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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Jerome Carayol has a small stand at Lautrec market on Fridays selling garlic, eggs and the odd duck and chicken–his mother supplies the pigeons.

He tells me this morning, picking three garlic bulbs from a small pile as a gift, that he’ll begin lifting his pink garlic  (l’ail rose de Lautrec) tomorrow or Monday.

For the last three weeks, starting early before the sun gets a hold, small teams–mainly youngsters–are employed in the fields working slowly along the rows of garlic, picking the scopes (the stem that develop into a flower) off the top of each plant.

Back-breaking work–but necessary to allow the plant to concentrate its final surge of energy on the bulb.

Now the farmers are beginning the harvest.

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Garlic gath’rers pass,

Leaving the scent in the air;  

It’s that time again.

Judy Bach asked for recipes on Facebook.

Here’s one, adapted from Skye Gyngell’s version in her book,  How I Cook :

New season courgettes, cooked slow with the new garlic and mint–mushily delicious with a little kick from the chili.

This is  for 4 

1 lb courgettes/zucchini--sliced thin

garlic cloves–sliced thin

1 small dried red chili–chopped

a handful of mint (if you have it)-chopped

salt and pepper

1 tblsp olive oil

  • In a medium pan, gently soften the garlic and chili in the oil.

  • Add the sliced courgettes/zucchini and turn them over in the oil to coat them thoroughly.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Turn again to distribute the seasoning.
  • Cover the pan and cook for forty minutes on a very low heat.
  • Uncover and fold in the mint, if you have it–which we have, but I forgot it!
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Looks better with the mint!

 

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“Supper?”

“Sorted–it’s in the bag!”

It’s a while since I have cooked salmon this way.

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Can’t think why.

And it’s a cinch for busy people who come home tired from work.

The whoosh of scented steam as the parcel is unwrapped is an added treat–but watch your nose doesn’t get scalded!

The red peppercorns add to the beauty of the dish–are crunchy soft–and disintegrate when bitten into.

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This is adapted from a recipe in Jenny Baker’s comprehensive Simply Fish.

for 2

2 salmon fillets–about 170gms each

2 tsp red peppercorns–optional

1 lemon

fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, mint

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 large pieces of foil of equal size–large enough to envelop the salmon pieces and leave them enough space to “breath”

Preheat the oven to 200c/400F

  • Lay the two large pieces of foil on a flat surface.
  • Lay a salmon fillet on each piece of foil and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle some olive oil over each fillet.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoonful of the red peppercorns on each fillet.
  • Slice off 4 thin slices from the lemon and place them–two/three–on each fillet.
  • Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over the fillets and add the herbs you favor.

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I’ve used fresh tarragon and dill here.

  • Wrap up the parcels–leaving that breathing space for the steam to do its work cooking the fillets.

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  • Place them on an oven tray and slide into the middle of the oven for about fifteen minutes.
  • The cooking time depends on the size of the fillets–take a peek after 15 minutes.

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  • This got a “ding” from Meredith, who liked the taste the red peppercorns.
  • We had brown basmati rice with a sauce of tomato and courgette slices (1 large tomato and 1 courgette) spooned over and  tzatziki sauce (yogurt and cucumber), on the side.
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This is tasty and colorful–a refreshing early summer salad.

From the isle of Sicily apparently–with the colours of another beautiful isle, Ireland , in there.

It cuts nicely something rich, like mackerel or pork..

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a cucumber

A few radishes

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1 orange

mint–a few torn leaves

3 tbs olive oil

1 tbs juice from an orange

1 tsp each white wine vinegar and lemon juice

salt and pepper

Peel the cucumber, slice it as thinly as possible (a food processor’s disc does this perfectly).
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Put the slices in a colander or sieve and sprinkle some salt over and leave to drain for a half hour.
Dry them on kitchen paper.
Peel the orange down to the flesh–no white pith–and slice it thin.
IMG_4062Slice the radish thin too.
Build the salad prettily–a white dish sets off the colors!
Whisk the orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice and seasoning together and pour it over the salad.
Turn it all over and serve.

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I favor small red/yellow peppers for this.

Four of these on a plate and you have a light lunch or supper.

(Two would be good as a starter–on a small bed of rocket (arugula).

We added some simple broccoli with garlic to the plate last night.

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A pretty picture.

This is adapted from a Marcella Hazan recipe.

for 2/3

3 smallish red peppers

40z/100gms small courgettes–sliced thin (a food processor’s disc is helpful for this)

1 clove garlic–chopped fine

2 oz/50gms grated Emmental cheese (We like the creamy taste of the emmental, but you could try substituting other cheeses, such as parmesan)

1 oz/25gms breadcrumbs (I use organic wholewheat or rye.)

4 tbs olive oil

2 tbs parsley–chopped

salt and pepper

 

  • set the oven to 400F/200C
  • Peel the peppers carefully with a hand peeler (easier than expected); halve them and then halve them again to form cargo carrying boats.
  • Remove the seeds.
  • Slice the courgettes as thinly as you can.
  • In a large bowl mix the courgettes, cheese, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs with two tablespoons of the olive oil and season to taste.
  • Load the pepper boats generously with the courgette cargo.

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  •  Oil a piece of foil on an oven tray and moor the boats on it.
  • “How apt” Meredith says ” …these  boats being so “moorish”!

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  •  Sprinkle over the fourth tablespoon of oil.
  • Thirty minutes in the top half of the oven should do it.

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The fight goes on to get kids eating more healthily, which is good for them, their future health and welfare and is ultimately a money saver on health costs.

This piece by Mark Bittman from The New York Times  addresses the fight over ensuring school children get healthy school lunches and speaks to the heart of the problem of child and adult obesity that besets populations worldwide.

British cooking guru and author Jamie Oliver comes up against the same difficulties–and fights on.

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…We are in a public health crisis largely brought about by the consumption of sugar and hyperprocessed carbs. It’s fine to scream “don’t eat as many of them,” but that message can’t possibly match the power of the billions of dollars spent annually by an industry ($400 million a year on marketing soda to teens alone) encouraging us to consume more. Government’s proper role is to protect us, and this would be a fine way to start.

…Healthy food initiatives threaten profits and are therefore fought or deflected or co-opted at all costs by the producers of hyperprocessed food. This is true even when those costs include producing an increasingly sick population — and a disproportionate number of defenseless children — and an ever-growing portion of our budget spent on paying for diet-related illness. Big Food will continue to pursue profit at the expense of health as long as we let them.

 

At Jean Jaures College in our local town, a glance at the lunch menu seems to confirm that an effort is being made–though the day we visited we were not invited to sample for ourselves!

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The clue to the blue is the Pastel Bleu shop in Lautrec. The owner is “trés contente”!

 

The third team of Brave Hearts  head back home today.

Our place of work for four busy, sun-blessed days has been the magnificent kitchen of the comfortable gite in Lautrec…

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Daisy, sous chef numero uno and me getting ready for the Thursday launch.

in the grounds of La Terrasse…

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hosted by Dominique and Philippe in their beautiful B&B in the heart of Lautrec.

“Sous chef” Brave Hearts:

Rod and Teri from Calgary close to the Canadian Rockies who celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary yesterday; Sandy and Pat, two intrepid women from upstate New York; Paola from Rome, who learned her perfect English in Hull; Cathy and Dave (husband not cooking, but keen consumer) from Newmarket, celebrating their wedding anniversary too; and Jen, ex-BBC Radio 4 sound engineer and Chelsea fan from Cookham (appropriately!) in Berkshire– all cooked up a storm and we celebrated with a final lunch under the parasols in the garden.

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The al fresco menu included aubergine slices with garlicky walnut topping, white bean gratin

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and stuffed peppers–all recipes from my first cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

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oven-bound pyramid of peppers…

This variation is a work in progress :

Red pepper boats stuffed with a courgette “cargo”!

Thinly-sliced, small courgettes are mixed with garlic, cheese and breadcrumbs and stuffed into peeled red peppers, then roasted.

Recipe to follow in a couple of days!

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I love broccoli and cabbage (winter vegetables) but I’m ready for a change–(eating seasonally is a joy).

Asparagus and broad beans usually ease the passage from winter into spring/summer, but the wet weather (or something) has delayed the broad beans and now the first courgettes [zucchini] are beginning to show up on the stalls in Castres market.

Grown under glass they feel a little early but the small to medium ones were a temptation Saturday, so I bought a kilo and found this simple recipe below.

The sweetness of the browned onions effortlessly informs the young courgettes which are seasoned with salt and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper.

2 medium onions–peeled and sliced thin (a food processor’s slicer disc does this in a trice)

1 lb small to medium firm courgettes–sliced thin (as above)

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and gently brown the onions.

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  • Add the courgette slices and turn them into the onion mix.

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  • Add a pinch of salt and cook on until the courgettes wilt–turning over the mix occasionally.
  • Add a good grind of black pepper and serve.

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I last time I made this--according to scribbled notes in Marcella Hazan’s Second Classic Italian Cookbook*–was on September 18, 1997!

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What took me so long to do it again? It is delicious!

It needs good black olives–I use Greek, preserved in oil, from the stall in Castres market–they are juicy.

The note also says:

“Slow down a bit and watch for burning–add a little more wine….” 

So, as they say here–doucement [gently does it].

1 chicken–cut into 8 to 10 pieces with the skin

8oz juicy black olives–pitted

6 tbs olive oil

4 garlic cloves–peeled and lightly crushed

salt and pepper

3 tbs white wine vinegar

8 tbs white wine

3 anchovy fillets–chopped small

2 tbs parsley–chopped

3 tbs lemon juice

  • Chop up half the pitted olives and set aside the rest
  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and fry the garlic until it starts to color.
  • Brown the seasoned chicken pieces over a medium heat–turning them every couple of minutes.
  • Remove the garlic.
  • Add the wine and vinegar.
  • Cover the pan.
  • IMG_3548Cook on until only half the liquid remains–about 20 minutes.
  • Add the chopped olives and anchovies and turn the chicken pieces over in the mixture.
  • Replace the cover and cook on a lowish heat for a further ten minutes when the chicken should be done.(This was the point at which I was cooking it too quickly and risked burning it.)
  • Remove the lid and tilting the pan carefully spoon off most of the fat/oil.

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  • Add the remaining olives and parsley and turn everything over and heat through.
  • Add the lemon juice and turn everything again.

* Marcella Hazen is one of the guiding lights of my cooking.

Her first and second cook books were combined into Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

 

 

 

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End of a busy day, when it would be good to have a confit de canard* up the sleeve, so to speak.

What to cook for dinner?

There’s the leftover pearl barley “risotto” with asparagus–which Meredith had found unremarkable the other night–and the unpromising broccoli I bought this morning, in the fridge.

Well there’s something to be said for starting with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised–so…

Risotto rissoles and sautéed broccoli?

The rissoles had a tendency to fall apart but the broccoli..!

1lb/450gm broccoli–cut into bite size pieces

4 tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic–chopped small

3 tbs parsley–chopped

salt and pepper

  • Steam the broccoli until just tender and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold the broccoli in a single layer.
  • Sauté the garlic for a few seconds until it starts to turn color.

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  • Add the broccoli and the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat–coating the broccoli thoroughly in the garlicky oil.
  • If the broccoli singes a little in the process–all the better!
  • You may wish, like us, that you’d made more!

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*Preserved duck leg–a local specialty and quick to prepare, as it is already cooked and preserved in duck fat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We first tasted this dip in Gail Zweigenthal’s apartment overlooking Central Park when we were in New York recently.

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She had generously invited us–two strangers–to dinner with our mutual friend, Francia White.

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Gail was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine from 1991 to 1998, where this recipe originated.

Six simple ingredients plus seasoning make this a dip-in-a-flash.

In fact seven–Meredith thought a squeeze of lime or lemon juice would be good.

(The nod to tapinade comes with the capers; caper in Provençal patois is tapinas.)

1 can artichoke hearts (200gm/7oz)–drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove–mashed with a pinch of salt
1/2 cup green olives–pitted 
2 tsps capers
3 tbs parsley–chopped 
juice of half a lime
  • Put the ingredients in a food processor and whizz it to a rough smoothness–i.e., leaving a little texture.
  • Add salt and fresh ground pepper–adjusting the seasoning to taste.
  • Serve as Gail did on the fennel slices or toast with a dribble of olive oil.

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