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This is just an amazing recipe. Half made-up, half-copied, it was just the perfect result.

Great for dinner parties or dinner a-deux, this gratin is cheap, easy and quick to do – and looks lovely on the table.

Serves 4 – preparation 30min, oven 25min

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 400g minced meat
  • 2 small onions (or 1 big)
  • 1 spoon of creme fraiche
  • grated parmesan
  • rosemary
  • cinq-épices
  • salt and pepper

Peal the butternut squash and cook or steam it until soft – 10/15 min in a steam-cooker. In the meantime, slightly fry the onions in a little bit of olive oil in a large fry-pan. When soft (but not brown), add in the meat. Cook thoroughly and add in the rosemary, cinq-épices, salt and pepper.

When the butternut squash is cooked, mash it together with a large spoon of creme-fraiche. Add in salt and pepper.

In a gratin dish, pour half the butternut squash, add the meat and onion preparation on top and cover with the second half of butternut squash. Pour 30 grammes of grated Parmesan on top for the gratin effect.

Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serve very hot with a side salad of lettuce.

Enjoy!

This was tried and tested and unanimously approved…

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Everyone has heard of ‘seasonal cooking’ and how important it is if we want to save the planet? Like everybody else I embraced the trend and tried to cook around the vegetables I could find in my local Tesco or Co-op…

This went well for a few months until I somewhat had a revelation. Whilst shopping for leeks at my local grocery a few weeks ago, I was told by a rather apologetic grocer that because leeks were out of season they were going to cost me a wholesome £3.50.

My answer was along the line of ‘whaaaaaat but I need leeks..!’ – or something similar.

As soon as I was home, I looked it up and… the grocer was right! Not that surprising when one thinks about it long enough. Leeks are winter vegetables – I didn’t have the faintest idea.

A whole new culinary world full of delicious experiments was opening in front of my eye!

Here is a (very useful) calendar of seasonal fruits and vegetables:

JANUARY

Fruits: apple, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, tangerine

Vegetables: brussels sprout, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chestnut, kale, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, parsnip, potato, swede, sweet potato, turnip

Herbs: Garlic, ginger

FEBRUARY

Fruits: Apple, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, tangerine

Vegetables: Brussels sprout, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chestnut, kale, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, parsnip, potato, purple sprouting broccoli , swede, sweet potato, turnip

Herbs: Garlic, ginger

MARCH

Fruits: Apple, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, tangerine

Vegetables: Cauliflower, leek, parsnip, potato, purple sprouting broccoli, sweet potato

Herbs: Chives, parsley

APRIL

Fruits: Apricot, avocado, mango, pineapple,

Vegetables: Cauliflower, carrots, celeriac, purple sprouting broccoli , lettuce greens, new potatoes, peas, spinach, spring greens, sorrel

Herbs: Chives, parsley, watercress

MAY

Fruits: Apricot, avocado, gooseberry, mango, pineapple, strawberry

Vegetables: Asparagus, carrots, fennel, new potatoes, peas, radish, spinach, spring greens, sorrel

Herbs: Chives, dill, mustard greens, sage, thyme, watercress

JUNE

Fruits: Apricot, avocado, gooseberry, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon

Vegetables: Asparagus, aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, Chinese cabbage, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, globe artichoke, new potatoes, peas, radish, silverbeet, spinach, spring greens, sorrel, tomato

Herbs: Basil, chives, dill, garlic chives, mustard greens, sage, thyme, watercress

JULY

Fruits: apricot, blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry, gooseberry, peach, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon

Vegetables: Asparagus, aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, broad bean, Chinese cabbage, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, globe artichoke, new potatoes, peas, radish, silverbeet, spinach, spring greens, sorrel, tomato

Herbs: Basil, chives, dill, garlic, garlic chives, mustard greens, sage, thyme, watercress

AUGUST

Fruits: apricot, blackcurrant, blueberry, cherry, fig, gooseberry, peach, raspberry, red currant, strawberry, watermelon

Vegetables: Aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, broad bean, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, globe artichoke, new potatoes, peas, radish, silverbeet, spinach, spring greens, sorrel, sweet corn, tomato

Mushrooms: chanterelle, black trumpet, cep, girolle, bolete, horn of plenty

Herbs: Basil, chives, garlic, garlic chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, watercress

SEPTEMBER

Fruits: Apricot, blackberry, damson, fig, gooseberry, peach, peach, pear, plum, raspberry, red currant, strawberry

Vegetables: Aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, broad bean, broccoli, celeriac, celery, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, kale, leek, new potatoes, parsnip, peas, radish, silverbeet, spinach, sorrel, sweet corn, tomato

Mushrooms: Chanterelle, black trumpet, cep, girolle, bolete, horn of plenty

Herbs: Basil, chives, garlic, garlic chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, watercress

OCTOBER

Fruits: Apple, cranberry, fig, pear, plum, quince

Vegetables: Aubergine (eggplant), beetroot, beans, broad bean, broccoli, celeriac, celery, chestnut, courgette (zucchini), cucumber, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, leek, new potatoes, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, sorrel, sweet corn

Herbs: Garlic, rosemary

NOVEMBER

Fruits: Apple, clementine, cranberry, date, fig, pear, quince

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, celery, chestnut, globe artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, leek, parsnip, peas, potato, pumpkin, swede, sweet potato, Swiss chard, turnip

Herbs: Garlic, ginger

DECEMBER

Fruits: Apple, clementine, cranberry, date, lemon, mandarin, orange, pear, quince, tangerine, rhubarb

Vegetables: Brussels sprout, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chestnut, kale, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, parsnip, potato, shallots, swede, sweet potato, turnip

Herbs: Garlic, ginger

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What is more classical than a chocolate mousse for dessert? The following recipe gives an original spin on an old-favourite.

The harmonious mix of salt and dark chocolate is a perfect way to tease guests’ taste buds at the end of a friendly dinner in. And it reminds me of my after-school snacks of thick slices of bread spreaded with salted butter and dark chocolate pieces. Hmmmm…

Drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top of the dessert contributes to give the recipe its unique twist, with the added health and nutrition benefits of olive oil.

The use of a sweet-flavoured olive oil, from the Catalan region for example, will emphasize the gentle contrast between salt and chocolate.

Serves 8 – Preparation time 25min, resting time 12hours.

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ litre milk
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 vanilla stick
  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Very thin slices of toasted white bread
  • Maldon salt

Sauce:

  • 100g raspberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 drop lemon juice

Boil the milk with the vanilla stick. Mix together the yolks and sugar in a thick-bottomed saucepan and add the boiled milk little by little. Place over heat. Simmer until obtaining a light custard sauce texture. When the custard is ready, add the pieces of chocolate to the saucepan and simmer to melt the chocolate into the custard sauce.

Leave it to set for 12 hours in the fridge.

 Sauce:

Crush the raspberries with sugar and lemon juice and strain (or not, depending on your taste) the sauce.

Shape the dessert with two dessert spoons into a round ball and place two quenelles on a plate. The term quenelle is used to describe the decorative shape of the portions – a neat, three-sided oval (a bit like a mini rugby ball!) formed by smoothing the mixture between two dessert spoons. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle lightly the top of each quenelle with Maldon salt. Crown the quenelles with a comb of toasted bread and drip raspberry sauce all around.

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Here is a nice recipe I came accross. 🙂

Creamy tomato soup is a classic, but this easy recipe will tantalise everyone’s taste buds. Ripe tomatoes are essential to whip up the tastiest soup, and are found easily at local markets.

To enrich the consommé and give it its silky, creamy texture, whisking in extra virgin olive oil at the end will also give complexity to the flavour.

The use of a sweet-flavoured olive oil, from the Aragon region of Spain for example, will balance the potential acidity of the tomatoes. Fresh basil leaves placed on the edge of the bowl will add an aesthetic touch to the dish.

Serves 8 – cooking and preparation time: 30 minutes

 Ingredients:

  •   1 ½ kg tomatoes – washed and cut into pieces
  •  1 potato – washed, peeled and cut into pieces
  •  2 leeks – washed and cut into pieces
  •  2 tbsp rice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • salt

 To finish:

  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Wash the tomatoes, leeks and potatoes and cut them into small cubes.  

Place the vegetables into a large pan with the olive oil, sugar, salt, and the rice.

Cover the ingredients with water, bring to the boil and cover with a lid.  Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables have softened. 

 Allow to cool slightly and blend to a smooth consistency.  Strain to get rid of any remaining lumps. All tomato skins and seeds should be removed so all what remains is a smooth, creamy consommé.

 Re-heat to regain its colour, check the seasoning and add the olive oil.

 Serve hot in consommé cups or bowls.

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I certify the ownership of this one. – this one for my Sis, which I love and apologise to for “publishing” her Crêpe recipe.

For the absolute beginners a “quiche” is made of two parts: the base and the stuffing.

PART 1: THE BASE

To get the base you have two solutions, you buy it or you make it. I personally make it. It usually takes me 10min maximum to put together.

You need:

– 250g of flour

– 80g of water (useful reminder: 1g = 1cL)

_ 70 g of oil (olive oil preferred)

– salt

You put the flour in a bowl and pour over water, oil and salt and mix the lot together. You can then use your hands to finish the mixing and make a perfect ball. You have to flatten the ball with a rolling pin to obtain a 5mm wide base. Finally you place the base in a buttered mould.

In the mean time you would have started to prepare the “stuffing” which leads us to

PART 2: THE REST

You need:

– 3 green peppers

– 75g oignons

– olive oil

– 200g of bacon

– 3 eggs

– 10cL of fresh cream / sour cream works as well

– salt and pepper

– 50g of grated gruyère / it also works with mild cheddar

Preparation:

Put the base in a mould already greased with butter.

Wash the green peppers and take the seeds off, cut them in thin slices

Peel the onions and cut them in very thin slices

Put the cut onions and peppers in a fry pan with a little bit of olive oil and make them melt

Take the onions from the fry pan and replace them with the bacon

Place the vegetables and the bacon on the base et pour over the fresh cream mixed with the eggs, salt and pepper

Put the grated cheese at the top and place the quiche in the oven for 30min, Th6 / 180°C

Don’t forget to pre heat the oven: 15min, Th 6 / 180°C

Here you go it’s ready and delicious served with a green salad!

quiche-1

Here is what it looks like just out of the oven

quiche-2

Bon appetit!

🙂

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Recipe 1: Crêpes*

This is the beginning of a new chronicle: Recipes

Behold, here is my Crêpes* Recipe!! – Ok I prefer stopping right there, it is not my recipe, I got it from my sister who herself got it from her flatmate back when she was in University, who herself got it from her mother who apparently does the best Britton crêpes ever. “Britton” being “from Brittany”, not Great-Britain, that’s why I put 2 “t”‘s. Now, having given back to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar, take notes:

You need:

– 250g (500mL) of flour

– 75g (37.5mL) of sugar

– 50g of butter

– 2 or 3 eggs – basically: 2 big eggs or 3 small ones

– 1/4L of milk

– 1/4L of water

The door of my fridge with three small eggs, the milk and the butter.

The door of my fridge with three small eggs, the milk and the butter.

You put flour and sugar in a big salad bowl, add the butter previously melted and the eggs. You can mix the eggs separately and then pour them in the salad bowl.

Mix everything together.

Then, add the milk, very slowly and keep stirring the base. The challenge is to avoid lumps. There should be none. Then add the water, the same way as you added the milk, pour very slowly and keep stirring.

Now you have a perfect not too thin not too thick base, with no lumps.

Cover it with a clean tea towel, and let it rest for a couple of hours or the whole night.

The bowl covered with a CLEAN tea towel

The bowl covered with a CLEAN tea towel

perfectly smooth, no lumps

What the base should look like: perfectly smooth, no lumps

That’s it, now it’s up to you and your hot fry pan. Don’t get burnt, and remember to “oil” or “butter” the fry pan so the crêpe doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Serve them with whatever you want, sweet or salty.

Bon Appetit!

* A crêpe is a thin pancake for those who read the whole article without knowing what we were talking about! 🙂

Edit: For those like me who have problems with measuring quantities and converting grams of flour into mL and mL of sugar back in to grams, here is what saved my life: The Cooking Conversions Website. It’s very helpful.

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