 pizzas each) or a good party size if you halve them after cooking.

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From there I’ve used a base topping of either creme fraiche or tinned tomatoes.  The creme fraiche topping was inspired by a trip to France earlier in the year and I have to say it is my favourite.

I usually spread some herbs on the main sauce (basil, oregano, pesto, parsley, etc).  Well some combination of these, not all!

Then on top of that I’ve added chicken or chorizo as my meat of choice (I always pre-cook the chicken to be on the safe side).  And then some vegetables from mushrooms, onions, peppers, courgette (which I usually pre-cook if I’m doing it with chicken although it’s not really necessary).

From then I might add cherry tomatoes before the cheese (I usually choose between feta or cheddar or parmesan).

I bake them in the oven for 10 mins on 220 and enjoy a great dish afterwards.  Recently we made them with our niece so they are child friendly and can be quite a good interactive cooking dish with kids.  Also I made a few for our house warming so great party food also.  I’ve tested them on various guests that came to visit and no disappointment yet even amongst foodies.  Alternatively I have a couple with salad for my dinner.  They are an easy thing to make quickly from whatever you have in the fridge so definitely my recommendation from 2014, even if they are not the most advanced dish!  Sometimes the most simple are the best 🙂

Here you have a picture of one of my favourites:

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Happy New Year to anyone reading!!!

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Filed under Cheese, Chicken, French, Healthy, Italian, Pizza

Seared salmon with leek mash and mustard hollandaise sauce

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Today is a holiday and to celebrate that and reaching 2000 hits on my blog (!!!), I wanted to make something I’d not done before.  I was searching by the ingredients I had in the fridge and found this recipe which is on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/searedsalmonwithleek_88794

So I’d definitely made mash before (!) and salmon so the unknown piece in this recipe was the hollandaise sauce.  It turned out to be not that complicated despite not really having the full list of ingredients (at least not quite enough butter!).  The BBC recipe suggests that the ingredients listed make enough sauce for 1 person.  Now, I’m not sure if people exist that would eat that much hollandaise sauce but my recommendation is that it makes easily enough for 2-3 people 🙂

Despite cooking quite frequently, new sauces do still seem like a step into the unknown so it was good to have done this one and seen that it is fairly straightforward.  The end result was that it tasted great, especially in the combination with the mash and salmon but perhaps with that much butter, anything would!  Now just to perfect my sauce spreading on the plate…

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2 Comments

Filed under Fish, Food, French, Recipes, Uncategorized

Spinach, spinach and more spinach!

Following the veg box delivery last week, I had a lot of spinach in my fridge so this weekend has been dominated by recipes including this green vegetable!!!

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It started Saturday morning with Eggs and Spinach en cocotte.  I had done a cocotte before:

https://creationsfromlacuineta.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/oeufs-en-cocotte-eggs-in-pots/

They are really tasty, a real treat for a weekend breakfast so a good way to use the spinach.  Again it was really tasty and you can find the recipe I used here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/eggsandspinachencoco_88059

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Next up was Saturday dinner 🙂  I really fancied a curry, so I did this Chicken and Spinach Balti recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chickenandspinachbal_86977

Really nice flavours from the yoghurt marinade and the spinach gave it something extra for sure.  I usually don’t have spinach in my curries and I’ve eaten a lot of curries over the course of my life so quite a turning point!

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And now this brings us to Sunday night!  As I’m writing this, I’ve been cooking a Ghanaian Beef and Spinach Stew for about 2 hours by now!

http://www.girlcooksworld.com/2011/03/shoko-ghanaian-beef-and-spinach-stew.html

It comes from a really nice blog which features gluten free recipes.  I didn’t have all the ingredients (serrano peppers for example) but I have suitable substitutes and also was able to add a couple of my organic carrots and some leeks.  You can see what it looks like below!  I just need to add the spinach and it will soon be ready to eat!

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For anyone who has not yet had enough of spinach while reading this post, you can find all the health benefits of spinach here:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach

I should definitely be feeling stronger and ready to tackle Monday!!!

Thanks to the BBC for providing a lot of inspiration this weekend!

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, Food blogging, French, Healthy, Herbs, Indian, Recipes, Rice, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Cava sabayon with strawberries and cherry tomatoes (Sabayon de Cava avec fraises et tomates cerises) – Sunday lunch with friends!

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I had a lunch at my place on the weekend for some special dinner guests so needed to put some effort in to make a full 3 course lunch 🙂  They are special dinner guests because when I’ve been to their place, I’ve definitely had some of the nicest meals ever so now was not the time to be cutting corners!

I decided to cook a couple of recipes which had already been on the blog as well as a new one for dessert which I will feature here; strawberries and cherry tomatoes in a sabayon sauce.  I took this approach because 3 courses is not something I do that often so to do a couple of familiar recipes, while mastering one new one seemed like a good balance where I wouldn’t get too stressed!

For the starter I did chicken nuggets which was my last post 🙂  There were 5 of us for lunch and I wanted a relatively simple starter and also so that people were not too full before the main of risotto.  The idea was that the lunch would get posher as we went through the courses!  The chicken nuggets seemed popular anyway so a good choice to kick off the lunch 🙂

Risotto is one of my old favourites and I hadn’t made it for these friends yet so a good opportunity to cook it again as the main 🙂  Also I was able to focus my energy on the dessert.  Actually in the end, the dessert was pretty simple so I would say the risotto won in terms of the most time consuming part but all in all a good mix between the dishes!

The dessert recipe comes from one of my current favourite books; Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo.  Again it looked quite light so wouldn’t be too much after the risotto.  It was pretty simple to make overall.  I think I whisked it for longer than the 10 minutes it suggested but apart from that it was quite straightforward.

The highlight of this recipe was being able to try an egg yolk separating trick with a plastic bottle that I’d seen on an internet article!  So I cracked an egg into a bowl (gently so the yolk didn’t break) and then squeezed the bottle directly above the yolk to suck it up, before depositing the yolk in a separate bowl.

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It’s probably easier if you watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAp8pEaWB1Y

I did this to get 6 egg yolks and then added 3 tablespoons of sugar.  I whisked this over a bain marie a little before adding 150 ml of cava (the recipe quotes champagne but living in Catalunya, I had to choose cava above champagne!).  Then I carried on whisking for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture thickened and was a little foamy (the tip is if you can draw a figure of eight shape in the sauce and it stays then the sauce is ready).  I chilled the sabayon sauce in the fridge until it was dessert time and I think you can do this for upto a couple of hours (one other tip; I do think the sabayon sauce evaporated a little while chilling so I didn’t have as much as I expected!).

When it was time for dessert, I put 3-4 tablespoons of the sabayon sauce into bowls and added a few quarters of strawberries and deseeded cherry tomatoes.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the finished product so I’m posting it from the book instead!

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It was definitely a nice end to this meal, with a good combination of plates.  It’s true that cherry tomatoes go very well with strawberries (apparently, scientifically speaking, strawberries and tomatoes have the same flavour components) which was a nice discovery and the sweetness of the sabayon sauce goes very well with these fruits.

Other learnings from this post are that I don’t appear to be able to spell the word dessert (just had to go through and correct many references to sand!) and also that I think my food pictures have improved when looking at my old risotto post from over a year ago 🙂  I also got a new iPhone…I guess it helped 😛

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Filed under Cherry tomatoes, Desserts, Food, Food blogging, French, Pudding, Recipes, Strawberries, Uncategorized

Alternative Christmas Dinner! – Scallops with a sabayon sauce and Fish Pie!

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As I stated in my previous post, I cooked for some of my family on Christmas Day what with my mum doing the traditional turkey dinner for all the family on Boxing Day this year 🙂  It’s taken me a while to get this post up as Christmas time at home is pretty hectic and then straight back to Barcelona and work on 30th!

It was nice to choose the recipes for this day; something special that would take a bit more time to cook as I would have the majority of Christmas morning to do it.  It was also very nice to be able to cook for my family on this day and take some of the pressure from my mum during the holiday season (although she just did it all the next day instead, and the next day and the next day!).

I’d cooked the scallops in the sabayon sauce before (from the Little Paris Kitchen book) but this was the first time I’d tried this particular fish pie.

The thought of cooking Christmas Day didn’t daunt me too much but the thought of shopping in a UK supermarket on Christmas Eve did quite a bit!  In reality it was calmer than I thought but things were starting to run out.  We took the last 10 scallops, had to buy frozen prawns and had to used dried dill rather than fresh but apart from that it went very smoothly!  I was also offered a good deal on a carp (presumably with all the fish I was buying I had been identified as a prime candidate to buy) but really didn’t really have a use for that as well!

I started off by defrosting the prawns and then taking the heads and the shells off and putting to one side to use in the sauce of the pie.

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I mixed the prawn shells with milk, butter, onion, bay leaf and pepper corns and simmered for 10 mins.  When it was done I set it to one side to infuse.

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Then I put the fish into a roasting pan, skin side up.  I strained the infused milk into the pan on top of the fish and simmered on the hob for 8 mins.  I left them to cool a little before flaking into a bowl removing the skin and any bones before mixing with the prawns.

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Sneak peaks into the guest kitchen…. (much bigger than mine!!!)

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I melted the butter and added the flour and then gradually the flavoured milk left in the roasting pan.  I whisked while simmering for about 15 mins until thick and added a little salt and pepper.  I added the parsley and poured the sauce over the fish and left to cool a little.

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Meanwhile I’d boiled the potatoes in salted water for 20 mins and soaked a pinch of saffron in a couple of tablespoons of hot water.  I beat in the saffron to the mashed potatoes before adding the butter, milk and dill.

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Now the fish mixture had cooled, I spread the mash on top and baked in the oven for 40 mins on 180 degrees and until the top was brown and crispy.  The saffron gave the mash a really nice colour so will be using this in mash in the future for sure!

While the pie was baking, I started the scallops.  First with the sabayon sauce by putting the egg yolks, wine and sugar and salt into a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  I whisked for 10 mins until thick and foamy.

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I set this aside while I cooked the scallops with a bit of oil.  2 mins on one side and then 3 mins on the other.  I served the scallops in their shells with a bit of rocket on the side and the sabayon sauce dripped over the top.

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So the verdict and the final pictures; the scallops were great as a starter and went down very well with my family 🙂  Very tasty and a very nice mix of flavours!  Quite a pretty plate too 🙂

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And the pie was extremely tasty too!  It’s quite a big investment of time but worth the effort with some nice touches in the recipe including the saffron in the mash and the prawn shell infused milk makes a big different to the taste.

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My family seemed happy so that was the main thing!  Mum said the best Christmas Dinner ever but I’m quite sure she was being nice!  It was good to have something different though and these recipes are a luxurious treat for Christmas 🙂

And now as an extra; a peak into the best Christmas Dinner ever (served on Boxing Day this year).  Traditional turkey dinner by my mum 🙂  Really the best ever and something I look forward to a lot with the pigs in blankets always my favourite!!!  All the family together too so a perfect Boxing Day!

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A belated Merry Christmas to all and hope the New Year has started well 🙂

Ingredients

Scallops with a sabayon sauce – served 5

10 large scallops with shells

Several handfuls of rocket

Olive oil

4 egg yolks

100 ml dry white wine

Pinch of sugar and salt

Fish pie – serves 5 (including seconds!!!)

350g raw shell on prawns (I could only find frozen)

700 ml milk

1 bay leaf

2 peppercorns

450g haddock (or any white fish)

450g smoked haddock (or cod)

75g butter

75g flour

4 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

For the mash

1.3kg floury potatoes

Large pinch of saffron threads

75g butter

250ml milk

3 tablespoons of fresh dill (if you can get it!)

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Filed under English, Fish, Food, Food blogging, French, Herbs, Pie, Pies, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Oeufs en cocotte (eggs in pots)

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Today is my first day of Christmas holidays so what better way to start it with a nice breakfast!  In bed!  Well, I had to get out of bed to make it but got back in to eat it, so still the concept is there 🙂

I started going through recipe books this morning in bed (starting a weekend in this way is just heaven for me!) as I’m cooking for my family on Christmas Day this year.  An alternative Christmas dinner as we are having the traditional dinner on Boxing Day when everyone will be together.  So as I was searching for the recipes for Christmas Day, I came across this recipe in the Little Paris Kitchen book which seemed perfect for breakfast or could be done as a starter 🙂  I don’t want to say anymore about the Christmas dinner in case my mum gets a sneak preview!

I certainly didn’t have red lumpfish roe lying around my kitchen so for the additional topping I used ham but you can use whatever savoury item you want!  It is quite a simple recipe but still feels special; a great combination in my idea of cooking!

I added some salt and pepper and nutmeg to creme fraiche and mixed well.  Then I spooned a tablespoon into a ramekin, sprinkled some parsley on top, broke an egg on top and added another tablespoon of creme fraiche.  I added a little bit more salt, pepper and nutmeg and put the two ramekins into a baking tray and added enough lukewarm water in the tray to come up to about halfway of the ramekins.

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I then baked in the oven for about 15 mins on 180 degrees, removed from the oven, sprinkled on a little parsley and added a couple of strips of ham.

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So yes, very simple!  Only issue with this dish is trying to get a tray of boiling water out of my little oven which is above head height!  In reality the tray of water is still in there cooling down and I lifted the ramekins straight out.  One day I will have a bigger kitchen once more!  But for now, this little creation coming out of my little oven, in my little kitchen was a perfect start to the holidays 🙂

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Filed under Breakfast, Food, Food blogging, French, Herbs, Recipes, Starter, Uncategorized

Boeuf bourguignon avec des quenelles de baguettes (Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings)

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My final blog of the year on the last day of the year!  I’m hoping to end the year in the same way I want to live the next one and a part of that is cooking nice, healthy food that I will continue to write about.  Maybe this time next year I will see that my cooking is progressing with evidence on here!

The reason for this recipe is that we had a lot of beef in the freezer as we bought part of a cow a while ago and are still working our way through it!  Also I got a new recipe book over Christmas that I wanted to try out.  It is called Little Paris Kitchen.  I was not too keen on the idea of this book/programme to begin with as it seemed too similar to my “Creations from la cuineta” but I soon realised there was room in the world for both of us and sucuumbed to the fact she has some really nice recipes!

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I started the 3.5 hour journey of this recipe by browning the flour dusted stewing meat in batches and removing.  Then I added the lardons, garlic, onions, herbs and spices to the same pan and cooked until golden brown.

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I put the browned meat back in and also added the wine, water, tomato paste and sugar.  Seeing so much wine at this point was a difficult stage in the process what with having a monster wine hangover from the previous night!

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I stirred everything together and then cooked gently on the hob for 3 hours (although you can put in the oven on 150 degrees if you prefer).

For the dumplings, I used a baguette from the previous day and cut into small cubes before adding the hot milk and mixing together.  After leaving it (covered) for 15 mins, I seasoned with nutmeg, salt, pepper, parsley, egg and 1 tablespoon of flour (if the mixture seems too sticky you can always add a bit more flour at this stage).  I really helpful tip in this recipe was to wet your hands before making the mixture into the dumplings.  With the ingredients I used, I was able to make 8 dumplings which I then put in a airtight container in the fridge ready for cooking.

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20 mins before the stew was ready I chopped 150g of mushrooms and added to the pan.

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For the dumplings, I heated some butter and browned them on each side (approximately 5 mins cooking time).  This part was quite fiddly to get all the areas covered and without burning my fingers too much!

So despite fighting with the hangover I managed to complete this recipe within the 3.5 hours it required.  As you would hope, after cooking for that long, the food was great!  Very tasty and it was a nice combination with the dumplings.  I had never made dumplings before and they are still not my favourite thing but having that bread consistency with the sauce is quite complimentary.

So to anyone reading this, silent or otherwise, I wish you a very happy new year!!!  Thanks for reading 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 500g stewing beef (fricando)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 150g lardons
  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 2 gloves of garlic crushed until flat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 peppercorns, crushed
  • 500 ml of red wine
  • 300 ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • A pich of sugar
  • 150g of mushrooms
  • 150g stale baguette
  • 200 ml milk
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour
  • A knob of butter for frying

4 Comments

Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, French, Herbs, Recipes, Slow cooking, Stew, Uncategorized