Category: French

The Dishiest Dish – Poulet Vallée D’Auge

This week’s highlight came from France…from Normandy to be be precise.  Or to be even more precise from the the Pays D’Auge.  This is apple country and the chicken casserole that is the Poulet Vallée D’Auge contains both apples and Calvados, the apple brandy that is also a specialty of the region.

And if chicken, apples and Calvados aren’t enough for you how about we add a generous dollop of creme fraiche into the mix.  Bon Appetit indeed. 

Poulet Vallee D'Auge

We had a bit of a cold snap in the week so this hearty kind of meal was perfect.  And for those of you in the Northern hemisphere who are still in the midst of winter, this will warm any, and all,the cockles you have. 

The perfect drink to have with this would be a cider, one from Normandy would be perfect!  Or maybe a wee glass of that Calvados.

Poulet Vallee D'Auge2This is a lovely dish and that sauce is divine! 

I also made these prawn cakes from the Paleo book.  They looked gorgeous but tasted only ok.  I felt the restrictions of the Paleo diet really made themselves felt here.  Thai food is meant to have that mix of sweet, salt, sour and heat.  The recipe as it stood had no sweet in the dipping sauce.  It vastly improved after I added some sugar.  They do look pretty though!

Paleo Prawn CakesThe Six Week Challenges

No Alcohol

The six weeks of “no” alcohol are nearly over.  I had a bit of a set back this week.  A friend of mine resigned from work and we arranged to go for doughnuts so he could tell me all about it.  And somehow on the way to the doughnut shop we got waylaid by the little bar on the corner.  We were halfway through our glass of vino when we started getting messages.  “Where are you?  The fire alarms are going off.  We need to evacuate the building”.  I am  the fire warden for our office.  Can you believe it?  I never leave my desk.  NEVER.  And the ONE time I go off for a sneaky doughnut pinot, the flipping fire alarms go off. 

What could we do?  They would have grounded the lifts, we weren’t getting back into the building in a hurry.    Nothing for it but to have a second glass o’ wine.

Here is the scene of the crime – Dikstein’s Corner Bar,

We had a lovely New Zealand Pinot but  ewwww…did I feel seedy afterwards.  Totally lethargic, no motivation to do anything except flop on the couch and tune out in front of the telly for the entire evening.  I will say more about this challenge when it is over – in just a couple of days. But after yesterday I am seriously evaluating my relationship with booze. 

Meditation

Still struggling with this one.  I thought this would be so much easier than giving up booze.  Not so.  I”ll try to lift my game for the last two weeks.  And this one can go back on the list for a re-do later in the year. 

Flexibility

I’m LOVING this.  And after only a week or so in, I am already seeing the difference!  I am mixing it up between two different routines – one has a morning routine and an evening routine so if I get up early enough I do that one.  If not, there is another where you do one 10 minute workout for the day.  Really happy with this one!

The March Challenge

I have not decided what will replace the no alcohol challenge come the first of March.

I am narrowing it down:

Journalling – I used to journal all the time and love it.  And I think in some ways that was my meditation.  I REALLY want to get back into it.

Candy Crush – MUST. STOP. PLAYING.

Food – I feel I should replace a “food” challenge with another food challenge – I was thinking maybe a month without bread, pasta potatoes.  But Jenny has inspired me to do one around food waste.  

I will do what I did last month and see what jumps out at me on the morning of the first!  Eeeeekkk – can you believe it’s almost March?

Reading

I have given up on The Apologist for my audiobook.  I could not get into it.  I had previously started Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantell and I have gone back to that.

You can keep your real Housewives…for real scandal and intrigue, give me the Tudors anyday!

Bring up the Bodies

But my major discovery this week was this:

Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Savage Lane=Jason Starr

The hot pink cover had me at hello.  I like to read dark and this is pitch black!  It is also pitch perfect. Nasty, nasty people doing nasty, nasty things.  I’m loving it!

Here is the premise:

“Life is sublime in the idyllic suburbs of New York City.  Recent divorcée Karen Daily and her two kids have, for the first time in years,  found joy as they settle into the close-knit community of Savage Lane.  Neighbours, Mark and Deb Berman have been so supportive as she moves on in life: teaching at the local school and even dating again.

But behind the pristine houses and perfect smiles lie dark motives far more sinister than Karen could have ever imagined.  Unknown to her, Mark, trapped in his own unhappy marriage, has developed a rich fantasy life for the two of them.  And, as rumours start to spread, it seems that he isn’t the only one targetting Karen”

This is the first book of his I have read but I am now keen to read more.  And all of his covers from No Exit Press are equally arresting:

Jason Starr Via No Exit Press

Plants

I am going through a phase where I want to fill my house with plants.  To help with that obsession, I bought this book:

Have started  following this blog:

http://www.thejungalow.com/ 

Her instagram is also amazing!

https://www.instagram.com/justinablakeney/

And have been trying to find a local version of these West Elm Planters.

West Elm Mid Century Planters

Now I just have to buy some plants!

That’s about it.  I haven’t really done much else this week except work. 

On The Menu

  • Saffron chicken from Persiana
  • Lamb Kebabs from the A-Z of Cooking with the tomato salad with pomegranate salad also from Persiana….and eeeekkkk.  Sabrina has a new book coming out in May!   I can hardly wait!
  • Honeycomb Cheesecake from A Moveable Feast
  • Sweet Potato cakes with Lemon Chickpeas

Sirocco

That’s about it for me for this week.  Except for the recipe for the Poulet Vallée D’Auge – which you can find here.

What are you cooking, reading, doing this weekend?  I am planning to take the dogs down to the dog beach for a play. 

Have a wonderful weekend whatever you do.

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Braving Brioche

They say you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Well, this week we are jumping ahead to the letter H in the A-Z of cooking and I am doing something that terrifies me.  The reason for the leap from E to H and the sudden boldness on my part will become apparent in the next post….Huh…instead of a cliff hanger ending I think I just gave you a cliff hanger starting!  Anyway, want to know what scares me?  That third episode of Limetown still makes me shiver  but cooking wise, one of the things that frightens me is bread. 

Brioche1And not only did I made bread this week but ooh la la, I made French Bread!  Brioches to be exact.  And they were very good!  They looked kinda like brioches, they smelled like brioches, and they tasted like brioches!  I cannot tell you how pleasantly surprised I was because the manner of making seemed odd.

I have never made brioche before but maybe, possibly this is how it is done.  It seemed to work!

You made your bread dough then divided it into 12 pieces which you rolled into balls.  Then you pinched off a small ball of dough from each of those so you then had  24 balls, 12 small and 12 larger.  The recipe then called to make a hole in the large ball and stick the small ball inside.  I found it easier to flatten the large ball and wrap it around the small ball.

BriocheThen into the baking pan for a rest and rise:

Brioche CollageAdd a glaze, pop in the oven and a short while later:

BRIOCHE!!!!

Brioche2If I’d known brioche was going to be this easy I would have been making it for years!  I love that high shine glaze!  And to copy a phrase I learned from the Great British Bake Off, the bread also has “good crumb”.

Even though I had specifically made these for another purpose, I couldn’t resist having a little taste.  Brioche and apricot jam for afternoon tea?  Yes please!

Brioche and Jam

As for the rest of them?  Stay tuned.  You’ll see in a couple of days!  And it’s worth the wait!  Meantime, get your brioches ready!

Brioche

Brioche

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp plus 1tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp hand hot water
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g butter, melted and cooled
  • Egg Glaze
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • pinch of sugar

Instructions

  • Dissolve 1/2 tsp of sugar in the water. Sprinkle over the yeast and whisk it in with a fork. Leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Mix in the rest of the sugar, the yeast mixture, the eggs and butter.
  • Mix by hand until the mixture leaves the side of the bowl.
  • Knead on a lightly floured board for 5 minutes.
  • Put the dough in a warm place and leave to rise for about 1.5 hours or until it has doubled in size and springs back when lightly pressed.
  • Preheat your oven to 230C.
  • Divide the dough into 12 portions. Break off a small bit of each portion and roll into 12 small balls.
  • Roll the remainder of the portions into 12 larger balls.
  • Poke a hole in each of the larger balls with your finger and place the small ball inside. Close the hole by pressing the dough together.
  • Place the balls in your baking tin and leave to rise for about an hour or until light and puffy.
  • Mix the ingredients for the egg glaze together and brush over the brioches.
  • Place in your preheated oven for 10 minutes.
http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/2015/10/27/braving-brioche/

Have a great week!

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Oeufs A La Cantalienne & Greens with Horseradish Dressing

What do you do when, you are about 30 seconds away from your front door and realise that you have left two essential ingredients for your planned dinner in the fridge at work? 

Oeufs A La Cantalienne

First, swear. 

A lot. 

Then drum up an emergency supper of Oeufs a La Cantilienne and serve that with a Salad of Bitter Greens with Horseradish Dressing! 

Happy days! 

How eight hours can change you.  I started the day off being super organised!  For dinner, I had planned to celebrate Meatless Monday by making the cauliflower and chickpea “meat” balls from the Meatball book which is our latest selection from the Tasty Reads book club.  I’d read the recipe that morning and realised I was short a few ingredients – namely basil and parsley for the green sauce which was going to accompany the meatballs.

I had tasted this green sauce on a visit to the Meatball and Wine Bar and it is SENSATIONAL.  As far as I was concerned, no green sauce, no non-meatballs.   You can kind of see the sauce in this picture.  The man in the street looks pretty taken by them too!

Meatballs with Green SauceBut I digress.  We’ll get to the meatball book in due course.  Today is all about the eggs.  And the cheese and the horseradish dressing. 

Ouefs a La C2Anyway, back to my super-organised morning, I was early that day so  I stopped in at the supermarket beside the station and bought my herbs.  And stored them in the work fridge for the day.

Where they stayed. 

What to do?  I wasn’t going back to get them.  So, another dinner needed to be pulled out of  the ingredients I had in the fridge and the pantry.

Ouefs a La Cantalienne4Now I ‘m going to let you in on a secret.  I actually had the ingredients for a very posh and trés français version of the Oeufs a La Cantalienne.  Because I plan my food within an inch of my life it was on my menu plan for later in the week.   But you could also make a perfectly delicious version of this from ingredients you are likely to have in your fridge.  It’s a great emergency meal!

Oeufs A La Cantalienne WhitesSo what are Oeufs a La Cantalienne?  It’s a French Baked Cheesy Eggs.  The version I was going to make had duck eggs, comté cheese and créme fraiche.  But it would be equally delish with normal eggs, cheddar or swiss (gruyere) cheese and cream or sour cream.  Of course the flavour will be slightly different with each variation but hey, it will all be good!!!

oeufs a la cantalienne5What’s more, these will be on the table in about 20 minutes.  Just enough time for you to pour yourself a glass of vino and make your Bitter Greens Salad with Horseradish Dressing.

Oeufs a la cantalienne6And you know.  Eggs, cheese and cream.  That’s never going to be bad. About 12 minutes in the oven is about perfect.  I got a bit distracted by a reality cooking show on the telly something really important and end up cooking mine for about a quarter of an hour but in another plus, this recipe is pretty forgiving! 

oeufs a la c cookedThe bitter green salad with horseradish salad is a perfect accompaniment to this.  I used rocket (arugula), kale, spinach and radicchio in mine but whatever greens you have in your fridge will be fine. This is not a meal to be too precious about! 

Bitter Green Salad with Horseradish DressingThe horseradish dressing is….OMG…just make it.  Make it now!!!  So good.  So, so good. I have made this salad, or versions of it about a million times since – with eggs, avocado, steamed beans and broccoli, grilled salmon…and everytime it has been amazing.  It’s my new favourite thing. 

Bitter Greens With Horseradish Dressing

And, in a reversal of the initial dilemma of leaving things at work, there was a morning when when I got to work and realised I had left the horseradish dressing for my salad in the fridge at home. Well, there was no eating the salad without the dressing, I kept it in the fridge,  bought my lunch and brought the dressing in the next day!  That’s how good this dressing is. If it wasn’t totally unseemly, I would be licking it off the spoon. (I totally did that when no one was looking).

Oeufs A La Cantalienne

Oh, and when I finally made the non-meatballs?  Total  let down. The green sauce was pretty good but the balls were like the worst falafel I’ve ever eaten. 

I should have just made more eggs!

Oeufs A La Cantalienne And Bitter Greens With Horseradish Dressing
Serves 2
A great emergency supper. The Oeufs A La Cantalienne can be made as fancy or as simple as you like and the salad has quickly become a firm favourite!
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For the Oeufs A La Cantalienne
  1. 2 duck eggs //eggs
  2. 30g Comté cheese//sharp cheddar//gruyere
  3. 1 tbsp crème fraiche //sour cream //cream
  4. pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  5. For the Bitter Greens Salad
  6. 2 tbsp mixed toasted seeds - I used pepitas, sunflower seeds and flax seeds
  7. 2 cups bitter greens - I used rocket (arugula), kale, spinach and radicchio
  8. 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
For the Dressing
  1. 3 tbsp creme fraiche
  2. 2 tbsp fresh grated horseradish or 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
  3. 1 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
For the Ouefs A La Cantalienne
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Grate the cheese and scatter half over the base of a buttered individual baking dish.
  3. Separate the eggs, keeping yolks intact.
  4. Whisk whites to soft peaks. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Fold in the remaining cheese.
  6. Pour mixture into the baking dishes and make an indentation in the middle of mixture.
  7. Place an egg yolk in each indentation.
  8. Add a 1/2 tbsp of crème fraiche by the side of each yolk.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and set.
For the Salad
  1. Toss the greens and onion together.
  2. Whisk the crème fraiche, horseradish and vinegar together until smooth.
  3. Just before serving, toss through the greens and onion.
  4. Top with the toasted seeds.
Notes
  1. The dressing will make much more than you need for one salad. You'll want to use the extra on everything you eat over the next week!
  2. If you are making this for more than 2 people you can cook it in one large baking dish, you might just have to adjust the cooking time to be a bit longer.
Adapted from Eggs from SBS Food, Salad from Bon Appetit,
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/

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The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 10 – Quiche Lorraine

A quiche is an open-faced tart with a savoury custard filling.  It was originally made with bread dough but short pastry has been substituted in modern recipes. 

The pastry should be rolled as thinly as possible…there should be a lot of creamy filling on very little pastry.

– Margaret Fulton

Both of these look pretty good.  But I am very fond of a quiche so more is pretty much more for me!!!  But I totally understand why most people would prefer the understated elegance of the modern photo

Quiche Lorraine
Quiche Lorraine

 Here’s the recipe!

Quiche Lorraine recipeHope your week is fabulous.

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The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 5 – Onion Soup Gratinée

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup”

 – Ludwig van Beethoven

 But any bozo in 1977 could photo it. The sign, the snails, the baguettes. 

It’s French.  We get it.

Nous l’avons.

French Onion Soup Gratinee 1977
French Onion Soup Gratinee 1977

 The soup looks like a hot mess too.

Whereas this from 2004?  Gorgeous! So elegant.  I just want to grab that spoon and tuck right in!

French Onion Soup Gratinee 2004
French Onion Soup Gratinee 2004

  Which is your favourite?

Also, all going well in scheduled post land…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM, LOVE YOU LOTS !!!!

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