It’s that time of year when (for those of us in the countryside) our neighbour pops round with a big bowl of fresh figs ! I’m not a fan of fig jam, but thought I’d try chutney this year. I have just made a batch of this recipe and its delish 🙂
Merci David Lebovitz ! I replaced some of the figs with a diced (also freshly picked) apple and added a hot chili from my garden. The recipe should make 2 jam jars, but my batch made 3, so lucky me !
Beautiful silky strained thick yogurt … That’s all it is ! Total revelation the first time you try it. Like a homemade cream cheese.
It all starts with these beauties… 🙂 Jessica the super farmer and her Jersey cows. Don’t panic, keep reading ! This is how I do it, but Labneh can be made much more simply using shop bought whole milk yogurt. If you live in the south west of France, don’t miss Jessica’s mom Véronique at the local markets. The butter will change your life 🙂
In the spring the milk is extra rich with all the new green grass they are eating. The amount of creamy milk fat floating on the top of the is crazy.
Next step is to stir a bit of good salt into your yogurt. The fun begins finding the best way to strain it using a cheese cloth. If your fridge shelves are racks you can tie the cheese cloth onto the rack over a bowl. I place my cheese cloth over a large canning jar and shut the lid to hold the yogurt suspended in the jar. Empty out the whey after a few hours (my chickens get that 😉 ) so the ball of soon to be labneh is not sitting in liquid. The idea here is to get most of the liquid out of the yogurt leaving you with a thick spreadable yogurt “cheese”.
Stir the yogurt with salt and place it into the center of your cloth. Leave to strain over a bowl or large jar in the fridge for at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours. Check from time to time to make sure it is not dipping in its own liquid. Once well strained you are done ! The labneh can be stored for almost a week in the fridge.
Then what ?
Sprinkle with olive oil, Zaatar and olives to make a dip or spread
Its amazing how many different ways of cooking this dish that you will find! To parboil or not? Hot oven or moderate heat? Spice rub or just salt & fat? Olive oil or butter ? (I like both 😉 )
A lovely way to serve cauliflower for guests and easy enough to make for yourself and family. I served this version with a chickpea and chorizo salad, so added a bit of the rendered fat from the chorizo to the rub. Waste not …. 😉 Placing a dish of water in the very bottom of the oven seems to help cooking to the core.
Serve this punchy flavoured cauliflower with a chickpea and herb salad, Labné (strained yogurt) or thick yogurt, a tahini sauce or a green or chili sauce of your choice.
1 medium sized cauliflower
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons softened butter
2 Tablespoons paprika or Spanish Pimenton powder
1 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1 teaspoon roasted ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon roasted ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon (or more if you like the heat) Harissa paste
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped coriander leaves to serve
Trim the cauliflower taking care to leave it intact. In a large pot of boiling salted water, parboil the cauliflower with the stalk facing up. Don’t worry if its not totally submerged. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.Remove the cauliflower using a spider or large spoon and carefully place it to drain (still upside down) in a colander.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and place a baking pan of water on the floor of the oven. To prepare the spice rub, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Place the cauliflower into a baking dish (not too big) with the core facing down. Using your hands or a brush, rub the mixture all over the cauliflower and place it into the oven. Bake, basting and turning once at the halfway point, for 40 to 60 minutes or until it is knife tender.
Serve at the table, sprinkled generously with coriander, cut into wedges.
Originally inspired by perking up the “January detox” brown rice bowls I have been making an unprecedented amount of green sauces these past few years. When spring and summer finally arrives, there are even more nice green leafy herbs to play with. I have a running stock of some of the below recipes that keep well in the fridge and some are best to be used immediately.
A great way to use up bunches of herbs you may have on hand for other recipes but don’t use them up fast enough. These lovely homemade condiments are starting to take over my fridge space. Beware… they are addictive 🙂
A great great way to add zing to, well…. anything !
dress up eggs on toast
or avocado’s on toast
the always delicious grain bowl
plopped into a bowl of soup (hot or cold)
on a tomato salad
on a sesame noodle salad (Scallion ginger sauce)
on a lovely piece of meat (Gremolata for example)
add flavour to a stir-fry
next to any curry recipe (green chutney for example)
Here are a few of my favourites:
Pesto Obviously ! You’ll find loads of recipes online… I like mostly basil, but some parsley. I use a really hard sheeps cheese, because that’s my regional cheese 😉 I never use pine nuts as they cost a fortune and usually come from China (a bit far), but walnuts, pumpkin seeds etc… work great. I like to make mine in a mini chopper or food processor, not a blender (and too lazy for the pestle and mortar). I freeze portions during peak basil season. Here’s my version using local wild garlic…
Salsa Verde is so versatile. Delicious on meat or fish. A great boost in flavour. Use the best tinned anchovies you can find.
Scallion ginger sauceOne of my perfect simple meals… Hot bowl of rice, some Kimchi or sautéed greens, a fried egg with a good spoonful of this on top. A bit of Echo’s Chili sauce (see recipe below) would be good too.
Love this one inspired by a recipe from my friend Echo. This keeps forever in the fridge. Absolutely delicious and just spicy enough. Great in noodle or rice dishes. I learned from Echo that Vodka is a pretty good substitute for Chinese rice wine.
2 cups chopped hot chili peppers (a mix of colours is fine, but try to chop fairly evenly.
1/4 cup vodka (or chinese rice wine)
2 Tablespoons sugar (add a bit more if you prefer it sweeter)
2 cloves of garlic chopped
Chunk of ginger about the size of your thumb
2 teaspoons salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spoon into sterilized jars and seal. Let sit at room temp for 2 days and then its ready to eat. Store in the fridge for AGES !
The key to keeping sauces a long time in the fridge (this goes for store bought ones too, is to not “contaminate”. Meaning always use a clean and totally dry spoon to scoop out your sauce or paste to avoid mold.
Do you have any favourites to add to this list ! I’m always looking for more ideas. Share in the comments 🙂
This is a delightfully simple dish that is brightened up by this beautiful coconut sambal (that I could just eat by the spoonful). Paneer cheese is one of my favourite things to put in a sauce and this is a nice change from my usual tomato based Matar Paneer.
The original recipe called for Halloumi, mostly because Paneer is not always easy to find. I make my own Paneer from fresh raw milk and it’s SO easy, give it a try.
Summer came late this year so I had this recipe put aside waiting for the green peppers to turn orange, red or yellow.
1 or 2 x 225g blocks of Paneer (if you use one, its just more saucy 😉 ), patted dry and diced into 1cm cubes (or make your own)
2 red peppers, roughly chopped
2 red onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon plus extra wedges (add juice and taste before adding all !)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
A handful of coriander leaves
For the Sambal:
150g desiccated coconut
1 clove of garlic
zest and juice from half a lime
a small handful of coriander leaves
Add the sambal ingredients to a food processor and blitz until combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and add the paneer cubes. Stir-fry for 5-7 minutes or until golden-brown. Then transfer them to a plate and set them aside until later.
Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil and add the garlic. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the garlic starts to brown (carefful not to burn it). Remove and put aside. Pile in the onion, pepper and salt. Stir-fry until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the zest and juice of the lemon, the turmeric and cumin seeds. Mix well, add 250ml of water and cook for another 10 minutes.
Transfer the sauce to a food processor or use a hand blender to blitz to a paste.
Return the paste to the pan and place over the heat. Stir in the paneer and mix in until warmed through. If it’s dry, add a splash of water to loosen it.
Transfer it to a serving bowl, scatter over some coriander leaves, the crispy fried garlic. Serve with some lemon wedges and sambal with basmati rice.
All goes in the blender and blend away until you reach a nice smooth texture. I suggest adding the lime juice and the honey gradually until you reach the mix of sweet and sour that pleases your palate. Add more salt if needed and blend one last time. This will keep in a jar in the fridge for at least a week…
AND this is a whole egg mayo ! No more forgotten egg whites in the back of the fridge.
Due to the egg white being included its lighter in colour and, to me, tastes more like shop bought mayo (in a good way 😉 ).
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. . .
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 🙂
Wild Garlic season is upon us ! Where I live, you are sure to find fields of beautiful fresh wild garlic from early spring.
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 🙂
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.
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 ….
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….
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 🙂
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.
Its the long awaited chili season so out come my three (or four) ways to preserve them.
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.
Next up is chili jam but my “sunburst” chili’s are still green.
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.
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 !
I have added 3 new additions to my “preserved chili pepper” larder this year. Chili Jam which is…