Chilled Cucumber Soup

In this hot weather this chilled soup makes a refreshing start to a meal. It will take just minutes to make, but needs some chilling time in the refrigerator.

IMG_20150712_2124191 cucumber
Half a chopped onion or 1 small sweet Cevenne onion chopped
6 small gherkins, or 1 large pickled cucumber
juice of 1 lemon
175mls single cream + a little extra to serve
Some chopped dill

Peel the cucumber and chop. Add to a blender with the onion, gherkins, lemon juice & salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the cream and stir. Check the seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with chopped dill scattered over & an extra whirl of single cream.

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Petit Salé – winter lentils & sausage

As Autumn creeps up on us our petit salédiet starts to change; we start crave warming, comfort food as we turn up the thermostat and close the shutters against the early dark evenings. Time to make a delicious Petit Salé. This is a simple quick version that will warm your toes.

For 3 people

Ingredients:

2 Morteau sauasges, each cut into 3 (sometimes known as Belle Morteau) You can also use Toulouse sausage or  good plump pure pork butchers sausages

1 piece of smoked bacon cut from the joint, about 1 cm thick cut into 3 (if you cannot find this use a packet of lardons)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots peeled and cut in 3 or 4 pieces

1 onion, skinned, cut in quarters, with a clove stuck in,

1 shallot, skinned and chopped

2 celery sticks, cut in 3 or 4 pieces

1 fresh bouquet garni

1 tsp powdered vegetable stock (optional)

1 water glass of green Puy lentils

Fresh ground pepper

Method:

Put the lentils in a saucepan, with plenty of water, bring to the boil and then drain and set aside.

Put the oil in a pan over a medium heat and sauté the bacon pieces, shallots, onions, carrots and celery until softened. Add the sausage, bouquet garni, stock if using and lentils. Add enough water to the pan to just cover and bring to the boil. Add some ground pepper. Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 45 mins. Check the dish is not too dry and sticking to the pan in the last 10 mins of cooking. There should just be enough liquid so keep the dish moist.

Serve in bowls.

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A taste of Kimilos – cucumber & dill salad

 

DSC02562Just a month ago we were enjoying the sun, solitude and food of Kimilos a tiny, idylic island of the Cyclades. We had lunch in the the delightful restaurant Avli tou Samblou in Kambou Square in the only town of the island. Food was organic and was from the brothers’ farm – simple, but delicious.

We ate a simple, but tasty cucumber salad that I have since DSC02544reproduced here at home along with lmab cooked for 6 hours in the clay oven. Basil was grown everywhere on the islands, big, sturdy, bushy shrubs, but it did not feature at all in the local cuisine. It was used instead to perfume the entrance to a home or public places: a bunch on a desk in a vase, a pot on a ferry… unless apparently you had watched Jamie Oliver on television, so here basil is only or the young and trendy. Instead dill was the herb most used.

This cucumber salad is heavly arromatic with the dill.

DSC02548Ingredients for 4

  • 2 lebanese cucumbers,
  • a large bunch of dill, chopped
  • a dstsp of capers soaked in water, drained & dried on kitchen paper
  • 1 dstsp of white wine vinegar
  • 2 dstsp full fat greek yoghurt
  • 3 dstsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 carrot finely grated to add colour
  • lemon slices to decorate

Peel the cucumbers, halve along the length and remove the seeds with the aid of a teaspoon. Cut into 1 cm slices.

In a bowl combine the salt & pepper, the vinegar, the yoghurt and half the olive oil to make a dressing.

Add the capers, the dill, the carrot and cucumber and combine. Transfer to a serving dish and decorate with the lemon slices. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil.

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How to cook a spaghetti marrow (spaghetti squash)

téléchargementYou don’t have to need to eat gluten free to enjoy spaghetti marrow. We eat it firstly because we adore it: lighter and tastier than spaghetti, it makes for a guilt free pasta dish. Use instead of pasta with any pasta sauce. A large marrow will serve 4.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.

Wash the marrow if it still has any soil on it.

Cut the marrow in 2 along its length.

Take out the seeds with a spoon.

Brush the two halves with olive oil & season.

Put the two halves side by side, cut side up, on a baking tray and cover with foil.

Bake in the oven for  45 min to an hour (depending upon size) until a sharp knife slides into the flesh..

Turn a fork around the inside of the marrow, the flesh will come away in strings.

Season, add a little butter if you like.

Use in your recipes in place of spaghetti or pasta, or use in a gratin.

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And a Vegetarian Chilli…

So for another quick standby a vegetarian Chilli using basically the same recipe for the spaghetti bolognaise with the addition of a green chilli, half a red pepper, half a lime, a bunch of coriander and a tin of borlotti or pinto beans -I am not keen on red kidney beans .

Ingredients for 3 :

1 x 400g tin of prepared lentils

1 onion finely chopped

2 carrots finely chopped

1 celery stick finely chopped

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

6 mushrooms finely chopped

1/2 a chopped red pepper

1 green chill finely chopped (this will make a hot chilli)

1 x 400g tin of pinto or borlotti beans, rinsed & drained

140g tin of tomato purée

1 small bunch of coriander, stalks chopped and leaves retained for salsa

1 vegetable stock cube

1 glass of red wine

2 tbsp extra virgin oil

juice of half a lime

S & P

To serve: 1 large tsp of sour cream or crème fraiche per person,

a handful grated cheese

a dish of salsa to really make this dish special made up of  2 small chopped tomatoes, 1/2 a chopped red onion, the chopped coriander leaves, and a 1/4  chopped red pepper, half a chopped ripe avoacdo, salt and pepper, with juice of 1/2 a lime squeezed over.

Method

Drain the lentils into a colander, rinse and leave to drain.

In a large frying pan sauté the chopped carrot, onion, red pepper, garlic, & celery in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms & sauté for a little longer.

Add the lentils, coriander stalks, chopped chilli, tomato purée, wine,  and stock cube. Stir well. You will probably need to add a small glass of water at this point. Bring to a simmer, season, turn down heat & leave to just simmer for at least 20 mins, not letting the sauce dry out. Taste for heat (if you like it hotter you could stir in a little chilli powder at this moment, but go carefully and cook for a few more minutes). Stir in the juice of half a lime.

Serve the chilli in shallow bowls with the sour cream in the middle. Hand the salsa and grated cheese round to be added on top. If you do not make the salsa, sprinkle  the remaining coriander leaves over the top.

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Spaghetti Bolognaise – Vegetarian & Gluten Free?

Well the daughter announced in August that she is giving up meat & fish. She is far away in London, so I felt it didn’t really concern me, but she has strong environmental reasons for doing so, and I am convinced by the arguments… But we live in France where being a vegetarian is not simple, combine that with not being able to eat gluten and I think I might as well stay home and eat soup. No one will ever invite me to dinner again and restuarants will say they are full when they see me at the door. So we have decided to cut back on meat and I am now experimenting with veggie food, so as to be able to cook for the daughter when she is home and try out some new tastes. Thank goodness for dear Ottelenghi with his tasty modern recipes, but I also wanted some store cupboard standbys, so I have been playing around with a meat free version of spaghetti bolognaise. The lights were dim when I served this to hubbie; he hadn’t a clue he was eating meat free – but thought it was one of my best spaghetti bolognaise ever. Not only that, this is an economy dish! Serve with gluten free pasta, or as in the photo with spaghetti marrow (which we just adore) for a gluten free version.

DSC08231

Ingredients for 3 :
1 x 400g tin of prepared lentils
1 onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
1 celery stick finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
6 mushrooms finely chopped
140g tin of tomato purée
Large sprig of thyme
1 vegetable stock cube (gluten free)
1 glass of red wine
2 tbsp extra virgin oil
S & P
Dash of Worcester sauce or balsamic vinegar.
Drain the lentils into a colander, rinse and leave to drain.
In a large frying pan sauté the chopped carrot, onion, garlic, & celery in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms & sauté for a little longer.
Add the lentils, thyme, tomato purée, wine,  stock cube, and Worcester sauce or balsamic vinegar. Stir well. You will probably need to add a glass of water at this point. Season, turn downthe heat & leave to just simmer for at least 20 mins, not letting the sauce dry out.
Serve with pasta & grated parmesan or vegeterian cheese.

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North African Almond & Citrus Cake

This delicious cake can be served as a dessert accompanied by some berries & Greek yogurt. The cakeDSC08185 is suitable for people that are lactose intolerant and can easily be made gluten free by using gluten free bread to make the bread crumbs and a gluten free baking powder.  It is also great as make ahead dessert as it will actually improve after a couple of days in the refrigerator well wrapped in foil or film.

For 8 people:                                                                                                                                     Ingredients for the cake:

100g ground almonds

200g sugar

40g good day old bread (or gluten free bread)

1 & a half tsp baking powder (or gluten free baking powder)

200 mls olive oil

4 medium eggs

Zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon & 1 lime

For the syrup:

75g sugar

Juice of 1 orange, 1 lime & half a lemon

5 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

5  cardamon seeds, lightly crushed

Method

Put the bread in a processor & whiz to crumbs. Add the ground almonds, 2oog sugar and the baking powder. Mix and then add the oil & eggs beaten together. Add zests and mix again. Pour into a 23 cm cake tin, oiled and based lined. Put into a cold oven at 190°C/gas 5 for 20 mins.

After 20 mins crumple a piece of parchment paper, run it under cold water, shake off excess and place over the cake. Cook for a further 30 mins.

Meanwhile make a syrup by combining all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil & reduce to a simmer for 2 mins. set aside to cool.

When the cake has cooked – rich brown & slightly shrunk, remove from oven & cool in the tin for 10 mins before removing and placing on a serving plate. Peel off the base paper and spoon over the syrup while still warm. Decorate with the spices from the syrup.

 

 

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