If, like me, the only way to kick start your day is with a caffeine rush, you’ll be raising a cup to celebrate the fast approaching International Coffee Day (1 October).
While fresh pressed (AKA batch brewed) coffee is having a moment, for me a good strong espresso coffee made using my trusty Nespresso machine and Harrogate’s own Taylors coffee is an essential.
If taken after lunch or dinner, it’s the perfect excuse to accompany my espresso with a sweet petit four (café gourmand in French) – perhaps a madeleine, pistachio financier and truffle.
Embrace the coffee bean!
Did you know, coffee is actually made from the seeds of a berry and once dried they are known as ‘beans’. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world.
Since arriving in Yorkshire, I’ve been delighted to find some interesting ingredients that aren’t generally known in France. One such is chard which makes a colourful alternative to spinach. Most French people don’t know this versatile vegetable at all. So in celebration of British Food Fortnight (22 September-7 October), I thought I would share my chard recipe with you.
With its large succulent green leaves and thick crunchy stems, Chard is similar to spinach but with a stronger flavour. It can be white (Swiss chard), red (ruby or rhubarb chard), yellow or a colourful mix of all three (rainbow chard).
We grow the latter in our garden, planting it in March for harvesting from July onwards. ‘Cut and come again’ cropping, enables you to pick right through the summer and autumn. It is high in vitamins, A, K and C and rich in minerals, dietary fibre and protein.
A versatile vegetable that can be boiled, steamed, stir fried or roasted, the leaf and stalks should be cooked separately. After washing, strip the leaves from the stems and cut crosswise as they take longer to cook than the greens.
Alternatively, baby leaves are delicious tossed into a mixed green leaf salad. Chard works well with cheese, dairy, pork and spices.
Chefs Tip – add a pinch of barcabonate of soda to blanching water to help the stems retain their vibrancy.
Risotto with rainbow chard and crispy parmesan
– 250g Arborio rice
– 100g butter
– 250ml white wine
– 500ml water
– 150g grated parmesan
– 1 onion
– 3 tbs olive oil
– 1 bunch Swiss rainbow chard
Rinse the rice several times with cold water. Finely dice the onion. Separate the leaves from the stem on the chard and put the leaves aside. Take a tablespoon of butter and brown the chard stem – cooking them for a few minutes with a saucepan lid on. Repeat this process with the chard leaves.
In a saucepan, brown the onion with olive oil then add the rinsed and drained rice to the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes then add the white wine and cook until the rice has completely absorbed the wine. Add 250ml of water and repeat the absorption process. Repeat one last time with the remaining water. This process should take 17-18mns. Add 100g parmesan and the remaining butter.
Add salt and pepper.
In a non-stick pan, add the rest of the parmesan and cook to make parmesan crisps. Lay the risotto in a 10cm metal circle in the centre of a plate, place the chard stems on top and the leaves on the side. Add a parmesan crisp on top.
Thursday 13 September is celebrated internationally as Chocolate Day – not that most of us need a special day to celebrate this indulgent confection!
I was delighted to discover Yorkshire’s long tradition of chocolate-making dating back to the 18th century and associated with chocolate pioneers such as Terrys and Rowntree.
The popular chocolate orange, invented in the inter-war years, is now allegedly found in 1 in 10 Christmas stockings throughout the UK.
Although I love local artisan chocolate to eat as is, when cooking, French is best! I like to use a 70% cocoa chocolate such as Valrhona which is widely available here.
This unique, artisan quality chocolate has complex, balanced and consistent flavours. Chefs throughout the world rely on Valrhona chocolate from the Rhone Valley to give the best flavours and the producer has even gone so far as to open its own cocoa bean plantations.
There is quite a process to making chocolate. To flourish, cocoa trees require temperatures of at least 25°C, as well as 80% humidity, lots of rain and shade. The beans have to be extracted from their pods and fermented before being dried, sorted and ground, tempered and poured into moulds. Never take your chocolate for granted!
To make the most of it on warmer days, you can’t beat a delicious chocolate sorbet.
Dark Chocolate Sorbet
– 600ml water
– 180g sugar
– 300g 70% dark chocolate
In a saucepan, mix together the water and the sugar and bring to the boil in order to obtain a syrup. Put the chocolate in a mixing bowl and pour the syrup on top of the chocolate. Mix well and put the whole back in the saucepan and leave to simmer for 5mins. Pour in a bowl, mix well and leave it to cool down. Put the mixture in the ice cream maker and turbine for 10mins in order to obtain the sorbet.