Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Making a come-back with Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

I know, I can hear you muttering from here, 'Where has she been?'  It's been a while and of course I have some very good and valuable excuses. (I've had a long time to think of some!)
We live a life of adventure. Since my last post we have moved apartments which seemed to consume every spare moment of September and October. First the packing, then the unpacking. We moved into an apartment double the size so we spent many hours choosing and buying furniture to fill it up with. And if that wasn't enough we had severe problems with our internet connection and rather unsympathetic customer service that didn't help. 
I'm tempted to say 'That's France for you' but I'm not going to. 

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Tarte aux Mirabelles

I was pleasantly surprised (but I shouldn't have been) to see Mirabelles, small delicious golden stone fruit, in all the shops on our return to Paris after our holiday.  The season started while we were in Italy so I missed seeing their debut.  I remember from last year how they come into the markets and fruit shops near the end of summer/the beginning of the school year and when friends came to visit they were armed with bags of mirabelles as gifts. The season is short - mid August until mid September so you really have to make the most of it. Last year I made Mirabelle and Ginger jam. It was delicious on brioche for breakfast. 
This year I'm making tartes.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Holiday food on a plastic table

We've been away on holiday hence the long gap between posts. We had a great time with family and exploring some of the beautiful countryside in this amazing country. We headed into the Alps and spent a week hiking and soaking in the calm and quiet of the mountains. It actually wasn't too silent as the cows and goats still wear bells around their necks and you can hear them from miles away. 
We enjoyed some delicious food - holidays for us tend to revolve around the meal table. For our week in the Alps it was a plastic picnic table under the tree. Think of this recipe as a cross between a meat loaf (for the Anglophones) and a country terrine (for the Europeans). Packed full of flavour, it travels well, can be eaten hot or cold, main course with a salad and potatoes or as an apéro with cornichons (gerkins). 

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Lemon, Basil and Parma Ham Risotto

This is a delicious recipe that takes hardly no time at all. I'm sure pure foodies will dispute my cooking method for risotto but when a busy working girl needs to eat, fold the washing, read her emails and save the world after work something has to give. 
This fabulous way of cooking risotto is so simple and gives great results I'm sure you'll be convinced of changing. Or if making risotto has always scared you, I'm now giving you the keys to success!
Simple ingredients, simple method, simply successful.

Monday, 21 June 2010

You say tomatoe, I say tomato...tart

It's been awhile I know. I'd like to tell you that it was because I was so busy cooking but alas no. It's more like work, the thing I do to help pay for the food we eat, that has kept me out of the kitchen.  
It's time to redress the balance!
Just look at this gorgeous red tomato tart, would you? 
Doesn't it make you want to eat one right now, or maybe tomorrow for dinner? It won't take you long and there are some lovely tomatoes in the markets (in the northern hemisphere) at the moment. 
This will be a regular on our summer menu this year. You can taste the sunshine in the tomatoes.
I adapted the recipe from Joanne Harris, the talented writer who wrote Chocolate, The Lollipop Shoes and Blackberry Wine to name just a few. She also co-wrote several cookbooks which give a delightful insight into French cuisine.
Sorry to disappoint some of you but I really did buy ready-rolled pastry for this one.  Feel free to make your own at home but I was too busy to make my own...honest!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Une Tarte de Salade - in aid of A21

What a great night we had with the first of the Atelier de Cuisine A21 for May. 8 gorgeous people turned up for a night filled with fun and laughter and a lot of good food.
Of course.
Enjoy the photos - we hope you can join us at the next one - and the recipe, courtesy of Jon the chef, for the Tarte de Salade that is out-of-this-world good. 
The girls enjoying their hard work - Chocolate textured layered Cake
Hard at work concentrating on sauté-ing the garlic and onion
'Look what I can do!'

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Atelier de Cuisine A21 for May

After the fun of our last Cooking Workshop, thanks to the talents of Jon, we've organised three more for the month of May. I'm excited to have chef Ry join the cause and donate his time and talent to Atelier #3, and Adeline our master of macaroons for Atelier #2. I am very enthusiastic about the endless possibilities before us. As mentioned before all money from these workshops go to A21 to support their efforts in rescuing victims of Human Trafficking. People, we can't ignore this.

Check out our menus below and see what fun we are anticipating for the coming month. We've got a fun idea for Mothers Day. We're learning how to make macaroons and then giving them away to beautiful mummies for Mothers Day. 

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Inbetween seasons with a green bean salad

The great debate is on. Is it time to change one's wardrobe from winter to summer? Is it too early?  Will I leave the house one crisp morning next week and wish my jumper was not vacuumed-packed in the basement? Typical parisian apartments are rather small and one is required to rotate winter and summer wardrobes as there is not usually enough room for a bigger closet. 
In the kitchen my recipes and menus are mimicking the change to warmer days. It's time to put away thoughts of tartiflettes, casseroles and heart warming soups and look towards summer produce and flavours. I'm eagerly awaiting the nectarines, peaches and fresh French cherries, iced tea on the terrace, a cold beer after a day in the sun.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday's Brunch and Lemon Basil muffins

I love Saturdays. Don't you? 
Today 6 of my lovely girlfriends came over for brunch.  
On the menu : Bacon and eggs, Cherry and Vanilla jam + ricotta tartines, Lemon Basil muffins
If you ever do a brunch you should include these Lemon Basil muffins on your table. My girlfriends asked to take home the ones we didn't eat. They are that good.
Don't be put off by the ingredients. It's not everyday you put basil, yes basil the green herb, in your sweet muffins, but trust me - it works.
They are themselves a reason to put on a brunch chez toi. So gather some girlfriends and enjoy a lazy Saturday brunch. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

how to cook and save the world at the same time

Yes - it is possible to do both at once!  Several things have changed my life lately thanks to a book and video. 
Half the Sky is written by a husband and wife Pulitzer Prize winning team about the basic state of women in the world today. It has broken my heart and warmed my heart and made me laugh, cry and ache all at once. You must read it.
The video is by Christine Caine about the organisation A21's efforts to help rescue victims from the horror of human trafficking.   
After reading and watching these I know that this is something I cannot or rather we cannot afford to ignore. 

So, after hearing your constant requests for 'please help me to cook' we put together a Cooking Workshop that supports A21 and the work they do. You learn to cook something delicious and you help rescue someone from a terrible situation. Pretty neat huh?! (not cool that people are hurt and broken but pretty cool that we can help them)

My lovely friend Jon offered his professional talent for the evening and 8 gorgeous participants showed up to offer their support to A21, ready at the same time to make some delicious desserts. 

Click to see some photos of the fun :
(We'll be doing more of these so watch this space for information)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Spring and Sweet Red Pepper Sauce

Spring is finally coming! It's nearly here - officially it arrives on Sunday.  After a long winter it's a relief to feel a small warmth in the wind.  It doesn't bite through your jacket like it did all through December and January, and February come to think of it. The birds are singing songs in the trees as I walk home from the metro each evening. 
Spring means summer. 
Red Pepper Sauce.
No better way to get ready for summer. It's a brilliantly useful sauce for cooked chicken or lamb.  It's great added to vinaigrette for a salad a bit different.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Orange Syrup Cake

Dear Hélène,
Here is the cake recipe that you asked for.
P.S. even if your name is not Hélène you are more than welcome to try it. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Mid-week Fish Dish

Dear All,
How are you this week? Did you get your ironing done? Are the dishes put away? Have you had time to make your bed yet? 
Please don't be afraid if you come over to visit. The ironing pile is hidden, we've shut the door to the bedroom mess and the dishes are clean (even if they are still on the bench). But that's the great thing about friends - we forgive each other if our house, life and sometimes our attitude isn't perfect.
Here is a new recipe just for you. It's even good enough to make for friends who come over to eat. 
From my busy life to yours

Monday, 22 February 2010

Saturday morning Lemon Poppy seed loaf

Our week looked a little like this :
That would be more than one week's worth of ironing not done! No time. Too many other things to do.
So Saturday morning merited a little 'bonheur'.  We had our lovely friends over for dinner on Friday night and while the oven was on, cooking the most delicious leg of lamb greek style, I whipped up this little treat for breakfast on Saturday morning. 
Much appreciated by my handsome husband who is used to seeing baking come out of the oven and walk straight out the door to someone else's grateful stomach. He was very pleased that this cake was all for him (to share with me of course!).

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Home made Mayonnaise - happy days!

It's good to share success with your friends I think.  I like being happy for you when things go right and a good friend will stick around and share the suffering moments too. So, let me share some good news with you...
I have learnt how to make mayonnaise. All by myself, without additives, without stabilizers, the real stuff. Simple I know, but oh how it tastes so good!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Heart Biscuits

I know that Valentine's Day was on Sunday and that it's a bit late to make heart shaped biscuits for the precious people in your life. But - life doesn't always happen in order.
Sometimes I wake up before my alarm.
Sometimes my tea goes cold before I drink it.
Sometimes your birthday present from me might arrive late.
I watched Ice Age 3 before I watched Ice Age 2.

So, you can make heart shaped biscuits for someone after Valentine's Day. Heck, you can even make heart-shaped biscuits just for yourself if you want. Everyone needs a little love.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Cranberry and cereal biscuits

Me and biscuits, we're back together. And I love them. And I think they love me.
Biscuits are coming back into fashion in my kitchen.  Many years ago I decided that making biscuits was too time consuming and it was far better return-for-effort to make a cake or a tray slice. You are able to cook the whole thing at once and then cut it into pieces. Easy, fast. Biscuits however, require individual attention at the making stage and I was often in a hurry to get it in the oven. I also have had a very small oven for the past several years which when making a batch of biscuits would require at least 3 separate baking trays cooked separately equalling three times the cooking time. 

Monday, 18 January 2010

Fish Pie recipe + your imagination = good food

Sometimes it's easy to imagine - there are monsters in the dark, everyone is looking at me when I walk into a room (for the wrong reasons), 
And sometimes it's hard to imagine; that I'll ever get a promotion, that my hair will ever grow back fast enough, that fluro is back in fashion, and how these next two dishes taste so good without a photo to show me.

But have a little faith. 

Lemon Broccoli Soup

Here is the second recipe to inspire your weekly meals. It's delicious. Trust me. The fish pie turned out ok didn't it?
And without any further ado (drum roll please) here is your ticket to broccoli heaven (and because Lydia asked for it!)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A perfect union - Pumpkin and Bacon Pie

At this time of year the markets in Paris are full of pumpkins, pears and apples. I love how this city follows the seasons. It adds a certain rhythm to life that you can depend on. The appearance of pears signals cold weather, and what better way to announce summer than the arrival of cherries and strawberries. Having lived nearly 5 years in the U.K. I found that English supermarkets have lost some sense of this and you can buy fruit and vegetable out of season, all year round.

If you want to keep in touch with the seasons this month this is a perfect marriage of vegetables, flavours and seasons. Pumpkin, bacon and a touch of nutmeg always compliment each other and the simple fact that it is a pie makes any cold day instantly warmer and comforting.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A trip to L.A.

We were lucky enough to spend 5 days in Los Angeles just before Christmas. We found it a spacious city, at least compared to Paris. It seems that nobody walks, rather they drive. Hence the roads are mildy busy (if you discount the freeways. We happened to get stuck in 2 hours of freeway jam) and the lovely wide pavements are void of people. Starbucks is EVERYWHERE, as are neon signs and advertising.