French Cookery

Week 71: Canard a l’Orangina

As the title suggests, its Duck l’Orange, but with fizzy orange juice.  As the title should also suggest, this weeks meal came from Rachel Khoo again!  Hurrah! (more…)

Week 67: Poulet aux champignons avec une sauce au vin blanc

Which as we all know means Chicken and Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce. Yep, I reached for Rachel Khoo again!

Apparently this is a French classic. I dont think I’ve had it, whenever we went to France as kids The Poisoner insisted in going self catered so the only proper homemade French food I’ve had has had terrible things done to it. (more…)

Periodic Pudding Number 5 – Clafoutis

So my interest was peaked.  I had a bash at a savoury clafoutis the other week and my lover wasn’t impressed, it left me wondering whether a sweet one would pass muster.  I didn’t have to wait too long – a walk down Chiswick High Road revealed it to be cherry season! They might have been Iranian Cherries, but they were fresh and red and juicy, and £2.50 for a pound.  Bonus.

After pigging a pound of them I waddled over to the cookery book shelf and pulled out Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen book to try the sweet version of Week 33s extravaganza ( https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/week-33-savoury-clafoutis/ )

To make a clafoutis to serve 6 you will need: 4 eggs, 150g sugar, 50g ground almonds, 2 tbs plain flour, 100g creme fresh, 100ml milk, 350g pitted cherries (you can use any soft fruit)

Basically you make it exactly the same way as the savoury clafoutis, but with added sugar:

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and thick, sift in the almonds and flour and then stir it all together with the creme fresh and milk.  Spread the cherries out in your buttered & floured clafoutis tin and pour the batter over them.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180c (160 fan) until golden brown and set.

clafoutis2

Easy as pie.  It was delicious.  I served it with a dollop of left over creme fresh and it was delicious.  Far nicer than the savoury version, and the cherries floated around the mixture rather than staying on the bottom.

clafoutis3

I’m glad I only made it for the two of us – it lasted three days.  I shall try everything else in a clafoutis this summer.  Yum!

 

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 33: Savoury Clafoutis

I always said that if you hung on in there, I’d show you my Clafoutis.

Actually, it’s not mine, it’s Rachel Khoo’s from her Little Paris Kitchen book.  A Clafoutis is traditionally a French Dessert, but recent the French have started to cut out the sugar and swap the fruit for savoury treats like cheese.

And that’s just what I’ve done (like the recipe told me to)  To make a 2 man Clafoutis you will need: 2 eggs, salt, 25g ground almonds, 1 tbs plain flour, 50g creme fraiche, 50ml milk, 50h mature cheese (I used Comte, but you can use Gruyere, Cheddar or Goat’s Cheese), 50g cherry tomatoes and 25g of black olives.

To start, butter and flour your Clafoutis-ing tin, and turn the oven up to 180c.  Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt until they are pale and thick.  Sift in the flour and almonds and then fold them in with the creme fraiche and the milk.

Scatter the cheese, tomatoes and olives in the prepared Clafoutis-ing tin and pour the batter over it and sling it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Now here’s where I got slightly confused, I genuinely thought that a Clafoutis would be more like a toad-in-the-hole than a fritatta… and it wasn’t even that much like a fritatta:

Behold!  My Clafoutis! (As the actress said to the bishop) it was kinda like an omlette-y foccacia.  My lover told me that it was pretty bland and I shouldn’t make it again, but I liked it.  Clafoutis for one I think!

The Clafoutis recipe is in the summer picnics section of the book, and it can be eaten hot or cold.  I was tempted to go and eat it on the front step for the Lazy London Picnic experience but chose plates around the coffee table instead.  Unlike the quiche I didn’t get to try it cold.

I’ve got the recipe for a sweet version, so I might inflict that on him over the summer.  As punishment.

 

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 31: Quiche Lorraine

A familiar cry that goes out around the kitchens of Britain on an unusually sunny day:  “Oo it’s nice out, lets just have a salad”.  The weather needs to perk up before I start plonking a bit of iceberg on a plate and calling it dinner,  so I went for the next best thing – quiche.

It is actually illegal to eat quiche in winter, so I’ve been holding back on the ‘picnic foods’ until the weather perked up.  I have a love-hate relationship with quiche.  I like it, but one bad quiche can put me off for a whole ‘quiche season’, so I thought it was quite a gamble making my first ever quiche at the start of May.  Daring huh?

For quiche number one I chose a classic Quiche Lorraine, which is basically an egg and bacon tart.  The recipe I chose marked my second go at a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s ‘The Little Paris Kitchen’ – I’d been itching to have a crack at French style pastry!

To make the pastry for a quiche that will serve 4 – 6 you will need 90g soft butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, pinch of salt, 180g plain flour, 2 egg yolks and some ice-cold water.

For the filling, Rachel Khoo recommends 150g lardons or cubed of smoked bacon, 4 eggs, 2 extra egg yolks, 300g creme fraiche or double cream, salt and pepper.

With a wooden spoon beat together the butter, sugar and salt until soft and creamy.  Mix in the flour then the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water.  Keep mixing until it comes together into a smooth ball.  The recipe says that if its a bit too crumbly you should add a bit more water, but I didn’t need to do that.  Wrap it in cling-film and pop it in the fridge overnight (but an hour or two is fine).

Thirty minutes before you want need to use it, take the pastry out of the fridge.  Roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is 5mm thick and big enough to line your quiche dish.  I’ve never rolled out pastry in this way, it was surprisingly hard work but worked well.  Line the tin in one go, brush with some of the egg whites you saved earlier (I should have mentioned that earlier) and put the pastry case back in the fridge.

Turn the oven on to 180 and make a start on the filling.  Fry the bacon until golden brown then leave to cool on some paper towel to soak up the extra grease.  My lover likes his bacon burned to a crisp, so I really should have bought bigger lardons…

Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks, add the creme fraiche (I used double cream) and season.  Take the pastry out of the fridge, spread the bacon on the bottom, then pour in the egg mix and put in the oven to 35 – 40 minutes.

This is where I started to panic.  The quiche swelled up like a massive eggy-bouffant.  I had no idea what to do.  I thought about poking it but decided against in case it exploded.

lorraine7

Luckily it deflated when it cooled down.  I had no idea that quiches did this while cooking, but it does at least explain why some shop bought ones look a bit like cats arses.

It was getting a bit late by the time I served it up so I had to eat it hot – I have a genuine dislike for warm quiche, but this was alright.  If I could make it again I would get taller bacon so it was more than just a massive scrambled egg on top of a thin layer of carbonised lardons, but it tasted really good.  The bacon wasn’t as good cold the next day, but I shouldn’t have bought ready-cut lardons from Tesco’s.

lorraine5

I’ve not forgotten about quiche-ing that risotto.  I declare quiche season open!

 

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Little Paris Kitchen

Week 21: Aubergine, tomatoes, chickpeas

This is a dish that has completely exposed my lack of culinary knowledge.

In my mind I skipped into the kitchen to create a magical roast aubergine on a tomato-y, chickpea-y bed of loveliness.  Actually, it made a slightly spicy version of ratatouille; I had completely skimmed over the line “Like many dishes of its kind (ratatouille, for one)…” and kept the vision of the big meaty spatchcocked aubergine in my mind.

Somehow I held on to my mental image long after I cubed the aubergine… The recipe is another from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls: Three Good Things on a Plate.  I was hoping it would be as tasty as Lentils, spinach, potato (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/week-20-lentils-spinach-potato/) without stinking my house out.

To go with the 650-700g of aubergines (egg plants), the recipe calls for sunflower/rapeseed/olive oil, a cinnamon stick, 350g cherry tomatoes, pinch of chilli flakes, a tin of chickpeas (400g drained and rinsed), 2 garlic cloves and the finely grated zest of one lemon.  As usual, I completely forgot to buy basil or mint leaves.

One thing I didn’t notice when I started cooking this at 7pm was that in total this dish takes over an hour in the oven (200c/gas 6), plus another fifteen minutes cooling time.  My lover’s force ten hunger nearly caused a disturbance to passing aircraft, and I ended up lobbing biscuits at him for the last half hour of cooking.

To start off, heat the oil and then toss the seasoned ( salt and pepper) aubergine chunks into the oil with the cinnamon stick, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes, and roast for another 20 minutes.  Drain the chickpeas and chop the garlic up small and put it back in the oven for the final 10 minutes.

auberginetomato3

Grate the lemon zest and stir it in and leave to cool for 15 minutes.  I served on warm pittas but Hugh also recommends rice and green salad (which I also forgot to buy)

I can’t tell if it was the hanger talking, but halfway through his plate of aubergine-y ratatouille my lover turned to me and said “don’t make this again.”  A bit harsh I think… it was ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, but maybe with a nice steak or some chicken/duck and a peppery salad it would be lovely.  If I make it again it will either be for my mother  or if I ever do a hot buffet.  Sorry Hugh.

 

Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

TATINIMO!!

Well slap my face an call me Mme Tatin.

I’ve been hanging my head in shame for some weeks after christening my new skillet with some charred bits of apple (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/periodic-puddi…-2-tarte-tatin/) torn between trying again and scraping molten sugar off my hob.  But then I was walking passed the fruit stall yesterday and saw apples and had to try again (also I only had a ten pound note and didn’t want to break it just for some garlic)

I think they’re called Pink Kiss or Pink Lady or something.  They were pink.  I was hoping they were nicer than Golden Delicious, which made my Tatin so much nastier last time.

After my last attempt I received loads of advice from friends about how to make a Tarte Tatin, but I ignored it all and tried again with the recipe in the Bake Off book – not through being pig-headed, I just wanted to check if the problem was me or the recipe.

One of the main problems with the last Tatin was that most of the caramel ran over the side of the pan, and the bit that was left turned black instantly.  To combat this, I took a third off the quantities in the recipe; and to ensure the butter covered the bottom of the pan I smeared it around until it was uniform – I didn’t want the sugar being directly against the pan straight away (which I know is pretty silly). It had seven apples, sixty grams of butter and 11o grams of caster sugar.

To stop it burning I kept the gas down as low as it would go (on my flamethrower hob) and kept my eye on it (unlike last time when I drank beer and gossiped with my mate)

Also, less spilled out this time – some still did, but not as much.  I’m not sure whether to further reduce the butter and sugar when I make it again?

I made the pastry exactly as I did last time, but next time I make it I’ll roll it out thicker.  One change I did make from last time is that I turned the oven down by another ten degrees – so it was in at 190c for 26 minutes.

It turned out in one piece and looked like a Tarte Tatin.  I am very happy with it.  Next time I’ll run a knife around the edges to get the crust out whole, but I think its definitely one for the next dinner party!

(Note emergency ice cream bought in case of failure)

I’m assuming you make it with other fruits in the same way?

Week 16: Steak et Frites de Legumes Racines

That is your actual French for ‘Steak and root-vegetable fries’, which is exactly what it was.

Little Paris Kitchen

My lover bought Rachel Khoo’s “The Little Paris Kitchen” about 18 months ago, and this is the first time we’ve made anything from it.  The objective for this week’s new recipe was to christen the griddle pan he bought to match the new skillet (see Periodic Pudding number 2: Tarte Tatin http://wp.me/p42Dr4-2a for a tour of my lovely new skillet).  I ended up using the skillet again.  Griddle fail.

I’ve done steak before, watery supermarket clingfilm steak, never good steak from the butchers.  If I’d done a bit of meaty research before I started I could have avoided a heart attack at the butchers.

The recipe calls for a 500g rib-eye steak, which cost me £12.00 and first refusal on my left kidney.  I didn’t realise that I could have used fillet, skirt, rump or sirloin instead – but I don’t like changing ingredients the first time I make a recipe.

The recipe also calls for ground almonds, sunflower oil, salt, pepper, a sweet potato, a parsnip and a carrot to make the root-vegetable fries.

I think it was this that attracted me to this recipe – I don’t like steak with fat chips, and I don’t have space in my tiny freezer for frozen french fries.  Also, I’ve neither owned or cooked a sweet potato before, so it was all good.

Looking back, I think I was a little too eager with my first sweet potato purchase, it took forever to cut up and then made a few too many fries – which didn’t fit onto my too-small tray.  I didn’t think this would be a problem, but it did ultimately affect the way they cooked so some were a bit soggy.

I was all ready to season and sear the steak when my lover viciously thrashed it was the rolling pin.  I was quite shocked, especially as he beat it to be bigger than the skillet… which was silly.  Apparently it was necessary, but I did wince at the thought of him knocking seven bells out of an expensive piece of meat.  But it fit in the pan (after a bit of squashing back)

I gave it about 4 minutes on each side and then put it in the oven with the fries.

steak frites 6

Without wanting to sound too conceited; it was absolutely delicious.  Who knew sweet potato fries would be so nice?  I served it with a healthy blob of my special mustard from the Scandi Kitchen, which is milder than normal Coleman’s or Dijon, so it didn’t overpower the taste of the meat.

I’ll try it again with the griddle, a less expensive cut of meat, and a smaller sweet potato.  The Little Paris Kitchen is a very good book – Rachel Khoo writes informatively about the food and cooking techniques, and makes the giant meals of French cuisine look achievable.  I already have my eye on her Clafoutis.  Oo la la la.

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo (Penguin Books 2012 ISBN: 978-0-718-15811-8)

Periodic Pudding number 2: Tarte Tatin.

I am clearly mad.  What on earth would posses a normal thirty-something to have a whirl at a Tarte Tatin on a Tuesday afternoon?

A new skillet.  That’s what.

Way back before Mince Pie season was up on us, I threatened to make the occasional pudding (see http://wp.me/p42Dr4-L ) to spur me into making deserts, and so break up the savoury-ness of this blog. Anyway, I bought myself a skillet that I could put in the oven the other day, and by chance my Great British Bake-Off ‘How to Bake’ book fell open at the Tarte Tatin page en-route to the recipe for Bakewell Cupcakes.

“Aha!” I thought, “A glamorous pudding I can serve to my friends when they come to visit later in the month”  Word would get back up north that I could cook.  Boom.

For those of you who don’t know – like me – the Tarte Tatin was accidentally invented by one of the Tatin Sisters at their hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in the 1880s.  I’m guessing there are hundreds of recipes out there on the internet, so I shall not give the recipe here for fear of Mary Berry’s ninja’s coming after me.

I was slightly concerned that my new skillet wasn’t non-stick, then I realised I had the coat the bottom of the pan in a massive amount of butter.  There’s no way that this was staying in the pan.  Little did I know how prophetical that statement was…

A massive amount of sugar, just to hide the butter, and then I had to peel and core a load of apples.  The recipe asked for Golden Delicious apples, which I don’t really like, but I trusted in the recipe and gave them a go.

All ready to start caramelising.  Now, I have a confession to make:  I have never made caramel before.  This won’t be a shock to regular readers as prior to the start of the New Recipe Night project I hadn’t done a lot of things in the kitchen.

I think my skillet was too small.  Mary’s idea of 8 inches was bigger than mine.  As a result, pretty soon after I turned the gas on the buttery sugar mix started to bubble over the sides of my pan:

Without wanting to be too dramatic, I ended up welding hot apple-y sugar across half of my hob.  Which I’d just cleaned…  I think this is where I started to go wrong; when the caramel started to turn brown I assumed the burning smell was coming from the bits catching on the burner.

The instructions were a little vague about how brown the caramel should go, and looking back I can safely say I burned it.

I got the pastry on right, tucked it in as tightly as I dared with the boiling caramel and red hot iron pan and put it in my pre-heated oven.

Even though I knocked twenty degrees off to take into account the fan, I still think the oven was too hot, and the instructions a little vague about how long it would need.  I was still quite impressed when it came out… slightly browner than I’d like around the handle obviously.  Unfortunately this is the only pudding in history to look better upside-down.

I chose to turn it out onto my taking-cake-on-the-tube plate, in case I dropped the skillet on it.  I was very excited to see my perfect Tarte Tatin that I could proffer at my impressed lover on his return from work…

To put it bluntly, if the Tatin Sister’s first Tarte Tatin had turned out like mine, they’d have lobbed it in the bin and gone straight to the cheese course.

tarte tatin 7

When I showed my friends this, one of them said he “thought it was a sliced hunk of meat” – I can see his point, and it’s not the best picture, but that’s how my Tatin turned out.  It wasn’t very nice, the apples didn’t have much flavour, the non-blackened bits were just hot and wet.  The caramel was very bitter and I some how burned the pastry.

There was a time last night when I thought I might festively dust it with icing sugar, but I reconsidered – no one likes a nasty surprise under the snow!

I wish I’d had more ice cream.  It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but I’m torn between trying again, trying a different recipe, and choosing something else to make.  Two separate friends told me about the Roux Brother’s method of making a Tatin, which I may try.  I also might try reducing the quantities of butter and sugar to save my poor hob.

Stay tuned for more New Recipe Night.

** NEWSFLASH – I HAD ANOTHER GO AND IT WORKED! ** recipe here: https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/tatinimo