Green Beans Hazelnut Orange Salad

Greens Beans, Hazelnut & Orange Salad

I recently discovered a new type of green bean, the Purple Queen Bush Bean. In actual fact its outer skin is an aubergine colour which turns to a deep shade of green when cooked. Magic!

You could use these for this recipe but I only had normal green beans (French beans) on had, which work just as well. Toasting the hazelnuts removes their slightly bitter taste and allows you to rub off part of the skin, exposing the nut below. The orange is a nice contrast to the nuts and sweetness of the beans.

The original recipe is from the Ottolenghi cookbook. I adapted it as snow peas (mangetout) are often difficult to find here and I try, when possible, to buy local produce.

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Parmesan Biscuits

25 August 2010

Parmesan Biscuits

Canapes / hors d’oeurves to serve with drinks…. Delicious, bite sized morsels that go well with drinks and don’t turn you into a kitchen slave – translation, they take 15 minutes to make!

Perfect for a summer‘s evening, sitting on a terrace, sipping cocktails with friends while the sun sets, I do paint a pretty picture now don’t I.

These Parmesan Biscuits are perfect as they are a little salty and have a kick of black pepper which nicely offsets the sweetness of a drink.

This is a slight adaptation of The Cook’s Companion recipe, I have reduced the salt by 1/4 and the cooking time by 3 minutes.

PARMESAN BISCUITS

Greek Spinach Leek Pie

My friend Lucy said to me ” being a vegetarian shouldn’t be a side dish”.

More often than not she is confronted with restaurants lacking luster and creativity when it comes to vegetarian food. Glorified side dishes of pasta, risotto, tossed greens or sauteed veggies is all they can muster. Which is disappointing really, as cooking for vegetarians shouldn’t be seen as a curse.

Despite being a carnivore, I am also a vegetarian at heart and dedicated to the pursuit of delicious vegetarian recipes. Here is my take on the Telegraph’s original Greek Spinach & Leek Pie. I removed the dill, forgot the Parmesan (it happens) and added nutmeg.  This is a great dinner party recipe, just serve the pie hot, right out of the oven, when it is at it’s best and the filo pastry, crispy.

Greek Spinach Leek Pie

Asparagus Risotto

26 May 2010

Asparagus Risotto

Classic asparagus risotto made with arborio rice, onions, stock, Parmesan cheese and fresh asparagus.

The season for asparagus always seems too short. In a blink of an eye it’s gone and you have to wait a whole year to enjoy these tasty shoots again. So when I was in Provence this past weekend I took advantage of the Uzes Market.

There were many different varieties of asparagus to choose from – white,  green, purple tipped, but for this recipe I prefered the green.  What is great about risotto is that it doesn’t over power the asparagus, but compliments it. This is quintessential Italian cooking, which is all about tasting each ingredient.

For other asparagus recipes see these links: Pumpkin Risotto Grilled Asparagus

See link ‘asparagus risotto‘ below for recipe:

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Bear's Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic, ramsons, bear’s garlic….

Whatever you choose to call it, it is delicious and currently in season. In French they call it l’ail des ours (garlic of bears) as apparently this is a brown bear’s Achilles’ heel! Humans also love these wild, garlic flavoured leaves, which are edible and great to use in soups, salads, omelette etc.

Wild garlic is currently in abundance at the local fruits and veg market. Every stall seems to have a large basked of these bright green leaves. I have taken advantage of this and made a basic bear’s garlic pesto, half of which I keep fresh in the fridge and the rest I divide into smaller portion to freeze. There is just too much to use all at once and as the season is relatively short it is a nice way to enjoy bear’s garlic for weeks to come.

Click link  below for bear’s garlic pesto recipe:

BEAR’S GARLIC

ROCKET PESTO

8 April 2010

Rocket (Arugula) Pesto

ROCKET (ARUGULA) PESTO

Peppery rocket pesto is a nice alternative to basil.

Now I love basil pesto just as much as the next person, but every once and a while it’s nice to have  a change. Instead of basil leaves and pine nuts I like to use rocket (arugula) and pecans. The strong peppery taste of rocket with the mellowing effect of the slightly sweet pecans works perfectly together

When you think rocket, the first thing that generally comes to mind is salad. Don’t limit yourself, break free, break free I tell you!

This rocket pecan pesto is great with pasta, meat, fish even rice. Why not use it in a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or mustard.

See the link ‘‘rocket pesto” below for recipe:

Rocket Pesto

Baked Potato

21 March 2010

Baked Potato – Jacket Potato recipe

How do you like you spud?

Crispy golden outside, tender fluffy inside. The baked potato a meal in itself, and such an easy recipe to make – child’s play really.

Just take large baking potatoes, scrub, dry, prick, rub with olive oil & sea salt, in the oven for about an hour and they are done. Now your only care in the world is what to top them with! My preference is a little sour cream, cheese (Gruyère & sharp English Cheddar) and a sprinkle of chives.

The type of potato is important for best results. Baking potatoes are generally large, long, starchy potatoes with a thick, coarse skin. They are high in starch, with a dry, floury texture. If you are wondering what the best baking potatoes are, look for Russet, Estima, Marfona or Victoria.

See the link ‘baked potato‘ below for recipe:

Baked Potato

Gougères - French Cheese Puffs

Gougères – French Cheese Puffs

Gougères are classic French cheese puffs made with choux pastry and grated cheese (Gruyère / Comté). French they may be but it was in Russia that I really took a liking to them.

I blame it on the French bakery Volkonsky‘s, which was in dangerous proximity to Katya’s Moscow appt. A small bakery / café selling delicious pastries, sandwiches, breads and coffee not to mention gougères.

It was a lesson in how something so innocent can be so addictive … I could have eaten them by the handful.

In memory of  Volkonsky’s gougères, here is  my recipe (see link Gougères below):

Gougères Cheese Puffs

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