French

13th March
2011
written by Nibblish

A good quiche is an extremely simple and fast meal to make, but never fails to impress. It’s perfect for brunch, lunch, dinner, for a picnic or even as party food!

Ingredients: (serve 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

1 sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander or parsley
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease and flour a round oven tray to make it non stick. Lay the pastry sheet, trim excess and prick the bottom with a fork to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, coriander and bacon and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the leek and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized. Cool and sprinkle over cooked pastry.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C. Whisk the eggs with the milk in a mixing bowl. Stir in half the cheese, grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour over bacon and leek, sprinkle the remaining cheese and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.


Let is rest for 5 minutes and serve with a green salad!
If you fancy of change, swap the bacon for salmon, and the leek for spinach, mushroom or asparagus.

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12th March
2011
written by Nibblish

Growing up in France, cordon bleu was my all time favourite and it was pretty easy to satisfy my obsession as you could buy pretty good ones from the frozen section of most supermarkets. As I left France, I started making my own one from scratch, which proved to be a really good move!

Ingredients: (serve 4)

4 large chicken breasts
4 large slices leg ham, freshly cut
4 slices Emmental, Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Instructions:

1. Unfold the first chicken breast and flatten it by pounding with a meat mallet or rolling pin. The trick is not to pound to hard, but to pound firmly and evenly until it’s a somewhat uniform flatness and similar shape and size to your ham slices. Repeat with the other breasts.

2. Season each breast with salt & pepper and place a slice of ham and then cheese on top.

3. Cut any sticking out part to ensure the 3 layers all have the same shape and size and fold neatly.
Coat each cordon in the flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs.

4. Pre-heat a large non stick pan on medium heat, add a splash of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the cordon bleus and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until nicely golden. Season with salt & pepper.

Serve it hot with a side of salad or Petit Pois a la Francaise! You could also make a few extras and freeze it for an easy dinner during the week!

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12th March
2011
written by Nibblish

This traditional French recipe makes a wonderful side for roast chicken, pork or lamb and is for sure the tastiest way to prepare peas. Try it, you will be surprised!!

Ingredients: (serve 4)

2 onions, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
10g butter
1 tbsp oil olive oil
2 bacon rashers, finely sliced
500g frozen peas
1tsp sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
1/2 small bunch of mint, chopped
50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

1. Heat butter and oil on medium heat in a large non stick pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft. Stir in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes until nice and crispy. Season with salt & pepper.

Cook at a robust simmer, uncovered, until everything is tender and the liquid flavorful and reduced.

2. Add the frozen peas and half the watercress to the onions and bacon. Add stock and sugar and cook over a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes – or until they are cooked through but not too soft.

3. Stir in the remaining watercress, the mint and most of the grated parmesan. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of the remaining parmesan and a few extra mint leaves on top!



As a variation, you can also add a spoonful of fresh creme at the end of the cooking time or replace the watercress with shredded butterhead lettuce.

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9th March
2011
written by Nibblish

This is a delicious old-fashioned lemon meringue pie, just like Grandma’s, with the lemon zest added to the juice. If it seems a bit too tricky for you, skip the first step and purchase short crust pastry sheet instead of making it yourself!

Ingredients (8 slices):

Pastry
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Start by making the pastry. Place the flour, caster sugar and salt in a food processor. Add 2/3 of the butter and blend it into the mixture.

2. Shape dough into a ball in your flour coated hands, and then flatten it into a round, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, start preheating the oven to 180 degrees and coat a 23 cm round baking tray with a thin layer of butter and a sprinkle of flour to make it non stick.

3. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured board, lift and gently press it into the baking dish. Trim pastry overhanging the sides. Prick with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden.

4. For the lemon filling, whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt and eggs together in non stick saucepan. Then gradually whisk in the water.

5. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat and whisk continuously until thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in zest, juice, and finish with the remaining butter.

6. To make the meringue, beat egg whites on high speed until at soft peak stage. Add the sugar gradually, the vanilla extract and beating continually until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick & firm.

7. Pour lemon filling into the crust, spread the meringue evenly over the top, making sure it attaches to the crust. Create peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool before serving.

Store leftovers for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it as a surprise for later!

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5th March
2011
written by Nibblish

This simplified version of the creme Crème brûlée is perfect for you if you don’t own a blow torch, a sieve or the right dishes for the bain-marie. It will still melt in your mouth with a little caramel crunch!

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
12 tsp brown sugar

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Beat eggs yolks with sugar and stir in the vanilla extract. Whisk in the milk and the cream.

2. Place the mixture into individual dishes and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool off completely and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Sprinkle with brown sugar and place under the grill for a couple of minutes or until caramelized.

Serve warm or cold. Et voila! The more traditional recipe will follow shortly!

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3rd March
2011
written by Nibblish

Filet is the most tender of all the types of steak and is also lean and healthy. It is often also the most expensive cut available, so you want to make sure you cook it to perfection! While searing is a good way to cook a filet, finishing it in the oven helps it cook more evenly. The garlic & parsley butter is a simple but elegant way to add an extra touch of je ne sais quoi!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 parsley bunch, finely chopped
100g butter, cubed
4 x 150g marbled fillet steaks
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

1. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. To make the parsley butter, mix the parsley, garlic, and salt together, add the cubed butter to the parsley-garlic mixture.

2. Place the mixture into a plastic wrap, roll it tight and refrigerate.

3. Heat a frying pan on medium/high heat, season your steaks and grill for 2 minute on each side to seal the juices in.


4. Transfer to a hot baking tray and finish it in the oven for 5-6 minutes for medium rare.

5. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and cover with foil and leave in a warm place for up to 10 minutes. Serve it with a slice of garlic and parsley butter on top a side of Dauphinoise Potato Gratin. Click here for the recipe!


Any leftover butter can be held for at least a week in the refrigerator, or frozen for several weeks. It’s delicious with grilled prawns, pasta or crusty bread!


Re-cap: Top 5 secrets for the perfect steak:

1. Prepare it
Allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking.
Brush your steak lightly with some olive oil, rather than the pan

2. Let it sizzle
The pan should be hot enough so that the steak sizzles as it first hits the heat.

3. Turn it once
Only flip the steak once to keep it tender.

4. Shorter on the other side
It won’t take as much to cook evenly through.

5. Let it rest
To seal in the flavour and juices, it’s very important to let the meat rest for a few minutes after cooking

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3rd March
2011
written by Nibblish

This classic Dauphinoise Potato gratin is world wide famous and a fabulous accompaniment to roast meats, juicy steaks or stews. Having said that, it’s not to say that its garlicky, creamy and crispy flavours can’t be enjoyed by itself…!

Ingredients: (serves 4 people)

9 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 cups whole milk
5 tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Fresh nutmeg
1 cup double cream
1 cup grated gruyère
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Place the potatoes in a non stick pan, cover with milk and season with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Grease a baking tray with butter and spread the crushed butter over the surface. Drain the potatoes, transfer half in the gratin dish, add half the cheese, double cream and season with salt & pepper. Repeat again for the top layer.

3. Place the gratin in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until nicely brown and crispy!

Don’t be afraid of making slightly too much as any leftovers will taste even better when baked for the second time!

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4th February
2011
written by Nibblish

Duck Liver parfait is really economical and easy to make, but it tastes luxurious and looks really fancy too. My French compatriotes would probably hate me for saying that, but I see it a little bit like a Green peace foie gras – similar in taste and texture but without the arrogance, cost or cruelty! You can also make it up to 48h ahead and save it in the fridge as an early start of a fancy meal. You can also double the measures and serve it as the master piece for a party.

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

400-500g fresh duck liver, fat, strings and green patches trimmed
250ml milk
20ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1 slice of bacon, chopped
50ml cognac or brandy
250g butter, diced
6-8 fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cornichons, Brioche and salad to serve

Instructions

1. Soak duck livers in the milk for 1.5 hours at room temperature. If you are using frozen livers, simply allow them to defrost in water for 1h and then soak in milk for another 30 minutes. After soaking, drain, rinse under cool water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Heat a bit of oil and a nut of butter (5g) in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, bay leave, thyme leaves and bacon. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starting to colour.

3. Add your duck livers to the pan with an extra small splash of oil and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook on a high heat for 2 minutes or until the liver pieces start to plump up. Add 50ml brandy or cognac to the pan and cook it off.

4. Transfer everything to to the food processor and blend it until smooth. Add the remaining 120g of butter to the food processor, bit by bit, and season with another good 2 good pinches of salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve if you have one and spoon it into a serving bowl and place in the fridge to start the setting process.

5. To make the clarified butter, place the remaining 125g of butter on low heat and cook slowly until the white dairy and clear oil are separated. Clean any impurities off the top and pour the clear liquid into a separate pan, before placing it on medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the sage to the butter to fry and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool down and pour over the cooler pate mixture. Refrigerate the finished parfait for at least 4-5 hours or until the top layer looks hard and thick.

6. Serve the parfait with cornichons, fresh butter, freshly toasted brioche and a green leave salad.

Some people like to eat the sage flavoured clarified butter with the parfait, but you don’t have to. Even if you decide not to eat it, it’s still playing a key role to locking in the flavours and keeping the parfait fresh. You can save it up 4-5 days in the fridge when sealed. If you can’t find duck liver, replace with chicken liver. /em>

Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!

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4th February
2011
written by Nibblish

This is a French classic and a perfect Sunday dinner, as it doesn’t take too long to prepare but just a bit of time to cook away slowly. Warning: it will fill the house with an amazing aroma, which will tease everyone and get them hungry, and make your next-door neighbours jealous and cranky!

Ingredients (4-5 serves)

1.5kg free-range organic chicken, disjointed
3 cloves of garlic, 2 slices and 1 crushed
3 Sprigs thyme, leaves picked
2 sprigs Rosemary, leaves picked
3 sage leaves
150g pancetta, diced
2 tbsp black olives, sliced
5 large shallots, peeled and halved
10g butter
300g mixed mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1.5 cup of white wine
3tbsp Fresh cream
1 small bunch coriander
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Instructions

1. Pre-heat 10ml of olive oil in a large non-stick heavy bottom pan. Add in the sliced garlic, sage leaves, chicken, rosemary and thyme and season with salt & pepper. Sizzle for 10 minutes or until the chicken is sealed and light golden brown and stir regularly.

2. In the meantime, pre-heat a separate frying pan with a small splash of olive oil and 10g butter and stir in the shallots, crushed garlic, pancetta and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. After 2 minutes, stir in the mushrooms and olives and cook until the mushrooms look brown and nice.

3. Combine the mushroom mixture and the meat in the bigger pan and top with the wine. Cook for 10 minutes or until the wine has reduced by half and the alcohol has evaporated. Close and place in the oven to cook for 40-60 minutes on low heat. If your pan isn’t oven proof, keep it covered on low heat and check regularly or transfer to a warm slow cook dish.

4. Check the liquid amount after 40 minutes. Take out any skin bits that have separated from the meat. If it looks a bit too dry, add a bit of water in. If it looks too liquid, cook uncovered for a few minutes. Once you’re happy with the texture, stir in the fresh cream, chopped coriander and season to taste.

Serve with salad and mash. You can also replace the fresh cream with a spoon of corn flour to thicken the sauce at the end or skip it altogether for a lighter version. You can also replace the mash with tagliatelle pasta for a change. If you don’t like the idea of disjointing a whole chicken yourself, you can also use pre-cut chicken legs and thighs, but make sure you buy good quality free-range chicken otherwise it could end up fatty and gristly.

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31st January
2011
written by Nibblish

French toasts are actually called “Pain Perdu” in France, which suggests that this recipe was originally created to use off bread that has gone hard. While it may not sound so glamorous, the truth is that it doesn’t work as well with freshly baked bread, which can’t take as much soaking without losing its shape!

Ingredients (2 serves)
1 Egg + 1 yolk
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp flour
¾ cup milk
½ tsp nutmeg, grated
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
Olive oil
6 slices of white loaf or baguette, ideally left out for a couple of hours to dry
Sugar, lemon, strawberries, ricotta and maple syrup to serve

Instructions

1. Beat the eggs and gradually whisk in the sugar, flour, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt.

2. Pre-heat a large non-stick frying pan with a splash of olive oil. In the meantime, soak the first batch of bread on both sides until dump throughout, which should take around 10 seconds if it’s white toasts but up to 2 minutes if you’re using baguette. Cook the bread in the hot pan on both sides for 1-2 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the bread.

3. Sprinkle with white sugar and serve hot with a wedge of lemon, strawberries, ricotta and maple syrup.

The traditional way to eat Pain Perdu is to top it with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon, but I also like to serve it with ricotta, fresh fruit and maple syrup on the side to make it a bit more interesting!

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