Posts tagged " France "

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.

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.

A trio of my favourite cheeses

June 7th, 2018 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

With National Cheese Day taking place this week, I thought I would share my three favourite French cheeses with you.

You might ask how I can only have three favourites when there are so many to choose from in France. As Charles de Gaulle once said: “How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?”

It was a tough job, but these are my top three:


Ossau-Iraty

The Franco-Basque cheese made from sheep milk is traditionally eaten with black cherry jam (mainly because the Basque Country produces a lot of black cherries). However, I prefer it with blackcurrant jam which adds a lovely acidic touch. Its name reflects its South-Western France origin, the Ossau Valley in Béarn and the Irati Forest in the Basque Country.

 

 

Camembert au Calvados
Also known as Calva d’Auge, this one is a Norman cheese from the Lower Normandy region of France. I know Camembert is quite common but this one soaked in Calvados brandy for a few hours is excellent. Highly recommended!

 


Sainte-Maure de Touraine

The Loire Valley goat cheese is log shape and rolled in wood ash. A lovely soft cheese with a slightly salty and nutty taste with a walnut aroma.

 

 

 

Unlike the English, we don’t have chutneys with cheese in France, just bread. It is always baguette or pain de campagne (country bread) and served with red wine.

However, I do now prefer to eat cheese with crackers rather than bread. I think it’s lighter. Or am I slowly getting into British habits having lived here for almost six years?