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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

 

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I pass Gaby and Pierette’s farm on my daily walk and scurrying out of my path two days ago were a platoon of ducks and geese.

December the first today. They must be new arrivals in time for Christmas.

Les pauvres!

December the first….

DAY ONE, in the early 1950’s, on the advent calendar and the agonisingly slow build-up to the big day.

Sweet torture!

The decorations are up in our little village of Lautrec and outside Monoprix in the town of Castres, the little carrousel and its prancing horses is doing its rounds.

What to buy so-and-so and and mustn’t forget thing-a-ma-jig….

Christmas is now inevitable and the pressure is on.

Well, I have a suggestion….

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I know what it says on the cover but the recipes a healthy and delicious–good for everyone–and Meredith’s photos are sensational.

If your local bookstore doesn’t have it (in the UK), it’s available on Amazon–and only Amazon or other online book dealers in the USA. It’s also available for Kindle.

Here’s a look behind the scenes!

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This is not really about the fishcakes–they’ve featured before and in fact are one of the most popular recipes on my blog.

It’s about how a single item found in the market/shop/fridge can lead to lunch.

Yesterday at the organic market in Castres a producer with whom I regularly shop had a little bunch of dill hiding modestly behind the parsley.

I picked it out and it was perky with that fresh, inimitable scent.

She told me it had grown back unexpectedly. Dill, like coriander, is tricky to grow.

Dill is delicious with thinly sliced cucumber and red onion in a simple salad–but this bunch shouts FISHCAKES in my ear.

Thus, it’s fishcakes in a little tomato coulis for lunch today.

The recipe appears in my first cookbook–Delicious Dishes for Diabetics and in the new cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics.  A variation using smoked haddock appears in my second cookbook, Healthy Eating for Life, also delicious.

They are served with a yogurt sauce in the books.

The key point is there is no potato filler–so it’s low carb.

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If you keep them small and cook them quickly, they’ll be crisp and brown on the outside and still succulent inside–so

It’s vital to make the pan hot.

Salmon Fishcakes with dill and grainy mustard

  • 400 g/1 lb salmon fillet – skinless and checked for bones
  • white of an egg
  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour – of course, plain flour works as well, but chickpea flour (also called gram) is non-gluten, high fiber and higher protein value
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • bunch of dill – chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

 

Cut up the salmon fillets in roughly equal-size pieces.

Put these in a mixer and pulse three or four times.

Avoid working them too much!  You don’t want slush at the end.

You could just cut them by hand if this suits better.

Place the the salmon in a bowl and add the egg white and the flour, then the mustard, lemon juice and the dill.

Season with salt and pepper.

It’s a good idea to taste the mix for seasoning at this point–the dill and the salt should come through.

Using a dessertspoon, scoop out a dollop.

Arrange these on a plate and refrigerate, if not using immediately.

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When you are ready to eat, heat the oil in a frying pan to HOT.

Cook on a medium-high flame, crisping and browning the outside while making sure the interior cooks through.

Depending on the thickness this takes about a minute each side.

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I found more dill in today’s market–any suggestions?

Encore FISHCAKES!” you’ll cry, after sampling these.

(The tomato coulis tasted good but I think the yogurt sauce is a better partner to these delicious cakes.)

Yogurt sauce

  • 2 x 125 ml pots plain yogurt*
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • good pinch of chopped dill (from the main bunch)
  • salt to taste

Whisk the yogurt to a smooth texture and fold in the dill and mustard.

Add salt to taste.

Refrigerate until you are ready to eat

* If you prefer a thicker yogurt sauce, drain it in a sieve for 10 minutes or so.

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The other evening at dinner after a viewing of Ken Loach’s new film, I Daniel Blake (a savage take on the cruelties of the benefits system in the UK–highly recommended), our friend, Melissa Fairbanks, said kind things about my blog.

She particularly enjoys the posts about cooking from found items rolling around in the crisper, she says–bits of cauliflower for instance.

 

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Here is one such that includes bits of cauliflower and other tidbits!

You won’t necessarily have bits of cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potato hanging about in your fridge–but you may have other bits that it hadn’t occurred to you could be transformed into a delicious frittata for a tasty lunch.

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SO….

In my case:

  • 6 eggs–beaten
  • Cooked cauliflower, broccoli and roasted sweet potato–cut into small bits
  • 20z parmesan cheese–freshly grated
  • salt and pepper

Fold the vegetables and cheese into the eggs.

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Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a 10inch fry pan to hot– and pour in the frittata mix. (Choose a pan with the kind of handle that can go into the oven.)

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Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest you can.

Cook for about 25 minutes–until firm with a little “looseness” left on top.

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Heat the grill and slide the pan under for barely a minute to cook the top and brown a little.

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We finished off left-over halves of stuffed red peppers with the slices of the frittata.

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Must check the fridge for other goodies left over!

 

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

Calvin Trillin

 

 

 

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The END!

Full circle.

East coast to West coast and back–three weeks “on the road” and here we are in Washington DC about to fly back home.

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It has ended brilliantly with two memorable meals–both cooked by others.

For three weeks I’ve stayed out of the kitchen–apart from making four omelets in Palo Alto.

JOY!

We have relied on the kindness of friends for places to stay–without their generosity this trip would not have been affordable.

New York City was the US launch and a lively pop-up event at a Scottish bar and restaurant called St. Andrews in the heart of the theatre district.

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Enthusiastic POLDARK fans in the pub snug

 

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An American version of Demelza!

Our friends Melanie and Bruce kindly lent us an apartment on West 22nd Street–a long stone’s throw from where the bomb went off last week.

Melanie sent us photos of the Malibu Diner where we had lunch together–now a crime scene.

Then on to Dallas–hosted by our friends Cindi and Jay.

It’s hot in Dallas–every day! Close to 100F–we duck in and out of air-conditioned buildings and cars.

Screening of the first episode of season two of POLDARK at a local cinema–over 200 in the audience and it looked fabulous up there on the BIG SCREEN.

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Q & A afterwards with Bill Young–the Vice President in charge of programming at KERA, Dallas’ excellent PBS station.

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Thanks, Bill, for your creativity, perseverance and organization.

Some of the Dallas folks had scrapbooks of my FIRST visit to Dallas with Angharad 39 years ago!

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Poignant visit to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas Book Depository, kindly hosted by the museum’s British executive director, Nicola Longford.

With Nicola Longford

With Nicola Longford

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The Texas School Book Depository on Dealey Plaza. The museum inside is the second most-visited site in Texas after the Alamo.

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Brilliant audio tour helps bring some understanding to the tragedy.

Breathless we fly to Los Angeles and arrive late at the lovely little house in Los Feliz of Christy, widow of TV director brother Peter–who died suddenly ten years ago of a heart attack.

Christy helped make the original contact with the flourishing bookstore in Larchmont Village, Chevaliers, where LA Times TV critic Robert Lloyd moderates beautifully the next evening.

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times

With Robert Lloyd, TV critic for The Los Angeles Times

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Sold out of books!

The following day a visit SoCal (KOCE), the PBS station for Los Angeles to record some pledge material with Maura Phinney.

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A short flight to San Francisco and on to Palo Alto I visit the Gates of Hell (!) in the Rodin Sculpture Garden on the Stanford University campus with our local host, Holly Brady.

The Gates of Hell do not dampen our enjoyment of the beautiful California day.

Big turn-out at Books Inc— our third visit to this remarkable bookstore opposite the Stanford campus.

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They’ve hosted us for all three cookbook tours.

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I demonstrate that a diagnosis of Diabetes is not the end of convivial eating and drinking–in moderation, of course!

We sell out of books again.

We fit in a private tour of LucasFilms HQ in the Presidio quarter of San Francisco, close to the Golden Gate Bridge, thanks to Hilary and Yves.

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It’s here that cutting edge special effects in films and animation are created. The halls are lined with artifacts at every turn.

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We head back east for the final event at Arlington Library last Sunday.

We stay with our friends, Irv and Iris. Irv, retired Washington correspondent for The New York Times, agreed to moderate the event at Arlington’s Central Library. A double act is born!

The sell-out audience (over 180) enjoyed it enough to buy us out of cookbooks.

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A good finish to a whistle-stop, heads down, no-time-for-shopping tour.

We spend a blessed 24 hours with our friends Ray and Ann in their waterside house on Chesapeake Bay–where I learn to breathe again.

Ray cooks a delicious meal of crab cakes with the local catch and pork fillet with clams–bliss it is.

Back in the D.C. last night Iris cooks up a storm for us.

Salmon marinated in soy, ginger and garlic preceded by an intriguing cantaloupe melon soup served chilled.

First day of autumn passes.

The prospect of walnuts and wood fires.

A bientôt, America and thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The lovely green spears were in Realmont market today at reasonable prices.

I bought a kilo of straight ones for Friday dinner with our guests, arriving from the USA.

A second of less than perfect (less expensive too) specimens–asperges tordues (twisted)–to make this very simple frittata for lunch.

I have five eggs left in the pantry and a red onion. Add some cheese and seasoning–and there you have the ingredients!

Something different to do with this vegetable with a relatively short-lived season and a use for the cheaper spears with the less than perfect appearance.

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  • 450gms/80z asparagus spears–prepared weight–ie tough ends removed and sliced on the diagonal into smallish pieces
  • 1 red onion–peeled and halved and sliced
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 5 eggs–beaten

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  • 2oz grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Serves 2 to 4 people 

Soften the onion in the olive oil until it begins to caramelize a little–10 to 15 minutes

Add the asparagus pieces and mix in adding some salt and a twist or two of pepper.

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Cook the mix over a gentle heat until the asparagus begins to soften. I like them to retain a little bite–about 10 minutes.

Let this cool.

Then ease into the beaten egg mix.

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Fold in the cheese and check the seasoning.

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Heat a tablespoon of oil in a 10 inch pan to hot–and fold in the egg mix and spread it evenly.

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Immediately turn the heat down to the lowest and cook for 30 minutes.

There should be just a small pool of liquid left on top.

Finish it under a grill for 30 seconds.

 

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Be careful taking the pan out of the oven–it is very hot, as I was reminded when the pan touched the side of my hand by accident–ouch!

Loosen the frittata round the edges of the pan with a fish slice or spatula and ease it out onto a favorite platter.

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“High on the DING scale!” said Meredith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We returned last night from London.

Out of the car and into the kitchen to turn on the oven–180 C.

Lightly wash and brush the dust off a sweet potato.

Prick with a fork to avoid it bursting.

Then pop the potato into the pre-heated oven. It’ll take about an hour, depending on its size.

Sit down and have a cup of tea!

When revived a little make the simple Red bean chili, below from my new book Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics.

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Adapted from Rose Elliott’s The Bean Book this is a simple solution for people who don’t eat meat but like the look of chili–leave out the carne!

(Not just for vegetarians either–just as my cook book is not just for diabetics!) 

This recipe is my kind of fast food. Quickly done– tastes even better the next day (except we had no leftovers!).

Don’t forget the lemon!

For two weary home comers:

About 8 oz (a jar or tin [can]) of red beans–rinsed and drained

onion–chopped

1 clove of garlic–chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

8oz of tinned [canned] tomatoes–chopped, with the juice

1/2 tsp chili/cayenne powder (more if you like it really spicy)

juice of half a lemon–or more to taste

salt and pepper

  • Soften the onions and garlic gently in the oil–stirring often for about five minutes.
  • Add the chilli powder and the chopped tomatoes with their juice.
  • Mix together, blending in the tomatoes.
  • Add the beans.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring gently to the simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.
  • Pour over the lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

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Halve the sweet potato (orange!)on the plate.

Spoon over the beans (red!).

It needed some greenbut couldn’t be bothered to make the Interesting Cabbage from Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics

Found three crisp little gem lettuces in the fridge–halved and quartered just one and shared it between the two plates.

Drizzled olive oil and balsamic on each quarter with a pinch of salt.

Orange, red and green–on the plate.

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Different colors, but back in the land of the Tricolour!

 

 

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