Celebrate British Food Fortnight with my chard recipe

September 20th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Recipes No Comment yet

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
– Salt/pepper
– 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.

Celebrating indulgence this International Chocolate Day

September 11th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Recipes No Comment yet

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.

Celebrate Wine and Cheese Day with some usual pairings

July 20th, 2018 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

As the ‘Grand Fromage’ of The French Chef at Home, you’d expect me to have firm opinions on both cheese and wine!

With Wine and Cheese Day coming up (25 July), I’m celebrating by sharing just a few of my favourite pairings with you.

As mentioned in a previous blog, we were delighted to discover that Yorkshire takes its cheeses as seriously as we do in France.  And a good cheese demands a good wine.

I like to support other local businesses.  When I’m not visiting France to buy my wines directly from the producer, I source most of my cheese and wine from Minskip Farm Shop http://minskipfarmshop.com/ which has a small but extensive fresh food market. Much of the produce Ben and Emma stock is sourced from within 30 miles of the shop and all the wines mentioned below can be found there.

My new favourite cheese is the soft and creamy Yorkshire Brie and I like to pair it with a dry, yet fruity Niel Joubert Pinotage from South Africa.  A ripe plum flavour with slight smoky trace, the wine has a dry finish with ripe berry and spice notes.

Closer to home, Château de Brague is a superior red Bordeaux that works well with a rich cheese.  With its Merlot-based aroma and berry flavours, it’s perfect with Camembert au Calvados, a cheese produced in Lower Normandy that is marinated in Calvados brandy.

But it’s not only red wine that works with cheese.

Other great pairings include Picpoul de Pinet, a dry white, from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region. The name means ‘lip stinger’ because of the wine’s zingy freshness.  With aromas of blossom, Picpoul is comparable to the better-known Muscadet from the Loire Valley and represents excellent value. Its high acidity means it cuts through rich foods including creamy, firm cheeses made from sheep’s milk such as Ossau Iraty, another product of France’s South West.

Finally, a bone dry and aromatic Loire Valley Sancerre will perfectly complement the rich flavours of Sainte-Maure de Touraine, an unpasteurised full fat goat’s milk cheese rolled in wood ash.

 

Gâteau Napoléon

July 12th, 2018 Posted by Blog, Recipes No Comment yet

Gâteau Napoléon – a dessert fit for an emperor!

Bastille Day or la Fête Nationale as it is better known in France is our favourite holiday and celebrates a key turning point of the French Revolution.

Country-wide celebrations on this public holiday include firework displays and military parades and most people enjoy spending time with their families and loved ones. Food, as always, takes centre stage.

In celebration of the day and the subsequent rule of Napoleon as Emperor of France, I’d like to share my recipe for Gâteau Napoléon – a type of mille-feuille that is popular for festive meals and is a rich confection of multi layered cake and cream that melts in the mouth. It also remains a firm favourite in Russia after the victory against the French army of Napoleon in 1812 and has become an integral part of that country’s national culinary heritage.

Serves 8

For the dough
1 egg
125 ml cold water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
250 g cold butter
300 g flour

For the filling
200 g butter at room temp
1 can (397 g) sweetened condensed milk
200 g nuts

Method
Mix the egg and cold water using a small whisk. Add the lemon juice and set aside.

Place the butter in a bowl. Gradually add the sifted flour and, using a knife, mix everything until a coarse sand texture. Stir the egg mixture and mix to a smooth dough.

Form a large roll of dough and cut it into 9 equal parts. Shape into balls, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 or gas mark 6.

Roll out a dough ball into a circle of 22cm of diameter -approx. – and bake on a non-stick plate for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the operation for another 8 balls.

After taking the dough out of the oven, while the discs are still warm, even out the edges to make circles of approx. 20cm, by passing the blade of a knife along a baking circle or mold. Reserve the dough scraps.


Cream the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat until smooth. Put a dough circle on a serving dish, cover lightly with cream and sprinkle with the crushed walnuts. Cover with another dough circle. Repeat until all the dough circles have been used. Cover the last circle of dough with cream but no nuts. Ensure that the dough scraps are well crumbled. Sprinkle the cake with the crumbs to completely cover the top and sides.


Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.