BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

PESTO

24 September 2009

SP-Pesto

Pesto

PESTO : This will be the shortest post known to man! Ok well not quite, but I was about to post the recipe for an avocado, goats cheese & quinoa salad when it occurred to me that it might be useful to have the Basil Pesto recipe first, as it is one of the main ingredients.

This recipe can be easily adapted to different tastes – more or less garlic, with or without parmesan and I add a dash of lemon juice to help keep the bright green colour, as the outer layer seems to oxidize so quickly!

Marisa told me,that when she was a little girl living in Italy, she was given the odious job of having to chop the basil by hand, into a fine paste using only a knife… authentic yes, time efficient no. So I have opted for using the blender and while less romantic it does get the job done.

PESTO

sp-celeriac-thyme-salad1

The DUTCH Series N°4

In the past I generally thought of salad as a summer dish, made with a variety of fresh leafy greens picked from the garden. However, I have since developed a taste for the less celebrated but very tastey winter salad varieties. They are

  • generally made with raw (often root)  vegetables  =  good for your health
  • inexpensive
  • quick & easy to make
  • & delicious additions to the limited, winter vegetables repetoir!

Though I think it is safe to say that in terms of winter veggies, celeriac (celery root) is the ugly duckling. As when browsing through the market the last thing to entice your eyes is this nobly, pale yellow-green, root vegetable. Which is a shame really, as despite its appearance the taste is wonderful, more subtle then stalk celery & with a slightly nutty flavour.

As my grated raw beetroot salad was such a hit, I decided to make the celeriac salad in a similar fashion. However as celeriac has a more subtle flavour than beetroot & tends to turn brown soon after grated, I decide to make a creamy dressing for whiteness of colour, with a little less vinegar so you could still taste the natural flavour of the celeriac & used fresh thyme to compliment.

RECIPE

This summer has been busier than normal with all the wedding planning. However, as part of the festivities, my girlfriends got together to organise a surprise hen-weekend (bachelorette) & to my delight, they booked an afternoon cooking course at Scook, the new cooking school of Anne Sophie Pic - 4th generation head chef of the French 3 star Micheline restaurant, Maison Pic.

The course was well planned, orchestrated and adapted to our large group, which included people with different levels of cooking experience. In a modern, luminous kitchen, each student was given an apron, copy of the recipes to be cooked and access to fresh seasonal ingredients. We then worked through the dishes step by step, with the added chef’s perks of being able to eat what we made. This hands on approach, with direct interaction with the chef, left you feeling confident, with a broader knowledge of the culinary arts.

Out of the things we learned that day, there was one idea that I felt would make an excellent base for other dishes. This was the unpuffed puff pastry rounds - a contradictory idea I know, but ever so good. Thus I have borrowed this idea to build the dish above - a sumptuous tower of soft grilled aubergines (eggplant), caramelised tomatoes and fresh goats cheese, with a hint of black olive tapenade & rosemary.

RECIPE

LEMON ROSEMARY COD

24 January 2008

Rosemary fish & lemon skewers

LEMON ROSEMARY COD

First and most important a very happy NEW YEAR to you all. This post have been a long time coming, but between Christmas, my brother visiting and the wedding planning – every spare minute of the day has been occupied.

Therefore as a tribute to 2008 I am posting a version of one of the dishes we made for New Years Eve dinner. The original version can be found in ELLE à Table N°55, which calls for scallops (aka coquille saint-jacques in French).

Oddly enough cod has never really appealed to me – the problem stems from the name, which I find rather unappealing. However the fish monger in Geneva changed all this by offering me ‘cabillaud‘, which naturally sounded lovely and so I agreed and went off home with a nicely wrapped package. Only to find out that what was inside was non other than cod… There was no turning back. And the result I have to say was wonderful! Let me know what you think.

RECIPE

PUMPKIN ROSEMARY RISOTTO

14 November 2007

Risotto pumpkin rosemary

PUMPKIN Recipe

Last week I went to a cooking course held by head chef Etienne Krebs at the Ermitage restaurant in Montreux-Clarens, Switzerland.  I had been looking forward to this course for weeks…. counting the days, not sleeping the night before, arriving a half hour early… the word ‘eager beaver’ comes to mind. However I was not disappointed. In a small class of 12, he showed us step by step how to make a terrine of rabbit, fois gras & nuts, a fillet of sole on a bed of sautéed endives with a caramelised beetroot sauce (a great success), followed by a savoury wild bolet crème brûlée, sautéed frois gras & caramelised onigons , finishing with a basil pumpkin risotto accompanied by tiny tender frogs thighs! The finishing touch was a desert of poached pears with a delicate spiced cream sauce (which I plan to make and post), and a dark bitter sweet chocolate tart.

A highlight of the course was that I learned interesting little TIPS :  dried or frozen bolet mushrooms have a stronger perfume and are better to use in the crème brûlée than the fresh garden variety!! Caramelised onions can be made and stored for future use. Also by heating a few cups of vegetable oil in a pan you can fry whole basil leaves for decoration (they stay green & will keep if stored in an air tight container between layers of wax paper for say a week). Re the sautéed endives – lemon juice stops them from turning brown, and the sugar takes away the bitter taste. For an easy cutting method : holding the white end of the endive, point it down at an angle, and starting with greenish part, cut the endive as if your were shaving a pencil with a knife – fast and easy and leaves the bitter core behind that you don’t want.

As for the risotto, Chef Krebs let us in on a little SECRET….. in his restaurant, where time is of the essence, he has developed a method of cooking the risotto in TWO STAGES: follow your traditional risotto recipe, but cook the rice until you have used only HALF of the bouillon (stock). Remove from the heat and let cool - then store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. When the time comes to make the risotto for your guests, simply remove it from the fridge a little in advance to bring the rice to room temperature, then continue making your risotto as before, using the rest of the bouillon etc. This can be a handy trick if you are pressed for time and have people coming over for dinner after work.

Inspired by this cooking course, I have created my own risotto recipe keeping in mind the suggestion a friend of mine Alice gave me, to use pumpkin & fresh sprigs of rosemary.

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RECIPE

Grilled figs & laurel leaves

{FIGUES GILLE AUX FEUILLES DE LAURIER} I am proud to say that this is my 1st entry for ‘SUGAR HIGH FRIDAYS’!! Which is ‘the international sweet tooth blogging extravaganza’ and, as the founder Jennifer (of The Domestic Goddess blog) put it, ‘your best excuse to make something sweet and different, at least once a month’.  No encouragement needed on my part!

This months theme (chosen by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice blog ) is the FIG - a beautiful and delicious little flower…. I know it’s like the aubergine/eggplant situation, you thought you were eating a vegetable and it turns out to be a big berry, and now you find out that figs are really flowers - who made up these rules!

As I love the taste of figs on their own I thought I would make a simple desert I once tried, that gives president to the fig while adding the lovely perfume of laurel leaves (aka bay leaves) , a hint of pepper with a velvet covering of brown sugar and rich olive oil.

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RECIPE

{SOUPE FROIDE DE COURGETTES A LA MENTHE} When I was a little girl you couldn’t have paid me to eat a courgette (zucchini), much less a cooked one, and come to think of it, that went for most other vegetables that weren’t served raw! Now I naturally can take no responsibility for this fact and must blame it on inherited genes…. as my mother, 5 years old, sitting at the dinner table, was known to secretly hind her unwanted vegetables under the rim of her plate! Her master plan was working well, until my grandmother cleared the table… 

My palate has developed a little since then and after moving to Geneva, thanks to my fiancé, courgettes have become one of my favourite veggies. So I was thrilled when he decided to make this soup for dinner, and have since slightly modified the original ‘ELLE à table’ recipe used.

NOTE: This recipe must be made ONLY  1 hour in advance of serving! Otherwise the skins of the courgettes turn and give the soup a bitter taste.

RECIPE

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