Easy French seasonal recipes including many traditional dishes from my travels. Includes a database of egg yolk recipes and many gluten-free dishes, cakes and desserts.

Fish, Chorizo and Black Pudding

We just came back from Scotland yesterday morning.  I’m suddenly trying to return to grips with an azerty keyboard after 10 days of qwerty!  What a wonderful time, full of precious moments catching up with family around the table.   I also ended up being pretty emotional during a visit to my school, George Watson’s College, after 25 years (gosh, that hurts!) It was wonderful to catch up with old friends and to connect again.  I’m hoping that the budding cooks in Home Economics will now be inspired to make a special burgundy “Ex Corde Caritas” (love from the heart) macaron to match their school uniforms and motto.  I think teaching macarons in schools should be compulsory, don’t you? 🙂

We just made it back in time for Antoine’s birthday.  Poor thing has been living on dinners-for-one from our freezer store, Picard, while we were away.  So with a suitcase stocked with one of his favourite’s, Stornoway Black Pudding (Boudin Noir or Blood Pudding) and having stumbled across this wee street recently, I knew this was “a sign” and so decided to work around this pudding for a quick and easy birthday dinner.

Passage Boudin Paris

My family adore black pudding (Stornoway is the best from Scotland, bien sûr) served traditionally as part of a HUGE Scottish breakfast along with potato scones, bacon and eggs.  The fully monty.  In France, however, we just don’t do that for breakfast.  Instead, we sip from large bowls of coffee or hot chocolate along with croissants or homemade brioche and jam.  If we want to be totally French about serving black pudding, serve it as part of a main dish.

Following a quick jaunt to the market and taking our pick from the seasonal produce on display, it didn’t take long to come up with the menu.  My children and I discovered a new breed of aubergine, lighter and rounder from Italy, the Violette de Florence.

Eggplant Violette de Florence

Aubergine Violette de Florence

Following numerous inspirational blog posts from Chef Dennis, I decided we really need to eat more fish.  It’s amazing how I’ve got out of the habit of eating good old healthy fish.  Can you imagine?  Shame on me, especially since my Grandpa was a fishmonger, too!

One of his favourites was Ling:  it’s meaty with very few bones and not too expensive, either.  The French call it Julienne and at the market it was the first time I’d seen it translated simply as Lingue.

Ling

Lingue or Ling at the market

I already saw the mix of Boudin Noir with Sea Bass in a restaurant last year and so decided to try my hand at making a quick version of this at home. So simple:  I sliced the aubergines, sprinkling them well with salt to get rid of excess water, then rinsed and patted them dry after a few minutes.  A quick flash fry on the griddle pan on each side, then placed them in foil with a clove of garlic and baked them in the oven for 20 minutes while I prepared a Black Pudding Sauce.

To make up the chorizo chips or “scales” of the fish, I simply took extra thin pre-sliced chorizo and dry-fried them in a pan for a few seconds on each side then placed them on kitchen roll to take out the excess fat.  They crisp up once cool:  it’s magic!  Then cooked the fish for a couple of minutes on each side brushed with olive oil in a frying pan.

ling chorizo

So in the space of 30 minutes I had my main prepared:  just needed to place the garlic aubergine on a serving plate, top with the fish then chorizo chips and serve with the black pudding sauce – and extra black pudding since we were feeling greedy!

Antoine found the perfect partner and served it with a bottle of  Savigny-les-Beaune from Burgundy.  He’s good: it needed a light fruity red to cope with the strong flavours.  What nectar!

ling fish fillet with chorizo and black pudding (blood sausage)

And for a quick birthday pudding/dessert? I didn’t have time to make his favourite chocolate fondant birthday cake, so we’ll leave that for this weekend since it needs to mature for at least 24 hours.  Instead, I reached for my macaron bank in the freezer.  This is just so handy to have and for a speedy simple dessert took out some giant macaron shells to serve as a base.

Caramel au beurre salé

I topped it with carmelised apples, homemade caramel ice-cream and dribbled over some warmed salted caramel sauce (again, this was a handy stock in the fridge since had made it a couple of weeks’ ago).  You can find the gluten-free recipe, Giant Macaron Tatin Style, on page 113 of the book.

And needless to say, we enjoyed that with a wee glass of chilled Rivesaltes Ambré by Monsieur Cazes for a glorious sticky finish.  Hm.  Not the easiest of mornings to get up today but I’ll just have to make more caramel desserts this weekend, now that the bottle is opened.  As they say here, Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire…

Rose & White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Cherry & Cardamom Coulis

Love is in the air. I have fallen in love with this dessert for St Valentine’s Day.

rose pannacotta and cherry cardamom coulis

rose & white chocolate panna cotta with cherry cardamom coulis

What I love about the Panna cotta is it’s so simple.  It’s the kind of dessert you can rattle out when in a rush and don’t have time to think of anything over the top or fancy.  It does the job.  Once you have the basic recipe you can make all sorts of flavour combinations – even savoury.

Informal? Serve them in funky little yogurt pots or shot glasses for parties with some fruit or purée dolloped on top. Something more formal? Pour into silicone moulds and turn them out on serving plates surrounded with a fruit purée and be creative on decor.  For a touch of Parisian elegance, mes amis, add a rose macaron or two, serve with a glass of bubbly and feel the toes curl…

Talking of bubbles, I needed a flute of pink Champagne just for the sake of a romantic shot.  In the end, the bottle and stem of the flute are barely visible.  I tried to get the Champagne in view but the angle was wrong; drank some more to see if a lower level would work.  No use.  Drank the whole lot and it still didn’t show.  In fact, there’s maybe a bit of camera shake?  Never mind.  It was deliciously fun!

rose, cardamom and white chocolate panna cotta

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

Panna Cotta:

3 gelatine leaves @ 2g each
400ml single cream (min 30% fat)
100ml rosewater*
few drops of red colouring
80g white cooking chocolate
3 tbsp caster sugar

Coulis:

2 cups cherries, pitted
2 tbsp water
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods

1.  Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

2.  Heat together the cream, rosewater*, colouring and sugar in a saucepan and gradually melt in the white chocolate.  Stir until smooth.
(* Rosewater: I normally use half litre bottles of light rosewater from North Africa that I get in France.  When I was in Scotland this week I could only find small 60ml bottles, which was so much more concentrated.  I would suggest the smaller the bottle, the smaller the dose needed. Ideally it should be water with essence of rose no more than about 6%)

squeeze gelatine

3.  Squeeze in the gelatine and stir to dissolve into the warm cream.

4.  Pour into non-stick silicone moulds.  Here I used briochette moulds but you could use muffin moulds.

5.  Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

cherries and cardamom

6.  Meanwhile, make the coulis: place the cherries in a saucepan with water (no need for water if your cherries are frozen since not in season), sugar, lemon juice and the cardamom seeds.

7.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the cherries are soft.  Transfer to a blender and blitz to a smooth sauce.

cherry and cardamom sauce

8.  When ready to serve, run the underside of the moulds briefly under hot water then carefully turn them out directly on to the serving plates and pour around the coulis.

rose and white chocolate panna cotta with cherry and cardamom coulis

Et voilà !


 

This dessert recipe was featured as a Guest Post for St. Valentine’s on Kate’s blog at Diethood.com


Pigeon with Whisky, Ginger and Apricots

Whisky Pigeon

Pigeon with Whisky, Ginger & Apricots

This is a quick and easy dish for entertaining. First, find a pigeon!  It’s easy to find here at our French markets but now I appreciate that it’s not plain sailing to find it perhaps where you live.

I tend to use apricots in this dish but when in season, this is delicious served with roasted figs.  I normally get the butcher to prepare the pigeon and ensure that there are no feathers left on it.  The filets or suprèmes are beautifully tender and should still be pink in the middle.  The photo is terrible here, I apologise.  But when serving and juggling with a camera, I’m not used to doing this like a pro!  Rest assured that the taste is absolutely delicious …

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

2 pigeons (prepared by your butcher)
20g butter
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp honey
100ml Whisky
100ml mango juice (or apple juice)
12 dried apricots, halved
sprig of thyme

Pigeon
1 With a sharp knife, cut off the thighs then the wings.  Extract the filets (suprèmes) by cutting at the middle on either side of the bone, letting the knife feel the bone.  Keep the skin on.  You will have 4 filets for 2 pigeons.  Chill in cling film until needed.

2 In a heavy lidded casserole dish, heat the butter and quickly stir in the ginger until golden.  Add the honey, thighs, wings and carcasses for about 2-3 minutes until golden and sealed in the glaze.

3 Add the Whisky, mango juice, apricots and thyme.  Cover and simmer gently for 35 minutes.  Take out the carcasses, leaving the wings and thighs in the reduced sauce.

4 10 minutes before serving, warm the plates.  Season the pigeon filets then fry skin-side down for 2-3 minutes in a knob of butter and dash of olive oil.  Turn over and fry for another 2 minutes then turn skin side down for one more minute.  Leave to rest in the pan for 2 minutes as you prepare the rest.

Serve with a mellow red, such as Crozes Hermitage and a good French baguette.  Here I’ve served the pigeon with sweet potato chips (French Fries).

See related blog post: Flaming Pigeon for Another Romantic Meal.

Chocolate Beetroot Flourless Fondants

Why is it that most people pull a face when you mention chocolate-beetroot and ask, “Can you taste the beetroot?” Well in a carrot cake, can you taste the carrot? Well no, you can’t really taste the beetroot as such, but it gives the chocolate a luxurious, natural red velvet colour, adds that perfect moisture and gives a fudgy sensation to the fondants.

Chocolate beet flourless fondant cakes and praline macarons with chocolate-beet fondants

 

I just love the combination of dark chocolate and beetroot (beet).  I’d read about it a couple of years ago in my aunt’s health book for beating cancer. I never noted the recipe down as the cake seemed a bit too dry and not good quality chocolate – but the idea stuck with me. As a Scot, we love our beetroots. As a gourmande, I love my squidgy chocolate cake.  This is based on a simple, classic French flourless chocolate cake but the added beetroot gives it that moist, extra squidginess.

They can be served warm as a dessert with vanilla ice-cream; or add a touch of ginger or orange to some Chantilly for alternative combinations. I personally love them on their own without any extras: served at room temperature with a noisette (espresso coffee with a dash of milk). Don’t forget they always taste better after some maturing, just like wine and macarons…

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Maturing Time: Minimum 24 hours

225g dark chocolate (min 64% cocoa solids)
few drops of coffee essence
200g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
150g pre-cooked beetroot, grated (but not cooked in vinegar!)
4 eggs
1 tbsp ground almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Set a bowl with the broken chocolate pieces over a pan of boiling water. Add the coffee essence and melt in the butter.
  2. Continue to stir then add the sugar. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the beetroot then add the grated beetroot to the mix. Gradually break the eggs into the mixture, stirring well after each addition, then mix in the almonds.
  3. Pour the mixture into non-stick silicon mini muffin moulds and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes should still be quite moist in the middle but cooked enough on the outside to come clean out of the moulds when cool. Leave to cool completely before turning them out.
  4. Now the hard part! Wrap the cakes in foil and set aside for at least a day to mature them.

See? It’s not just macarons that need maturing time. Patience…

This recipe accompanies the blog post, “Blushing Beetroot Flirting with Chocolate

Orange Blossom & Cinnamon Pannacotta

Moroccan-style panna cotta


A quick, light and easy dessert that can either be served at parties in little shot glasses or for dinner parties by using non-stick silicone moulds.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with ground pistachios and serve with sliced oranges, toasted pinenuts and sprigs of mint for a Moroccan-style version. Needless to say, serve with orange blossom macarons (see page 77).

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours

3 gelatine leaves (2g each)
400 ml organic single cream
100 ml orange flower water
4 tbsps caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick

  1. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Heat together the cream and orange flower water in a pan with the cinnamon stick and the sugar.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick.  Squeeze in the gelatine and stir to dissolve into the warm cream.
  4. Pour into shot glasses or into silicone moulds (here I’m using briochette moulds).
  5. Leave to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  6. When ready to serve, run the underside of the moulds briefly in warm water then carefully place them directly on the serving plates.

To Orange Blossom & Paris Lovers

It has been chilly in Paris this week. On a damp, drizzly Monday morning a brisk walk through the Tuileries Gardens was therapy to banish the winter blues instead of taking an extra metro stop. It was spookily desserted except for wrapped-up, serious joggers on the run. I say serious: have you ever seen a happy jogger?  Perhaps everyone was inside the Orangerie Museum, marvelling at Monet’s Water Lilies. The cold clinging humidity certainly didn’t stop these two from having a good neck in the corner, though.

Orangery Museum Paris Tuileries Gardens

The Orangerie at the Palace of the Louvre was quite the trend in the 17th & 18th Centuries. Royal and aristocratic residences all needed an orangery with citrus trees in tubs or under glass in winter to impress.

I just wanted to impress hubby with something different for dessert. So, realising there were no egg whites ageing (wonder what for?), orange blossom ice cream seemed fitting after a couscous – and more importantly, since they use 8 yolks. How to make it? I simply replaced 100ml of the cream from the ice cream recipe in the book with orange flower water and added a touch of orange colouring to the cream. Simple and pure heaven.

Orange Flower Water Ice-cream

 

I adore the heavy perfume of orange blossom and I know I’m not alone. I use it in the form of room scents, shower gels and body lotions but when it comes to food, it adds a whole new dimension.

Adding a touch of orange blossom water (or orange flower water) can take desserts or pastries to another level. In France l’eau de fleur d’oranger is normally added to madeleine cakes and marshallows (guimauve). But it’s almost like a secret ingredient that you want to keep for yourself so that nobody can make quite the same brioches, crêpes, gaufres (waffles), cookies, rice puddings or fig tarts (these are coming on le blog.)

Adding it to a simple orange salad or couscous can whisk you on a magic carpet for a few moments to Marrakesh. I sometimes even put a dash of it in pumpkin soup for that touch of je ne sais quoi. I’ve added my recipe take on a creamy panna cotta: a cinnamon, orange blossom & pistachio panna cotta.

Moroccan-style panna cotta

And it goes without saying (ça va sans dire) that orange blossom macarons are one of our favourites. This time I infused an Earl Grey teabag into the cream to add an extra powerful fragrant punch to accompany a pot of Lady Grey tea at goûter time. I can’t believe we polished off 40 of them already…

Orange Blossom & Earl Grey Tea Macarons

Orange Blossom & Earl Grey Tea Parisian Macarons

This post was published long before even Mum knew I had a blog. If you would like to leave a comment now, it’s not too late. You’ll make my day! Jill xo