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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Yesterday  (September 1st and officially the first day of autumn for the Met office) our neighbour Alice–beekeeping teacher–arrived with a basket of summertime goodies.

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She and Meredith had been collecting honey from her many hives and our ONE in the garden.

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There has been precious little “summertime” this year, so the honey harvest is modest

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and the basket a reminder of what might have been–peches de vignes, tomatoes and delightful looking little red chilis, the last–“tres forts–attention!” warned  Alice.

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This year our tomatoes were “carried off“–as they used to say about people who caught the plague–by mildew.

According to Alice, this has happened to many gardeners–but not to her tomatoes because she saw the signs and acted to stop the rot.

The unusually wet weather with little drying sunshine is the cause.

Result–in our case–a quick demise of the entire crop; we were away when the plague struck.

Alice advised keeping a few seeds from the largest tomato, for planting next year which we’ve done, but not before a bit of coarse “look at the size of it!” acting.

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It’s now in the fridge–a tasty sauce waiting its turn in the limelight, which maybe tonight as part of the stuffing for one of its cousins.

 

 

 

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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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