Mayo Revolution !

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Up until today, I generally have fought with homemade mayonnaise.  By hand (too lazy), beaters (works most of the time), blender (too much washing up) etc…

This recipe from Serious Eats has changed my “Mayo Game” !

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AND this is a whole egg mayo !  No more forgotten egg whites in the back of the fridge.

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Due to the egg white being included its lighter in colour and, to me, tastes more like shop bought mayo (in a good way 😉 ).

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Below is the basic recipe, but add stuff to your hearts content !  I added a clove of my sun roasted garlic and a chunk of the white part of a spring onion. You could add raw garlic to make Aioli or herbs, roasted red pepper, a touch of fresh horseradish, pesto, wasabi, hot sauce, smoked paprika, blue cheese, chipotle, ginger etc. . .

Keeps for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

One Egg Mayonnaise

  • Servings: about 1 cup
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 1 whole egg (room temperature)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (room temperature)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

All ingredients go into a recipient that is just wide enough for the head of the stick blender (very important). Most stick blenders come with their own jug, which is perfect.

Slowly lower the stick blender into the jug until it touches the bottom.  Start blending (high speed is fine).  Very quickly the mixture will start to emulsify, you can then start to slowly lift the stick blender up whilst blending.  You may need to move it from side to side near the top to get all the oil down.

Et voila !  In less than 2 minutes, you have mayonnaise 🙂

*original recipe on the Serious Eats website

Bon appétit !

 

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Wild Garlic Pesto

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Wild Garlic season is upon us !  Where I live, you are sure to find fields of beautiful fresh wild garlic from early spring.

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I was a bit late this year so they are starting to flower…  Even better !  The flowers are more pungent than the young leaves.  To eat wild garlic raw in salads, the young leaves are nicer so its wild garlic and nettle soup and wild garlic pesto on the menu today 🙂

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Pesto is pretty forgiving stuff, so play around with the ingredients to adapt to your taste and what you have on hand.  I used a few cashews and a few more almonds this time.  Strong Ewe’s milk cheese gave it a wonderful flavour.  Use more or less olive oil depending on what you will use the pesto for (for pasta it should be runnier).  This made enough for one meal of pesto on roast chicken and potatoes and tossed through pasta the next day.

Wild Garlic Pesto

  • Servings: 2 meals for 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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  • 1 bunch or large handful wild garlic leaves (flowers are ok too)
  • small handful parsley (optional)
  • 70g or a small handful of nuts (pine nuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts etc.)
  • 70g hard Ewe’s milk cheese (or pecorino or even parmesan)
  • extra virgin olive oil (around 150ml’s depending on the finished texture desired)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste

Everything goes in a food processor or herb chopper (use a blender for a smoother finish, I like mine chunky) and give it a whizz until you have the texture you are looking for.

Store any leftovers in a jar, covering the pesto with oil, in the fridge.

Bon appétit !

Simple Lentil Dal

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I could live off Dal (I think quite alot of people do in India !)…  Isn’t it wonderful when “healthy” also falls under the heading of “comfort food” ?

Dal (daal, dhal etc.) is a broad term that refers to legumes (lentils, peas, and beans) that are cooked and spiced.  I’m sure there are an infinite number of recipes for Dal though one of its endearing qualities is the lack of need for a recipe.  Get the water to lentil ratio about right and play with it from there.  One of my favourites is this base, made with red (actually orange, go figure ;)) lentils.  PS :  red lentils are a great source of iron ….

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The most exciting bit of this dish lies just before serving. . . TEMPERED OIL. Once you try tempering spices in oil, you’ll be flavouring all of your curries this way….

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Oil, or even better Ghee is heated, spices are added and the whole sizzling lot is poured into your finished dish.  Total transformation, trust me 🙂

Dal

Simple Lentil Dal

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup (200 g) red lentils (picked over if needed, and rinsed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 4 cups (235 ml) water

Tempering Oil

  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons oil or Ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 or 2 whole dried red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (lightly crushed in a mortar & pestle)
  • Finish the dish with the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime if you like

Put the lentils into a large saucepan with the turmeric, salt and water.  Bring to a boil and skim the foam that rises.  Simmer, covered on a low heat until the lentils are soft, 20 minutes or so.  Add more water if necessary and taste for salt.  Some like their Dal thick some like it soupy, its up to you.

For the tempering oil, combine the oil, coriander seeds and the cumin seeds in a small pan and heat over a moderate heat, stirring until they colour slightly (1 minute).  Add the chilies and cook, stirring for another 30 seconds.  CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE SPICES.  Pour the oil and spices into the Dal, add the lemon or lime juice if using  and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.  Serve on its own, with rice or Naan bread, or as part of a curry feast.

Bon appétit !

Some yummy variations to play with:

  • Before adding the lentils, fry a grated onion until soft adding chopped ginger and garlic just before the lentils and water go in.
  • Add a chopped fresh tomato just before the lentils are done.
  • Replace half the water with coconut milk.
  • Top with fresh coriander (cilantro).
  • Play around with other spices, either added with onion at the beginning or in the tempering oil; cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, garam masala, black mustard seeds, curry leaves etc…
  • Top the dish with crispy fried onions or leeks just before serving.

Preserving Chili peppers – 3 ways

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Its the long awaited chili season so out come my three (or four) ways to preserve them.

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 After over-wintering a few of my chili plants in the greenhouse, the Jalapenos are ready first. So the Caribbean Sauce is first in line.  Its pretty tasty this year.  I never use the same amount of each herb, so its never quite the same.

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Next up is chili jam but my “sunburst” chili’s are still green.

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GOOD food from the good life . . .

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Actually “4 ways” !  One of my favourite things to do with my garden Chili peppers is to make Chili Butter.  My Chili Butter is a sound favourite in this house, especially when spread on toast and topped with a boiled egg for breakfast.

Rural France = no fresh chili peppers for sale !  This has led me to grow them myself and to be creative and find ways to preserve that addictive heat to get me through until the next Chili season . . .   This years harvest includes Jalapeños and Calabrese peppers.

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In chili season I pick a few and finely chop them (followed by thorough washing of my hands) to have them freshly chopped, ready to use in the fridge.  Next step is to preserve the bounty !

ChilisaucesI have added 3 new additions to my “preserved chili pepper” larder this year.  Chili Jam which is…

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Shakshuka !

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Besides really enjoying saying the name of this dish (note the exclamation mark), I’m in love with this. . .   Couldn’t be easier to prepare and has endless versions waiting to be created !

A summer favourite for a healthy lunch or dinner.  In France it it more common to have your eggs for those meals than for breakfast but I think this dish is sweeping the western world as THE brunch dish of the moment.

Shakshuka has its origins in Tunisia, but has been adopted by many other countries for so long now that they call it their own as well (Israel for example).  Basically it is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce made with peppers and tomatoes (sometimes onions) and usually cumin.  It is so forgiving, as you will see in my the photo of the finished dish here, I overcooked the eggs AGAIN and its still fabulous.  The above shot is from the book JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and is how its supposed to look 😉

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This is the perfect time of year, with tomatoes and peppers nice and ripe.  I have tried a few versions of this recipe but come back this one (good old Ottolenghi) often. Harissa is nice, I’ve made my own but this is the best shop bought brand.

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Tip:  If you take some regular plain yoghurt and plop it into a cheese cloth or tea towel over a bowl and leave it to drain for a few hours (even an hour or so is enough), you get thick Greek style yoghurt which is great to top Shakshuka.

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Let me count the reasons to love a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, but one is that he often gives you the weight of an ingredient, such as eggs.  I find this so important for some preparations and here you will find the weights for the peppers and tomatoes.  If you could have seen one of my beefsteak tomatoes this summer, it was 800g on its own.  So what does “5 large tomatoes mean”?  Very helpful.

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After you have fallen in love with Shakshuka, as I have, here are some ingredients you may want to play around with:  onions, feta, chopped courgettes, potatoes, different coloured peppers, a touch of sugar, a touch of lemon juice, crumbled chorizo or merguez sausages, fresh chopped chili, parsley, paprika (smoked or not).

To be served simply with your favourite dipping vehicle such as crusty bread or flatbreads.

Shakshuka Servings=2 as a main meal

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa paste (optional and use less if not big on spicy !)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 large red peppers, cut into dice (2 cups / 300 g in total)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
5 large, very ripe tomatoes, chopped (5 cups / 800 g in total); canned are also fine
4 large free-range eggs
1/2 cup / 120 g labneh or thick yogurt
Salt and a handful of chopped coriander (aka cilantro) to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the  harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.

Make 4 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each into its own dip. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny (you can cover the pan with a lid if you wish to hasten the process). Remove from the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates and serve with the labneh or yogurt.

***Directly adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in his book Jerusalem

Solar oven notes: If your solar oven is nice and hot (at least 120°C) you can follow the directions as above.  Good idea to use a transparent lid or none at all so you can monitor the cooking process with out opening the oven all the time.

Green beans with hazelnuts and crème fraiche

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The moment when summer meets autumn and the fruit and veg available start to change.  Before “the change” goes too far I like to pair the taste of summer and autumn together.

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This is a delicious recipe to eat as a side dish or mixed with pasta.  Just cooked green beans, a bit of pig for the salty richness, toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch and some very good quality “raw” crème fraiche from gorgeous local Jersey cows to blend it all together.

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Although it has been, in general, a pretty bad  year for veggie gardens in southwest France this year, the green were as prolific as usual.  This year I grew your basic French green bean, gorgeous purple ones and very long Chinese red beans (just for fun).

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Green beans with hazelnuts and bacon servings = 4 as a side dish

  • 500g green or runner beans, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped into pieces
  • handful of hazelnuts, toasted (peeled if you like) and roughly crushed *
  • 2T cider vinegar
  • 5 T crème fraiche (or thick cream), more if serving with pasta
  • handful of tarragon or parsley, chopped

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the beans for 4-5 mins until cooked, but still vibrant. Drain the beans and tip straight into a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat a frying pan, tip in the bacon and sizzle for 4-5 mins until it starts to crisp.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the bacon, but leave behind any juices and residue. Place the pan back on a low heat, slosh in the vinegar and sizzle for a moment, then stir in the cream. Return the beans, bacon and hazelnuts to the pan to warm through and toss them in the dressing. Tip into a bowl and mix in the tarragon just before serving.

** To easily peel hazelnuts:  Dry toast them in a frying pan, being careful not to burn !  Tip them onto a clean tea towel and wrap them up.  Once cool rub them around in the tea towel which will help remove most of the papery skins.

***Adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine

Bon appetit !

Roast chicken with preserved lemon

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If I was to be condemned to a desert island tomorrow, a beautiful roast chicken would be on the list of possible “last suppers”.

Nice crispy skin and juicy meat and a jus that is begging to be sopped up with crusty bread, potatoes or rice. . .   For this slightly exotic version, bulgur or couscous would be nice too.

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The bird itself must be of the best quality.  No battery hens here.  I only eat one about once or twice a month, so I think I can afford the best !

Yotam Ottolenghi does it again with a great new twist for roast chicken, stuffing preserved lemons under the breast skin before roasting. . . The results were pretty amazing !  My dear friend Marie makes me a jar of preserved lemons once or twice a year (lucky me !).  But they are easy to make yourself if you can’t find them in your local shops.

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My solar oven is in full swing this week with gorgeous sunny days that seem to never end.  So this recipe was cooked in the solar oven.  See below for specific notes on solar oven cooking for this recipe.  (This is also why the photo of the finished chicken looks a bit “collapsed”.  I had poked and prodded the poor bird to see what state it was in after hours in the sun).

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Roast Chicken with preserved lemon servings=4

  • 70g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small preserved lemon, pips discarded, flesh and skin roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 1.5kg free-range chicken

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the butter, thyme, garlic, preserved lemon,  half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in a food processor or chopper. Blitz, then set aside while you tackle the bird.

Use your hands to loosen the skin from the breasts. Spread most of the butter mixture evenly over the breasts, under the skin, then smear the remaining butter over the legs. Put the peppers and onion in a medium-sized, high-sided baking tray with the chicken on top, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper.

Roast for about 70 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so, until the skin is golden-brown and crisp, and the juices run clear (stick the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh to check; if the juices are still a little pink, just give the bird five to 10 minutes more cooking). Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 10 minutes, then carve and serve.

***Directly adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in the Guardian

Solar oven notes: I popped the bird in (out of the fridge an hour before) at 9:30am. The oven was at 140°C but dropped soon after to 120°C as the bird was still cool.  After 2 hours I basted the chicken.  After 3 hours it was nicely browned and falling off the bone when prodded.